AIO watercooling has become a very convenient way for many system builders and enthusiasts to keep their system cool whilst improving airflow and aesthetics but if there’s one thing that closed-loop AIO liquid coolers have not perfected, its the flexibility and scaleability that their custom-loop counterparts enjoy… which do cost a lot more. In the consumer space, AIOs have been reserved to mostly CPU cooling with GPU brackets being made to allow the CPU block to mount on GPUs. This solution is good if you have the space in your chassis but don’t want to touch on custom loop watercooling but this does present some issues: 1) as mentioned, there’s the space required and 2) the aesthetics: let’s admit it, a whole lotta tubes bungling around the case defeats the purpose of having them around to improve looks. In the server space, some OEMs have already made dual-block AIOs for dual-CPU systems and this concept works for the most part so its only a matter of time before the concept eventually makes it to the consumer desktop. Today we have a fairly new brand which has been making waves in the community for their attractive price:performance products and in this review we’ll take a closer look at the new ID-Cooling Hunter Duet: a AIO cooler with two pump/block heads to cool both CPU and GPU at once via a single 240mm radiator. Let’s take this baby for a spin and read on until the end to find out how you can be the owner of this new cooler!
ID-Cooling is a fairly new brand diving into the chassis, cooling and accessory market. We’ve been keeping an eye on their recent surge and we can say they’ve made a good name for themselves with their mostly low-cost offering of cooling fans and AIO liquid coolers. Taking a step forward in the AIO market is their Hunter Duet which we’ll be reviewing today which combines a GPU and CPU pump/block in a single loop to cool both components. Its an existing concept but something rarely seen outside of custom loops. Let’s take a look at the specs:
Note: Above listed VGA Card models are based on reference design. Non-reference designed cards from different brands may have different layout. Please carefully check your card dimensions before installation.
The ID-Cooling Hunter Duet is packaged in a full-colored cardboard box. There’s some heft to the packaging as it is reasonably heavy. Looking inside we can see the product is packed between compartments for safety during transit.
Inside the package we have the ID-Cooling Hunter Duet cooler, a pair of ID-Cooling SP12025M12S fans, the mounting kits for both CPU and GPU, and a pair of instruction manuals.
First off we have the radiator: we have a 240mm radiator with a thickness of 27mm. This radiator is designed with dense fins so this one requires high-static pressure fans like ones included.
Two static pressure fans are included with the Hunter Duet: the ID-Cooling SP12025M12S model which we’re notified as being available separately soon. These fans have colored rings with the ones included in the Hunter Duet being red in color. The rings are detachable and suggest that ID-Cooling may make them available in other color variants.
Moving over to the GPU block, we see that the block has an integrated fan shroud. Unlike most GPU AIO brackets, this one doesn’t need the shroud to mount the pump/block. The actual block holds the mounting bracket to hold the block to the GPU. We’ll talk more about that in the assembly section. Contrary to the packaging and marketing images, the Hunter Duet GPU block does not have the Comet Tail lighting as the CPU block.
The CPU block features the signature Comet Tail lighting effect which gives the ID-Cooling Hunter Duet a really interesting style when active. The copper block underneath isn’t as polish as we’d want but its still a really good finish without any dings. The hose are connected via rotary barbs which rotate for best fit.
The Hunter Duet features flexible tubing which are quite kink-resistant (unless you really try) and have an industrial look to them with their texture. Some may find it unappealing and thin but I guess with the scenario for the Hunter Duet, this is the most effective to avoid fitting issues.
Now let’s walk through the installation process.
Installing the ID-Cooling Hunter Duet
For this test we’ll be using a BitFenix Aegis to mount the Hunter Duet. Mounting the Hunter Duet is quite an involved process so we highly suggest you do not rush the installation of this cooler to avoid fitting issues. You won’t need any tools aside from a Philips screwdriver when installing the Hunter Duet. In our experience, the best workflow in installing the Hunter Duet is to mount the GPU block first, followed by the CPU block and then securing the radiator to the case so we’ll go with that flow for this section.
First we need to prep the GPU for installation. This starts off by removing the stock cooling on your GPU. On most graphics card, the cooler is secured by four screws just around the GPU and with longer and heavier ones secured by screws down the length of the PCB.
Removing your GPU cooler will VOID YOUR WARRANTY as per most brands.
Also, we highly recommend doing this with cards that have integrated heatsinks on their VRM to avoid overheating issues. The Hunter Duet, contrary to the manual, does not include heatsinks for the GPU RAM and MOSFET/VRM.
Please refer to compatibility guide in table above to make sure your card will fit the Hunter Duet. Older Radeon cards may have recessed dies so contact is not assured.
The ID-Cooling Hunter Duet GPU mounting kit consists of the GPU backplate, the block mounting brackets, screws to connect the brackets to the block, screws to secure the bracket to the backplate, some washers and a tube of thermal compound.
Remove the plastic seal on the GPU block and install the mounting bracket with the provided screws as shown in the image above.
Apply a small amount (about the size of a rice grain) on your GPU die surface and insert the four mounting screws through the mounting holes on your GPUs.
Install the GPU backplate and secure it with the screws to secure your GPU block to the card.
Notice that the fan on this GPU doesn’t really blow on anything since this card has its VRM area on the other side. Many readers have noticed this and some have tried reversing the fan but in most instances especially on dual-slot card, it will bump against the I/O shield so its not advisable. Anyone who may have a shorter GPU, again as mentioned in the notes above make sure you have VRM heatsinks in your GPU otherwise, you’re risking it without at least some passive cooling.
Installing the CPU Block:
Ok this goes two ways: you can mount the CPU block on a bare motherboard but we found it highly convenient to install it in the case itself. It helps if your chassis has a cutout in the back for easier installation.
Like the GPU block, you’ll need a Philips screwdriver to secure the mounting bracket to the CPU block. Other than that, everything is tool-less.
Install the backplate and insert the mounting screws through the compatible holes for your CPU type. For this one, we’ll be using a socket 1150 motherboard.
With the screws through the board, secure the backplate with the included washers and threaded spacers. Make sure to fasten the spacer as tight as you can for maximum contact with the CPU IHS.
Secure the mounting bracket to the CPU block with the provided screws as shown above.
Secure the CPU block to the CPU and secure it with the screws.
Installing the radiator:
Depending on your chassis, this can either be really hard or really easy. In our case, the BitFenix Aegis had plenty of room on the top radiator mount to let us mount the radiator and fans in a push configuration. Note that we tried mounting the Hunter Duet radiator in the front mount or on the top with the tubes towards the back of the chassis but we had some issues specifically the front rad orientation had the tubes too short and as you can see below…
… the radiator fill-port bumps with the top radiator mount of the chassis.
We loaded our test system for a full day to let the thermal compound cure and recorded our results formed our conclusion afterwards. Temperatures are captured via software readings from AIDA64, GPU-Z and RealTemp. The CPU and GPU are loaded simultaneously using a mixed test comprising of Intel Extreme Tuning stress test and MSI Kombustor 3 running Lakes of Titan v1 X32 at 1080p. Combined load reading is taken from the CPU as it is on the end of the loop. Ambient temperature is maintained at 28*C. Note that our charts and test are design to capture the maximum theoretical temperatures that we can produce with our synthetic tests and normal gaming load will never reach these numbers.
As the chart above shows, our stock 4770K runs at a peak 79*C combined with the GPU load that maxes out at 68*C (not shown in chart). Individually loaded, our CPU peaks at 75*C whilst the the GPU by itself peaks at 55*C. On the GPU side, this leaves a lot of headroom for overclocking and for GPU Boost 2.0 to work its magic if you’re using a latest-gen NVIDIA GPU and AMD Turbo Core for Radeon cards. For the CPU, we tried overclocking our CPU to 4.4Ghz at 1.18v and achieved a peak load of 89*C. Going further though required us to bump the voltages on our processor with 1.25v surging through our 4.6Ghz overclocking soaring past 91*C which we weren’t comfortable with. Also tested was a 4790K which would hover around 82*C stock on combined load testing but overclocking would prove to be too much for the duet with our synthetic tests.
In actual gameplay test, playing Battlefield 4 and Crysis 3 for a couple of hours we recorded an average load temp of 72*C on the stock 4770K and 52*C on the GTX 960 GPU. Depending on your ambient temps, these results may be lower especially for cooler climates.
The ID-Cooling Hunter Duet is a bold move for an AIO solution. Its not a bad idea but the application is practically niche with the majority of people that want to cool both CPU and GPU will most likely aim for a custom loop. The appeal is still there though as the ID-Cooling Hunter Duet presents a very cost-effective solution keeping relatively high-performance system cool without the need for costly components for custom watercooling.
Performance-wise, its nothing revolutionary and its rather slim radiator proves it can’t handle a heavily overclocked i7 processor. We thought of using an X99 setup as well but due to time constraints, we didn’t proceed with that but given the results from our 4790K stock test its going to be a bit similar in outcome. From this we can assume the Hunter Duet is tuned for mildly overclocked systems and a mainstream GPU although we’ve seen readers flaunt GTX 970s cooled by the Hunter Duet and are quite satisfied with only one gripe…
The Hunter Duet GPU block’s fan isn’t movable thus if you have a short PCB GPU, its going to look really awkward. Add to that the fact that it won’t be passively cooling your VRM which is most likely located on the other side of the GPU. This is further exacerbated by the fact ID-Cooling did not included RAMsinks in the Hunter Duet package (for clarification.)
Installation is another concern for the Hunter Duet. Its quite involved and requires some pre-planning for a smooth installation. Compatibility for CPU is generally no problem but GPUs you have to consider the points that we’ve highlighted throughout this review especially the fact that you will void your VGA warranty in most cases.
All things considered though, at Php4,999 (PCHub price as of 11/17/2015) its really hard to beat that price for its application. If you’re looking for a review of the Hunter Duet right now for your own application, chances are you fit the description of a gamer that wants “zero-maintenance liquid cooling for both CPU and GPU around $100 or Php5,000” so if you’re gunning an i5 or FX-6300 together with a R9 280X or GTX 960 or anything lower, you’re the best candidate for this kind of setup. You won’t be maxing out your CPU OC unless you got a golden chip but on a mild overclock, you’re pretty much gonna be alright with the ID-Cooling Hunter Duet.
We’d like to see a possible revision with a thicker radiator and rotary fittings on the GPU block. Also, they can remove the fill port for better compatibility in most radiator mounts. Other than that there’s really nothing much to improve say maybe a slimmer pump/block but as it is right now, the ID-Cooling Hunter Duet is a cooler that fits a very specific market and requires some forethought and research before buying.
Here’s a quick check list before diving into the Hunter Duet:
240mm radiator mounting space
GPU compatibility on mounting holes
Some Radeon cards have a shim on the GPU die, you need to remove that or get a copper pad
Thermal capacity, that thin radiator won’t see you running an AMD FX9590 or Intel Core i7 5960X on this one paired with a GTX 980 Ti or R9 390X
GPU VRM must have a heatsink or at least won’t need one (lower mainstream cards)
Are you fine with the GPU block fan sticking like a sore thumb, cooling nothing if you have a short PCB graphics card?
Not a 100% check list but if you tick all of those boxes, you’re good to go with the Hunter Duet.
PH – PCHUB – Php4,999
US – N/A
In conclusion, the ID-Cooling Hunter Duet is a niche product with a very niche market but with some improvements like fatter tubes for more coolant and thicker rads for better heat dissipation, we’re looking a more capable unit here.
ID-Cooling backs the Hunter Duet with a 2-year warranty. We give it our B2G Value Award!
THIS GIVEAWAY HAS CONCLUDED.
Congratulations to Patricia Gavino for winning our ID-COOLING Hunter Duet, partnership with ID-Cooling Philippines. Please message us via our Facebook page or email us at contestback2gamingcom (whichever convenient) in the next 24 hours with your Facebook email address as hinted in the congratulatory image above. If you do not reach us in time, we will repick a new winner.
We’re giving away this ID-Cooling Hunter Duet from our review and we know you want it so we’re gonna make things easy for you and give everyone the chance to win this with our Hunter Duet raffle. a Rafflecopter giveaway
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