Slim AIO Liquid Cooler Final Thoughts
As an AIO cooler? Well, the applications are fairly limited. I can’t recommend it for anything over ~100W or so, as it appears to saturate too easily. There just isn’t enough surface area/mass to get rid of the heat fast enough on AM3+ platforms. Sure, push/pull could help, as well as extremely powerful fans, but it becomes apparent that isn’t the goal of the TD03 Slim. So…as a slim liquid cooler? It’s the only game in town.
I’d argue you would have more success with a custom cooling loop – this kit would especially benefit from swiveling barbs on the radiator. A low profile CPU block with appropriate elbow fittings, cut-to-length tubing, and swiveling fittings would all improve the experience in a slim chassis. However, it is the only kit I know of with such a slim radiator/fan combo, which is necessary for chassis like the FTZ01/RVZ01/ML07. It removes the main limitation of those chassis (very little room for aftermarket cooling) and makes it almost a non-issue. It’ll make you question your sanity a bit (well, there are those that would say that of anyone putting liquid in their computer let alone in a tiny slim case), but in the end it does exactly what it sets out to do, and it does it quite well.
The backplate issues I experienced could be avoided with very careful application of force during installation and removal of the spring-loaded fastening nuts. Or SilverStone could have avoided the issue entirely with a metal backplate – although, understandably, the full (and rightfully more expensive) TD03 kit won’t experience this issue and is the better choice for anyone concerned about durability. In context, it’s an issue that should be highlighted, but ultimately may not be much cause for concern for the intended application of the TD03 Slim.
SilverStone TD03 Slim Conclusion
Well, I wasn’t blown away by the performance of the TD03 Slim, but I think it’s important to remember it isn’t gunning for a “top spot” in the CPU cooler hierarchy. What I was blown away by was the performance it unlocked (and the reduced noise) in the Fortress FTZ01 I had reviewed previously. With that in mind, the performance of this AIO kit was adequate enough to cool most overclocks on Intel’s enthusiast processors – I can’t say the same for the hotter AMD CPUs though.
I like the appearance of SilverStone’s “Lite” coolers, and the Slim series follows the same aesthetic. It isn’t quite as striking as the all-aluminum and nickel original TD03, but it should blend in with a much wider range of systems. For the price point, it’s perfectly suitable – although I suppose your opinion may change depending on your stance on snowflakes.
There isn’t much to say about the construction of the TD03 Slim. It’s on par with the other products in this category, and the rubber hoses are a welcome change over the FEP tubing of the other Tundra products in the past. The cooler itself is pretty typical AIO fare – the backplate could use some reinforcing for the mounting posts, but with care it’ll do its job for everyone but the most obsessive of tinkerers (for what it’s worth, I didn’t experience any problems with the Intel installation over the course of five + installs/removals).
The main function of a CPU cooler is to cool a CPU – this kit does that. Comparable – if not a bit worse – than other products at the same price point. However, the real draw of this AIO cooler is its ability to fit where other coolers can’t; for that, it’s the only option currently available. Some swiveling barbs on the radiator would enhance this ability even further.
The TD03 Slim can be found online for $64.99 (Newegg | Amazon). That’s about mid-range for a CPU cooler – many equivalent-performing coolers can be found for that or much less. Those coolers won’t fit in the chassis the TD03 Slim is designed for; as far as I can tell the nearest performance competitor would be Cryorig’s C1 which happens to be the same price. The TD03 Slim will likely install on any mini-ITX motherboard without any clearance issues, unlike the C1 – if you can find a place to mount the radiator, that is. Ultimately, the TD03 Slim has a lot of value for the specific applications it is designed for, which is all you can really ask of a product in my opinion.
In the end, I’m glad a product like the TD03 Slim exists. Admittedly, it’s a niche product for a niche category of enthusiast products, but it’s the only option for that segment. I can’t recommend it to everyone, but I’m certain a few enthusiasts are excited for the potential. Those users can rest assured that the TD03 Slim will – with the right system – unlock additional performance in the tightest of places.
+ Water cooling in a tiny chassis!
+ Slim radiator/fan combo fits almost anywhere
+ Simple, streamlined no frills AIO kit
+ Screws included for both slim and normal fans – in push AND pull combinations
+ Includes 12V adaptor for pump – ideal for mini-ITX systems with limited fan headers
– Only makes sense in space-constrained chassis
– Can be difficult to mount radiator/route hoses without swiveling barbs on the radiator
– Backplate can be stripped easily with any strong torque during installation/removal
Final Score: 7.9 out of 10.
COMMENT QUESTION: CPU cooling: air or liquid?