When I first got wind of the idea that CoolIT had to water cool a graphics card with their all in one system, I was eager to see what they had to offer. Well, it took a bit of waiting for CoolIT to make the correct plate for the card I test with, but as soon as they had one ready, I got news one was on the way to my house. To be blunt; I was giddy like a kid at Christmas in anticipation of this new arrival.
One thing I can't stress enough is the lack of cooling ability my GTX 470 has from the factory. In my opinion, both the cooler and the stock fan profile needed work to say the least. Even with replacing the thermal compound and ramping up the fan profile, seeing your cards bake in a case at 80+ degrees isn't something I personally like. With my own rig touting two of these cards, the temperatures are even less manageable. Now, we just looked at Arctic Cooling's solution to the issue, but it took three slots and over 11" of fins to do the job well, and it just may not fit in a lot of the mid tower chassis' that are leading in the market right now.
CoolIT jumps in the water cooling game with both feet and offer a way to not only tame the heat that is produced by high end GPUs, but as with the ECO and Vantage, it offers a way to get all of that heat out of your chassis directly. Today we are going to be looking at the Omni AC-N470 from CoolIT, and mine came with the GTX 470 interposer plate. Finally, in building a good database of temperatures with a few coolers, we should be able to get a really good feel for how well the Omni handles the task at hand.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
Let's start with what we know. The Omni comes with the same 120mm radiator that we can find on the ECO or Vantage coolers. It's just that this time the pump has been assembled on a bracket which is screwed onto the intake side of the radiator. The pump, radiator and GPU plate are plumbed with the same black rubber tubing with the hard plastic outer cover as well. From the pump and radiator combo, the anticorrosion/anti fungal fluid is sent down over 12" of tubing to a pair of 90, swivel fittings, then into a pair of shorter tubes that supply and return the coolant to the radiator for cooling.
Inside the super low profile universal liquid plate, CoolIT has designed it with micro-channels to remove the heat from the memory ICs, the voltage regulators, and of course, the heat the GPU produces. The idea that makes the CoolIT Omni stand ahead of the curve is that there are optional interposer plates for the Omni system. While you can buy the cooler with one of four optional plates at this time, fitting the HD 5970, HD 5870, GTX 470, and GTX 480 currently, you have the ability to change your mind later. This allows for upgrading the card along the way with the use of a different interposer plate to match the new card.
Adding to the fact that the cooler can be thought of as a long term investment, CoolIT offers things like a Ceramic Bearing in the pump with a rating of around 50,000 run time hours. Realistically, in a number you can fathom, that is over 5 years of use. Matching the radiator with a high reliability 120mm fan that can produce up to 2500RPM, or as little as 1100, depending on your needs. Lastly, the Omni carries a 2 year warranty on the entire system against any leaking or poor workmanship issues. In the samples I have received, there have never been any issues.
Availability is quite limited at the moment. You can buy all four versions directly from the manufacturer with pricing of $214.99 for the single GPU versions, and $239.99 for the HD 5970 version. Doing the usual Google search, my specific model, the AC-N470, could only be found at a Canadian e-tailer, which makes sense since CoolIT is of course from Canada, and they should get the first samples to hit the stores. The e-tailer in question only ships Canada wide, so even though the pricing is awesome at $179.98, unless you live in Canada that price will soon go sky high once you get a buddy to ship you one. So for this I will base my opinions on the direct from CoolIT pricing since that seems to be the only way to attain one at this point. As far as the changeable interposer plates, rumor has it they are going to be placed around $75 once they go retail, but as of yet I can find very little information on attaining one if I wanted to run let's say a HD 5870 on my Omni.
The Omni doesn't come with all the pretty packaging that I saw with the ECO and Vantage, at least not at this point they don't. What you will get is a brown box with a sticker on the side showing the cooler, four features, and more importantly, what card the cooler fits at the bottom.
Along with another shipping label, the end of the package will show the model number Omni R120ALC for the unit itself, and an additional number AC-N470 to designate the specific card.
Opening the box, I found a thin layer of high density foam covering the unit, along with the instruction booklet. The packaging is a bit loose on the top, but with the inside foam support, the cooler arrived in great shape.
At the bottom of the box, the Omni rests in a snug fitting high density foam that is cut to keep the cooler in place, and it did a fine job. The odd shaped hole at the top left is where you will find the baggie with hardware for mounting the Omni in your case.
Getting the unit out of the box and foam packing is quite simple, but the protection keeps going. The plate that cools the card is still wrapped in a plastic bag, has a protective cover on the base where the TIM is applied, and protects the thermal pads with layers of plastic as well.
The CoolIT Omni AC-N470 VGA Cooler
Starting with the radiator, you get a good look at the pump, routing, and the bracket used to give the pump a place to work. With the options being limited as to where CoolIT could place the pump, I would rather it be here than on the plate. The pump is powered with a 3-pin fan header to allow voltage control with 3rd party software, the Maestro Software, or BIOS controls.
Mainly I wanted to show how thick the pump assembly is. Locating the pump where it is, there shouldn't be issues with mosfet heatsinks or access to the 8-pin connection, should you need to. Don't forget, this doesn't have to hang in the back. Pretty much any 120mm fan hole will do as long as there is a bit of room around it for clearance of the unit.
On the opposite side there is a 120mm fan applied to the radiator and is set up to exhaust from this side. The cable for the fan is really short, but makes for a very clean install where with the previous coolers I always had to tie up this wire. This is the same fan we found on both other all-in-one coolers from CoolIT.
From this angle we get to look at the fittings and fill port. Of course, the top fitting with the flat cap is where CoolIT fills the loop. Under it is the supply to the pump and the fitting here is pretty rigid due to the short length of the hose. Off the side of the pump, the 90 fitting does swivel to offer a better position for the hoses in certain installations. That leaves us with the bottom fitting, which can move a bit, but the ball and socket fitting limits the motion.
Following the hoses to where they meet up with the actual cooling plate, you first run into a pair of 90 fittings that swivel to allow for a bit more flexibility during installation. From the fittings, CoolIT runs two lengths of hose to the fittings on the plate. While this is a great idea for modularity and really clean looking installations, it does make the card just over 12" in length, so clearance may be a consideration for some.
The base of the interposer plates has everything you will need to install this version to a GTX 470. There are plastic covers for the thermal pads for the memory and power management, and those are taped down to make sure they don't move in transit. The copper base of the plate has thermal paste already applied, and gets protected with a clear plastic cover, again taped for added security. The mounting holes that are on the plate, twelve of them, all line up with the factory cooler holes in the PCB, and use the same screws.
Since I used the pre applied paste for testing, I waited until after to clean off the TIM and expose the copper base for an image. The finish is almost a mirror shine and when tested against a razor, I found the only deviation to be at the corners, and there it isn't an issue.
With this being a universal cooler, they have to make sure they leave room for future upgrades, or if you decide to go from the green team to the red team, you can get with CoolIT about another plate. To swap them out, you just need to remove the eight screws from this side and replace the underside. The barbs are set in the top plate, so there won't be any tubing issues, but if you are going to open up the cooler, be sure to expect some coolant. Being a sealed loop, there is no way to drain it prior to loosening the screws unless you were to pull the hose loose.
Accessories and Documentation, Fit and Finish
Accessories and Documentation
With the Omni, you get a simple set of instructions on how to install the cooler both on the card and how to install the radiator in the chassis. Along with the well drawn and written instructions you will receive the bulk of the hardware kit; four screws.
That is all you need besides the card and cards screws to get underway. Simply screw these four screws into the back of the fan with any accommodating 120mm hole in your case.
Fit and Finish
The test subject, again my vanilla EVGA GTX 470, is up for more torture.
With the card prepped and ready for assembly, we can now fit the Omni to the card.
Using twelve of the screws that you removed from the factory cooler, you align the threaded holes in the Omni with the factory holes and secure the screws. Of course, you should have peeled all the plastic off the underside of the interposer plate prior to installation.
Wow! The Omni is really low profile. Once the plate is secured to the card, the sleek black plate sits a little short of even a stock one slot cooler. Definitely no clearance issues here for other cards or even a dual GPU setup. You just need to have room for both radiators.
Looking at the way it covers the card, CoolIT has put a lot of thought into it. While it covers the majority of the left side of the card, they added ventilation to the caps at the right end. Even with adding the large holes at the end for the caps, the Omni is a solid component and the way the hoses run up naturally, there is little force down and the Omni doesn't weigh the card down when it is mounted in the case.
Now that we have covered both ends of the unit and the installation, I thought it was only appropriate to see the completed unit ready to install in my chassis.
Test System & Testing Results
Test System & Test Results
Testing was done in a spare computer I have in the room. Things were housed in a BitFenix Colossus and the door was on during any testing and reading of the temperatures. The room itself was kept at 25C for the duration. To test the cards I used EVGA OC tool with a Furmark-like OpenGL 4.0 to test things. The card is controlled with MSI Afterburner for the overclocking and overvolting parts of the testing. When the testing says stock fan profile, it is the one programmed into the BIOS.
The testing is run for thirty minutes and temperature information is gathered from Afterburner for all the test results. In order to attain the idle temperatures, things were allowed to cool down and a reset was done and an additional ten minutes was waited to allow for the best possible results.
Idle: Cards were left at stock with clocks of 608/837/1215 with a voltage of 1.000V.
Load: Cards are overclocked and overvolted to clocks of 775/950/1550 with a voltage of 1.050V.
Both the stock and overclocked temperatures were very pleasing to see. They did just a touch better than the air cooler we last tested. These temperatures of 36 degrees stock and 37 when overclocked are with the fan and pump at full speed, so these are best case scenario at 25C ambient.
With the stock clocks applied and the testing run for another thirty minutes, the load temperatures are quite good for the size of the unit and the single 120mm radiator. When I applied more voltage and raised the clocks, the CoolIT starts to drop a few spots. Pulling in just behind my water loop and the air cooler was a bit of a surprise, but it all comes down to how far you want to push your GTX 470. For the abuse I sent into these coolers, I like the results the Omni offers.
Sound testing is very similar to the results I got with both the Eco and the Vantage when they would run full speed. Expect around 55 dBA during full operation of the Omni. You can lower the power to the unit if you want, and that will drop the noise level to around 40 dBA, but of course will offer less performance.
At this point I am really torn. There are certain instances, like in an HTPC/gaming rig in your living room, this could be the solution to quell the temperatures inside a small for factor chassis. Of course, there is an option for those who want to lower their temperatures, and who have the room for the length of the hoses and room for the radiator assembly. The thing that keeps me from recommending this unit to anyone with the room to house the Omni is the fact that it is going to set you back just over $200.
I have talked to a few friends and asked if they would use this on their rig. We discussed temperatures, noise levels, and the size constraints. Everyone I talked to was on board at this point, so I decided to go a bit further and discuss the fact that you can swap the interposer plate later if you decide to change the card later on down the line, and I still have them interested at this point. So I mentioned what a new plate was going to cost, and they got quiet on me. The first question out of their mouth was 'if the plates are going to cost me $75 to change them out, what does the whole unit cost?' - So I tell them and half were silent while the other half were chuckling. The main argument I got was 'I can go custom water for that price', and I have to agree on this.
I continued trying to promote the unit with its features. It's completely sealed, and very user friendly. Installing the Omni is a cinch; I mean if you can remove a stock cooler, you have all the ability and knowledge needed to get the Omni under way. I used the Omni not only for testing, but it sat in the rig and allowed me to fold 24/7 at much better temperatures than the stock cooler offered; and being a sealed system, I don't have to worry about leaky fittings or collateral damage to my system because of such an issue. I really like the Omni, and what it offered in cooling capabilities, I just wish the unit was in the sub-$150 bracket, and I think CoolIT would have a much easier time moving this product. As it stands, I can't fully get behind this based on that one factor alone.
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