Date: October 31, 2011
Author(s): Greg King
Self-contained liquid CPU coolers have become a dime-a-dozen (figuratively, of course), but it’s still not often when we see a chassis released with liquid cooling built-in. We’re taking a look at one such option here, from Ikonik. So let’s see what the Ra2000 Liquid is made off, and see if it deserves its $400 price tag.
Techgage posted her first article on March 1st, 2005. With most start up sites, we only had a handful of companies willing to support us from day one. Over the following years, as our credibility and popularity increased, we began to enjoy the same launch day exclusives as many of our peers in the industry. However, early on we were fortunate to have the support of companies such as Logitech, Ultra, AC Ryan and Logisys.
Of those companies, none were as interested in getting review samples in our hands than Logisys. Four out of our first ten reviews were from Logisys’ lineup, and going up through our ever-growing list of articles, we have written about 18 different products from the company.
Not known for top tier products, Logisys has made a name for itself in the PC lighting and inexpensive peripheral market. A quick query at Amazon returns 265 products for sale when searching for “Logisys” – the company certainly has a wide range of offerings for most anyone in the PC market.
While I have always liked Logisys’ products, as has Rob, this is the image that I have had of the company over the years. The folks there have chosen their niche and done extremely well in it. It’s with this attitude that I once again stopped by the Logisys booth at CES earlier this year. Hoping to find some time to catch up with the company and see how things were going, I was taken back when shown its latest chassis offering.
The Logisys-branded, Ikonik-made “Ra2000 Liquid” water-cooled chassis was not only huge, but rather attractive as well. In discussing the year’s new products, the company agreed to send us a sample as soon as they could. This review bears the fruits of that discussion.
Shipping with a pair of radiators, each sporting four 80mm low-profile fans, the Ra2000 Liquid has the goods to perform quite well. Add onto that a pre-built internal water loop, solid design, steel frame and removable motherboard tray, the chassis sports quite a bit to get us excited. While it has plenty to excite on paper, let’s get into the Ra2000 Liquid and see what it’s all about.
The Ra2000 Liquid is a large chassis. Standing at just under 2 feet tall, it offers six 5.25″ running down its front. Covered in a metal mesh, each of the 5.25″ bays have a cover that can easily be removed by pushing its left hand side. Behind each of the bay covers is a thin bit of foam to act as a dust filter. Below the drive bays are a pair of hidden 120mm fans. They both sit behind filters. This is a welcome theme as I continue to explore this chassis.
The rear of the Ra2000 Liquid offers nothing new but does allow the user to mount their power supply at the top or bottom. While each orientation offers its own strengths and weaknesses, as we get into the internals of the chassis, one might prove to be the better choice than the other. More on that later.
The left side of the Ra2000 Liquid has a windowed door. Shipped with thick wire mesh for a ventilated window, the case also comes with a pair of Plexiglas pieces that replaces the mesh if the user so desires. If you choose the wire mesh, you can add up to four 120mm fans to the door. There are no handles or latches – you simply line things up on the top and bottom, rotate the door closed and screw in a pair of thumb screws to hold it in place.
There is a thick plastic bar that runs the length of the window that I wish wouldn’t have been included as I feel it takes away from the overall look, but it’s not a huge deal and does allow a bit more flexibility when choosing between the mesh wiring and the clear windows. By using the plastic bar to support the windows, you can mix and match if you so choose.
The top of the Ra2000 Liquid holds the external I/O of the case. From left to right, there is a reset button (small and slightly recessed into its housing), a hard drive activity LED, headphone and mic jacks, four USB 2.0 ports, an eSATA port, a dial that controls the speed of the top mounted 140mm fan and of course the power button.
Situated behind the row if I/O is a flow indicator. It spins with the flow of liquid through your water loop. In the event that the flow is interrupted for any reason, it stops and an alarm is sounded.
Next up, the interior!
With the side panel off, we immediately see that the Ra2000 Liquid has a lot going on under the hood. The first thing that jumped out at me was the large reservoir/pump in the bottom of the case. To its right, there is room for six 3.5″ hard drives, mountable by included rails. At the top and bottom of the Ra2000 Liquid is a pair of radiators. They each have sets of four 80mm fans that sit on the outside of them. One set pulls in cool air from outside of the case while the other expels warmer air from inside.
At the top of the case we get a better look at the upper mounted radiator. Just below it is the CPU water block. During transit it is mounted to the motherboard tray using the attached mounting bracket. This obviously prevents the smoother surface that touches the CPU from flopping around and getting scratched.
At the bottom we see the other radiator and the pump housing. This also doubles as the reservoir. With a large fill cap on its top, a level window on the side and the input and output hoses coming out the top, the entire piece is a bit on the large side but nothing that would inhibit the installation of a power supply at the bottom of the chassis. Coming out the back of the reservoir is a small group of wires. This runs to the SIM board. SIM stands for System Intelligent Management – but more on that in a bit.
Taking a closer look at the water block, we see the post screws used to secure it into place on the motherboard tray. These are the same screws that you will use when mounting the block to a LGA 1366 CPU as well, so hold onto them. The block itself however is nothing extraordinary. The two piece copper block has studs milled out of the inside’s bottom to give the coolant that flows across them plenty of surface area to pull heat away from your CPU.
The bottom of the block is smooth and shiny but is no way lapped. There is little to no reflection that can be seen when holding an object next to the surface. While almost all water enthusiasts will cry out that this will not do, this is more than adequate for those in the market for an all-in-one water cooled computer.
With the right panel off, we see a whole mess of kit. On the top and bottom, the eight 80mm low profile fans are visible. In the middle is the removable motherboard tray and to the left is a god-awful mess of wires, all connected to what is called the System Intelligent Management board. This board feeds power to all the fans in the Ra2000 Liquid as well as the water pump and lighting.
Taking a closer look at the SIM board, it’s clear that everything is exposed. All connections for fans, USB and power are located at the bottom. It should be mentioned that the Ra2000 Liquid ships with everything connected correctly. One of the headers allows for a USB cable to be joined. This is then connected to your motherboard either internally or to an open port on the back of your PC. This is how the SIM board is controlled once booted into your operating system.
Optical drives are held in place with simple push-button locks. Put your drive in the bay and push the button to lock them in. Pull the tab behind the button to unlock. It’s really quite simple.
Taking a closer look at the fans attached to the radiators, we again see the 80mm low-profile fans. They sit side-by-side and run the entire length of both radiators. As mentioned earlier, the bottom set of fans pull in cool air and the top set pushes air out of the case. I would personally like to have seen both sets pull in cooler air but the way the loop is constructed, the bottom radiator feeds directly into the reservoir and then into the CPU. This means the CPU is getting the coolest water in the loop with the way things have been routed by Ikonik.
There is a pair of 120mm fans in the front of the Ra2000 Liquid that pulls in cooler outside air and pushes it across the hard drive bay. These two fans have dust filters attached to the front of them, limiting the amount of dust that can get into the case (at least through the front). They can be installed and removed without the use of tools, making cleaning them off a relative breeze.
Every case includes a few extras. In the case of the Ra2000 Liquid, there is a ton of kit included in the box. As pointed out earlier in the review, the wire mesh on the side panel can be replaced with clear Plexiglas pieces. There are a pair of them and if one so chooses, they can mix and match the Plexiglas and mesh panels. To meet my own personal preferences, I went with an all-clear side.
Included also are mounting plates for 1366 and AMD sockets, as well as all the screws and motherboard standoffs one could possibly need. To accompany the SIM and water loop are a pair of quick disconnects, a pour nozzle, UV reactive fluid, thermal probes and a CD containing the SIM software. Rounding out the kit is a 5.25″ to 3.5″ bay converter, a micro-fiber cloth for wiping down the Plexiglas and a few pages of instructions.
Removing the motherboard tray took a bit of effort, but once I learned the appropriate way to pull on it, I was able to get it in and out with little effort. When in place, there is a screw at the top right of the tray that prevents it from sliding out of place. My GIGABYTE motherboard is a standard ATX board so as you can see, the Ra2000 Liquid has plenty of room for extended ATX boards should you have one that you want to use. The depth also allows the use of even the longest of GPUs available today.
With everything installed, the board is relatively clean in appearance. The water block takes up so much less space than a standard air cooler. If it weren’t for the auxiliary power connector in the top left hand side of the only thing on the board above the GPU would be the water block and the 24 pin power cable. I can get used to this look.
Going through the interior of the case at the beginning of the review, I mentioned that your power supply can be mounted at the top of the case or the bottom. My personal opinion is that a power supply should be at the bottom if given the chance. Because of this, I put the PSU in that location. I instantly realized that this was a poor choice with the reservoir and pump being in the location that they are.
To prove my point, I went ahead and installed the power supply on the bottom. What I ended up with was frustrating to say the least. In any build, the thing I least look forward to is the cable management. This is a horrible task that we all begin with the best of intentions but most quickly lose steam as the cable routing progresses.
I always start with the power cable and work my way out to the other bits of hardware, trying to route the cables as best as possible. With the Ra2000 Liquid, if you place the power supply at the bottom of the case, you quickly realize that you will not be able to make most of anything look good if you have any unused cables. There is roughly three inches between the back of my power supply (an average sized unit at that) and the reservoir. This leaves very little room to work with when trying to find something to do with all the unused cables. This isn’t a bad thing as you can mount your PSU at the top of the case but is something to consider when planning your next build.
The System Intelligent Management system included in the Ra2000 Liquid is made up of the software and board that allows control of the pump and fan speeds as well as some of the lighting at the top of the case. You can communicate with the SIM console by using the provided software. When installed, and the USB cable on the board is connected, you have a good amount of control over the performance and noise of your system.
Built for all of Ikonik’s machines, you select which case you are using and the software already knows what should be present. From here you can monitor pump and fan speed and keep an eye on temperatures if you decide to use the provided temperature probes.
The SIM software allow the control of fan speeds by utilizing profiles. You can set individual fans, or all of them, to run silent (on but rotating slowly), topped out (performance), silent at first (0dB Start) and completely silent (fanless). I cannot ever recommend fanless, especially when you can set the pump to “fanless”, meaning it’s not moving water, but the other three certainly have their uses. When not testing, I ran the Ra2000 Liquid on Silent 24×7 without any temperature issues.
As with my Fractal Designs Define R3 review, the Ra2000 Liquid is kind of a one off for me. This review came into being more from our direct talks with Logisys at CES than anything else. Ryan is still our chassis reviewer and is far more capable than I to present a solid review of a case. For this one though, with it being an all in one water cooled case, I took this one on myself.
Techgage Test System
Intel Core i7-920 – Quad-Core (2.66GHz)
GIGABYTE GA-EX58-UD4P – X58-based
Crucial Ballistix 2x6GB DDR3
XFX GTX 260 Black Edition
Western Digital 1TB Black
Ikonik Ra 2000
Intel EXPI9402PT PRO/1000 PT Dual Port NIC
Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
For testing, the ambient temperature is kept at a constant 72 degrees Fahrenheit. As in Ryan’s reviews, AIDA64 Extreme Engineer is used for monitoring and recording all system temperatures throughout the entire testing process.
Testing is run on a vanilla install of Windows 7 64-bit. An idle temperature is taken of both the CPU and GPU before stress testing begins. To load up the CPU, Intel Burn Test was used and ran for 20 minutes. For the GPU, we ran OCCT’s built-in test for 20 minutes as well. Tests were run at stock clocks, and when the i7-920 was overclocked to 3.6 GHz. When overclocked, temperatures were taken when the fans and pump set to silent and set to performance.
For those of you that read our Fractal Designs Define R3 review, you might recall the temperatures seen with the Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro Rev 2. The Ra2000 Liquid’s water block manages to stay fairly even with the air cooler at idle, it falls slightly behind when under heavy load. When overclocked, we see higher temperatures but still well below what I could ever consider cause for alarm, even when the SIM was set to silent.
I haven’t fiddled with water in a very long time. Having looked at some Danger Den kit back in 2006, I knew what went into building a quality water loop in a computer. Ikonik and Logisys takes care of this planning and work for you by building everything out before the Ra2000 Liquid even leaves the factory. This in and of itself is impressive. I’ve had a few mishaps with water in year’s past and know that water and electronics can be a recipe for disaster. It’s not something the faint of heart should undertake, but with the Ra2000 Liquid, anyone can do this.
As much as I like the Ra2000 Liquid it is not without its faults. The front optical drive bay covers are extremely flimsy and can be bent if you grab the case incorrectly. The tubing used is a bit on the narrow end and could be prone to kinking in the tighter areas of the case. It needs to be mentioned that we did not see this happen in our review sample but with anything that is mass produced, I can see this potentially being a problem.
Our time spent with the Ra2000 Liquid was positive overall. I appreciated the look and feel of the chassis, both inside and out, but do think that a bit too much plastic is used on the front and top of the case. Plastic that scratches and shows any little smudge is difficult to keep up with. That said, it does look good, regardless of the material it’s made with.
The frame of the Ra2000 Liquid is steel and very strong. You can get a Ra2000 without the water kit installed and I feel that it would make a great chassis for someone’s custom build. For those who might be a little less adventurous, the Ra2000 Liquid might just suit your needs perfectly.
I personally like a full-tower chassis. Ample room to work and route cables as I see fit is a major factor when I go to purchase a tower for my own computer. While I am currently using a mid-tower chassis, the Fractal Designs Define R3, the Ra2000 Liquid reminds me of why I have always enjoyed a full-tower. In the end, my only complaint with this case is the price. Seen online for just under $400, the Ra2000 Liquid might be a bit steep for most shoppers. Then again, this isn’t for most builders.
For the majority of the PC community, water cooling is a far off idea that everyone thinks is neat but most don’t have the desire to attempt it for themselves. In the case of the Ra2000 Liquid, Ikonik has done all the work for you. You literally build your machine around the water loop and then integrate it into your computer at the end. And let’s be honest, a water pump, reservoir and two radiators are not cheap. They obviously add to the overall cost of such a chassis so you must take this into consideration when you get past the sticker shock of $400.
Overall, the Ikonik Ra2000 Liquid is an interesting product, especially with Logisys having put its name behind it. It’s not perfect, but it will get the job done for those who like the design and insist on an all-in-one liquid cooled chassis.
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