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2CoolPC Turbo Cooling System
I'm what you might call lazy and that's why I'm a big fan of things like USB, Plug and Play, and anything that promises to be easy to install. I want to have a cool running computer but I want to do it with the least amount of effort. I want all my cooling devices to be 5 minute installs with minimal tools. I don't want to expend the effort to remove the factory heat sink from my K6-2 400, but I want to overclock. There are so many "I want"'s in this paragraph that you'd think it was Christmas time. South Bay Engineering, like Santa, has answered my wish and made the 2CoolPC Turbo and Plus. This device lets you add directed airflow cooling to your case with only th effort of plugging in the fan and sticking down three velcro tabs.
Both the 2CoolPC Turbo and Plus are basically a plastic shell, which for some reason reminds me of a musical instrument, and a 92mm fan. We all know fans spin and blow air, but what the plastic shell does is allow about 25% of the air to continue its forward motion toward your PCI/ISA slots and takes the other 75% and directs them in the general area of your video card and processor in an ATX case. The Plus version comes with a fan rated at 50 cfm/2700 rpm and the Turbo a 60 cfm/2900 rpm fan, both are double ball bearing type fans.
The plastic ductwork feels like it is made of the same stuff that packages your Star Wars action figures, is 12 1/8" long and 3 11/16" wide at the fan. The curved section is 1 7/8" wide and in some cases may prove to be a problem that I'll mention later. The unit is 6" tall so be prepared for the location of the out-flowing air to vary depending on what size case you use. If you are using a mini or micro ATX case the duct will dump the air directly over your cpu assuming you can fit the device in your case. Users of larger cases will see more airflow in the general area of their video card. South Bay Engineering states on their website that the 2CoolPC won't fit in Compaqs, and some other big name cases but they are in the works developing a new design for them.
Installation and Benchmarks
I must admit that installing the 2CoolPC Turbo is easy enough for my dog to install. Simply take the three velco pads and stick them on the bottom of the device. When you put it in place the other half of the velcro will stick to the case and remain there assuming you don't have a half inch of dust carpeting the case bottom. In fact, I found that using the device seemed to turn my case into a vacuum bag, collecting unheard of amounts of dust on the fan blades and in the fins of my heatsink. Now plug in the familiar molex power connector and close up your baby. The cooler fit nice and snug in my Enlight EN-7230 17" mid-tower case blocking the stock side vent slots, but the other case I was going to test in proved to be too snug and the cover could not be put back on. The other case, which I think was an In-win, had taller SCSI and SoundBlaster Live! 5.1 cards which left the duct bulging out the case side. This computer could have really used the extra cooling too as the motherboard temp is usually 38 celcius, thats right, not cpu but motherboard.
For testing I used my everyday system with Hardware Monitor Pro keeping tabs on the temps. Hardware Monitor has a cpu idle feature that I turned off for testing and I used CPU Stability Test to heat things up from idle.
As you can tell this computer is nothing extravagant and it's normal temps at idle are rather vanilla. I didn't put motherboard temps in the chart simply because they stayed at a constant 25 to 26 C no matter what cooling I used. As for fan noise, the difference between my normal 3 80mm fans and adding the Turbo wasn't even noticeable, so fear not the noise police.
Since these numbers didn't seem all that exciting, I now unhooked all the extra fans in my case leaving the cpu and power supply fans only. With this round of tests I found that with my fans silenced, the Turbo was indeed a little louder than the Plus. Things were pretty scary as I watched my idle temp rise to 50 C and I wasn't sure I wanted to load the cpu, but since AMD K6-2's are cheap I went for it. Now thats more like it, a four degree celsius drop simply by adding one fan, but the Turbo still behaves identically to the Plus. Still, one single fan/duct has pretty much replaced two fans with only a two degree increase in average motherboard and cpu temps to show for it.
>> The Verdict
Somehow I expected more from the Turbo based on the reputation and previous reviews of the Plus. I was startled and even double-checked that I had the correct unit installed when I was benching the Plus as its load temp was a half degree cooler than the Turbo. I can only assume that the difference in fan cfm didn't affect the efficiency of the device. Honestly, I appreciate the 1.5 degrees I gained using the Plus and considering my case size my video card may have been enjoying more cooling than anything else. I did notice I could up the clock speeds for the graphics core about 6 or 7 more Mhz with the devices in place without any artifacts visible but my hopes were to drop all the temps by a appreciable amount. My results with all my extra fans killed revealed that this one device can indeed replace the two noisy fans that I was running.
If you decided that you absolutely need one of these and you don't have the stomach, tools, or energy to cut blowholes or just get inventive with your fans, go ahead and get the Plus as opposed to the Turbo as I had little difference between the two, it's cheaper, quieter and the fan is rated for a longer life. Just remember to measure your system first. Find the tallest card you have in the bottom six inches of your case and measure to the edge where the case cover rests. If it is less than 1 7/8" then this product isn't for you. If you already have a Plus and insist you want even more air, go buy a better fan and pop it into the duct yourself instead of buying a whole new unit. Overall the 2CoolPC Turbo is an average product but I give it an E for effort.
Rating: 6/10 SystemLogistics
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