I recently found out about the MainGear EPIC 180. It is a sealed water cooler made by CoolIT and sold exclusively by MainGear (a custom computer builder in the U.S.). Originally their intent was to only include it in their high end Shift systems.
I emailed them to check if they were willing to sell one without a computer, and as luck had it, they just had a meeting and agreed to sell it as a standalone unit. The price was $199 plus some hefty shipping charges. They quickly made a new link in their online store. Since this link has since been taken down (to be updated with a new one in the future, when they have install documentation and other retail things figured out) I must be one of the first people to have gotten my hands on one of these, so I figured I'd give it a brief write up.
The unit is made by CoolIT, and is in CoolIT's ECOII line (the same line that is now sold as Corsairs H60, H80 and H100 units). Corsair does not sell the 180mm version though, It is a MainGear exclusive.
Here is the unit as it arrived:
This thing is bigger than the pictures make it appear.
The fin arrangement looks pretty typical from what I have seen on other radiators like this. Due to its size there's just A LOT more of them.
It comes with pre-applied paste, just like previous sealed coolers I've seen. I'm undecided whether to use as is, or get some of my own (like the Shin Etsu everyone talks about) to make sure I have the best paste possible.
As you can see it comes with this offset bracket. I have been told this bracket allows it to fit without modification in the Silverstone Raven RV01 case, but unfortunately it would not fit without modification in my RV03 case, as such I decided to drill out the rivets and take off the bracket.
Corsair H50 (120mm), meet MainGear EPIC 180 (180mm)
Not only does the EPIC 180 have more than double the area, it also appears thicker!
Here is a comparison of the swept area of existing sealed cooler sizes:
Single 120mm: 14400 mm^2
Single 140mm: 19600 mm^2
Dual 120mm: 28800 mm^2
Single 180mm: 32400 mm^2
So, if the EPIC 180 can maintain the same effectiveness per sq mm of swept area, this unit ought to beat the newest dual 120mm H100 from corsair and Asetek's upcoming unit which it has announced will be launched through a partner.
Some testing from MainGear/CoolIT seems to suggest the same thing:
For comparison purposes, the CoolIT ECO II 240 is identical to the unit sold as the Corsair H100.
So, for me to install this thing, I had to modify my case a little bit as the motherboard tray protrudes out over the 180mm fan, and as such it wouldn't fit.
I also decided to set it up in a push-pull configuration, so I got a Silverstone FM181 fan to push air in, and I am using one of the existing Air Penetrator fans from my Silverstone RV03 case as the pull fan.
I decided to cut along the red dotted line (and behind the motherboard tray) to make space for the cooler. I did this using a small hack saw. Since the areas circled by the blue dotted lines are where the motherboard tray is attached, the motherboard tray becomes a little bit flexible after this cutting. I compensated for this, by screwing in hard drive mounting brackets on the right to act like support beams. Once the motherboard is installed, it doesn't wobble at all.
Here it is all installed:
I covered up the ugly cut metal with black electric tape folded over to the other side.
If you use an FM181 fan like I did, don't forget to attach either the rheostat or the shorting cable to the rheostat connector. If you don't the fan defaults to its lowest possible setting (not enough power to even start spinning) and it will have you scratching your head and wondering why your temps are so high.
So here are the results (at 100% fan speed)
Stock: AMD Phenom II X6 1090T at stock clocks (3.2Ghz) and stock voltage
OC: AMD Phenom II X6 1090T at 4.0Ghz. BIOS set to 1.4275V (HW Monitor reads 1.53V)
Ambient: AC set to 20C / 68F (can not explain 19C idle temps possibly temp sensor slightly off)
Prime95: In-Place Large FFT's (Max Heat and stress) 6 threads Run for 30 minutes. Max temp seen recorded
Intel Burn Test: Maximum Stress Level (using ~14GB ram) Run for 15 Minutes. Max temp seen recorded.
H50: The H50 was configured in a push-pull configuration with the included Corsair fan pushing in cool air from outside the case and a Scythe SY1225SL slipstream fan pulling.KEEP IN MIND:
The H50 had been in my system for over a month. Its thermal paste had already been broken in. The EPIC180 was freshly installed. While stock pre-applied paste was used, AS5's directions state temperatures can go down by several degrees after the 200hr break in period.
I'll post an update to this test in a couple of weeks to see if the temps have improved at all.
Seeing that at 100% a stock Phenom II X6 1090T (3.2Ghz) ran Prime 95 at 33C, I'm wondering how well this unit would do fanless for non-overclocked systems. I will test this in a followup to this post.
At 100% these fans are a little louder than what most SPCR members would like. If I manually adjust them down in speed though, they become practically inaudible. I unfortunately do not have a DB meter to test how loud they are though. Since the CPU very rarely is fully loaded, the fans can be spun down and be very quiet most of the time. In this thread
I asked (and got an answer) on how to control these 3 pin fans from the CPU 4 pin PWM connector in order to use smart fan monitoring based on the on die temps. I plan on getting a couple of the Sunbeamtech Rheosmart PCI Fan Controller
units to accomplish this.
It was a little bit of a bumpy install due to having to mod my case to fit it, but I am happy with this unit. I believe them when they say it outperforms the Coolit ECOII 240 (essentially the same as the Corsair H100). Once I have the sunbeamtech fan controllers this computer will be both fast and near completely silent (the Asus EAH6970 video cards are near silent as well, unless heavily loaded), just like I like it.