The Bottom LineTaking the Pure Loop systems to an entirely new level, be quiet! hits the sweet spot in the Pure Loop 2 FX coolers. Not only does it perform better than previous versions, the aesthetic game has vastly increased, we get an ARGB PWM fan hub, and without the bloat of other AIOs.
Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
Along with the PURE ROCK 2 FX we saw not long ago, be quiet! also released a new AIO for their twentieth anniversary. Building upon the Pure Loop Series of coolers, be quiet! decided to go back to the drawing board a bit, and much like the air cooler we saw, they are also adding ARGB to their liquid coolers. This move is not just them putting lipstick on a pig wither. We have been using their AIOs on test benches, and now even our newest Evangelion-themed build from ASUS has a Pure Loop cooler keeping our 12700K chilly and boosting as it should. In the Evangelion rig, we almost made the cooler we are about to look at with some of their Light Wings fans that came out. Yet, at the same time, we are locked to a white-only display of lighting from the head unit.
Not only did be quiet! up the illumination portion of the system, but they also had a look at other aspects to see where performance could be added. We mentioned that these new coolers are based on the Pure Loop, but they also went ahead and changed the pump. Rather than being 3-pin powered, it is now 4-pin powered with PWM control. That lone would not boost performance, but we got more speed out of this pump this time than on previous models. Not only do the Light Wings fans that come in these new models deliver a brilliant glow of colors from the fans, but be quiet! also changed the head unit PCB, which now allows for 5V ARGB inside, offering even more brilliance into the chassis.
In the most basic terms, we are about to look at the new and improved Pure Loop AIO from be quiet!, which is built like a sealed loop system, but unlike many others out there, be quiet! is keeping the fill port in the latest iterations, allowing users to top up their AIO, keeping it effective for longer. With most of the basics in your mind as to what the plan is, allow us to introduce you to the Pure Loop 2 FX 280mm liquid CPU cooler from be quiet!, and see if there is enough here to make anyone want to move into what they have on offer.
Even though we will be using the Pure Loop 2 FX 280mm liquid cooler, we should start by telling you there is also a 240mm and 360mm variant releasing along with this one. In this instance, we are dealing with a 280mm-based unit, which is why the radiator is 317mm long, 140mm wide, and 25mm thick. The aluminum radiator gets sprayed with black paint but also sports the Pure Loop 2 FX name down both sides in bright white. True for all models. Opposite the end where the tubing is connected is a Phillips head screw, which can be removed to refill the loop with the provided bottle of coolant. Speaking of tubing, from the radiator to the head unit, there is 400mm of rubber tube with sleeved covering and plastic caps at the ends to keep them tidy.
The head unit looks a lot like the previous models without any power; beyond the lighting changes, it is the same. The head unit is square-shaped with rounded corners, the top of which is brushed aluminum with a diffuser ring around it. On the cover, the be quiet! name is painted in black, and it can be removed and flipped should you need to fit it inside an inverted chassis. The top portion of the mounting hardware is attached to the cooler and is the same no matter which socket you use. Beyond that, there is no pump in this head unit; that 5500 RPM pump is in-line with these units. The 3-pin lead exiting the head unit is to power the lights. Flipping the head unit over, you will find a machined copper cold plate which is also Nickel plated and ever-so-slightly convex.
Compatibility is wide open for Intel and goes as far back as to work with an LGA115X processor and anything newer than those, including LGA1700 and HEDT platforms. AMD support is quite a bit more restricted, and AMD users need to have an AM4 system or have plans to pick up the latest gear, which has yet to release.
The new addition of Light Wings fans with this specific AIO equates to a pair of 140mm fans that are 25mm thick. They are black fans with a white diffuser ring on the front, each sporting nine black blades. These fans will spin up to 2200 RPM via the 4-pole motor spinning on a rifle bearing. The fan cables are 500mm long for easier connectivity, and while not mentioned in the chart, an ARGB/fan hub is along for the ride, as it is included in the box.
The price of these newer models is not anything too outrageous either. The 240mm version is released with a $129.90 MSRP, and the MSRP of the 360mm variant is set at $154.90. As to the Pure Loop 2 FX 280mm we have in hand, the MSRP is set at $139.90, which we feel is fair. However, much like with the PURE ROCK 2 FX Black, there is a short period where it can be had for less. For those who love what they see, there is an anniversary discount with select partners throughout August and September, which can reduce the cost up to another $30. We will be using the $139.90 pricing for our later opinions, but man, what a deal to be had if you act fast.
The be quiet! Pure Loop 2 FX 280mm AIO is part of the essential series. As we can see, the bulk of the packaging is matte black with a bit of gray trim. The center of the front panel is used to display the cooler inside of the box while powered, allowing be quiet! to show off the new ARGB lighting of the fans and the head unit.
Along with a brief statement from be quiet! and the web address at the bottom, we see some specifications. All of the important bits are there, and should you look at this in a box store; you can tell if it will fit in a specific chassis without having to check the site.
Both long sides of the box are identical. On the vast expanse of matte black cardboard, we get the company name at the top and the Pure Loop 2 FX 280mm product name in the center. They also include the tagline "impressive lighting, superior cooling."
The back of the box highlights the doubly-decouple pump with an image and text covering its PWM functionality, isolation, and lack of noise. They also cover the Light Wings fans, the refill port on the radiator, and the improved aesthetics of the head unit, along with the first mention of an ARGB-PWM hub.
The last panel starts with a QR-code that takes us to the Pure Loop 2 FX 280mm product page using the camera on most phones. The box even states that using it will get you product information for this CPU cooler.
Once we cut through some anti-tamper stickers, we opened the end of the box and slid out the inner packaging. The compartmentalized recycled cardboard did a terrific job of isolating all of the components for the AIO and allowed the cooler to be in great shape to be reviewed.
be quiet! Pure Loop 2 FX Liquid CPU Cooler
The head unit for the Pure Loop 2 FX coolers is what we see here, with the thick black plastic exterior surrounding the square-ish center portion. On the top is a cover that can be flipped upside down if needed; it is covered with brushed aluminum and the be quiet! name in black inside the diffuser ring.
The right side of this head unit is where the ninety-degree swivel fittings are located. These fittings are made of plastic and use shiny caps to deliver a clean-looking termination for the braided sleeve on the exterior. We can also see the triple-wire lead coming out of the head unit between them, and again, this is not to power a pump, but the 3-pin fan header is used to power the ARGB lighting.
There is a warning sticker on the cooler's base, but we have removed it to get a clear view of the mating surface. Made of copper and then Nickel plated, the base is convex, while circular machine marks are clearly visible.
Nearer the radiator in the 400mm lengt5h of tubing, we find the pump. It is easy to see that the top tube is fitted to the pump, and its cover is clamped around the lower tube for stability. Coming out of the right side of the pump is a 4-wire lead that terminates in a 4-pin fan connector, which allows PWM functionality in a range of 4000 to 5500 RPM.
Being a 280mm radiator, it gets only two fan mounting locations. Like many others on the market, this radiator is made of aluminum and painted matte black. We also chose a random spot to count the fins and got twenty-two fins per inch.
Locating where the fill port is should be simple. On the same side of the radiator that the tubing connects to, but at the other end of the radiator, is this screw. You will need to lay the unit flat on a table, with the head unit as the lowest point. Unscrew this, and using the bottle provided, you can top off any fluid that may have evaporated over time.
Both sides of the radiator display the cooler's name, and quite boldly, we might add. The Pure Loop 2 FX name displayed in white paint is easily visible in many cases, even through tinted tempered glass side panels.
Accessories and Documentation
In this image, we have all of the Intel mounting hardware. On the left are universal brackets, while the ones next to it are specific for socket LGA1700. The backplate is in the center, and to the right, we see the rubber o-rings, universal standoffs, bracket screws, HEDT standoffs, and the backplate screws with a groove to accept the o-rings.
The AMD hardware is simpler since it supports only AM4 and AM5. A pair of brackets, a set of four standoffs, and four screws secure all of these parts to the factory backplate. You will need to remove the top plastic portion of the factory hardware to fit this.
The fan screws came in a sealed envelope of clear plastic, but we confirmed there are eight short and long screws each. A trio of zip-ties helps to contain wires to the hub or even clip the pump wire to the tubing, and we also get a small syringe of thermal paste, good enough for a couple of applications.
While the rest of the gear came through shipping without a mark, the supplied coolant bottle is what took the hit when the box was damaged. On the reverse of the provided 100 ml of coolant, there is a crease, which compressed the bottle, and is why there are droplets inside of the bag, which has never happened in previous samples. The coolant is still usable, and we are glad it took one for the team. It could have been much worse.
We saw the ARGB/PWM hub in another bag and laid it out to see what it was all about. Using SATA power, the hub connects to a 5V ARGB connector on the motherboard, and with the 3-wire 4-pin PWM header on the motherboard, you can use sync software to control the hub while getting RPM reading via software. Just be sure to connect a fan to the RPM bort at the top, as the hub will run at 100% if you don't, not PWM controlled. Otherwise, the hub offers six 4-pin fan connections and six 5V ARGB connections.
In the Pure Loop 2 FX 280mm box, we found the pair of Light Wings fans, both 140mm PWM fans. With rubber on the corners for isolation and an all-black theme, the diffuser ring pops on these BQ LIW-14025-HHR-PWM fans. Both come with leads for the 4-pin PWM power and the 5V ARGB power, which are intended to go into the hub.
The manual opens to codes to access the product page, followed by a thank you for picking be quiet!. We quickly run into a parts list before getting to the AMD installation steps, which go as far as chassis installation and hub connectivity. The same is repeated for mainstream Intel sockets, then again for HEDT Intel users. The manual ends with notes on lighting, system refilling, recommended installations, and a troubleshooting guide. The paper to the right is about disposal, as you should take care when disposing of electrical items.
Installation and Finished Product
After removing the top portion of the AMD default hardware, we installed the four standoffs. We then set the brackets on top of the standoffs, grabbed the provided screws, and securely fastened them into the factory backplate. At this time, the hardware should not move, and if it does, tighten it more.
For many of you, you will grab the small syringe of paste and apply it to the CPU HIS, but we use MX-4 on all of the coolers. Either way, once applied, you hover the head unit over one of the brackets and send in a few threads. Once that is done, you can line up the second screw and get that one into the other bracket. We then alternated sides every five turns until the screws stopped turning.
We also mounted the fans, making sure not to go too tight as you can warp the rubber pads, and they can unstick. The radiator is mounted to the chassis, and if it weren't for the Pure Loop 2 FX name on the side of the radiator and the fan diffuser rings, at this point, it's hard to tell it from earlier versions.
However, the difference is huge once the Pure Loop 2 FX is powered and comes to life. We have lost the bright white ring around the head unit in favor of a ring full of color. We also now get the rings above on the radiator delivering a ton of light to the top half of the motherboard while also glowing off the top of the video card. We just hope it cools as good as it looks.
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.
We did not expect to surpass the Pure Loop 360 we tested previously, but the Pure Loop 2 FX 280 landing three slots above it, in seventh place overall at 56.3°C, is impressive. The Pure Loop 2 FX 280mm is keeping company close to the likes of the H150i Elite Capellix, the Galahad, Coreliquid S360, Lumen S36 and is even slightly better than the SE-207-XT, the best of the air coolers currently.
The Pure Loop 2 FX 280mm stands its ground without skipping a beat and again lands in seventh place. While doing so, the gap widens between it and its older brother, and when comparing costs to those above it, we feel that the Pure Loop 2 FX 280mm is swinging a bit above its weight class. At 62.8°C, we have little to complain about with these results.
Allowing the cooler to run as fast as possible, in an attempt to find more headroom, we find that be quiet! leaves only a little bit on the table. At 60.7°C, we are only 2.1° cooler than with PWM in control. Given how far the noise level jumps, many will never need to deal with the maximum noise levels of the Pure Loop 2 FX 280mm.
Noise Level Results
We did expect a touch less noise from a be quiet! product, but the reality is at 34 dB, inside of a chassis, this is not that big of a deal. We got that number while running the stock test under PWM control, where the fans were shown spinning up to 1290 RPM. Those wondering, the pump was turning at 4545 RPM but is nearly silent; the fans are louder than it.
With the amount of thermal performance we saw, we cannot be that mad that the fan becomes audible, even inside a case. At 40 dB, the Pure Loop 2 FX 280mm makes its presence known when the fans turn at 1400 RPM. The pump increased speed slightly to 4657 RPM, but we could not hear it over the fans.
With the fans and pump at full whack, we saw the fans turning at 2000 RPM, while in the spec is slightly slow, but the pump got closer to spec at 5400 RPM. While doing this, a head-numbing 60 dB of noise comes from the fans. We mentioned not needing the extra two degrees, as the noise delivered is much greater this way and not worth it.
Being as blunt as possible, after seeing what we did in the previous sample from be quiet!, we did not think this was much more than shiny lights on an old design, but once we dug into the specs, our hopes increased for something a little more. We did not expect the Pure Loop 2 FX in the 280mm form to pass right by the previous iteration of coolers with a 360mm-based radiator. After seeing where it lands in the stock test, our fears were settled, and seeing it stand its ground with the overclock applied is something not many coolers can do.
We also like that be quiet! is moving away from silence with some of their products, as it takes them from the bottom of the top ten list to somewhere in the middle. With a bit more effort, we could easily see them at the top of our charts, but we won't put the cart in front of the horse quite yet.
Performance is one thing, and the biggest to many customers, but that is not where be quiet! stopped. They improved the pump while including PWM functionality. On top of that, the pump is one of the quieter pumps we test, where they are outside of the head unit. Then be quiet! goes a little crazy and drops ARGB lighting, and from a company that seemed to be all about the sleepers of the CPU cooler world, this is a drastic departure from their norm.
We also love that to control the lighting; you do not need another software suite to conflict with the rest, as you can opt to control it with motherboard sync software or do nothing at all and just let the rainbow take over the chassis with a brilliant amount of light coming from the Pure Loop 2 FX 280mm. We also like the idea of refilling an AIO, as we have run into many times where we retired AIOs in the past due to evaporation and a loss of performance. Not here, be quiet! gives you the coolant bottle and makes it a simple process.
If there is one complaint, it would be the upper-end noise level, but again, you have to inflict that punishment on yourself. While under PWM control, topping out at 40 DB is nothing compared to many others in our charts. Otherwise, it is a terrific product to come from, be quiet!, and we hope that others see it for what it is. What you get is an easy-to-mount AIO with all the goodies needed, including an ARGB/PWM fan hub, zip-ties, coolant, everything.
Even though we feel that at $139.90, you are getting every last penny of your money's worth out of the deal, now is the time to act if you have the slightest inclination to buy one of these Pure Loop 2 FX systems. Since be quiet! is sharing the love of their anniversary with their customers, if you act before the end of September, you can get the Pure Loop 2 FX 280mm we tested for only $109.90, which is an extraordinary deal to be had.
Even at the MSRP, we are still rating the Pure Loop 2 FX 280mm highly and will recommend these to anyone who does not need the finest in control but wants the performance with a fair amount of bling included, without all the hassles of some of its competition.
The Bottom Line
Taking the Pure Loop systems to an entirely new level, be quiet! hits the sweet spot in the Pure Loop 2 FX coolers. Not only does it perform better than previous versions, the aesthetic game has vastly increased, we get an ARGB PWM fan hub, and without the bloat of other AIOs.
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