Review: Larkooler SkyWater 330L Liquid Cooling System
Larkooler is PC DIY brand established by a group of Taiwan research team to provide the best cooling solution at an affordable price tag. Recently, we have been given a chance to take one of their latest creations on a spin, in the form of the SkyWater 330L. First and foremost, big thanks to our friends at IDEAL TECH PC SDN BHD for sending the liquid cooling kit for review.
The Larkooler SkyWater 330L features a variable speed pump and fans. You could configure the pump and fans to run at lower speed if you want a silent operation; or increase their speeds to obtain the maximum cooling performance. The 240mm radiator offers larger dissipation area to take care of the heat generated by modern processors.
Retailing at RM 449, how does the SkyWater 330L fair against other watercooling kits which include Corsair H100i (RM 449), Thermaltake BigWater 760 Pro (RM 499), and Thermaltake 3.0 Extreme (RM 399)? Let’s check it out in our review!
Suggested Retail Price: RM 449
The Larkooler SkyWater 330L is packed in a white coloured box with blue accents. There is a beautiful picture on the middle of the box showing some of the major components that come with the package. Across the top of the box there are some labels showing various of compatible CPU sockets thatare supported by the SkyWater 330L including Intel’s LGA 2011 and the AMD’s AM3+. Going down you will see a diagram illustrating the suggested loop setup in common casing followed by some labels showing the key features of the liquid cooling kit.
The back of the retail packaging is still dominated by white colour. Here, Larkooler explains further about the main features of the SkyWater 330L which include silent operation, efficient VR pump and reservoir, high performance water block and radiator, adjustable fans and upgrade ability.
Unboxing the outer packaging you will find a clear 3/8″ tubing, which is 1.6m total in length. The tubing is made out of polyurethane and is specified to run at 50°C maximum temperature. The rest of the components including the documentation are packed nicely in their own separate compartment.
Emptying the box reveals a complete set of liquid cooling components as shown in the picture above. You will get the pump and reservoir combo, radiator, CPU waterblock, backplate and mounting kits, barbs, tube clamps, wrench, thermal paste, fan splitters, and a bottle of pre-mixed blue coolant. According to specifications, the coolant is made by 95% of water and 5% of propylene glycol. The 500ml coolant would be just enough for single time installation so we advise you to be very careful when filling your loop: do not to spill too much! After completely filled our loop, we got only 50ml left of the coolant included.
A power supply jump start connector is included to allow you to power up your PSU for bleeding process without needing to power up your system. This is an alternative to have external power supply for your pump for initial system test.
The CPU waterblock comes pre-installed with a pair of 3/8” OD barbs. Larkooler made the waterblock out of copper with micro structure fins. Out of the box, the CPU block is pre-installed with Intel mounting. You could swap it to AMD mounting by using the included Allen key. Backplate is included except for Intel’s LGA 2011 socket which does not need a backplate to work.
Next up, we have the VR pump and reservoir combo unit. The pump is adjustable from 3600 to 5300rpm via a potentiometer and draws power from a 3-pin fan connector. Bleeding process is made easy with the tank attached directly on the pump. The tank holds up to 250ml of capacity of coolant which should help bleeding the air bubbles. There is an LED light between the pump and the reservoir that glows white whenever the loop is running.
The 240mm radiator is made of aluminum fins and copper tubes with dimensions of 285mm X 124mm X 35mm. Larkooler includes a pair of radiator holders to install the radiator outside of the casing. This is useful if your casing’s interior is running out of space.
Larkooler provides a pair of 120mm fans that use black frames and white blades. There is no information of the actual manufacturer for the fans. The fans are adjustable from 1000 to 2600rpm via a potentiometer and draw power from 3-pin fan connectors. Larkooler claims that the fans have an airflow up to 100.4CFM, static pressure up to 4.81mm H2O, and noise level up to 41.6dBA at maximum fan speed.
Installation appeared to go smoothly thanks to the included user’s manual. We started assembling the SkyWater 330L by installing the backplate onto the bottom side of the motherboard using four sets of bolts, plastic washers, and nuts.
Application of thermal paste was next. There are a variety of methods of thermal paste application, but I prefer the spread method which involves spreading the thermal paste as thin as possible to give an even layer covering the whole CPU’s integrated heatsink (IHS).
Next we positioned the CPU waterblock over the processor and gently lowered it, twisted it backward and forward to spread the thermal paste evenly. The CPU waterblock was then secured with a set of thumbscrews. It is important to tighten the thumbscrews with an even pressure from each side to another to get optimum heat dissipation between the CPU and waterblock.
After putting everything into the place we then cut the tubing to the right length, secure it with tube clamps, and fill the loop with the coolant. During bleeding process, we used the included power supply jump start connector to power up the pump without running the motherboard. It took us about an hour getting the loop out of air bubbles, we’ve done the installation and ready for testing.
Test Setup & Methodology
During the benchmark testing, we used Intel’s latest processor, namely the Core i7-4790K “Devil’s Canyon” clocked at 4.0GHz and with a 4.4GHz Turbo peak. It was then overclocked to 4.6GHz with a supplied voltage of 1.232v. We used RealTemp v3.70 to record the CPU core temperatures. Benchmark wise, we run Prime95 v27.9 coded with AVX libraries for maximum heat output. Prime95 will stress all four cores and eight threads to 100% usage, which will help us to understand how hot this processor can get with each cooler in worst case scenarios. It should be noted that the ambient temperature during the testing was 33°C, in a non-air conditioned room.
For comparison purposes, we put the Corsair H100i, Thermaltake BigWater 760 Pro, Thermaltake 3.0 Extreme, and Intel’s stock cooler for testing on the same test bench. The fans and pumps were set to run at full speed to give the maximum cooling performance, except for the Corsair H100i which was strictly controlled by the motherboard. Let’s see what the Larkooler SkyWater 330L kit is capable of…
The benchmark graph above showed that the Larkooler SkyWater 330L liquid cooling kit beat the Intel stock cooler, Corsair H100i, and Thermaltake BigWater 760 Pro, while the i7-4790K processor was on stock clock. The Intel stock cooler is no match to the SkyWater 330L when it was outperformed by a huge margin of 34°C. The SkyWater 330L performed similarly with the Thermaltake 3.0 Extreme.
When the CPU was overclocked to 4.6GHz, the SkyWater 330L did well once again in the competition when it beat all other watercooling kits, although by a small margin. Intel’s stock cooler couldn’t handle the heat properly when it easily got hot and hit the CPU’s Tjmax of 100°C, resulting in thermal throttling and causing an unstable overclock.
Thoughts & Verdicts
The Larkooler SkyWater 330L liquid cooling system delivered a good performance as far as keeping temperatures under control. There is a plenty of hardware included in the package to get it installed. At first glance the hardware looks pretty normal for any entry-level watercooling kit at this price range. With that being said, you can’t compare them with higher-end kit which offers higher price tag. With the ability to upgrade, the SkyWater 330L offers opportunity to add a GPU block into the loop in the future. You can also upgrade the CPU waterblock and radiator later on.
Installation is fairly straight forward, and the instructions provided in the user’s manual are easy to follow. The downside during installation is that the tubing and coolant included are just enough for one-time setup. Our setup for example, we have about 10cm left of the included tubing so you better measure your loop’s length properly before cutting off the tubing. The 500ml coolant also leaves us no chance of any spillage. Other than that we found that the tubing used is very stiff and very sticky to the barbs. Once fitted into the barbs, you would have trouble
In the cooling performance aspect, the SkyWater 330L performed well in comparison and to be honest I’d say it did surprise me. I always thought that the Corsair H100i and Thermaltake 3.0 Extreme will put it to blown. It beat all of the coolers in the competition which include the Intel stock cooler, Corsair H100i, Thermaltake 3.0 Extreme, and Thermaltake BigWater 760 Pro. It is interesting to note that the SkyWater 330L is capable of handling Intel’s latest processor namely the “Devil’s Canyon” even when overclocked.
Overall, the Larkooler SkyWater 330L is a solid performer in the entry-level watercooling kit industry. With its great performance and ease of use, the SkyWater 330L would be a perfect choice for first timer. The ability to expand the loop makes the Larkooler a better option compared to closed watercooling kits. Moreover, the SkyWater 330L retails at the same price range as the closed watercooling kits.
Performance/Price Value: 5/5
+ Excellent cooling performance
+ Straightforward installation
+ Adjustable pump and fans with potentiometers
+ Includes both Intel and AMD mountings
+ Great user’s manual for the first timers
+ Includes huge package of accessories including the jump start connector
+ Good price
– Limited tubing and coolant
– Tubing is stiff and sticky to barbs
– Not the best pump if you want to expand the loop
– Coolant’s blue colour might not be so attractive to some of us
Larkooler SkyWater 330L received Silver Award from OCDrift.com
Disclaimer: OCDrift.com gives out our own award based on the Hardware Performance, OverClocking Ability, Innovation, and Value as determined by the reviewer