Waffer PC Air Conditioner Review

waffer_aircon

Installation

The Waffer AirCon was designed to be hot-swappable, so the only part actually mounted to the PC chassis is the plastic drive cage. The cage’s plastic mounting holes have no threading and are completely smooth, so you must mount the cage using the supplied screws, which have a rough threading to grab the plastic. Once fastened to the chassis, a molex connector is attached to the back of the unit. Waffer recommends using a dedicated power line, since this air conditioner can draw 50 watts or more.

It is recommended to choose a drive bay that does not have any devices above or below it, as the AirCon device itself will block those devices. Once the drive cage is installed, simply slide the main unit into place, much like any hot-swappable hard drive. The power is automatically coupled and is ready for use (just make sure the power switch is set to “off” before connecting). It even has a locking lever to prevent accidental removal.

Testing
We tested the Waffer AirCon in a modest system that could still benefit from additional cooling. Our Athlon XP 2000+ system was attached to an all-copper Thermalright SLK-800U and had one 80mm exhaust fan.

Test System
Case Mid tower case
Processor AMD Athlon XP 2000+
Heatsink Thermalright SLK-800U copper heatsink
Memory 512MB DDR333
Video card Albatron GeForce FX 5200 Ultra
Hard drive IBM 80GB HDD
DVD drive Liteon 4X DVD drive
Sound card Soundblaster Live! Audio card
Power supply 400 watt generic power supply

On the front of the system is a blue LCD that shows the temperature of the air coming out AirCon. The fan used on the heatsink also illuminates with blue LEDs to give it some life.


The system is not overly loaded with heat-producing components, as there is only one hard drive, a modest processor and consumer-level video card. The case is a mid-tower case, so it is not excessively large, and we followed Waffer’s recommendation and installed the product in the lowest 5¼” drive bay. We left the air conditioner on snow mode for 1 hour before taking any measurements to give the unit a chance to do its job. When snow mode was turned on, the 12V and 5V power lines all took a a small hit. The dip in the monitoring graphs occurs when snow mode was turned on.

The peltier would sometimes draw so much power that the hard drive would shut off, and would require a reboot for the system to work properly. Waffer recommends at least a 350 watt power supply.

Conclusion

The Waffer AirCon revealed virtually no change in system temperature, even after one hour. The air coming from the AirCon’s exhaust was measurably cooler, but makes little impact when mixed into the case. The air conditioner uses too much power, makes too much noise and takes up three drive bays when installed. The engineers at Waffer have done an excellent job and the product is well-thought. It is a very original idea, and is well implemented, but this type of technology is just not successful in its intended use. It can be hard to rate such a product that is executed well but does not perform, so a more objective final score will be derived using different aspects of the unit:

Innovation 8
Performance 2
Implementation 9
Price 5
average 6

These individual scores earn an average 6 out of 10. The engineers at Waffer have put a lot of thought into the product, but cooling air in this way is ineffectual. Perhaps this technology would be of use at the radiator section of a water cooled system, as water is a more efficient heat transfer medium than air. Cooling could be further enhanced with the implementation of copper heatsinks, rather than aluminum. In its current state, the Waffer PC AirCon 400 is not very effective.

Pros

  • Hot-dockable

Cons

  • Does not cool very well
  • Celsius-only display
  • Extremely loud
  • Pricey at ~$70
  • Draws too much power (~50 watts or more)
Alan is a web architect, stand-up comedian, and your friendly neighborhood Grammar Nazi. You can stalk him on the Interwebs via Google+, Facebook and follow his ass on Twitter @ocmodshop.