The motor and LED combined use around 0.46A so connection directly to just about all recent motherboard fan headers is fine.
The filler cap seals on the tube by means of a very thin O-ring that looks like it wouldn’t take too much abuse. A spare would certainly have been welcome. Also the thread on the filler cap and tube are quite shallow and could easily be stripped if tightened with too much force.
The base of the water block comes with a copper slug pressed into the otherwise aluminium casting. A quick check with an engineering rule showed everything to be flat and true, important for maximum contact with the CPU. A small tube of thermal interface material is supplied for use between the block and CPU die.
The kit comes with provisions for fitting to either AMD or Intel socket based systems. In both cases installation was quick and secure.
Because the Silent Stream arrives pre-assembled and pre-filled, the easiest option is to mount the radiator/fan assembly inside your case. However, this impacts on performance as the warm air inside your case is being used to cool the water in the radiator. The manual also suggests that you break out the tin snips and cut away the fan grills so as to eliminate any possible restrictions to airflow.
A more efficient method and one that GlobalWIN says is preferable is to mount the radiator/fan outside of the case. This is also the more difficult option as it means draining the water in order to remove the feed and return pipes and thread them through two pre-drilled holes in the supplied blanking plate. Once this is done and the pipes are refitted it’s then necessary to activate the pump and refill the system but without actually booting the computer. This is achieved using a small device that fits into the ATX power plug and allows the power supply to become active while removed from the motherboard. Once the system is filled and all air bubbles removed the ATX power connector is plugged back into the motherboard and you’re ready to go. It’s not rocket science but I can’t imagine that many inexperienced PC users would relish tackling the job.
The Silent Stream uses very flexible and extremely strong Silica water pipes which makes routing them a simple task. They’re also very heat tolerant and attach to both the block and radiator using a patented clip less design which seems like a great idea until you need to remove a pipe at which point you begin to wonder.
The radiator is a small but good quality all copper unit with a good surface area to the fins. It is coupled with a fairly quiet 32dBa, 38.88CFM fan. It’s an 80 x 80 x 25 (WxHxD) fan with a 3000rpm spin speed and both a ball and sleeve bearing.
All told the Silent Stream offered surprisingly solid cooling performance for such a compact design, though later testing has shown it to be particularly sensitive to general ambient room temperature quickly becoming less impressive as the room temperature rises.
The difficulty with the Silent Stream lies in knowing who it’s targeted at. The design problems concerning checking and topping up water levels and the reduced performance when the radiator is installed internally make it hard to recommend for the novice user, who can get similar performance from a mid to high end air cooler at a similar price. Find one powered by an 80mm fan and even the noise advantage is nullified.
The more advanced user is also unlikely to be wowed by the Silent Stream due to its relatively small radiator, its low flow rate and the inability to use alternative water blocks. I should imagine a slightly slimmer version for cooling video cards would go down well though.
Perhaps the most obvious market for the Silent Stream is the small form factor PC user who would not only get the benefits of water cooling without needing to site a separate pump and reservoir, they’d also be able to install the block the correct way up and use it as it was intended. Even here though things aren’t as simple as they seem because of the three small form factor PCs I tried only one had room to accommodate the long filler tube.
At £88.12 from Rainbow Components Ltd, the price isn’t particularly enticing either.
There are several water cooling kits available at this price point which offer comparable performance and greater flexibility though ultimately none are quite so compact or easy to install.
Despite the seemingly endless negatives the Silent Stream isn’t all bad. The idea is a good one and it’s one that deserves to be developed further. With a few design rethinks and a slightly keener price this could easily find its place among the realms of mainstream cooling products but for the hardcore user I fear it will never be bought for anything but very specific projects where space is at a premium.
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