DangerDen Custom Water Cooling Kit Review

Admin - 2007-02-18 16:04:22 in CPU Cooling
Category: CPU Cooling
Reviewed by: Admin   
Reviewed on: September 11, 2002
Dangerden
Dangerden
Price: $300 USD

Introduction:



Water cooling has been around a very long time. Way back when, water cooling was mostly used in large servers to keep the heat down. However, water cooling your desktop computer hasn't been around very long. Over the past several years, water cooling has sparked a huge interest with overclockers. Overclockers aren't the only ones that will find interest in water cooling. If your computer is in a hot environment or if you're just looking for a much quieter way to cool your computer, you'll probably have a particular interest in water cooling. Since water cooling uses water to cool your CPU and not air, it makes it a very quiet cooling solution.

Submergible vs. Inline Pumps

When buying or building a water cooling system you will find that there are two types of water pumps you can buy, a submergible and an Inline pump. A submergible pump, simply sits submerged in water (a reservoir) and draws water in to the pump while under water. It then pumps the water out of the reservoir and thru your radiator, waterblock(s), and other water cooling devices. Once the water has passed thru your water blocks and radiator it will be dumped back in to the reservoir. The big advantage of submergible pumps is that the pump is almost completely silent because of the water surrounding the pump. The disadvantage of submergible pumps is the heat the pump makes is released in to the water, which isn't a very good thing. We are trying to keep the water cool as possible, and the heat from the pump doesn't help. Then there is always the problem with finding a reservoir big enough for your pump to sit down in.

Personally I like Inline pumps better because they don't release the heat in to the water like the submergible pumps do. Inline pumps are easier to install, more accessible, and don't release heat in to the water. The biggest disadvantage of inline pumps, is the noise factor. They aren't loud, but they do make a soft hum just like aquarium pumps. Another downside of inline pumps, is the heat they produce. If your going to mount the pump in your computer case, you should make sure you have plenty of air circulation to vent out the heat made by the pump.

What's Included?

It really depends on what your order from DangerDen.com because the kits are custom. You may want your water cooling system 1/2" or you may want to go with the 3/8" route. You can choose from the water block down to which type of fittings you want. The best way to understand what I'm talking about, you should surf on over to their website.

Here is everything I got in my cooling kit:

  • Maze 3 AMD waterblock
  • Geforce 4 waterblock
  • Black Ice Extreme radiator
  • Papst Fan w/ 4pin connector
  • Eheim 1250 pump
  • Clear plexi reservoir
  • 4oz Water Wetter
  • 3/8" Hose clamps
  • 3/8" fittings
  • 7' hose 3/8" ID w/ 1/8" walls



  • Specifications:



    Specifications

    Model

    Maze 3

    Material

    Copper

    Dimensions

    3" x 2.125" x 7/8"

    Lapped?

    Machined Lapped

    Pressure Threshold

    85 psi

    Thermal Resistance

    .22 °C/W

    Closer Look:



    The first thing we are going to look at is the Maze 3 water block. This water block is made of solid copper, which makes it a very heavy water block! The top, or the cover, on the water block is securely fastened by four allen wrench type screws. The water block came with the two barb fitting already installed. One of them is to allow water in, and the other is to allow water to proceed out. I really don't like the idea that the fittings "screw" on the water block and they had to use white teflon tape. I wish they would have soldered the fittings on, as this would make sure it would never leak. The main reason why I think they chose to go with the screw on fittings is because they can easily sell 3/8" & 1/2" size water blocks to accommodate different types of water cooling setups. Since they went with the screw on fittings they won't have to manufacture two water blocks, one with soldered 3/8" fittings and the other with soldered 1/2" fittings.




    The bottom of the Maze 3 is perfectly machined lapped with 800 grit sand paper. The first thing I noticed on the bottom of the water block is the screws that poke thru. The two screws on the right stick out a little farther than the ones on the left. It can't help but wonder if the two on the left are tightened enough. Maybe I can find an allen wrench to fit it and I can see if it will go on anymore.



    When you compare the Maze 3 to the water block that came with my Iceberg water cooling kit, it makes the iceberg water block look terrible. Right now, the iceberg water block is the only water block I have to compare the Maze 3 to.



    The radiator I received in my cooling kit is the Black Ice Extreme radiator. This is one of the best radiators I have seen and it's up there with the Silverstorm BA radiator on the cooling scale. The Black Ice Extreme has two rows that has a copper core consisting of flat tubes for maximum heat conductivity. The compact 150.4x128.6x43mm (5.9 x 5 x 1.69 inch) dimensions allows it to fit inside most mid-tower & larger cases. This Black Ice Extreme radiator has a glossy jet black finish. This radiator is also available in blue and 24k gold.



    On the back side of the radiator there are four pre-drilled holes so you can mount your 120mm case fan to it. To get an idea of how big the radiator is, just find a 120mm case fan and you can compare it to that.



    In the box the Eheim water pump came in I found a little instruction manual, some fittings, a blue colored filter, and ofcourse the big pump.



    This pump is a lot larger than the pump that came in my Iceberg water cooling kit. That can be a good thing because it pumps more water, but it also can be a bad thing because it may not fit in a small computer case. The size of the pump is 7.1 x 3.8 x 4.7 inches and that's about three times the size of the Iceberg pump. It pumps up to 317 gallons of water per hour. The Iceberg pump could only do 150 gallons of water per hour. The pump has two stabilizer "legs" if you will, that helps keep the pump from falling, not that it ever would without the legs but it's just a precaution. On the legs you will find two slots where you can put some screws or bolts thru. When buying or building a water cooling system there really is only one pump that comes to my mind, Eheim. Eheim pumps come with a 2 year manufacture warranty and that is great reassurance if your pump ever breaks. If your pump does break and you no longer have a warranty on it don't sweat, you can replace almost any part inside of the pump!



    Closer Look (Cont.)



    This is a top view of the pump. The hole you see here, is where the water will be flowing "out" of the pump.



    When ordering your kit from DangerDen.com they give you a few fan options. You can choose from a Sunon 120mm 4pin plug fan, a Papst 120mm that has no plug on it (good for a baybus or fanbus), and they also have a Papst 120mm 4pin plug fan. I think the Sunon would be louder than the Papst, but it would also blow more air and theoretically cool the water a tad more. I went with the Papst 120mm with the 4pin plug, mainly because I wanted to a quiet cooling solution and I was willing to sacrifice a few degrees to get what I wanted.

    The fan is just your basic 120mm case fan. If you already have a 120mm case fan lying around your house you could use it, and save $12-$21 depending on the fan.



    I really love the clear reservoir that came with my water cooling kit. It's a clear reservoir that is made out of plexi glass I guess. A clear reservoir will allow you to keep an eye on your water and make sure you don't have any algae or any little critters growing in your water lines and reservoir. The reservoir has to pre-drilled and threaded holes in the side of it. One would be for the water exit and the other for the water entry. On the top of the reservoir there is a bright red screw on cap that has a rubber seal around it to prevent water from seeping out. The water tubing is also sold with the reservoir, when you order a custom kit from DangerDen.com. They sell two types of tubing, one which is called Tygon (the kind I have) and they also sell Silicon tubing. I went with the Tygon tubing because I have never had any before. I like it because it's very durable but it's hard to work with, plain and simple.



    I received a 4oz bottle of Water Wetter with my kit as well. They also sell a big 12oz bottle, for those of you with lots of needs. The 4oz bottle only costs a few dollars and its worth every penny! Water Wetter is designed to provide improved metal wetting and excellent corrosion inhibition when added to plain water or a glycol coolant, such as anti-freeze. The stuff not only helps keep corrosion down, but can also increase cooling by 10% or more. I'll discuss more about the performance of Water Wetter, later on when I perform a few tests.



    Last but certainly no least, we have the Geforce 4 copper water block. One of the major differences between the GF4 water block and the CPU water block, is that this water block has a clear lucite acrylic top on it. I think it looks very cool, and it would look even better if you installed a bright blue LED in the side of the acrylic :) As you can see from the picture, they have DangerDen etched on top of the acrylic. I wonder if they do custom etches? hrmm The CPU water block can also be bought with this clear acrylic top, however I bought the CPU water block with the copper top to show a comparison of what both looks like. If you don't have a Geforce 4 then you are still in luck. DangerDen.com sells Geforce 2 & 3 water blocks, along with chipset water block for your Northbridge chip on your motherboard.



    The inside of the water block has a machined precision cut. Around the lip under the acrylic is a rubber seal to prevent leaking.



    Installation:


    When building a water cooling system there really is no wrong or right place to start, because it's just a closed loop and it all ties in together. When your hooking all the hoses up, don't put on any hose clamps or nylon zip ties yet. It's best to put these on at the very end because if you mess up and hook up the wrong hose on the wrong part then you'll have a harder time fixing the problem if you have already clamped the hose. If you know without a doubt that your not going to mess up, feel free to go ahead and clamp them down.

    I decided to start at the pump (water exit) and work my way from there back around to the pump (water entry). I cut off about a foot of tubing that will connect to the waterblock from the pump (water exit). Depending on if you have a small case or a large full tower case, you should cut yours so that there is enough slack to reach the pump while it's sitting on the bottom of your case. If your not going to install the pump inside of your case, obviously the hose needs to be a bit longer, and you may even have to buy some extra hose.



    The barb fittings on the water block makes it virtually leak proof. I have ran a water cooler for a few days without any hose clips around the barb fittings and it never did leak. Ofcourse, I didn't have that water cooler hooked up to my PC at the time, I'm not that brave :) However, it did prove a point that these barb fittings do a very good job at preventing leaks and with a water cooler that has hose clamps on it, it's a sure thing it will never leak.



    Once I clamped the hoses with the provided nylon fittings that came in my water cooling kit, I then cut off more tubing that will connect from the water block to the Geforce 4 water block. You know the drill, just slide your tubing over the barb fittings and secure the hose clamps. Now, if you buy a chipset cooler, you'd do things a little differently. It would make a little better sense to go from the Pump -> Video card -> Chipset -> CPU. That would use a lot less hose and not to mention a lot easier to work with than if you went from the Pump -> CPU -> Chipset -> Video card. However if you use the first scenario, the water that would be flowing thru the CPU water block would be hotter than the water flowing thru the video card water block. It's best to have the CPU first, in any case.



    Before we go hooking up the hose to the radiator we need to install the 120mm case fan on it. The difficulty of installing the fan on this radiator was no where near the difficulty I had installing the fan on the Iceberg radiator. It was actually more of the opposite. The screws went in to the radiator with ease, and the fan holes lined up perfectly. Make sure you install the fan so that air is pulled through the radiator instead of having the air pushed through.





    From the video card water block I went to the radiator, since I don't have a chipset cooler (which I regret). The hoses slipped right over the barb fittings on the jet black radiator.



    In my water cooling kit I received four fittings for the reservoir. Two of the four were just plain fittings and the other two was elbow fittings. I went with the elbow fittings because I thought the pipe would be a little easier to work with at that angle instead of sticking straight out. You'll have to screw the fittings on yourself, since they have no idea which fittings you want to use. All of the fittings did have teflon tape already on them, so all you have to do is screw them on the threaded holes of the clear reservoir.



    Finally, from the reservoir the hose connects back to where we started, the pump. This is where I ran in to my first and only problem. The fitting that is on the pump was a lot bigger, I'm guessing 1/2" OD, than the hose. So, I had to go to Home Depot at 11PM at night to find a 3/8" to 1/2" adapter and also a 1/2" piece of pipe. This is what I came up with:



    Either DangerDen forgot to include the fittings or you just have to buy them yourself.. I don't know.

    Low and Behold, a DangerDen custom water cooling kit assembled.



    Now, all we have to do is fill it with water and run a leak test. To fill it up with water, just unscrew the red cap on the clear reservoir and water in to it. Don't use ordinary tap water, instead use distilled water.




    Installation (Cont.)


    Tap water isn't good for water cooling because it has calcium deposits in it and it also has all kinds of chemicals in it from the water treatment plants, not to mention it will corrode your fittings. Filling your water cooler up with water isn't as simple as pouring water in the reservoir, turning the pump on, and your ready to go. There are a few steps you should do to prevent from burning your water pump up. The water pump needs to have water in it, before you ever turn it on for the first time. The easiest way to do this is to take the hose off that is going to your radiator from your water block and with your mouth suck the water from the reservoir so it flows through the pump. Be careful so you don't suck the water down your throat :) Once you have done that, your reservoir will be less full. You should unscrew the cap on the reservoir and pour more distilled water in to it. Now, you can plug your pump up to a surge protected and the pump should come on and start working. The first time you plug your pump up, only leave it plugged up for about three seconds. Why? Again, you can burn the pump up if there is no water going through the pump. Here is what the reservoir looks like after the pump running for three seconds:



    The pump and the radiator drank all of the water in the reservoir. Just fill the reservoir back up and repeat the processes until the reservoir stays full.

    Leak testing your new water cooling kit is crucial, before installing it in to your computer. The best way to leak test the system is to place it on a lot of paper towels and let it run all night. It's also a good idea to tug on the hoses to make sure they are all snug and don't leak. Another good idea, is to flip the reservoir upside down and see if it leaks. After running the water cooler all night, I'm happy to say I found no leaks at all! It was a flawless installation, so far anyway.


    The next step would be to install the water cooling system in your computer. Since my test computer isn't in a computer case, all I have to do is mount the water block on my CPU. If your going to be installing the water cooler in your case, the all thing you have to do that I'm not doing is mount the radiator/fan. Depending on the size of your case, you may have to dremel a 120mm blowhole in the top of your computer case. If so, check out my 120mm blowhole guide.



    The mounting system of the Maze 3 water block was very easy to install. (Note, you will have to take your motherboard out of your computer to install the water block.) Take one of the long threaded screws and stick it through one of the holes that is around your socket on the motherboard. Let the screw stick out of the back on the motherboard enough so that a flat nylon washer and nut can fit on it. Then flip the motherboard back over and do the same thing on that side.



    Once you have done this to all four holes, it should look something like this:



    Make sure you have a thin layer of thermal compound on your CPU core before proceeding. I like to use Arctic Silver 3 or NanoTherm compounds. All there is to do now is drop the water block down on your CPU (not literally) but make sure you align the screws with the holes on the water block first.



    Lastly, we need to tighten the water block down with the provided springs and nuts. You need to make sure you get them fairly tight, because the water block needs to come in contact with the core of your CPU. If you don't get it tight enough, the water block may not come in contact with your CPU core and you'll get a burnt CPU as the result.



    Waterblock is installed and ready to cool my soon to be overclocked CPU :)


    *Just a reminder* Before turning your computer on, turn your pump on! Pump comes before the power button, always!




    Testing:



    Testing system:

  • Abit KR7A-133R motherboard
  • AMD XP 1800+ (1.5Ghz) AGOIA stepping
  • Geforce 2 MX video
  • 512MB PC2700 RAM
  • Windows XP


    I have done a couple things to my board that may or may not of helped with my overclocking. I placed a heatsink on the 6 power transistors (they were at 60°c and the heatsink lowered the temp a lot) and I also superglued a small fan on the heatsink of my northbridge chipset cooler.



    Testing procedure:

    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 overclock test. The ambient temperature was 21.5-22.5°c.


    This test was done with stock CPU @ 1800+ 1.75v




    This test was done with stock CPU @ 1800+ 1.75v and I added water wetter to both of the water cooling systems. No really big temp drop like I had hoped :/




    This test was done with the CPU overclocked to 1730Mhz 1.80v.




    This test was done with the CPU overclocked to 1840Mhz 1.85v.




    This test was done with the CPU overclocked to 1888Mhz 1.85v. The Iceberg 1 had some hot temps with this overclock.





    This test was done with the CPU overclocked to 1925Mhz 2.02v. The Iceberg 1 could not cool the CPU enough to make it a stable OC. Windows crashed half way through the CPUBurn test and the last temp I saw before it crashed was 57.3°c ouch!




    Testing (Cont.)




    This test was done with the CPU overclocked to 1938Mhz 2.15v. Again, the Iceberg 1 could not do this high of an OC.





    A screenshot of SiSoft Sandra CPU Benchmark while @ 1938Mhz




    A screenshot of WCPUID while @ 1938Mhz. (The POST shows it as 1938Mhz, but WCPUID shows it at 1942.5Mhz. I tend to believe the POST is more accurate because I was using 12.5x155 which is 1937.5Mhz.



    I got my CPU up to 1950Mhz (12.5x156) with the DangerDen cooler but it wasn't very stable :( I may hook a Peltier up and see what I can do with this chip then. However, I think this CPU is about topped out at 1950MHz.

    Conclusion:



    Only one word comes to mind when looking at the performance and quality of this water cooling kit is, wow! I really am amazed at every aspect of this water cooler and the large overclock I achieved, proves the performance. Both water blocks were lapped to perfection and both are made of copper, which is a big plus in my books. The Eheim name brand water pump that comes with a 2 year manufacture warranty is awesome, not to mention it pumps 317 gallons of water per hour. The water cooling kit came with no instructions at all. They do have some instructions.. (if you could call them that) on their web site. You might be better off just coming back to this review and using it as your instruction manual :) The only problem I had was with the water pump hose not fitting and having to go buy an adapter. Maybe the guys at DangerDen.com could shed some light on this problem and let me know what the deal is. The price of this water cooling is three times the price of the Iceberg 1 water cooler. Keep in mind that the performance of this water cooler is three times that of the Iceberg 1 though. The saying, "You get what you pay for" seems to say it all. If you choose to buy this water cooling setup you won't be disappointed, because I know I'm not and I'm hard to please :)

    Pros

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