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Hardware Labs Black Ice GTX Gen Two Xtreme 360 Radiator Review

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Introduction

Hardware Labs Performance Systems, Inc., is a pioneer in the computer watercooling industry. HWLabs was the first company to develop and manufacture the first radiators specifically designed for PC watercooling and is still the de facto benchmark in the business.

Their core philosophy remains to be the relentless pursuit of performance in the heat exchange industry, pushing the limits of design and engineering to provide our fellow enthusiasts and the industry with class-leading products and services.

Today we are taking a look at one of Hardware Labs older products, Black Ice GTX Gen Two Xtreme 360. The Black Ice GTX Gen Two Xtreme is a continuation of the original GTX line. Featuring a massive 54mm thickness and a high gloss black finish, that set it apart from the crowded radiator market.

Hardware Labs’ take on the Black Ice GTX Gen Two Xtreme 360

The all new Black Ice® GTX platform possesses twice the waterside surface area of the Black Ice GTS and features a unique front to rear coolant flow dual-core configuration,  This design innovation maximizes heat transfer and increases internal flow rates by as much as 30%.

Moreover, the Black Ice® GTX also features an optimized iteration of the high flow next generation MaxFin® 25 micron splitter-fin design allowing for maximum fin surface area while minimizing air pressure drop.  At 20 fins per inch, the Black Ice GTX is engineered for use with low-speed/low-noise fans providing optimal cooling and comfort.

The Black Ice® GTX radiators are available in single 120mm fan GTX120, dual fan GTX240, triple fan GTX360, and in the monolithic quad-fan GTX480 configurations.

Features:

  • Two-pass pre-cool/aftercool front-rear dual-core flow configuration with a 30% increase in internal flow rates.
  • Custom MaxFin 25 micron Copper Splitter Fin Configuration utilizing 45% thinner fin material yielding up to 50% less pressure drop.
  • Unique fin configuration eliminates intra-louver accumulation of dust particles for trouble free operation.
  • Radically optimized 20 FPI (Fins Per Inch) fin density providing dramatically increased heat transfer surface area.
  • Custom low-profile 2-row 19.0 x 1.2mm MaxFlow tubes with twice the waterside surface area of the GTS and 60% frontal area reduction for superior low air-resistance aerodynamics and lower internal flow requirements.
  • Yields up to 45% more heat exchange capacity than the Black Ice® Xtreme in both Stealth or Performance modes.
  • Achieves Black Ice® Xtreme level performance in stealth mode (low-noise/low-airflow conditions).
  • M4 Threaded Screw Holes for easier mounting and greater adaptability.
  • Now standard G 1/4″ female threaded fittings.
  • Full high-temper brass structural construction for weight reduction and superior corrosion resistance.
  • High performance compact radiator compatible as an upgrade to the Black Ice® Xtreme and most 120mm form factor radiators.
  • Uses 100% Non-corrosive water-soluble fluxing process.
  • Fully RoHS compliant.
  • Full electrostatic polyurethane painting finish for uniform coating with high temperature curing for increased finish durability.
  • Renowned Black Ice® quality.
  • Patent Pending Design.
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Let’s take a closer look on the next page.

<--pagebreak-->” height=”1″ src=”file:///C:/Users/Heath/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif” width=”1″></p><h2><strong>Packaging</strong></h2><p align=

The Hardware Labs Black Ice GTX 360 comes in a bold looking black box with blue graphics.

On the back is some highlights of the new radiator’s features. Full dimensions are given as well.

Once inside the box, we are greeted with another box.

The Black Ice GTX 360 is packed with multiple layers of protective cardboard.

Specifications

A Closer Look

The gloss black finish is perfectly smooth.

The are no names or logos anywhere on the radiator.

The end tanks are made of brass.

The fin density is 20 FPI, which is extremely high. As some of those tubes line up with the screw holes, so care must be taken to ensure a screw is not ran too deep and punctures a tube.

12 M4 x 30mm and 12 M4 x 6mm screws are included .This is enough for 1 set of standard 25mm thick fans to be mounted in push or pull only.

On to Testing.

<--pagebreak-->” height=”1″ src=”file:///C:/Users/Heath/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif” width=”1″></p><h2><strong>System Configuration and Performance Testing</strong></h2><p><strong>Testing Setup</strong></p><p><strong>Testing Hardware</strong></p><p>PowerColor GA-Z97-SOC Force Motherboard</p><p>Intel Core i7 4790K Processor</p><p>Kingston HyperX Beast 16GB 2400MHz Memory</p><p>Crucial M550 256GB Solid State Drive</p><p>Spotswood Small Tech Bench</p><p>XFX PRO850W XXX Edition 850w Silver Power Supply</p><p><strong>Cooling Components</strong></p><p>Koolance CPU-380i CPU Block<br />Laing DDC Pump<br />Bitspower Water Tank Z-Multi-400 Reservoir<br />Cooler Master JetFlo Fans</p><h3><strong>Testing Environment</strong></h3><p style=We try to set up the testing to be as close to a real world scenario as we can, while still eliminating any variables that would skew the results. Everything that is needed to operate a normal computer is installed (monitor, peripherals, motherboard w/CPU and GPU, radiator, power supply, etc.) and utilized as needed. Our Intel i7 4790K is overclocked to 4.5 GHz with a Vcore of 1.3 volts. The most extreme setting for line load calibration is used to ensure consistent voltage to the CPU.

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Flow Rate

The total system flow rate is tested using a Koolance INS-FM18D Flow Meter. The entire water cooling loop is assembled, filled, and bleed of any air. Only distilled water is used for consistency. Every component is connected by 7/16″ x 5/8″ tubing and matching compression fittings. The pump is directly powered from the power supply with a constant 12 volts.

The Black Ice GTX had the lowest flow rate of all the radiators we have tested so far. This did come as quite of a surprise. The GTX is one of the thickest of the bunch and thicker radiators typically offer less restriction. That does not appear to be the case here though.

Thermal Testing

CPU load is provided by running an application on Prime 95 with small FFT. This creates the most heat and the least varying load. Water temperatures are measure directly from the reservoir. 20 minute cycles between measurements allow for full water temperature stabilization. The Cooler Master JetFlo fans are sealed to each radiator to reduce air leakage and are ran in “push” configuration only.

Our plethora of radiators, provide a plethora of results. Thicker radiators have a tendency to perform great at high speeds, but less so at low speeds. We see this in the testing with the Hardware Labe Black Ice GTX as well. The extremely high FPI creates quite a bit of restriction and the result is the worst low speed performance of our group. Once the fan RPM reached 1500 RPM, the tables turn. By 2100 RPM, the GTX 360 outperformed all the other radiators.

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The Final Thoughts and Conclusion are next.

Final Thoughts and Conclusion

The Hardware Labs Black Ice GTX Gen Two Xtreme 360 is a beautiful radiator. The gloss black finish was completely free of any desirable defects. All the solder joints looked flawless as well. There is no doubt that when looking at the GTX 360 that it is finely crafted.

Unfortunately, the low speed fan performance is more than a bit lacking. While poor low speed performance is not unusual for a radiator of this thickness, it is quite pronounced with the GTX 360. There is certainly nothing to complain about when it comes to the high speed fan testing though. Here we the Black Ice GTX 360 outperformed every one of our test units.

This is a radiator that begs for a push/pull fan arrangement and/or PWM fans. I bit of quick testing with 6 of the Cooler Master JetFlo fans in push/pull and utilizing PWM with a custom fan profile showed a nice decrease in temperatures and noise. Just a bit of food for thought.

Currently the Hardware Labs Black Ice GTX Gen Two Xtreme is available from Performance-PCS.com $89.99. That makes it one of the least expensive thick core 360 radiators on the market. If you need strong performance and do not mind pushing some higher RPM fans or are planning on using a push/pull fan arrangement, it is one of the best in the class.

Thank you to Hardware Labs and Performance-PCS.com for providing the Black Ice GTX 360 for testing.

Likes

  • Excellent Build Quality
  • Top Shelf  Aesthetics and Finish
  • Great High Speed Fan Performance
  • Lifetime Warranty

Dislikes

  • Poor Low Speed Performance

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. alan1476

    February 14, 2015 at 11:16 am

    Not so impressive
    Maybe I am reading these charts wrong, but in the 360 flavor, the XPSC seems to beat it everytime, maybe there is a big price difference. Great and honest review Heath.

  2. Admin1

    February 15, 2015 at 1:14 pm

    Black Ice GTX 360 Rad
    Hey Heath, great job on this review, Thanks !

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