Watercooling has always been a popular enthusiast past-time, and the arcane intricacies of its workings - tube diameters, coolant types, block materials - are details which are quite capable of occupying practitioners for weeks on end, working to create the perfect WC setup.
At the other end of the scale are those companies that seek to make the cooling method a little bit more accessible. With hotter processors and graphics cards becoming the norm, more people will want WC, they suggest, and consequently we've seen kits like this one from Corsair
, which we said was a cracker earlier this year.
With an interest in watercooling renewed by some of the latest insane graphics cards, we're starting to see more pre-built WC kits put together by retailers and specialists using custom parts. Effectively, they are creating a pre-made system out of DIY parts - an interesting compromise between true DIY and the Corsair approach.
One such retailer is Aqua PCs
. We've seen their work in the pages of bit-tech
before, with this outrageous case mod from i27. The guys at the firm really know their stuff when it comes to cooling and modding, and they've created a basic kit PC that we're looking at today based on the sublime - but rare - Lian Li cube, the 343.
, as it is known, takes the 343 cube and outfits it with with an XSPC WC kit consisting of a DC1000 pump, dual 120mm radiator, drive bay reservoir, X20 CPU waterblock and 1/2" tubing all round. All you have to do is add in a sytem, then add water.
The Thor, in the configuration we tested, costs £298
ex VAT, which works out at £350 inclusive. We also had a couple of extras on our machine - a windowed side door at £15 and a dual PSU rear plate at £10. Let's jump in and see what we make of the system.
The case is a massive black cube, double the width of a normal tower case and around the height of an ATX mainboard. It has a massive eighteen 5.25" drive bays, which are replaceable with various bits - there's a hard drive cage that takes up three bays, a 120mm fan mount that takes up another three, etc. We didn't actually get these bits with our Thor, and they are buyable extras from Aqua PCs, which says it will configure the case to your exact spec.
The front centre top has the power and reset buttons and LEDs, whilst the bottom has a user-replaceable bracket for audio and USB. This will take any of those PCI-backplate style expansion brackets, so you can put in anything you want - e-SATA, Firewire, etc, providing your happy to hack the front cutout a little bit.
There are two outwardly visible WC features of the Thor. There is an XSPC 5.25" drive bay reservoir housed in the top right drive bay section, which has a cutout on the front to show you the water level. The 343 has a modular top panel section which you can use either as just a flat piece of aluminium, or there are fan mounts. Aqua PCs has used the latter, and has used the top panel to house a dual 120mm radiator.