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General Liquid/Water Cooling Discussion For discussion about Full Cooling System kits, or general cooling topics. Keep specific cooling items like pumps, radiators, etc... in their specific forums.

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Unread 05-24-2004, 12:52 PM   #1
nightic
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Default US vs German systems - advantages/disadvantages?

I've been reading these forums for a while now researching a future w/c set-up and whilst it's fair to say that with sufficient time it's possible to find answers to questions I have, there's one particular area that I feel hasn't been covered in any great depth.


This would be the performance distinctions and reasoning between what might be called a European (specifically German ie. 1/4-3/8" ID fittings, multipass tube radiators, small/quiet pumps) set-ups in comparision with more modern, 'extreme' ones (ie. 1/2"+ ID fittings, heatercores, powerful pumps - for brevity I'll herein refer to this as the "US-type").


Going by the level of 'anti-restrictionism' amongst US-type advocates it would appear that these German systems by virtue of their highly restrictive design are hopeless yet many customers (going by activity on some German forums) are happy with them and ever more companies are creating them.


After trawling forums and websites I've come across a (very) small number of comparitive reviews whereby the same components are tested a number of times utilising a variety of different sizes of fitting/tubing etc.


This is obviously a dubious way in which to compare bearing in mind that the equipment that is kept common (usually the pump/rad) in these tests is typically best suited to components which are designed to follow one of the particular philosophies.


The only thing that is clear is that mixing components from each design-type is not a path to good performance.


So the question is can a well-designed system built (exclusively) in the German model perform as well (or near enough) as a no-compromise US-type one or is it doomed to mediocrity?


Can a multipass radiator be more effective than a heatercore when used in 1/4" system?
Do the advantages of using a less powerful (ie. Eheim 1046) pump outweigh the disadvantages in such a system?


It's obvious that the current general consensus amongst the more hardcore is that powerful pumps/large heatercores/ever-increasing diameters of tubing are the way to go and that flow restriction is to be strictly avoided where possible but one must then ask why the Germans persist in refining their seemingly inherently flawed systems? (I do mean this as a question, not a criticism).


Clearly the companies producing these parts have the same abilities to test as everyone else and by looking at some of their kit it doesn't seem they're scrimping on the design, technology or manufacturing front.


It also wouldn't be at all difficult to 'upsize' their components to utilise larger fittings and yet they don't.


Further, there's no shortage of 'hardcore' European overclockers so it's not as though there isn't a market.


Another oft-mentioned rationale is that European systems are optimised for quiet operation as opposed to vigorously overclocked ones but I'm not sure that I buy that.
Many of the components in the loop that that are responsible for the sound level seem to be shared between German and US watercooling rigs (ie. Eheim 1048, low RPM 120mm fans).


It's not my intention that this thread begins yet another discussion about the importance of flow- rates/velocity/pressure/restriction - there are enough of these on this and other forums and thanks to many of the committed members here I think we can agree that this is an area that has been comprehensively examined and explained.


I'd merely like to hear the thoughts and opinions of those who may have practical experience of both types of system.
If the German systems work, how well do they work and why?




PS - For those that don't understand what I mean by "German systems", please take a look at the below sites for examples:



http://www.aquacomputer.de/
http://www.alphacool.de/perl/news.pl
http://www.cool-cases.org/
http://www.watercooling.de

Last edited by nightic; 05-24-2004 at 03:38 PM.
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Unread 05-24-2004, 01:06 PM   #2
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You can surely design a system to get the vast majority of its performance at 0.3-0.5GPM (1.3-2 L/min or so). These are flow rates typical for 1/4" ID tubing and smallish pumps. If that's the case then why use big hose and larger pumps (no gain from the effort and expense).

The same holds true for the Swiftech gear: You can get MOST of its performance out of it at 3-4L/min, and it's possible to push 4 L/min through it using 3/8" ID hose, a GPU/nb block, and their MCP600. Why then would they bother with larger hose?

So you can design a wb to do very well at "german type" flow rates. In fact if you know that your target flow is very low you can add some restrictiveness in the name of getting wb velocity up.

But what of the other part of a loop: the radiator? Heat dissipation curves often show a 2-3x increase as you raise flow rate from 0.3-2GPM. I don't see anything different fundamentally about the radiators used in Europe, so the same holds true. This means to get water as close to room temperature as my 2GPM loop, you have to have ~ 2x the surface area on the radiator or louder fans.

So there's more than one way to skin a cat for sure.
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Unread 05-24-2004, 02:10 PM   #3
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The US style will almost always get better temperatures. Flow rates always help the block perform, and using a 1046 with 1/4" tubing will not help that. It can be optimized, as pHaestus points out, to do fairly well with low flow rates, but you won't get the best. Winding tube radiators are almost always worse than heater core style radiators. This shows that. The Big Momma is a 6*6 heater core and beats the crap out of all the winding tube ones.

Quote:
The same holds true for the Swiftech gear: You can get MOST of its performance out of it at 3-4L/min, and it's possible to push 4 L/min through it using 3/8" ID hose, a GPU/nb block, and their MCP600. Why then would they bother with larger hose?
Not everyone uses an MCP600. You're talking high end pumps, with tubing that is almost twice the size. It's not really relevant, I don't think.

German style setups take up less room and take less noise, for the smaller tubing and pump, but you'll lose a lot of performance, and their blocks look expensive. You also still have the PSU and the 120mm fan, so the silence is lost.
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Unread 05-24-2004, 02:16 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pHaestus
......
But what of the other part of a loop: the radiator? Heat dissipation curves often show a 2-3x increase as you raise flow rate from 0.3-2GPM. ...........
.
Yes but this would translate to a max decrease in C/W of ~ 0.015c/w in this example tested by Billa.



Smaller than the 0.02c/w decrease for a MCW6000 waterblock :-


Maybe the radiators are not a problem
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Unread 05-24-2004, 02:43 PM   #5
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nightic
you make more of the differences than warranted; there are simply 2 groups with different design philosophies
- the US is performance driven (the vocal part of the market anyway), Europeans are more appreciative of the phrase adequate

and you are trying to reconcile 2 very different test methodologies, whose purpose is quite different as well

WRT the design issues:
when the system design goal is the minimum CPU temp, then the component selection will trend in a certain direction (bigger);
- but if the system design goal is only adequacy, then the system designer has the opportunity to make different tradeoffs not possible when going for the minimum CPU temp

adequacy here is defined as keeping the CPU within the thermal guidelines set by the chip mfgr

WRT the testing issues:
do not be confused by performance claims supported by ineptly designed test setups and procedures (select the conclusion and test to produce said results)

-> every time you see a component's performance curve indicating improved performance with a higher flow rate, accept that that component can never perform better at a lower flow rate

-> since both wbs and rads always perform better at higher flow rates, it should be accepted that a higher flow system will always have a higher performance capability (assuming appropriate component selection)

the actual cooling capability of a system will depend on the capability of the components, and their compatibility wrt achieving the system design goals

where the Europeans have gone adrift is their focus on system testing, and the attempt to extract specific component performance characteristics therefrom
- not all European testing is bad, it is simply system testing which can characterize the limiting component in the system; NOT the performance capability of any single component

look at that French testing of kits, not badly done
conclusion ? bigger rads are superior to smaller rads (doh)
-> note: this is an absolutely valid conclusion to a series of system tests
what conclusion can be drawn wrt the wbs involved ?
none, too many other factors not isolated (pump, rad, mounting variations, etc.)

for sure the European low flow systems ‘work’, how well depends on YOUR yardstick

is there a balance ?
well, halfway between ¼” and ½” is . . . . . 3/8” ID, what a coincidence
lol
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Unread 05-24-2004, 03:25 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by unregistered
nightic
you make more of the differences than warranted; there are simply 2 groups with different design philosophies
- the US is performance driven (the vocal part of the market anyway), Europeans are more appreciative of the phrase adequate
But why would they bother with adequate?
Adequate can readily be had far more cheaply/conveniently with a well-designed air-cooled heatsink.

Why would minimum CPU temperature not be a goal for anyone designing a system intended to cool said CPU?
That is to say what advantage is to be had by designing something that is merely adequate?

I appreciate that German systems are typically smaller and less complex but is this enough to sacrifice what you are stating would be large (very?) performance differences?

Taking into account what you've said, one would ask why bother with a German-style system at all?



Quote:
Originally Posted by unregistered
WRT the design issues:
when the system design goal is the minimum CPU temp, then the component selection will trend in a certain direction (bigger);
- but if the system design goal is only adequacy, then the system designer has the opportunity to make different tradeoffs not possible when going for the minimum CPU temp
What are these trade-offs and why make them?



Quote:
Originally Posted by unregistered
is there a balance ?
well, halfway between ¼” and ½” is . . . . . 3/8” ID, what a coincidence
lol
This balance then suggests certain disadvantages to the US 1/2" system.
What are these and how does moving to the more 'balanced' 3/8" system overcome them?

Please don't see the above questions as being combative, sincerely, that is not my intent, I just wish to be educated on these matters which I feel due to trends have been often overlooked.
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Unread 05-24-2004, 03:53 PM   #7
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Well from my point of view coming from and overclockers background performance is everything. That is why we started watercooling our pcs and that is still my reason for wanting to watercool my pc. Its not that i dont care about noise and looks its just that the performance is more important to me.

Therefore i belive the High flow system best suits my needs.

Theres no question that they work better (athough i would like to see someone test a top end low flow against a top end high flow to prove that)

I dont have anything against people who have a high quality german system but i dont like it when they try to claim they give 'as good' performance because i have yet to find one that compares to a US style system
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Unread 05-24-2004, 03:57 PM   #8
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it seems to me that if they were more looks-driven than performance-driven, then why not buy a koolance system or something like that? after all if theyre going to go all of the trouble to make a system that for all purposes performs worse than air cooling, why even bother having to do anything at all? its just a thought...maybe that makes me come across as an arrogant american bastard but i really do agree, if youre going to go the step to w/c, why not go a tiny bit further, hell for all purposes its NO further, and just use a higher flow/better performance system, that costs the same.
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Unread 05-24-2004, 04:14 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kronchev
it seems to me that if they were more looks-driven than performance-driven, then why not buy a koolance system or something like that? after all if theyre going to go all of the trouble to make a system that for all purposes performs worse than air cooling, why even bother having to do anything at all?
Right, exactly, but here's what I don't get;

They're not stupid, they can make a system that looks just as nice and is high-flow, 1/2" all round and yet they don't.
Why is that?

What is it about the (ie.) 1/2" set-ups that discourages them from entering that realm?
Surely if they thought the high-flow method was the greater performing one, they wouldn't supress developing it?

The desire for slightly easier tube routing and marginally smaller pumps/blocks is not sufficient reason for them to limit their product range is it?

For all intents and purposes the hardware is the same, it's not a huge deal to retool their blocks to have larger native connections, they have similar availability of high-power pumps, heatercores and sourcing larger diameter tubing wouldn't be a chore and yet they don't.

Now this isn't a criticism of the German way. I think we can agree that in many areas they have extraordinarily good engineers as well as the means to produce very high quality, high performance hardware.
Does it not then make it all the more curious that they've focused on a very particular way of going about PC water-cooling which is commonly thought of as being inferior?
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Unread 05-24-2004, 04:43 PM   #10
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Here's a suggestion: when the 8086 came out it was vastly inferior to the other types around (the more powerful super-type computers). However, they were more convenient so people started using them more. Now people still use them (as in 32bit processors) as they are compatible with everything else. Only now are 64bit processors starting to become mainstream but that's mainly due to AMD's take on it.

So maybe the "US" and "German" methods originally went on their paths because it was convenient, and they are still going that way because people don't like change?
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Unread 05-24-2004, 04:55 PM   #11
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Default I think it is generally a cultural difference

I think if you look across the technological board, you will find this difference between American and German engineering.

Americans usually respond with a brute force, "more of everything that is deemed to be good" type solution than the Germans. The Germans dig efficiency. This analogy is really evident in car design for instance. Every now and then you see some Teutonic monster show up like the new Benz Mclaren, which has a mongo V-12 in it. However that is the German exception, not the rule. Look at their premiere sportscar, the Porsche 911 series. They're still using a flat-6 cylinder engine that displaces about three liters in a tiny car. You can also get a tight little turbo thrown on for more power...really zippy, but light and efficient.

Look at American cars, especially the classic hot-rods. There is no other car "culture" in the world that has cranked out anything like a Plymouth Roadrunner, or Top Fuel drag racing. A drag-strip Roadrunner is a heavy car that uses a huge gas guzzler of an engine, supercharger, nitrous boost, huge 4-barrel carbureator, and a tricked one will make about three times the horsepower of say, the German Porsche. The Roadrunner also weighs about three times as much, and gets about a fourth the gas mileage, and needs to be constantly tweaked to stay in top form and not break.

That example of a Roadrunner will totally blow a Porsche off the road in a quarter mile, but thats what its built for almost exclusively. That number, the 1/4 mile time (analogous to how "cold" your CPU is) is what its focused on being the best at. Americans focus on those kinds of "absolute" numbers, how fast is it? i.e...how cold is it? But again in the analogy the German car will drive a road better, be more efficient with the gas, not be so touchy from a mechanical point of view, doesn't wake up the neighbors when idling...etc. Looks just as nice as a tricked RoadRunner, but a lot more subtle.

A Innovatek system does just that, it cranks in very respectable numbers, though not the best numbers, in cooling a chip. It also has a way over-engineered, well designed clip, and looks more like a precision tool than a waterblock. They seem to be really well build, And it also wrings the most it can out of 8mm tubing.

Compare that to some guy in the States with his "dragster": car heatercore, two highs speed 120's, Swiftech block, Iwaki pump, and 226W TEC with extra power supply...it will dominate the Innovatek in temps. But burn an extra ~350W out of the wall, heat up his room, sound like an airliner, leave user in constant fear of system electrocution via condensation; I have never seen a European set up or sell such a cooling rig. But its the All American Dream!

The Japanese are kinda like the Germans that way, but also like the Americans in the fact they like the supercharger-nitrous boost type of add-ons on their tiny motors. The Japanese seem to have a "hybrid" design philosophy between the American and German extremes.

Come to think of it though, during my rant I realized I can't think of any W/C outfit outta Japan, and only one HSF maker...Alpha Novatech. Does anyone know of any others?

Last edited by HAL-9000; 05-24-2004 at 05:14 PM.
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Unread 05-24-2004, 06:35 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by unregistered
nightic
you make more of the differences than warranted; there are simply 2 groups with different design philosophies
- the US is performance driven (the vocal part of the market anyway), Europeans are more appreciative of the phrase adequate
also, which I am suprised to have not seen mentioned yet, is aesthetics and ergonomics

yeah, elbows make things more tidy, but they hurt flowrates
which is more important to you?

I personally prefer a bench system with fans and guts all layed out all over the work bench to a compact lian li case with the fancy window and leds and everything is nice and pretty

but many people are the opposite
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Unread 05-24-2004, 07:10 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nightic
But why would they bother with adequate?
Adequate can readily be had far more cheaply/conveniently with a well-designed air-cooled heatsink.
Almost any water cooling is going to be a lot cooler than even adequate air. To get the sort of temps you get with a mediocre water system you need howling fans blowing over a top notch heatsink.
Quiet is something people desire in their computers. I doubt anyone would argue that given the choice between a screaming banshee of a machine and a quietly purring system that had the same performance, they'd choose the banshee.
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Unread 05-24-2004, 07:21 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Butcher
Almost any water cooling is going to be a lot cooler than even adequate air. To get the sort of temps you get with a mediocre water system you need howling fans blowing over a top notch heatsink.
Quiet is something people desire in their computers. I doubt anyone would argue that given the choice between a screaming banshee of a machine and a quietly purring system that had the same performance, they'd choose the banshee.
Well yes but that only accounts for the advantage of the German systems over air-cooling - something that is not being disputed.
The conflict lies in quite why these quiet(er) systems are not being designed around a high-flow model.
Taking into account the assumed/measured performance advantage (re: maximizing cooling) of the US-type systems, surely a slightly compromised system can be made which is quieter/as quiet as the German-type whilst still maintaining said increased cooling ability.
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Unread 05-24-2004, 07:21 PM   #15
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Hal-9000, touched a spot there.

It's the conception, ie, the way you set things in your mind needed in order to achieve a certain result. Much like cars, driving a car with 1600cc and another with 3000cc; is it so different?

There isn't a standardization of the tubing? Why? Is is so hard to get a middle ground?

It surely would do a big difference in terms of sales and would help create a common base for the real WC market across the two sides of the Atlantic.
I mean, it's like car tyres. No one imagines buying a Mercedes with a tyre that only Europe has. It's ridiculous!

About the "system testing which can characterize the limiting component in the system" that Unregistered mentioned, if the Europeans don't do it, why not the Procooling staff, giving a broader picture. Surely it's members would appreciate.

Maybe someone is better informed on this, but it seems that the Europeans manufacturers are also (maybe slow, I guess) changing their view of the question.
Asetek Antartica for example is a new waterblock that performs very well with more powerful pumps, and needs better flux, and perhaps in this competing world some more are to follow suit.

Unregistered, the "French testing of kits" you spoke about, is the one I mentioned in another thread?
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Unread 05-24-2004, 07:48 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nightic
The conflict lies in quite why these quiet(er) systems are not being designed around a high-flow model.
Taking into account the assumed/measured performance advantage (re: maximizing cooling) of the US-type systems, surely a slightly compromised system can be made which is quieter/as quiet as the German-type whilst still maintaining said increased cooling ability.
I think that may probably best be answered by looking at the demographic make-up of the forum members at Futuremark. Aside from the all-English language barrier, Futuremark probably has one of the widest international-based demographic in terms of forum user-base.

Futuremark is also the center around which revolves much posturing for members to achieve the most out of their system. XtremeSystems.org is another such place, but arguably with a more English-centric demographic.

What is apparant though at either forum is that the guys who are pushing their water-cooling systems to the limit, where the phrase "adequate" takes a distant second-place to "performance", it's easily seen that plenty of people have moved from the German style of doing things to the more "brute-force" US-style.

Really it's all about where you place the bar when you define "adequate".

For some of us, we're concerned with eking out every last ounce of cooling potential that water has to offer, whether or not that means that we're just chasing down the last 2-4C of cooling performance that's on offer.
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Unread 05-24-2004, 07:55 PM   #17
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If "too many egos to seek the common ground", and everyone sticks to their side of the barricade, how do you see the the market evolution for American/Asutralian or others in Europe?
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Unread 05-25-2004, 03:38 AM   #18
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Attualy the german watercooling systems do bare a striking resemblance to the Porsche 911 series.

If you know much about what makes a car handle well you will soon see that the 911 is totaly the wrong design (ie. it has the engine in the back when it should be in the middle!) This is very like the germans low flow rate design because we all know higher flow will work better.

In the case of the 911 over the many years of developement they have managed to make it handle 'as well' as the other top super cars on the market and much the same thing i happening with watercooling, the germans are taking the flawed low flow design and optimising it to such a point that its getting close to being 'as good' as a USA design.

You cannot argue that the 911 does not handle well however it is still a flawed design and the wrong way to build a fast car! and i feel exactly the same way about the low flow type of watercooling. What i dont understand is why germans insist on doing it this way? because to my mind its and idiotic way to design something. why dont they start off with a high flow system and optimise that?
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Unread 05-25-2004, 06:53 AM   #19
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Well, think about it this way - could we go further than 1/2"? Obviously we can but would it be beneficial? It's convenient because it's not too big, but what if we made everything at 1"? Would that be better? It may be that the "Germans" are at the same place as the "US" - they could go further but they just haven't, for whatever reason I'm not sure (probalby because people don't like change).

BTW, the off-topic read was interesting
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Unread 05-25-2004, 09:46 AM   #20
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Default Gauntlet down

Okay guys. I'd have liked to reply before things deteriorated into off-topic mayhem but no matter.

Let's clear this up and make it a little interesting to boot.
I'm confident in the ability of my products, as are the manufacturers I've spoken to.
We'd like to lay down a little challenge here - you come up with a production kit that can compare to one of our sub-£200 ones and I'll accept your claims that you have the edge over us on price/performance.

Here's a little background reading to get you in the mood (french review inside).
Here's an 8/10mm block that I think can give you guys a run for your money.

Let me know who you think is the best independant tester to give us clear insights without bias {I'm thinking JoeC or pHæstus, now that BillA is no longer independant (no offence intended)} and let's get it on.


If you think this merits a seperate thread to keep it in order, let me know and I'll post one accordingly.
Look forward to replies.
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Unread 05-25-2004, 09:49 AM   #21
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oooh Pug,
now you really WILL see mahem - as the fanboys shout for their candidate
nice move

EDIT:
you defined a price limit, any others ?
(thinking an upper noise limit, how to measure ? per fan spec ?)

also define 'winning', lowest CPU temp ?
-> what platform ? (suggest all the same)
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Unread 05-25-2004, 09:56 AM   #22
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£200 is $380US...could build a mighty impressive kit with that amount of money. Just as it's possible to tweak a wb for a single point test, it's possible to tweak a kit for this contest. If I wanted to win such a contest I think I'd go to Cooltechnica and equip a kit with 2x Black Ice Extreme 2s, 4x Delta high power 120mm, a D4 pump, and a MCW6000. Should fall right around the max price. Lowering water temps would be the way to win a "kit contest".

My solution is loud as hell and wouldn't fit in any normal case, but it'd be cool
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Unread 05-25-2004, 09:57 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by unregistered
oooh Pug,
now you really WILL see mahem - as the fanboys shout for their candidate
nice move

EDIT:
you defined a price limit, any others ?
(thinking an upper noise limit, how to measure ? per fan spec ?)
Well, obviously, all these things should be taken into consideration - I'm open to advice/contribution of ideas.
I guess using the same fans on the rad might help keep a fair fight, otherwise substitutions should be graded on their merits - if, given that we submit a quieter, more efficient system, this should be shown in results.
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Unread 05-25-2004, 09:59 AM   #24
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FWIW, I'd love to play around with and test some of the European stuff and I'd be willing to set up a standardized set of tests and evaluate the kits. Parameters for choosing "winners" have to be clearly defined before starting though.
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Unread 05-25-2004, 10:00 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pHaestus
£200 is $380US...could build a mighty impressive kit with that amount of money. Just as it's possible to tweak a wb for a single point test, it's possible to tweak a kit for this contest. If I wanted to win such a contest I think I'd go to Cooltechnica and equip a kit with 2x Black Ice Extreme 2s, 4x Delta high power 120mm, a D4 pump, and a MCW6000. Should fall right around the max price. Lowering water temps would be the way to win a "kit contest".

My solution is loud as hell and wouldn't fit in any normal case, but it'd be cool
Twin rads? Well, now you're slightly moving the goalposts... I'll admit I didn't specify but let's try & keep it real, eh?
Perhaps I should reword to say a similar kit to what we propose?
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