Unboxing, Overview and Disassembly
Aquacomputer operates a webshop and these came directly from their base of operations in the USA. As such, we will take a look at the complete packaging provided:
A fairly large sized package considering the contents inside, but lots of packaging all around and that is what I like to see. Better to pay extra and make sure the customer gets it safe and sound than pay even more for that increased risk of shipping related RMAs. Aquacomputer sent me the CPU block for the Intel LGA 2011(-3) socket as well as a conversion kit for Intel socket LGA 115x since I test on both at this time. Let’s take a look at that conversion kit first:
Contained here is a pouch that has the mounting hardware- 4 0.3 mm thick plastic washers, 4 retention posts, 4 mounting bolts. Also included in the backplate (embossed galvanized steel with integrated threads for the retention bolts to go into) and an insulating gasket (silicone) which has a removable center piece for LGA 115x (this is shared also with LGA 1366 and LGA 775). Finally, we have the two-piece mounting bracket which is made of stainless steel with round nickel plated brass inserts on either end where the mounting bolts go through.
On to the CPU block package now:
The box has a good mixture of colors and a sleeve on top of a cardboard box. The sides are adorned with information including the company and product name, salient features and more. Notice the 4 features in the first image (RGB, VISION, SENSOR, VARIO)? We will come back to those shortly. Right now, let’s take a look inside:
This being the LGA 2011(-3) model, we have the mounting hardware for those sockets here (hence the conversion kit provided separately) along with the general mounting hardware for the block. Included here thus are 4 mounting bolts, 4 metal springs and a Hex key to aid in installation. Also provided is the excellent Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut TIM along with a spatula tool for the thermal paste. In terms of TIM that is provided with CPU blocks, there is none that is higher performing and also non conductive. Not the easiest to spread, hence the tool provided if need be. Missing here was the installation manual, which I was sent as a PDF owing to timing of the review samples. The release versions will have a hard copy of the manual included.
The block itself is underneath in a separate compartment and surrounded by thick foam, the packaging reminds me of what EK does and that is not a bad thing at all. Overall, very good packaging! Let’s (finally) take a look at the block now:
The block comes in a plastic cover for that extra bit of protection, mostly against dust and helping make sure you get a pristine unboxing experience. As mentioned on the previous page, the cuplex kryos NEXT comes in over 90 different variants. As mentioned earlier, Aquacomputer sent me the version with the nickel plated brass top and a nickel plated copper base plate (coldplate). There is engraved lettering on the top with “Made in Germany”, “cuplex kryos” and “NEXT” on three sides. The block itself is unique looking as well compared to most others. This came with the LGA 2011(-3) mounting bracket pre-installed as can be seen. There are also grooves cut on the sides which is for aesthetics apart from one side where the outlet port is marked thus also indicating that the other port is the designated inlet port.
The two ports (both G1/4″ threaded) are spread apart enough to where even the relatively large Bitspower 1/2″ x 3/4″ compression fittings can fit in.
A large square base plate greets us on the other side, this has a mirror finish as well. Four H2.5 mm screws hold the block together, so let’s take it apart now and see what is inside. Note that disassembly was done after all testing was completed so that any user error in disassembly and re-assembly did not influence the block’s test results.
The cuplex kryos NEXT is a 2-piece (sans the mounting brackets) block with a large top/housing (Aquacomputer simply calls this the housing piece which makes sense) and the base plate. The housing has an integrated split in the center for the coolant to accelerate through and split as it flows through the microchannels in the base plate. The port closer to the center is the inlet port and that is directly above the split as seen above. There is an O-ring around this center section to make sure the coolant does not escape around the sides and is forced through the microchannels. As it is, this does the same as a removable jetplate. Given the metal nature, there will not be a lot of bowing pressure on the base plate compared to blocks with a thin stainless steel or even plastic jetplate.
The base plate is 2.4 mm thick, and the microfins/microchannels occupy an area of 28.2 x 31.4 mm which is about average at best compared to other recent blocks with a larger area occupied by microfins. Aquacomputer has instead decided to increase the density of said microfins and microchannels by having thin (<0.2 mm thick) and having ~438 microfins in 6 columns rather than having what would normally be one column of longer fins and channels. To help compare this to other such blocks, we can divide this number by 6 and get 73 fins IFF these were longer and not broken up and this number is similar to those in blocks using a larger surface area and wider fins/channels. As such, I expect liquid flow restriction to be on the higher side of average although this can also help out with heat transfer/thermal performance too. An optimum balance of the two is a must, and we will find out soon how Aquacomputer did.
In order to remove the mounting brackets as part of the conversion process for a different socket, you need a Torx T8 driver and remove two (per piece) small headless screws:
A total of 4 screws that keep both mounting bracket pieces in place on the housing. I am not a fan of having to disassemble the block to change the CPU socket, and I am not a fan either of needing a precision driver that many people may not have- especially with it not being included in the conversion kit. If you are among those who will take advantage of using the block across different CPU sockets, please make sure you tighten these headless screws just enough to hold the mounting bracket in place and no more.
Here’s the block re-assembled with the LGA 115x mounting bracket in place:
Re-assembly is straightforward in that you simply reverse the steps, but take care and make sure both O-rings are in place. Here are a couple of pictures of the block on a dark background because why not?
Now, let’s talk about the 4 features mentioned on the box. I am going to use direct quotes from Aquacomputer here because at this time these are forthcoming features and I do not have any personal feedback about them.
“For the cuplex kryos NEXT plexiglas versions we have integrated another function in VISION: an RGB illumination with highly developed functions. Controlled by the integrated water temperature sensor or external values, the cooler can change its color according to individual rules. Also effects and alarms are available. The possibilities are almost unlimited: for example CPU load, CPU temperature and other values from hardware monitoring can be visualized. Values from the aquaero can also be used as a data source via aquabus. With the upcoming aquasuite-web functionality, even data from other computers can be used as a data source. This also applies to the visualization on the display.”
“Aqua Computer is well-known for innovative electronic products, such as the aquaero series. For more than two years we have been working on a new product: VISION. VISION is a 32-bit microprocessor system with a computing power above the aquaero and an OLED display in a compact design. Now you are wondering how this is related to a CPU cooler? The answer is simple: among other things VISION is integrated in variants of the cuplex kryos NEXT. The system is so compact that the cooler is only about 6mm longer and it provides a 128×64 pixel graphic display in the cooler. This display can receive and visualize data from the aquasuite software via USB or via aquabus. For example, the current CPU load or CPU temperature can be displayed. However, this is only a fraction of the functionality: VISION coolers have a highly accurate measurement for the water temperature. VISION can also monitor this data and display charts for example – even without a USB or aquabus connection. Also a flow sensor can be connected to VISION.”
“The VARIO technology is a technology that perfectly adapts the cooler to the individual CPU of the customer. During the above-described optimization phase, the question arose for us how to build a CPU cooler that could be perfectly adapted to the CPU. In the 3D data of the CPUs that we have scanned, there were concave, convex, and perfectly flat CPU heat spreaders. The protected VARIO technology (DE202016002497U1) divides the housing of the cooler into two parts. A movable inner part and an outer housing. The inner part can be adjusted at angle and position by the actuators at four points. These settings are transferred to the base of the cooler via a contact surface and deforms it in the range of a few hundredths of a millimeter (reversibly). The advantage is that this adjustment can be performed during operation from the outside. The user starts Prime95 for example and checks the temperatures of the cores using the aquasuite software. By rotating the four actuators he can optimize the shape of the base plate and check this by correspondingly decreasing core temperatures. Our internal tests show an optimization potential of approx. 2K for current CPUs with a TDP of 100W. The coolers with VARIO technology are designed to prevent a damage to the cooler itself or the CPU. Each individual cooler is calibrated and the default setting (corresponding to the standard cooler) is marked by a laser engraving on each cooler. This allows the user to easily reset the cooler to its original delivery condition at any time.”
The “SENSOR” feature presumably is all about the integrated temperature sensor in some of the VISION featured variants. Needless to say, I am extremely excited to learn more about them. Aquacomputer plans to sell the cuplex kryos NEXT in a standard, VARIO, VISION and a VARIO-VISION version with each having subsequent variants based on the materials and finish used. I will see if I can get my hands on a VARIO-VISION model to see how this works out in practice. Note also that this is how they have announced the successor to their popular Aquaero control system.
Let’s take a look at the installation process on the next page.