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An Enthusiast Review of CoolClouds' Revolutionary CPU Cooler Prototype

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#1
Introduction



Hello everyone, and thank you for stopping by! Recently, I had a very unique and exciting opportunity present itself. Today, I would like to share the details of the experience with my fellow enthusiasts!

Living in northern California comes with many perks (like amazing weather), but one of my favorites is that many tech companies call it home! As a result, I've had the privilege of visiting the offices of some amazing tech companies like Intel, AMD, Nvidia, ASUS, Antec, etc. In addition to the large and established tech companies, many hungry tech start ups can be found here as well.

By chance, I noticed that a tech start up by the name of CoolClouds was looking for a computer hardware enthusiast in the northern California area. They had developed an early prototype of a CPU cooler that incorporated the technology and techniques they had been using in their business cooling products. CoolClouds explained that their typical business involved designing custom cooling solutions for companies for electronics such as servers, telecommunication devices, and military equipment applications. They were not very familiar with the aftermarket CPU cooling environment and were looking for feedback.

Fast forward a short while and I found myself with an early CoolClouds CPU Cooler Prototype in my hands, hot off the production line! CoolClouds was generous enough to give me hands-on experience with their prototype and allow me to run a slew of enthusiast inspired tests on it. Below, you will find the results!





System Setup


Test Bed:

  • Motherboard: ASUS Maximus VI Impact
  • CPU: Intel Core i7 4770k
  • Memory: 8 GB (2x4GB) Samsung DDR3 1600 "Magic Ram"
  • Video: Integrated
  • Hard Drive: Samsung 840 Pro 256GB SSD
  • OS: Windows 8.1 64 Bit
  • Thermal Paste: Noctua NT-H1

Test Methods


  • CPU: CPU temperature will be monitored in windows using AIDA64 Extreme Version 4.30.2900
  • GPU: The integrated GPU in the Intel i7 4770k will be used, eliminating the heat of the discrete GPU as a variable.
  • CASE: The case used for this first round of testing is the Antec VSK-4000E Mid Tower Case
  • Thermal Paste: Noctua's NT-H1 thermal paste was used for a few key reasons: It's well known in the community for its performance and for not having an observable curing time, and I had a large syringe of it already =)
  • Temperatures:
    • Ambient: Ambient temperature will be measured throughout the test using an Exergen Infrared Thermometer. If there is any change in ambient temperature greater than .5C during the course of the test, the test will be restarted.
    • Idle: Idle temperature will be recorded after a 25 minute period of inactivity.
    • Load: Load temperature will be recorded following a 20 minute period of 100% load for air coolers and after a 30 minute period of 100% load for air/water hybrid coolers. The load will be obtained by running the AIDA64 Extreme Version 4.30.2900 System Stability Test. The values reported will represent the average temperature during the load testing period.
  • Sound: Sound levels will be measured with a Sinometer JTS-1357 Digital Sound Level Meter. A measurement will be taken at a distance of 1ft, .5m, 1m, and 4 ft. In each instance, the ambient sound level of the room will be recorded.

CoolClouds CPU Cooler Prototype


The CoolClouds CPU Cooler Prototype has a lot of familiar features to other coolers I have worked with in the past, at first glance. However, after taking it all in, it is clear that it is definitely something new, and something cool. On the one hand, I can see that it has a copper plate for contact with the CPU and I can see that the entire unit is designed to mount directly to the motherboard. But on the other hand, I see a 120mm radiator and what looks to be to be none-other than a water pump like the ones I have used in custom water cooling loops! Missing, however, are the tubes typically involved in a hybrid cooler setup. Also, the all-copper nature of the cooler is simply something to behold.

In addition to having full access to the prototype, the CoolClouds crew also made themselves available for any of my questions or other needs. They quickly brought me up to speed on the CoolClouds technology set that includes custom-designed and optimized micro-channel cold plates, powerful, miniaturized water pumps, and fine-tuned all copper radiators. With this technology set, CoolClouds has been morphing into some of the most challenging design spaces and has shown time and time again that they can provide greater cooling performance than any other current solution on the market.

In speaking with the CoolClouds team, it is clear that they are very confident in their designs and their technology. I think it was very bold of them to reach out directly to the enthusiasts and to allow one of them to pit their first prototype against the competition. Lets find out if their confidence and enthusiasm are backed up by performance, shall we? =)



Please Excuse My Rusty Photoshop Skills =)

Specifications

  • Cooler Dimensions: 165 mm x 120 mm x 16 mm
  • Weight: 900g
  • Fin Material: Copper
  • Cold Plate Material: Copper
  • Compatibility: All Modern CPU Sockets
  • Fan: Nidec-Servo Gentle Typhoon (x2)
    • Size: 120 mm x 25 mm
    • Speed: 800-1850 rpm
    • Air Flow: 58 CFM
    • Noise: 26 dB


Having designed and built computers for over 15 years, I have seen a lot of CPU coolers and their specs. What stands out to me looking at these specs is that the radiator itself is only 16mm thick. I am interested to see how this factors into performance. Additionally, I am very excited to see both copper cold plate and copper radiator! Most, if not all, of the AIO hybrid coolers out on the market use aluminum radiators. This has the effect of reducing thermal performance. Also, since the system has a mix of copper and aluminum, they are forced to use fluids other than pure, distilled water. This also has the effect of reducing thermal performance. It will be interesting to see if the all-copper construction can counter-balance the reduced thickness of the radiator.

Photos:


Here are some shots of the front, back, and base of the prototype:​


Installation and Contact:



Being a prototype, no installation manual was provided. I've installed quite a fair number of heatsinks, but honestly, the installation of the prototype was extremely straightforward and did not require much mechanical ability. First, I placed the provided backplate on the rear of the motherboard, lining it up with the socket holes. Second, I hand-tightened 4 standoffs into the backplate from the other side of the motherboard. Third, I placed the appropriate amount of thermal paste on the center of the processor heatspreader. Fourth, I placed the prototype (without fans installed) on the processor. Fifth, I installed the provided screw/spring assemblies through the four bracket holes and into the previously installed standoffs. There were absolutely no obstructions or tight spots preventing me from easily tightening the screws. As always, I took my time tightening the 4 screws moving in an "X" pattern to ensure even pressure across the CPU. I then attached the two Gentle Typhoon fans and connected the pump and the 2 fans to the appropriate motherboard headers.







After the performance testing was complete, I removed the prototype and verified that I had solid contact between the cooler and the processor. As you can see in the image, good contact was present.


With all of that out of the way, lets take a look at how it performed!

Performance Results:


Results: Temperatures


For stock testing, my Intel Core i7 4770k will be set at 3.50 GHz and 1.05 volts. For overclocked CPU testing, my CPU will be set at 4.4 GHz and 1.20 volts.

Please note that the performance chart represents degrees Celsius over the ambient temperature at the time of testing. The temperatures listed DO NOT represent direct core temperatures.



Overclock Settings




With the Intel Core i7 4770k set at 4.4 GHz and 1.20 volts, we present a worthy challenge to the established kings of the CPU cooling realm as well as to the new challenger. Claiming the top performance spot with a 1 degree Celsius lead is the CoolClouds Prototype equipped with the two fans from the Corsair H80i cooler! To me, this is fairly remarkable; the CoolClouds Prototype radiator is only 16mm thick vs the Corsair H80i radiator which is a very stout 38mm thick. In an apples to apples performance shootout with the same testbed and and same fan configuration, the CoolClouds Prototype is able to best the Corsair H80i with less than half the radiator thickness! I found this a little hard to believe, so I ran the test 3 times on both coolers to verify the results.

Coming in second and third place in thermal performance in the overclocked testing were the Corsair H80i and the Noctua NH-D14 respectively. I was fairly impressed with the Noctua NH-D14 air cooler's ability to compete with the Corsair H80i All In One water cooler. The Noctua NH-D14 is significantly larger though. One important note that I will make is that the Noctua NH-D14 is able to provide it's 3rd place cooling performance at a much quieter level than the Corsair H80i as you will see in the coming sound performance evaluation.

Being a long time enthusiast and custom loop water cooler, I wanted to see how the CoolClouds Prototype performed with the long-running champion of performance/noise radiator cooling fans (The Gentle Typhoon AP-15). If you have never had the privilege of using a Gentle Typhoon, they provide an astounding amount of cooling performance on radiators, but at a noise level that is much less than the competition. Looking at the chart, we can see that the CoolClouds Prototype equipped with a pair of GT AP-15, with its diminutive 16mm radiator, performed within 2 degrees Celsius of the Corsair H80i and the Noctua NH-D14.

The Noctua NH-D14 represents best in class performance in the air cooler category according to many enthusiasts and performance reviews alike. Likewise, the Corsair H80i represents best in class performance in the 120mm AIO cooler category. In spite of this, The CoolClouds Prototype came out swinging and demonstrated that even in such an early stage of development, it was ready to take on all challengers and bring new levels of performance and a new CPU cooler form factor to the enthusiast cooler market.

Results: Sound


Please note that the sound performance chart represents measurements from 4ft, 1m, .5m, and 1ft. All measurements were taken with the case door removed and with the decibel meter aimed directly at the CPU cooler being measured.





As I alluded to earlier in the performance testing commentary, the Corsair H80i is much louder than the Noctua NH-D14 with the fans at 12v. The measurements verify this claim as can been seen in the chart.

Subjectively, I found both the Noctua NH-D14 and the CoolClouds Prototype equipped with the Gentle Typhoons to provide a very similar acoustic profile with the sound of the air flowing through the coolers barely perceivable. On the other hand, I found the acoustic profile of the Corsair H80i to be quite loud and disruptive. It definitely made a lot of noise. In the case of the Corsair H80i, it's performance comes at the cost of a quiet computing experience.

Conclusion


The Bottom Line



First of all, I would like to thank the fine folks at CoolClouds for the opportunity to work hands-on with their first prototype and for their open-door policy regarding any questions or comments that I had throughout the experience. It is clear that they are very busy, but that they take the quality of their product and their customer's experience as the highest priority.

Early on, I had concerns that the 16mm radiator would prove too thin to provide adequate performance. As it turned out, The 16mm all-copper radiator of the CoolClouds prototype proved superior to the 38mm aluminum radiator of the Corsair H80i. As a matter of fact, the slim 16mm CoolClouds Radiator was able to provide superior performance over the gargantuan 100mm thickness of fin tower used by the Noctua NH-D14! How embarrassing!

I would also like to take a moment to talk about the form factor. In the testbed, I utilized the small but mighty ASUS ROG Maximus VI Impact. The Impact is an mITX board. In the case of the Noctua NH-D14, the cooler literally consumed the entire motherboard! I will provide images, but they simply don't do the situation justice. I appreciate the fact that the Noctua NH-D14 mounts directly to the motherboard and does not require the sacrifice of a case fan, but the cooler is just insanely massive! In the case of the Corsair H80i, the installed size was more manageable, but I was forced to sacrifice the rear exhaust of my case. This is a problem for me. In most of the systems I have built in recent years, the discrete graphics cards are by far the greatest producers of heat. For this reason, it is paramount to me that the case airflow is able to function as it was designed to aid in cooling passive motherboard components and removing the excess heat generated by the GPU(s). In the case of the CoolClouds Prototype, it mounted directly to the motherboard and installation was done! I was also able to maintain the use of my case exhaust AND I had plenty of room to work with, no special tools required.


The CoolClouds CPU Cooler Prototype, for me, was like glancing into the future of electronics cooling. It made a very big impression on me. When I look at air coolers, I see a cooling technology that has reached the limits of its performance. When I look at AIO coolers, I see case airflow design thrown out the window, and I see GPU's and CPU's fighting over case exhaust and inlet locations. When I look at the CoolClouds prototype, I see a smaller cooler with better performance! I see a cooler without compatibility issues that allows anyone to do a drop-in-replacement and explore the boundaries of their CPU's performance without thermal limitations. I see a cooling technology that can let Intel and AMD know that they can go ahead and raise the TDP (Thermal Design Power) of their desktop processors, because a new standard of cooling is in place to handle it. I look forward to seeing CoolClouds consumer products, and I think you probably would too!

The Future


During my time working with the CoolClouds team and the prototype, there was a constant line of communication. They had a lot of questions about the heat problems computer enthusiasts run into and the pro's and con's of the different solutions out there. To me, it seems that the team could never be happier than to be presented with a challenging heat problem that they can devour and design and engineer a powerful solution to. We had a lot of discussions and I gave a lot of feedback. They asked what I wanted to see, and this is what I told them:
  • Cooler
  • Quieter
  • Compatible
I told them that it was great that they could perform a few degrees cooler than the competition with less than half the radiator size, but that I'd love to see what they could do with a thicker radiator! I told them that having the best thermal performance is fantastic, but that it's even better when you can do it quietly! I told them that the last thing I want to do when I buy a cooler is to worry that it won't be compatible with my case, or that I won't be able to use memory with tall heat spreaders, or that it will block my PCIe slot!

You can find out more about CoolClouds @ http://www.coolclouds.net/

DISCUSSION:


What do you think? Got any questions for me or the CoolClouds team? Let me know! Is there anything else you would like to see for the enthusiast prototype testing? If it's something I can do, I'll give it a go as time allows!

Thanks! Hope you enjoyed!
TheHobbyist
 
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#2
anyway, on the cooler, it has several cables what its for?
i dunno, its like radiator just attach to heatsink base, too straight forward :)
 

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#3
Aside from the Captherm, hasn't this idea been tried years ago, I seem to recall this design before, I just cant seem to find images.
 

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#4
anyway, on the cooler, it has several cables what its for?
i dunno, its like radiator just attach to heatsink base, too straight forward :)
Heater core pretty much
 
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#5
anyway, on the cooler, it has several cables what its for?
i dunno, its like radiator just attach to heatsink base, too straight forward :)
Hey there micropage7!

The cables you are seeing on the cooler are likely the positive, negative, and rpm wire for the 3-pin connector the water pump uses.

I actually like the fact that it is simplistic, yet complex at the same time. I especially like the part where it is much smaller, yet cools better hahaha!

Heater core pretty much
Hey there eidairaman1!

Radiator technology seems to be one of the better cooling tech's out there! I see radiators like this used to cool a lot of different stuff out there from houses to cars to computers =)
 
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#6
Looking at the photo with the way it is mounted it is either blowing hot air onto where the PSU is, or blowing it onto the GPU.

Surely the smart thing would be to mount it so the hot air blows out that rear exhaust?
 
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#7
Looking at the photo with the way it is mounted it is either blowing hot air onto where the PSU is, or blowing it onto the GPU.

Surely the smart thing would be to mount it so the hot air blows out that rear exhaust?
Great observation! Unfortunately, the ASUS Maximus VI Impact motherboard has a unique 43mm tall voltage regulation board that the prototype was not able to clear. :) That is something that is unique to that particular motherboard and on all other motherboards, you will be able to mount the cooler in either orientation. Alas, that is the testbed I had on hand. In the future I will have something more common! Hahaha =)
 
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#8
....I'm not seeing anything here that is revolutionary. They've decreased the size of everything, but nothing is new. The tubing has decreased in size, as to be functionally non-existant. The incorporated pump is likely very similar to other ceramic motors, if not just an off-the-shelf solution. I see only an evolution, skirting the patents filed by some other companies (read: the ones that removed Swiftech from the AIO cooler market last year). I don't have a substantially good feeling about this product not seeing a patent suit filed against it.


Why does it out-perform other coolers (like the H80i)? There are two simple reasons, less impedance from tubing and copper construction. I'd bet both of these factors rather dramatically increase the cost of the system, but I can't confirm this without a price (convenient that it wasn't provided?). It doesn't seem fair to compare a sub $100 cooler to a much more expensive one. I'm still betting a custom loop with a 120mm radiator and wide tubing will beat the pants off of this thing, though I cannot prove my guess at this time.


I have three qualms with this thing, and they aren't being addressed by this review. First, what weight are we looking at here? A radiator, pump, and fans aren't going to be light, and you're banking on a motherboard enduring the stress of this weight hanging from it. Sounds like a recipe for disaster. Two, what kind of finish are we looking at? Untreated copper is nice to look at, until is rapidly starts oxidation. I'm not sure about everyone else, but copper oxides don't come anywhere near my motherboards. Finally, how much does this cost? A high end air cooler, and moderate cost AIO perform similarly. We could be looking at something that performs only marginally better than either of them, with a much heavier price tag. I'm refrain from judgement until that information can be confirmed.


Unfortunately, this review seems to exist in a vacuum. The performance figures are interesting, but the bottom line is there's not enough information to make a call. Kudos on the performance figures, and thank you for your effort.




Edit:
Idiot.

The weight was provided. I'm foolish, and need to apologize for my oversight. I'm still looking at 1500G = 1.5 kg = 3 pounds. That's one beastly cooler.
 
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#9
Jesus, thats 300g heavier than a Noctua NH-D14 :O


As for the end look, it looks like blackened metal according to the CGI design at the bottom
 
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#10
The weight was provided. I'm foolish, and need to apologize for my oversight. I'm still looking at 1500G = 1.5 kg = 3 pounds. That's one beastly cooler.
same weight as my IFX-14 in Tri TY-147 setup :D (1305g) yet i cant see this outperforming that one.

as for the website i think they are a bit too enthusiast about their own product (well kinda logical in the end) nothing revolutionary and

"Since SuprCool™ heat sinks are so effective at such a small size, they make an ideal solution for high-performance personal computing. Enthusiasts continually search for better, faster platforms and overclocking is a time-honored tradition to supercharge stock computer platforms. In the future, CoolClouds’ SuprCool™ will have a heat sink that removes the barrier to clock speeds without requiring a hack saw. Simply replace the CPU heat sink on your latest Intel or AMD CPU with a SuprCool V14 Cooler and ramp up the power and performance of your personal computer.

SuprCool V14

This SuprCool™ heat sink unleashes the performance of your personal computer. With this compact unit, you can overclock to over 200 watts, and keep the processor well under it rated temperature. In fact, the capacity of our heat sink to cool far outpaces the operation wattage of current processor design. SuprCool™ not only allows for much better performance now, it raises the ceiling to allow for exponentially increased wattage operation development across the the processor marketplace."

that description is kinda ... nothing that a good air or AIO CWC can do actually.

depending the pricing it could be just another AIO (if the pricing is equale to a H80i then i call it not worth it)
 
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#11
It's a full copper construction so this isn't going to be cheap.
Since I'm the CZ I go with local pricing but the cost ratios work to $ too so the currency used doesn't matter.
A high end air cooler cost about 2000czk

Gentle Typhoon fans cost 350czk each
A cheap full copper radiator cost 900czk
The smallest and cheapest ceramic pump I found costs 550czk
CPU water blocks start at 875czk

So this will probably cost 30 to 50% more than a good air cooler and you get only 2-3C improvement IMO that's not worth it especially if it puts 1.5KG of stress on your motherboard.

However it does prove an intresting fact that you don't need a large radiator to cool an i7 4770K so it would be intresting if a custom loop with a cheap pump block res and cheap full copper radiator would out preform this because if it doesn't then this actually has a place on the market.
 
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#12
It's a full copper construction so this isn't going to be cheap.
Since I'm the CZ I go with local pricing but the cost ratios work to $ too so the currency used doesn't matter.
A high end air cooler cost about 2000czk

Gentle Typhoon fans cost 350czk each
A cheap full copper radiator cost 900czk
The smallest and cheapest ceramic pump I found costs 550czk
CPU water blocks start at 875czk

So this will probably cost 30 to 50% more than a good air cooler and you get only 2-3C improvement IMO that's not worth it especially if it puts 1.5KG of stress on your motherboard.

However it does prove an intresting fact that you don't need a large radiator to cool an i7 4770K so it would be intresting if a custom loop with a cheap pump block res and cheap full copper radiator would out preform this because if it doesn't then this actually has a place on the market.
let say it it cost more than a CM eisberg 140XL ... so :D (and perform same or better ... )

but technically ... this use more place than a std AIO unlike what they said about it ... IE: my Carbide Spec-01 couldn't handle that thing, while a H60/H80/Seidon120M/V/XL could fit. the argument of the size is nile, since the place needed is the same as a single 120mm tower double fan setup. and it cover the surrounding of the socket unlike a std AIO.
 
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fullinfusion

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#13
What is this, a radiator with a pump built on side?
I'm not sure even what to ask so forgive me if I sound a bit ignorant.. I'm just trying to figure out what the deal is here with this cooler?

To me its insanely huge and I can't see how good this will look in any case. Corsair and other AIO units look way better then this *no pun intended* but really who in there right mind would hang this big ass copper unit off there cpu? I sure the hell wouldn't!

I'm all for water cooling but my god is this what we're in for?

I betcha a h80i in my testing world will blow this cooler outa the park and look better too :p

Sorry but I'm out, as I can't think of anything good or practical to say on this product except for good luck.
 
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#14
What is this, a radiator with a pump built on side?
I'm not sure even what to ask so forgive me if I sound a bit ignorant.. I'm just trying to figure out what the deal is here with this cooler
Surely thats simple. It's a H80 without pipes and all supported on the cpu mobo
 
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#15
I don't see what all negativity posted, no one is forcing you to buy it, this is just a first look at prototype unit, w/o even price yet .

Ok, here few pluses That "might" be advantageous .
1) its all in one construction might make it that defective pump would still keep CPU somewhat cool (since it might be able to transfer heat through convention )
2) the passages might have very good size, like equal to 1/2" area for very good flow.
3) since the area from CPU base to rad is so short faster response time to heat pikes .

It be interesting to see what happens with pump off in a test .
 
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#16
I suspect the negativity comes mostly from the fact that this is posited as a impartial 3rd party review when clearly it isn't. It is an ad.
 
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#17
I suspect the negativity comes mostly from the fact that this is posited as a impartial 3rd party review when clearly it isn't. It is an ad.
+1
 
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#18
I suspect the negativity comes mostly from the fact that this is posited as a impartial 3rd party review when clearly it isn't. It is an ad.
well ,might as well wait for "real" reviews , OP didn't even test the unit there going to sell .
There be reviews if this is a real product worth looking at.

For me, I am not water cooler fan, so its a no on this or any AIO .
 

RCoon

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#19
I suspect the negativity comes mostly from the fact that this is posited as a impartial 3rd party review when clearly it isn't. It is an ad.
And the fact it weighs a tonne, is from a company that haven't made any coolers for enthusiasts of any note before, it's a review from a random guy who joined the forums (I assume he's also joined other to copy paste the same stuff too), and that the review itself is pretty poorly laid out in terms of graphs. I want to see at least 10 of the top coolers tested all on the same hardware and put into a relative graph to show performance differences at different frequencies. It also doesn't mention pricing. If this thing costs more than the D14, or the Cryorig, or the Phanteks, and yet performs about the same, but costs a pretty penny more (due to copper usage), then this thing is worthless to the market besides showing other manufacturers why they shouldn't bother investing in this kind of RnD.

This review is too vague, and too informal for what is basically a shameless advertisement. It's like a dodgy kickstarter. They might have all the good will in the world, but this is not how to sell a prototype product to anyone.
 
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#21
$2500 and you get a custom built pc........with Intel HD graphics..

Bahahahahahahahahahahahaha
 

RCoon

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#22
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#23
So prices will be +$100 if they're distributing at that price. $200 ish probably
 
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#24
Ouch. It's only raised $234 of a $100 000 target with 3 weeks to go and 5 weeks passed.

Seems like a sound enough idea but perhaps should have sold to Asetek or one of the AIO brands. Niche market, hard sell.
 

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#25
That makes sense. So this is an ad plug in hopes people will support it on Indiegogo.
And with that in mind, the thread is closed. We would be delighted to see a full test/review of the final retail product when available and encourage the Op to share the final product with us.

Edit: I am re-opening the thread, I have been in conversation with the OP and am happy that he is neither employed by the company or making any gain from this, he wants the opportunity to respond to questions so please keep things constructive.
 
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