Monday, May 19, 2014

[Rant] Back with the old Antec Kuhler 620

Kuhler 620

In the previous post I talked about how I got rid of my Silver Arrow SB-E Extreme cooler and that I went back to the old Antec Kuhler 620 all-in-one water cooler for the time being. I had thrown away most of the nuts and bolts of the Kuhler and I only had the socket 1150/1155/1156 mounting kit with me. That was fine as I don't see myself switching sockets anytime soon. And I am not even sure whether I would stick with this cooler for a long period of time either.

Mounting the cooler in the case

There are two spots in this case where you can mount a 120mm radiator. From drive bays and the top exhaust. When I cleaned up the case few weeks ago, I installed all the drive cages in the front drive bays for better air channeling. To install the radiator in the front drive drive bays, I had to take out these drive cages and it was a tedious task. So I opt to go with the top exhaust. There is an advantage of having it mounted in the front drive bays. That way you can cool the radiator with the cool air brought in from the outside of the case. If you mount it in the top exhaust, you would be cooling the radiator with the warm air that's inside the case which would hamper the cooling performance of the radiator. But I didn't think this would be a problem as there were two intake fans mounted in the front drive bays and I believed that it would have given enough cool air to breathe for the radiator.

Removing the Silver Arrow cooler

So the next step was removing the Silver Arrow cooler. Removing the cooler was much easier than the actual installation. All thanks to the long screw driver with the magnetic tip that bought for this exact purpose, I managed to remove it within 10 minutes. I cleaned the cooler a bit and safety stored it in its box

Installing the Kuhler - radiator first (wrong move!)

Then it was time for me to install the cooler. I think I made a mistake by installing the radiator first. I should have installed the water-block/pump combo first because with the radiator installed, it didn't stick in one place until all the screws were inserted and slightly tightened, as the tension from the rubber hoses pulled it around. But anyway, I installed the radiator first. I decided to install the Scythe Gentle Typhoon AP-29 fan that I had bought years ago. This was a quieter but better performer than the stock fan that came with the cooler. I decided to install the fan as a "pull" fan which mean the air would be pulled through the radiator and exhausted out through the fan. Since I had ample air supply from the front of the radiator, I thought that this setup would kind of act like a virtual push-pull setup. Setting the fan as a pull-fan has another benefit as well. You can easily clean (or dust) the radiator without removing the fan. If the fan was a push-fan, the dust would be trapped in between the fan and the radiator which means you have to remove the fan to clean the radiator.

Installing the Kuhler - water block second

Installation of the radiator went through without any drama. So it was time to install the water-block/pump combo. I first cleaner the two contact surfaces with Ethanol and applied some Arctic Cooling MX-4 on the CPU. And then I went ahead with the installation of the water-block. This turned out to be much harder than I anticipated. The back-plate would not stay in place when I install the water-block from the other side. Originally Antec had provided two pieces of double-sided tape to hold it in-place but when I removed it the last time (that was when I bought the Zalman CNPS9900MAX-B cooler), part of the double sided tape remained on the motherboard socket. There was no way to get it out so I peeled it out. Basically, there was no double-sided tape on the back-plate anymore. So I had to hold it in one hand, while screwing the water-block with the other. It was much harder to do this than it seemed, because the case was so huge. After few minutes of cursing, I got it to fit. I probably ruined the spread of thermal paste while at it. But there was no other way to do it. Stupid mounting mechanism! I've never had a cooler that was easily mountable.

Powering up

So, did the cooler work after all? Yes it did. But how did it compare to the Silver Arrow? It runs hotter than the Silver Arrow obviously. The Silver Arrow could even own a H100i without much issue. The Kuhler 620 has half the area of the H100i's radiator. So obviously it wasn’t going to be anywhere near as good as the Silver Arrow. It definitely wasn’t a heat transfer issue though. When the CPU was stressed, the fan exhausted hot air so the heat was properly transferred from the CPU to the radiator. The radiator is just too small.

When I ran Prime 95 27.9’s SmallFFT, couple of cores instantly reached 100C. But that was probably because the fan speed was low at the beginning. Had I been running the fans at 3000RPM, it probably would not have happened but it would still have come within 5C of the TJ-max of 100C. But on the other hand, running a Handbrake video encoding job didn’t take the CPU temps past 80C even at a <2000RPM fan speed. So I’m not that worried. Video encoding probably is the most CPU intensive task that I would do with this PC. Video games shouldn’t use the CPU that much.

But at maximum fan speed of the Gentle Typhoon AP-29 – that’s 3000RPM -, it is much quieter than the Silver Arrow. That's brilliant engineering by Nidec Servo Corporation. I cannot really say which fan pulled more air though. The AP-29’s at 3000RPM or the TY-143’s at 2500RPM. It was probably the latter because of the size of the fans.

Look and feel after installing the cooler inside the case

Man, it looks so barren in there. Much cleaner – as in area wise, NOT dust wise - than before however. And I like it this way. I’m sure I can tuck away some of the visible cable though I don’t feel like doing that right now.

2014-05-18 12.39.56

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