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PolarFLO TT Waterblock

Today we are going to take a look at one of the coolest looking H20 blocks making the rounds amongst the PC water-cooling crowd today: the PolarFLO TT three barb universal water block, available for AMD & Intel based rigs. The block is designed for Intel socket 478, 603, 604 boards and for AMD socket 754, 939 and 940 boards without having to change the mounting plate. For the Intel 775 socket T board there is a different mounting plate available.

PolarFlo

Now, when I say cool I'm referring to the snazzy looking design and the ability to rotate the block for optimal hose routing (more on that later). But, as always, the most important thing is: How cool is the performance? There are a lot of nicely performing H20 blocks out there, each one claiming superior designs and CNC innovations. Let's take a look if the PolarFLO TT is worth the 59.99usd price tag. In this review I will use the trusty DangerDen maze4 [34.95usd] 2 port 1/2" barbed block as my comparison reference.

Regarding the TT's three barb design: The center barb directs the incoming water flow over a column or post that channels the water flow onto the ridged base and so creates turbulence, enhancing the transfer of heat from the copper base to the water. The water exits the block out through the two outlet barbs. The advantage of two outlets over a regular one outlet design is not reported to be so great.

PolarFlo Inside     PolarFlo Outside

One very important note - I tested the PolarFLO TT on a socket A / 462 board (not officially supported by PolarFLO) - so I had to drill 4 new mounting screw holes in the mounting plate to mount the block on the motherboard (Editors note; This can also be accomplished by a custom clip mechanism). So basically, we are going to be looking at the performance of this block on a different platform than the block was designed for. Needless to say, PolarFLO gave us their blessing and wanted us to publish this article (maybe for this exact reason). Of course, I would not urge others to do this experiment - use the block for the intended platforms!

PolarFlo New Holes

Company Background

PolarFLO are a division of the Horse Of Iron full service contract metal shop based in Montana that specializes in service to the robotics, laser and computer industries. PolarFLO offer a few other versions and colors of the TT water-block, including a chrome plated version, that will set you back 86 bucks. Also you can find on their website GPU & chipset water-blocks, fan adapters and other water cooling bits & bobs.

Specs:

Straight from the horse's mouth:

"The PolarFLO TT CPU is the latest in PC water cooling technology. We bring you the best performance at much lower flow rates and at high flow rates. The new design is fully comprehensive and future proof. We decided to take a more feature-rich and performance approach with the TT Series. The features the series offers is unprecedented. The PolarFLO TT Series CPU block is a simple two part design. If you can change the batteries in a flashlight, you can service a PolarFLO TT CPU. The main body of the block rotates to relieve stress and deflection on hoses. All the components are available individually. You can take apart the new PolarFLO TT CPU to clean, modify or interchange parts."

-2 part design for easy assembly and disassembly
-Designed for processors with Heat Spreaders (Semi-Super Finished to lower cost)
-High performance heat transfer geometry (diamond machined flat to 0.0003"
-0.0005" with a 0.000009" surface finish)
-Low flow resistance
-Easy cleaning and resealing
-Low profile (great for ever-shrinking PC systems)
-Universal mounting plate fits AMD socket 754, 939, 940 and Intel socket 478, 603 and 604
-(Not for use on AMD socket 462) [We know better!!!]
-Universal mounting plate has intrinsic spring force for uniform mounting
-Future proof (when a new enhanced performance copper base is released you may purchase only the base)
-100% Interchangeable parts (available separately)
-Unique mounting system allows 360 degrees of rotation to relieve hose stress (kinking)
-2 port or 3 port configuration
-Threaded copper base for uniform assembly force (assembly does not distort base flatness)
-Uses Posi-Seal barbs and plugs (ensures positive sealing every time)
-3 two tone colors (red, blue and black)
-Chrome plating available
-Made in the USA!

The PolarFLO TT block is made of three parts: The base, the mounting plate and the top part that the barbs are threaded into. To change your mounting plate or install a new base you will have to detach the top part from the bottom part, as the mounting plate is sandwiched in-between. The PolarFLO TT block was VERY hard to get open. After struggling with it for 15 minutes, I decided to give up less I did damage to the barb threads by slipping with my plumbers wrench. This is not to say that it's impossible to get apart - but make sure you have good plumbing tools and quite a bit of elbow grease.

Packaging and first impressions:

PolarFlo Box

The PolarFLO TT arrived in a spartan small white cardboard box (peanut-foam collectors may be a little disappointed) that contained:

4pcs 6-32 x 2" screws
8pcs Nylon Thumbnuts
8pcs Nylon washers
Printed installation instructions
1pc Y-splitter (for 3 barb versions)
5pcs hose clamps
1pc Water-block

PolarFlo Bundle

The water-block itself was in a soft foam wrapping to prevent from scratches etc. After removing the wrapping I was surprised to find the copper base lapping not nearly as nice as I would have expected from PolarFLO - the machining markings were clearly visible and slightly uneven to a gentle fingernail test. Also there was a stain on the copper base, which I assume was a reaction of the copper coming into contact with acidic water or some other chemical.

"You, sir, may have been the contaminator", you could be thinking, but that's unlikely since I noticed the stain immediately after opening the block's wrapping - these copper stains do take quite a few hours to develop (go test it on granny's ornamental copperware). The pictures I think speak for themselves.

PolarFlo Stain

On the brighter side of things, the PolarFLO TT looked very solid and I was eager to start the installation and testing.

Installation:

If you have been around the block a few times with water-cooling PCs you probably will have learned quickly enough that installing water-blocks that are mounted using threaded screws, inserted from behind your motherboard, require you to remove your motherboard from your case to get this done.

Personally, after being tired by this time consuming little ritual the 2nd time around I was switching out a water-block, I decided to Dremel out a nice oblong portion of my computer case's motherboard mounting tray (backplate) behind the CPU area, (measuring carefully to make sure I made clear access to the 4 mounting holes) - the payoff: I never have to remove the mobo from the tray anymore to remove my water-block.

Homemade CPU Cutout

Having said this, the PolarFLO TT is the kind that will require you to get access to the rear of you mobo for installation. All the supplied hardware fitted nicely and I had the PolarFLO TT mounted in a matter of minutes - But then I had a nagging feeling that the block was a little tilted. Finally I did remove the motherboard from the case and found that indeed - the copper base is not flush with the core, but is raised at one side by part of the plastic CPU socket. After checking 2 more socket A motherboards (ABIT, ECS) I had on hand - it proves that the Socket A / 462 motherboard's cannot be 100% compatible to the PolarFLO TT's footprint.

After checking that the copper base had a square imprint from the thermal grease I had put on the CPU core - I felt confident enough to give it a try anyway, knowing that cooling performance will be impaired. Also - out of concern that the copper base would not be touching the L bridges I inserted an insulating shim on top of all electrical circuits.

Another little snag was the 3 barb design does not leave too much room to secure your hoses with the provided plastic hose clamps. I opted for my own thinner metal screw tightened worm clamps.

The ability to swivel or rotate the block to accommodate your hose routing is simply great! This way you ensure your hoses look neat and do not restrict water flow by excessive bends. I definitely think this feature is where the TT outdoes the competition.

PolarFlo Mount

One reminder: There are no springs supplied with this block, so take care when tightening the thumbscrews not to apply too much non-symmetrical pressure on your CPU core (crunches should be limited to morning cereals and pro football): The incremental cross tightening method is highly recommended here!

PolarFlo Mounted

Performance:

The PolarFLO TT was not lapped in order to reflect 'as is' performance. After saying that - I do recommend taking an extra few hours to lap a copper base which on visual inspection is seen not to be as good as it could be.

System specs:

ECS K7VTA3
Athlon XP 2100
Win XP Pro+ SP1
1GB DDR333 Ram
Hydor Seltz L20 Pump with 1/2" fittings
1986 Chevette Heater core with 1/2" fittings
No reservoir used

PolarFlo Graph

I would like to thank PolarFLO for providing us this TT water-block for site review.

Pros:

  • Good cooling performance
  • Attractive design
  • 360 rotation to smooth out those hose kinks
  • Will work on Socket A motherboards with minor modifications

Cons:

  • Copper base finish not as good as expected
  • 3 barb design has little space for hose clamps

Added: October 20th 2004
Reviewer: Gozlandog
Score: 8  
Hits: 11894
Language: english

  

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