Quick Disconnect (QDC) liquid cooling has been concepted a few times before. For the enthusiast and DIY market, there’s not been much of an uptake on the QDC quasi-open loop liquid cooling – but there’s also never been a major marketing push. Our CES 2016 visit with EVGA had us hands-on with a quad-SLI + CPU quick disconnect liquid cooling setup, taking from the well-received GTX 980 Ti Hybrid design and expanding into sequential liquid cooling.
EVGA’s roadmap for 2016 includes quick disconnect GPUs, CPU blocks, and radiators, with additional product support in cases, power, boards, and audio. We’re focusing on the QDC components and the case today.
On December 5, we broke news on Asetek's Cease & Desist order sent to AMD, pursuant to the sale of its liquid-cooled R9 Fury X video card. Asetek previously won a suit against Cooler Master USA for its closed-loop liquid cooler products (CLCs), to include the Seidon, Nepton, and Glacer (Swiftech-supplied) lines. The patents primarily discussed are 8,240,362 and 8,245,764.
By judge and jury, CMI USA (Cooler Master USA) was found guilty of patent infringement of the pump-on-coldplate design and ordered to pay 14.5% royalties. Inability to pay-out on its ruled dues ultimately saw a royalties percentage increase to 25.375%, followed by banishment of all affected Cooler Master CLCs from US markets.
This article fully details the relevant legal history of liquid cooling companies, including the rise of Asetek & CoolIT, their patent lawsuits against one another, the recent lawsuit against Cooler Master, and the C&D against AMD's R9 Fury X.
Considering the year is coming to a close, this past week has been one of the most active weeks for hardware news in recent months. Intel's alleged Broadwell-E CPU SKUs were leaked, EVGA's GTX 970 Hybrid – using a CLC like the 980 Ti – was announced, Asetek issued C&Ds to AMD & Gigabyte, AMD moved FreeSync to HDMI, and Corsair shipped its 600C case.
A lot going on, then.
The hot topic has been the Asetek v. AMD C&D, something to which both AMD and Cooler Master have officially responded (emailing us direct statements). We've been following the story closely as it has developed and are actively speaking with involved parties to better understand the full scope of action. Broadwell-E, of course, is big news for enthusiast desktop users, as is the 970 Hybrid's $400 launch.
Learn about all the major stories from the week in the below video:
Friday saw the publication of our report on Asetek’s newly-issued Cease & Desist orders, targeting AMD for its R9 Fury X and Gigabyte for its GTX 980 Waterforce. Asetek, a CLC OEM known best for its provision of Corsair and NZXT CLCs, alleges that the R9 Fury X infringes upon Asetek’s patent for its inclusion of a Cooler Master CLC. The patent, boiled down to its most basic elements, primarily governs Asetek’s ownership of the IP pertaining to pump-on-coldplate configurations.
Liquid cooler supplier Asetek revealed to GamersNexus that the cooling manufacturer has expanded its legal pursuit of products allegedly infringing upon patents. The company has now issued Cease & Desist orders to AMD over the sale of its liquid-cooled R9 Fury X. This news coincides with additional Asetek-dispatched C&Ds that AIB partner Gigabyte halt sales of its WaterForce video cards, a development we predicted would happen in a previous write-up.
Readers following our story on the Asetek vs. Cooler Master lawsuits may remember a call to attention regarding the Fury X's utilization of a CM Seidon equivalent CLC. Gigabyte's newest GTX 980 WaterForce card uses a 120mm CLC supplied by Cooler Master, with the pump mounted atop the coldplate (GPU block). This falls within Asetek's claims regarding its patent protection – and the company holds patents valid for GPU- and CPU-mounted pumps – and Gigabyte could reasonably be impacted by the resolutions set forth by recent lawsuits.
The recent banishment from US markets of Cooler Master's closed-loop liquid coolers has inspired us to research and document major CLC suppliers. In most industries – automotive, technology & computing, bike components – suppliers build a base product, receive input from a manufacturer, and then produce a slightly modified version of their core offering. Liquid coolers are the easiest example and the one about which we are talking today. This topic came about following some readers stating that they'd never seen an “Asetek” or “CoolIT” cooler on sale before.
Corsair, NZXT, SilverStone, Enermax, Fractal, and others sell liquid cooling products. These companies buy the pump, radiator, tubing, and liquid in an AIO (all-in-one) package from suppliers who specialize in the making of such items; the brands we know then provide varying degrees of product input to differentiate amongst themselves. NZXT, for instance, sells the NZXT X41 liquid cooler, a product sourced from Asetek but customized by NZXT. In this case, that customization includes software integration and variable pump speed control, alongside an RGB LED in the pump's faceplate. Even the CLC OEMs will source some of their components from the outside, like radiators.
First, a simple table to reveal suppliers of known liquid coolers in the industry, then we'll talk about how companies differentiate themselves. At the surface, all of this can look like a “sticker operation,” by which I mean it may look as if manufacturers put their “sticker” (logo) on a cooler and then sell it – but most folks do more than that when designing their variant of a product.
Liquid cooler manufacturer Asetek, the company that supplies many of the industry's best-known coolers by Corsair, EVGA, and NZXT, saw victory in a patent infringement case against Cooler Master (CMI) in 2014. In that trial, the jury awarded Asetek a 14.5% royalty on all Cooler Master liquid coolers sold in the US.
Listed on AMD's official R9 Fury X documentation is the liquid cooling solution. The PDF indicates that Cooler Master is slated to provide AMD's Fury X CLC, marked by part number “DCV-01647-A1-HF” in the document.
Cooler Master recently lost a lawsuit with CLC supplier Asetek, where a jury ruled that Cooler Master would owe Asetek a 14.5% royalty on all Seidon AIO coolers sold. We are yet unsure if the Fury X stock CLC will be subject to the same legal agreements as the Seidon AIO units.
It's been a number of years since we posted an in-depth look at CPU coolers. Our 2012 CPU Cooler Anatomy post explained the basics of air cooler design, highlighting the use of capillary action within copper heatpipes to conduct heat from a copper coldplate. Liquid coolers function more similarly to a car's radiator system and yield significantly more efficient thermal performance, but also call some common practices into question – like the efficacy of copper versus aluminum.
The basics indicate that copper does, by any and all scientific measure, thoroughly trounce aluminum when it comes to thermal dissipation potential: Copper cools at about 400 Watts per meter Kelvin at 25C (401W/mK) and aluminum is around half that, sitting at 205W/mK at 25C. That's nearly a 2x difference; for perspective, most stock thermal compound is in the 4-5.6W/mK range, with air (no thermal compound) at ~0.024W/mK.
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