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Thermaltake Aquarius III Water Cooling System Review

By: Mike Wright | CPU Liquid Coolers in Cases, Cooling & PSU | Posted: Dec 20, 2003 5:00 am
TweakTown Rating: 7.0%Manufacturer: Thermaltake

External Unit



Now that we've seen how the internals are set up, we'll need to take a look at where that water gets processed and recirculated. All this will be accomplished outside your PC enclosure in this external unit. But it doesn't just handle the pumping and cooling functions, but keeps you constantly posted as to temperatures and fan speed as well.


You get a pair of thermal monitors which keep watch of the processor temperature and the water temperature at the radiator. Both of these monitors also have an alarm set up to give an audible warning if the temperature rises to a level above your personally set limits. Or, of you get tired of having it on all the time, you can turn off one or both of the monitors.


In the bottom left corner is a LED display of your fan speed. This is the fan located within the external housing. Since it is a largish 80mm type, you can set the speed manually with the rheostat knob on the bottom right. At low and medium speeds you will likely not hear it over your case fans, but the high speed setting makes it a real screamer. Fortunately you leave it at lower speeds until you need to do some gaming or similar.



Opening the housing lets us see what happens on the inside of the unit. Here you will find the radiator, cooling fan, reservoir and pump. We'll take a little closer look at these areas.



The radiator is similar to many you'll find in a water cooling solution. It is made of copper and the tubes are surrounded by thin copper fins to help in heat dissipation. Directly behind the radiator is the large 80mm fan I was mentioning earlier. If you've been keeping up with recent Thermaltake coolers, you'll recognize this as the same fan from the Volcano 12 HSF. It measures in at a beefy 80mm x 80mm x 32mm and has a maximum airflow rating of over 70-CFM. Now it becomes obvious why I mentioned the noise levels when running it at full speed.


The principle of water cooling remains the same as any standard liquid cooling setup. The water circulates through the system sending the heated water through the radiator where it is cooled. The system circulation then sends it through the water lines again to continue the cooling process.



Every water cooling system for your PC needs to have an ample reservoir for water storage. As a general rule the larger the reservoir the better. This is due to the added volume of water allowing better cooling since it won't be recirculated back through the system too soon and still be too warm.


In the bottom of the reservoir is a small, submerged water pump that handles the chore of keeping liquid constantly moving through the system. Having a decent throughput of water is essential to effective cooling, especially when the heat starts rising due to overclocking or hardcore gaming.


Unfortunately, this is where the Aquarius seems to be in need of some more thought. With a total capacity of about 200ml of water (roughly 7 ounces) and a meager 120 l/hour pump (0.5 Gal/min), I began stressing the system out when running a processor with just over 82 watts of heat output, I began getting some startling results. With all the room within this external unit, a larger capacity pump and a larger reservoir would be about all it takes to put this kit where it needs to be.



By the way, you don't have to disassemble the unit to fill the reservoir. Just remove two screws from the top and you have instant access to the fill plug. From there you just need to look at the side window to be able to tell when it is full.



One final note...don't run the pump without water in the reservoir. Since it is a submerged pump, the water around it is what keeps everything cool and working properly. Running without water is a sure way to fry the pump.


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