The IT hardware industry has been both suffering and benefiting from increasing thermal issues with silicon chips. High speed CPUs and graphics processors easily cross the 100 W mark today, which leads to substantial cooling requirements. The problem is that the average user wants a computer, not an electric heater, of course. The benefit is that a whole new market for sophisticated cooling products has emerged. With lots of products already around, Thermaltake has jumped in with its own out-of-the-box solution.
While liquid cooling is often considered the best approach for coping with CPU or graphics processor heat issues efficiently and quietly, it only works for products that were properly designed for it. All cooling devices are based on the principle of dissipating heat by means of adequate heat conducting substances. But no matter what you do, that heat eventually has to be dissipated to the ambient air, which is why fans are indispensable.
Metals such as copper or aluminum are best suited for being the primary conductor, which is why they are used for heat sinks. The larger the total heat sink surface, the better the thermal absorption. Even so, a fan is required to exchange the surrounding air quickly enough to dissipate heat effectively.
As a follow-up step, manufacturers often add another heat conducting layer. A so-called waterblock is used as the interface between a silicon chip and the liquid coolant. The closer the coolant is placed to the hot spot, the better. Think of the whole cooling process as a cascaded solution: the waterblock heats up quickly, but dissipates its heat to the liquid coolant right away, which is why it is essential to maintain a steady flow. On the other side of the loop, the coolant will pass through a concave multi-fin heat sink called the radiator.
While most liquid cooling solutions involve multiple elements that the user has to install and put together, Thermaltake's approach consists of a single module. Let's see how well it works.