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           Corsair Hydrocool 200

Product :

  Hydrocool 200

Manufacturer :

  Corsair

Reviewed by :

  Simon Morris

Price :

 

Date :

  21st May 2003.

 

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Introduction

On the 20th March 2003 we saw Corsair publicly announce a new product called the Hydrocool200, an external high efficiency water-cooling unit capable of dissipating 200W of heat.
This is a significant step into the cooling sector for Corsair who has been leading the way in "Ultra Performance" DDR RAM for some time, with their well established XMS series of high end DDR RAM and more recently with the TWINX variant which is specifically matched for Dual Channel use. This is their first step into cooling products and they've chosen to team up with Delphi Thermal Systems.

"The HydroCool200 uses patented cooling technologies from Delphi Thermal Systems, the world's largest manufacturer of liquid-based cooling systems. Corsair, using Delphi's unsurpassed expertise in thermal physics, has engineered a feature-packed product that sets new standards in water cooling integration and performance."

A bold statement of what the unit is and what it claims it will do. I don't think this will really be breaking new ground in water cooling integration as the Koolance EXOS is overall a similar external unit which really shows the same level of integration. If it will perform well is yet to be seen, but it's looking promising.

It's also clear that with this and several of the similar units we're starting to see some of the bigger players working on making water-cooling as easy as possible to try to entice more and more people to try it. It seems the growth of water-cooling is at a high right now. It's no longer a back room geek trip for slightly eccentric people with too much time and cash, and kits like these are making it very quick and easy to install for even less experienced dabblers. Not to mention the growing levels of heat in a computer case. Hard drives, graphics cards, faster CD ROM's, larger amounts of ram, soundcards and also bigger and more powerful power supplies all attribute to heat levels, not just the CPU. But removing the heat from the CPU makes the rest that much easier to cool, and quietly too.

The Hydrocool200

So what do we get? First off we have the Hydrocool200 unit itself, obviously.

The shipping box has the Hydrocool200 unit safely packaged, with a second box containing all the extra's which are all in bubble wrap, a very safe package which includes:-

  • The Cool block with 2 lengths of 5ft tubing pre-attached to each barb on the Cool Block and pre-mounted temperature probe.
  • Retention brackets for both AMD Socket A and Intel Socket 478.
  • 300ml bottle of water additive + fill funnel, non toxic and is enough for two fills of the system.
  • Interface slot card
  • 15 pin D-sub control cable
  • thermal grease
  • molex extension cable
  • 2xquick connect right angled self sealing connectors
  • 4xquick grip clamps
  • 2xOetiker clamps(spares)
  • 2 pole power control cable with fly lead
  • quick start and full manual

All in all everything you could need for you installation, and enough coolant to provide for a second filling should you ever need too.

What can it do?

I'll give a quick rundown of how the unit works first. The CPU Cool block is attached to the CPU; the tubes from this are passed through a provided PCI bracket with control card which requires only an expansion slot as it doesn't utilise an actual PCI slot. The tubing is then attached to the quick fit, non leak fittings that are plugged into the rear of the Hydrocool200 unit. You then fill the main unit's reservoir to just below the top. You will also need to attach the wires from the block to the PCI card for temperature measuring, and the PCI card to the power header on the motherboard to make sure the pump turns on with the computer.

The next step is to turn the computer on which will start the pumping of water around the system. This will push all the air out of the tubing and Cool block and eventually push the air out of the system so you have only water flowing around the tubes. Within 20 seconds or so of the first turn on you will hear the fill alarm of the unit, as a lot of the water is now in the tubing, Cool block and radiator the level in the reservoir drops dramatically, but is still safe. You fill up the reservoir with the system on, and alarm still running, then screw on the lid very tightly. The alarm will stop once the minimum level needed is reached. That's about it really, very easy, very quick and just about anyone could do it.

So what else can it do? (other than, pumps water, cools CPU and looks cool). The features are all aimed at keeping your CPU and computer safe.

  • Three alarms, one for water level, and two programmable ones that you can set at levels you feel comfortable with, those are for temp alarm and shutdown temp
  • A thermal probe embedded into the Cool block, that reads the temps of the block itself, Corsair advise that CPU temperature will often be around 15C higher than this Cool block temperature.
  • Dual speed running fan, 66% at below 38.5C, 100% above 40C, if the temps rise above 40C the fan will automatically kick in at 100% and won't go back to 66% until the temps drop below 38.5C. Turbo light on the front will light up if in turbo mode
  • Manual Turbo mode, for those times when you either want to feel extra safe, or need that extra temperature drop when trying to drag out that final few MHz from your core, just pressing the button on the front will switch it between turbo and whisper mode.
  • Flow rate detector

A Closer Look

Click for larger images

As you can see, the block has a nice reflective, chrome like look to it. Another very obvious thing is its size, it's very small, so small that it doesn't even require a stepped edge to fit over the high part of an AMD socket. I've never seen a water block or heat sink this small. The raised "void" area of the block, where the water actually flows is only 40mmx40mm in size, in comparison the Dangerden Maze 3.1 I used to use is roughly 70mmx50mm at it's longest and widest point's, but being an oval shape means it does not have a 70mmx50mm base area. It is however deeper, and I'd imagine has a much larger surface area with a raised spiral pattern inside the main chamber. The inner design of the Corsair Cool block is unknown, though I'd imagine flow would be too limited with anything much more than an open chamber design, maybe with some kind of micro fin type area above the center of the core. I had my doubts when I saw it, but wasn't put off. You'll also note the base is very flat with slight marks but nothing that can be felt so nothing big at all. I'm surprised we're not yet seeing the widespread use of water blocks that also feature fins to increase their external surface area. Just because they have water flowing through them doesn't mean a little passive heat radiation from the block itself can't be encouraged.

The tubing is also very small compared to what we are used to seeing. With most self build setups opting for 4/8"(1/2") ID (internal diameter) and close to 6/8"(3/4") OD (outer diameter) tubing the 2/8" (1/4")ID and 3/8" OD tubing used with the Corsair appears to be very small too. This doesn't have to mean anything was compromised, the tubing has to be this small to fit safely through the PCI slots, but it is definitely a different design to what people currently tend to regard as the best way to set up water-cooling.


This picture show's how the PCI card helps to make the Hydrocool200 so easy to install. You pass the two tubes from the Cool block out through the PCI bracket holes. That's all it takes to hook it up.
You would normally have installed this PCI card in the case already, like the pictures below show, but I've done this outside the case so you can more easily see the wires connected. You see the molex power plug which you would attach to the internal PSU. The lead on the right plugs into the motherboard power header and the case power switch. The lead you see connected to the PCI card attaches to the Cool block and sends the temperature of the block to the front of the Hydrocool200 unit via the d-sub connector. This D-sub connector also transfers the power needed for the pump and fan to the Hydrocool200.

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