During CES, we saw a few very interesting technologies and even fewer unique and new technologies that made us rethink our idea of technology and where it may be going. Captherm's multiphase cooling solution did just that when we were able to talk to them at length about the technology and get the full low-down of how their evaporative cooling solution works. Their multiphase cooling solution is designed to be one that eliminates many of the concerns of watercooling and simultaneously makes it more effective in terms of cooling and space taken up. Don't be deceived by its familiar look and shape with many air coolers, this thing is nothing like any air cooler or water cooler before it.
The Captherm MP1120 is a multiphase or phasechange cooling solution that takes a specially formulated non-conductive coolant that evaporates at a very low temperature and then condenses back into a coolant again through the heatsink/condenser. This is accomplished entirely without any moving parts or any electricity and is a fully passive cooling solution when used with chips under 40W TDP, beyond that an additional fan or fans may be required. With fans included, the MP1120 is capable of cooling up to 300W of TDP and does so with minimal to no noise, depending on the fans that are used.
Captherm does all of this without any moving parts or added electricity (other than the fan and LED) and can operate completely independent of electricity under 40W as stated before. This is accomplished thanks to their unique fabrication process which took them 5 years to develop and utilizes explosion welding, CNC machines and tig welding to enable a completely hermetically sealed solution. They claim that their solution is capable of operating for at least 25 years without requiring any maintenance, which cannot be said about water cooling solutions from their competitors. Here you can see how they actually use C4 explosives in order to explosion weld the aluminum, stainless steel and copper together to improve their heat conductivity.
In fact, we were even able to get a piece of the welded trimetal in our hands and took a picture so that you can see what explosion welding looks like. They also use tig welding for the window of the cooler to guarantee an absolutely hermetically sealed solution that you can still see the phase change in action for yourself. Obviously, who wouldn't want to see such a cool technology in action, especially when properly lit with a color changing LED.
We also got to see the cooler in action at CES 2014 with the bubbles actively cooling the non-conductive coolant. A lot of press have been incorrectly calling this a watercooler or referring to the coolant inside of the MP1120 water, but the truth is that not all liquids are water and not liquid-based cooling is actually liquid cooling. The thing that sets this cooling solution apart from the rest is that it does not simply pump the coolant (or water) from the hot base where the CPU is generating heat to the fins in the radiator. The MP1120 has a unique coolant that has a very low boiling point that allows it to evaporate quickly into the top of the condenser that then cools down the vapor into a liquid form again and runs back down to the bottom of the cooler allowing for a cool liquid to keep the CPU cool.
The cooler itself states a cooler performance of 0.11 C/W even though I believe we'll need to test such an aggressive number ourselves. They state the thermal design power or TDP to be 275W, but I believe they say 300W in other places and have stated 300W before. The weight is a paltry 575 g or 1.26 lbs (much ligher than almost all liquid and air cooling solutions out there). Is capable of no noise under 30W although we've heard 40w and that figure still needs to be nailed down. Their MTTF is 10 years even though I suspect that number may be a conservative one considering its completely passive nature. I also do not believe that the cooling fan is incorporated into this number, so if you do use a fan it will likely be lower but it will not necessarily cause a failure of the cooler itself, it will simply run much hotter. It does, however have a built-in USB controller for the RGB LED and for thermal event management, which is Windows compatible.
They even have a performance chart where they claim to be far more effective at cooling than some of their competitors, like Corsair.
Captherm expects to sell the MP1120 between $199 and $249, even though the price is not quite set yet. As I always say, cheaper is certainly better, especially when you consider that most water cooling solutions are now around $100 or less and already deliver pretty good cooling performance for most current generation CPUs. I'm not quite sure how many DIY builders will spring for one of these when building their own systems at $199 unless they can prove they're far more efficient in higher thermal loads, like with an Intel i7-4960X or AMD FX-9590. Hopefully we'll be getting one of these coolers in our lab soon and we'll test it against our Corsair and NZXT water cooling solutions. They will support both AMD's AM2/+, AM3 and FM1 and FM2/+ sockets as well as Intel's 1155, 1156, 775, 1366 and 2011 sockets, for complete and full support.
I suspect, however, that this cooling solution may be attractive for system builders and other types of system integrators that want something reliable and efficient and allow for fully passive cooling at lower TDPs. I mean, I could totally see there being a market for this cooler in silent system builds that use something like an Intel Core-i7-4765T or a slightly underclocked AMD Kaveri A8-7600 APU. The possibilities for this technology in servers are also endless with such a high MTTF of 10 years which means that they can continue to use these coolers even as their CPUs die or as they relegate the servers to other duty. The aesthetics of the MP1120 are undeniable and the performance is clearly something that needs to be measured and we're excited to see if all of this unique technology combined together will deliver us into a new age of high-end CPU (and GPU?) cooling.
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