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Kingwin Arctic Liquid Cooler

Kingwin has come out with a watercooling kit that is sure to whet the tongue of those users wanting to start utilizing watercooling, but are still a little nervous about getting all that water near their hardware. Take a look inside to see how the Arctic Liquid Cooler performs.

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Introduction


Newcomers to the PC enthusiast community may be set back by all of the talk of keeping your system properly cooled.  There’s the traditional heatsink and fan combo, the watercooling, thermo-electric and even peltier cooling.  Kingwin has introduced a watercooling kit into the market that is simple to set up and can help a new or even seasoned enthusiast break into the watercooling arena.  The Arctic Liquid Cooler features an all-internal design, multiple radiators and even a GPU waterblock.  Read along as I take a closer look at the Arctic Liquid Cooler.

Features and Specs


Features

  • Intel P4/AMD Athlon XP/ AMD Athlon 64 compatible
  • NVIDIA/ATI VGA compatible
  • Quick connectors
  • External water supply
  • Fan speed control
  • LCD panel display
  • More detailed features and information can be found at the Arctic Liquid Cooler website.

Package Contents

  • 1 x Control unit
  • 1 x CPU waterblock
  • 1 x VGA waterblock
  • 1 x Secondary radiator and fan
  • 4 x Transparent silicon tubes
  • 1 x Hose clip tool
  • 1 x AMD Athlon XP clip  
  • 1 x AMD Athlon 64 clip 
  • 1 x Intel P4 clip
  • 2 x VGA clips
  • 1 x Thermal probe 
  • 1 x Thermal tape
  • 1 x Antifreeze water bottle
  • 1 x Thermal paste tube

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Detailed Look


Packaging

The Arctic Liquid Cooler comes in a nice box that houses a molded plastic tray, with individual spots for each hardware piece.  This tray does a great job of securing all of the components, as none of them can be felt sliding or shaking around inside the box.

Hoses

Kingwin has supplied four hoses in two different lengths to fit your installation needs.  Each hose has nice threaded and knurled aluminum connectors that are held securely into the hose by a tension clamp.  Kingwin suggests cutting down the hoses if they seem too long for your system, and they even include a tool that makes removing the tension clamps a snap.  The walls of the hose have a frosted look to them and are also slightly thin, which seems to cause the hoses to kink easily.  Be sure when installing the kit to watch for kinks so that your CPU is not starved of cool water.

Secondary Radiator and Fan

The secondary radiator included in the kit seems to be very high quality.  With 10 passes up and down through the aluminum fins, the radiator is sure to shed some heat.  A nice polished shroud keeps air flowing in the right direction, instead of letting the hot air recirculate back into your case.

Also included with the radiator is a standard 80mm case fan to keep air moving across the cooling fins.  This fan runs slowly and is very quiet when temperatures are below the “alarm” point of the temperature probe.  Even when the fan kicks into high gear, it is not audible at all over the rest of the system noise, such as the PSU and other case fans.  Replacing this fan is possible for those who would like to use a different fan.

Attaching the radiator to your case is as simple as attaching a fan.  Kingwin suggests mounting the radiator at the back or top of the case for best efficiency.

CPU and GPU Blocks

The waterblocks supplied for the CPU and GPU are constructed out of copper and feature a chromed cover.  The blocks have a nice mirror finish to them and come with a protective adhesive pad to keep them from being scratched durring installation.  This is a good idea and kept my blocks nice and smooth for good die contact.

The chrome covers on the blocks are removable, but once off I was disappointed at what I found, or didn’t find.  The copper block below is actually two pieces of copper soldered/welded together to form the main waterblock.  Inside the blocks is a mystery, as Kingwin does not have any information on their web site about the type of channeling that the blocks may have inside.

Both blocks feature the same threaded connections as the secondary radiator and pump unit.  Each unit has its own way of mating up with the mounting hardware included in this kit.  The CPU block has a solid rectangle that acts as a “key” for the mounting bracket or clip to fit around.  The GPU on the other hand uses a threaded stud that fits through the mounting bracket and then a nut is used to tighten the pieces together.  Both ways of securing the blocks work great.

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Detailed Look (cont’d)


Main Unit

The heart of the Arctic Liquid Cooler is an “all in one” type of unit that fits into an empty 5.25″ external drive bay.  The unit houses the water pump, reservoir, main radiator and fan, filling hole, and temperature gauge.

The water pump is a small green submersible pump that sits inside of the reservoir.  Water flow is not high pressure nor high volume, but seems to circulate just fine.  The reservoir houses the waterpump and also the water filling hole.  Since the system is essentially air tight, water evaporation is not a huge factor for the reservoir, which is nice because filling the tank can be tedious work.

Helping to keep the water cool are the main system radiator and fan.  The internal radiator features 12 passes up and down through copper fins to radiate the heat.  The thin 80mm fan moves air in from the top of the unit and pushes it down through the radiator.  Since this fan and radiator do not have a shroud to direct air flow, much of the air pulled down from the top of the case is just blown into the main unit, instead of right onto the radiator.

When on the low to medium speed settings this fan is not audible over system noise, but once turned up to full speed, the fan becomes quite unbearable and does not improve cooling at all, as shown later in the temperature readings.

The front of the unit features a nice LCD display that shows the temperature of the included thermal probe and can be setup to make the secondary radiator fan speed up.  Using the front panel is very easy since there are only three buttons, “Set”, “Up” and “Down.”  You can program the unit to speed up the secondary fan at any temperature between 40 and 79 degrees Celsius.  The only downside of this setting is that it is reset each time the computer is restarted which is very annoying.  This is due to Kingwin using a chip that does not support a memory function.  Controlling the speed of the main radiator fan is as easy as turning the knob up or down.  At its lowest settings the knob glows blue and fades to a magenta color as the speed is increased.  If there is a system error or fans stop spinning altogether, the knob glows red.

Also on the face of the unit is the water level indicator and fill hole.  The fill hole is opened by using a flat head screwdriver to unscrew the plug.  Water can then be added to the unit until it reaches the high level indicator.

At the rear of the unit you will find the inlet and outlets for the water.  These are each labeled so that your water flow is traveling in the right direction.  A standard Molex power connection is also located on the back, as well as the thermal probe connection and secondary radiator fan connection.

Mounting Hardware and Accessories

Kingwin has provided the proper mounting hardware necessary for installing the unit on Pentium 4s, AthlonXPs and Athlon64s.  They also included mounting hardware for both NVIDIA and ATI graphics cards.

The included tool used to loosen the clamp on the hoses is a nice touch, as it keeps you from having to dig for the right tool for the job.  Spare o-rings for the connectors are included for future use to ensure a watertight seal.

The thermal paste that was included in the kit comes in the standard “sample syringe” and contains enough paste for a few applications.  Anti-freeze for the system comes in a small plastic container that can also be used to fill the system with water.

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Installation


Test System

  • AthlonXP 2000+
  • Abit KR7A133-R
  • 768MB DDR2100
  • IBM 80GB
  • Western Digital 200GB
  • Lite-On 52X CD-ROM
  • PNY GeForce4 Ti4400
  • EverCase ECE4252B

Construction

Constructing the kit is a very simple task if you read the instruction manual first.  There are no steps that require you to be a rocket scientist and after assembling all the parts in the order specified by the instruction manual, I filled the unit with the anti-freeze followed by distilled water.  Using the small bottle to fill the unit takes some time to do but is the best way to fill the unit, since the nozzle fits right into the fill hole.  Make sure to keep this bottle around after installation for any refills you may need to make.  After fully filling the reservoir and removing the bubbles from the tubes, I ran the system over-night to test for any leaks.  Waking up to find the kit running smoothly and without leaks was a relief to me, since this is my first venture into the watercooling world.

Installation

Since this unit uses a standard drive bay to house the control unit, all of the hardware must be inserted through the front of the case first.  This is the best way to install the kit, because unhooking the kit and then installing it gives you the chance to get water on your other hardware.  I ended up taking off the surrounding blank plates on the front of my case to aid in the install process.  This just gave me more room to get all of the hardware through without having to worry about any tubes coming apart.

The secondary radiator mounted up perfectly at the rear exhaust fan location and the provided mounting bracket worked perfectly to secure the waterblock to my AthlonXP.  I waited to install the GPU waterblock last since it mounts to the bottom of the videocard.  Leaving the videocard out of the machine and attaching the waterblock outside of the case made installation very easy and once on, the card fit right into its AGP slot; no having to work upside down to get the waterblock mounted just right.  I also installed the thermal probe on the Ti4400′s core, since the card does not give a thermal reading in the NVIDIA graphics options.

The position of the main unit’s mounting holes made the unit stick out from the front of the case, but luckily my case has a tool-less design that tightens around the hardware once it is in place.  This allowed me to push the unit back to be flush with the front of my case.

One thing to be aware of is the space that Kingwin recommends that you keep around the Arctic Liquid Cooler.  Kingwin suggests that the drive bays above and below the unit should be empty to ensure proper air flow.  This may not be possible for those with limited drive bays or multiple optical drives.  Luckily for me, I only use one optical drive in this machine, so I was able to move it to the bottom mounting position and still have room to mount the unit in a position where it would encounter adequate air flow.

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Testing


To test out the Arctic Liquid Cooler’s CPU block, load temperatures were reached by running Folding@Home for 30 minutes to keep the processor pegged at 100 percent.  The temperature at which the secondary fan speeds up was set to 40C as to keep the fan on high at all times.  Idle temperature was determined one hour after booting up and logging into Windows.  These temperatures were measured every minute for 10 minutes and then averaged out by dividing the total readings by ten.  Winbond’s Hardware Doctor was used to gather the CPU temperatures for all test units.  Testing the GPU block was very similar to the CPU block, except the program used to heat up the GPU was 3DMark03.  3DMark03 was also ran in a loop for 30 minutes.  The idle temperatures for the GPU were read from the thermal probe readout on the front of the Kingwin unit.  Room temperature was kept at an average of 24C and the PC was given an hour in between tests to ensure a fair starting point for benchmarking.

Note:  There was no temperature difference between the high and low fan settings for the Kingwin unit, whether at idle or under full load.  For this reason, there will only be one idle and load temperature for each waterblock in the system.  Also, overclocking both the AthlonXP and Ti4400 resulted in very low performance gains, as well as temperature gains.  Temperatures did not stray more than one half degree Celsius for either processor while overclocked.

The CPU block was competing with the stock AMD retail heatsink and fan, as well as the ThermalTake Volcano11 heatsink and fan combo with the fan running at approximately 3500rpm.  The GPU waterblock was battling it out with the stock NVIDIA heatsink and fan, along with the GeForce 4 heatsink and fan from ThermalTake.

CPU Cooler

 Idle

 Load 

 Arctic Liquid Cooler

 45.5C

52.5C 

 ThermalTake Volcano 11

 46C

52.5C

 Stock AMD

 46C

52C 

As you can see the Arctic Liquid Cooler stayed just barely under the temperatures of the stock and aftermarket air coolers.  Under load, the Kingwin watercooler failed once again to perform any better than a standard heatsink and fan combination.  This was a little disappointing, as I thought that a dual radiator watercooling setup would surely be able to cool better than an aftermarket heatsink, let alone a stock one.

 GPU Cooler

 Idle

Load 

 Arctic Liquid Cooler

 57.5C

64C 

 ThermalTake GeForce4

 61.5C

64.2C 

 Stock NVIDIA

 55C

60.1C 

At idle, the stock NVIDIA puts both the Kingwin and ThermalTake coolers to shame.  Again, better results were expected from the Arctic Liquid Cooler.  Under load, the Arctic Liquid Cooler finally came out in the middle, beating the ThermalTake unit, but still coming in behind the stock unit.

Conclusion


The Kingwin Arctic Liquid Cooler makes getting into watercooling a walk in the park.  With its wonderful and easy-to-use hose connections, its wonderful display unit and high quality looking components, the product definitely has a way of walking the walk.  When it comes to talking the talk however, the Arctic Liquid Cooler keeps its mouth shut.  Temperatures easily obtained by stock or aftermarket air cooling are all that the watercooling unit was able to produce.

For those wanting to quiet down their computer and use watercooling to do it, the Kingwin Arctic Liquid Cooler should fare just fine.  Users that are looking to overclock the bejesus out of their processor and not have to worry about overheating their hardware will want to pass right on by this unit.  As far as performance goes, this unit is all bark and no bite.

Some improvements that I think would definitely help out the performance of this kit are: a beefier water pump and reservoir, tubing that is not as susceptible to kinks and has a larger diameter, a temperature sensing unit that has a memory, and a more efficient way of moving air across the main radiator.

Pros

  • Quiet
  • Cheap for watercooling
  • Includes both CPU and GPU blocks
  • Mounting hardware for AMD, Intel, NVIDIA and ATI
  • Front mounted controls and temperature monitor

Cons

  • Lackluster performance
  • Temperatures are easily obtainable by traditional cooling methods
  • Water in a PC is always a risk
  • Some parts of kit are low in quality
  • Filling can be difficult without included bottle
  • Full speed on main fan is almost unbearable

After a rigorous testing period I am not as happy with my watercooling results as I thought I would be, and therefore award the Kingwin Arctic Liquid Cooler 6 out of 10.

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