TherMagic CCS - IntroductionIntroduction
For those who have been taking in the reviews that we do regularly, you might remember a product made by Evergreen Technologies that was called TherMagic. It was a new thermal interface material and did an amazingly good job of transferring heat away from the processor core and into the heatsink. It even managed to edge out the industry leader, Arctic Silver, by a little bit.Well, it seems as though the folks over at TherMagic didn't want to stop at just creating an outstanding TIM, but they also wanted to create a new method of cooling the processor as well. To accomplish this feat, they came up with a fully enclosed water cooling system that they called the CPU Cooling System; or CCS for short.When I was first approached concerning the possibility of testing this kit and reviewing it, I was pretty hesitant. For those who know me at all, they also know that I have stayed far away from ANY
water-cooling setup. This is mainly because I'm still concerned about the thought of introducing water to a set of electrical components, but also because of my fear that it might ruin my little toy. So rest assured that I'll be looking hard not only at performance, but also at the safety of this unit as well. I've put too much time and effort into creating a system that suits my exact needs to throw it all away on a whim.So sit back and take a gander at a liquid solution designed for those who may be nervous about using this type of setup within their own system.
TherMagic CCS - The SetupThe Setup
When you first open the box and remove the cooler, you begin to think that it is a monster. After all, we're talking about a long plastic tube that measures in at roughly 8.25" (about 21cm) and houses a pair of 60mm fans, a water pump and a radiator. It's not exactly what you would consider a lightweight!But remember, this is a simple to use cooler for those who may not have the nerve to start piecing together a full-blown water-cooling rig. So let's talk a bit about how the system works, shall we?
As I mentioned above, there are quite a few components housed within the plastic body of the unit. To give you a general idea of how a water rig works, it simply takes a liquid and circulates it through a set route to keep the processor cool. As the processor generates heat, it is transferred to the core. From there, it is transferred to the copper cold plate that is mounted to the processor. This is where the liquid comes into play since it is circulating through
the cold plate. Since it is constantly moving, it takes the transferred heat along with it to the radiator where the heated liquid is cooled off and then normally it goes to a reservoir to be cycled through the cooling system again.With the CCS, the water has a much simpler course to follow. It circulates down the blue tube, passes through the cold plate, travels back up through the red tube and then travels through a small radiator that is being hit with the fans. These fans are set up so that they take the airflow from within the case, blow it over the radiator (cooling the liquid) and then removing the heated air from the system through a standard 80mm fan mount on the rear of the case.The pump that was mentioned earlier is the force behind the moving water, so the purpose of this component is a no-brainer.
Since the water is constantly moving through the cold plate, there is no fan installed to this piece. All cooling takes place by means of the circulating liquid. Want to fry a processor in nothing flat? Just let the pump stop working and you'll likely accomplish your goals. Even with the newer processors supposedly throttling down in the case of extreme temperatures, do you really want to test this theory? I think I'll pass, especially since I use an AMD based system.But what about the base of this cold plate?
Though the picture can't really do much justice to the actual surface of the plate, it was quite smooth. It lacked machining tool marks that are common in some bases, so if you want to polish this up a bit, you can do so with minimal effort. Since I make it a habit to test all coolers as they are sent from the manufacturer, I just used a bit of Isopropyl alcohol and made sure the surface area was clean.
Above you can take a quick peek down the gullet of the main housing assembly. This particular end is where it mounts to the rear of the case, but the fan on the other end is identical. The pump and radiator sit between these two fans.And speaking of the fans, they are 60mm x 60mm x 25mm, spin at high speeds and put out just over 32-CFM of airflow. It should be noted that since one of the noted advantages of water-coolers is quiet operation, this unit didn't really fall into that category. While not quite as annoying as the screaming Deltas of old, it certainly didn't hide the fact that it was running.
TherMagic CCS - InstallationInstallation
When it came time to install this beast, I found the easiest thing was to just set the case on its side and then begin work from there. Once this was accomplished, I was able to set the main assembly on the drive bays and then attach the cold plate. Here is what we have once it has been installed:
Once you have the cold plate properly attached you can begin attaching the main housing. This is accomplished by simply removing an existing 80mm fan from the back of the case and then putting this monstrosity in its place. Below is the result of this effort:
When the entire cooling system is correctly installed, the hoses between the housing and the cold plate will make a smooth curve. You'll want to make certain that hoses have no sharp bends or kinks in them or you may get the chance to test out that speed-throttling ability of your precious processor.Once you've installed the cold plate and the cooling assembly, the only thing left is to hook up all of the electrical connections. This will require two motherboard fan headers and a single 4-pin Molex connector. This will ensure that you have power to all necessary areas and also gives the ability to monitor both fan speeds and pump RPM ratings during operation.Now that we have the water-cooler in place, it is time to see if it can handle the load.
TherMagic CCS - TestingTesting
The tests performed on this cooler will follow my standard guidelines for determining cooling performance on a heatsink. This will consist of measuring the temperature at idle, after a grueling Quake III Deathmatch, and finally after a looping run of the 3DMark2001 Demo. Once these results have been tallied, I'll boost the FSB to 145MHz and run the tests again. While not an aggressive overclock, it will serve to show how well this cooler does under both normal and overclocked conditions.Ambient air temperature is a stable 21C throughout tests and voltages are set at 1.8v for the processor and 2.6v for the memory. Also of note is the fact that the system was allowed to run at idle for one hour before any tests were conducted. Evergreen states that it can take up to 45 minutes for the temperatures to stabilize, so I'll give this cooler the best chance possible to provide optimal results.But before we start looking at the results, it might be a good idea to see what the test bed system consists of. I'll still use the Arctic Silver compound so that test results will have an even baseline to begin from. All other units compared used AS3 so I'll continue the trend.Xoxide modified Lian-Li PC60 CaseEPoX 8K9A2 MotherboardAMD Athlon XP 1800+ Processor512MB Crucial PC2700 DDR MemorynVidia Reference Ti4200Seagate Barracuda 40GB Hard DriveArctic Silver IIITemperature - Idle
While the results are not the worst I have seen, they are certainly higher than I would have expected for a liquid cooled system. Even the mid-range air coolers are delivering better performance.Temperature - Quake III
After a bit of fragging, I still ended up with similar results. This isn't what I had expected at all.Temperature - 3DMark2001 Demo Loop
Again the results are less than stellar. Since I'm not a water aficionado, I can only hazard a guess as to the cause. Since most water-cooled systems make use of a storage reservoir, the liquid used to cool the system doesn't have to make an immediate return to duty. It can run through the radiator, cool off, and then sit for a moment to cool off even more. The CCS tested today has a very limited amount of liquid being used so it is likely that the water just can't get cooled down enough before being recirculated.
TherMagic CCS - ConclusionConclusion
When I first agreed to test the CCS cooler, I had thought that I would get some better results than I managed to achieve. The thought of finally adding any sort of water to my system was a huge leap of faith for me since I have always been more than a little nervous about this prospect.But while the safety of the cooler proved to be very high, the performance lagged behind even middle of the road HSF units that are currently available on the market today. And considering that this unit will set you back about US$100, you can see that it will be hard pressed to get a large following.I will say, however, that this thought is a worthy one to follow. The current application needs some hardcore improvements, but the idea of creating a liquid-cooling system that is fully enclosed and SAFE
for the end user is a notable concept. Bringing liquid to the masses could do wonders for future technologies. And a final item of note is the fact that they include a small syringe of TherMagic TIM with the kit. For those who have been sleeping lately, it manages to beat out the highly vaunted Arctic Silver line by just a tad, which says a lot.Bottom line... While I cannot recommend the CCS in its current state of development, I would keep an eye on them for future revisions. While the cost is actually minimal for a liquid rig, the level of performance doesn't justify the price tag.- Pros
Smooth baseLow cost for liquidFully self-enclosed system- Cons
Performance lags behind competitionPoor cost -vs- performance ratioRather loudRating - 6/10