- CPU Waterblock
- Pump and Reservoir
- Coolant, Tubing and Fittings
I did thermal tests on 2 systems:
8 core: Intel i7 5960x (4.2 GHz at 1.2 Vcore) with quad channel DDR4 memory
(a) Fan at 50%, pump on Setting 3 (Test 1, cooler noise 32 dBA from 6″ away)
(b) Fan at 100%, pump on Setting 5 (Test 2, cooler noise 41 dBA from 6″ away)
4 core: Intel i7 4770k (4.5 GHz at 1.25 Vcore) with dual channel DDR3 memory
(a) Fan at 50%, pump on Setting 3 (Test 3, cooler noise 32 dBA from 6″ away)
(b) Fan at 100%, pump on Setting 5 (Test 4, cooler noise 41 dBA from 6″ away)
Each test was done in a climate controlled hotbox at 25 ºC ambient but the results will still be reported in terms of a delta T (component – ambient) in ºC. The ambient temperature should be nearly the same throughout the box with a +/- 0.25 ºC variability at most but still the ambient temperature sensor was held in front of the intake fan(s) as should be the case with CPU coolers in my opinion. If including the ambient temps into play, you are now introducing another variable into play here- the case/test bench air cooling layout- and this has no role in the review of a cooler. Each test/scenario was repeated three times and the average value taken to account of possible issues with mounting and TIM. Speaking of TIM, the stock TIM provided was used and cure time was accounted for by measuring values after steady state was achieved post burning in with an Intel XTU run. Aida64 was used to measure the core temperatures.
These are by far the best numbers for a CPU cooler I have tested so far. This is a full blown custom loop with some of the best components you can buy, and even the relatively weak CPU block is not holding the rest back in keeping even that hot 5960x cool. There is some very good scaling going on as well from the fan and pump speeds, although that lower noise on the odd numbered tests is a big factor to consider as well.
In order to compare between coolers, I am going to use the results from Test 4 (i7 4770k with all fans/pumps at 100%). I would have preferred to use test 2 (i7 5960x instead) but very soon I will have to use it for a personal project and I don’t have the luxury of having an extra 5960x lying around. On the plus side, I did test out the die to IHS heat transfer of this 4770k in the same hot box, and the internal bottleneck is extremely small here.
For those who can’t view the above interactive chart, please click here: CPU cooler comparison on i7 4770k
Please note that these results are for my testing systems and your results may vary. That being said, that is a massive difference in cooling performance between this Alphacool kit and everything else tested so far (do note that the charts above will update automatically, and so the discussion here may not be reflective of the scenarios you see). This is such a big difference that even the test 3 result of 40.6 °C would have topped the charts (from the bottom) as well and at much lower noise levels. Speaking of which, thermals are one thing and noise is another. As always, I urge you to read the reviews of the individual coolers you are interested in because the numbers at 100% everything may not always be indicative of everything. Some coolers don’t gain much in temps going from 50% to 100% fan/pump speed but noise levels can increase a lot, as was the case here.
Again, if you are unable to view this properly then please click here: CPU cooler noise level (100% fans/pumps)
Even with everything at full speed, the fans and pump chosen are low noise optimized to where it comes in among the quietest coolers tested so far and if you consider the Test 3 scenario it gets the quietest by a long margin even. This big gap in thermals and noise and the ability to customize your experience is where custom loop kits such as this one shine.
Before we wrap things up, I wanted to give you an idea on how expansion would work out. I added in an AMD R9 290 cooled by a Swiftech full cover GPU block and had it at 100% load using Unigine Heaven 4.0 with stock clocks. The differential temperature increment of the R9 290 GPU core over ambient temperatures was a mere 29.1 °C compared to 33.4 °C with the Swiftech H220-X, 36.8 °C with the EK Predator 240 and 38.1 °C with the Alphacool Eisbaer 240. The 360 mm radiator here vs 240 mm radiator elsewhere plays a big role, but so does the much stronger pump and the thicker radiator core as well. As I mentioned before, I recommend you strongly consider cooling a GPU as well with this kit- it is well capable of it.