asetek Vapochill Extreme Edition
How can cooling be such a hot topic?

Written by: Robert Maloney
September 29, 2003


What a better way to end the summer season then to write a review about CPU cooling, in this case about the latest Vapochill unit from asetek, the Vapochill XE.  For the uninitiated, asetek, based out of Denmark, has been producing the Vapochill line of CPU cooling units since 1997.  The technology behind these units is called Vapor Phase cooling, and although you may not know the name you should be quite familiar with its use.  That's because pretty much every refrigerator in the past century or so is based on the same principle.  In the Vapochill, heat from the CPU is transferred via an evaporator into a refrigerant, causing a phase change from liquid to vapor.  In turn, the now gaseous refrigerant is sent to the compressor where the pressure is raised forcing a phase change back to liquid at the condenser.  This is a quick simplification of the physics involved, but suffice it to say that the process is efficient, and boy, does it work well.  Vapor Phase cooling has been shown to be 10 times more efficient than water cooling measures, and up to 50 times more efficient than air cooling.  In a nutshell, it means running your super-hot Pentium 4 and Athlon XP CPUs at subzero conditions.  It also leads to higher obtainable overclocking speeds, since heat (the great enemy of electronics) is no longer a factor.  Dave had a look at their Premium Edition roughly a year ago, and had some really positive things to say.  This time, we will be looking at the Vapochill XE, short for Extreme Edition, which comes with an extra 50 Watts of cooling power over the Standard Edition (30 Watts more than the PE), bringing the total up to 180 Watts.

Vapochill XE Specifications
Cool on the outside, even cooler on the inside


         
Vapochill XE Chassis; front, side, and close-up

 

Case Design
Mainboard types supported: ATX and extended ATX
Full length graphics adapters supported
Slots for 7 extension cards
3 x 5 1/4' drive bays (external)
1 x 3 1/2' drive bay (external)
5 x 3 1/2' drive bays (internal)
Standard layout I/O shield
Mounting options for fan cooling of HDD, 120 mm fan
Mounting options for fan cooling of case, 3 x 50 mm fans

Weight & Dimensions
Weight: 18 kg / 40 lbs.
Depth: 56 cm / 22 in.
Height: 56 cm / 22 in.
Width: 40 cm / 15.7 in.

Visuals
Case cover coated with black or white powder paint (granular surface)
ChillControl LED Readout For Temperatures and Clock Speed
Lucite Window panel

Standard and Optional Equipment
Designer front bezel
Power and reset switches
Blue LEDs for power and HDD indication
120 mm fan (optional)
Power supply (optional)
Thumb Screws For Case Side Panels
ChillControl Protection Circuit w/ LED Display
ChillControl Software For End User Performance Setup

 


The Main Components of the Cooling Unit:


CPU Kit

The evaporator is contained within the CPU-Kit, and comes preassembled in the XE model. It is responsible for the transference of heat from the CPU into the refrigerant, where the refrigerant then undergoes a phase change from liquid into vapor.  This process consumes a lot of energy, which is extracted from the CPU in the form of heat.  When mounted correctly, the CPU kit ensures an even and permanent pressure of the evaporator on the CPU. 
The warmed gaseous refrigerant is sucked from the evaporator along the hose into the compressor, where the pressure is raised to the condensation level of the refrigerant in order for the phase change to occur.  The Vapochill XE model comes with a Danfoss variable speed BD35 compressor which has a low power consumption and a higher Coefficient Of Performance compared to standard cooling solutions.  Nothing more than an ordinary ATX power supply is required to power the 12 VDC compressor - simply connect it to the PSU using the supplied power cables. The compressor also features overload protection and calibration of the supplied voltage.


Compressor


Condenser

To complete the phase change back to liquid, the heat gathered from the evaporator, as well as the heat added during compression, is expelled through the condensing unit.  A large high quality fan is mounted in the rear of the case to cool the condenser.  The fan speed is adjustable within the ChillControl software, thus making noise control easily accessible.  From here, the refrigerant is sent along a capillary tube back to the evaporator.  The capillary tube (a tube with a small inner diameter) is used to lower the pressure or the refrigerant allowing it to evaporate at low temperatures.  This completes the cycle, as the refrigerant is now ready to absorb heat again from the CPU.

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