Installation and Performance Testing
For the installation portion of our review, we installed the Vantage into our LGA 1366 test system that features an Intel i7-920 2.8Ghz processor, two MSI GTX 460 graphics cards, Western Digital 160GB SSD, and 6GBs of Crucial Ballistix DDR3-1600 memory. The first item to install is the LGA 1366 backplate. You’ll need to add two adhesive stripes to the backplate so you can secure it to the back of the motherboard.
Push firmly on the backplate to ensure there the adhesive tape secures itself to the back of the motherboard and make sure the mounting holes line up with the holes around the CPU socket.
Next, attach the radiator to a free 120mm fan slot in your chassis. We had one available at the back of our Thermaltake Element V case. We used four screws to secure the unit to the back of the case. Easy stuff.
Next, we cleaned the processor and mounted the Vantage’s waterblock/pump unit using four thumbscrews. We used a criss-cross pattern to evenly tighten down the unit over the CPU. Next, we plugged in each fan into the motherboard to ensure we had power for the pump and LCD.
After only 20 minutes we had the Vantage installed in our test system. Here is the finished product before we turned it on.
The LCD display shone brightly in our case as we tested each of the six available colors shown above. You’ll notice other menu options for making the LEDs pulse as well as changing the angle of the LCD to be read vertically or horizontally depending on how you configure it in your system. We chose to install it horizontally.
We tested the Vantage A.L.C. against several comparable water coolers and one high-end air-cooled heatsink to determine which product could bring us the lowest temps during idle and load testing.
To accomplish our testing, we ran three instances of Cinebench 11.5 and recorded the average temperatures for each of the four cores on our i7-920 processor. We also used SpeedFan 4.41 to accurately evaluate fan speeds, CPU usage, and core temps. For idle testing, we booted into Windows 7 Ultimate and waited 15 minutes and recorded our baseline idle results.
Our performance testing gave us some interesting results to chew on as the Vantage gave us the best idle scores out of our suite of coolers, but it sell behind the Corsair H50 during load testing by a few degrees. The Vantage thrashed our lone air-cooled heatsink, which should tell our readers what they should be using in their rigs if they do a lot of CPU-intensive tasks. As a side note, we did test the Vantage using each performance mode (quiet, performance, and extreme), but the coolant in the Vantage never got high enough for the device to increase its performance during load testing. This is a positive sign for overclockers who need a self-contained cooler that can throttle up when they are trying to break the 4GHz barrier on their own systems.