I recently talked with Allan about the new
gaming systems that we are producing and he felt it would
be cool to give Driverheaven readers a little inside information
about them. All
American Computers has been around for five
years building custom systems. During this time I became
interested in water-cooling and water-cooled my personal
system. After a few years I decided it was time for us to
produce a water-cooled system for the public. AAC launched
this system in 2003; called Poseidon, it
was based on all “off the self” parts including
the case. As a modder and water-cooling enthusiast, I felt
that there was no case that was totally perfect for water-cooling
and that Poseidon’s design was a compromise at best.
I felt this way because when you introduced
all the additional equipment, the system became very cramped
and the system traditionally lost internal space for hard
drives, optical drives, etc. This reduced upgradeability,
made the system harder to work on, and due to the additional
tubing restricted airflow for non water-cooled components.
In 2004 we built “The One”
gaming system for ATI.
The system was shown
on Driverheaven and was at the time the 10th
fastest system in 3dMark.
The system was successful but also very difficult to work
on and manufacture.
to display high resolution images, some software may class
these as "popups"
It was at this time that the idea for LiquidXS
was born. I had been playing with other water-cooled cases
and studied their designs. I came up with a few requirements
that I felt this new system had to have. Here are some of
the things I felt were crucial. It had to be self-contained
with no water-cooling components outside of the system.
The radiator had to intake cool air from the outside of
the case and not the hotter air from inside the case. The
heat from the radiator had to not be introduced into the
case where the system components resided. Routing of the
water-lines had to be simple and not in the way of servicing
the system. The case had to have good expandability for
additional hard drives and optical drives. The majority
of the computers weight had to be low in the case to make
the system more physically stable. The system had to have
good airflow for non water-cooled components and it had
to be low noise.
Finally I felt the design had to highlight
the components and be built using the finest hardware. The
case ran though numerous designs until this year. It was
at this time when ATI contacted AAC about building a demo
machine for the launch of their new 512MB video card technology.
I felt that the time was right to launch LiquidXS and so
the first LXS was created. The case, which we named DeltaT
(as in the change in temperature), was finally produced
in its final form. The case embodied all the design requirements
I had demanded be met. I inverted the standard ATX layout
so that the motherboard was at the top and the power supply
was at the bottom. The radiator, pump and power supply were
separated by a mid-plate in the case to prevent the heat
from the cooling system increasing the temperature of the
hard drives, RAM and motherboard. The radiator intakes air
from the outside and the power supply acts as the exhaust.
In the upper section, the motherboard is inverted and mounted
upside down. A fan intakes air to cool any hard drives and
then it travels across the power regulation of the motherboard
and system memory. The air is then finally drawn out behind
the back of the case. This crossflow movement is very similar
to BTX in format but utilizes current ATX motherboards.
Finally, because the motherboard is upside down, the video
card’s heatsink / waterblock can be seen, highlighting
one of the parts you spend the most money on.
So with the layout complete we came to aesthetics.
If it did not look good then who cares how good it works!
A trademark of AAC’s high-end systems has been
our use of an acrylic case, so this chassis was to be made
of acrylic. In addition we used ultra high quality billet
stainless steel switches with internal LEDs. This enabled
us to omit a standard power LED and hard drive LED as they
were integrated into the switch. We then replaced all standard
mounting hardware inside the case with polished stainless
steel bolts. Finally we offer custom laser etching and 5
standard colors to choose from. Combined with the variety
of coolant colors and lighting choices, each LXS can become
a true custom. In addition, if those options did not fulfill
your vision than custom colors can be produced. An example
of this is the blood red acrylic systems we have built for
ATI’s launch of CrossFire.
These limited edition red chassis with the CrossFire logo
were built by AAC to commemorate the launch of this industry
So with the case complete we spend over 7
hours building each LiquidXS, taking time to organize wires
and ensuring that the system looks it's best. Once construction
is complete, we get the system up and running. This is when
the fun begins. Unlike most systems, every LiquidXS customer
has the option to have their system professionally overclocked.
That means that most LXS systems are faster than the same
system built by someone else. Because we ship the system
overclocked and ensure that the final result is stable,
the system’s performance has been maximized without
voiding its warranty. In this article you can see some pictures
and benchmarks (below) of a LiquidXS that was shipped to
a customer. The system was burned in and stable at these
speeds. It could have run faster, but this was the level
where the best performance to reliability was achieved.
Performance is worthless without stability.
In the coming weeks, we will
be working with Driverheaven to bring a sneak peak of what
it takes to build one of these systems. This will be especially
interesting as this will be the construction of the Special
Edition CrossFire LiquidXS gaming system that ATI
will be giving away free to the public.
As promised, time for some benchmarks
from a custom system built for a customer comprising: