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Asetek WaterChill KT03A-L30

Installation was a bit of a mixed bag as it always is with WaterChill setups. Worryingly, the pre-installed P4 lid initially wouldn’t fit our AI7 motherboard without fouling on a capacitor. As it happened there was just enough movement in it to be able to push it clear, but it’s not an ideal situation.

The use of push-fit connectors throughout does save significant assembly time, but the penalty you pay is that the tubing has to be sufficiently rigid to work with them. This in turn makes neat and tidy routing of the tubing a bit of a nightmare as all bends have to be gradual and of a larger than usual radius to avoid kinking. This is made worse by the fact that the push-fit connectors rely on O-rings to seal them and, from past experience, these work better when the tubing enters the connector as close as possible to the correct angle. A tube that gets pushed into a connector at a tight angle may well seal short-term but it also stands a greater chance of developing a leak later compared with one where the tube is perfectly in line with the connector. This also means you need to pay extra attention when cutting the tube lengths – too short, and you won’t be able to push them on at an acceptable angle.

The pumps and reservoir assembly should sit quite happily on the four suckers so long as the floor of your case is flat and smooth. If not you’ll have to drill some holes and do it the hard way. The reservoir is, in my opinion, unnecessarily tall and in most cases will be too tall to sit below your graphics card. In addition, the tube that exits from the pump does so directly from the top so even if you’re fortunate enough to have room to sit the reservoir under your graphics card, you certainly won’t get the pump under there too. There’s usually a way to shoehorn them both into a reasonably sized case but it might not be in the way you ideally want.

Finding a site for the huge dual-radiator mentioned before is the main installation challenge unless you own an unusually large and roomy chassis. This probably means it will end up riding piggyback around the rear of most people’s cases, but even then it’s tough to find somewhere that doesn’t block access to something vital. If we were mounting the radiator permanently we’d probably build ourselves either a removable or maybe a hinged framework for it. Luckily on this occasion we were able sit it on top of the case just for testing purposes.

A small, threaded screw in the top of the push-on reservoir cap assists with its fitting and removal by letting air vent through the hole that it normally plugs. The cap fits extremely securely using a very tight fitting O-ring seal.

Fitting the CPU block is by far the most frustrating task because you have to remove your motherboard to achieve it. The blocks sit over four internally threaded posts that must first be secured with screws and insulating washers from the rear of your motherboard. On the subject of these washers, guard them with your life. They’re small, thin and easily lost, and Asetek provided you with as many as you need and not a single washer more.

Once the posts are fitted, the blocks then simply slide over them followed by four pressure springs then four large retaining screws which must be tightened down with a couple of turns on each until they can go no further. This gives the precise required pressure from the springs onto the block and in turn from the block onto the CPU. Don’t over tighten them otherwise when you try to remove them you’ll end up loosening the posts and having to re-secure these by once again removing your motherboard.

The last step is to perform a trial run and it’s here that you realise what a pain it is to prime the pump and bleed the air out of the system. Just about the only way to circulate the liquid for the first time is either to remove one of the return pipes and let it drain into a suitable container or to turn the unit on and off repeatedly until it makes a full circuit.

In use the Waterchill is, as you’d probably expect, quieter than the three-fan Koolance unit but noisier than the single fan Cool River. How quiet it is will very much depend on whether you eventually house the radiator and fan assembly inside the case or not, but even mounted externally the fans aren’t too noticeable.

The Hydor pump seems unusually noisy when air bubbles pass through it, and because the system generally takes a long time to purge itself of air you may get disheartened at the initial pump volume. Thankfully the noise fades over the first hour or so of use. It remains the noisiest pump in this roundup but once our case was closed it became close to inaudible.

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