If you thought water-cooling was the domain of the enthusiast or the insane (or consider the two synonymous) then think again because NEC have started shipping all-in-one multimedia systems in Japan that have a water-cooling system built-in. The setup in the Valuestar W line of computers cools the processor and (oddly) the hard drive caddy, a curious combination but who are we to question NEC's logic?
While water is usually used to help make components run cooler than on air, it can also be a lot quieter than fans and in a media centre pc like this that can be a big selling point. NEC claims that the operating volume of the Valuestar W at full pelt is 25dB, which is pretty close to ambient noise.
The specs aren't particularly shoddy either, with 19in and 22in models available; the former packing a 1,440 x 900 resolution and the latter a 1,680 x 1,050 panel. There is also the option to spec either an HD DVD-ROM or Blu-ray-R drive should you so wish. The top-end model packs a 2.00GHz Core 2 E4400, 1GB DDR2 RAM (upgradable to 4GB) and an nVidia 8400M GT and 500GB hard drive all on the ATI Xpress 1250 mobile chipset, a slight throwback to the days when ATI and Intel weren't bitter rivals.
The lowest spec provides a 1.60GHz Celeron, 1GB RAM, again upgradable, a 320GB hard drive and the same graphics card. Various options in-between are also available with corresponding price points. All systems also pack in S/P-DIF out, card reader slots (SDHC compatible) and come preloaded with Vista Home Premium and Office 2007 Personal.
Incidentally this isn't the first time NEC has launched a pre-configured water-cooled system, but we can't recollect seeing one in an media PC before and considering the compact dimensions it's a reasonably impressive achievement. The Valuestar W is available in Japan right now and is expected to migrate across the channel shortly although no specific date has been given.
NEC press release (Google translated).