TechPowerUp would like to thank Thermaltake for supplying the review sample.
There comes a time when many will find that aircooling their high performance computer becomes too loud, or it simply does not work well enough. These users start to think about watercooling their system, but many are afraid of the cost or the complexity of a full kit. The new BigWater 760i from Thermaltake addresses these issues with a low-cost watercooling system that is compact and easy to install.
- Dual 5.25 Drive Bay design: liquid cooling system in-a-box to save the space in the chassis and simplifies installation
- Mesh design front bezel enhances ventilation
- Easy to install and refill.
- 12cm Motorsports Radiator :
1. DTT - Dimple Tube Technology swirls the coolant within the radiator to increase thermal transfer.
2. An all-aluminum radiator featuring expanded outer fins and tube style for maximum performance.
- Slim Pure Copper Waterblock:
1. Micro-Channel Design within the waterblock maximize the thermal efficiency
2. Advanced Brazing technology improves reliability and leakage free
3. All-in-one mounting design supports all latest CPU from Intel & AMD. (Includes: Intel
- Socket LGA775 and AMD K8/AM2.)
- Ultra-low noise fan: silent variable fan with blue LED (1600 ~ 2400rpm).
- High-performance Liquid Pump:
1.Silent and powerful P500(500L/hr) pump provide superb reliability
2.The ceramic bearings significantly extend the life-expectancy of the pump.
- Quick connector:
1. Quick Disconnect Coupling: Valves shuts off water flow immediately when dismantling to prevents water leakage
2.User friendly Quick Install Connector saves you time and energy.
- Durable 3/8” Tube: Special material to prevent wear & tare from being clogged up or over bending.
- AMD AM2 series
- AMD K8 series
- Intel LGA775
- Intel P4
||232mm(L) X 148.6mm(W) X 85mm(H)
|Water Block Material:
||All copper designed
||58mm(L) X 58mm(W) X 35mm(H)
|Quick install connector:
||For 9.5mm ID (3/8”) tubing
||75(L) x 70(W) x 75(H) mm
||500 L/ hr
||80000 hr (MTBF)
||153(L) x 120(W) x 28(H) mm
|Quick install connector:
||For 9.5mm ID (3/8”) tubing
|Fan Fan Dimension:
||120(L) x 120(w) x 25(H) mm
||16 ~20 dB
|Liquid Tank Dimensions:
||72.4 (L) x 70.5(W) x 69.4(H) mm
|Quick install connector:
||For 9.5mm ID(3/8”) tube
||9.5mm ID(3/8”) tube
|Major Material Ingredient:
Packaging & Contents
The Bigwater 760i comes in a good-sized box with a carrying handle on top. The box is like most of Thermaltake's products, and has a glossy design with a lot of pictures. The sides have features and specifications listed.
Upon opening the box, the user will find everything neatly organized inside. On top are the tubing, manuals and hardware box. Below that is a layer of foam, and below that is the rest of the unit packed neatly away.
There are two books included with the Bigwater 760i. The first is a multilanguage installation manual with a lot of black and white pictures to help with the installation process. The second book is a maintenance schedule, also in multiple languages, which is for keeping track of the routine maintenance of the kit.
Inside the hardware box is everything needed to mount the block and attach the hoses. One bag contains the mounting mechanism, which is Thermaltake's H-plate system that they have been using since the Original Big Typhoon. Another bag has the metal clamps for the tubing and mounting screws for the bay unit. A third bag contains the two female quick-release couplings, while the final bag contains the rest of the mounting hardware for the block. Also included in the main box was a 500 cc bottle of coolant to be used with the system and a bottle that can squirt the coolant into the reservoir tank.
A Closer Look
The bay unit includes everything for the watercooling loop except for the waterblock and its hoses. The front of the unit is black with silver and red accents, and has a small mesh-covered opening for the fan to take in air. This part of the Bigwater 760i takes up two 5.25" bays, which is fairly compact for the components that went into this cooling system.
On top there is a 120mm fan with a chrome fan grill typical of other Thermaltake products. The pump is the new P500 pump which is capable of outputting up to 500 liters per hour. The 120mm radiator uses Thermaltake's Dimple Tube Technology to swirl the coolant around inside the tubes, which slows the coolant down so the radiator can remove the heat more easily.
All of the wires coming off the unit are sleeved in black mesh and bound together with plastic wire ties. There is a built-in rheostat to control the fan speed, and the wires for the fan and pump have four pin connectors on them. There is an additional 3-pin connector for the pump that can output RPM speeds to the motherboard, which could be handy to make the system shut down if the pump fails. The tubing coming from the unit are stiff black-rubber tubes, which have the male quick connectors already mounted and the tubes labeled "In" and "Out."
The block is a new one designed with "redundant micro-channels" to improve thermal transfer. According to the Thermaltake website, "To decrease manufacturing cost, traditional water blocks often are designed with simple water channel. However, water within the liquid cooling system travels at very high speed and does not have sufficient time to absorb heat from the heat source. To overcome this major downside, Thermaltake developed water block with Redundant Micro Channel Design to effectively divide water flow into micro channels thus accelerating heat transfer from heat source to liquid material. In additional, micro channel are stacked on top of each other to fully utilize the available space within the water block and further increases heat transfer." The block uses compression fittings for the tubing, and the block has the top H-plate already installed for the user.
The new block has a very shiny finish on it, although it is not completely smooth. There are some small milling marks visible on the surface. The base is fairly flat, except for the very edges, but they are past the surface of any of the integrated heatspreaders on the CPUs this block would be installed on. In the second picture above, the mill marks and slight distortion (noting the unflat edge of the base) are visible inside the red rectangle.
To assemble the mounting system the thin plastic insulator needs to be attached to the metal H-plate. Simply remove the backing on the insulator, line it up and press it into place. Then this process gets repeated to attach the black foam piece to the insulator.
Mounting the couplings to the tubing is an easy process. Simply cut the tubing to the desired length with a regular pair of scissors and slide the coupling into the end of the tubing. Next, take two of the clamps and slide one down each of the tubes, and move them onto the barbs of the couplings by squeezing them open with a pair of pliers.
To attach the tubes to the block, remove the nuts from the compression fittings and slide them over the other ends of the tubes making sure they are facing the right direction. Slide the open end of each tube over the barbs on the block and then tighten the nuts to secure the tubes. If needed, a 19mm wrench can help secure the nuts in place.
The manual presents the user the option to remove the protective backing from the black foam on the backplate assembly shown previously. Doing so would make the backplate almost permanently attached to the motherboard. If the user plans at any point that they may upgrade the motherboard or the cooling system, it is recommended to leave the film on the foam so the backplate can easily be removed. To mount the backplate the four longer screws will be inserted through the backplate assembly. The hardware required to mount the block on an Intel LGA775 board are the four red felt washers, four standoffs and four thumb nuts.
With the motherboard removed from the case or motherboard tray, the backplate needs to be lined up with the CPU socket and the screws inserted through the holes in the motherboard. Next, the four red felt washers need to be dropped over the top on the four screws, and then the four standoffs should be threaded onto the screws and tightened in a criss-cross pattern until secure. Arctic Silver 5 thermal compound will be used for this installation, and it should be applied according to manufacturer's instructions. Next the waterblock should slide down over the CPU on the screws and the four thumb nuts should be added and tightened in a criss-cross pattern. In a tower case it is important to install the block so that the fittings are lined up vertically and not horizontally. This will aid in the removal of air bubbles from the loop once the system is installed.
Immediately the block was removed and the compound was inspected. The compound had spread as intended by Arctic Silver and was in an even layer. Some of the compound made it out past the edge of the heatspreader and formed a slight ridge. These ridges show how much larger the base of the waterblock is than the Intel integrated heatspreader.
Thermaltake recommends installing the main unit in the second or third bay from the top in a mid-tower case, or the third or fourth bay from the top in a full tower. This is intended to put the reservoir on a higher level than the waterblock. However, since this unit will be installed in a Lian Li PC-A10B, an adjustment had to be made. The Lian Li is a mid-tower case, but since the power supply is mounted at the bottom of the case, there is no room above the top edge of the motherboard for additional bays. The solution was to put the main unit in the top two bays of the case, which meant rearranging the devices in the other bays. Once that was completed, the main unit was slid into the bays, being careful to route the hoses and wires. The unit was secured with the screws provided and the protective film was removed from the front. This is where one issue came up. The front panel attached to the main unit was slightly crooked. If you look closely, the left corner is down about 1mm lower than the right. While this may not seem like much, it surely stands out when the silver frame of the main unit is exposed in a black case.
The next step would be to attach the hoses from the waterblock to the hoses on the main unit. To help the system naturally remove any air bubbles from the lines, the tube marked "Out" should be attached to the lower hose on the waterblock. The flow of coolant upward through the block pushes the bubbles with it, instead of the bubbles fighting against the flow. In order to disconnect the tubing, the user should power down the system and press the gray button on the female coupling. These fittings are self-sealing and will keep the coolant from draining out, but there will be a small amount of coolant left in the couplings on both sides. Care should be taken to not allow the coolant to drip on installed components, or in other places that may be accessible by small children or pets. I used a few paper towels to soak up the coolant from the couplings immediately after disconnecting the hoses.
With everything now connected the reservoir should be filled with the included coolant. The reservoir can be partially filled prior to installation, but it will need to have more coolant added as the system gets powered on and the air starts to bleed out. Another concern came up when filling the reservoir. On the side of the tank there are two lines marking "Low" and "High." Since I wanted to make sure the unit was working properly before installing it in the system, I assembled it and tested it on my workbench. As I filled the coolant I found that the coolant could not reach the "High" level as the opening of the tank actually extended well below the top of the tank. When the coolant reached the opening it started to overflow, but fortunately it was not installed in the system. The level of coolant inside the tank will never reach the "High" level with the opening as it is. Care should be taken not to fill up the tank too quickly.
With the unit installed, the main unit was about 2 inches longer than a standard optical drive. If this system will be installed in a PC where the optical drive is too close to the motherboard or other components, installation would not be possible. As far as the tubing is concerned, the black tubing coming from the main unit is not as stiff as the vinyl tubing attached to the waterblock, and I thought the black tubing was longer than needed. There is plenty of extra tubing in the kit, and the user could replace the black tubing with more of the vinyl UV tubing if desired.
With the unit installed and powered on there is a blue glow from the fan that shows through the mesh on the front panel. While this blue lighting matches the test system perfectly, users with red, green or other colors may wish to buy a new fan to replace this one so the colors match. Fortunately, replacing the fan is very easy with the main unit removed from the system. Speaking of the included blue LED fan, the speed control knob included with the fan worked fine, but I found it was placed in a poor location inside the case. There is extra room behind the front panel to the right of the mesh where the knob could have been installed, allowing the user to adjust the fan speed more easily, and tailor the cooling and noise level to the current activity. This would be a worthy mod to anyone who buys the unit, as long as the knob does not interfere with a door.
After running the system overnight, the air bubbles were gone from the tubes. As a side note, the pump included with the unit is quieter than the fan and should not be noticed above the fan noise once the system has been purged of air bubbles.
The system being used to test the heatsink is as follows:
||Intel E6400 Core2 Duo
||8 x 266 MHz = 2.13 GHz, Memory at DDR2-800
||Asus P5W DH Deluxe
||2x 1GB G.Skill F2-6400CL4D-2GBHK
||Sapphire HD 2900XT PCI-e
||3 x 36GB WD Raptor drives in Raid 5
Maxtor 200GB PATA drive
||ThermalTake ToughPower 750W
||Lian Li PC-A10B
||Windows XP Pro SP2, Catalyst 7.9
Ambient temperature was kept to 25° Celsius (+/- 1°) and was measured by a standard mercury thermometer.
With the system installed and running, the CPU was kept at 28° C idle and 40° C load, regardless of the fan speed. However, this may be because there are extra fans installed in the top of the test case which feed cool air directly into the radiator fan at all times.
With the CPU overclocked to 3.2 GHz at 1.4V, the Bigwater 760i kept the CPU temp at 34° C idle and a respectable 58º C load, again regardless of the fan speed. Most users will probably see a small temperature difference in their systems when adjusting the fan similar to that found on the Max Orb, which was 1 to 4° C.
To measure fan noise we used an IEC Type 2 sound level meter on the dbA setting. Measuring distance was 10 cm from the heatsink fan hub. The short distance of 10 cm is necessary to get proper readings with very silent fans. All fans were tested outside of the case at 12V supplied by a lab PSU. On fans that come with a fan controller or allow control of fan speed in any other way, "low" and "high" indicate the settings on the fan controller.
The fan included with the system is not quiet, and can be rather loud at full speed. Since most users move to watercooling partially for the lower noise levels, it would have been nice to see Thermaltake include a quieter fan.
Value and Conclusion
- The Thermaltake Bigwater760i sells for $149.99 US Dollars.
- Affordable watercooling solution
- Decent performance for its price range
- Simple to install
- Everything included in the kit to get started
- Can be used with other blocks from Thermaltake
- Fan too loud
- Front bezel on the test unit did not line up correctly
- Control knob mounted inside the case
The Thermaltake Bigwater 760i is decent alternative to other inexpensive watercooling units. At about $150 USD it is about as affordable as a Swiftech or Danger Den basic kit and probably performs on a similar level. The entire unit is simple to install, though the process is rather lengthy. Everything is included in the kit so there is nothing else the user needs to buy to get started, although there are several add-on blocks and accessories available from Thermaltake that will work with this kit. In fact, there is a picture on the Thermaltake website showing the Bigwater 760i cooling two NVIDIA 8800 series video cards with two Thermaltake TMG ND4 coolers.
There were a few minor issues with the Bigwater 760i. The fan included with the system was one of the loudest fans in the test group, even when set to low speed. To make matters worse, the fan speed control know was mounted inside the case where it was not easily accessable to the user. There was plenty of room on the front panel to install the knob to the right of the mesh opening, which would allow the user to quiet down the fan when the maximum performance was not needed. One other issue was that the front bezel was not lined up correctly and allowed the silver frame of the unit to be exposed.
Overall the Bigwater 760i is a great way to start watercooling your system, or add a second loop to a watercooling system for additional blocks without sacrificing performance of the main loop.