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Appeared on: Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Thermaltake Bigwater 760i

1. Introduction

Thermaltake is a well known cooling system manufacturer. It's known to most users from their extreme air cooling solutions for CPUs. The recent trend of water cooling couldn't leave Thermaltake out of the game. A new product called BigWater 760i promises to fulfill your needs in getting an affordable water cooling solution with ease of installation and good performance. We will try to find out how good the overall package is, considering that air coolers are much cheaper and have adequate performance.

- Thermaltake Bigwater 760i

Thermaltake announced at this year's Computex show, the next generation of high performance liquid cooling systems, Big Water 760i. According to Thermaltake, this new breed of liquid cooling system focuses on ease of use while improving upon the performance level that Big Water series of water cooling systems have been know for.

Big Water 760i consists of an all inclusive bay drive unit and a water block with intelligent interconnect that can be installed effortlessly.  Ultra quiet pump, 12CM blue LED fan, water reservoir and high performance radiator are all strategically positioned inside the bay drive unit.  User can simply install the bay drive unit into a 5.25” drive bay, secure the water-block on the CPU and connect the intelligent interconnect to complete this easy installation process.

To decrease manufacturing cost, traditional water blocks often are designed with a simple water channel. However, water within the 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 a water block with Redundant Micro Channel Design to effectively divide water flow into micro channels thus accelerating heat transfer from the heat source to the liquid material. In addition, micro channels are stacked on top of each other to fully utilize the available space within the water block and further increase heat transfer.

Intelligent interconnect has built-in automatic shut-off valves that prevents accidental water leakage while disconnecting the water tubing while assembly or dismounting.  A feature that greatly decreases the risks of damaging other critical components from improper installation. In addition to water block, the pump also plays a determining factor in thermal efficiency.  BigWater 760i utilizes the P500 pump that is capable of pushing 500L/H (131.9G/H) of water that improves the overall efficiency and cooling performance.  Durable ceramic bearing mechanism also ensures years of uninterrupted operation.

The radiator is now equipped with the new Dimple Tube Technology to increase the turbulence within the radiator, effectively enlarging the surface area of coolant contact and elongating the time that the coolant stays in the radiator in order to be cooled.

2. Features, Specifications

- Features

  1. Dual 5.25 Drive Bay design: liquid cooling system in-a-box to save the space in the chassis and simplifies installation
  2. Mesh design front bezel enhances ventilation
  3. Easy to install and refill.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.)
  6. Ultra-low noise fan: silent variable fan with blue LED (1600 ~ 2400rpm).
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Durable 3/8” Tube: Special material to prevent wear & tare from being clogged up or over bending.

Refill Reservoir: Transparent reservoir contains 350c.c. of liquid capacity, easy to refill  

P500 Pump: Flow rate : 500L/hr, can easily handle extra water blocks for GPU, memory, HDD or chipsets.

Silent VR Fan: Adjustable 120x120x25mm blue LED fan, (1600~2400RPM)

CPU Water Block: Pure copper waterblock designed with brazing technology

Quick Disconnect : Automatic non-spill valves, robust material, one hand operation

Motorsports Radiator: Dimple Tube Technology with louvered fin radiator greatly increases the surface area for added cooling capability.

- Full specifications

P/N CL-W0121
2U Bay Drives Dimension 232mm(L) X 148.6mm(W) X 85mm(H)
Weight 1.3(kg)
Application CPU AMD AM2 series
AMD K8 series
Intel LGA775
Intel P4
Water Block Material All copper designed
Dimension 58mm(L) X 58mm(W) X 35mm(H)
Quick install connector For 9.5mm ID (3/8”) tubing
Weight 311(g)
Pump Dimensions 75(L) x 70(W) x 75(H) mm 
Bearing Ceramic bearing
Maximum Capacity 500 L/ hr
Rated Voltage DC 12V
Input current 600 mA
Connector 4 pin
Noise 16 dBA
Life time 80000 hr (MTBF) 
Radiator Dimensions 153(L) x 120(W) x 28(H) mm
Material Aluminum
Tube Design Aluminum, Dimple
Fin Design Aluminum, Louvered
Quick install connector For 9.5mm ID (3/8”) tubing
Fan Fan Dimension 120(L) x 120(w) x 25(H) mm
Fan Speed 1600~2400 RPM
Rated Voltage 12V
Noise 16 ~20 dB
Life Expectancy 40,000 hr
Connector 4pin
Liquid Tank Dimensions 72.4 (L) x 70.5(W) x 69.4(H) mm
Capacity 130 c.c
Quick install connector For 9.5mm ID(3/8”) tube
Tube Dimensions 9.5mm ID(3/8”) tube
Material Green UV
Coolant Capacity 500 c.c
Major Material Ingredient Ethylene Glycol

3. The retail package

Thermaltake's Big Water 760i product costs around $155 (+ shipping). The retail package is big and has a carrying handle on top:

Opening the box unveils what's inside, everything is well placed and secured:

On top we can find two printed manuals, 4m of 9.5mm (3/8") UV sensitive tube and at the white box, clips and screws for the water block. Getting to the bottom of this box we can see more, each component is safely secured at its place and everything is well organized. The bay drive liquid cooling system, 500cc of UV sensitive coolant, the refill bottle and finally the CPU water block.

Thermaltake has included a massive 4m water tube with standard 3/8" diameter. The refill bottle is also a very useful addition:

Here is what's included in the white box, many screws, metal H-type clip for the waterblock installation, thumb nuts, thermal compound and a couple of hose clips for the tube.

The water block in close up

and at the bottom. We can clearly see that it's fully made of copper, although it isn't completely smooth and there are some small marks visible on the surface:

The 2U bay water cooling system has a black finish with the logo and model name written in silver. You can see the small grid opening for the fan to suck air.

Here is the top view

And the bottom

At the back we find the pump. Thermaltake promises that can easily handle extra water blocks for GPU, memory, HDD or chipsets.

The refill reservoir holds up to 350 c.c. of  liquid. It's very easy to refill by unscrewing the cap and using the provided refill bottle. There are two indicators, low and high, the liquid level should be in the middle. Be careful and don't try to surpass the High level indicator because placing back the cap will cause the coolant to overflow and create a mess. Thermaltake should had taken care of this issue...

All cables/wires that are coming with the unit are sleeved in black mesh and bound together with plastic wire ties. The two main tubes connected with the P500 pump have a tag and a very easy to hook/remove system with the quick connect connectors:

You need to add power to the Thermaltake 760i from the main system. The green screw handles the rotation speed of the fan and at full speed the system makes a lot of noise...

4. Installation

Thermaltake has placed a webpage with installation instructions and how the whole system works. We will try and give you with pictures the major steps. First you need to secure the waterblock on the motherboard. Place the metal H-type clip, cushion and insulator together below the motherboard. Use the four silver (for Socket 775 in our case) 5cm screws, don't forget the white/red washers

and use the stands offs to secure the whole structure to the motherboard.

Next step is to carefully install the waterblock and by using the thumb nuts to secure the whole thing:

Then unscrew the nut of the waterblock, insert a tube through the nut of waterblock and tighten the nut on the waterblock, you must get something like this...Do the same for the other nut and cut the tube at the appropriate length according to your case. Finally use the hose clips and female quick connector through the tube and by using pliers tighten the hose clips. It's necessary to make the properly tighten all parts to prevent water leakage.

The installation of the 2U Bay water cooling system needs two empty 5.25 bays. For our tests we used Thermaltake's Soprano case. Thermaltake suggests having the 2U bay system above the CPU level . The refill is an easy task with the included box. After connecting all the cables, make sure to power up and check the coolant level, it will drop as it starts to flow around the pump and tubes. Continue to fill the reservoir tank until it's above the low level. Secure the cap and that's all. There will be air bubbles around the tube, don't worry though, just leave the system working for at least 20 minutes and gently bend the tubes until all the air bubbles are removed from the tubes, this is an essential step. If things are getting rather difficult, tilt the chassis at an angle of 45 to the left and then to the right. This will help the air move through the system. Remember to refill the reservoir as the air is pushed out.

When everything has finished, you will notice that the 2U water cooling system is about 5cm (2") longer than a standard optical drive. Now if there isn't enough empty space between the motherboard and the 2U water cooling bay the installation may not be possible. The black tubes can be easily replaced with the included UV sensitive water tube. The fan on the top glows blue, but I guess you can easily remove it and add something else if you prefer other colors. The speed control knob included it's obviously placed in the wrong place, since it's almost very hard to use it with so many cables at the back. We assume that Thermaltake could have placed it at the front for easy access. The un installation procedure is almost the same, Thermaltake has an installation/un installation video in their webpage that you should check before doing anything.

5. Performance

In order to test the Thermaltake Bigwater 760i we used the following system

The system was installed at the case according to Thermaltake's instructions. We used Arctic Silver III thermal paste to ensure the highest thermal dissipation from the processor. We tried to tighten the screws as much as possible to ensure a  perfect fit between the processor and Thermaltake's waterblock. In Windows XP we used Orthos stress system software for several minutes and via CoreTemp we logged all measured temperatures for idle and load modes. All results are presented below at graph/results tables. Note that we tried the lowest and highest fan speed for the BigWater 760i, while for Intel stock fan we also used the maximum speed (Speedfan management under Bios disabled).

With default settings, we had Vcore of 1.320V

That produced the following results:

CPU Cooler
Average Temperature
Intel stock
Thermaltake 760i Low Noise fan
Thermaltake 760i High Noise fan

While on the average performance there isn't much of a difference, as we better examine the full graph of the processor 's temperatures after running it for 13mins at full load we saw up to 8 celsius difference, especially after using the full (high noise) speed of Thermaltake 760i fan.

Overclocking the processor from 2.66 to 3.60GHz would produce more heat, don't you agree? The Vcore now is approximately at 1.416V in order to keep the system totally stable.

That produced the following results:

CPU Cooler
Average Temperature
Intel stock
Thermaltake 760i Low Noise fan
Thermaltake 760i High Noise fan

While on the average performance there isn't much of a difference, we better examine the full graph of the processor's temperatures after running the test for 23mins at full load. At the maximum load we saw up to 8 celsius difference, especially after using the full (high noise) speed of Thermaltake 760i fan.

The fan is rather noisy even at the lowest rotation speed. Probably replacing it with something less noisy would be a great  idea.

6. Verdict

The Thermaltake Bigwater 760i is designed to be an entry level product for amateur users who wish to get  an affordable and complete water cooling kit in order to assemble their first water cooled PC.

As you can understand the price does matter in that category and you won't get a top or the best all-in-around solution at the price range of $150. The installation procedure is simple and easy even for someone rookie in the water cooling section. Besides the very comprehensible printed manual, Thermaltake has several videos that should be watched before starting anything. After unpacking you will understand that everything is here... You don't need to use nothing else, besides a scissor to cut at the proper length the water tube. The system can be upgraded with several GPU blocks, as we can see in the following picture. So we can say that the system is future proof.

After the positive ones, it's time to mention what we didn't liked. First of all the radiator's fan is..loud! Even at the lowest rotation speed produced enough noise to keep you wonder, who said that water cooling is..noiseless! If you set the fan at maximum speed, then prepare additional noise. Another problem is that the fan speed control knob is not placed at the front of the 2U water cooling bay but at the back. This makes rather difficult changing the fan's speed whenever you like, since you have to dig  for it inside the case between many cables.

Passing to the performance, we hoped to see better results than the ones we got. First of all there is a "flaw" in the design of Bigwater 760i. The radiator is small and its not placed outside of the box, so the already hot air isn't enough to cool down the hot water. That is clearly showed up when we overclocked our Intel E6750 and after 23 minutes of Orthos testing we noticed a gradual increase in water's temperature. We don't believe that this is a problem of the Bigwater 760i but rather a limitation since the system is compact and its placed inside the case. So what's the best you can expect, compared to Intel's stock fan? We managed to see up to 8 Celsius difference at full load, average temperatures may be even lower. It's possible that such performance can also be obtained from an air cooler with less money and installation fuss.

Summing up our presentation, we feel that Bigwater 760i is a good product for entry level users who wish to explore water cooling and give a new look at their boxes. Middle to expert users probably will avoid this product and look for something much more powerful that will keep their overclocked processor cool for good.



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