Do you think your processor is running a little too hot?
Have you tried water cooling but think it’s a little too weak? Do you want to
push the limits and squeeze the last megahertzes out of your system? Then this
could be a product for you.

Do you think your processor is running a little too hot?
Have you tried water cooling but think it’s a little too weak? Do you want to
push the limits and squeeze the last megahertzes out of your system? Then this
could be a product for you.

Most people today have heard of the company Asetek. If not, you can usually
hear a bell ringing if Waterchill is mentioned, or even Vapochill which was
the company’s original product. At the beginning, Asetek was only offering Vapochill
in their selection. Nowadays they’ve widened a lot and keep many water cooling
products, compete kits and some other compressor cooling devices in their selection.
Today we’re taking a look at their newest creation in phase change cooling devices,
Vapochill XE II, their most powerful solution so far, almost. Actually, they
have a more powerful creation in store, Vapochill Lightspeed, but that’s an
external solution. On this product, everything is mounted in a case and you
only need to put in your components.

In this niche there are no direct competitors. There’s a company that delivers
complete phase change solutions, ECT (Extreme Cooling Technologies), earlier known
as nVentiv, even earlier known as ChipCon (almost a bit tedious, isn’t it?),
though they only have external devices in their product range and only compete
against Asetek’s external solution (Lightspeed). Lack of competition is normally
not good in the customer’s perspective, but you could also think that one
manufacturer is better than none at all. There are matching cases to both Asetek’s
Lightspeed and ECT’s solution, but then you have to put it together on your
own responsibility, which is not the case here, since everything’s already mounted.

First of all we will do a very concise (very concise, since we’re
going to explain phase change cooling more thoroughly in the future here at NH)
summary on how a cooling device based on compressors really works and why it
gives such low temperatures.

We’ll begin by looking at air cooling, the most common method of cooling the
processor, and watercooling, probably the second most common. They have one
thing in common; they use a constant medium, which means that no transformation
takes place (no material changes form from i.e. solid to liquid or liquid to
gas form).

Air cooling
An ordinary heatsink with fan, the most occuring form of cooling. The
heatsink leads the heat from the processor to a larger number of fins with a
significantly larger surface area than the processor itself. A fan blows (in
some cases suck) air over/through the fins that are cooled and hot air flows

Water cooling
Water cooling has a certain advantage. Water is first and foremost
a better medium than air when it comes to transferring and storing heat. We
can use water to transport the heat away from the processor faster, and we transfer
the water to a radiator, a heatsink for the water that can be a lot bigger than
there is space for if you make sure it would have been seated directly on the

Phase change
Now we’re getting to something here. Here we can get below the room/ambient
temperature, which isn’t possible with air nor water. How is this possible then?
We use the larger amount of energy required to make matter pass from liquid
to gas. Here’s a simple experiment to understand. Wave strong with your hand
in the air. It will get cooler. Put some acetone on your hand and wave. Feels
pretty cool, doesn’t it? acetone boils off pretty fast (evaporates is a more
common word) and when it does (going from liquid to gas form), the acetone uses
heat energy from your hand, which gets cold. It works with water aswell, but
it’s a significant difference with acetone, which feels a bit cold even when
you’re not waving with your hand. In a compressor cooling device acetone isn’t
used, but some different cooling mediums such as R404 and R507, mediums that
have a boiling point in the lower subzero area.

So you ”pour” a liquid onto your processor, or more precise in the
cooling head that is fastened to the processor where the liquid boils off and
becomes a gas form. This is the process that cools your processor. For the whole
thing to work in a sealed system you have to make the gas revert to liquid form
so that you can ”pour” it again. This is where the compressor comes
in. It compresses the gas under pressure. Under pressure, the gas gets warm
and we cool it off with the condensator (the radiator) which makes it pass to
liquid again which once again goes to the processor. A simplified principal
sketch looks like this:

[Editor’s note: CPU -> Compressor -> Condenser]

Of course there’s a little more than this that makes a compressor cooling
device, like capillary tubes, the proper cooling mediums, effect and so on,
but we’ll stop here and get back to compressor cooling devices in the future.
Enough about the introduction and background information. It’s time to take
a closer look at Vapochill XE II!

Specifications: Vapochill XE II

Cooling performance :

180W @ -18’C / 0W
@ -44’C


Black, windowed
side panel

Form factor:


5,25” bays:


3,5” bays:


3.5” bays:



560x260x560 mm



CPU-kit 1:

AMD S754/939/940
& Intel S478

CPU-kit 2:

Intel Socket T
(LGA 775)



That looks kind of nice, doesn’t it? Even though there is no Socket A support
I doubt anyone will miss it, since a cooling-equipment of this caliber and
price isn’t really necessary on an older Socket A system. The main objectives
are instead AMD64, AMD FX and Intel Prescott with socket 939, 775 and 754. The
number of external 5,25” bays may seem few, but really, how many of us
are using more than 3 external 5,25″ bays? Besides, this solution is
mainly for overclockers and such, not as much for modders and gamers, who are
in a bigger need of external bays.

Here’s a diagram from Asetek themselves that shows what kind of
temperatures we can expect with the XE II:

We’ll be testing with an FX 53, it’ll be interesting to see
how well the temperatures on the diagram correspond with our temperatures. But
of course, there are a lot of differences concerning methods, the surrounding
temperature, mounting and so on, but hopefully the results won’t be too far
from Asetek’s diagram.

And here’s the unit at all its glory:

On the next page we’ll take a look under the hood and
see what the Vapochill Extreme Edition II has to offer.

Let’s begin with a closer look at the cooler:

Here we see the compressor, the condenser and the
cooling head among others, on page 2 there’s a guide to phase change.

Here you go, more pictures:

On the left we have the ChillControl, and on the
right is the power unit for the ChillControl. A unit that plugs in to a
USB-port, with which you can control starting temperature, control fans,
monitor the current temperature. A couple of heat pads are also plugged in
here. One of these pads is mounted in the cooling head, one behind the
mainboard and there’s also one on the pipe to the CPU. However, we had some
problems with out ChillControl and won’t include it as a part of the review.
This isn’t anything that affects the customer though, this only concerns our

Now we know how the system looks, but how does it
perform? First let’s take a quick look at the test system.

Test system

AMD Athlon64 – Socket 939


AMD Athlon 64 FX53 (2.4GHz, 1MB L2-cache, 2GHz HT)


Abit AV8 3rd Eye


1GB Corsair XMS3200 DDR-SDRAM
(2 x 512MB, DDR-400, 2-2-2-5-11 timings)

Graphics card:

Radeon 7500LE


46GB IDE IBM Deskstar


OCZ Powerstream Adjustable 520W


Vapochill Extreme Edition II
Zalman ZM7000B-CU (max RPM)


CIE 307


Operating system:

Windows XP Professional SP2


1024x768x32bit, 75Hz

Graphics drivers:

Catalyst 4.12
DirectX 9.0c
VIA Hyperion 4in1 4.55v
Athlon 64 Processor driver
DivX 5.2.0
Xvid 1.0.2

Test programs:

Sisoftware Sandra
2005 1.10.37
PCMark04 Build 120
AutoGordian Knot v1.60
Audioactive Production Studio 2.04j (Fraunhofer II encoder)
WinRAR 3.4
CPU-Z v1.24

What we want to find out is how much we can overclock the
CPU and what kind of performance increases we’ll get (focusing on the CPU, because
the vapochill only affects the CPU). Since AMD’s FX CPUs aren’t multiplier
locked we’ll hopefully be able to keep the original FSB frequency when the CPU
is overclocked. When overclocking a CPU with a locked multiplier, like AMD64
and Intel CPUs (except for the Extreme Edition), there’s a performance increase
with the FSB being higher. But then you’re depending on memory frequency and
memory timings, and that’s something we don’t want to be in this review.

We’ll also be comparing the performance differences between vapochill and
regular air cooling. The air cooling heatsink we’ll be using is the Zalman
ZM7000B-CU, considered to be one of the best, not too expensive either.

For measuring temperatures, we used a Cie 307 thermometer
with two temp. sensors glued to the CPU. The average values of these two
temperatures are later used in the review.  

Before we start the testing, here are a couple of words
about the installation.