CoolIT Vantage Advanced Liquid Cooler Reviewccokeman - August 15, 2010
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The Vantage ALC will be the fourth cooling solution from CoolIT Systems that Overclockersclub has looked at. In the past we have looked at both budget and full-tilt cooling systems including the Pure and Domino A.L.C. with the most recent being the ECO A.L.C., which is a more basic approach for CoolIT much like the earlier Pure. The Vantage ALC is much like a hybrid of these models with the sweet simplicity of the ECO, but added functionality of an added control module so that you can customize its performance for your needs. The CoolIT Vantage ALC consists of three distinct parts: the radiator, fan and the pump/fluid heat exchanger all connected together with non-permeable lines, just to make sure that one of the biggest headaches with a liquid cooling system (Liquid Loss) is not a problem. As with CoolIT's other systems, the Vantage is pre-assembled and filled so that all you have to do is install the system into your chassis and enjoy the benefits of liquid cooling.
Let's start with a look at the pump/control unit of the Vantage ALC. The vantage uses a control module that can be customized to fit your needs, from mild to wild. You have three configurable options Quiet, Performance and Extreme. The display can be configured to be viewed in both portrait and landscape views so that the displayed information can be viewed regardless of the orientation of the pump assembly. On the front or top of the pump assembly are two buttons that allow you to navigate through the controller menus to set up the performance level required for your tastes. The pump assembly is inside the housing. CoolIT uses their own proprietary CFF1 pump that uses a ceramic bearing to get to the 50,000 hour MTBF while consuming just 1w of power. That's over five years of running 24 hours a day. The pump pushes a proprietary coolant mixture that consists of a propylene glycol mixture with both anti-corrosion and anti-fungal additives to eliminate another of the concerns with liquid cooling: algae build-up clogging the heat exchanger.
On one side of the pump assembly is a latch and on the other are the pump outlet and return lines from the radiator. These 90 degree fittings swivel around to make sure you can get the optimum fit in your chassis as the non permeable lines are not the most flexible. Even so, the tubing is flexible enough to get the job done, as long as you are not going for really tight radius turns. The Fluid Heat Exchanger, or the copper contact surface has the PRO A.T.C. thermal paste already applied in the correct pattern and thickness for mounting the Vantage ALC. When they say pre-assembled, it means that all you have to do is install the cooling system. The mounting hardware for Intel equipped systems is installed from the factory and is configurable by sliding the attachment point either in or out, to reach the 75 to 80mm span between socket 775 and socket 1366 motherboards.
There are two four-pin connections coming off the Vantage ALC pump assembly. A four-pin female connection supplies power to the CFF1 pump via the CPU fan header on the motherboard, so be sure to disable any PWM control in the BIOS. The four-pin male connection feeds power to the fan mounted on the radiator. This allows the Vantage control module to dynamically adjust the fan speed based on temperature.
Where CoolIT has improved with this cooling system in my opinion, is with the addition of a shroud on the back side to allow airflow out of the chassis a little better. Also, when mounting the radiator to the chassis, you are screwing into the shroud and not the radiator, meaning less chance of tweaking it and causing a leak. The 120mm fan attached to the radiator can be run from 1100 to 2500 RPM to provide airflow in both low and high demand cooling situations. The radiator has a fairly dense fin package at 22 fins per inch. CoolIT has designed this system so that the fan is used to push the air through the radiator using the air in the chassis with the exhaust going out of the chassis, versus using outside air for greater cooling that in turn pushes the hot air into the chassis. The top of the radiator has three separate connections, two for the liquid in and out lines, with a third sealed connection used to fill the unit up at the factory. The cooling system is filled with a proprietary coolant mix that includes both anti-corrosive and anti-fungal agents to keep the system in peak condition and eliminate any galvanic corrosion.
The CoolIT Vantage is able to be set up with three user configurable performance modes, Silent, Performance and Extreme. As you can guess, the Silent mode is going to be quiet, while Performance and Extreme will work toward the other end of the spectrum, with increased noise and better performance. The Vantage ALC can be configured in other ways as well, with up to six different colors on the control panel display and four different orientations - two landscape and two portrait modes. Additionally, you can set up the display to show the coolant temperature, fan and pump speeds or the CoolIT logo.
In the near future this unit will be able to interface with CoolIT's upcoming Maestro software and fan node that will bring added functionality to the Vantage ALC. The upcoming software suite will allow you to auto-detect devices connected to the system, control fans (including third party fans) so you can have control over all of the cooling fans in your system and a set of lights that can be set up for just the 'bling' factor or to function as warning LEDs, as well as allowing you to graph the cooling performance of your system. An incredible amount of functionality will be available from the guys at CoolIT.
Once installed, all that is left to do is to start up the system and test it out to see if the Vantage ALC is a performance piece, or just a good silent upgrade from stock cooling.