Danger Den MAZE4 GPU Water Block Review

Cooling/Water Cooling by KeithSuppe @ 2004-11-06

Want to overclock your graphics card? Want to replace that noisy stock cooling? We take a closer look at Danger Den?s MAZE4 water block to see if it can tame an ATI X800 Pro video card!

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Introduction and EasyPCKit

Danger Den MAZE4 GPU water block and EasyPCKits Premium Lapping Kit

Madshrimps (c)

Some time ago Danger Den sent me their MAZE4 GPU water block; unfortunately I didn't have a card worthy of its installation. My Asus V9950 was an excellent card and in fact its extensive copper heatsink and fan design were quite effective. So the MAZE4 remained boxed except when I removed it to take photos.

Recently I purchased a Sapphire X800 Pro, and while this was an excellent card, HSF left much to be desired. Once I began overclocking, problems arose. At higher clock speeds the card began producing more artifacts then you could find on a Mayan dig.

Using Wizzard's excellent ATI-Tool "Find Max Core" / "Find Max Mem" feature, I ended up approximately with 582Mhz core and 559MHz memory (up from 472/445MHz respectfully). I approximate because in both cases I terminated the test prior to the crash stage. Obviously this card had some OC potential, but insufficient cooling was holding me back.

The side-panel on my case is usually removed due to the size of the radiators I use in my water cooling setup. I tried using a floor fan to keep the card cool enough, but this failed to remedy the problem. I removed the stock GPU heatsink and changed the thermal paste to Arctic Silver Ceramique as it is none conductive and safe to use where SMDs (Surface Mount Device) are present. Nothing seemed to ameliorate the problem, and I began to wonder if the heatsink supplied by Sapphire may have imperfections, perhaps not being perfectly flat.

So my next option was to try the Danger Den GPU water block, unfortunately oxidation took its toll, and through my handling (taking photo's etc.) I'd placed a few striations in the base plate as well. Removing the oxidation alone would require lapping, as this was prior to my having Arctic Silver's ArctiClean which would have saved valuable time.

Being a perfectionist, I immediately broke out an EasyPCKits Premium Lapping Kit and got to work.

Madshrimps (c)

EasyPCKits offers what I consider to be the finest lapping kit on the market. Their Premium Kit includes a square of glass ideally sized for a work surface, 400 to 1000 grit papers, 10 to 40-micron paper, and a tube of Arctic Silver 5. I don't know of another supplier whom packages their kits with such a wide assortment of paper sizes, especially the finer grains. If you think you'd never use such fine grained paper, your sorely mistaken. It's the finest grains which will leave a surface free of micro-pores, pits, and striations. Most importantly your mating surfaces must be as flat as possible, so the paste can transfer heat optimally. Microscopic pits can trap air, negating thermal transfer. The mirror image on the right can only be achieved with a finer grain paper.

Madshrimps (c)

The results above were achieved in just 35-minutes. I didn't have too far to go, as Danger Den's finishing process seems to improve with each subsequent design. In fact I've seen a marked improvement in Danger Den base plate finishes from the MAZE4to the relatively recent TDX CPU water block. The latter sporting a highly polished finish. It's in the details where Danger Den has left their favorable mark on the minds of PC-Enthusiasts.

EasyPCKits has had an excellent product on the market for some time. While it's true you can go to your local hardware store and purchase many of these materials, however; it's often very difficult to find sandpaper in micro-fine grains, and your local hardware store won't be selling Arctic Silver with it :-) . At first I thought it silly that a piece of glass was shipped with the kit, then I realized how easy it is to work with due to its size, and you don't have to concern yourself trying to find a perfectly flat surface, or having your wife walk in as your pulling down the 24K gold leafed Dinning Room mirror.
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