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PC COOLING

CRITICOOL POWERPLANT
By: Cygnus_X_1
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    2003-10-08

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    With the recent trend towards water cooling these days, there have been some products released to make the transition easier. Today we are going to look at a PCI card relay to turn on your pump with your system. The CritiCool PowerPlant is touted as "The worlds first Plug & Play PCI Relay Card". While simple in design, it is a nice addition to a water cooling system so you don't have to worry about turning your pump on. Without further delay, let's see what makes the PowerPlant tick.

     

    Manufacturer:

    CritiCool
    Product:CritiCool PowerPlant

    Price:

    USD$ 24.00

    Availability:

    NOW

    Reviewed By:

    Cygnus_X_1

    Edited By:

    Mack "SPeeD"

     


    Intro

    With the recent trend towards water cooling these days, there have been some products released to make the transition easier. Today we are going to look at a PCI card relay to turn on your pump with your system. The CritiCool PowerPlant is touted as "The worlds first Plug & Play PCI Relay Card". While simple in design, it is a nice addition to a water cooling system so you don't have to worry about turning your pump on. Without further delay, let's see what makes the PowerPlant tick.


    Packaging and Specs

    Nothing special on the packaging side of things, just the run of the mill cardboard box, with CritiCool's info on it.

     


     

    The specs listed on CritiCool's site are pretty self explanatory, but here they are anyway:

     

    FEATURES

    • All cards come with silicone on the high voltage points for added safety

    • Toggle switch - bleed your system with the computer off

    • On board relay controlled by PCI Bus

    • External Molex 12VDC connection for external fan power

    • Inline fuse for overload protection

    • No case modifications for installation

    • Compact design

    • Easy operation, plug it in your PCI slot, plug in the AC cord through the power inlet on the PCI flange, and then hook up your pump wires to the pump terminal.

    • Will ship to anywhere in the world

    • Ships with cord for North America, Europe, or Australia

    • Can be used to power Pelletier coolers

    SPECS

    • 12VDC external power (5 watts max)

    • 2 amp fuse (200 watts maximum draw)

    • 110VAC / 220VAC design for worldwide power compatibility

    • CE compliant, UL listed components and designed

     

    Ok, all the 'formalities' are out of the way, lets get some juice flowing though this thing, and see what happens...


    Installation

    Installing the card is as simple as plugging in into one of your available PCI slots, and securing it with a screw. The version I have does not have the silicone on the high voltage points for added safety since the sample I have was provided early on in the release. I had emailed Jonathan at CritiCool in early April about the shock risk of the first production runs with my solution of covering the exposed contacts with liquid electrical tape. While not a pretty job, it works. So bare in mind, if you have first run version, BE CAREFUL! When version 2 of the PowerPlant was released, the contacts were covered with the clear silicone to prevent shock, but as always, unplug the power if you are planning on doing any work inside your case.

     



     

    The hookup of the wires is well documented, although they do not include documentation in the packaging, you can find it here on CritiCool's site. Start by cutting the pump cord to length, and strip back the wires.

     

    For North American cords:

    1. Ground (Green)

    2. Hot (Black)

    3. Neutral (White)

    For International cords:

    1. Ground (Green w/ Yellow Stripe)

    2. Hot (Brown)

    3. Neutral (Blue)

     

    Once the pump has been wired into the relay, just pop the card into a PCI slot, secure it down, and plug it in. The switch on the card controls the pump operation. With the switch in the "Open' position, the pump will operate independently from the system to ease in bleeding the air from the system. In the 'Closed" position the pump will operate when the power switch on the PC is depress, starting the pump along with the system.

     



     

    One thing to note for anyone running more than one cooling loop. I am currently using the PowerPlant in my peltier system, and have a separate H2O loop for the SPP (Northbridge) chip on the NF7-S. The card is rated to 200W Max Draw, so I was able to power both pumps (Hydor L20 & Hydor L30, 11W and 23W respectively) off the PowerPlant effectively cutting down on the amount of wiring coming from the rear of my case.


    Conclusion

    The CritiCool PowerPlant is an excellent addition to any water cooled system just for the fact that no case mods need to be done to add a relay to the system. While the first revision had a major drawback if you touched the card while it was plugged in, with the addition of the protection on the exposed contacts, this PowerPlant should be finding its way into many H2O systems. With the ability to handle some hefty wattage, the PowerPlant is able to grow with your water system as your needs change.

     

    Pros

    • Very easy to install

    • Ability to bleed the system while your PC is off

    • Finally covered the exposed contacts for added safety

     

    Cons

    • No documentation enclosed

    • Original release had no shock protection

    We would like to thank you for joining us today, as well as Sidewinder for providing the PowerPlant. As always, and questions/comments can be emailed, or drop by our forums to get the full experience.


    DISCLAIMER: The content provided in this article is not warranted or guaranteed by Developer Shed, Inc. The content provided is intended for entertainment and/or educational purposes in order to introduce to the reader key ideas, concepts, and/or product reviews. As such it is incumbent upon the reader to employ real-world tactics for security and implementation of best practices. We are not liable for any negative consequences that may result from implementing any information covered in our articles or tutorials. If this is a hardware review, it is not recommended to open and/or modify your hardware.

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