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Watercooling Radiator shootout
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Old 25th May 2008, 16:23   #1
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Default Watercooling Radiator shootout

Both the Black Ice GTX and the TFC X-Changer series of radiators are well designed, but it's clear that there's definitely a difference in performance for the price increase. Feser's performance starts off with a nice and cool two degree difference at idle on the 120mm radiator, and though the idle difference shrinks as the sizes increase as we'd expect, the temperature differences at load continues to increase.

Looking at either extreme, we have cost vs. performance issues. The TFC X-Changer is almost 50 percent more expensive than the Black Ice at the 120mm level, but we start out two degrees cooler at idle. Granted, most people should not attempt to cool an 8800GTX and a Q66600 CPU on just a 120mm radiator, but it quickly sorts the wheat from the chaff - the TFC X-Changer wins hands down. At the moment it looks like you'll be paying quite heavily for that privilege - however, if you're looking at cooling a lot in a small space and you've already bought into watercooling, it'll be worth the investment without question.

The 360mm group shows much less differentiation for the same nearly 50 percent price increase, and my best guess for the performance is above in the results section. In order to get the most out of this type of setup with either instance, you're really going to need to look at why you need it - If you're not looking at 8800GTX SLI setups with a fairly well overclocked processor all in the same loop (in which case I ask, "Why?"), I doubt you'll be able to justify the price. The Feser 240mm cools almost as well as the Black Ice 360mm for less space and the same cost, and the Feser 360mm price is really hard to swallow without an incredibly good reason. Odds are that if you have a system to require this, you won't think twice about an additional $60 USD on your radiator cost anyhow.

It seems that the sweet spot for both radiators sits at the 240mm mark for price, where you seem to get the most bang for your cooling buck. In this, Feser clearly trumps the Black Ice by three solid degrees at load, which could be improved with a shroud or better fans. At this point, we're looking at a 35 percent price increase over the same sized Black Ice GTX ($134.99 vs. $99.99), but the difference at this point the narrowest margin while offering a better temperature spread versus the competition than the 360mm radiator.

I'm not entirely sure that price should be as much of an issue as I'm weighing it, as watercooling is not cheap by its very definition. However, I can't help but look forward to the TFC X-Changer getting a bit larger distribution volume so that the price comes down a hair relatively - the difference between $135 USD and $120 USD would be a tremendous increase in perceived value. At $135 it's a great performer at a "bleeding-edge" price, but $120 would make it pretty much impossible not to recommend.
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