Originally Posted by Carniflex
Although in my opinion the traditional loop can be as maintenance free as a closed loop, its just that people who go for the closed loop don't know that. All you need to do is to install stuff carefully and throw in there a proper mix of stuff instead of pure distilled (trading some cooling ability for maintenance free operation, as is done in the closed loops).
Even a loop with all copper components (and the brass), absolute top of the line tubing with no plasticizer issues, pure distilled water with a very potent anti-microbial, a top-notch corrosion inhibitor, and a lubricating/performance-improving additive (Redline Water Wetter is the best I know of) will still require maintenance. Automotive cooling systems, which are far more robust than the best of cooling loops, require that you change the fluid every few years, at least. I simply cannot think of a way to make a truly maintenance free cooling loop as there are simply too many variables to account for: fluid loss, reduction of additive potency/effects, corrosion, and so forth.
This is the most prominent reason that I have steered clear of closed loop water cooling units. The performance will degrade over time, it's inevitable. I am not saying that the units are bad, simply that I find that the custom loop route is a much better alternative, although I realize its not possible for many people due to expense, apprehension, and the like.
What makes a good sealed liquid cooling system good, in my opinion, is how well the manufacturer has balanced each component with one another while only "giving up" the absolute minimum of performance. The Corsair series doesn't meet these standards (my standards), but I think that the Thermaltake Water2.0 units have a lot more potential. The use of a 38mm thick 240 rad instead of the (honestly pathetic) 25mm thick H100 rad is a simple but significant change, as is the improved tubing that is more flexible while being less prone to fluid loss. The improved pump performance is a significant step forward in performance potential, and the cold plate is a fantastic design.
While the "ultimate" SLCS would appear to be the "upcoming" CM Eisenberg semi-modular SLCS, it is too far off to be able to say anything about it other than "looks promising". I do think that by the time you get up to the 360 rad version, pricing will be within a few dozen bucks of a "real" loop kit such as the Swiftech H2O-220/320 or the XSPC Raystorm EX240/280/360/420 + D5 kit. Both of these offer one of the two best overall pumps with the Swiftech coming out ahead in this area courtesy of the MCP35X IMO, although the XSPC kit offers a significantly better radiator; the CPU blocks are about the same, and while I prefer the Apogee HD for its mounting system + larger die contact plate + multiple outlets, the Raystorm does offer much less restriction and 1-2C better temps on 1155/AM3+ CPUs.
I just don't see the sealed liquid cooling systems as being in the same category as "real" liquid cooling, but they are clearly not air cooling units either, instead they occupy a middle ground, offering some of the benefits of each (air/water) along with the cons of each. I think that they have proven themselves to have a spot in the market, but I really think it's time that they evolve. The Corsair units are just terrible IMO, and should have been updated twice-over by now, although it's obvious that Corsair has become a company that relies on the name to sell products instead of constantly innovating and taking risks. I do hope that changes, but it does not quite feel like it's going to happen any time soon.