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           Corsair Hydrocool 200

Product :

  Hydrocool 200

Manufacturer :

  Corsair

Reviewed by :

  Simon Morris

Price :

 

Date :

  21st May 2003.

 

   Page No:   2
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A Closer Look Continued

The unit itself contains a 120mm fan sized radiator, a deep 120mm fan, a reasonably small 12v pump, reservoir and control panel with LCD display. I couldn't get pictures of the inside of the unit due to a screw with a stripped thread, of course when you buy one you won't need to remove the cover ;)

Here's the unit showing the temperature in both scales, you can control which you use by the two buttons just to the right of the display.

It isn't very clear, but the light above the fan grille on the left of the unit is from an LED placed just below the flow meter. When seen in person it shows that water is being pumped through the circuit

 

 

 

 

Just for some size perspective we have a picture of the unit up along side the popular Lian Li PC60. It's a little shorter and not as wide, which makes putting the unit on top of the case look slightly odd. Where as the EXOS is fairly low profile and is the same width as a normal case this just somehow feels a little strange having this unit sitting on the case.

 

 

 

 

Click for larger pictures

These show the block set up in a P4 motherboard. The less shiny metal is the retention bracket, it's very simple and effective. The picture on the right shows the clips, there are two separate clips which are actually very easy to attach, but you do need to make sure you keep pressure on the whole bracket so it doesn't move around and push the thermal paste all over.

The AMD bracket is equally as easy to fit, and makes welcome use of all 6 socket lugs and isn't very stiff. Though it feels secure the lack of stiffness felt while mounting may suggest not much pressure is being used, if this will affect efficiency is unknown, but as you'll see, it performs very well anyway.

The only problem with both brackets is that both require fitting over the tubing, which means they can only be fitted before the tubing is passed out through the PCI bracket. This makes swapping over from say a P4 to an AMD motherboard equally as difficult as taking the Hydrocool 200 apart fully, which is quite a chore.

Noise

Overall the Hydrocool is a reasonably quiet unit, though not at all what I'd call silent. When in turbo mode the fan, for my tastes, is far too loud. Not something I'd like to listen to at all. But I get the feeling it's there purely for safety, for if the system starts to overheat it will kick in automatically. In whisper mode it's still a little too loud. I don't think this is really fan noise though; it seems that most of the sound is coming from the pump. As I couldn't open up the unit to see I can't tell exactly how the unit is mounted and if there would be any better way to do it. But just by putting my finger through the grill and pressing down on the pump ever so slightly the pump noise becomes hugely quieter, though still a slight humming noise. This to me suggests the mounting needs to be worked on. I managed to obtain almost the same deadening effect by placing objects on top of the case itself, so I get the feeling the whole unit vibrates and resonates too much from the pump and need's looking into.

Design

Kits like these are normally thoroughly tested to provide a balance between the components. For instance, a radiator that can dissipate roughly the same amount of heat that the CPU block can transfer to the water. In this case that would seem to be a reason for going with a single 5" single fan sized radiator. However, with the soon-to-be-seen Northbridge and GPU blocks I do feel this radiator might not be able to cope well with the extra heat input into the water.
This begs the question of why they didn't use a 2 fan length radiator, which would cope with a northbridge and GPU block better. It would also give the added benefit of being able to run 2 large fans even more slowly than the single fan to get the same cooling. So noise could be decreased that much more. When you consider the length of the unit, a lot of space inside goes unused and I have to wonder if we'll see a "Corsair 400" with a larger or dual radiators?

The Northbridge and GPU blocks would normally fit after the CPU block, so as long as the radiator could cope with the extra heat CPU cooling shouldn't be affected that much. But considering current outputs of the top end ATi and Nvidia GPU's, it's like adding a second CPU to the circuit then trying to cool that well with water already heated from the first CPU.
The problem is once you start adding GPU and Northbridge blocks to the loop you are making the installation much more difficult and becomes like installing a self assembled kit. It does offer some limited upgradeability to people who wanted to buy now, but in a few months decide they want to cool other parts of their systems too.

Comparing this unit to the Koolance Exos, it's much taller, and almost as long. The Exos uses a longer radiator, which looks extremely similar in design to the one in the Hydrocool. The Exos use's to small pumps rather than one larger one, I don't mind which they choose, two small quiet pumps or a larger more powerful pump, as long as they are insulated and mounted well enough so they are almost silent. To me however the advantage of dual pumps is best exploited with dual reservoirs, radiators and dual cooling circuits, though this once more adds to the complexity of the setup.

The black perspex style look of the case is very attractive, though for me fan grills have always looked a little out of place, especially here. Had they drilled/cut a grill shape into the perspex itself I think it would have looked better.

The quick, non drip fittings are extremely good. I was very nervous about pulling out a tube I knew to have lots of liquid in, with computer equipment about, but it's very easy. You do need a tissue as a small (very small) amount of water will drip out from the end of the fitting on both ends.

The installation of the unit is extremely easy, takes all of 10 minutes, if that. Uninstalling is a little tricky, but then most water-cooling setups are. If the fittings were small enough to fit back through the PCI holes then it would be simple, as they don't you are required to open up and empty the tubing prior to removing the tubing from your case. This is fairly difficult and requires you to be extremely careful not to get any water on any computer parts.

 

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