EC900 Watercooling Kit Review
Update: A few months ago, the unit stopped working. Well at least something failed (suspecting the pump). Xice is no longer in business.
ModSynergy reviewed its first water-cooling kit product a while ago when it looked at the Thermaltake Aquarius III. Today we review the new EC900 water-cooling kit from Xice. Xice hopes to provide a silenced alternative for air-cooling users. However, this kit is not like the usual: it is purely passive, which means it does not utilize any fans.
"The "Xice" concept resulted from the application of water cooling systems for PC's. We, Christoph Bauer and Jens Biermann, were users of various Wakü-concepts. We have personally lived through all phases/levels of sound avoidances. In the beginning we used the good old bucket and aquarium pump which stood behind the PC , followed by built-in parts from Germany and south east Asia. One thing was common with both solutions: Firstly, the housing had to be rebuilt. Advantage: drill, - burr and grinding equipment was added to the home workshop. The modus operndi for adding a Wakü into a computer was inaccepatble in our opinion, as the time consumotion was far to great and the upgrades not very easy. We also found the aesthetics of the components on offer not acceptable as they did not match the design trend of other PC-components.
This lead to the evolving of the idea to the philosophy of Xice:
A fluid cooling system without any form of metal work, preparation or use of tools. Can be fitted by a layman without any prior knowledge, for a housing with the appropriate design.
The results of the development work and our philosophy can now be shown with the presentation of our Xice-Products. Many years of experience as Wakü-users flowed into the development and design of our products
Christoph Bauer, (d.o.b. 28.09.58), graduate Mechanical Engineer , spent the last 16 years involved in the development of high quality fine mechnical equipement and last, but not least, as Head of Development, Production, Quality Control and Customer Serive for a leading dental equipment manufacturer.
Jens Biermann, (d.o.b.. 19.09.61), graduate Computer Scientist, runs an engineering office for applied computer science with the main focus on the development of project and product management".
The Xice EC900 watercooling kit comes inside a big rectangular box, which is quite heavy. Inside the box, Styrofoam protects the main external unit as well as all the components from being damaged.
Purchasing the Xice EC900 will provide you with the following items…
Xice offers two variations that include the Xice EC900, which draws its power from your computer’s power supply, or the Xice EC600, which draws its power from an external AC household plug.
Everything needed is included with the Xice EC900. I like the fact that a bottle of pre-mixed coolant is included as it helps save time since you don’t have to mix the coolant yourself. Premix also avoids errors caused by incorrect measurement.
The main external unit – In a manner similar the Thermaltake Aquarius III, Xice is powered from the “ExternalCool” unit, which acts as the passive radiator with an integrated 900lph pump. This is where tubing is connected from and to your processor waterblock. The “ExternalCool” unit is very big. It is constructed from what looks like to be an aluminum frame covered with hard plastic exterior. On the side of this “ExternalCool” unit is the Xice logo that lights up blue when operated. The vertical-standing unit has ventilation slots on the top and bottom to keep the unit running cool as possible. Also located on the top is the fill cap for the integrated water reservoir and its pump. This is where you pour in all 500cc of the included Xice pre-mixed coolant. The Xice EC900 pumps water at a rate of 900lph. Opening the cap you can see the head of the water reservoir. Water is circulated in this same area from the top, which also holds a blue LED. Xice says they test their products for leaks before they are shipped.
At the rear of the “ExternalCool” lie the barb fittings. They are closed with plastic cups. Remove these plastic cups to begin inserting the included black-colored 8/6mm tubing. A nice feature is the bolt-on barb clamps. It is very easy to secure tight fitted tubing. Unfortunately, the barb points are not labeled as “IN” or “OUT”. You will have to refer to your instruction manual to help you differentiate them.
Lastly, you have at the end of the “ExternalCool” the power connector, which you plug at the end of the PCI slot bracket to draw power for the whole unit through your computer power supply. As noted above, they do have an alternative power system, in the EC600, which I did not have for testing but would mean it draws less on your computer’s power supply.
The Xice EC900 that was sent to me came with German language installation instructions. Thankfully, the Xice website has English instructions that can be downloaded.
There are two pieces of tubing, which in total measure 14’ long. Obviously one of them is for the “IN” barb position and the other for the “OUT” barb. There is no anti-kink springs inside the tubing such as Thermaltake utilizes. Kinking is possible with these tubes. However, they are relatively hard to bend and would need to be forced to form a kink. Xice also offers clear tubing for separate sale for those who would like to see the coolant color, a feature I like.
The PCI slot bracket allows the tubes to fit through the inside of your system towards your xpk processor waterblock as well has the power connector.
The Xice xpk CPU waterblock – The xpk waterblock is made from an all copper base and has an external aluminum frame to provide some aesthetics. The waterblock weighs in at 420g and the base finish is good with some visible machines marks. As with the other connections, there are no labels of “IN” and “OUT” for positions on this waterblock. Again, you will have to refer to the instruction manual to differentiate them.
The clipping mechanism is a serious concern for me. In my case, mounting hardware for the AMD Socket A was used. It consists of four pieces; a metal spring, and three other metal clips (top, and the two sides which lock into the ZIF socket lugs). The problem is that the mounting system is extremely difficult to install. You literally have to have another person help you hold the waterblock from shifting out of place while you struggle to get the clip on. You have to exert force on the top piece to push the spring down while you struggle to get both sides of the clips on the ZIF socket lugs. My concern is the exertion of too much force on the middle of the processor that you can potentially crack the CPU core. I was literally sweating during the entire process because the spring was very stiff and moves around loosely. This is without a doubt the worse type of clip mechanism I have encountered. It would have been a lot better if the clip mechanism was already on the waterblock or if they changed the clipping mechanism differently so there was no need to exert pressure on a spring in the middle.
Late edition add-on – Xice GPU waterblock and Xice Chipset waterblock
The Xice GPU and Chipset waterblocks are the same waterblocks but with slightly different barb fitting types. The GPU block barb fitting extends outwards and the chipset one extends outwards as an upward curve. They both have the same type of adjustable barb clamps and weigh around 205g. The base finish upon arrival had some discoloration but looked nice when wiped off. They both come with their own instructions and thankfully are much easier to install.
Testing consists of running the Xice EC900 on the Athlon XP 1900+ test system (1.7v). Ambient temperatures ranged from 21-24c upon testing. Arctic Silver 5 was used for testing and was set in for over 200 hours. Idle and load temperatures are given for with the CPU waterblock alone and with the GPU (Radeon 9700 Pro) and chipset waterblocks when added into the mix.
As you can see, the performance numbers isn't really inviting. You really have no extra room to overclock more as well. The nice thing to know is that Xice has met there goal of providing a very, very quiet watercooling system.
I had positive first impressions of the construction of the Xice EC900, but after actual use, I have to say overall I am quite disappointed. A couple of things were positive such as they included a bottle of pre-mixed coolant (something we recommended that other manufacturers do), adjustable barb fittings, the construction of the external unit, and that the unit as a whole is very, very quiet, which is what Xice intended.
Unfortunately, the dangerous CPU mounting system, the lack-luster performance resulting in a poor price to performance ratio, and the lack of English instructions mean that I cannot recommend the Xice EC900. It might be argued that quiet performance has an impact on cooling performance, but at this high price ($400US), a user ought to get both. But what cannot be argued is the difficulty of assembly and the danger that it could result in a damaged CPU.
Pros and Cons
Bottle of pre-mixed coolant
- Update: Pump died