The main selling point of watercooling thermal solutions has long been greater heat capacity and reduced noise levels through centralized heat management. Coolant is propelled by a pump though tubing from waterblock to heat exchanger and back again. Heat is absorbed by the coolant as it passes through the CPU waterblock, and in some cases a northbridge and VGA waterblock too, before it is removed from the system by what is typically a large low speed fan and matching heat exchanger. The heat exchanger, or radiator, is generally located just outside of the computer chassis so the hot air coming off of it exits the case. In a configuration like this, noise is reduced, heat is transferred out of the system quickly, and thermal efficiencies are greatly increased across the board.
The downside of watercooling systems is complexity, fluid leakage, the need for drastic case modifications, coolant integrity over the long term (evaporation, bacteria growth, corrosion), and cost. These challenges have worked to keep watercooling in the realm of enthusiasts for a long time, but all-in-one kits are working to address this.
Of the self-contained watercooling solutions which are sold for computers today, there are two varieties. The first uses short lengths of tubing so a radiator may be located at the rear of the PC, permitting hot air to be ejected from the system almost immediately. The second is the compact self contained water cooling system where the pump, reservoir and heat exchanger all mount directly onto the CPU. In this situation, the coolant is used to improve the overall efficiency of the heatsink; sort of like a heatpipe. The Sunon Waturbo is a prime example of that approach, and in this review Frostytech will be testing out the Xigmatek AIO-S80DP self contained watercooling heatsink. The AIO-S80DP is both a new approach to watercooling, and the first salvo from an entirely new heatsink manufacturer.
The Xigmatek AIO-S80DP heatsink is compatible with AMD Athlon64 processors in socket 754/939/940/AM2 and Intel Pentium 4/D, Core 2 Duo/Quad processors on socket 478/775. It should be available through most online retailers for about $70 USD by Q2'07.
What makes the Xigmatek AIO-S80DP heatsink unique is that it is an all-in-one watercooling based thermal solution. Coolant runs through the metal veins of this heat exchanger, and it is only this liquid which works to transfer the heat absorbed from the processor into the surrounding environment. The heatsink is set up with two 80mm sized radiators, positioned with direct connections to the reservoir below, and a fan set dead between them.
Moving the coolant around the inside of the AIO-S80DP is a small 12V pump, set into the body just below the 80mm fan. The pump utilizes a ceramic shaft that rotates at 3100RPM, and moves about 72 L/hr of liquid at a head pressure of up to 1.2M. The pump has its own dedicated 3-pin power cable, and an MTBF of 50,000 hrs. Fluid is added to the system through a port at the top of one of the radiators, sealed with a rubber washer and a nice warning sticker.
The 80mm PWM fan at the heart of this heatsink varies in speed from 1800 - 3600RPM. It draws air though one heat exchanger before blowing that heated air through the second heat exchanger. This is not the most ideal orientation, as the air used to cool the second heat exchanger is 'pre-warmed' before it's even put to use.
Brackets for Every Processor Socket
The Xigmatek AIO-S80DP heatsink ships with three sets of mounting brackets; one for socket 754/939/940 and AM2 AMD Athlon64 processors, one for socket 478 Intel chips, and one for socket 775 Intel CPUs. Each bracket uses a small plastic stand to elevate it above the motherboard surface, which led us to wonder why this wasn't just part of the clip itself? Installation will require removing the motherboard from the chassis to install the Xigmatek's heatsink retention frame, but after that everything is a breeze.
The 4-pin PWM fan can be plugged directly into the motherboard fan header on PWM compliant boards, or both the fan and pump can be hooked up with included Molex power adaptors.
The Xigmatek AIO-S80DP heatsink will be tested on FrostyTech's Intel LGA775 and K8 version of the Mk.II synthetic thermal temperature test platform, and compared against several reference LGA775 and K8 heatsinks. The whole test methodology is outlined in detail here if you'd like to know what equipment is used, and the parameters under which the tests are conducted. Now let's move forward and take a closer look at this heatsink, its acoustic characteristics, and of course its thermal performance!
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