The Vantage A.L.C. Controller Unit
As you can see, the Vantage A.L.C. is a very unique and innovative product with its integrated LCD control panel. Preliminary viewing of the screen revealed that the text is easy to read and manage as you flip through the screen options. There are two small buttons just below the screen that assist in accomplishing this. One maneuvers you through the menu and the other selects and sets the options.
What's even more impressive is that the entire Vantage unit is powered off of the motherboard's CPU fan port. It does not require any extra power even for operating the cooling fan. It simply splices in and is controlled off the main unit. This means that the unit is impressively energy efficient and shouldn't use much more power than your regular high end dual fan air cooling solution.
Another feature that makes the Vantage more innovative is the unique, patented retention clip for mounting to Intel based motherboards. There is no assembling of screws, bolts, washers, or clips here. All one has to do is pull on the clip slightly and move the standoff to the desired LGA socket position. That's it. If you thought that the Domino A.L.C. was easy to install in a few minutes this should break some records for quick install times.
Looking at the bottom, you can see that the copper base comes with some thermal paste already applied. It's worth nothing that the paste is also applied evenly in a thin coat vs the slathered on state that we find some pre-applications in. Even though there isn't a mirror finish, closer inspection revealed the base finish to be very smooth and free of rough spots or anything else that could hinder the block from contacting the CPU correctly. This really is the most important feature of any cooling block as any additional polishing may or may not increasing cooling performance. It may just add extra cost instead and we're sure CoolIT weighed the pros and cons when it came time to meet their aggressive price point.
The Radiator and Tubing
Though you can't tell by looking at the black painted finish, there is actually an aluminum radiator underneath it. The aluminum micro channels do most of the work dissipating the heat within the coolant. One nice thing about an all-aluminum radiator and copper block is that it resists any chemical reactions with coolant. CoolIT's own formulation just further prevents things from ever going awry.
As in previous cooling systems like it's brother, the ECO A.L.C. (reviewed here), the Vantage uses very similar FEP corrugated plastic semi-flexible tubing. While it is flexible plastic it does still have a flex limit that you just don't want to pass. However, there is more than enough flex in the line that it will accommodate most any computer tower case. There is also pivoting fittings in the block itself to allow you some additional latitude in tubing placement as well.
The mounting the rear radiator is made possible by spacer that resembles the shell of a very thin case fan. It's roughly 20mm in depth and provides a buffer between the case and the radiator itself. The nice thing about the spacer is that you can remove it and substitute an actual case cooling fan, allowing you to create a push/pull fan setup that accelerates air flow through the radiator by sucking the air passing through it more quickly. It's possible to give the radiator a little extra cooling performance with the right fan which is around 60 CFM min.
Now that we've had a good look at what makes the system special, what it costs, and what it looks like, let's put the installation to the test!