Introduction, Specifications and Pricing
Sort of out of nowhere, I got a random email from Chris Ramseyer mentioning a conversation he had had where he was in touch with a water cooling company from across the Atlantic. He wanted to know if he should mention me and add me into the e-mail so that we could further discuss sampling a product or two to get our take on what they have to offer. After a few emails back and forth of asking the representative for guidance to a dual radiator "kit" that would compare to a lot of the other kits we have tested in the past, we settled on the NexXxoS Cool Answer.
Without hesitation he directed me at an Alphacool "set" as they label them. I was linked to a specific set that they produce, and it seems like a perfect candidate for all of us to see what is going on halfway around the world in water cooling technology. Without knowing much of anything about the company, reading up on them, it seems they have their finger on the pulse and offer anything and everything that a custom water cooled system could require. More specifically with the product we are about to see, the parts have had many evolutions up to this set we are looking at, so we are getting the best of the best as far as what their technology offers.
The water cooling set in question is the Alphacool NexXxoS Cool Answer - 240 D5/UT, which is a collaboration of many separate parts all put together in one box and ready to cool all current CPUs. Every bit and piece is put together in this set to offer three things. First is the ability to go in sort of blindly without much homework involved, as they do all the thinking for you. Second, this kit can be added to later as your cooling needs grow, and the components chosen are definitely made to handle the load. Lastly, and most importantly to most customers, there is huge value in going with the set rather than trying to piece this all together yourself.
Usually at this point, there would be a large chart and a bunch of technical babble about all the parts, what they are made from, and all that jazz. This time, we are going at things a little differently. Since we are covering so many parts, and we have to break them all down to see how they work, we may as well save all the dizziness for when good visual aids are available to help show what it is we are trying to explain anyways.
While we have a notion of how this system should perform, as we have tested more than just a few kits in the time we have been doing this, Alphacool and their products are a complete mystery. It isn't even very often that they get much press inside of the US, and we do know of various others from overseas. Anonymity can be a good thing for a company sending a sample, though, as there is no track record to hold them to other than just against the rest of the kits we have seen.
That all being said, for the US readers, finding these kits are hit and miss, but they are available. The first place we were able to find them was over at performancepcs.com with a price of $289.95 US dollars, and while they have stock, you will have issues finding the set anywhere else. As for those readers on the other side of the Atlantic, you should be able to go through usual channels, and what Alphacool shows on the product pages, the NexXxoS Cool Answer - 240 D5/UT can be had for 242,95 euros, including tax, but in both cases, not including shipping. The price may seem a bit steep at first, but to part build this kit, it would cost 329,67 euros, so not only are there good savings when compared to others, the pricing is well worth the investment, and you will find out why continuing on with this review.
The set is all shipped inside of a larger box that shows this is an Alphacool complete water cooling set, and it sports the OCOOL naming on the components. There are also images of the CPU block, fans, fittings, tubing, radiator, and reservoir all lined up to give you an idea of what is inside.
Under the naming in the white bar across the top, there is a large sticker that lists the components in three languages, and it also offers small images of the parts in the lists. Our box did have a bit of a blowout, but it is shipped inside of a plain cardboard box, so this matters very little.
The back is identical to the front, and is non-specific for a good reason. This is not the only water cooling set that they use this packaging for. Simply changing the sticker on the side allows them to pass on some savings via the packaging.
The last panel offers the same as we saw on the other side sans the large sticker.
Inside of the larger box, there are many smaller boxes containing all the parts needed to get this loop up and running outside of something to cut the tubing with. Also, everything being individually packaged inside is an added layer of protection for when the outer box has issues like ours. We are happy to say that even after the long journey to the lab, the NexXoS Cool Answer - 240 D5/UT arrived in great shape.
Alphacool NexXxoS XP3 Light - Acetal Edition CPU Water Block
Alphacool NexXoS XP3 Light - Acetal Edition CPU Water Block
Fresh out of the box, this Acetal XP3 Light CPU block has a centralized inlet with the outlet at the top of the block with G1/4" threads. Along with the markings at the inlet and outlet, there is also a copper OCOOL nameplate, and it starts the black and copper theme found throughout the set.
Flipping the block over to have a look at the base, we find a thick copper plate held in with copper screws, and the mating surface has marks left from the leveling process but is fairly smooth.
The Cross-slotted structure has an increased pin count. Designed to work better than previous versions, the 0.5mm square by 2.5mm tall pins are what Alphacool found best to rid the CPU of heat and transfer it to the liquid in the loop.
Alphacool also uses an injection system to push the liquid into that pin array we just looked at. The slotted design allows for the best flow across the pins and also compensates for backflow with the channels running in opposite directions. Then, of course, after passing through the copper plate, the outer channel take the liquid to the port seen at the top right.
The hardware kit sent along with the XP3 Light offers everything you need to get going. There is thermal paste and a wrench at the top. There are four nuts to secure the mounting screws to the board, LGA2011 mounting screws, and four springs for all setups. At the bottom, there are four steel washers, nine nylon washers, four thumbscrews, and the standard screws for Intel and AMD mounting.
On the left is an AMD and potentially an Intel back plate since they send the LGA775 foam pad, but with no socket screw holes for Intel sockets, that plate is relegated to mainly AMD. To the right, we have the Intel and AMD brackets that set on the ledge of the Acetal top and secure the bock to the motherboard.
This is what is given for instructions for the CPU block. There is an insert stating not to use a wrench to tighten into the Acetal threads. The larger paper is a multilingual installation manual. The illustration shows an Intel motherboard, and as you can see, there is no back plate in that image.
VPP655 and Repack Single Laing D5 - Dual 5.25" Bay Station
The set also includes the VPP655T- Solo pump. This is just like any other 655 variable speed pump, just it has no top on it. It requires a Molex connection for power and offers a fan lead for RPM sensing. This pump will push 396 gallons/hour through it at 12V and offers 12 feet of head pressure.
Flipping over the VPP655, again it is just like any other version where the impeller is wide and stout, and the natural metal surface is where the O-ring will seal the pump into the reservoir.
The Repack Bay Station also carries that copper theme with the OCOOL logo and copper fill port at the top. This dual-bay acrylic reservoir also offers a black face plate to match most cases, and even has a fill meter on the right side of it.
The view from the side really shows the thickness of the sections that got glued together to make this beast of a reservoir. Also, both sides offer four tapped holes to allow for easy mounting in 5.25-inch bays.
The back offers a thick ring that will secure the pump to the reservoir with eight screws to be sure it is very secure and water tight. As for the G1/4" threaded holes at the right, the top one is the outlet, and the lower hole is to return coolant to the reservoir.
The reservoir came with the O-ring already in place, so keep the one that came with the pump just in case. After about two or three minutes, we had the VPP655 and this Bay Station as one cohesive unit and ready to be installed…well, almost.
Back to that fill port. Behind the screw head is a copper tube that passes through the front acrylic and has a pair of o-rings to keep it water tight, even when opened. The hole in the copper pipe allows this to be easily filled or refilled, where most bay reservoirs will need to be slid out to access a port on the top.
They even send along an Allen wrench and a set of eight screws to mount the reservoir into the chassis. No sense in cracking it or stripping out the holes trying to fit whatever hardware you may have sitting around.
NexXoS UT60 Full Copper 240mm Radiator
NexXxoS UT60 Full Copper 240mm Radiator
First off, let's talk fin count on the UT60. While most AIOs and a ton of custom radiators run with very high FPI radiators, Alphacool is using a 12 FPI radiator to do the job here. Of course, the 60 in UT60 stands for the 60mm of thickness, so even with a low FPI, there is a serious amount of surface area.
Yes, this image is slightly off angle to look at the 240mm fan with M3 screw holes around it to secure fans to it. The reasoning is that we wanted to point out the pair of G1/4" holes offered to connect tubing and fittings to.
For those who don't want side outlets, what about outlets in the top of the header, or even better, what about six total outlets at one end of the radiator to do whatever you want? That is exactly what this radiator offers.
For those instances where the radiator sits higher than the reservoir, or when the ports are positioned at the bottom, this port at the opposite end can be used to bleed air, attach a fill line, or as we did, use this to fill the loop once it was assembled.
With the radiator comes a full set of goodies as well. There are eight screws for 25mm tick fans and another set of eight for 30mm fans. There are also five copper outlet plugs, since the other two of the seven holes will have fittings. There are also four copper plates with the OCOOL name to place where you want to and an Allen key to use with the fan screws.
All this matte black and copper has a very nice and crisp look, and it definitely screams out for something like a steam-punk mod with solid copper tubes ran through this set.
The OCOOL name placards can go anywhere: on the case, on your car, or on the radiator where it may be seen through the window of the chassis. We only placed on plaque on our radiator, right dead center at the bottom edge. No real reason…it just looked cool.
Accessories and Documentation
Alphacool also sends along a set of six 3/8" matte black compression fittings to secure tubing and make all the connections between the CPU block, reservoir, and radiator. These are knurled and offer no place for wrenches. In our experience with them, there isn't any need for that sort of force to install these properly.
Out of the packaging and disassembled, the brass fittings have a 3/8" OD to the inner section with a half-inch OD that the knurled nut will allow to pass through but still lock to the base of these fittings.
With a pair hand tightened into the radiator, we can see that the finished product will look much cleaner than barbs and clamps, which are a huge step in that next level of a water loop build. We found the O-rings seated rather easily, and even when it comes to tightening in the tubing, finger tight is all you need; overkill is just that.
We also are given roughly twelve feet of 3/8" ID, 1/2" OD clear tubing from Clearflex. This will allow users to add a color if they wish to the coolant and still be seen easily throughout the loop. It is also easily flexed to make connections, but don't bend it too far or it will deform and eventually kink.
They also send a 1000 milliliter bottle of Cape Kelvin Catcher fluid. The formula seems to be a secret, but they don't use the conventional additives to make this, and it is still anti-corrosive, anti-fungal, and safe for mixed metal loops, as well as being safe for various tubing materials.
To help bleed the loop, there is also an ATX bridge adapter that allows you to use the switch or power cord on the PSU along with this device to fool the PSU to thinking the motherboard is connected so that you can leak test and rid the system of air.
The set is cooled with this pair of NB-eLoop 1200RPM Bionic Loop fans. These are, of course, 120mm fans that are 25mm thick and offer this radiator 0.9mmH2O of static pressure with 72 cubic meters per hour of airflow. On this side of the pond, that is roughly 45CFM on these fans that carry a three-year warranty.
The fans are powered with 3-pin connectors and also have rubber corner inserts to isolate the fan from whatever it is mounted to, in this instance, the UT60. There are six large blue blades in each fan, but look closer as these fans have a continuous ring that's just inside of the black frame designed to help boost performance.
There is an offset between the fans, and that is something to consider when looking at the pattern of holes offered in a chassis. We do like the sleeved wiring as it will help it disappear in the build. Speaking of that, it is now time to put it all together and see what we have.
Build and Finished Product
The mounting screws were installed as per the instructions by sliding a nylon washer on the screw and passing it through the motherboard. Aside from having to keep the wrench in the end of these screws, all the rest of the mounting is done up top.
We added thermal paste to the CPU and set the block on top of it with the Intel steel bracket lying on the rim of the CPU block. On each screw, you drop a nylon washer down it and screw down the nuts to lock them to the motherboard. Then, set the block down, add a steel washer, the spring, and tighten the thumbscrews in an X pattern.
Before we put the motherboard back into the D-Frame, we did add the compression fittings to make life a little easier as we contemplate how to install this loop into this chassis.
We went with a top mounted radiator position, which actually ends up being run as if it were hung off the back of a chassis as well as being laid on its side. This was just the best place with access to the fittings and the fill port on the UT60.
Since the D-Frame lacks a dual 5.25-inch bay, we made it fit where the HDDs should go by strapping it to the fan frame and adding some foam to isolate the pump from making things rattle down there. We also added a pair of ninety-degree fittings to the back of the reservoir to make life easy with the tubing runs.
Test System Setup, Thermal Tests and Noise Results
Test System Setup
To see our testing methodology and to find out what goes into making our charts, please refer to our CPU Cooler Testing and Methodology article for that information.
While not quite a chart topper at the stock settings, we are within a degree of the Nepton 280L. We had the pump at 4800 RPM for all testing as slowing it offered no thermal benefits. Something else to consider is that we have 1200 RPM fans voltage limited to 7.5V here as well. Considering what is cooling the radiator, we find this to be a great result.
Again, we did not quite make it to the top with the overclock applied to the system. However, these results are fan limited. Considering what you are about to see in the audio charts, to get into the top four spots with two fans pushing little static pressure and about 80-90 CFM between the two of them, this 68.66 degree result is impressive.
Noise Level Results
At 7.5V, the NB-eLoop fans were spinning near 850 RPM, drastically reducing what little CFM and pressure these fans are capable of. Even so, the system is barely audible, and at this point, we could hear the hum of the VPP655 over the 26 dB reading we got from the back or outgoing side of the radiator.
What is truly a blessing is that while it competes with the large assembled coolers, it is six slots down to the Larkooler, which is much louder than the Alphacool was, and it's eleven slots to the first AIO, and it isn't one in the same level as this is. Silence is golden with thermal results this NexXoS set offers.
While this Alphacool set will cost you a fair bit up front, it is one of the better equipped kits I have seen that is all ready to build. It seems like almost every time we do a kit, there is something off or missing from the hardware that is a major stopping point to completing the build. You will not find that here. There is more than enough hardware to build the basic system, and they even send two sets of fan screws so that you have the hardware needed even if you plan to move to thicker fans.
Everything from the coolant, which is just enough to fill our loop with not a drop extra, down to the ATX bridge plug, cool copper name plates you can stick where you think they look best, and a complete loop for CPU cooling is included. For most companies to get this level of thermal performance, they are going to kill your ears doing it, and somehow Alphacool figured it all out as long as you have room for this super thick 60mm of radiator, or 90mm of radiator, fan, and hardware.
What we also loved about the NexXos Cool Answer 240 D5/UT set is that not only was everything included, but this arrangement of parts is top notch, and not just average goodies pulled off the shelf. The fans... wow! they are silent, and when strapped to the UT60, magic really does happen. The tubing is easy to cut, and even easy to trim if it's a tad too long for the slick matte fittings offered along in this set. We also liked the craftsmanship of the design where there are really no tools needed other than a screwdriver to mount the fans, radiator, and the reservoir, but even with the reservoir, they give you the wrench you need.
What you are left with is a very sleek and cool looking and performing water cooling loop that is more than ready to take on any CPU, and the kit will even grow along with funds and your desire to add more bits into the loop. Even while it may be a simple touch, the one thing that really sold us on this kit was the copper used not only as the base of the block, or to be used in all components of the radiator, but using it also on the name plates, caps, and the sweet front mounted fill port; it just takes this kit to a level higher than what we typically are sent.
While the price may make you ponder the NexXoS Cool answer 240 D5/UT kit, there is no need to worry, and it is money well spent. The entire kit is taken to that level where there is nothing left to do but install it once everything is out of the box. This kit also gives off a feel of sleekness and almost a "professional" quality that other companies get very close to, but they often don't take it to the level that Alphacool has.
Even though it may be hard to find, and the Alphacool name may be brand new to you, they are well worth your attention, and with the steam-punk look to this kit, and with many copper parts available on the aftermarket shelves, this set is a great addition to any system in need of water cooling and is a great base system to get started with that won't leave you wanting when adding a card or motherboard into this loop. Alphacool came out of the shadows and really surprised us with the level of quality, performance, and the lack of noise associated with most other contenders for your hard earned dollars.
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