Waterblock Shootout

Test Setup
A Laing DDC Pro pump with OCLabs alternative top will be used to assist in making a comparison. I shall be looking specifically at pressure drop, flow resistance and cooling performance from within a CPU only water-cooling loop. I will be running the Laing DDC Pro pump at 9v,10v, 11v and 12v and the pressure drop and flow of the pump will be noted. All tests will be run 3 times to ensure the elimination of any oddities. I have included the setup details below:

Pressure Drop

For the pressure drop test I used a 25L portable water container filled with 20 litres of water, with a 1/2″ plastic threaded barb placed in the bottom to represent the reservoir. A stop tap was inserted immediately after the 1/2″ barb to allow for a faster water-block change. The True-Flow pressure meter was used to record the head pressure per 1 minute testing cycle. The pump was primed and let run for a short period to ensure that no air bubbles were left in the loop.

The first run made was with only the pump and pressure meter included in the loop and the water pressure noted. Then for second run the waterblocks were included into the loop and the drop in loop pressure recorded, and the same procedure was done for each of the water blocks.

* 1 x Laing DDC Pro pump with OCLabs alternative top @ 9/10/11/12v
* XSPC X2O Delta v3, EK Supreme, Aqua Computer Cuplex HD, Swiftech Apogee GTZ and D-Tek Fuzion waterblocks
* 1 x Powertech variable DC power supply (quoted accuracy /- 0.2V)
* 1 x Multi-meter
* 25L portable water container
* 1 x Glycerine filled True-Flow pressure meter. (kPa/PSI)
* 1/2″ ID XSPC tubing
* 1/2″ barbs
* 2 x stop-tap fittings


In a similar test to the pressure drop testing above, the flow test will highlight just how much the waterblocks restrict the natural flow of a water-cooling loop. Utilising a very simple setup consisting of a pump, I/2″ ID tubing, water blocks, bucket and a stopwatch we will see how far removed from the absolute flow of the pump, that the water blocks hinder flow. Running the pump into the bucket for one minute and then measuring the amount of water pumped will be the ‘absolute flow’ of the pump. Once again the pump will be run at 9v,10v,11v and 12v.

To calculate the flow-loss or restriction of each waterblock, they will each be included into the loop (one at a time) and the same procedure followed. The flow rate will be recorded in Litres/ hour. All simulations will be run 3 times each to ensure uniformity of the results and an average then taken.

Loop Simulation and cooling performance

I have decided to implement a control setup for the testing phase of this review. In doing so I have replicated a CPU only water-cooling loop similar to that in conventional water cooled setups, but also one that should return consistent and unbiased performance results. The waterblocks performance will be assessed at the Laing DDC Pro’s operating voltage of 12 volts. For each run, the pump was allowed to run for 20 mins to ensure the evacuation of all air from within the loop. The temperatures were taken at 30 minute intervals to allow them to ‘settle’. Two instances of ORTHOS running small fft’s and the affinity set to Core0, Core1 for the first instance, and Core2, Core3 for the second will run simultaneously in order to simulate load.

Arctic Silver 5 was used as the TIM for testing all water blocks in this shootout. I have recorded temperatures at an overclocked idle and loaded state; all temperatures were taken using Core Temp 0.99.3 and water/ambient temperatures were taken using a common household mercury thermometer from the reservoir. The mercury thermometer was allowed 5 minutes to acclimatise to air and water and then the temperature recorded. Ambient temperatures during testing ranged from 23.8 deg C through to 28.4 deg C. The setup used has been included below:

* 1 x Laing DDC Pro pump with OCLabs alternative top @ 12v
* XSPC X2O Delta v3, EK Supreme, Aqua Computer Cuplex HD, Swiftech Apogee GTZ and D-Tek Fuzion waterblocks
* 1 x Thermochill PA120.3 radiator
* 1/2″ ID XSPC tubing
* 1/2″ barbs.
* 1 x Intel Q6600 SLACR G0 stepping quad-core processor
* 1 x ASUS Blitz Formula SE motherboard
* 2GB OCZ PC2-9600 FlexXLC RAM
* Antec NEO EarthWatts 500W PSU

All water block mountings were done so with a back plate.

Follow with me over to the next page to see the test results…