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I first heard of Asetek a couple of years back at an Abit press briefing. There were two guys there from Denmark showing of a new product which could cool down a CPU to -12 degrees Celsius, which at the time was pretty amazing. Things have moved on since then and the latest iteration of the VapoChill system from Asetek is more powerful than ever.
The VapoChill XE II is the second product from Asetek to have a mains powered compressor, as the previous models relied on 12V compressors. However, the XE II is built inside Asetek's trademark case, while the LightSpeed (the previous mains powered product), still needed a case to go with it. Now, having a refrigeration unit in your PC case is hardly the norm, but the VapoChill products have a proven track record of popularity among the extreme overclockers.
This is really the sole purpose of the VapoChill products, to get the most out of your processor. There are of course other ways to do this, but most of those are much more complicated to install and won’t deliver the same kind of cooling performance. Watercooling is the most obvious solution at the moment - it is cheaper, but not nearly as efficient as refrigeration for cooling a processor.
Asetek has stayed true to its original case design - unfortunately I wasn’t a fan of it then and I’m still not a fan now. Due to the complex cooling system, the case is taller and slightly wider than a standard ATX tower case. But this is not the issue; it’s the general look and feel of the case that’s disappointing, especially considering that you’re spending well over £500 on one of these setups.
The front bezel is made from plastic – as are many other cases – but it doesn’t feel as well built as some other high-end cases on the market. The material used in the steel part of the case looks cheap, like the stuff you’ll find in cheap generic cases. But to be fair to Asetek, the material is much thicker and there are no sharp edges to be found, which is one sign of a quality ATX case. The front panel design is what puts me off most though, but I’m sure there are people that would disagree with me – as with all aesthetic issues, it’s a matter of personal taste.
Windows are fitted to each side of the compressor unit, which makes up the top third of the case. What I didn’t expect to see was the label on one of the control boards for the compressor which said “Not made in Taiwan” – quite an amusing adornment, and I’m sure that the sarcasm won’t be lost on any technology enthusiast. The front and back of the compressor housing are fitted with 120mm case fans. The front of the compressor housing is also the home to a radiator, not much different from those you find shipping with watercoolers, although it is specifically made for the Vapochill.