The First sub-$1,000 Water-cooled PC
Considered a water-cooled gaming rig, but haven’t had the nerve to mix electronics and liquids? Visionman Computers has just announced a new gaming PC that features a water-cooled dual-core CPU, 2GB of memory, and a 500GB hard drive that sells for just under $1,000.
The machine, dubbed the Red Blizzard, will be marketed under Visionman’s WidowPC label and will sell for $999.99. Visionman selected CoolIT’s PURE CPU water-cooling system, which—based on retail prices—would account for a larger percentage of the rig’s total bill of materials than any other single component.
Indeed, the remaining elements that comprise the Red Blizzard are fairly pedestrian in comparison—particularly for a machine that’s being marketed as a gaming rig. The company mated an Intel E5200 CPU (a 2.5GHz dual-core Pentium) to an Asus P5N73-AM motherboard (an odd choice, considering that it’s based on Nvidia’s nForce 610i chipset, which features integrated graphics). Each of the motherboard’s two RAM slots is occupied by a 1GB stick of DDR2-800 memory (manufactured by Visionman’s parent company, Silicon Mountain Memory).
Graphics are handled by an Nvidia GeForce 9600 GT with a 512MB frame buffer (there’s no upgrade path to SLI, because the motherboard has just one x16 PCI Express slot). There’s no sound card, but the motherboard does feature Intel’s HD Audio.
The system comes with a 500GB Western Digital SATA II hard drive, a LiteOn 20x DVD-RW burner with Litescribe technology, and a 22-in-1 flash media reader (a feature most gamers would readily trade for gigabit NIC, the one integrated into the motherboard is limited to 100 Mb/sec). The motherboard has just four USB ports, so perhaps it’s fortunate that the mouse and multimedia keyboard rely on PS/2 interfaces.
Just for fun, we decided to build out our own water-cooled Red Blizzard, using the same components where they were identified (and making educated guesses where they weren’t, including for the case, power supply, and a few smaller items). Based on street prices, the factory-built machine costs only $110 more than the collection of parts that comprise it (although Visionman undoubtedly pays much less than retail for its components).
While that premium doesn’t seem unreasonable, we think most gamers would choose different components for their home-brew rigs.