Review: LCLC cooling for all
If you're wondering whether a low cost OEM cooling solution can be effective, wonder no more – it certainly can. The answer comes from Asetek, and you’ve probably already heard about its LCLC low-cost liquid cooling system.
This unique cooling solution is aimed at the needs of OEM companies, and the fact that HP opted for this when building Blackbird 002 speaks for itself. LCLC cooling is unique and effective, mainly because Asetek focused on two main components – CPU and GPU - and utilized the capabilities of their system to the max. This is not a new thing and we've already written about it. Today, we continue the story, or shall we say we are painting a happy ending to the earlier story.
It’s been more than six months since we installed LCLC cooling in one of our test rigs. It became a standard player almost instantly. We changed a couple of motherboards and processors, but the cooling stayed. The good thing about this system is that it’s compatible with both AMD and Intel processors, so it makes all the configurations possible. The system is quite simple, and the pictures below are a testament to that.
It’s clear now that this is unique OEM cooling. It’s virtually impossible to find such an efficient gadget that’s more easy to install. Perhaps we will even see a reasonably priced LCLC retail version on the shelves. Right now you can only get this as a pre-installed component within certain OEM computers. From the pictures taken from Asetek’s Website you can see that it’s possible to use this system for two CPU’s or SLI. That’s only partially right because, of course, you can use it for ATI, too. It all depends on how many you order and whether new water blocks are worth it.
You can see that our LCLC is one of the first systems built to also cool a graphics card. The first LCLC coolers were intended for CPU use only, but improvements were made to support more than one unit.
The graphics card block has undergone a facelift, so it doesn’t look as rough around the edges. The radiator supports fans from 80 to 120mm, but although a 120mm fan is shipped with this baby, we opted for the Artic Cooling – Artic Fan 12 PWM.
Our LCLC cools one Intel CPU and Nvidia’s GPU, and it does it effortlessly. For the sake of this review, we tried overclocking Intel Core 2 Duo 6800 Extreme Edition running at 2.9GHz, and we managed to clock it up to 3.6GHz. Processor temperature varied from 45°C in idle mode to 65°C after CPU Burn-in test. That’s a great result for such a small cooling system. Still, multi-processor PC temperatures will definitely soar higher than that, especially if you add two graphics cards to the mix.
The most interesting thing here is the CPU block, which is the heart of this system. It contains a small, but powerful, water pump, and unlike the standard water cooling solution, this one has no water container. Asetek cooling is a closed circuit comprised of two or three components (you can order more if you need more things cooled, of course) that are already set up, and that is very useful for end users. All you need to do is connect the CPU block to a power source and, voila! The reservoir fan can be put in place of the CPU fan connector on the motherboard, or however you choose, but bear in mind that RPM control comes in handy. Let’s not go much deeper into installation methods – those things are for OEMs to worry about, anyway. However, before we move on to the test results, we’ll show you a couple of pictures.
The copper base is much larger than the processor, so the heat transfer is very efficient.
Setting up is easy, thanks to a slightly modded Intel mounting kit. It works on a push-in principle, just as Intel's Socket 775 cooler does.
The graphics card cooler set up is also simple – a couple of screws should take care of it.
We received an Intel Socket 775 compatible CPU block, but AMD compatible blocks are nearly identical, the only difference is the mounting method.
Mounting takes about ten minutes. We first tried it outside the case, and then we did the same within the case.
No water reservoir, no annoying water leaking out or setting up pipelines – it’s all done before you buy it.
The graphics card fan is so quiet that you barely notice it.
We already said that we’ve been using LCLC in our test rig for over half a year, and we’ve had no trouble with it whatsoever. The water block is mounted on an OCZ 8800 GTX card, and the cooling system will run flawlessly for 50,000 hours, or so Asetek guarantees.
Our testing rig’s processor is Intel QX6700 running at 2.6GHz. We did some overclocking and measured the temperatures while running at 3.4GHz. The processor temperature was an acceptable 61°C, while the overclocked GPU (618/1836MHz) was at 75°C.
For this review we used Intel's Core 2 Duo X6800 Extreme and EVGA 680i motherboard in order to overclock it a bit. We measured temperatures at 2.9GHz (stock speed) and 3.6GHz. Besides the LCLC cooler, we also used Intel’s reference cooler. In order to compare graphics card temperatures we used an additional 8800 GTX, and measured CPU temperatures at 2.4GHz and 3.6GHz.
Since the LCLC system is a water cooling solution and water flows over the components we expected a temperature jump after overclocking the components. However, that wasn’t the case. The only temperature increase was that on the graphics card, but it was really miniscule, especially knowing that the CPU was struggling with CPU Burn-in tests. This proves that LCLC is an efficient solution. The same scenario occurred during graphics testing: the CPU temperature just wouldn’t budge.
Intel’s stock cooler performed a tad better in idle mode, but only because the graphics card increased the LCLC and CPU temperature.
It’s important to note that Intel’s stock cooler ran at maximum RPM, and it was far from quiet – if you choose to make it quiet, you’d better kiss your components goodbye. LCLC, on the other hand, was the quietest component in the rig.
GPU temperature during CPU testing was measured at 55°C. The results compared to 8800 GTX (using stock cooling) temperatures are in the last table.
We overclocked X6800 Extreme to 3.6GHz and we heated it up quite thoroughly. However, even that couldn’t shake LCLC from its cloud, so we believe that maybe dual CPU systems would be a true challenge for this baby.
The CPU core temperatures in idle mode are only 3°C higher compared to the same processor running at 700MHz less. Intel’s stock cooler kept the temperatures at 55°C, which is 14°C higher compared to the same CPU running at 2.9GHz.
We burdened the CPU and the temperatures instantly soared. Intel’s cooler reached 75°C while LCLC reached 65°C. The LCLC cooled graphics card almost matched the processor’s temperature. Still, 64°C is extra cool for a G80 graphics chip.
Again, we emphasize that Intel’s cooler ran at maximum RPM. We tried with AUTO settings, but we quickly changed our minds because the temperature soared over 100°C. At maximum RPM the Intel cooler still performed poorly compared to LCLC, but at least we had a stable system.
Asetek worked like a charm during CPU testing, so it’s time for graphics chip temperatures. We compared them to temperatures measured on Nvidia 8800 GTX cards.
We see that Asetek LCLC graphics block performs flawlessly and that the temperature is at least ten degrees cooler compared to Nvidia 8800 GTX’s stock cooling.
We’ve just seen what this baby can do, and it’s no wonder that HP chose LCLC for Blackbird 002 gaming computers. It’s simple and easy to mount. Asetek took care of everything and it ships pre-assembled with the Low Cost Liquid Cooling systems. It’s capable of cooling a single CPU, a CPU and a graphics card or two CPU’s.
The only problem is that you can’t find it in retail stores or online. It’s aimed at OEM’s and ODMs that integrate it into their high-end gaming rigs, professional workstations and HTPC machines, but the manufacturer claims you can use it to cool consoles, SFF computers, projectors, projection TV’s, lamps and many other devices.
We would definitely recommend this product to anyone, because it performs in a way that could put many cooling solutions to shame. We would even say it’s a must have, but since you can’t buy it in retail, we only hope that the company executives at Asetek will change their minds and start distributing it soon to retailers.