Ultra Products ChillTec Thermo Electric CPU Cooler
Author: Shawn Knight
Editor: Frank Stroupe
Date: 03-13-2007
Provided by: Ultra Products
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Ultra Products is a name that many enthusiasts may be familiar with thanks to the success of their X-Connect modular power supply that hit the market about three years ago. At that time, modular power supplies were still relatively new and Ultra did a great job of marketing their unit. The X-Connect was available in four high-gloss colors, operated at a low noise level and had a very reasonable price tag. Since then, Ultra has released a wide range of products such as MP3 players, computer cases and CPU coolers. A look at Ultra's website shows an aging list of CPU coolers, with the exception of their latest offering, the ChillTec Thermo Electric CPU Cooler. Those familiar with "extreme" CPU cooling know all about TECs, but for those of you who are not familiar with the term, welcome to TEC 101 (bits borrowed from wikipedia.com).

A thermal electric cooler is a solid state active heat pump capable of transferring heat from one side of the device to the other. Without getting too technical here, in summary, when electric current is supplied to the TEC, one side gets really cold and the other side gets really hot. The effectiveness of a TEC at moving the heat away from the cold side is totally dependent upon how well the heat from the hot side can be removed. TEC coolers have been used to cool processors for years, but the main problem with this comes when the cold side gets too cold. Condensation forms, and well, we all know water and computers don't play well together. There are measures that you can take to prevent this, such as using foam insulation, but many users simply do not want to take this risk. Today we will be looking at Ultra's ChillTec Thermo Electric CPU Cooler, which is a hybrid TEC / air cooling unit designed to regulate power supplied to the TEC to prevent condensation.

The ChillTec arrived in a flashy box with graphics and specs on nearly every side. The front of the box shows off the ChillTec, which looks much like your run-of-the-mill heatpipe-style heatsink. A features and support list are also present on the front of the box. A list of package contents, a performance chart and photos of the included 5 1/4" TEC control panel round out the box graphics. Below is a complete list of specifications, borrowed from Ultra's website.

The unique blend of heatpipe and TEC cooling sure looks interesting on paper, but I must admit I am a bit skeptical as to how this combination will perform in real-world tasks. Join ahead as we unpack the ChillTec and take a closer look at the unit itself...

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