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The installation procedure has been improved vastly over earlier Vapochill cases, but it’s still not hassle free. There are two heater elements that have to be fitted, one to the back of the motherboard and one inside the CPU cooler. Why the second one doesn’t come pre-installed I don’t know, but it would certainly make things a lot easier if it were.
Several pieces of foam material also have to be fitted in place to keep the cold away from the rest of the PC. A small PCB is also part of the package and has to be installed inside the case – preferably on the motherboard tray – with some plastic pins and adhesive pads. The PCB controls the compressor part as well as the heater elements via some Windows based software that’s supplied.
Now this whole process would have been a lot easier if the Vapochill came with detailed documentation, but unfortunately it doesn’t. Asetek ships two manuals with the case, which can cause some confusion. You have to read both manuals before you can assemble the system, but due to the poor quality of the pictures and lack of detailed explanations in some parts, the initial setup is far from straightforward. This could easily be remedied by the inclusion of a colour manual with more pictures and a detailed step by step guide. Obviously the Vapochill isn’t aimed at the PC novice, but even a seasoned PC builder doesn’t need to have his job made harder for him.
One other issue is the plastic mounting pins for the motherboard. These fit through the removable motherboard tray, while the motherboard is then attached to the pins. This sounds easy enough, but the plastic used to make the pins is too hard and the pins can easily snap when the motherboard is fitted. Just another small niggle that could easily have been fixed at the design stage.
Asetek offers two versions of the Vapochill XE II, one for Socket-775 (the one reviewed here) and one for older Pentium 4 boards and Athlon 64 processors. The only thing that differs is the housing around the cooling hose from the compressor and some of the mounting equipment. Asetek also offers an optional LCD display, although you would have to mod the case to make it fit. This display will show you the temperature of the cooling head and future versions of the Asetek software will allow for more features.
Don’t expect the Vapochill XE II to be silent either, as it’s not. The two fans can be controlled via the Windows application and don’t make a lot of noise per se, but the nature of having a refrigeration unit inside your PC case will give you that old fashioned fridge compressor noise. Not only is the sound intrusive, but the case does actually vibrate as a result. That said, a machine like this is likely to be on the floor under your desk, and the sound will probably be drowned out by the aural effects of the game you’ll be playing.