If you are ready to step into the world of watercooling, and don’t want the hassle of putting together a custom rig, check out the Thermaltake BigWater. The BigWater may just give you the performance you need, the ease of installation you want, all at a price you can afford.
Thermaltake has a reputation of being on the front line when it comes to new technology for the PC enthusiast market, and their BigWater watercooling kit helps them stay out front. With its easy to configure design, great looks and awesome performance, the BigWater should be considered by everyone looking at getting into watercooling.
I have had great cooling results with my Swiftech MCX6400-V heatsink and was excited to see if Thermaltake could cool much more than this awesome heatsink. To my surprise, the BigWater runs circles around this heatsink, with no additional noise or disadvantages. Follow along as I dissect the Thermaltake BigWater watercooling kit.
Features and Specs
- Universal 4 in 1 solution, compatible with Intel LGA775. P4 and AMD K7, K8 (Including AMD Sempron Series)
- 12cm Radiator: High performance radiator with 120x120x25 mm VR fan (1300-2400RPM)
- All copper Waterblock with blue LED acrylic cover
- Universal clips for Intel P4 socket 775, P4, AMD K8, AMD K7
- All new Water Pump: Black powerful DC 12V water pump with blue LED
- Quick Install Connector: Saving your time to install device conveniently
- Water Tube: Transparent green pipes help to light up your cool case
- Coolant: High performance coolant with functions of water quality steadying, water scale reducing, anti-freezing and anti-rusting
- Refill Water Tank: To refill water easily, also can be a back-up receiver
Dimension: 60 x 78 x 23.5 mm
Material: Copper & Acrylic
Connector: 3 pin
LED: Blue LED
Dimension: 100 x 50 x 86 mm
Rated Voltage: 12V
Rated Current: 0.4A
Pump Speed: 120 L/hr
Life Expectancy: 50,000 hr
Connector: 3 pin
LED: Blue LED
Radiator & Fan
Radiator Dimension: 122 x 35 x 166 mm
Radiator Material: Aluminum
Radiator Weight: 835g
Fan Dimension: 120 x120 x35mm
Fan Speed: 1300-2400RPM
Fan Noise: 17dBA-21dBA
Fan Rated Voltage: 12V
Fan Rated Current: 0.14A-0.48A
Fan Max. Air Flow: 38.6CFM-93.7CFM
Fan Air Pressure: 1.50-3.80mm-H2O
Fan Bearing Type: Sleeve
Fan Life Expectancy: 30,000hr
Fan Weight: 90g
Fan Connector: 4 pin
The BigWater came in a nicely designed box that shows off the product inside. On the back of the box is a detailed listing of what is inside the box, and some of the features of the BigWater. Showing off the products inside is a great way of making this product stand out from the rest in a retail setting.
Once the box is open, you can really see that Thermaltake has spent a lot of time making sure your BigWater gets home safely. With an abundance of foam packaging, this kit is sure to survive even the most ruthless UPS driver’s truck.
Thermaltake put a lot of time and effort into making a nice, quality waterblock for the BigWater kit. The waterblock features a nice thick slab of copper for the base, which has a nice polished finish to it for maximum heat transfer. The water flows through the copper base in an “s-curve” manner. Sealing the water inside the block is a piece of crystal-clear acrylic placed on top of the copper. The seal between the copper and acrylic is kept tight by a round o-ring. This acrylic top is secured to the copper base by four screws.
Another feature of the waterblock is the built-in blue LED that really lights up the coolant flowing inside of the block. This is a really neat feature that adds to the shine of this product.
Radiator and Fan
Thermaltake made a nice decision when they chose to use a 120mm radiator and fan combination. The increased size of the radiator allows for a larger cooling surface for the cooling channels, increasing the unit’s efficiency. The radiator is covered in a nice black shroud which has multiple sets of mounting holes for different cases and fan combinations. This shroud helps to keep the air from the fan moving across all of the radiator fins, to ensure the highest amount of efficiency.
Connecting the tubing to the radiator is as easy as connecting to the waterblock and pump. These connections are placed far enough away from the radiator to allow for easy attachment. There is plenty of room for your hands to work here.
The 120mm fan attached to the radiator comes with a partially sleeved power cable. Why Thermaltake did not sleeve the entire cable is beyond me. The fan also features an available speed control that mounts in an empty PCI slot in the back of your case. This speed control allows for full adjustment of fan speed from 1300-2400 RPM. At the lowest RPM setting, the fan is only audible if your ear is right up next to it, but when at a full 2400 RPM, the fan is quite noisy, moving almost 94CFM.
The included water pump uses a standard 3-pin power connection that can attach to the motherboard. I, however, do not recommend running anything but case and heatsink fans off of motherboard headers. Instead, I used a 3-pin to 4-pin converter and connected the pump to a standard Molex connector on the power supply.
This pump is not the most powerful pump on the market but does a decent job at moving approximately 120 liters per hour. This low power also adds to the pump’s low noise. I am unable to hear the pump at all when the sides of the case are on. With the sides off, if you get real close, you can barely hear the pump running.
A neat feature of the pump is the blue LED that makes the coolant inside the pump glow when powered on. This LED appears green however, due to the bright green coolant color. This LED also helps to show you how full the pump is. On the sides of the pump are low level indicators that are there to make sure your watercooling system is free from air bubbles and full of coolant.
The hose connections on the water pump have a small amount of hose between them and the actual pump base. This allows for the connections to flex during installation. I really liked this feature, as I was not worried about any hoses becoming detached and ending up with a nice puddle of coolant in the bottom of my case. Above the hose connections are two other nipples that are used for attaching the optional reservoir.
Attaching the water pump to your case comes about in a few different ways. The route Thermaltake seems to want you to take is to pair this kit up with their new Shark case, as it has a great mounting location on the back for the pump’s mounting bracket to attach to. The other way to mount the pump is to just place it at the bottom of your case with or without Thermaltake’s included Velcro. When first measuring hose lengths, I just placed the pump at the bottom front of my case, but after the final install, I used the included Velcro to secure it in the same location. This Velcro allows for easy re-filling and re-placement.
In order to mount the radiator and fan outside of your case, you will have to use Thermaltake’s PCI slot to route your hoses and fan cables. This PCI slot works great and allows enough room for the water hoses to move in and out freely when determining hose lengths. The edges that the hoses make contact with are nice and smooth also and will not pose a threat to your hoses. Being able to run the fan’s power and speed wires through the PCI slot is a nice convenience as well.
Filling the BigWater is made easy with the inclusion of an optional coolant reservoir. The reservoir can be a permanent part of the cooling cycle or can be used just for filling. I chose to use it for the latter. Thermaltake has made mounting the reservoir to their new Shark cases very easy, with its attached mounting clip.
Although the reservoir does it’s job just fine, I think that Thermaltake may want to make this piece a little more sturdy. The plastic walls are very weak, and the whole reservoir feels like that cheap “fake tupperware” that you just throw away when you are done with it.
The included coolant is a very bright neon green colored liquid that I believe to be some mixture of anti-freeze and water. It smells exactly like anti-freeze and indeed even tastes like it. Don’t ask. Thermaltake has included plenty of coolant to not only fill the whole loop but enough for any refills you may need. After filling my system, I was left with almost half of the bottle left.
The tubing that comes with the BigWater kit is very flexible, and it was very easy to cut to the correct measurements for my case. With its green tint, the tubing adds a little bit more color to the BigWater, especially under my blue cold-cathode lighting. There is plenty of tubing included with this kit, so much that I only used one of the two included pieces.
The list of accessories included with the BigWater is pretty dull, being comprised of just various mounting screws, washers, bolts and mounting plates. The included instruction manual could be a little more explanatory on some steps but overall does its job well.
Before installing any sort of watercooling setup in your PC, it is always good form to assemble the setup outside of your case and to let it run for 24 hours or so to check for any leaks. Below are a few images that show just how the tubing for the BigWater kit is connected to each component.
The barbs to which the tubing attaches are top of the line, being chrome plated and very solid. By placing the tubing around the barb, and then tightening the threads, these pressure-fit barbs will not let any water out.
Since there was not enough room inside my AOpen case to mount the radiator and fan inside, I had to disassemble the kit after its “leakdown test” before installing the radiator and fan on the back of my case. With a little help from my wife, I was able to get the hoses disconnected and reconnected quickly and without spilling any coolant inside my case. I was confident in my reconnecting of the hoses to the radiator that I did not run another leakdown test inside my case. Applying the supplied thermal compound to the Athlon64 was just the same as it is on any other processor. Mounting the waterblock to the processor however, was a different story.
For the sake of installation hassles, I wondered if I would be able to utilize Biostar’s mounting plate instead of the Thermaltake plate, so that I would not have to remove the motherboard from the case. To my delight, I was able to use Thermaltake’s screws and washers together with the Biostar plate.
Attaching the Velcro to the bottom of the case for the water pump was as easy as peeling off the back of a sticker and placing the sticker where you want it. Once this Velcro was attached to the bottom of my case, the pump was then affixed with the opposite side of Velcro and then secured to the case. This Velcro provides a snug, yet not permanent hold, and is just enough to stand the test of lugging the system to a LAN party and back without the pump falling over.
Once the kit is installed and running, it looks great inside cases with windows. I really like the way this kit looks in my AOpen case with my blue cold-cathode turned on.
Like I said earlier, I am very happy with the results my Swiftech MCX6400-V has provided me with, and I was very leery as to what kind of temperatures to expect from the BigWater. All I can say now is that Thermaltake did their homework and came out with a great performing product.
I have split the temperatures up into a few different categories to show the differences between the stock 2.2Ghz and 2.36Ghz overclocked temperatures, as well as the temperature differences between different radiator fan speed settings. Both idle and load temperatures will be shown.
All temperatures were gathered using the on-die thermal diode of the Athlon64 and were read by Winbond’s Hardware Doctor. Idle temperature was determined one hour after booting up and logging into Windows. This temperature was measured every minute for 10 minutes and then averaged out by dividing the total readings by ten. Load temperature was taken after running [email protected] for one hour and then taking the average temperature for the next ten minutes, while still under load, the same way the idle temperature was taken. Room temperature was kept at an average of 23.3C/74F.
As you can clearly see, the overclocking made almost no difference in the idle and load temperatures. Another thing to note is the small temperature difference between the lowest fan speed and highest fan speed. What this means is, you could run this system at the quietest level possible and still get great results from it.
What can I say? Thermaltake has really created a masterpiece with their BigWater watercooling kit. With great temperatures all around, this kit is sure to fit the needs of anyone looking to overclock their PC or just make their system quieter.
The quality of the kit is top notch, from the great waterblock with its built-in LED lighting, to the 120mm radiator and fan. These things go to show that Thermaltake is looking out for the enthusiast and strives to be at the head of the pack.
- High quality waterblock
- 120mm radiator and fan
- Very quiet
- Supports many processors
- Cools very efficiently
- Cheap reservoir
I come away from this review very satisfied with the quality product that Thermaltake has presented and reward the Thermaltake BigWater a 9 out of 10, and the Bjorn3D Seal of Approval.