SilverStone Tundra TD03-E Review (Page 2 of 4)

Page 2 - Physical Look - Hardware; Installation

If you are looking for a sleek looking water cooler, then the SilverStone Tundra TD03-E just might satisfy you needs. It has a very basic but sleek exterior, as it is all black in color. If you find the all black color a little boring, let me bring your attention to the carbon fiber like finish around the edges of the radiator. Looking at the top of the water block, it features an LED backlit SilverStone logo, which is pretty cool looking in my opinion. For those who think this might be a little distracting, you will have to choose something else, as the LED cannot be turned off.

Both the radiator design on the TD02-E and TD03-E utilizes the same array of aluminium fins soldered for maximum performance. Using the design of these radiator fins allow for an increase in heat transfer efficiency over the fins of traditional radiators, since it makes better contact with the heatpipes. The aluminum fins also feel stronger and more rigid than the fins have seen from other manufacturers. Inspecting the pattern of the fins, there is more space between the fins, which allows for more airflow. Paired with a fan on each side, cooling should be a breeze. The two tubes connecting the radiator to the water block has been sealed in a closed loop configuration prior to delivery. On inspection, SilverStone have done a good job in making sure normal usage with twisting and bending will not lead to any leakage. The longer tubes also allow for a smoother installation, so users will not be restricted to one single setup because of the length of the tubes. In addition, the closed loop configuration does not require a refill of any sort, and can be used right out of the box assembly-free.

The dimensions of the Tundra TD03-E comes to 159mm in length, 124mm in width, and 27mm in height. Comparing the TD03-E against some of the water coolers from other manufacturers, we can confidently say SilverStone has met the size standards. However, it will be the performance that separates the men from the boys, which we will look at shortly.

Since the Tundra TD03-E is configured as a closed loop water cooler rather than a traditional heatsink, it requires a pump to cycle the coolant when the system is on. The pump can be directly powered by the 3-pin header on the motherboard, and is rated at 12V or 2.9W from the manufacturer. Referring to the specifications from SilverStone's website, the water block on the TD03-E has a copper base with a nickel-plated unibody. SilverStone claims their patented screw-less design of the copper base allows for better reliability compared to the traditional mounting method with numerous screws. The thermal conductivity of copper is 401 W/mK, and makes for a good contact material, without heavily increasing the cost to consumers. However, if cost was not an issue, a nickel-plated base would have been better. It has a much lower thermal conductivity at 90.9 W/mK, but a thin nickel-plated surface over copper is desirable, because of its properties that allow it to withstand more corrosive environments and higher temperature in the long run compared to pure copper-plated surfaces.

Installing the fans on the radiator was a simple process that did not require too much thinking. Using the long screws provided and making sure you have the right configuration, you can safety tighten the fan onto the radiator. Since the SilverStone Tundra TD03-E comes with two fans, you will have to attach one of them to each side, making sure you follow the push/pull configuration as pictured. As an APH Network cabling enthusiast, I would recommend installing the water block before installing the radiator, but the end choice is up to you. If you are going to install the water block first, you will need to have pre-install the screws onto the backplate. The next step will be as simple as pushing the backplate through the holes on your motherboard. To avoid making the same mistake I have made, match up the two holes at the top of the motherboard with the two screws on the back of your motherboard to ensure a proper installation. While installing the water block, I had to ask for some help from my colleague Preston, has it required some coordination. A suggestion made by Preston was it would have been nice if SilverStone could implement a system where the backplate can be held in place, without asking your friend to lend you a hand.

Like all other CPU cooling systems, make sure you have a generous amount of thermal paste applied before any installation. The next part is to put the four plastic standoffs in place without pushing the screws away from the backplate. As I have previously mentioned, it would be handy to get a friend to help you for this part of the installation process, as it will make it much easier for yourself. You will need to make sure you use the same slot on each bracket when you place the water block onto the plastic standoffs. Without pushing the backplate away from the motherboard, you will then mount the nuts onto the respective screws, making sure to not over-torque the nuts. To install the radiator with the fans, you will need to find a space at either the top or the back of your chassis that has sufficient room, and use the screws to hold it in place. For my setup, it was at the back of the chassis, which will be shown on the next page with the test results.

Page Index
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Hardware; Installation
3. Test Results
4. Conclusion