I had the opportunity to test and review a new piece of hardware from Waffer, the PC AirCon PAC 400,
generously provided to us by 3DCool.
This device is essentially a peltier cooling system, which the company terms as bringing the idea of "Air-Conditioning System" into computer
cooling. Does this idea really work? Yes, with a but. In the process of the review, I discovered several issues that lead me to believe
that this device is not for everyone.
Package and Requirements
The Waffer PC AirCon PAC 400 was packaged very well. It contained the following:
PC AirCon PAC 400
PAC 400 Bracket
3 Long Self-Tapping Screws
6 Short Self-Tapping Screws
The AirCon requires an additional 52 watts of power to operate. This would appear to be a rather steep requirement. It means that a 350 watt power
supply is required in your system to provide enough juice for the AirCon to operate. I would think that anyone looking to cool off their system more
than the average user would already have a larger power supply, so this should not be an issue.
The AirCon Bracket takes up a 5 1/4" drive bay slot. The bracket has a locking mechanism which locks the AirCon in the bracket so it cannot be removed
until it's unlocked. With the AirCon installed in the bracket, it takes up one slot above and one slot below that drive bay slot. The design allows for
the AirCon to be hot-swappable. This gives the user the ability to load the AirCon directly above or below a drive, remove the AirCon to change discs, and
replace the AirCon for more use. It's quite a clever design.
Just Makes It
The AirCon has three settings. These are off, fan, and snow. Obviously, off is off. Fan turns on the bottom fan, and blows air into the case. Snow turns
on both fans. It also turns on blue LED's, which don't do anything for the cooling, but they improve the appearance of the device.
I tested the AirCon in 2 separate cases to see the range that the device would handle. The first system is a full tower modded case with an Antec TruePower 430
(400 Watt) power supply, and an ABit nForce2 mobo with an overclocked Athlon 2800+. The case already had what I would consider to be excellent fan cooling, with
4 intake fans, and 4 exhaust fans.
Full Tower Case
Full Tower Case Results
I know why the temperature did not drop, but I do not know why the Fan or Snow raised the CPU temp. The temperature did not drop because the case is basically built
to be two boxes stacked on top of each other. The top box contains the power supply, the 5 ¼” drive bays, and the exhaust fans. The bottom box has the 3 1/2" drive
bays, the mobo and cards, and the intake fans. Thus, air flows from the bottom to the top. With the Waffer installed in the top, the air never has a chance to get
to the lower “box” of the case.
I figured that this might not be giving the AirCon a fair shake, as most people own mid-tower to mini-tower cases. So, I took the AirCon and the Bracket, and installed it
in one of my mid-tower cases with the Antec power supply and a Soyo Dragon mobo with an overclocked Athlon 2000+. The case had what I would consider to be normal fan cooling,
with two intake fans, and one exhaust fan.
Mid Tower Case
Mid Tower Case Results
The AirCon made a difference in this case just by having extra air intake. Since it's a mid-tower, and I placed the AirCon into the lowest 5 1/4" bay, the air should have been
blowing directly at the CPU. There were definite temperature advantages to having the AirCon installed and running in the mid-tower case.
The idea that the AirCon docks in your PC while you're using it and is removable to access the drives that it may block is a good idea, if it works. I found it to work a majority
of the time, except in a certain circumstance. I had read somewhere that it might have an issue with the hot-swappable feature, so I ran some tests on it.
In my mid-tower case, I removed the AirCon, flipped the switch to fan, then snow, then fan, then off. When I placed the AirCon back in the bay, my machine instantly powered off.
I pulled the AirCon out of the socket, and tried to reboot. Nothing. I thought I might've blown my power supply or something. I switched off the power supply. I then unplugged
the power supply from the wall socket, then plugged it back in. When I turned the switch on on the power supply, the machine booted itself up. I placed the AirCon back in the socket,
only to have the machine shut itself off again. I then locked the AirCon into the bay, switched off the power supply, unplugged the power supply, plugged the power supply back in,
switched the power supply back on, and the machine came back on immediately. At that point I stopped trying to hot swap the AirCon in my mid-tower. I was afraid that I might damage
the hardware or hose the operating system.
Take It With You
I like the idea of having an air conditioner in your PC. I think the advantages of this device are that it really reduces the temperature in the right type of case, which would be
mid-tower. Unfortunately, this device really doesn't work well in a full tower case. I would expect that the noise level could be brought down with different fans, and the issues
with the hot-swap-ability should be fixed in the next version. Overall, the device is attractive, and does what it is supposed to do if you use it in the right type of case. I can
recommend this device to those who are primarily concerned with cooling, but I cannot recommend this device for gamers due to the amount of noise that it puts out. The noise from the
device can drown out the sounds from the speakers. Although I didn't test it, I'd suspect the noise could almost down out the Flowmaster Exhaust sounds from my car. Well, maybe it's
not that bad. In any case, Waffer is on the right track. Expect better cooling devices from them in the future.