One of the best ways to keep the noise level of your high end gaming rig down is to look at water cooling options. Some of the all-in-one kits perform well, but are still hit and miss. Putting together your own kit is more complicated, but will give you much better performance, not to mention great looks. One of the big names in water cooling parts is a company called Danger Den. With help from Acoustic PC we were able to update our old water cooling kit with the parts needed to keep our i7 930 cool.
Product Name: Danger Den Water Cooling
Review Sample Provided by: AcousticPC
Review by: Wes
Pictures by: Wes
I already had a full Danger Den kit before starting this project, but in order to run it on the i7 930 I needed to pick up a few new parts. Acoustic PC sent out a Danger Den MC-TDX Intel Socket 1366 CPU Water Block, Tygon Crystal Clear Kink Free Tubing 3603 Tubing 1/2" ID 3/4" OD, Feser One - UV ORANGE - F1 - Coolant, and clamps. To make sure I was able to keep everything cool I went ahead and ordered a 240mm Black Ice XtremeII Radiator from DangerDen to upgrade my 120mm. Acoustic PC shipped the Danger Den water block in it's original box then inside of a larger box along with the clamps and tubing. They did a great job of protecting everything; I had no worries about anything being damaged. The waterblock itself was also protected with foam all around it, inside it's box.
Our Test Rig
Intel i7 930
GIGABYTE GA-EX58-UD5R motherboard
Powercolor HD5870 PCS+ Video Card
Western Digital SiliconEdge Blue 128Gb SSD
Raptor X under the top mesh with LED lighting
Samsung DVD Burner
OCZ DDR3 PC3-1600MHz Ram
Sparkle 1250Watt Gold Class PSU
Installing a water cooling kit is much more complicated than a standard heatsink. Most installations require some creative thinking and a few custom mounts. Installing this kit into our custom painted CSX case required even more planning. Trying to keep everything simple, I decided to install the radiator/fans just behind the mesh in the unused drive bays. I thought for sure I would have to make my own mounts, but after a little hunting around I found a mount from (UN)Designs that fit the bill; even better was that Danger Den sells it. With the mounts in hand, the radiator installed perfectly and without too much trouble. I decided to mount the water pump behind the radiator using (UN)Designs Infinite Vertical Pump Mount, which not only installed perfectly, but also looks great floating there. Next I slid the Danger Den one bay reservoir into it's place, but leaving it loose to help fill everything later.
Installing the waterblock requires that you have access to the back of the motherboard, no different than most high end heatsinks anymore. After sorting through the collection of nuts, bolts, washers, and springs that come with the Danger Den MC-TDX, I was able to piece it together. The springs put enough pressure to keep the waterblock secure, but prevent you from over tightening and breaking the acrylic top. Next the water cooling lines needed ran. I tried to keep the lines loose enough to prevent any kinks or tight bends that could cause issues later.
With the water lines routed I took the Feser One coolant and slowly filled as much as I could into the reservoir. Next, I powered up the water pump without the motherboard having power by unhooking the 24 pin and grounding out the correct wires (green to black). This lets the pump run air out of the water lines and to check for leaks without any risk of leaking all over your important components. While checking for leaks I topped off the reservoir multiple times until I felt good about the system being leak free and free of air bubbles. After that you are good to go for your first power up.
To put the kit to the test I will be judging its cooling performance along with its noise output. To test its cooling performance I got our load temperatures by running prime95 for an hour. Idle temps are after an hour of idling. Here are the results.
When compared to high end heatsinks from multiple manufactures the water cooling setup falls about mid-range in cooling performance with stock speeds. I was more impressed with the water cooling when running an overclock; I was barely able to get the water to heat up past our original numbers.
The noise level of the Danger Den setup was amazing save for one issue. The single bay reservoir isn’t large enough causing bubbles to form and sometimes get into the lines. This also makes a slight running water sound. I hope to upgrade to their dual bay reservoir soon to fix this small issue. Outside of that issue the noise level of the water cooling setup was considerably less than some of the air cooling solutions. This was aided of course by the amazing Noctua fans used on the radiator.
After living with it for a while I can state the obvious: water cooling isn’t for everyone. It’s a lot harder to install and would be far too complicated for all but the most hardcore enthusiasts. In return for the difficulty, you get good performance, near silent operation, and a style that air cooling just can’t beat. Of course our numbers only mean so much; the best part about a custom water cooling kit is the adjustability. You can swap out any component you want to bigger and better performing components, and you can even cool your motherboards chipset, RAM, hard drives, and video cards.