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Thermaltake is a widely respected company that provides much support to enthusiasts offering enclosures, power supplies, cooling products and other accessories. When it comes liquid cooling they provided some complete prebuilt systems with their BigWater series of units. Thermaltake is now tossing a new series in to the arena and we have been testing the mettle of this ProWater 850i.
In the past, all-in-one liquid units (in general) missed the bang-for-buck notoriety. Many of the high end air coolers kept temperature close to many of those units and some units frustrated most first time users with leak issues. In the past year we have seen some units that exceeded cooling and ease-of-use expectations, but they came with a hefty price tag. Now, Thermaltake has thrown a new liquid cooling unit on to the scene, with a very reasonable price tag. The question is: Will this ProWater 850i system solve the leak and installation issues of the past or is it the same ol' thing, just repackaged?
Just the like the previous BigWater units, the ProWater 850i comes with everything you need for installation. For those that have used thermaltake air coolers in the past, you will notice the very familiar "I" shaped brackets used for this unit. Also included is the expansion slot bracket (for those that don't have an enclosure with tube slots), a very detailed user manual, tubing, and coolant.
The coolant is a non concentrated 500cc bottle of Propylene Glycol, a very common anti-freeze/coolant compound. It has a light yellow-green tint which might also explain why Thermaltake decided to go with the same color for their tubing. After months of using a particular color coolant, clear tubing will eventually 'stain' to the color of the coolant (causing no problems to functions of the units). This coolant will work just fine to transfer heat and protect the parts of the ProWater 850i from any type of corrosion that might occur with regular water.
The ProWater 850i comes with 4 main components. Actually five, but the liquid tank and pump are screwed together and we left them that way to maintain the integrity of the unit during testing. The radiator comes with a 120mm fan attached, which should move plenty of air to keep our CPU cool. Thermaltake also includes a flow indicator to include somewhere in the line of flow to make sure the unit is doing its job. If the indicator isn't working, the system would need to be shut down immediately (if you mobo hasn't already taken care of that). And finally the CPU block. It comes permanently affixed the highly recognizable Thermaltake "I" bracket. Let's take a closer look at this block.
The circular copper base will connect to the square CPU IHS. The flat, smooth, and copper surface should do a great job of transferring heat. While the shape is different than the IHS, the base still covers the CPU sufficiently.
To show how smooth it is, we wanted to show the quality of the reflection of the flow indicator. While smoothness is nice to see, the actual flatness of the base is more important, to make sure there is as much contact with the CPU as possible.
We precut the tubes and placed all the clips on the tubes prior to installation. There was over 6 feet of tubing but we just cut the pieces to the length we needed.
The CPU block was the most difficult part of the installation and frankly it was not all that bad. It may have helped that we were familiar with this type of Thermaltake installation. There is a backside bracket required for installation, so motherboard removal is a must. First the long screws are pushed through the backside bracket and secure with plastic washers and the copper nuts. After those long screws are secure, we added the thermal grease. Then we placed the CPU block on top and hand tightened the larger circular nuts. Next was just removing the black protective caps and securing all the tubing.
Today's HardwareLogic Test Bench consists of the following components.
Stock Settings: 3.0GHz, 1.30 CPU Core Volts, 1.50 PLL Volts
Overclock (OC) Settings: 3.6GHz, 1.40 CPU Core Volts, 1.60 PLL Volts
|Stock Idle||Stock Load||OC Idle||OC Load|
|Thermaltake ProWater 850i (liquid cooling)||6.1||19.0||8.6||28.7|
|Zalman Reserator XT (liquid cooling)||5.9||17.7||7.7||25.5|
|ZEROtherm Zen 120||6.9||20.4||9.4||29.9|
|Intel Stock Cooler||12.0||36.0||15.5||53.7|
The ProWater 850i did a fantastic job cooling our e6850 test bench CPU on all levels. It's easy to just look at the results and say that it got beat by the Reserator XT. The one thing that we love is the bang-for-buck between the two units. The ProWater 850i comes in at about 1/3 the price and does nearly as good of a job. We were amazed to see how cool this ProWater 850i unit kept our CPU, even while loading the CPU on the overclock.
|Warranty & Support|
Thermaltake's ProWater 850i is a great improvement upon their previous the BigWater units. We heard about users having issues with older prebuilt units and we wanted to make sure this ProWater unit would not put any hardware at risk. We did not have a single leak during the installation and testing process; NOT ONE DROP! We were pleased with the overall ease of the installation, and the performance of the unit. This prebuilt unit chilled our CPU extremely well.
As with any product we review, there is always some shortcomings we can point out. The testing did show another unit outperforming the 850i, but the extra hundreds of dollars for that unit will likely not be worth the couple degree trade-off for most enthusiasts. Some experienced enthusiasts will take the route of building their own liquid cooling unit, but again, it will cost more and only do a slightly better job. The other thing we would like to point out is that many of the top tier air coolers were not too far off from the results of the ProWater 850i. It all comes down to how deep your pocketbook is.
All in all, when looking at liquid cooling units, there really isn't anything out there that can beat the bang-for-buck of this ProWater 850i. You can spend hundreds of dollars more for a unit to suck an extra couple degrees out of your CPU. We easily recommend this for someone that is looking for a very reasonably priced liquid cooling unit, with an easy installation process.
Other Reviews of Note
It's always nice to have more than one opinion on a component before you spend your hard earned money. For one, we may see something others missed, or vice versa. As with all reviews published at HardwareLogic, we'll not only give you our recommendation, but also point out reviews from some other great sites around the web.