DWPG.Com - Review, DangerDen Maze 3 Watercooler
By: Sverre Sjøthun

Introduction

Once again we are dealing with one of the big dogs in the watercooling arena -- DangerDen. DangerDen was actually the first brand watercooler I ever heard of, many years ago, so it was exciting to finally have one of their kits in the labs and take it out for a spin. But before we go on with the review, let’s have a look at what’s included in this kit:

- Black Ice Pro EVO 150.4x128.6x25 mm
- DangerDen Maze3, 3/8"
- Eheim 1048 (600LPH)
- 2 x 120mm fans
- Silicone tubing
- A variety of nuts, bolts, hoseclamps and thermal compund

First impressions

Right after I got this kit, my brother came over for a visit. He went over to the table where I had the parts laying around, just to see what weird stuff I had this time. He always finds it quite amusing to see the stuff I put inside my PC, especially the stuff that involves water. Anyway, he picked up the waterblock, and his immediate reaction was "WOW!". When a more or less computer-illiterate person totally digs a computer part, it has to be good. And to be honest, I couldn't have said it better myself. My first impression was "WOW".


Construction in detail

The radiator is a multichannel type, black anodized aluminum, and looks to be a great performer for its size. Due to it's small size, it should be very easy to place in a mid tower, or even a mini tower. The pump used in this kit is the Eheim 1048, like most of the kits reviewed so far. The pump is really great and has a very low noise level. All fittings are standard barb hose type, and assembling the kit for the leak test took me roughly 10 minutes.

The Black Ice Pro EVO

The Black Ice Pro EVO


The waterblock is based on their maze structure. The flowpath is milled into a solid chunk of copper, and they have added a pattern in the bottom of the waterblock. It looks really cool, and in addition, it adds turbulence and surface area. To further improve the cooling capacity, the inside of the waterblock is sandblasted, giving it a somewhat rough surface which also adds turbulence and prevents laminar flow aka. skin effect.

The finish of the base of the block could have been better. It is obviously hand lapped and there is nothing wrong with that -- but when you see the finish of competing products, it is my opinion that they should have put a little bit more effort into it. There were also small scratches and dents on my sample, or in fact every sample, as I have 5 blocks from them including Maze1, 2, GPU and chipset. All of which has the same, somewhat coarse finish.

The Maze3 waterblock

The Maze3 waterblock


The base of the Maze3

The base of the Maze3


The lid of the Maze3 differs from its predecessors by the use of an acrylic lid instead of the soldered solid copper lid they used earlier. There might be a performance penalty using the acrylic lid instead of copper, but it adds so much more to the visual aspect. The block is sealed with a black O-ring, and the DangerDen logo is sandblasted on top. Very nice. As usual, the retention mechanism is the four vinyl bolts -- an easy and very safe way of securing the waterblock to the processor.


Mounting the kit

The assembly of the kit was done in less than 30 minutes, including the removal of the heatsink, removing old and applying a new layer of Arctic Silver. The most time consuming part is the mounting of the waterblock, since you have to take out the motherboard to mount the four nylon bolts in the four holes around the processor socket. One thing that can be quite annoying is the fact that the nylon bolts provided are too long, and it takes ages to screw the hex nuts on. What I did was to simply cut of the exceeding lenght of the top. Problem fixed.

The waterblock mounted

The waterblock mounted


After that, it's really easy, just make sure to fasten the hex nuts in a criss cross pattern so that you get a nice and even pressure on the processor core. Failing to do so vill result in poor contact between the processor and the waterblock, and thus increasing the temperatures.

The hoses included with this kit are made of silicone, and are very flexible and easy to place, even if your case is crowded. I'm not quite sure what I prefer -- PVC or silicone. PVC is obviously cheaper than the silicone, but I feel that I have a little bit better control over the "bending characteristics" of a PVC hose. When bending the PVC hose, it is getting flatter and flatter, whilst silicone goes from nice and round to completely flat, so if you need some really sharp beds, you might want to use a T or L joint instead.

CoolComputer

CoolComputer's(on top) Vs DangerDen's hoses


The pictue above illustrates the difference between two quality silicone hoses -- one from Cool Computers(on the top) and one from DangerDen (on the bottom). As you can see, the DangerDen is a little bit less susceptible to kinks than the Cool Computers hose, but it's also a little bit less flexible because of the slightly thicker walls. But like I mentioned earlier, this is easily remedied by an L joint.


The performance test

Performance is one of the main reasons why one would invest in a watercooler, and most that consider this as an option are overclocking their systems as well, so we will poll temperatures at various CPU frequencies and voltages to show you how this cooler perform in a real life environment.

The testbed

- AMD Thunderbird 1.4GHz AYHJA stepping
- Abit KG7 RAID
- 2x256MB Crucial 2100DDR, none parity
- 2xIBM 60GXP, RAID0 (disk striping)
- Elsa Gladiac GTS2
- PST 520W triple fan powersupply
- Windows XP Pro operating system

We will during this test look at idle and full load temperatures at different speeds. The first temperature is measured at default speed and voltage. To see the coolers scalability, we increase the multiplier by 1 up to where the system no longer is stable at default FSB (133/266). This is to make sure that all other components apart from the CPU are running at their default specifications. After that, we also show you the maximum speed with both multiplier and FSB tweaked. The core voltage is set to 1.85V except at default speed.

Genome@home has been used to stress the processor. If the Processor is stable at 100% load after one hour of Genome@home, the temperature has been polled.

The temperatures. Degrees above ambient.

The temperatures. Degrees above ambient.


Looking at the chart above, you can see how well the cooler perform at different speeds. At default speed and voltage, the temperature is 11 degrees above ambient temperature at idle and rises to 19 degrees above ambient at full load. The maximum speed attained with this cooler was 1596MHz with the core voltage set to 1.85V, FSB to 137MHz(274) and multiplier set to 12.

All temperatures Celsius

All temperatures Celsius


The chart above show you all temperatures measured. All temperatures are in Celsius.


Conclusion

This kit is so far the "hardest" kit I have reviewed. Or rather, the kit I've spent most time working with. Why? Because the performance didn't quite add up. This is the third AMD block I have recieved from DangerDen, and I never got the kit to perform the way I expected it to perform. I recieved the first block, a Maze2 about 3 months ago, at that time along with a SuperCube radiator. I contacted DangerDen about what I though was a production failure, and together, we started troubleshooting.

It all ended up with DangerDen sending me a second kit, this time their new Maze3 and a Black Ice radiator. Unfortunately, after a number of times reseating the waterblock and reapplying Arctic Silver, the numbers are still more or less the same. Compared to the other kits, this kits has the lowest performance of them all, including the cheap $145 kit from CoolComputers, and the temperatures are as much as 7 degrees higer than the best performing kit at 1.6GHz, full load.

But even though the performance isn't exactly what I'd call stunning, this kit has other, very appealing, qualities. First off, the waterblock looks very cool with it's clear plexi lid, and would look really great in a window modded case. An idea I've had is to drill a small hole in the lid and put a small LED in it. I think that would make for a really nice effect.

Like I touched upon in the initial description of this kit, it wouldn't hurt if DangerDen did something with the finish of the base of the block. And while they're at it sandblasting the inside of the block, why not sandblast the sides as well? When it comes to the retention mechanism, it works very well, but making the nylon bolts about 10mm shorter would make it easier to mount, and wouldn't cost anything at all in the production line.

Furthermore, the radiator is so small that if you can fit a 120mm fan somewhere in your case, you can fit the radiator there as well. This means that with a mid tower or perhaps even a micro tower, you can use this kit. I'll leave it to you to decide if the kit is worth the $185, as it depends what you're after, but if what you're looking for is a high performance cooling solution, there are better options on the market.

Finally, our rating are as follows:

Pros:
- Small
- Easy to mount
- Good design
- Good modding potential
- Cool factor

Cons:
- Not exactly stunning performance
- Nylonbolts are too long
- Hoseclamps are hard to remove
- Finish could be better

I'd like to suggest that you check out our other reviews for comparison:

Part 1, innovaCOOL Rev 3.0
Part 2, Swiftech H202-C
Part 3, CoolComputers Tri-Arc Custom Kit

Finally, I would like to thank DangerDen for providing us with this kit.

Sverre Sjøthun

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