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Some of the many questions we are asked at PCWC

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Q:    Isn't water cooling only for overclockers?

A:    Not at all. Whilst water blocks will handle any heat, the other advantages are low operating temperatures, so stable operation, and quietness. A single half speed 120 mm fan cools the radiator. These systems are used in recording studios, offices and living rooms.


Q:    How quiet can you make it?

A:    If you want the ultimate system, use an external passive radiator, such as the innovaKonvekt MAXI or ULTRA. Or the designer desk top HTCS passive radiator. The pump is flexibly mounted so it is effectively silent. Fit a water cooled, fanless or 120 mm fanned quality power supply and you will have one of the quietest systems available for reasonable money.


Q:    Isn't it dangerous mixing water and electronics?

A:    Not really. The quality of the innovatek connection is, to all intents and purposes, fool proof. Not so push on connections that require tie wraps and clamps. We've never had a reported incidence of water leaks in dozens of systems. Water is only dangerous if it contains acids which allow it to conduct electricity. Distilled water is virtually inert so it acts as an insulator (unless you stick your fingers in it). And you don't give a thought to lethal mains electricity running around your wet central heating system at home!


Q:    How much DIY knowledge do I need?

A:    The job is relatively simple. You need to fit the pump assembly, the radiator and fan and the waterblocks. These items are then interconnected with tubing. Fit the blanking plug to the power supply harness and the 12 volt circuit will run, but not your computer. Fill the header tank with innovaProtect and distilled water and switch on. Top up the header tank. Let the system run overnight to check for leaks. Re-connect the ATX power supply plug to the motherboard and that's it.

And if your DIY ability is limited, there are cases and modules with the complete system ready installed. Or seek expert assistance.


Q:    Should I fit the largest pump you can buy?

A:    No. Fitting over sized pumps is a common fault. A large pump will not be able to overcome the back pressure so it will overheat and burn out. Innovatek have found that the optimum flow rate is between 0.3 and 0.5 litres/min with rates up to 1 and 2 litres/min causing no problems. Don't forget that pumps quote their output as "open circuit", that is without any flow resistance. The 12 volt DC innovatek HPPS PLUS water pump will handle any system.


Q:     How big a radiator do I need?

A:     The standard innovaRADI single 120 mm radiator will handle 430 watts of waste heat. That's a lot of waterblocks. The actual heat rejected depends on the fan airflow and the temperature difference between the radiator inlet and outlet. If the waste heat increases, the temperature difference rises and the radiator rejects more heat. So the system is self balancing. If you want more capacity, fit the innovaRADI dual which is twice the size and takes two120 mm fans (which could be connected in series to run at 6 volts each). Always suck air through the radiator.

Alternatively, you can fit external passive radiators, that require no fans, such as the innovaKonvekt-O-Matic MAXI or ULTRA.The standard innovaKonvekt passive radiator is used at the innovatek factory to cool their 2.8 Ghz servers. These radiators can be joined together with a coupling kit. You may need a Doctor's certificate or a fork lift truck to lift the ULTRA!


Q.      Is there a professional system whereby I can calculate the heat load of my system and then match it to the water cooling components?

A.      Yes, there is. Innovatek have a Heat calculator. Find it here; Innovatek There are two choices, the standard mode and the expert mode for overclockers. Take the typical reading (typisch) to size your system. Scroll down the page to find all the radiator options under various conditions.


Q:      Is larger bore tubing better than small bore tubing?

A:      Very small bore tubing would provide excessive flow resistance. Otherwise, the important factor is the flow rate. So a bore around 6 - 12 mm is adequate.


Q:      How powerful a system can I run?

A:       For an ultimate, near silent power system, fit a Konvekt-O-Matic ULTRA passive radiator externally and a single RADI radiator with a Fan-O-Matic MICRO controlled fan. For normal use the passive radiator will cope and the fan will not run. For heavy loads and peaks, the MICRO will control the cooling of the active radiator fan.


Q:       How small a case can you fit water cooling equipment into?

A:       With the introduction of the C-Systems micro pump, which measures only 5cm x 5cm x 5cm, most SFF cases can be considered. The header tank can take various formats so it is not a problem. The biggest challenge lies with mounting the radiator internally. Although 80 mm and 92 mm form factor radiators are available, the standard 120 mm unit should be considered for its higher power handling. At worst, the radiator can be mounted externally at the rear of the case. Anti kink springs can avoid kinking with tight bends and also provide protection from the tubing rubbing on hard edges.


Q:        In what order should components be connected?

A:        It doesn't actually matter. We prefer that the heat from the waterblocks enters the radiator. In that way the pump only handles cooled water from the radiator. The order of connection of the waterblocks is not important heatwise. Connect them, inline, from the bottom up so that the trapped air naturally rises.If you use a 'Y' junction to cool two items in parallel, such as twin CPU's, be aware that the water will take the path of least resistance and the other line may overheat.


Q:     I'm considering a well known competitor's tower like passive radiator. Can you comment?

A:     Not really. We don't believe in criticising other products but as this item gets so much good press, we are prepared to comment. The device in question is a combined reservoir and radiator. For this very reason, the design is flawed. Radiators should have a very small water content and a large surface area. This is why all innovaKonvekt passive radiators have multiple tubes, which hold little water and have large, well spaced fins. The item in question is simply a large circular tank of water with small, closely spaced fins on the outside. To see how well it works, we have taken figures from the highly respected review at SilentPCReview.

The testing involved an XP2100+ CPU running at 1.733 Ghz and 2.2 Ghz and an ATI 9500 graphics card. The results were as follows;

  •                                                      Idle Temp                     Load Temp
  • CPU only at 1.733 Ghz                     36C                               46C
  • CPU only at 2.2 Ghz                         47C                               63C
  • 2.2 Ghz plus VGA Card                    51C                               64C

Now it is fairly obvious that these components are not particularly fast and therefore not particularly hot. We would suggest that most users would regard 63/64C as an undesirable and excessive operating temperature even with air cooling. Such a pitiful performance, with mediocre components and excessive temperatures, rather brings the subject of water cooling into disrepute.


Q:    Which CPU waterblock do I choose?

A:    All waterblocks will handle any processor - the waterblock is universal and you fit the clamp to suit the socket type (the innovFlatFlow SL transparent must be rev1.5 to suit all processors, including Athlon 64). Better waterblocks will handle waste heat more efficiently. The entry level CPU waterblock is the innovaFlatFlow SL in aluminium followed by the copper version. The i-COOL, Plex-O-Matic, X-Flow and V6 waterblocks have similar performances. The top block, regarded as one of the most powerful commercial waterblocks on the market, is the XX-Flow. And to top it all, there is the industrial grade G-Flow range for Athlon 64, AM2 and Intel (775).


Q:    What else can I cool?

A:    The Graph-O-Matic waterblock will cool a northbridge and a video card GPU. The Cool-Matic waterblocks will cool both the GPU, RAM and, where fitted, the power module on a video card. Twin blocks are available to cool both sides of some cards. The HD-O-Matic will cool a hot hard drive and then fit into a 5.25" bay. For cooler drives the HD-O-Matic Micro will fit under a hard drive and mount in the standard 3.5" bay. You can cool everything including the power supply.


Q:    What additives can I use?

A:    To maintain your innovatek warranty, you must use the innovaProtect protection fluid. Mix one part of the standard product to three parts of distilled water. This is the required coolant. No other coolants nor additives are recommended under any circumstances. If you want a coloured coolant, do not add a colourant but consider using the innovatek UV reactive tubing, which glows under UV light. The new innovatek PRO product can be mixed with tap water.

It is also of interest that the pump manufacturer's, Eheim, will accept innovaProtect as the ONLY additive for warranty purposes.


Q:      How easy is it to fill the system?

A:       Very easy. Plug the bridging connector into the 20 pin plug on the PSU harness. Fill the header tank. Switch on the PSU. Top up the header tank as the level falls. That's it. Leave the system running to check for leaks. After testing, remove the bridging plug and attach the 20 pin connector to the motherboard header. You now have a water cooled PC. A lot simpler than some manufacturer's filling processes.


Q:    Isn't water cooling an expensive option?

A:    Not really. You have equipment that will give low operating temperatures so increasing the life of your computer. This also ensures stable operation, which means less crashes and greater productivity. And all of this achieved with low, low noise levels. And it is future proofed. As components get hotter, your water cooling equipment will cope. So it is an investment. The CPU waterblocks are universal - you only need to change the clamps to suit the socket type, so when a new socket arrives, you need only obtain a new clamp to upgrade.


Q:    At what temperature should the system run?

A:    The optimised temperature is around 40C. But under load, that may barely rise a few degrees. With air cooling, CPU temps can rise 10-20C, or more, under load.


Q:    Can I fit innovatek components into another system?

A:    Yes you can. We offer plastic and brass connectors which will accept 3/8" and 1/2" tubing, common to other products.


Q:    How is the system protected against failure?

A:    At its simplest, if flow failed then the overheat sensor on the CPU would cause the computer to shut down or sound an alarm. This may take time and damage the CPU. However, if you fit the Flow-O-Matic electronic rev1.5, a signal is sent back via the motherboard header, so if the flow failed, the response would be INSTANT. Alternatively, you could fit the Flow-Meter rev2.0 Turbine, which provides a flow rate reading to a suitable reader, or to the motherboard using the Pulsmatic converter. Your BIOS will read litres/min instead of revs/min. The Fan-O-Matic PRO, High End or MICRO controllers offer complete programmed control of your whole water cooling system (see below).


Q:    What is the ultimate form of system control?

A:     Use either the full Fan-O-Matic controller or the MICRO version. The MICRO has a single fan speed channel. It will control the fan speed to maintain the precise temperature that you set. It also has a second channel that, in conjunction with a Flow-Meter rev2.0 Turbine, will sense the water flow rate. If that flow rate falls below 0.3 litres/ min, then the system can be programmed to shut down immediately. This gives you total control of both flow temperature and flow rate for ultimate 24/7 operation.


Q:    Why do you virtually only sell innovatek water cooling products?

A:    Quite simply because we regard them as the best commercial equipment on the world market. As a small independent company we can sell what we want, so why not sell the best. The innovaRADI is a superb piece of engineering. The Eheim pump is the best and, reputedly, the most reliable on the market and the cooling fan is by Papst, again the undisputed world leader in fan technology. So the total package has no equal. It is all tested as a complete system and all connectors are universal for ease of fitting, upgrading and demounting. And there is an extensive range of components and safety devices.





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