Thermaltake Symphony Mini

Admin - 2007-05-04 20:14:42 in CPU Cooling
Category: CPU Cooling
Reviewed by: Admin   
Reviewed on: May 6, 2007
Thermaltake
Thermaltake
Price: $179.99 USD

Introduction:

I have been overclocking my CPUs for as long as I can remember and the only time I ever tried water cooling was when I tried to make my own CPU block out of a hunk of copper at work. I did all the cross-drilling and tapping to make ports for the water to go in, circulate, and exit. The pump I bought separately and the radiator was confiscated from a trash bin. The idea here is to let the water absorb the heat from your CPU and have the heat expelled from the water as it is circulated through a radiator that is cooled by fans. It worked, but not as I expected, hence, it's sitting in a closet somewhere. This unit I received to review, if compared to what I made, is like comparing a Porsche to a Vega. It is very sexy looking, and well made. The item I received to review is an external CPU water cooling setup from Thermaltake. Its construction and quality is something you would come to expect from a company as well known as Thermaltake.

Thermaltake Technology Co., Ltd. started its core business based on its extensive knowledge of PC thermal management during the era where the area of performance CPU cooling was only exclusive to "overclockers" or PC enthusiasts.

With the company's core business of CPU cooling still growing at a vast rate, Thermaltake made another grand entry to the PC chassis industry. To date, Thermaltake has always been considered as the pioneering company that revolutionized the PC chassis industry with the Xaser series enclosures. The typical and traditional beige and plastic front panel design was outdone by the Xaser series chassis's atypical gaming red and aluminum front panel. It was also the first enclosure available to the public with a Hardcano unit which provided users full control over computer's thermal management system.

In the year 2002, Thermaltake announced the Purepower line of power supply units for the ever-growing power-hungry PCs. Purepower series PSUs quickly gained recognition with its extensive warranty and high-reliability guaranty.

Today, Thermaltake has grown into a world-class company with state-of-the-art testing and R&D facility based in Taiwan along with 60+ engineers and ID team covering each application segment such as Liquid Cooling, Air Cooling, PC Enclosure and Power Supply for main-stream users, high-end solutions, system integrators and industrial applications; thus achieves Thermaltake's company motto, "COOL ALL YOUR LIFE " !


Closer Look:

When I arrived home from work and saw this large box sitting on my porch, I could not figure what it could be since it was so large. Then I saw the Thermaltake name and I was even more baffled. The shape of the box could not be one of their cases, and I was pretty sure there weren’t any CPU coolers that big. The only way I was going to find out was to open the box. Inside the shipping box was the retail box with the actual product inside that.

 

 


Oh, nice, it looks like I was wrong. Thermaltake does make a CPU cooler that was large enough to take up a box so large. It is not your typical CPU cooler though; this particular cooler is an external, free standing water cooling unit. Let’s get this out of the box to see exactly what we have here.>/p>

As you can see, it is securely packaged to prevent the product from moving around during shipment and from rough handling. The foam packaging at the base serves another purpose in that it encases the water block itself along with extra fluid for filling the system, a filler bottle and a small box containing an assortment of brackets, screws, and clamps. The reason for all the assorted brackets is because this system is made to be adaptable for a variety of configurations, such as socket 775, K8, K7 and socket 478 motherboards. It even includes the brackets for use in a BTX system. The manual included is easy to understand and is very helpful. The main unit itself is very stylish looking and is actually intended to look like a home theater speaker so it will blend well in a family room environment.

 

 


You should be aware that the fluid used to fill the system is composed of Ethylene Glycol, a dangerous substance is not handled and used properly.


The water block itself is made of pure copper for increased heat dissipation and has the Thermaltake logo molded into it. The included PCI slot bracket has two holes in it for connecting the hoses and a power jack connected to it with a lead that connects to your 12 volt rail on your power supply to power the twin pumps. That’s right; this cooler has two pumps working in parallel to keep the fluid flowing through the loop. It is a self contained system other than the water block that mounts onto your CPU. You can remove the back cover by taking out four screws that hold it in place. This allows you to see the working parts of the system. This reservoir is already filled when received and will need to be filled further after the system is started up for the first time. This is due to the fact that the hoses and the water block are empty to when shipped and will drain the reservoir a little as they fill when the system is first started. When the fluid returns to the tower from the PC after it passes through the water block, it should be warm from drawing the heat. In the tower, the fluid passes through a large aluminum radiator with three 120 mm fans which blow at 1400 RPM to dissipate the heat.

 


Something you should be on the lookout for in a water cooling system is good flow of your cooling fluid. In this particular case, after I opened the back of the unit, I right away spotted a pinched line. The only way for me to access this further to correct it, I had to disassemble the bottom of the unit and gain access into the depths of the system. It turned out, there were two hoses that I had to change the routing of because they were crossed, and making the one that was pinched, too short. The other hose that crossed it also was slightly restricted by too sharp of a bend. I fixed that by using one of the extra included clamps. I just slid the clamp up the length of hose to where it was kinked and left it there, so the clamp reshaped the hose to its original dimension.

 

Installation:

We begin the installation by first making sure our CPU surface is clean and ready to accept the water block. I like to use ArctiClean and a q-tip to make sure all residue from old thermal paste (and oil from my fingers) is removed. Then we proceed with mounting the water block to the motherboard. I am using a socket 775 board, so I will follow the instructions in the manual for this setup. First off, I need to attach two foam insulators and an iron H-type clip to the back of my board. The foam insulators have a peel-off backing and an adhesive underside for applying them to the board. The insulators are to stop the iron H-clip from grounding out on my board. Once the foam is on, you can line up the H-clip with the holes in the board, and insert the screws from the bottom side through the board.

 


Now with the board flipped over, there are fiber washers to put onto the screws, to prevent any electrical grounding. Then the standoff nuts are threaded all the way down to the fiber washers. This holds the foam insulators and iron H-clip on the back of the board in place, and also helps keep the long screws lined up with each other.


Next we apply a very thin layer of thethe included thermal paste to the top of the CPU.


Now we can turn our attention to the water block. You can see it has a protective layer on the base to keep it from being scratched or damaged. Under this protective layer, I see a finely polished surface. It is quite evident that Thermaltake made an effort to ensure that this was a very flat, highly polished surface.


Once the water block is placed on top of the CPU, it requires an additional H-clip placed over the screws and on top of the CPU. Then using the four included nuts, tighten down the nuts to apply pressure forcing the water block tight to the CPU. Use caution here and do not over tighten the nuts as this may damage your motherboard. We can now place the motherboard back into the case.

 


Now we can install the PCI bracket that has the holes in it for the hoses and the power lead. The holes in the PCI bracket are marked “in” and “out”. You need to make a note of which hose on the water block is going to be in the lower position once you stand your case up. Ideally, if the fluid goes into the lower port of the block and comes out the higher port, which will push out any air in the system because any air will try to float to the top. Once the whole system is connected, the “out” port on the tower (fluid leaving) will be connected to the “in” port on the back of the case (fluid entering).


The hoses on the main unit have quick connectors on them and Thermaltake makes it quite clear in the instructions that these hoses are not to be cut. If you need to make the hoses shorter for any reason, cut the other hoses. The quick connectors are designed to not let any fluid to escape from the hoses once they are disconnected. They can even be disconnected with one hand for convenience. With everything connected, it is time to power the system up by turning on the PC. During the boot process, I hit my delete key as I wanted to enter in the BIOS and not let the system fully boot without the fluid in the water block. Once the system had power, I could tell the Symphony Mini also had power by the blue LED on the front of the tower and by the blue LEDs on the pumps themselves. This was a nice feature that would let you know if only one pump was working or both. With the pumps running, the fluid level in the reservoir was dropping as the hoses and water block were being filled. I added fluid from that supplied by pouring some from the bottle into the filling bottle and then into the reservoir. Another well thought out detail on Thermaltake’s part was that the threads on the reservoir were you placed the cap, were coated with Teflon tape to help prevent leaks. Of the 500 ml bottle of fluid that was included in the package, it took about 125 ml to bring the system back up to the full level. This gives you 375 ml to keep on hand for fillings in the future.

 



Specifications:


Modernly stylish
Home theater speaker appearance
Material
All Aluminum
All aluminum radiator
120 mm (W) x 33mm(D) x 360 mm (H)
Gross weight
9 kg
Dimension
250 mm (W) x 250 mm (D) x 800mm(H)
5 in 1 universal CPU water block
Brazing copper water block

Enhanced universal clip for BTX, Intel P4 Socket 775, P4 Socket 478, AMD K8, AMD K7

User friendly installation
Dual 12V Pumps
Dual black powerful DC 12V water pumps (90 L/hr)
Cooling System
Three 1400 RPM ultra-quiet 120 mm fans(16dB)
Quick disconnect coupling
Automatic non-spill valvesrobust materialone-hand operation
Maintenance free for liquid refilling
10,000 hours


Features:


Massive aluminum radiator
Added surface area to allow high heat dissipation
Brazing copper CPU water block
Maximizes heat conductivity from heat source
Apply to BTX and Intel P4 Socket 775, P4 Socket 478, AMD K8, AMD
Dual pump with 90L /hr flow rate

Liquid flow rate is increased significantly by implementing dual pump design; furthermore, it provides intense yet         quiet and smooth liquid circulation

More silent with high performance

Three 1400 RPM Ultra-Quiet 120mm fans(16dB)Dissipate the ambient thermal generated from the heat source

Testing:

I tested this system against my air cooler, the Tuniq Tower, to see if it benefits me any by lowering my temperatures at idle and at full load with a modest overclock on the CPU. All hardware remains the same except for the changing of the CPU cooler. To load the system at 100%, I ran a program called Prime95 and since I have a dual core CPU, I ran two instances of Prime95 to make sure both cores were loaded. I recorded these temperatures at full load and idle and also the idle temperature I got in the hardware monitoring section of my system BIOS, and put them in a graph for an easy comparison. Just  for the record, the ambient temperature was 25° C. The program I used to monitor the temperatures of the CPU in Windows was Speedfan, while CPU-Z shows the actual clock speed of the CPU.


Testing Setup:

Here you can see the difference in temperature between idle and full load. In this shot from the BIOS hardware monitor, you can see that it does not even come close to matching the temperature of the software program. Which is more accurate? I can only speculate.

 


Prime95 was run for a minimum of one hour to make sure that my processor was at it's highest possible temperature.o. I then waited a minimum of 15 minutes before I recorded the idle temperatures. All the chart values are in °C, with lower values being better.



As you can tell from the graphs, the Thermaltake cooler did an awesome job of cooling the CPU. The temperature only rose two °C from idle to load at this overclock while the air cooler rose six °C, which is still commendable.

Conclusion:

After finishing this test, I gained a new level of respect for the Thermaltake Symphony Mini cooler. Try as it might, the Tuniq Tower could not match the results of the Thermaltake water cooling setup. I believe the hoses on the Thermaltake water system are a bit undersized at only ¼ of an inch ID (inner diameter). This would make the connections that the hose slips over even less in inside dimension. At my place of work, as a skilled trades worker, I have to work with pipe quite often and I know that by doubling the inside diameter of a pipe or hose, you will raise the amount of flow through that pipe or hose by a factor of 4. Perhaps an increase in hose size would make this kit perform even better. Regardless, it's an impressive cooler that could use some larger tubing, as it couldn't cope with the temperatures when I brought up my overclock to 3.8 Ghz.


Pros:



Cons: