Waffer PC AirCon PAC 400

Aug 12th, 2004 | By

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Waffer PC AirCon PAC 400

: 08/12/04 – 05:36:01 AM


: Cooling

Page 1 : Introduction

Waffer Technology


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When we were contacted by Waffer Technology, a thermal solution designer unheard of by our staff, they presented us with details on a type of 'PC Air Conditioner'. Curious as to how well such a solution would work we were able to get one in for examination and some early testing.

I don't expect many readers to know who Waffer is. They are part of a larger company who has been in business for more than fifty years initially specializing in manufacturing of plastic injection products. In the early 90's they then expanded into magnesium alloy injection molding and by 2001 had established the division we are focusing on today.

The mission of the division is to construct a platform with innovative thermal concepts, advanced manufacturing technologies, highly flexible production modules, and customer-oriented service attitude. With such platform, engineers from Waffer Thermal Division will be able to cooperate with customers closely to develop, design, and manufacture next generation thermal products.

Various desktop CPU coolers, chipset heatsinks, customized heatsinks, and heat transfer devices designed and/or manufactured by Waffer Thermal Division are now on the market. The response and feedbacks from customers are nothing but great. To keep and maintain the great success up to this point, a high standard has been set for all Waffer thermal solutions and service: leading in design concepts, leading in manufacturing technologies, leading in thermal developing trend, and last but not least, leading in customer satisfaction.

With some background behind the company established that brings us to the product at hand. As mentioned, it is a type of air conditioner for the computer called the
PC AirCon PAC 400
. Lets have a closer look…

Page 2 : Package

The PAC 400 came shipped to us from Waffer's headquarters in Taiwan. At the time of this writing, the packaging has not been finalized and so we were shipped the unit in a plain cardboard retail-like package (everything seems in place minus the outside cover and graphics).

Inside this package were the following:

PC AirCon PAC 400
PAC 400 Bracket
Self-Tapping Screw (3, M3 x 12L)
Self-Tapping Screw (6, M3 x 6L)
Fuse (5 x 20 mm L; 5.0 A)
The base unit is what does all the work. It weighs in at about the same weight as most heatsinks you would find for CPUs. While most of the unit is going to be concealed inside the bracket, there still leaves a major buldge on the end. This could possibly block extra bays which I will show later.
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The PC AirCon PAC 400 is the main item in the package. It is what houses all circuitry, TEC, and the HSFs.
From the side of the PAC 400 you can see vents which aid in the airflow through the top heatsink where the hot side of the TEC resides.

It is also visible the 'line' where the unit sits outside of the bracket in much the same way an air conditioner might sit in a window.

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Looking down the end that would sit inside the computer one can see the fins from the bottom heatsink that extend from the cold side of the TEC. With 'snow' mode on this heatsink works by removing heat from the incoming airflow.
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A look down where air is exhausted.
The bracket that Waffer uses to mount the PAC 400 into the system provides a means to easily remove and attach the cooler. The PAC 400 fits snuggly into the bracket and gets it power from the inside connector that draws from a 12 V rail. On the front of the bracket is also a switch to lock/unlock the cooler.
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The PAC 400 Bracket; installed into a 5.25" bay, it provides a dock for the PC AirCon PAC 400.

Page 3 : Specifications

The following specifications were provided by Waffer:

Dimensions: 250 (L) x 131 (W) x 129 (H) mm
Net Weight: 805 g
Color: Silver Grey + Dark Black
System Cooling Power (SPC)*: 80 Watts
Cooling Structure: Thermoelectric chip, heat sinks, fans (4600RPM/37 dBA)
System Power Input: 12 V
System Power Consumption: 48 Watts
System Operation Requirements: System PSU – 350 Watts preferred

*System inside/outside temperature difference at about 7°C

The PAC 400 makes use of a thermo electric chip and two heatsink/fan combos on either side of the chip. Thermo electric chips (thermo electric converters/TECs) work by harnessing the Peltier effect. The Peltier Effect occurs when a current is passed through two dissimilar semiconductors (n-type and p-type) that are connected to each other at two junctions (Peltier junctions). The current drives a transfer of heat from one junction to the other. The effect can be used as a heater or cooler by simply reversing the direction of the current. Further information on the TECs can be found here.
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When in 'fan' mode the bottom fan is fed power and pumps ambient air into the system. When in 'snow' mode the TEC, lower fan, and upper fan are all fed power and pump cooler than ambient air into the system.

Page 4 : Installation

For those that like to read the manual you'd find it a bit short in it's current state. The pages are one-sided and there are five of them not including the front cover. While I doubt there would be much need for more detail than was given, there are areas where FAQs and troubleshooting could be added just in case something goes wrong for the end-user. The manual I recieved wans't final however and looked like an in-house print job.

Installing the PAC 400 is very simple, but where you choose to place it could influence the cooler's effectiveness. The ideal place to install the PAC 400 would be in a lower bay, but not many cases allow this so I tried them both. You can see in the following pictures where I placed the unit for testing. Between finding an open bay, screwing in the bracket, and plugging in a free 12 V rail there isn't a lot to installation.

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For purposes of testing and with the hopes of attaining the best results possible with the power supply used I've used a 12 V with no other devices attached. With the unit drawing between 48 and 53 Watts of juice it's probably be a good idea. Below you can see just how things look like powered up and running.
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Fan mode; note the LED reading the air temperature it brings into the system.
When the snow mode is turned on you not only get cooler temperatures, but also a bit more noise and the added blue LED light emited from the top fan. You can also make out in these shots the air temperature the PAC 400 is supplying to the system. The lowest temperature I caught the snow mode reporting was 18.2° C and the fan mode reported results in the lower 20's of around 22° in my 23° temperature room.
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Snow mode; again note the LED reading the air temperature it brings into the system.

Page 5 : Benchmarking

Testing the PAC 400 was done in a manner that would reflect a more typical users setup. My original setup was a dual Athlon XP system with five hard drives running. While the PAC 400 was only able to deliver a degree or two less in temperatures in this setup I felt it was far from ordinary.

The tests were conducted using the following system specs:

Control Setup:
Pentium 4C 2.4 GHz @ 3.2 GHz
Zalman CNPS7000A-AlCu
OCZ 2*256MB PC3200 DDR RAM
Maxtor 60GB 7200RPM Hard Drive
Abit IC7-G i875 Motherboard
Hercules 8500LE Video Card
Coolmax 400 W Power Supply
SilverStone SST-B032FW Case
Windows XP Pro SP1 + Latest Drivers, Updates

System Cooler:
PC AirCon PAC 400

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What I did to test the PAC 400 was let the system rest on a particular test setting in idle for approxamately an hour, sometimes more. Then I would record the idle temperature of both the system and CPU and procede to load the system by running RC5-72 and Folding@Home simultaniously for an hour. After that hour was up the load temperatures were recorded and the next test setting implemented and the process repeated. Temperatures were taken with Abit EQ 1.1.1.

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The results of the cooling effectiveness are good, but not great. We can see that the CPU temperature has been slightly lowered in the case where 'snow' mode was enabled and the unit was in the lower bay. This was the most optimal setup as it benefitted the airflow of the case and components. Moving the unit to the top shows smaller gains and could actually cause temperatures to rise in certain parts of the case when measured with a temperature probe (note however, in that case I had been using my dual workstation and had the unit in the very top bay).

I honestly wasn't expecting much in terms of CPU temperature drops and indeed that was the case. Lower system temperatures achieved with the PAC 400 have a larger effect on stabilizing a system that was running just a bit to hot previously rather than allowing users to reach for the stars when overclocking.

Focusing our attention on the draw the TEC has on the power supply shows that indeed it would be a good idea to have a high wattage and high quality unit in your system. Using Motherboard Monitor (accurate to .05 V) the rail voltage was recorded during use of the off, fan, and snow modes. The off and fan yielded equal results of 11.86/11.92 V fluctuation and the snow results yeilded fluctuation between 11.61 and 11.73 V; quite a drop.

Page 6 : Conclusion

What we have here is something that may have excited you the same way it did me. The thought of a total system cooler is very lucritive. Unfortunatly there are too many flaws found in he
PC AirCon PAC 400
from Waffer Technologies for me to confidently give it my recommendation for use in the average Joe's computer.

However, the PAC 400 is able to effectively lower system temperatures by a number of degrees; something that many pay extra money for with high-end CPU coolers to do to just their CPU alone. The effect of cooling a system temperature is one that affects all components. Not only would one be able to expect greater stability and improved product life, but also there's the chance to push for more performance.

Because the system temperature is cooler all the active fans in your system from the GPU, northbridge, to the processor are all drawing from this cooler air and that's the big advantage to this approach.

The negative effects this particular product has is that you are blocking up to an extra two bays. On top of that, when the 'snow' mode is on the noise level becomes particularly loud. Imagine bringing your CPU cooler out from your case and sitting it by your power button – that's what it sounds like.

So overall I am fortunate that Waffer gave us this opportunity to look at the fruit of their labor. They assure me they are continuously working on improvements and I offered them some of my own suggestions in ways to increase the cooling capability further. For now though, as it stands, the PAC 400 would make a good improvement to a hot running system. If you're looking for a product to boost your overclocking headroom it's not here, but we can hope for that in future products from Waffer. Right now the only other attempt to cool the system as a whole has been done by Asetek by way of phase change cooling – a costly venture targeted at servers and mission critial systems. Right now Waffer is looking at a possible $80 price range for the PAC 400.

I'd like to thank the people at Waffer Technologies for all their help with this review and supplying the part for testing.

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