Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
When it comes to many of the coolers, we have seen from be quiet in the past. Their formula seemed pretty simple. Build a fan that delivers good airflow and pressure while keeping the noise at bay throughout that design process. Once happy with fans, it seems they engineer the cooler to work around that fan. Using tricks of the trade, shapes, louvers, additional heat pipes, an increase in surface area, the list goes on and on. However, from what we have seen with their AIO, it is one CPU cooler where be quiet took the angle of noise be damned. Let's build a kickass AIO with options that anyone appreciates and sells at a price that harkens back to when CoolIt and Asetek were trading blows back and forth, keeping competition high and costs low.
Along with what is billed as superior cooling, a few features stand out, which allows this AIO to stand taller in the crowd. Lighting is a big concern for many. RGB, no RGB, static lighting, what to choose? Even though be quiet limits the choices to white for illumination, it is not something that has to be on and is individually powered to allow you to opt for lit or not without the need for software. This AOI is not technically a sealed loop system either. While changing components in the loop is not the idea here, refilling, or better yet, topping off the coolant is something be quiet offers where many others do not. Another thing we saw was the mention of the nickel-plated cold plate, which is done for many reasons, but be quiet mentions another reason for its usage, which is to allow the use of liquid metal thermal compound without the bad reactions we have all heard about.
There are yet a few tricks that be quiet has implemented in this design, but we have to save something for the rest of the review. For those of you looking for an AIO where software and all the fancy lighting are not the priority in a design, be quiet has something here that will interest many of you, all while not offering some boring, solid black piece of kit from years gone by, but doing it all on their terms. It is refreshing to see CPU coolers like this, and we group very few into a similar category which is where the ARCTIC solutions reside in our minds. Only a select group of AIOs go back to the older methodology of giving people what they want and do not gut an account in the process, and from what we see upfront, be quiet and their Pure Loop 360mm liquid CPU cooler are in the hunt for being one, if not the, best bang for the buck AIO out there today.
Compiling the chart above from information gathered on the Pure Loop 360 product page, we will cover the 360mm version, but this cooler has 120mm, 240mm, and 280mm versions. Dimensions of the radiator come first but includes the 25mm thickness of the supplied fans. This aluminum radiator is 397mm long, 120mm wide, 27mm thick, and once assembled, it is painted black.
We then jump into the head unit specifications. The cold plate is made of copper, which is then nickel-plated. We see the total combined weight of the Pure Loop of 1360 grams, just before the list of compatible sockets that the Pure Loop will work with. As to the package we received, all of the hardware is included, except for the LGA1700; that kit was shipped to us separately. We have been informed that stock has arrived with LGA1700 support included in the box, so between now and then, you will have to contact customer service for their free kit with proof of purchase. As a side note, AM4 is the only listed AMD-supported socket, but there are washers to space the hardware properly for AM3 as well, for now.
Next in line are the fans, and we get three 120mm fans with this 360mm AIO. Each fan is a Pure Wings 2 fan with the BQ PUW2-12025-HR-PWM model number. Each fan can top out at 2000 RPM, but the sound rating is 40.5 dB(A)! These fans spin on rifle bearings with 4-pole motors, sipping power through the 420mm long 4-pin PWM cables. The longevity of the fans is higher than most, where we see an 80,000-hour rating.
We had to wait to nearly the end to get more specs on the pump, but they are included. The pump can reach 5500 RPM via the 3-pin power cable. Another thing be quiet mentioned about the pump is its ability to stay silent when in use through "doubly decoupled" mounting. This means that the pump is made not to deliver vibrations through the tubing, thus not emanating anything more than a slight hum from the pump. While not exactly part of the pump, we also see the 400mm tube length listed before making it to the accessories.
Thermal grease comes in the box, as do other things we may not expect. A triple y-splitter cable allows all fans to be powered from a single fan header, a pretty standard inclusion for an AIO. However, there is also a Y-splitter with SATA power connections. This allows users to feed the pump 12V, providing power to the head unit illumination. Also, because this is a refillable loop, be quiet includes a 100 ml bottle of coolant to replace what evaporates over time. Speaking of time, be quiet ships the Pure Loop coolers with a three-year warranty.
Previously, we mentioned a price that reminds us of years gone by, and by that, we mean that getting the 360mm version of this loop will not set you back over $200 due to software and fancy lighting. Rather the opposite in our eyes. We also mentioned that when we tested the ARCTIC LF II cooler, it carried a price that could not be beaten. However, times have changed, and currently, the 360mm version of the LF II will set you back more than $150. With the current market, it may be a bit of a shock to find out that all it will cost to obtain the styling and performance we are about to show you is at the cost of just $119.90, and that is flat out pricing, not a special deal at the moment!
As be quiet coolers do, the Pure Loop 360mm AIO ships in a matte black box with pops of white and orange. Starting at the left is the classification bar, which has the Pure Loop as part of the Essential line of coolers. In the middle is a look at the product with the head unit illuminated, but the fans are still for added branding. Although with the white and orange be quiet at the top-right, it's hard not to know who made it.
One of the sides that offers entry inside also starts with a bit of the backstory on be quiet. The bulk of the area is a specifications chart similar to what we discussed, but there are subtle additions like AM3 support, and the pump lighting comes from a separate 3-pin fan connection.
Both of the side panels on the packaging are identical down to the last detail. In the center of the panel is the Pure Loop "quiet and superior cooling" 360mm, and off to the right, a bit higher on the panel, we again find the be quiet branding.
As we gander at the back panel, we see things kick off with a look at the pump. With this not being an Asetek part, the pump is moved inline near the radiator, covered below the pump. The Pure Wings 2 are discussed at the right, above, where we learn of the head units styling. We also find compliances at the bottom, serial number, and a BW008 model number.
The second option for gaining access into the packaging delivers three things. There is a QR code that takes you to the product page. Second, the text below the code states that the code is for the product information, and lastly, this time in gray, we see the be quiet name at the bottom.
As many AIOs do, be quiet also opts for the recycled cardboard inner packaging. It is a lower-cost solution, but with the compartments keeping each component away from each other, along with staying away from other parts and accessories, allow the Pure Loop 360 we have to be in perfect condition, ready for the close-ups to come.
be quiet! PURE LOOP 360mm Liquid CPU Cooler
Rather than round or square, be quiet falls between the two with the rounded head unit and its oblong mounting bracket. While most of the external surface is made of textured black plastic, the center is made of brushed aluminum sporting the be quiet name in black, with a light diffuser surrounding it.
Yes, the cover is removable, but not for access to anything special. While we can see the ten SMD LEDs and the black PCB screwed to the top of the block chamber, it looks cool and all, but again, not the point. It is removable for when a motherboard is inverted or clearances make you reverse the head unit. That way, the be quiet name is never upside down.
On the right side of the head unit, there are a pair of swivel fittings that take coolant into and out of the head unit, and we find covers containing the ends of the braided material used to sleeve the tubes. As to the wire between them, the two-strand wire powers the white LEDs. That's it. If you do not desire lighting, do not plug it in.
Under the head unit, we find the octagonal-shaped cold plate. This slightly convex mating surface has been nickel-plated while made of copper and machined, leaving circular marks visible on the surface. Not just that it keeps the copper from oxidizing, cleans easier, and looks cool, it is also an added layer of protection for various thermal paste chemical makeups.
As we venture away from the head unit, we run into the pump down the 400mm of braid-covered tubing. As we see it, the tube closest is connected to the pump, and the case covers both tubes for added pump stability and eliminates potential issues. At the sixteen-inch mark is when we hit the radiator, where we find the tubes get the same treatment with connectivity.
For those of you who opt out of the light contained in the head unit and while the loop is running, branding could be tough to see. To help combat that, be quiet uses the sides of the radiator to paint the PURE LOOP name on it, so while fans spin and head units fall into shadows, anyone can see what you are rocking to cool your CPU.
If down the line, you find that the box has been tossed, but an issue arises, you can always check the fitting-end of the radiator, as there is a sticker there with its sole purpose to display that number on this 27mm thick, aluminum radiator.
We almost forgot one of the more important feature photos but were reminded once we made our way to this end of the radiator while installing the fans. Should you feel like sufficient time has passed, or you can hear a lot of air inside of the loop, with the included bottle of coolant, you can open the system in the header to add more as needed. Keep in mind that this should be the highest point of the loop when attempting any of this when opening the system.
With standard fan mounting holes, this 360mm radiator comes with a high fin density, and the spot we chose counts 23 FPI. It takes a fair amount of airflow and pressure to make these high FPI radiators do their best, and we feel that the 2000 RPM Silent Wings 2 fans are up to the task.
Accessories and Documentation
The Intel hardware that shipped with our cooler is what we see in this image. The standoffs for mainstream Intel sockets are on the left, with the HEDT standoffs below them. We then see the studs and washers that work with the holes in the backplate found in the middle, with four screws to mount the pair of brackets found to the right to the top of the socket.
AMD users will opt for this portion of the hardware. On the left are the top brackets, where the AM4 holes are clearly marked. We get a set of plastic spacers, thin spacers for AM3 users, and the screws that lock all of the components to your default motherboard backplate.
As to some of the universal components, we found the coolant bottle good down to -5°C. There is a small syringe of thermal paste good for at least two attempts at mounting the Pure Loop and two dozen screws, half shorter ones to mount the radiator to the chassis and long ones to mount the fans to the radiator.
For those who want the pump to run at full speed all of the time, you can opt for the SATA-powered Y-splitter cable with a pair of 3-pin power connectors on it. The second connector is for the LED lighting, as it does not require an extra fan header on the motherboard this way. There is also a 3-way splitter cable with 4-pin connectors on it, allowing all three fans to connect to a single motherboard header. To help maintain the cables or help hide them, there are also zip-ties supplied in the kit.
This trio of fans comes shipped inside plastic bags, and we find that the power leads are also taped to the frame. Each fan has nine blades optimized for airflow and pressure while not going too far up the noise scale. You may also notice a lack of isolation materials at the corners of these fans, but in truth, the support is around the inner ring, and there are no discernable vibrations heard or felt.
The manual on the left leaves little to the imagination. Each socket type gets a dedicated portion of the book, taking things step-by-step and ensuring that their customers have little to question when it comes time to putting these Pure Loops into a chassis. On the right is an insert about disposal due to certain components, and there is also a warning for kids due to the tiny parts included. As odd as this may sound, be quiet also mentions not to eat the thermal paste!
Installation and Finished Product
To start the installation, there will come the removal of parts. In this instance, we removed the factory screws and plastic latches on all AMD motherboards. Leaving the backplate in place, we can move on to the next step.
To get to this stage, following the manual, we set the plastic spacers over the studs of the backplate. Once those are in place, you can put the brackets on top of the spacers, and using the marked holes for AM4, we insert the provided screws and lock all of this to the motherboard.
After making sure the plastic sticker is not on the cold plate, apply some thermal paste, and using the screws "locked: into the head unit bracket, secure the head unit to the hardware, alternating between the pair of screws as you send them home. We stopped when the threads ran out. Once secured, we found no issues with clearances with the heat sinks around the socket or with the memory. There is room to populate the slots without contact between them.
With the head unit in place and the LED cable plugged into the SATA adapter, we moved to the radiator portion, getting the fans mounted, securing it to the chassis, and tending to the wires. Sitting here as it does now, there is no doubt about who makes this AIO or what it is called, and the more we look at it, the more the styling grows on us.
As many will see the Pure Loop, once installed for the first time, the branding simplifies to the maker on the head unit, and the name of the cooler is on full display here, but many cases could block a portion or all of that PURE LOOP name. We like the blending of the components with the natural aluminum on the GPU cooler and motherboard covers, which is also another reason we opted for this on our DDR5 test rig.
With power added to the Pure Loop 360, the fans spin up, the pump turns on, and the white ring around the head unit illuminates. While many may say, "it's not RGB, I don't want it." You are free to think and say such things, but many dislike unicorn farts and mismatching modes, and this is not only a simplified solution to all of that. If you decide the white clashes, unplug it and carry on.
Test System Setup, Thermal Tests, and Noise Results
Chad's CPU Cooler Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII HERO [Wi-Fi] (AMD X570) - Buy from Amazon
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3600X - Buy from Amazon
- Memory: Corsair Vengeance LPX 4000MHz 4X8GB
- Graphics Card: ASUS GeForce RTX 2060 6GB OC - Buy from Amazon
- Storage: Galax HOF Pro M.2 1TB SSD
- Case: Hydra Bench Standard
- Power Supply: ASUS ROG Thor 850W - Buy from Amazon
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Home 64-bit - Buy from Amazon
- Software: AMD Ryzen Master, AIDA64 Engineer 6.25.5400, and CPU-z 1.92.0 x64
To see our testing methodology and to find out what goes into making our charts, please refer to our 2020 CPU Cooler Testing and Methodology article for more information.
The Pure Loop was powered by PWM functionality for both the pump and the fans when obtaining this result. For this run, the pump was spinning at 5300 RPM as the maximum during this round of testing. We were left with a temperature average of 56.7°C, which ever so slightly edges out the LF II 280. While still a couple of degrees out of the lead, one must also consider that the chart-topper is near $200.
Again, with PWM in control of the Pure Loop spinning components, we saw 5335 RPM as the maximum pump speed for this run. The average temperature was 64.2°C, falling three-tenths of a degree behind the FL II 280, and the gap has widened to nearly double that of the stock run to the first place temperature.
If you need every last drop of performance, you can increase the fan speed and connect the pump to the provided adapter. Doing so will gain you roughly two degrees over what we saw with PWM control but comes at a hefty penalty to your ears.
Noise Level Results
In our stock run, we let PWM control the fan speed, and we saw them top out at 1232 RPM, up from the 880 RPM they idle at. During the test, we pulled out the meter and saw 28 dB. It seems pretty standard for a be quiet cooler, under what is considered the threshold for most people.
With more heat coming out of the CPU with the overclock applied, we saw the fans react, but not as much as we had assumed. While near the end of the run, we again pulled the meter out and saw only 39 dB on the screen, and it did not increase much, as the fans only increased to 1384 RPM.
Taking the motherboard out of the fan and pump control equation, we saw the fans top out at 2011 RPM as reported by AIDA64, which is right in spec with what we saw in the charts. However, it was at this time we realized why the PWM curve was set the way it was. Allowing the fans to spool up, the noise level jumps to 65 dB, where only three coolers have been louder than this Pure Loop 360.
The Pure Loop follows its name. It is a pure loop in the traditional sense. It comes with everything you need to function, and the level of performance is of today's standards, not that of a decade ago. It may not have some overly fancy software control, and it certainly does not make itself known with a display of RGB. Those looking for a cooler with some style, which includes being able to refill and extend the life of the unit, is something many do not even consider. Why should they? You make more money if you sell more products. However, be quiet took an honest approach to what the market wanted, incorporated options, goodies, and did all of what we just covered without us having to sell a kidney to obtain it.
Can you get a better AIO? If you want to nearly double the investment, you certainly can gain another four to five degrees of headroom, but do you need all of the other stuff that comes along with that bit of kit. The likely answer is no, and ARCTIC proved that concept not long ago. However, where ARCTIC was once the king in bang for the buck, the current stock, and what the market shows is that now it costs nearly $150 to obtain the same LF II 280 we previously tested. It is easy to see where this is going, as be quiet now sneaks onto the field and takes that honor in our minds. Comparing the two head to head, we would like the white LEDs, and natural brushed aluminum over the Darth Minion ARCTIC released. For us, it is all perspective and market placement and we feel that be quiet and the Pure Loop 360 offers customers a ton of performance without getting gaudy, nor will it make you have to pick a lesser chassis or PSU due to the cooler costing too much.
If you can call it a complaint, or a negative, we need to mention the noise as we conclude. Still, as designed, the Pure Loop 360mm will likely not hit that level, only if you manually make it so in BIOS or decide to power the fans from the 12V rail rather than a motherboard header. The flip side of that is that even though it is there if you need that two degrees from this cooler, we would suggest dialing your daily OC back a notch. However, should you find yourself attempting this, make sure you are ready for it, as it does get quite loud at 65 dB.
Once we verified costs, there is not a single cooler that placed better than the Pure Loop that is as affordable. The Galahad and the LF II are the closest, but neither offers anything over what be quiet produced in our minds. One could argue the Galahad is the better dressed, but we are not the tuxedo type unless it's on a t-shirt. At $119.90, we cannot complain about s single thing in, on, or about the Pure Loop 360mm we have in our hands. It came to the party, brought beer and snacks, and still was able to bust it out on the dance floor.
When it comes to bang for the buck, be quiet holds that crown for the moment, and with some success of these coolers, we feel they are in for, it may even lead to another, which contends even better than they currently do, but that may be asking for too much. As it is, we see no reason not to get yourself a Pure Loop 360mm AIO. Outside of personal preferences, we see no real reason not to.
The Bottom Line
Performance is terrific, the overall build quality is top-notch, but it does lack some features of the top dogs in the game. However, with such a low cost of admittance, the Pure Loop 360 is a ride many will want to take.