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CoolIT Boreas MTEC Chassis Review

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AkG

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CoolIT Boreas MTEC Chassis Review



Manufactures Product Page: CoolIT Systems - Boreas MTEC™ Chassis
Availability: Now
Price: Click Here to Check Prices
Warranty: 1 Year


Over the past few months we have taken a long, hard look at most of CoolIT’s product line and for the most part we have come away with very positive experiences. Whether you are talking about the ultra quiet PURE or the powerful Elite one thing is for certain: they are built with quality and an eye for customer service which is very rare these days. It is actually for this last reason that I accepted CoolIT’s latest offer, with strings attached. With most companies, if said company is unwilling to permanently part with a piece of kit then that usually tells me a lot about their commitment to their line. However, as this is only a “rule of thumb” there are exceptions and CoolIT is a perfect example of it.

That being said the product we are reviewing here today is very expensive and the time and care which went into its creation is a testament to CoolIT's commitment to the consumer. Even though this wee beastie is a loaner that does not mean I am going to treat it with kid gloves and it will be tortured just as hard as any other piece of kit. By now you must be curious about which of CoolIT’s product I have been alluding too and if you have guess the “Boreas”…..you would only be half right! Today’s review is on none other than the Boreas MTEC Chassis.

The BMC as I will refer to it in this review is a customized Silverstone TJ07 which has a Boreas built into it, making for an amazingly powerful one-two punch. When it comes to chassis, Silverstone are some of the best products around which even put my beloved Cooler Master 830 Stacker to shame. This makes it the perfect cocoon for one of the most powerful retail hybrid coolers on the market today. If this combination of beauty, power and strength has a weakness it has to be the cost of the Boreas MTEC Chassis. This unit is available directly from CoolIT and a select few other online e-tailers and goes for about $800 dollars with a pair of GPU blocks and a single CPU block. However, CoolIT will completely customize your Boreas to your own needs if you order directly from them so we are reviewing a slightly different version with only a single CPU block. Pricing for this configuration came to about $800

With any unit this expensive the biggest question you have to ask yourself is: “Is It Worth It?”; hopefully by the end of this review we will have given you more than enough information to make an informed decision for yourself.

So without further ado lets start the review!

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AkG

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Specifications

Specifications


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Packaging & Accessories

Packaging & Accessories


As with all our reviews we like to start off with the packaging as this is the first impression any customer is going to get from a given product; more over it can give you a lot of insight into where a given product “fits” into a manufacturer's lineup. The more important a product, usually the better quality and care is taken with the packaging, while this is an over simplification and there are numerous exceptions to this observation (thus we can’t really call it a “rule” per say) its still a good place to start. Exceptions or no, the Boreas MTEC Chassis is a perfect example of this observation as it comes in a down right amazing package.

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Its funny but when the courier showed up to deliver it our first impression was one of absolute shock. You see, we were originally expecting a Boreas unit, and not the Boreas MTEC chassis! So while we were expecting the box to be bigger than the Elite’s….we were not expecting it to be big enough for two kids to make a fort out of.

The next shock came when the driver got down out of the truck and then very carefully lifted it out and place it on the ground. He was doing it this way as it comes with a “heavy weight” warning label and I'm guessing he didn’t want to throw out his back. Yes, this thing really IS heavy.

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It is unfortunate that photos don’t give you a great sense of size or weight as this is not only a heavy case; it’s a frickin’ monster. The amount of protection is quite amazing and it offers the BMC more padding than a room in a mental institution. Since there is a LOT of mass to protect the box is not made from cardboard; rather, it is made from corrugated plastic and is made by Benson Box.

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CoolIT really went all out when they spec’ed out this box as it not only a monster protector it is also extremely easy get access to. In our experience, the more protection afforded a product, the harder it usually is to open. In all reality, all you really have to do is undo to long and large Velcro strip located on each side of the box and then slide the top off.

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When you do slide the top part off you are afforded your first awe inspiring look at the internal packaging. We say awe inspiring as all four sides and the bottom are covered in extra thick (approximately 2 inches) low density foam. To keep the chassis from sloshing around in side the box a divider is also placed on one side to immobilize it and to offer even more protection.

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As this product is really two units in one we will be taking a closer look at both the TJ07 custom chassis and then the Boreas. However, before we get to the chasis lets first go over the list of accessories which accompanies this unit; or to put it bluntly : what kind of swag does $800 get you? The short answer is more than enough with a even a few surprises thrown in. You get the MTEC controller, mounting brackets for both AMD and Intel 775 systems, Nvidia and ATI GPU mounting brackets, an MTEC manual, quick start manual or basically everything which comes with the Elite model plus brackets for your GPU. Most Boreas units are set up to cool the GPU as well as the CPU, but as we were interested in seeing just how powerful the Boreas was without complicating the results our test unit was set up to cool the CPU only.

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This was a very well-rounded accessories list and we would have been more than impressed if they had just thrown in a bag of screws (and standoffs) for the case and a the manual for the TJ07 and called it a day. However, this is a Canadian company which prides themselves on customer service and satisfaction, so the accessory list also includes an additional PSU bracket (for mounting a larger PSU horizontally instead of vertically) and a 24-pin extension cable for your PSU’s 24 pin motherboard cable. As befitting a serious piece of kit CoolIT did not include any case badges or other goo-gaws which seem to be so prevalent these days. Don’t get me wrong I like seeing nick-knacks in the accessory list but putting case badges or “Evil inside” style stickers would sully the good looks and somehow denigrate this marvel of engineering. On behalf of HWC we would like to thank CoolIT for not succumbing to peer pressure and keeping the accessories elegant, and simple.
 
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AkG

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Exterior Impressions

Exterior Impressions


If you have never seen or handled a Silverstone case, it really is hard to explain how well constructed they are. Quite honestly, Silverstone cases are some of the best out there and this TJ07 is no exception.

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The TJ07's clean nice lines with those curved racing lines on the top really transform this from being just another boring “beige box” (or in this case black box) into something which looks like a fine piece of sculpture. Besides its good looks the fact that its made from some of the thickest, ultra heavy duty metal gives it a presence which is almost palpable. When this brooding monster is a room, your KNOW its there!

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Good looks and quality construction are all well and fine but those masters at Silverstone take it to a whole new level by flexing their engineering prowess on every aspect of this enclosure. Unlike most cases the TJ07 is partitioned internally to maximize cooling zones while minimizing heat build up. As you can see from the side profile, the bottom of the case has two fans whose sole job is to cool your hard drives. Above this you have another hole cut in the Plexiglas and grilled over where the Boreas’ first fan sucks air from outside the case, over the Boreas’s massive heatsink and ejects it out the side of the case (the other side has another fan which does the exact same thing, making for a heck of a lot of air being exhausted out the case).

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Of course cooling zones are all well and fine but this is an expensive kit which most people will rightly want to show off. To this end this chassis has a huge side window which affords you a great look at the inside. While lots of cases have side windows, very few companies get it right and either go with a really wimpy ultra thin Plexiglas or the way they mount the Plexiglas to the metal side panel leaves a lot to be desired in the elegance and looks department. Luckily, the Boreas MTEC chassis suffers from neither of these issues, Silverstone uses an ultra thick (yet crystal clear) window of Plexiglas and the mounting of it is neither garish nor flimsy. Heck, they even took time to bevel the edges of the ‘glass so as to even further reduce the possibility of any sharp edges.

Then next thing which separates a really good case from the rest of the herd is the side door itself. To be more specific, the material it is made out, the thickness of said material and even how the door itself locks or attaches to the case. The entire TJ07 case is made from aluminum which varies in thickness from 4-8mm. Its thick, its heavy and you can forget about minor dents and dings as this sucker is strong.

Unlike many other doors which rely on swings, this side door relies on the old, tried and true method of multiple latches which allow you to slide the door in to lock it in position. A lot of cases which use this method (including my own Stacker 830) cheap out on the material and every time you slide the door in place you’re afraid its going to bend one of these little suckers. Well you rest assured this will not happen with this door on this case as those latches are made of the same thickness as the rest of the door and in fact when you slide the door in place it gives a very reassuring clunk which reminds this reviewer a lot of a the older Volvo’s or even a Volkswagen.

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To further lock this side door in place you screw in not one, not two but four knurled thumb screws. This actually is one of the few nits one could pick about this case, as these are same thumb screws which come with all TJ07s. For a retail case these thumb screws are a very nice touch, but for a custom piece of kit these rather small screws are bit of a pain to use. If your hands are on the petite size than the TJ07's standard screws will be of no problem to you but we would have really liked to have seen them be bigger.
 
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AkG

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Exterior Impressions pg.2

Exterior Impressions Con'td



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The front of this unit is probably the one area where the Boreas TJ07 differs from a regular TJ07 as this customized version has only room for three 5.25” drive bays. This may be considered a negative by some, but for most people 3 bays should be more than enough room for future expansion. As you can see, the front panel is very clean and devoid of any garish or extraneous goo-gaws which are found on some other models. Some manufactures think that an expensive case needs lots and lots of bells and whistles, where as I prefer the simplicity and elegance which Silverstone is so well known for. Please don’t get us wrong all the standard features like USB, headphone and power buttons are there its just that this TJ07 has a very clean look to it.

These clean good looks are in part do to the fact it only has 3 free drive bays, but what is more important than this number is how the unusable space has been covered up. In a cheap custom job the drive bays which are occupied by the Boreas would just have blanking panels over them. However, CoolIT in their normal perfectionist M.O. instead had a custom front done up and the metal which the front is made up. I am sure this was not a cheap option as it means a whole new front has to fabricated for their product but this really does underscore how much time, love and attention to details CoolIT lavishes on all their products.

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As we continue our walk around of the case, we come to the other side panel. This side panel is not just a flat slab of a metal panel as you find on some cases, rather it plays an important role in the internal air flow (aka Fluid Dynamics) of this case. As with all TJ07s, the bottom of the case has another mesh portion which usually allows the hard drive fans to exhaust hot air out the side of the case. As mentioned earlier the Boreas Chassis has two exhaust fans for the TEC unit so this other side panel needs an extra vent or mesh grill or some other means of allowing hot air out of the case (otherwise the internal temps would skyrocket from all the hot air the Boreas “produces”).

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This is another great example of CoolIT taking the time to go that extra mile and not only keep the elegance and good looks of the TJ07 but to actually enhance them. As we said, they could have simply stuck another fan grill here or had some holes punched and this would probably have been acceptable. However, instead of taking the easy (and cheap) way out CoolIT went for the full meal deal. As you can see CoolIT cut a hole which is just big enough for the exhaust fan to sit flush with, and yes it does then have a metal grill protecting it. They then went ahead and had a another piece of that extra thick Plexiglas mounted around it so as to turn what could have been an eye sore into an asset. This level of quality and level of fit and finish really makes this a true custom job and goes along way to explaining the cost of the unit. Work like this takes time to do and it more importantly it takes skilled labor who are not being rushed to do this consistently from chassis to chassis.

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The top and bottom of this unit are typical to all other Silverstone TJ07 cases. This is not a bad thing as you get very neat and down right beautiful lines on the top as well as more of the high quality mesh hiding two 120mm top intake/exhaust fans, as well as some really good and sturdy feet. We merely are pointing out the top and bottom to give you a full 360 view of this amazing piece of kit; but also to highlight that CoolIT’s engineers know when to NOT mess with perfection.

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The back of the case is just like the top and bottom of the case as it has not been modified by CoolIT. At the top you have where the motherboard resides and next to it are two 92mm fans (as with all TJ07s all fan locations come filled and ready to go!). While it would have been nice to have seen 120mm fans here, it is really not necessary as there are plenty of great 92mm fans on the marker today, Two 120mm fans on top and two on the back should create more than enough air flow to keep even the hottest, passively cooled motherboard happy.

Continuing down the back you have room for your peripherals and a large rectangle stamped opening to allow for passive air movement. At the bottom of the case you have room for two power supplies, but if you are going to use two, make sure they are the older style which cools from front to back and not the newer style which sucks air in from a larger top-mounted fan.
 
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AkG

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Interior Impressions

Interior Impressions

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Before we get into the inner workings of the interior of the Boreas MTEC Chassis, lets start with a good old fashioned shot of the case so you can get a good feel for what it looks like with the side case off. The Boreas cooling unit really is that big and it does take up a good chunk of real estate; luckily the TJ07 was designed with watercooling in mind the Boreas fits nicely without making too many compromises.

In the next section we will take a close look at the BOREAS setup, but for now lets concentrate on the case and see how user-friendly it is (or is not).

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In most cases it would be an unfortunate oversight to have “only” 92mm fans as the exhaust fans; however (and is becoming a reoccurring theme in this review) this unit is the exception. The standard TJ07 is marketed as a watercooling case and as such the exhaust fans don’t have to cope with all the heat created by the CPU (nor the video cards in most instances). These fans are there to keep the motherboard itself and all its relatively hot running parts cool in a normally low airflow environment.

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Of course, not everyone will want to go for the setup with GPU blocks et al and may want to have only the CPU taken care of by the Boreas (like we did). For all these customers CoolIT (via Silverstone) have included dual 92mm fans on the back and dual 120mm fans on the top. More importantly, Boreas itself -which sits basically in front of the GPU's location- sucks a lot of air out of the case. This means even passively cooled graphics cards should have enough air movement to keep them nice and cool. All in all it’s a brilliant setup which should keep a wide range of customers happy with their new purchase.

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As for the fans themselves lets start with the 92mm fans. These 92mm fans are Silverstone branded and are made by Martech. While not much is known about these fans, one thing is certain: if Silverstone is willing to put their name on it they must be good. The Martech DF0922512RFMN, is a 9 bladed fan which is rated for 2100rpms and a low 23DBA. We usually like to see these fans mounted with vibration dampening material rather than screws, but the amount of vibrations these created resulted in very little additional noise. Please don't get us wrong, they do make some additional noise, but even if you used vibration dampening material the fact of the matter is these 92mm fans are not overly quiet. They are probably quiet enough for most people, but they would be one of the first things we would replace if we were building a custom case for high end systems.

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As mentioned before this chassis comes with four 120mm fans, two of which are for hard drive cooling. These two fans intake fresh air from behind the bottom mesh, sucking air over the hard drive(s) and then exhaust said air out the other side of the case. The top two fans can either suck air in from above and deposit it inside the case or suck hot air from the top of the case and blow it out the meshed top vent holes.

All four 120mm fans are the same fan; unlike their 92mm brethren however, these Silverstone branded fans are made by Everflow. In this instance all four fans are 9 bladed Everflow F121225SL (AKA Silverstone FN121 fans) which are rated for 48 CFM, with a mere .91mm H20 static pressure at 1100 RPMS. On the bright side, and unlike the 92mm fans, these are fairly quiet fans which do their job with aplomb and really don’t need to be replaced until they wear out.

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Focusing in on the peripheral slots (aka “PCI slots”) the very first thing which stands out is that rather than gimmicky “tool free” plastic clips or other similar setups, you have good old fashioned metal brackets and screws. Technically, this is a tool free setup as CoolIT / Silverstone have upgraded the screws to more of the knurled screws found on the outside.

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When we zoom on over to the 5.25” bay drives, things are not as rosy as once again there is no tool-less mounting contraptions; nor is there any of those screwdriver-less knurled screws. If you want to install an optical drive you first have to remove a couple of screws and yank out the metal blanking plate then push in your drive and screw it in…just like we had to do back in the dark ages of computers (circa late 1980s). Would a bunch of those thumb screws added much to the cost of the unit?
 
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AkG

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Interior Impressions pg.2

Interior Impressions Cont.



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On the positive side, the hard drive bays are nicely laid out and extremely easy to use. To remove one of the two bays, one has to removed both side panels, then unscrew the mounting screw (which is captured screw and thus can’t easily be lost) and slide the cage forward and then up. Installation of a hard drive is once again a retro affair in which you slide a hard drive into one of the three locations and then screw it in. This does make for a very secure mounting setup but if your hard drive is a loud / high vibration model (like a Raptor) it will turn this cage in an oversized tuning fork. Of course, the fan on the front of the cage actually helps here as its making its own vibrations and they actually cancel each other out very nicely.

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When it comes to a chassis, everything else is minor since it is the motherboard area which will make or break a good case. In this instance the motherboard area is a mixed bag of excellent execution and god awful mistakes.

Lets start with the bad. If there is one thing system builders have come to expect it is a well laid out and marked motherboard tray. It doesn’t matter if it is stamped into the metal or silk screened on but a good hole layout with easy to read instructions has become the de-facto standard and yet Silverstone has overlooked it. This motherboard tray can handle just about everything from extended ATX to mATX and anything in between so there is a whole bunch of standoff holes in the metal and yet nary a one is marked! This isn’t a big deal and if this was a $50 product it could easily be forgiven but in this case it can't. This is a custom rig and yet CoolIT has stumbled over the smallest and minor of things. If CoolIT is going to put their name on a case they had better be ready and willing to fix any minor annoyances like this before it leaves the shop.

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One of the great things about the TJ07 is that the motherboard tray is removable and yet is securely held in place with numerous thumb screws. This makes for a very easy and user-friendly setup. With some removable motherboard trays the tray to chassis lockup is rather sloppy and the tray can actually vibrate in day to day operations. Not with this one though.

The motherboard tray itself slides in and out of the chassis via two nicely formed metal rails. The only down side to this setup is that metal is grinding against metal. This is another area CoolIT could have stepped up and customized the TJ07 with small low friction tape or even low friction plastic inserts to make this more smoother. This is nit-picking but it still is something we would have like to have seen on our $800 device.

Taken as a whole this really is a great case, just one that has a few nits which need to be picked. Nits or no, this still is a great chassis and was a very good choice for CoolIT to have made. Are there better cases which could have done just as good a job? Maybe one or two, but either way this case in its current configuration definitely goes a long way towards justifying the Boreas MTEC Chassis' price tag.
 
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BOREAS Up Close and Personal

BOREAS Up Close and Personal



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Where this model is called the Boreas MTEC Chassis, we were expecting the Boreas to be the star of the show, and boy we were not disappointed! For anyone who has never had the privilege to own or even touch one of these beasts, it truly is hard to properly describe it to you. The experience is almost visceral in nature and is a lot like trying to explain the colour blue to the colorblind. While it may be impossible to do the Boreas justice, we will do our best to accurately deconstruct the Boreas for you our reader; just be aware the Boreas is a great example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.

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Unlike previous models which are modular and / or drop in pieces of kit, the Boreas in the MTEC Chassis is mounted the chassis in two separate and distinctive parts. The smaller part is of course the pump to the rear of the BMC. For all out eagle eyed readers out there, yes this is the exact same pump as used in the Elite….and the PURE; however, unlike those models, this one is bolted to the actual chassis of the case. This makes for a very solid mount which should help keep the pump balanced and help reduce vibrations, but there is a small but also distinctive down side to how CoolIT has decided to mount this pump. Even the most quiet and stable of pumps (which this one is) makes a certain amount of vibration which in practical terms means noise.

To counteract this, many watercooling aficionados use rubber mounting rings and / or vibration dampening mats underneath the pump so these errant vibrations do not get past on the case (which can turn the case into one big sounding board!). In this instance the pump is just bolted right to the case with no such efforts done to counteract these vibrations. On paper this sounds like a big deal, but in practice this is a very quiet pump which didn’t make much noise. However, when our DVD drive was active, and the side panels were off this combination did create a lot of sympathetic vibrations which were very annoying to listen too. The lack of silicon washers (etc.) is a small nit, but it was conspicuous by its absence, especially given the price point of this unit and its “flagship” status.

One could also make the argument CoolIT really did take the amount of noise a given pump would make into consideration when they spec'ed a sub 1 gallon per minute pump for this unit. To us this is not a good argument to make as this setup has a lot of flow restricting parts and whole bucket load of tubing to force the fluid through. We can only hope this is in fact a case of CoolIT properly specifying a powerful enough pump for the Boreas and just reusing it on the lower models (PURE, Elite, etc.) due to economic reasons.

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The fluid restrictive parts we are referring to are none other than four TEC blocks, Just as we saw on the Elite model, each of these blocks house 3 TECs (or Peltier Cooling blocks, for a good overview of these we recommend re-reading the Elite review); or to put it another way this bad boy has a grand total of 12 of these cooling beasts harnessed into one giant loop.

One strange thing about these 12 TECs is the CoolIT website lists their maximum power draw as being only 130 watts. We say this is strange because this only works out to 10.83 watts per TEC; whereas the 6 TECS on the Elite model are rated for 72 watts or 12 watts each. The simplest explanation is the website is wrong and the Boreas TECs are not really running at less than full potential; the more unlikely option is CoolIT has intentionally hobbled their flagship product and these TECs are not set up to the give their maximum performance. If this is the case we have to wonder if there is a “golden screwdriver” option in the works where by simply plugging in a new and improved MTEC controller (say with two PCI plugs) you will be able to “upgrade” the Boreas to a “Boreas Elite” for example.

A lot of people have asked about what coolant CoolIT uses for fluid and instead of getting in a rather technical discussion on the merits of various fluids on the market I am going to let Mr. B. Olde’s answer on their forum describe what they use:

“….Many cooling companies praise the capabilities of their magical coolant whose ingredients could never be disclosed.

Despite said marketing buzz, there really isn't a whole not to good coolant. We use 25% propylene glycol (low-tox antifreeze) and 75% distilled water. That's it. Seriously…..”

Certainly, nothing fancy but then again the KISS rule does apply when it comes to longevity. After all, it is one thing to use an exotic coolant in a loop which can (and will) be flushed bi-yearly; its another thing to use a coolant which will break down over time in a sealed unit that is expected to last for years. Since the neoprene tubing does not allow light and the anti-freeze additive is also a fungicide you do not have to worry about alage (etc.) eventually blocking the tubes.
 
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BOREAS Up Close and Personal pg.2

Boreas Up Close and Personal Con'td



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To transport this low-tech fluid from part to part in this fairly complicated loop (which gets a heck of lot more complicated if you have dual GPUs being cooled as well as the optional Northbridge and Southbridge blocks) CoolIT has once again opted for neoprene tubing which appears to be exactly the same as the Pure and Elite model's tubing. It may seem overly restrictive but our past experiences with the Elite has disabused us of this notion.

Could it be bigger than ¼ ID? Yes, it certainly could but if past experience is anything to go by, this should not make a noticeable difference to this unit performance; and at the end of the day this all that matters. On the positive side, and once again just as with the Elite and Pure models, CoolIT has wrapped the tubing in anti-kink wiring so you can rest assured that unless your really work at it you won’t kink it while trying to mount the CPU block. Also on the positive side is the tubing is (once again like the PURE and Elite models) held in place with heavy duty steel pinch clamps.

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The heatsink of the Boreas is a much larger and better appointed affair than the one we saw on the Elite. However if you squint your eyes and tilt your head you can see the family resemblance. In a nut shell the Elite’s heatsink is about 1/3 the size of the Boreas’ unit but shares many of the same underlying characteristics and engineering pedigree. Unlike the Elite which was for all intents and purposes a half moon style heatsink with a fan stuck over the opening, the Boreas is a long tube of circular metal strips which are spaced evenly apart.

The circular opening at both ends is the perfect size for a 120mm fan and this is exactly what has been placed at each end. The 4 TEC housing units which are evenly spaced apart (90° apart to be precise) are mounted to the outside of these strips (with a TIM-like material between the two to increase surface contact) and as the TEC's hot side (which is facing the heatsink) heats up, these metal rings in turn heat up and conduct heat away from the TEC. The beauty of this setup is the two fans are both sucking air out of the heatsink and thus are forcing a huge amount of air past those heatsink metal rings (in excess of 200CFM). In fact so much air is moving over them the Boreas does not require and heatpipes to keep the TEC housing units downright frosty. This really is damn fine engineering as there is nothing flimsy to bend or break and the TECs themselves are the only real weak link (and with 12 of them you could lose a couple and not notice any difference in your CPU temps!).

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The only possible downside to the Boreas setup is the fans have to be pretty heavy duty with as high a static pressure as possible. Luckily, CoolIT once again went with the exact same part as seen on the Elite.

The fan that they chose is none other than the Panaflo FBA12G12H-1BX. This hyrdo-wave bearing fan is rated to move over 104CFM (CoolIT states it's more like 110 but when you get into numbers that big who's counting?) at its rated max speed of 2500rpm. More importantly than this impressive CFM is the amount of Static Pressure this 120x120x38mm fan produces; what we are talking about is a nominal .267 inches of H20 of static pressure (that is a jaw dropping 6.78mm h20).

This is all well and fine and is certainly impressive but what truly makes this fan a winner is the fact that it is speed adjustable. When CoolIT's coolant is comfortably at or below its coolant zone (say THAT three times fast), the fans can idle at only 40% of their rated capability. This makes the Boreas both extremely powerful when it needs to be and yet be very well mannered and quite quiet for most of its power curve.

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The base of the Boreas’ CPU water block is not only perfectly flat but also perfectly polished. Yes for the first time we were actually impressed with the polishing level on a CoolIT product. In fact this is polished so nicely and so professionally you could actually use this thing as an emergency mirror and get your “shave on” at LAN party (or alternatively momentarily blind that griefer three stations over).

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On a side note this block comes with TIM already pre-applied in a nice thin and even layer; however to keep things as even as possible for the testing phase of this review we removed this TIM and used only Arctic Cooling MX-2 on all CPU cooling solutions.
All in all this was the icing on top of the cake and perfectly highlights why the Boreas is their flagship product….now if only they started polishing all their products as well!
 
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AkG

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Close Look at the Boreas MTEC Controller

Close Look at the Boreas MTEC Controller



The MTEC controller unit which ships with the Boreas is the exact same unit as the one we took a look at in the Elite review. This little black box is not only where all the power for the TECs, pump and fans is routed from but also it directly influences the noise and performance characteristics the Elite. This is accomplished via the LPC2141 microcontroller chip.


The LPC2141 is an ARM7TDMI-S based high-performance 32-bit RISC Microcontroller that among other things has an integrated USB 2.0 Full Speed Device Controller. This chip is what allows the MTEC software to interact with said controller allowing you to not only override the factory default settings but also customize said settings until the unit is tweaked to what you consider perfection. If you want the utmost in cooling performance you can set up a set of advanced parameters so low that the unit will do 100% all the time to meet them. Alternatively, you can have this system stay whisper quiet right up to the point where it will perform just like a stock air cooling CPU cooler. It all comes down to your needs and how you want performance.

adapt_sm.jpg

The MTEC controller uses a standard 6 pin PIC-E cable to power the controller and the most of the Boreas. However, since 6 pin PCI-e cables are limited to "only" 75 watts you also have to plug in a 4 pin molex connector. This is simplicity itself as CoolIT includes the all in one adapter which is nothing more than a standard 4 pin cable (which feeds the Boreas TECs) with an additional two wires feeding into one end with a Molex plug on the end. This provides all the needed power for the Boreas' TECs and keeps the unit running smoothly...without any nasty side effects like cable getting so hot from the power draw they glow!

All in all, the BMC continues to validate our initial impression that this is one well crafted kit. Though the we still have the two most important sections to go. It may look good and be crafted from the finest quality components but a unit is only as good as its ease of use (or no one will want to use it!) and its performance. Lets find out how user-friendly this rig really is!
 
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