Perhaps the reason the WaterChill is so popular among enthusiasts is that itâ€™s a kit in the loosest sense of the word. In essence what you get is a box that contains all the items you need, apart from the coolant, to configure and build an efficient liquid cooling system much as youâ€™d get if you went out and hand-picked all the components yourself. Fortunately, having the components supplied for you in this fashion doesnâ€™t mean youâ€™re settling for second best, as everything from the radiator to the cooling blocks are of the very highest quality.
Asetekâ€™s WaterChill kit is probably the least suitable candidate of the three for the inexperienced user. Not because itâ€™s difficult to assemble, but because of the complexity involved in finding a suitable location for the large radiator and its two 120mm cooling fans. In the vast majority of cases this radiator will need to be mounted externally unless you want to embark on some extensive internal case re-engineering. For the hardcore PC user this is a small price to pay but for those whose needs are a little less extreme this may be a deal breaker. On the plus side, Asetek also supply single radiator kits which are much more manageable but, as you might expect, slightly less efficient.
As for the water blocks, these have been redesigned from earlier units although they still possess their distinctive, very thick, clear Plexiglass lids that have become synonymous with Asetekâ€™s blocks.
Unlike their previous single-feed, single-return design, Asetek has taken a different approach with its new Antarctica blocks in that water is fed to them through a single, centrally located feed pipe. The heated water is then fed back out through dual return pipes, one on either side of the block, before a Y-shaped piece combines the flows into a single line again to be fed on to further cooling blocks or returned to the radiator. Asetekâ€™s method for increasing internal surface area involves using small channels machined into the back of the base which youâ€™d imagine would be more prone to sludge up than Koolanceâ€™s spikes when used in poorly maintained systems. However, in practice theyâ€™ll probably be kept sufficiently clear by the force of water being fed directly through them from the central water feed.
The new blocks are a perfect example of how little coolant needs to be in a block at any given time. There seems to be little room for more than five or 10ml of coolant in the actual block itself, though itâ€™s obviously circulating quickly and being replaced at a rapid rate.
The kit we were supplied with came with only a CPU block, although Asetek does offer additional blocks suitable for VGA and chipset cooling too. If clearance with standard lid becomes an issue with the layout of some AMD platform motherboards on the market, thereâ€™s an additional smaller Plexi lid that can be used instead.
The pump is a relatively huge Hydor L30, which boasts a capacity of around 1200 litres/hour. The suction cup mounting option gives a bit of a clue to its aquarium origins. It also explains the slightly clumsy way the reservoir attaches to it using an almost improvised bracket that clearly had to be designed around the pump. It works though and thatâ€™s what counts.
The reservoir is a cylindrical affair thatâ€™s primarily constructed from Plexiglass giving easy visual confirmation of coolant level and condition. The feed and return nozzles are at 90 degrees to each other which somewhat limits its possible mounting locations.
Surprisingly, Asetek states a rating of â€œat least 200Wâ€ which sounds a little conservative when compared to Koolanceâ€™s claimed 300W capacity for its kit.