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Old 26th June, 2006, 02:20 PM
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Smile Thermaltake BigWater SE review

hi all,
after a weekend with no phone line, meaning no internet, i'm finally sorted out. I did get my watercooling kit and i've done a review of it. Something i'm worried about though, is the temps i was getting, 45 C at idle! Yes, 45! I installed it exactly the way it was meant to and did everything the way i was meant to. So, i'm gonna RMA it back to specialtech and get my money back since i think it's faulty if i'm getting worse temps than i did with my Akasa Evo-120.

Anyway, here's the review, in word format with pictures. It describes the problems i had with it. Believe me, the problems i had were beyond a joke, from sever temperatures, to being unable to open my case because of the radiator. Check it out.
Attached Files
File Type: zip Thermaltake BigWater SE Review.zip (2.51 MB, 130 views)
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Old 26th June, 2006, 02:23 PM
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It might be worth posting it up rather than having it as a zipped download

Sounds good though
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Old 26th June, 2006, 02:45 PM
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Nice review. Rediculous temperatures....
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Old 26th June, 2006, 02:55 PM
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Well i'll post it up in a min when i have chance to upload the images and sort out the PHP code.
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Old 26th June, 2006, 03:08 PM
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(Apologies for the extremely large pictures)

Thermaltake BigWater SE Review

In October 2005, Thermaltake released a watercooling kit; The BigWater SE. It provided an easy way for anyone to get into watercooling. Today, Scott Pritchard reviews the kit for AOA.

First thing, the spec of the rig we are installing the kit into.
Motherboard: Epox –EP-9NPAJ
CPU: AMD Athlon64 3200+ Overclocked to 2600 MHz (260 x 10)
Ram: Corsair XMS 3200C2PT 1Gb (2 x 512Mb) in dual channel
Power Supply: Hiper 580w modular black
Test Power Supply: generic 350w

I must say, that before we start, I am pretty neutral about thoughts on this kit. Perhaps it’s just me, but from the reviews I have read about this, something seems to be amiss somewhere. I’ll explain more in a moment. So, I’d been sat in all morning, waiting for it, wondering if it was going to be delivered today, extremely eager to see it up and running. I had a couple of cups of tea, watched of bit of morning TV, ate loads of biscuits. At about 12.10, I hard a rather loud police-style knock on the door. It was here (in a rather oversized brown box), the watercooling kit I’d longed for so much. I signed the delivery sheet, took my parcel, locked the door and ran upstairs with it to my room. Even before I got through the door, I started to open it. I threw the brown box to one side and admired it for a moment:

http://www.yowzagames-mark2.co.uk/si...i/img_0047.jpg

I was quite surprised at how large and heavy it was; it seemed to be lighter in the box! Anyway, moving swiftly on, I opened the box and laid all the parts out:

http://www.yowzagames-mark2.co.uk/si...i/img_0048.jpg

The first thing I noticed was the waterblock. I don’t know why it happened, but it did. I carefully removed it from the packaging. Now this is where things start to differ between my thoughts and the other reviews. Firstly, there wasn’t any protective cover on the bottom of the waterblock, or not one that I could see (I have very good eyesight). Also, it was quite polished, check out the reflection from that thumbscrew:

http://www.yowzagames-mark2.co.uk/si...i/img_0049.jpg

After I’d admired a little more, I decided to explore what else was included in this package. The oversized problem-bearing radiator, the pump, the drive-bay reservoir and oooh, what’s this bright green stuff? Is that…is that the coolant?! Whoa!

Now, onto the radiator. This thing is huge! I haven’t measured it but I’d say it’s about 140mm tall, by 120mm wide. For most people, this wouldn’t be a problem. But that’s where me and fate have an unbreakable bond. The case I have is only cheap; it only cost me about £15 from ebuyer, but it causes problems. Back when I bought the case, I hadn’t seriously considered watercooling, since I was only using a socket A Duron. The problem I had, which didn’t arise until today, involved the design of the back of my case:

http://www.yowzagames-mark2.co.uk/si...i/img_0054.jpg

As you can see from the picture above, the back of my case actually ‘ducks in’. Personally, I don’t know why they made it like this, but moving on, you’ll see why it’s a problem. There weren’t any suitable mounting holes on my case for the radiator. The only way I could see, was mounting it over the back PCI area, not a good idea and something that wasn’t going to happen. For a few moments, I sat in disbelief. How could it be? Where did it all go so wrong? I just sat and stared, trying to think. After about an hour of wondering, I decided on my plan of action. I would have to mount it in the ONLY way possible; half of it sticking out of the side of the case, well, in a way. It would have to be mounted to the back with half of it visible from the front of the case:

http://www.yowzagames-mark2.co.uk/si...i/img_0056.jpg

The shot above is taken from the bottom of the case, looking along the edge of the back panel. You can see the radiator with the piping attached.

That was it; the hard work was done. Well, for a while. I fitted the pump and drive-bay reservoir, and connected everything up with the piping provided, cutting where required. Here you can see the whole kit fitted together:

http://www.yowzagames-mark2.co.uk/si...i/img_0057.jpg

It may only be a couple of pipes and a few parts to you, but to me, it’s a work of art. It was actually quite beautiful. I started to add the coolant when I noticed something that made me pause for a moment. The refill hole on the reservoir was too small, and the opening on the coolant bottle was too big. What should I do? I didn’t have any funnels spare, and mum wouldn’t give me one since it probably wouldn’t be safe to use them in the kitchen again, so I thought for a moment, and came up with the perfect solution: Aluminium. Yes, you read it right, aluminium. A long time ago, when I had a secondary computer, which was a P2, I was planning to make my own watercooling kit, from household stuff. It kinda never got off the ground. Now for some reason, this stuff was still in my cupboard, one of the things was a piece of aluminium, one from a school project years ago. I realised that if I folded it in half, without snapping it, I could create a small chute for the coolant to run down, into the reservoir. I tried it; worked perfectly. So, I filled the reservoir pretty full, and started the pump.

The picture above shows it linked up to my test PSU, which allowed me to leak test it before making the motherboard live, and get rid of any air pockets that had formed. As the coolant made its way round the piping, I continued to fill the reservoir. A couple of air pockets formed. I can tell you now that it took a lot of pipe shaking to remove them all. Once it had passed the tests, I connected it to my systems actual PSU. After all that, I decided to take a break and get something to eat. Wash hands first, coolant and food don’t mix.

After returning with a much clearer mind and a full stomach, it was time to finish this beast off. But the hassle wasn’t over yet. Because of the way I’d HAD to mount the radiator to the case, my side panel wouldn’t fit on easily, just great. After pushing the radiator back a little bit, I managed to force the side panel into place and slide it forward. Huge sigh of relief.

I started the system and went into my systems health bios page. Pretty good actually, 23 C. That didn’t last though, up it went, 24, 25, 26…33, 34, 35…42, 43, 44. It finally rested at 44 C! What! Did that say what I think it did? Yes! 44 C! That’s worse than my previous cooler (Akasa Evo-120), and that’s a fan/heatpipe based solution!

Did I do something wrong? Have I messed up? Did I just waste 4 hours of my life messing about with this thing only to find it’s not what it makes out to be? No, I’d done it all correct; a thin layer of Arctic Silver 5, retention bracket was fully secure, pipes were all connected the right way round, coolant was flowing well. Where was the bottleneck that was causing this? I decided to boot into Windows and check it was correct by using the Epox Thunder Probe and SpeedFan. They both reported 45 C and 46 C. I couldn’t help thinking I’d done something very wrong. The temps I’d expected were in the high 20’s to the low 30’s, 34 C at the most. But no, 45! Seriously, I think that is wrong, for a watercooling rig. I bet even passive cooling does a better job.

However, the kit looks very cool and is very quiet compared to my previous cooling. But it’s just not up to standard. I’ve heard people reporting temps like 31 C for this kit, but 45 is what I get. Something’s definitely not good. I wanted to get rid of the heat, but I wanted it to be quiet, since I want to be able to leave it on while I sleep.

A few notes
There are a few things you should know about this kit. Firstly, it’s not designed for every case. Something that they could have included would be some sort of mounting adapter. Secondly, the refill hole on the reservoir needs to be bigger or a funnel does need to be provided. Thirdly, if you plan to mount the radiator externally, like I did, then you need to reverse the fan. Fourth, the piping kinks quite easily but if you allow a large enough radius then this problem is easily overcome. Fifth, and most important, the heating efficiency of this kit is very bad, onto extreme. Surprisingly, air cooling seems to do a 10 times as good job as this kit. Perhaps I did something wrong, maybe someone could point something out. Lastly, Thermaltake should have put a protective cover over the waterblock, not only to protect it, but so that someone installing this kit knows that they have actually removed it. I have a very bad feeling that there was one on there that was very hard to see. If that’s the case, it’s still on there and that would mean that I’d have to rewrite this review. It would explain why my temps are so high.
Update: I’ve just had the waterblock off of the CPU and I can confirm that there is no protective cover. Something else, I have managed to get the CPU temp down to 40.5 C (SpeedFan) by turning the radiator fan up full but it’s incredibly noisy. I’m surprised the neighbours haven’t complained. But, when I turn the fan speed down to minimum, the temperature stays at 40.5 C and it’s sleep-tight quiet. I’m still running a front 80mm fan so that my HDD’s stay cool, it’s not particularly noisy, it does a decent job and it is only one of those 87p things. Even though I wanted to get rid of fans completely, I still think some airflow is required.

Final Thoughts
Although the kit is fairly straightforward to install on most cases, when it comes to cases like mine, it’s simply not adapted for the job. It’s pretty well designed for people who are new to the watercooling scene, like me since it’s very easy to install. If you want your mod to look Uber-leet, then this kit would be for you as it has an amazing awe-inspiring effect. But similarly, on the opposite end of the scale, if you want your mod to be Uber-chilly, then good old-style air cooling is the way to go. Personally, I like looks. But I do have standards of performance that I expect. This just doesn’t live up to what I expected. Shortly after I’d finished writing this review, I went back to my original cooler which got, under load, the CPU temp was reported as 39 C. I have also RMA’d the watercooling kit to the supplier, who I won’t name since it’s probably not their fault, since it is not up to scratch and is essentially classed as faulty since it is allowing the CPU to reach extremely dangerous temperatures.

Ratings
Max stress level reached: 9.5 out of 10.0
Ease of installation: 7.5 out of 10.0
Cooling power: 0.5 out of 10.0
Looks: 10.0 out of 10.0
Total: 27.5 - 9.5 Stress = 18.0 out of 30.0

This is Scott Pritchard reporting for AOA, signing off.
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Old 26th June, 2006, 03:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skool h8r
(Apologies for the extremely large pictures)
IrfanView ftw!!

Other than that, awesomereview!

I hope you get those temps sorted out though.
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Old 26th June, 2006, 03:34 PM
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Quote:
I hope you get those temps sorted out though.
Well i have sent an RMA request to specialtech and gone back to using my old Akasa Evo-120, 48 C was the temp at one point. Wouldn't you say there's a serious problem there? It says to get in touch within 24 hours if it's faulty. Hmmm, no phone line or internet, no phone number for them, impossible to check it was installed correctly because those temps were misleading me, yes, 24 hours. I told them of the problems i've had. I just hope they accept it as a suitable reason. I used the last of my AS5 installing it as well so i had to use the stuff that was in the kit otherwise i wouldn't have a computer so i couldn't have got in contact with them, i had no other option, i think they should send it back to thermaltake so they can see it's flaws.
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Old 26th June, 2006, 05:03 PM
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The way the radiator was mounted is partially obstructing airflow through it, due to the position of the case. That will not help the radiator dissipating heat. Presumably you mounted the fan so that it was sucking air out of the radiator? If so, then be aware that axial fans do not suck well - they are much better at pushing air, especially through heat exchangers with finely spaced fins.

Between those two, I suspect you would find a significant reduction in performance. It might have been worth attempting a test with the radiator not mounted to the PC, so you could discover how much your PC chassis was influencing the results. Also, what process did you go through to ensure there was no air in the system?
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Old 26th June, 2006, 05:34 PM
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To make sure no air was in the system, i had to shake the pipes to disperse the air, and turning the pump on and off if they were a bit stubborn helped. In the manual, it says that the fan is supposed to be the other way round if mounted externally. I also tried it without the radiator being mounted to the case but that made no difference.
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Old 26th June, 2006, 06:23 PM
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Perhaps we should get it all sorted before publishing the review on the frontpage and whatnot. As Aedan suggested, there seams to be something dramatically wrong.

How is your thermal interface between the block and the CPU? Is there much pressure (downforce) on the CPU?

What thermal goop did you use, and how thick was it?

Also, what is your water temperature at various points?
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Old 26th June, 2006, 06:44 PM
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By pressure, i assume you mean how tight did i make it. I tightened it up as far as i thought it would go without cracking the CPU (i used an adjustable wrench) and it couldn't be moved by hand, let alone on it's own. The thermal paste i used was AS5 and it was a thin layer, just up to 'sticky' level, just so you couldn't see the top of the CPU. As for water temperature, i didn't think to test it, but if it helps, when the fan was switched off, the heatpipes on the radiator were cold to the touch, but that's as much as i can tell you about temps.
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Old 26th June, 2006, 06:56 PM
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Question

Do you have nothing to scale those pics with??
Zip file should contain them in 800 * 600 Jpegs if useful (?)

Shame about the water kit - you going to attempt to make you own instead?? or get this one working better. Plenty of support here - someones bound to be able to help you sort it out either way. - doh theres first mistake add file - doh
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Old 26th June, 2006, 06:57 PM
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Hope this helps
Attached Files
File Type: zip Sklh8r.zip (245.9 KB, 33 views)
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Old 26th June, 2006, 08:36 PM
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Thanks for the images. i'm gonna RMA it since it's just not what was expected, fair enough i think. I think i've decided that watercooling isn't for me. Not because of this but just in general.
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Old 26th June, 2006, 10:47 PM
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If the heatpipes are not hot, then your problem is with the interface between the CPU and the waterblock. You really need to get the balance on the block just right, and make sure your connection is perfectly level. The symptoms you are giving are indicative of an uneven setting.

Like one side may for whatever reason be looser, or at an angle.

If the water is cool, the WC unit is working perfectly, and its the interface that is the problem.
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Old 26th June, 2006, 10:57 PM
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Wait a second. It looks to me, like you are going from your pump, to your CPU waterblock, then down to the pci slots, then up to the radiator, then down again, then all the way up to the top of your case in a resovior with back pressure, and then all the way down to the pump again.

I'm going to estimate your flow rate could be a serious issue as well here.

Gravity works on water too, even with the pump in it, and in your case, it must be struggling. See what your flow rate is like if you can as well.

If the CPU isn't the issue, I'm certain its the placement.

You also have the baby of the pumps. The 90L/H. The Bigwater 735 that I've tried has a 400L/H pump. Much more grunt. I seriously think gravity could be your problem.
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Last edited by dsio; 26th June, 2006 at 11:08 PM.
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Old 26th June, 2006, 11:29 PM
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That's right. All water pumps have a maximum head rating.

The head is the maxium height to which the pump can push water.

If the head is 1m, it does not matter if the hose is 10m. Just so long as the hose is never 1m above the pump at any given point.
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Old 26th June, 2006, 11:37 PM
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For a plastic pump rated for 90L/H that draws less than 2W, I think 1M might be on the optimistic side.
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Old 26th June, 2006, 11:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dsio
For a plastic pump rated for 90L/H that draws less than 2W, I think 1M might be on the optimistic side.
I had a pump rated for 100 GPH that only had a head of about 4'. Great for little statuary fountains, but not much else.....what you are talking about probably is only rated for about 1/2 M.
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Old 27th June, 2006, 12:14 AM
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This is 1.6W here. I think it would be struggling for even that. And I'm sure he's got at least half a meter of height there.
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