Water cooling has always been appealing to the HTPC crowd as it gave them a near silent cooling solution for their pride and joy. However, WC kits can often be ugly and bulky which means that internal kits are often the order of the day. Today I am testing the Silverstone Tundra TD01 which aims to provide an eye catching solution to silent cooling that will fit right in with your other living room electronics.
About SilverStone Tek
Founded in the summer of 2003, SilverStone Technology is now a proven leader in the field of aluminium enclosure design and manufacturing. Our expertise in creating functional works of art from ordinary electronics and computer components is widely recognized. Numerous designs and ideas for improving computer enclosures were first created by our talented team of engineers, who are regarded by many as leaders in their respective fields. Today, SilverStone Technology continues to garner attention and awards that reflect our original vision of creating the most advanced and beautiful products available on the market.
Specs and Description
|Enclosure material|| |
8mm uni-body aluminum frame, 4mm aluminum front panel, 1.5mm top & bottom aluminum panels
|Color||All black or all silver|
|Models||TD01B (black) TD01S (silver)|
|Dimension||380mm (W) x 132mm (H) x 320mm (D)|
|Cooling System|| |
Fanless design, advanced radiator frame with uni-body liquid channels and integrated heatsink fins
Intel LGA 775
|Thermal Resistance||Rca 0.31 C /W @ 130W|
|Weight @ full liquid capacity|| |
|Total liquid capacity||0.9 liter (2 x 0.6 liter bottle of thermal fluid included w/ TD01)|
|Water pump||Dual submerged pumps integrated in reservoir|
|Power consumption||10W (DC 12V)|
|Water block material||Aluminum and acrylic|
|Water block weight||350g|
|Liquid tubing length||700mm TD01 to case x 2, 400mm case to water block x 2|
Packed in a quality black shiny box, the Tundra is well packaged. The box explains the design brief, and all the normal specs and details that you’d expect retail packaging to tell you.
Inside, the Tundra sits snugly in polystyrene. There is a box of goodies on top of the actual base unit itself, which contains mounting clips for Intel LGA 775 and AMD 754/939/940/AM2, two 0.5l bottles of thermal fluid, thermal paste, the expansion bracket pass thru, a small power cable, tubing, the tube nuts, and the manual.
It’s nice to see that there is thermal fluid provided with the Tundra, as its always annoying having to buy de-ionized water just to use your new toy. The fluid also contains anti-corrosive and anti-algae solution which turns it to an acid blue colour, which would look pretty good in a well lit case.
The unit itself is a unibody design, which means that the frame of the TD01 is one piece of aluminium extrusion. This is a very difficult process but it does mean that the final product is of a higher quality. The unibody design includes the piping that runs around the perimeter of the unit, connecting to several ridges.
The whole reason behind the Tundra’s large size, is because it is designed to be uber quiet. The only noise that it should make during operation would be the twin pumps in the reservoir, and as they are submerged, this noise should be kept to a minimum. The large size means that the whole thing works as a large radiator, with the unit providing an enormous surface area for heat to escape from, negating the need for fans.
The Tundra has been designed to look like a piece of your hi-fi equipment, and to be something that is nice to look at. This is so that the large size doesn’t matter, as you don’t want to hide the TD01. The front gold-plated analogue temperature gauge adds a little more eye-candy to the Tundra.
The top of the Tundra can be taken off to allow refilling of the pump by removing the hex headed screws with the provided ‘spanner’. Internally the Tundra looks quite empty. In the middle sits the reservoir and twin pumps which straddle the large tank. The reservoir/pump unit has thick clear plastic ends which allow you to see how much coolant is present. The middle of the reservoir is made of aluminium with a large Silverstone logo in the middle. The cap is made of aluniumum and has a nice weight to it, unlike other plastic caps. There is a scale with ‘min’ and ‘max’ on the side of the reservoir, allowing you to easily judge whether you need to refill the unit.
From the two pumps, there is a piece of y-tubing which is the ‘Out’ channel going to your PC. The ‘In’ pipe is sleeved with anti-kink springs which mean that the flow is never impeded by bent tubing. This tube goes around the perimeter pipe which is built into the Tundra’s body. The heat is dissipated with the ridges present on both the outside and inside of the Tundra. The pipe takes two trips around the outside of the TD01 before ending back in the centre reservoir.
The rear of the Tundra has three connectors, the In tube port, the Out tube port and the power socket. The power socket is connected to a molex inside the Tundra which then splits the power to three fan headers, with two going to the pumps and one to the front temperature gauge. Interestingly, there is a spare molex socket inside the Tundra, allowing you to hook up anything that uses a molex connector (only the ground and the 12v rails however). This means that you could have a fan or two in there if you wanted, or a cold cathode light to draw even more attention to the Tundra.
To get power to the Tundra, you have to use a short male-male cable which connects to the Tundra and the supplied PCI bracket. The PCI bracket has a molex connector on the other side, allowing you to connect it to your power supply. Also present on the back plate are two pass-thru tube connectors marked with ‘In’ and ‘Out’. This allows you to get the tubes inside of your PC, without having a gaping hole in the back of your PC.
The Tundra cont.
The water block supplied has a thick copper base and an even thicker clear plastic top with a Silverstone logo on it. The copper lower part has lots of projections which agitate the cooling fluid on the way through, and giving the block a large surface area to allow efficient heat transfer from the metal to the cooling fluid.
The bottom of the heatsink is actually very reflective which is very rare even with performance coolers. The bottom has obviously been machined, and then polished as you can see the smoothed machine marks on the bottom. There are also a few pits which will affect cooling very slightly. To make sure that this mirror-quality reaches you in the best possible condition, there is a small plastic cover supplied.
There are various brackets supplied which allow you to mount the water block on LGA 775 and pretty much all of AMD’s recent socket offerings. Considering as most HTPC’s supplied won’t use P4’s (runs far too hot) the decision to not support this socket won’t be missed by many. The waterblock is heavy, due to the copper bottom, and weighs in at 340g.
The tubing supplied is cut to 2 lengths, 40cm and 70cm. There are two tubes for each length. The shorter tubes are meant to go from the backplate to the waterblock, while the longer tubes are from the back plate to the Tundra. The tubes are quite thin (~5mm) which means that they are incredibly stiff, and won’t allow as much flow as large diameter tubes.
To attach the tubes to any of the ports (be it on the Tundra, backplate or the waterblock) you simply remove the nut, put it on the pipe, then force the pipe over the barbs and screw the nut back into place.
To install the waterblock, you have to remove your motherboard to attach the backing plate. This was easily done and the back plate was soon in place. On the waterblock, you have to choose the correct shroud, whether it be the AMD or Intel type. Attaching the shroud is done by screwing it onto the base of the waterblock with the supplied screws.
Once done, the backing plate and the shroud are screwed together with screws with a spring attached allowing for varying pressure to be applied.
Unfortunately, whether its my board (Asus M2N-E), or an oversight by SilverStone, the screw/spring combination wasn’t long enough to reach the backing plate. The springs have to be compressed too much to allow the screw to reach the backing plate, and I was putting far too much stress on the mobo.
Top OCZ with raised screw holes, bttom Silverstone’s
I decided to call it a day with that backing plate, and grabbed an old backing plate from an OCZ cooler, which fortunately had raised screw holes which were the perfect match for the SilverStone screws. This meant that the screws didn’t have to reach as far, and were able to screw into place.
Once I had attached all of the tubes in the correct places, I filled the tank and turned on my PC. The tank started pumping round the thermal fluid and I simply carried on filling until the max mark was reached. There were very few air bubbles present in the system even after only a few minutes of filling.
The pumps are very quiet, apart from one of them makes an an
oyingly loud ticking noise, which the other doesn’t. This means that the Tundra is far from quiet. If both were working perfectly (i.e. no ticking) then you would have to put your ear to the unit to check whether it was on. In fact, once all of the air is out of the system, you are not 100% sure whether it’s on or not. The only thing to let you know is the front mounted analogue temperature gauge which lights up, with two white LEDs.
Incidentally, as the two pumps and the temperature gauge are all powered from fan plugs, you can turn off each one separately by removing the plug. This means that, say, if the front gauge was too bright or you don’t like it, you can simply unplug it.
To test the unit, I used the supplied heat paste, with a SilverStone Temjin TJ06 case and an Asus M2N-E mobo with an AMD AM2 3800+ processor running @ stock (2ghz each core).
I started up my PC and let it run idle (absolutely nothing running), and recorded the average temperature after 30 minutes. I then used Orthos Stress Prime to run calculations that fully stress both cores, and I ran Folding@Home to make sure no processor time was wasted. This was done for 30 minutes then the end temperature was taken. The ambient stayed the same.
I then ran Orthos for 2 hours straight, as the Tundra was getting warm after the 30 minute mark, and most watercooling setups (especially passively cooled) they take a lot longer to reach their maximum temperature where lost heat is equal to incoming heat and then they stay at the same temperature. After two hours, the Tundra stabilised at 45C and wouldn’t go any higher.
These temperatures aren’t fantastic; especially when you consider the 19C ambient (most rooms are 21-25C). However, an idle temperature of 34C and a load of 43C is nothing to be ashamed of considering the Tundra is essentially completely silent. Overclocking was possible but the temperatures started to get a little high after long periods (into the 50C range). That said, AM2’s run hotter than Core 2 Duo’s which are the more obvious choice in a HTPC.
The initial setup was relatively painfree, but more technically involved than an air based cooling solution. Silverstone have done a good job with the manual which includes pictures along with a short descriptive paragraph about what to do.
The unit would look great as a set-top box on top of your PC or underneath a monitor; this product is meant to be seen. This is more of a sculpture than a watercooling system.
The front analogue gauge measures the temperature of the water inside the reservoir and reports temperatures often 10 degrees lower than the CPU. The gauge itself is pretty useless in my opinion due to its wildly inaccurate reading, but it does add aesthetic qualities which I believe are its aim.
Our clean and tidy office
The SilverStone Tundra TD01 is a nice, well made product that would look at home in a HTPC setup. The silent, passive cooling is a welcome relief to the constant hiss of fans, and will be of special interest to HTPC owners as any background noise would take away from, say, watching a DVD.
The temperatures will fail to amaze most enthusiasts, but are more than acceptable in an environment where gaming and CPU intensive applications aren’t used. There are two versions of the Tundra; the TD01B and TD01S, with the first being black and the second silver so you can choose which on suits your setup. Overall the Tundra is a sound buy for anyone looking to silently cool their HTPC while adding a little style to their setup.
|Stylish good looks||Waterblock mounting is troublesome|
|Reasonable cooling||Defective pump?|
|SILENT!||Too large for some (price and size)|
I’d like to thank SilverStone Technology for providing us with the review sample
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Note: Silverstone have assured us that the issue with the pump making noise is a one off. In fact, they have said that they are going to send a new pump. This just shows how much Silverstone care about their customers. In fact, the backplate problem is also going to be fixed. Tundra’s are now no longer being dispatched until these problems have been rectified. Suffice to say, this review will be updated according once we have the new parts.