AHANIX Iceberg 1 Water Cooling System ReviewBosco - May 31, 2003
Category: CPU Cooling
: GF City Computers
Price: $199 USD
Water cooled computers get a little more mainstream every day. I don't think it's for gramma just yet but more and more manufacturers are packaging up and marketing all-in-one H2O cooling solutions. KeyNet Computers asked me to build them a couple of rigs based on my past experience with water cooling and gave me clearance to review the hardware, "just don't fry anything!" One of the rigs was built using the AHANIX Iceberg1 system, let's learn about it today.
The AHANIX Iceberg 1 has been out a year or more now. I had read a couple of reviews but never seen or been hands on with one until this one arrived. It's very well packaged, all components having individual compartments in a stiff foam liner inside the box.
Opening up the box (and breaking out the patented FuzzyCam), I found the waterblock, mounting hardware for both AMD and Intel, a polycarbonate reservoir, small radiator, 80mm fan, small pump, about 8 feet of surgical tubing, various warranty and instructions literature, thin foam padding for isolating the res/pump from the case and ..... what's this? Looks like you have to install the plug on the end of the pump yourself. Remember I said before that water cooling ain't for gramma just yet? Mine would probably hire an electrician at $75 an hour just to install the plug on the pump cord. The benefit of supplying it this way is obvious, that you can run the wire out the back of your case THEN install the plug, making stealthing the cord a little easier. From the manufacturers standpoint, they don't have to pre-install the pump in the reservoir, which was a bit of a chore as we shall see. The downside is the extra time it takes to set up and, if you're not at least somewhat savvy around electrical stuff, some pretty serious danger if you install the plug wrong. My hair's still straight and flat so I think I got that part right.
I actually got a decent shot of the surface of the block but believe it or not, it's even worse than it looks. Made of aluminum (well, 95% alloyed with 5% copper), it was covered with gouges, nicks & scratches. Otherwise flat but I wonder how on earth it gets abused like this and passes quality inspection? I didn't have the time to lap it, we'll see how it performs as is.
I was curious to see the size of the tubing in relation to the 1/2 ID hose I use on my DangerDen rig. As you can see, the blue surgical tubing fits inside the other hose with plenty of room to spare. Generally (always?) more flow rate of the water = better heat dissipation off the cpu - hand in hand with this, smaller tubing may tend to restrict flow and offer poorer cooling. You do have to factor in the strength of the pump into the equation. The Iceberg 1 comes with a rating of 150 gallons/hour on its pump, as opposed to the 317 gallons/hour of the Eheim 1250 I currently have, and the barbs are only 3/8", so I'm not expecting an ongoing 'tornado' in the reservoir, but we shall see.
Installing the pump into the reservoir took quite a while. The instructions say to cut a short piece of the tubing and attach the lid of the res and the pump via this short piece. What you can't see in the picture is that the hole and barb on the lid of the res are offset by about 1/2" from any possible position the pump might take. I tried mounting the pump vertically and running a little longer piece of tubing up but it crimped the tubing so that didn't work. After much *grunting* I did eventually get it to work with no crimps in the tubing. Thank goodness the res is polycarbonate, which is basically bulletproof - if it were acrylic, I have no doubt I'd have busted it. You can also see above how the cord for the pump goes up through the lid of the res and the opening is sealed by a screw down plastic 'bolt' (ya, I don't know the name for it). There's also a thin rubber gasket that goes between the lid and the body of the res, I was able to get a nice tight seal and screwed down the lid fairly firmly with no evidence of cracks.
One thing I really liked was the position and size of the filler opening on the reservoir. It will depend on where you mount it in your case but putting it on the floor of the case just back of the drive bays, I was easily able to fill the reservoir using distilled water and a funnel. The rubber gasket under the lid again gives a good firm seal with no evidence of leaking.
I didn't try out the included Intel hold down for the block, as this is a system built around an XP2600+ AMD and a Gigabyte GA-7VAXP-A Ultra motherboard. You can see above, the block hold down is 2 pieces that grab all 3 of the socket lugs and looks like this........
I had no trouble whatsoever installing the clip over the block and onto the socket. The clip is far 'springier' than some HSF units I have installed, but the pressure on the block is firm - as it should be.
Well, you can sorta see the clip there in that picture. Next up was the radiator. It measures 6 1/2" X 3 1/2" X 1 3/4" deep including the 3/8" barbs (135 X 94 X 46mm). It has a full plastic shroud all the way around it, fully open on one side and with an opening that fits the included 80mm fan on the other. I decided to see if I could take advantage of the existing rear case fan and mount the rad sandwiched in a push/pull configuration between the existing fan and the case fan. More grunting. Done. My expectation is that the temperatures being seen may vary and be lower than what you would expect using only the included fan - if only by a degree or two.