Thermaltake Aquarius II Liquid Cooling Review
Reviewed by: Admin
Reviewed on: December 20, 2002
Price: $150 USD
Thermaltake had came out with several new cooling products at the fall Comdex this year in Las Vegas, and one of these products is the TT Aquarius water cooling kit. This water cooler isn't necessarily built for a hardcore overclocker, but rather for a user seeking an efficient and very quiet cooling solution. Today, we will see how the Aquarius II stacks up against the DangerDen cooling kit and we will also balance the differences between the two to see which kit would be best for you.
|Material||Copper Forging / Nickel Plating|
|Clip||Universal fits P4, K7, K8|
Radiator & Fan
|Radiator Dimension||86x130x89 mm|
|Material||Copper Pipe with Staged Copper Fin|
|Fan Dimension||80x80x25 mm|
|Fan Rated Voltage||12V DC|
|Fan Rated Current||0.14A|
|Fan Power Input||1.68W|
|Fan Speed||2400 ± 10% RPM|
|Max. Air Flow||38.4 CFM|
|Life Expectancy||50,000 hours|
|Rated Voltage||12V DC|
|Water Pressure||1.2 kg/cm2|
|Pump Speed||22.5 GPH|
|Bearing Type||Ceramics Bearing|
|Life Expectancy||50,000 hours|
The Aquarius II water cooling kit comes in a very small box. The size of the box was very similar to box size that the Iceberg cooling kit came in. Once you open the small box, you will find that it comes choc full of parts and odd-n-ends. Here is an overview of what you should receive in your box. Be sure to check for each of these items, because you may not be able to complete the installation without them all. There is also a part check list in the first part of the Installation Manual.
The radiator is basically made of all copper. The pipe and fins are made of copper, but the housing is made of metal. The radiator is nicely constructed and very small (86x130x89mm) so you can install it virtually anywhere in your case. The construction and overall design is much nicer than the radiator found on the Iceberg water cooler. However, the DangerDen radiator is about two times the size of the Aquarius II radiator. The fan that is found on the Aquarius II radiator is a standard 80x80x25mm case fan that pushes about 40CFM at only 22 dBa. The fan has a 3 Pin connector so you can easily read the RPM rate of the fan from your operating system.
Pump & Reservoir
The pump comes pre-installed in the reservoir, so you don't have to worry about installing it and sealing the reservoir up so that it doesn't leak. Since this is already complete, it will shave 10mins off the installation process. The pump that comes with the Aquarius II is the smallest pump I have ever seen used in a water cooling setup. I was also very happy to find that the pump runs on 12v DC power! This means, you can plug it up to your motherboard and it will run. Unlike the Aquarius pump, my DangerDen pump AND my Iceberg 1 pump requires AC power which can only be obtained from running a wire out of your computer and plugging it in to a power outlet. Usually all good things have a drawback. In this case, most DC pumps won't pump as much water as an AC powered pump. The Aquarius 12v pump only moves about 22.5 gallons of water per hour. When you compare this to the Iceberg 1 pump that moves 150GPH and the DangerDen that moves 317GPH, it's quiet a difference.
One VERY cool feature about ThermalTakes water pump is that it has an integrated digital water flow meter! This little device, usually must be purchased separately and also installed by you, comes pre-installed and on the inside of the reservoir. A water flow meter will allow you to monitor the rate at which the water is flowing at.
This can be an excellent failsafe feature because you can have a program in windows running, such as MBM, that will detect if the pump stops pumping water and then automatically shutdown your computer to prevent damage. (If you already own a water cooling and are interested in buying one of these devices, they can be found on several cooling sites such as HighSpeedPC.com for around $35 bucks.)
Another reservoir?! Yep! Included in the Aquarius II water cooling kit you will receive not one, but two reservoirs. This reservoir is known as the "backup" reservoir as it holds extra water for when the main reservoir water evaporates. When the water slowly evaporates from the main reservoir, the backup reservoir will keep the main reservoir full. This is yet, another nice failsafe feature that is found in the TT Aquarius II. If you don't want a back up reservoir you don't have to use it. I'll discuss this later on during the Installation.
When I first saw the water block TT had included in this water cooling kit, I wasn't as impressed with it like I was about everything else. It's solid copper (with nickel plating) and from the weight, you can tell! However, the bottom of the heatsink wasn't imperfection free, but close. I noticed that some paint got on the bottom of the heatsink :/ I didn't really like that, but atleast it isn't where the CPU core will be at. The water block is a solid block of copper that doesn't have any screws in it, or any cracks where water could possibly leak out one day. Only time will tell if this water block can handle the heat we place it under.
In the kit you'll receive a clear box that is filled to the rim with screws, claps, magnets, and heatsink clips. You may not use all of these parts, so if you get your water cooling kit installed and have parts left over, don't sweat it :) You'll also receive several pieces of metal shaped like an "I". These are for P4 based motherboards, too bad we won't be using them in our installation ;)
If you have a K7 based CPU then you're in luck! The installation is the easier for K7 motherboard owners, than P4 motherboard owners. P4 motherboard owners will need to do several other steps in order to install the water block. These steps include installing the "I" shaped pieces of metal on the back side of the motherboard. Since I do not have a P4 based motherboard, I will not discuss the process in detail but P4 owners will have to completely remove their motherboard from their case.
For example, this is how you would install the backup reservoir. Place a couple magnets beside each other on the back corner of your computer case. Then, stick the reservoir on top of them and the installation is done. If you choose to use the backup reservoir, you'll need to install the provided PCI slot cover in the back of your computer. This slot cover has a hole in it where you can feed the water tubing out of to attach to the backup reservoir.
Here is the cooling kit, before I added water to it. I love the size of this kit, it's so small! If you don't install the back-up reservoir then you can take away two more tubes.
You'll notice that the main reservoir, which also holds the pump, doesn't have a top where you can fill it up with water. That's where the backup reservoir comes in handy, because we will use it to fill up the system with water. As you fill the backup reservoir with water, you will notice the water spreading throughout the entire system by first filling up the main reservoir. Thermaltake has made a low water line on both sides of the main reservoir. You'll want to kept he water above this line at all times. After you have filled the system with water, and it won't take anymore water then turn your computer on and the pump should start working. You did remember to plug the pump up to the motherboard, right? Lets hope so! Keep your eye on the low water line and make sure the water doesn't go below this. If it does, turn off your computer immediately and fill the reservoir with more water.
After turning the PC on, I noticed a very cool feature of the pump. It has a built in bright blue LED light! This should bring some life to your case and draw attention to it.
Before I started doing benchmark tests on this water cooler, I thought I would switch the cooler to my test computer which lies on top of my work bench. The motherboard in my test setup is an KR7A-133R. After I installed the water block, plugged the pump up, and then plugged the radiator fan up. After doing that and turning the computer I noticed the temperatures in the bios was reading about 50°c! I knew for a fact that something wasn't right, because when I had the water cooler installed on the Asus A7V8X motherboard the temperatures were much lower than that. I used the same exact thermal paste on the two motherboards, so I knew it wasn't that. However, I did remove the water block and reapplied the thermal paste to make sure that wasn't the problem. After I did that, I booted the computer up and the BIOS still read 50°c for the CPU! Then it struck me, that it may be the clipping mechanism. While the computer was still on and in the BIOS, I applied pressure to the middle of the water block with my fingers. Almost immediately after doing so, the temperatures began to drop. I remember it dropping around 8-10°c in a matter of minutes. Now I know what the problem is, all I have to do now is fix it.
I used the exact teeth recommendation for the clipping mechanism as the manual states. Instead of using the specifications it says to use, I had to make one handle 4 teeth from the bottom and the other 5 teeth from the bottom. This applied enough pressure to the water block so it would make contact with the core of the CPU.
I allowed the system to idle in windows for 10 mins after a cold boot, to get the idle temperature. I then ran CPUBurn for a total of 35mins to get the load results. I also shutdown the system and allowed it to cool for 10mins before running the next test. The ambient temperature during the time of testing was 18.8 - 19.5°c.
Water Cooler Buying Guide
|I'm looking for a..||then you should...||because...|
|Quiet Cooler||definitely buy the TT Aquarius II||its the quietest H20 cooler we have in our lab|
|buy the Iceberg 1 and save a little money.||you won't get as many features and as the performance that comes in the Aquarius II but of course you do save some money|
|Performance Cooler||buy the DangerDen||it's the best performing cooler we have tested, hands down.|
|Budget Cooler||buy the Iceberg 1||it's cheap no doubt about it.. maybe that's why my reservoir cracked after only two weeks of running the cooler|
|Expandable Cooler||buy the DangerDen||the DangerDen can be bought in a couple different standard sizes. the Aquarius II and Iceberg I uses odd size fitting and you'll have a hard time trying to replace a water block or adding a video cooler.|
I was actually surprised by the performance of the Aquarius II. I had originally thought, it would not of perform as well as it did.
If the reservoir on my Iceberg 1 water cooler wouldn't have cracked, I'm betting that the Aquarius II would have beat the Iceberg 1. I'll try and rig
up a reservoir for the Iceberg 1, or maybe have the manufacture send me a new one so that we can do a shootout between the two water coolers.
I liked the fail-safe features Thermaltake included in this water cooler. The water flow meter is a really cool feature, which serves as a flow rate monitor and a failsafe device.
The blue LED inside of the reservoir, was a nice touch but I wish it was a little brighter.
The clipping mechanism needs a lot of work. I think Thermaltake needs to take the clip back to square one, and design something different or either perfect this one. The one problem with the clip being a little too large and touching my RAM was irritating. I also had to adjust the clip several times to get the clip to fit on my Abit motherboard and for it to apply enough pressure to the water block. If it wasn't for the problem with this clip, I would have given this product the OCC Recommend Award. Thermaltake did a good job on their first water cooler, and I hope they continue to improve this water cooler and fix some of the things I have pointed out.
- Very easy installation!
- Very quiet
- Nice features
- Fail-safe features
- Blue LED light :)
- Water Block clip sucks
- Slightly over priced