Thermaltake Kandalf LCS Case

Admin - 2007-03-23 19:05:21 in Cases
Category: Cases
Reviewed by: Admin   
Reviewed on: April 5, 2007
Thermaltake
Thermaltake
Price: $345.00

Introduction:

    Kandalf raised his magic wand and with one swing of the wrist, everything around became cold, the water in the lakes froze and the air was easier to breathe. A great opening for the start of a new Harry Potter book, but the Kandalf I’m talking about is the Thermaltake Kandalf LCS. This case comes complete with it own liquid cooling system that includes a radiator and pump large enough to cool your CPU (with the included water block), but also a VGA Card, Hard Drive and North Bridge chipset when the need arises to add some optional water blocks to your system.

Thermaltake Technology Co., Ltd. was founded in 1999, and in 2000 introduced the world’s first turbine cooler the Golden Orb. Thermaltake is a world leader in the supply of thermal management cooling solutions, as well as high end power supplies and computer cases for desktop PC’s and industrial applications. Thermaltake is also a supplier to computer manufacturers providing Intel validated and AMD approved CPU coolers for today’s mainstream and high frequency CPUs.

Closer Look:

    I expected the case to be fairly large considering it was a full tower, but when the box was delivered I couldn’t even believe the size of it. The external container came well packaged to protect the contents and after opening the box, I realized that was why the container was so big. The packaging has a picture of its contents on the front and back, while both sides are fairly plain.

 


Opening the box gave me my first glimpse of what I was about to expose. In-between two foam blocks and covered by a protective Tyvex cover was the case and looking up at me was the front bezel.

 

Closer Look:


The Case:

Starting with the front and then looking at the sides and back, it is apparent that this case is all aluminum. The front bezel door which houses the 360mm radiator opens to reveal nine 5.25 drive bays, one of which is a drawer to hold CDs or other items.


 

 


The left side panel comes with an acrylic window and enclosed is a box that contains the the extra components of the case. The right side panel is solid aluminum and the top of the case has a blow hole, with a door to access the two external USB ports, Firewire and headphone I/O.

 

 


The Thermaltake Kandalf LCS is an ATX case, which can be converted to a BTX case with an optional upgrade. The case received is the ATX version. The case has seven expansion slots and you will notice that the PSU will be installed vertically, opposed to the usual horizontal standard.

Closer Look:

Working Components:

Being constructed of 100% aluminum, this case really shines on the inside and also has an abundance of working parts. The motherboard tray is non-removable, but it covers the whole width and length of the interior case. The external and internal drive bays are also tool-less for easy installation.


 


The back panel of the case contains a 120mm exhaust fan and seven expansion slots which are also tool-less. Above the stabilization bar is a removable hard drive tray, which has a fan behind it to cool the drives off if you choose to place your hard drives up-top instead of in the front internal HD bays. The front hard drive bay is removable and I will show a little more of it in the installation section.

 

 


Other components of the case are the wiring to connect the external USB ports, Firewire and Audio I/O. Since this is a liquid cooled case, it also contains the connection tubing to attach the radiator to the pump.

 

Closer Look:

Liquid Cooling System:

The radiator is 360mm and attached to the front bezel door. It contains three 120mm fans, of which, the center fan is lit with LEDs. The tubing enters the bottom of the case through an access hole in the front bezel. The pump is the Superb P500, which is 12V and flows 500 L/hr - enough to cool all chipsets attached to the motherboard. Attached to the pump is a 350 cc reservoir.

 


The water block is made of 100% copper, has a built in LED and is compatible with Intel P4 and LGA 775, as well as AMD K7 and K8 chipsets.

 


The tubing used is 3/8” and is UV. I would say that it is approximately 5’ long and more than enough to supply the whole case.


Included with the case are all the accessories to connect the water block to your preferred chipset, be it AMD or Intel.

 

 

Closer Look:

Fluids:

When dealing with a liquid cooling system, there will of course be fluids involved that will be used for cooling. Caution: these fluids are usually toxic, not only to humans, but to animals also. Many of them are sweet smelling and contain Ethylene Glycol, which “is an alcohol with two -OH groups (a diol), a chemical compound widely used as an automotive antifreeze. In its pure form, it is an odorless, colorless, syrupy liquid with a sweet taste. Ethylene glycol is toxic, and its accidental ingestion should be considered a medical emergency.”

Being a Firefighter/Paramedic, I am aware of the many precautions needed to take when dealing with toxic chemicals or hazardous materials. So when using anything that can be harmful, I take the utmost care and always refer to a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). Before using an item, the MSDS will tell me exactly what the product is, what hazards are related and other measures to take when dealing with the material. Thermaltake has been nice enough to provide me with their MSDS sheet on the cooling liquid that is included with the case. ("MSDS")

Two bottles of coolant are supplied, both of which contain 500cc of fluid.


Since there is a blowhole at the top of the case, a 90mm fan is supplied. It comes with its own bracket for easy installation. You might be wondering how the PSU is secured. The answer is that there is a bracket supplied that attaches to the case after you install the PSU.


This case truly has a plethora of components; I’m glad that it comes with an installation manual. Even though I have built liquid cooling systems before, each one is different. The waterblocks are not all shaped the same and the pumps and radiators are different sizes and attach to the tubing in various ways.

Installation:

    Installing the components was not as bad as I had thought, as the case is virtually tool-less. It did take me a little more time than I am normally used to, but that is to be expected when dealing with a liquid cooled case. My main concern was leaks, so after attaching the waterblock to the motherboard and installing all the hoses, I ran the system just to make sure it was leak free.

Some motherboards have metal back plates to secure the fan clips, while others use a plastic back plate. Luckily mine had a metal back plate, allowing me to forgo having to remove it and replace it with the 3m tape and plate provided just in case. All that was needed to do, was to remove the top fan connector that surrounds the CPU and attach the waterblock using the I-Bracket and four screws provided.

 


Installation of the power supply and the internal and external drives are not time consuming at all. The external and internal drives slide in and since the system is tool-less, everything went in within about 45 seconds. The only components that needed screws were the power supply and the hard drives, which fit inside their own removable bay insert.

 

 

 


The motherboard tray is very large and this makes it easy to work with. Once I screwed in the standoffs and attached the I/O plate for my motherboard, I had no problem hiding wires behind the motherboard and since there were two slotted holes on the tray, I was even able to bring the external USB and Firewire cords behind the plate and through the openings to hide them.

Installation :

Liquid Cooling System:

Setting up the liquid cooling system was at times a little frustrating, since my fingers are fairly large and it was hard to get the screws in the slots so I could attach the system to the case.

The tubing was easily cut with some scissors and all that was needed to do was to place it over the inputs and tighten the nuts over them. The tubing fit perfectly over the inputs and there were no gaps to worry about. Once all the tubing was attached, I hooked the pump to the radiator and connected the pumps wiring. Then, with my trusty cable ties, I attached the radiator tubing to the motherboard tray.

Filling the reservoir is as easy as removing the top cap. The reservoir was filled to the 'high' line and I turned the computer on to flow the fluid through the system. In total it took 600cc to fill.

 

 

 


I ran the system for 10 minutes to assure there were no leaks, shut it down and attached all my peripherals and cards. Finally the job was complete. I haven’t used a liquid cooled system in quite a long time, so I was eager to see how it performed.

Specifications:



Model
VD4000SWA
Case Type

Super Tower

Side Panel
Transparent Window
Net Weight
14.61 kg
Dimension (H*W*D)
540.0 mm x 220.0 mm x 640.0 mm
Cooling System

‧Rear (exhaust) :
  120x120x25mm blue LED fan, 1300rpm, 17dBA;
  90x90x25mm, 1800rpm, 19dBA
‧Top (exhaust) : 90x90x25mm, 1800rpm, 19dBA

 Drive Bays
-Front accessible
-Internal

Up tp 9 x 5.25”, 2 x 3.5”    
6 x 3.5" 

Material

Chassis: 1.0mm Aluminum
Front door: Aluminum

Color
Silver
Expansion Slots
7
Motherboards
 Micro ATX, ATX, Extend ATX, BTX
PSU
Standard ATX PSII
I/O Ports
USB 2.0 x 2, IEEE 1394 x 1, Audio & Speaker ports
BTX Upgrade Kit
SRM/Rear plate(option: A9358)
Liquid Cooling System

‧All-in-one waterblock : For Intel BTX platform, P4 775 and AMD K8
‧Performance radiator :
   (A) Dimension of radiator : H 407 x W 120 x D 35 mm
   (B) Three 1300RPM 120mm fans
‧P500 liquid pump : Power DC 12V liquid pump (500L/hr)
‧Reservoir : Contains 350 c.c. of liquid capacity, easy to refill
‧Water tube : Transparent UV tube (3/8”) & industrial-grade
   rubber tube.

Container Load
20’-172,40’-361,40’HQ-412

 



Features:

Testing:

    When you purchase anything, most times the reason for that purchase is based on an informed decision. How informed are we though? With commercials hyping up products and manufacturers specifications right in front of you most of the time, without even digging deeper for information, we purchase a product because we believe what we are told.

Why do you purchase a computer case, fans, water-cooling systems and other components? Of course it would be to protect your components, to cool your components and to receive the maximum performance for your hard earned money. Or are you an impulse buyer? Just because something looks good and one or two friends recommend it, you make that purchase and believe you will get exactly what you expect because of that impulse.

Evidently you are not an impulse buyer and you must want to be informed before you make a purchase or you wouldn’t be reading this review. With this in mind, let’s go over a few details. So far I’ve shown you what the case looks like, what components it comes with and even its specifications and features. Just like any other review, you are now in anticipation about how the case will test out. Why? Considering this is a liquid cooled system, you’ll be focused on temperatures, specifically, the temperatures of your CPU (considering that it will be water cooled), maybe system temperature and why not throw in video card and hard drive temps too? For the rest, you will probably rely on the specifications and features you just read.

Is this enough? Maybe. I have written many reviews and have purchased a multitude of products and have always taken for granted that if a manufacturer or commercial leads me to believe a product can do what it states, then I should believe it. Today, we at OCC will be introducing another type of testing to the arsenal: Airflow! The volume of air passing through an area for a given period of time is the airflow. This is commonly calculated by multiplying the air velocity, buy the cross sectional area through which the air is passing. We all want the maximum airflow around our components to cool them and to maintain a proper balance air exchange.

So how is this measured? We look at specifications and believe that if a fan says it puts out 113 Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM), then it does what it says. Sure, maybe in a perfect environment under controlled conditions it will, but how about in the real world? OCC will now test to see if these fans are actually performing at, or close to specified range. When dealing with a case we will also measure what the wind chill (the cooling effect of combined wind and temperature) factor is inside that case, just to see if the air flowing around our components is actually performing as intended.

Nielsen Kellerman has provided OCC with their Kestrel 4100 Pocket Air Flow Tracker to conduct these tests.

Nielsen-Kellerman Company designs, manufactures and distributes waterproof instruments for active lifestyles and technical applications, including Kestrel® Pocket Weather Meters, Interval® Timing Systems and NK Electronics for Rowing and Paddling.

 

Testing:


Testing Setup:


Temperatures:

The temperatures below will reflect the temperatures measured at idle and 100% load, at both stock speed and with an overclock of 3.175GHz. All measurements will be taken in celcius.The top graphs will be at stock speeds and the bottom graphs will be at overclocked speeds.


Hard Drive:

Hard Drive temperatures were taken with hard drive in both the front hard drive bay and the top hard drive bay. There were no variations in temperatures between stock and overclockerd speeds.



I'm impressed. Heat rises, so I had thought that the temperatures would have increased even though there is a 90mm fan blowing on the hard drive, but there is also another factor that could be pulling heat: the PSU is mounted sideways. Four degrees Celsius - I might just keep my hard drive in the upper bay.

Testing:

Motherboard:





CPU:



In order to achieve 100% load on the CPU, I utilized the Prime 95 version for multiple processors and ran it for one hour. These temperatures reflect the highest achieved and are not an average.

Testing:

Just to see how well the Kestrel 4100 measures temperatures I used it to measure the temperatures inside the case and as an added bonus I'll throw in the wind chill factor also. The measurements will be in Celsius, the ambient room temperature was climate controlled @ 24 degrees Celsius.





Wow! I really didn't think there could be a wind chill factor inside a closed area. Even though it wasn't much there was one.

Testing:


Air Flow:

Fans:


All fans were tested for maximum and average CFM, The 120mm fans and 90mm fans all max/min averaged within one CFM  when tested individually so I will use only one graph for each fan measurement to show the results. All fans were measured for five minutes.





Since the radiator fans have to go through the radiator the CFM through it was measured also, I will also multiply the CFM by three to show the total CFM combined. The top blow hole is also covered by some grating and the external USB, Firewire, Sound I/O, I will also give a measurement of the total output through the top of the case.





Amazing how the air flow is cut down when it has to go through something. Not that it surprised me but the top blow hole lost almost half of its output. Next we will take a look at how well the air flows on the inside of the case.

Testing:

Inside Air Flow:

To test the air flow inside the case I hung my Kestrel 4100 by a string down to the center of the case, I will be testing CFM, and Air Velocity (FPM)(The Speed of Air, Feet per Minute).





As you can see even though 168 CFM is entering the case, with all the hardware installed and having to go through the drive bays the total CFM is cut down to 132. The total output of that air via the averages from the last page is 124CFM, but at Maximum the total output is 137 CFM. This means that this case is putting out as much air that is coming in so there is no stagnant residual air to heat up the inside of the case. Impressive!

Conclusion:

        Are you ready to get the maximum performance out of your system without having to purchase every water cooling component separately? If yes, then the Thermaltake Kandalf LCS is a must have. Unlike other liquid cooled cases the Kandalf houses it’s radiator on the front bezel door keeping the heat of the radiator outside so there is no heat transference from the radiator causing a higher ambient temperature inside the case. By having the radiator on the outside in a vertical position the heat is actually forced up and down away from the case still allowing the three 120mm fans to send cool air inside. Inside the case are also three additional fans, the rear 120mm fan which is used for exhaust, the 90mm blowhole fan which exhausts heat through the top of the case and a 90mm fan above the rear 120mm exhaust fan which cools your hard drives if you choose to top mount them but also increases airflow inside the case.

For those of you wondering yes I did test the case on total air just out of curiosity, the heatsink and fan used were stock AMD. Although I did not test the system overclocked my idle temperature was 35 degrees Celsius and load temperature was 47 degrees Celsius, with a 15 degrees difference in idle alone I cannot see a reason for me to revert back to air cooling again.

One of my major concerns about the case being that it does have many large fans was noise; incredibly this system is quiet to my standard. It produces a low level whoosh which is actually kind of pleasant. I’ve found that most cases produce a rather unpleasant hum which is usually loud enough to keep my awake at night.

The supplied pump has a 500/L per hour flow rating when first started it produced a sucking sound until the liquid coolant circulated through the system from there on the pump is virtually noiseless.

This case is not for the weak, at forty-eight pounds fully loaded it’s quite a chore to move around, your wife will probably scream at you when she cleans the house.

The Thermaltake Kandalf LCS is a quiet, liquid cooled, aluminum, stylish and strong enough to protect those components that you spent your hard earned money on, weather you want to spend the time it takes to research separate components to build your own or you want an all in one liquid cooled system the Kandalf has it all covered.

 



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