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Water Cooling Madness - Corsair vs. Thermaltake vs. Gigabyte (Page 4)

By Cameron Johnson from Aug 23, 2005 @ 23:00 CDT
Manufacturer: none

Gigabyte 3D Galaxy

Gigabyte is one of our favourite manufactures to follow. Gigabyte first started with only a motherboard range, and has now expanded into graphics cards, Networking, PC peripherals and now into the cooling market with a real serious push.

We have seen some of the air based heatsinks that Gigabyte has produced; however, the 3D Galaxy is the first water cooling unit Gigabyte has released.

- Radiator

Gigabyte's choice of radiator design is quite stylish, similar in approach to the Bigwater unit, only in a different style. The radiator is self contained with a 120mm fan attached to it. The radiator uses half inch pipe through a 4 pass alloy mess system that takes out as much heat from the water as possible. The radiator has on the back special mounting points, so it can installed on a case with a 80mm or 120mm fan duct, as not all cases have 120mm fan outlets at the back. The fan itself is able to be controlled in speed by a special setup which we will show in detail a bit later on. The fan also has blue LED's in it to give the unit a more pleasing look for case modders.

- Pump and Reservoir

In all honesty, this is the smartest pump design out of all three contenders here. Gigabyte has put a pump and reservoir in one unit, but this is not where things stop. The pump not only draws its power from the 12v rain in your PC, but it is in direct control of the power switch through the use of a loop back cable.

Instead of hooking your power switch from your case to the motherboard, Gigabyte provides a plug that goes into the motherboard, and the case power lead connects to the pump input cable. This means that the power switch functions as normal to power the system on or off. However, if the system gets too hot, or the water level drops below a certain level, the pump triggers a shutdown of the system to prevent damage to any of the components. The way the system detects water lever if through a float in the reservoir, when the system has enough coolant, the float rises to full height, if the level drops to a dangerous lever, the flow falls and triggers the power off state.

- Water Block

The water block used by Gigabyte is the first time we have seen the block, and looking around the net, we haven't seen it anywhere else, so we are assuming it is Gigabyte's own design. The block is made of solid copper at the bottom with a mirror finish lug in the middle that makes contact with the CPU's heat spreader on P4 and K8 or direct to the die on K7.

On top of this Gigabyte places an 80mm fan on a 4 pole stand that connects to the water block - we were wondering the point of this and found out in a press release. The fan is supposed to push air to the mosfets and VRM's. Since the air flow from the CPU fan has been eliminated in traditional water cooling, these parts can get quite hot without air passing over them, Gigabyte has managed to in theory eliminate this with a slow moving fan to keep the noise down while providing adequate air flow over the voltage circuits.

Gigabyte's 3D Galaxy is designed for all platforms straight out of the box, no extra brackets are needed if you want to swap platforms, and all without removing or modding any of the existing mounting hardware (with the exception of the LGA775).

In order to install the unit onto LGA775 systems, you need to install Gigabyte's LGA775 mount to 478 mount, that allows Socket 478 coolers to be mounted to LGA775 boards. This means that the cooler uses the P4 478 clips in conjunction with this adapter to support LGA775, a great idea indeed. K7, K8 and P4 478 don't need any additional modding done to the board to install the unit, just select the clip for your setup and go.

- Extra Bits to make it all work

Now we get to the rest of the goodies. The tubing setup for the Gigabyte 3D Galaxy is half inch tubing, currently rated the best for flow rates and pressure for PC water cooling. Gigabyte uses easy clamp units that can be pulled apart by hand, slipped over the tube then released to make the hose grip to the barbs and eliminate water leaks.

As far as electrical parts go, first we have the radiator fan controller. This box plugs onto a spare 3 pin CPU fan power connector on the board, a dial gauge is then connected into the back of the unit and placed in a free PCI slot, which is also for the tubing duct from inside to outside the case. The radiator fan then passes through a special hole into the case and is connected to the box, after this the fan is able to be controlled by the dial gauge at the back of the case.

The second item is the pump power controller. This is the wiring harness that gives the pump its power as well as allows the pump to take control of the motherboard emergency power off system.

Finally we have a look at the coolant. The coolant is a UV reactive Ethylene Glycol mix similar to the Corsair cool unit, only in a blue mix which is the colour that Gigabyte prefers for its products.

How much does it cost?

Thermaltake BigWater (CL-W0005) Water Cooling Kit

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