The Big Water box arrived well packed. Thermaltake has perfected their packaging for display in retail stores, and security during shipping which is most important protecting the contents within. The components came packed in thick Styrofoam, pre-formed to accommodate each part within.
I must admit I was surprised at the quality of the water block. Machined from 100% copper and to high standards its weight was significant at 453gr which should give it some unique properties. For example a block with this much material could potentially be affected by ambient case temperatures as much as the water flowing through it.
Thermaltake chose a very basic S
-type channel design approximately 8mm in width, and 7mm depth. I surmise the large channel is intended to perpetuate ease of flow. Most likely to accomodate the pump which only circulates water at 120LPH/31GPH, the mass of the block, width and depth of the channels, all suggest Thermaltake engineers mated this block carefully with their chosen pump.
The wire in the photo above originates from a blue LED mounted in the block's clear acrylic top-plate, which is a nice touch. The quick-connects included are preferable to barbs where the hose is forced over, and then clamped down. The base of the block wasn't lapped to what I'd call a highly polished finish, and there was a small anomaly on my sample, however; this was merely a discoloration, and most important the base plate was flat.
A water cooling system is symbiotic, and as such there's really no single component which takes precedence over another. If one were forced to choose, perhaps the radiator/fan combination is one of the most important elements. While the water block can be poorly designed, or the pump underpowered, if the radiator/fan combo is unable to remove heat from the water flowing through it, it's all moot. Thermaltake's included radiator is very high quality, and with an effectively designed 12cm, 38CFM~97CFM adjustable fan, versatile as well.
Big Water's supplied tubing is somewhat narrow at 5mm internal diameter. There's an ample amount of the green reactive tubing included with two 150cm sections. I believe it would have been better for the End-user had Thermaltake chose a more common 6mm standard (USA .236"), which may have increased flow and provided universal connectivity.
I was slightly perturbed by the pump which is underpowered at 120LPH/31GPH, and given the 5mm internal diameter of the tubing, exacerbated. Of the included components the pump concerned me most, even beyond the prima facia
flow rate issue.
I have one major concern for the Big Water system which is made more difficult by the pump's design (besides it being underpowered). Thermaltake's instructions fail to mention leak-testing (testing for leaks away from costly components), which requires a method for powering up DC-pumps outside of one's case. This is usually accomplished via an adapter, which basically "hot-wires" your PSU shorting pins 14/15 or 15/16 on the ATX connector. This adapter is included in kits from more astute H20-specific manufacturer's such as Alphacool
whom labels it a bridging plug
. Since Big Water's supplied 12V DC-pump draws its power from a three-pin fan header, one must have two adapters neither of which are provided, nor mentioned in the instruction booklet.
First, you will need a three/four-pin fan header to Molex adapter, and the bridging plug mentioned above. This allows you to power up the PSU without having to connect it through the motherboard and case. The bridging plug allows any DC-pump to be safely tested outside the case for potential leaks.