Closer Look: SilverStone TD02
Water-cooling CPUs isn’t a new thing, but until recently it was the realm of extreme-enthusiasts and hobbyists. With the introduction of “no maintenance” liquid coolers from manufacturers such as Asetek, the aftermarket industry grew to include models from Corsair, Cooler Master, NZXT, Thermaltake, Antec and Zalman, most of which followed one or two basic designs from manufacturers like Asetek, Inc. and CoolIT Systems, Inc.
You may notice the “TD01” designation is absent from the lineup – that actually belongs to another liquid cooler in the Tundra series, an external radiator/reservoir used on the LGA 775 and AM2 sockets. While a unique product in its time, the TD02 and TD03 are entering an entirely new generation of cooling products.
SilverStone opted to use a 45mm thick 240mm radiator, with the same overall design as the TD03 I reviewed not too long ago. As with the TD03, the uninterrupted copper base is soldered to the rest of the nickel plated aluminum block, which uses stiff aluminum brackets to mount to the motherboard. The radiator fins themselves run across each water channel instead of zig-zagging between two “pipes,” which SilverStone claims is good for a 40% increase in cooling efficiency. The rest of the included accessories are identical, including one of the better manuals I’ve seen for an all-in-one liquid cooler. The PWM fans are connected with an included splitter, so you only need two open fan headers: a 3-pin for the pump, and the 4-pin PWM header for the fans.
The hoses don’t follow the current trend of using soft flexible rubber, instead opting for a hard rigid plastic material. While this decision makes installing the cooler a little trickier, it also creates a line that should be free from kinks – when you consider some of SilverStone’s smaller enclosures (and that AIO coolers are typically ideal for mini-ITX form factors), this actually makes some sense – although more so with the smaller TD03. I can’t imagine too many mini-ITX builds using the larger TD02. Those rigid lines won’t make installation any easier in those small spaces, but it should keep the water lines open once you do get it installed.
Another benefit of using harder plastic is it is usually less permeable than softer rubber hoses – for a system that you cannot refill, this becomes a factor. Still, it seems users prefer the bigger and softer rubber/vinyl hoses from other systems – personally, I feel SilverStone missed an opportunity to ratchet it up a notch and just go for some stainless steel braided lines.
The universal back-plate makes it pretty obvious which side to use when installing, although the hard plastic offsets and loading block may not be enough to prevent portions of the backplate from contacting motherboard components on smaller form factors. It’ll clear some, but each board is different. ATX and Micro-ATX motherboards shouldn’t have any clearance issues, but this is a common problem for almost every product on Mini-ITX boards simply because space is at a premium on those boards. Honestly, ITX users are probably accustomed to this, so it won’t be an issue for most of those users anyway – and Intel/AMD make those standards for “socket area,” not SilverStone, so you can’t really fault them for using this area.