Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
Unlike when Alphacool helped Cooler Master with their development of the Eisberg coolers, this time around Alphacool had only themselves calling the shots when it came to delivering an AIO cooler they could be proud of. When it comes to a major water cooling manufacturer developing AIOs, we see a trend in what they all deliver, such as what we saw from Swiftech and EKWB. Alphacool figured it was their turn to jump into this cooling segment as well, and have come up with their take on what makes for a good AIO liquid cooler.
First of all, and most importantly to a lot of potential customers, the AIO we bring you today is not sealed. This means you can swap fittings, tubing, add in other components, and have a product that can grow with your needs, rather than having the inevitable purchase later to address all of your water cooling needs. Secondly, while delivering things like anti-kink coils on the tubing, and adding in a coupling to aid in the expansion of this kit later down the road, they offer us an open loop system AIO with a style that no one else has as well.
As we have seen in the past, some of these major player AIOs have been a huge hit, while others tried too hard in the pursuit of silence, and let their AIOs fall too far down the charts. With what we have seen in testing Alphacool products in the past, the top tier feel, look, and performance is what we expect to see here again. At this point, we need to cover the specifications, and see what this Alphacool Eisbaer 240 CPU cooler is capable of and find out if this "Polar Bear" is an actual beast or not.
The Eisbaer 240 CPU cooler is not the only version of this cooler to be had. Along with the cooler we have, there is a 120mm version with a 45mm thick radiator, a 280mm version with a 30mm thick radiator, and also a 360mm also with a 30mm thick radiator. In each kit, you are given a pump and water block combined into a head unit but still made of separate parts within the head unit. The head unit is also used as a reservoir with a sight window on the side and comes with a fill port on top to cover any coolant adding needs. As one expects, the cold plate part of the head unit is made of copper, and the pump on top of it all is based on the DC-LT Ultra Low Noise Ceramic pump that Alphacool offers. The pump is powered with a 3-pin connection, and with full power applied it can spin at 2600 RPM. With it running full speed, it draws only four watts of power while it delivers 70 liters per hour of flow, and just shy of a meter of head pressure.
Rather than opting for a 27mm thick radiator with a high fin density, as a huge segment of these coolers is based on, Alphacool steps up the game a bit here. First of all, they opted to go with a 30mm thick radiator, and on top of that, they dropped the fin density to 14 FPI rather than in the 20s like most others. As if that were not enough to gain the edge over others, Alphacool also opted for a copper radiator, instead of mixing metals like sealed AIOs do. Connecting the components is black tubing with anti-kink coils applied over them, and this kit supplies compression fittings at both ends. There is also a quick disconnect added into the line; this way you can almost plug and play with additional components, rather than needing to plumb tubing all over again.
To cool the radiator, we were sent a pair of Alphacool Eiswind 120mm fans. These fans spin on a sleeve bearing, and with 12 volts running through the 4-pin PWM connection, they will deliver speeds up to 1700 RPM. At this time, the Eiswind fans are rated for 63.85 CFM of airflow, and 1.66 mmH2O of static pressure, and should be plenty for the lower density of the radiators they are cooling. The sound rating seems quite high at 29 dB(A), but we will be putting this to the test later, so we will see if they are that loud.
Pricing is very reasonable for all four kits as well. We searched around for listings, but we were unable to find any that listed US pricing from any of the usual suspects. We did locate the Eisbaer coolers at Aquatuning.us and found pricing to be less than the MSRP set a few weeks ago. The single 120mm version is supposed to cost only $108, the 240mm at $129, the 280mm at $140, and the 360mm was suggested to be priced at $156. At Aquatuning.us, all listed pricing is $9 cheaper than the suggested retail price, across the board. Considering what this sort of a kit brings to the user, pricing them in direct competition with the better know sealed AIOs is a huge move. As long as everything plays out with testing like we expect it should, Alphacool and the Eisbaer CPU coolers could be a huge player in the AIO game, open loop or not.
The Alphacool Eisbaer is shipped in a flat black box, using white and a pale blue to deliver the information on the front. Above the image of the head unit, there is the Alphacool Eisbaer 240 CPU – Black naming followed immediately with AMD and Intel socket compatibility. Near the bottom, we find the OCOOL name along with the Alphacool site address and where this cooler is designed and made.
Both of the longer sides of the packaging are identical. They are black, and the entire panel is used to put the Alphacool address in the bottom right corner.
The same is found with the pair of smaller sides to the external packaging. This time, the area is used a bit better with the OCOOL Alphacool – The Cooling Company, along with the icicles below the test, which go nicely with the "polar bear" named cooler.
Even the back of the packaging is similar to what we saw on the front. The image in the background has changed from the head unit to a look at the radiator, but all of the information is the same.
Inside of the box, we find that the Eisbaer is packaged like a standard AIO. They use recycled cardboard on the inside to compartmentalize all of the components and hardware. This way, in transit, nothing is rubbing or banging together, and just like our sample did, it should arrive at your door in perfect condition.
Alphacool Eisbaer 240 CPU - Black CPU Cooler
Starting with the left side of the head unit, we wanted to point out a few things straight away. Just above the copper plate at the bottom is a groove in the black plastic portion, and this is designed to be used with the mounting hardware. We also see that each side of the head unit is flat, but the sides have been angled to add a bit more style to an otherwise, almost perfect cube.
What we will call the top edge of the head unit, offers a large window made of an amber colored plastic. This allows a view of internal components, but its main purpose is to act as a sight glass for the coolant level in the Eisbaer. If you do add components or tubing, this is a very handy feature.
Along with a pair of G1/4 compression fittings used to secure the 11mm/8mm tubing, the top of the head unit offers a fill port as well. While we advise filling this without the motherboard involved, since the cap is G1/4 threaded, you could add in a fill tube setup to minimize spillage.
As the unit is designed, this is the view most will have of the Eisbaer head unit once it is installed. There is an OCOOL logo made of blue plastic, and it along with that side window, are backlit with a white LED. The last thing to mention here is that just below the right fitting, there is a braided lead for the 3-pin connection that powers the pump inside.
Alphacool does protect the base with a clear plastic sticker. It offers a warning message, so users are sure to remove it before installation, but we also see debris and dust trapped below it. It is easy enough to clean the debris off the plate, but it is possible to do this without the trapped bits in the first place.
The convex copper base is polished to a shine, but at the same time, it is easy to see the grooves left in the base from machining. Using copper screws eliminated corrosion, but we do see remnants of coolant on the base, which also should be removed before use.
Between the head unit and the radiator, Alphacool installs 12.5 inches of black tubing, which is then protected with the black anti-kink coil. The quick disconnect on the cold line is color coded to let you know the flow is cold going to the head unit. As for the pump power lead, it measures in at 9.5 inches in length.
As the tubing terminates on the radiator, we find the second pair of compression fittings. The fitting on the left may not look as nice as the fitting on the right, but it is tight enough to be leak free. The nice thing about this kit is that it is an open loop, and something like this can be easily addressed.
As for the copper radiator that comes with the Eisbaer system, in this instance, we have the 240mm radiator. It is 30mm in thickness, and there are only 14 fins per inch between the tubes. This reduces the need for super strong and usually very loud fans to cool it effectively.
To match the head unit of this AIO, Alphacool also offers an OCOOL logo on the radiator. This can be found on both sides of the radiator, but unlike the head unit, this is painted on, and will not light up.
Accessories and Documentation
We have seen this style of hardware in the past, and the last kit we can think of that used this was the Fractal Design Kelvin series. On the Intel side of mounting, you connect the two clips around the head unit and using one of the sets of screws, secure things to the back plate with adjustable ends.
The AMD kit works the same way but requires the stock back plate. We also see a bag full of long and short fan screws, a bag of springs, washers and nuts for the mounting screws, two packs of XPX Extreme paste by Gelid, and a Y-splitter fan cable to power both fans from a single motherboard header.
The 4-pin PWM powered fans that are sent with the 120, 240, and 260mm variants of the Eisbaer are these Eiswind 120mm fans. The fans offer seven blades, open corner frames, and are shown to draw 2.2 watts with 1700 RPM as its maximums.
Due to the pre-release nature of our sample, some things may change for the retail offerings. Much like the fact that this sample did not come with instructions to share our opinion on. The reality is, though, if you know even the slightest bit about how AIOs work, putting everything together is self-explanatory.
Installation and Finished Product
Picking which team you need the hardware from to mount the cooler to your motherboard, you take the two halves of the top bracket, and install them onto the head unit. You simply slide it in the groove on the sides, and with a bit of pressure, the two sides lock together as one unit.
At this time, you may as well also address the installation of the mounting screws. First, take one of the screws used to mount the cooler, and slide a spring to the head of the screw. That is followed by a washer before putting it through the bracket. Once that is done, secure it all together with the nuts provided in the same hardware bag.
The Intel backplate is made to be installed in only one direction. One of the edges around the middle is notched and allows the top pair of socket screws to clear the plate. If this is turned another way, it could complicate aligning the screws when you mount the head unit, and it will also not allow the tape to stick to the sockets back plate.
On this end of the kit, the only thing left to do is to add some paste to the CPU and install the head unit. You also want to be sure to connect the 3-pin lead, as this is the driving force of the Eisbaer as well.
Something to keep in mind with a kit such as this is the overall height of the unit once it is installed. The top of the head unit sits less than 70mm from the CPU, but with the fittings on the top, there an additional 30-40mm of height to deal with. This may make this unit less favorable in tight confines versus one with swivel fittings.
Once the head unit is installed, it is easy to see why this window is more for filling purposes and less for a view. While in some cases, you might be able to see into this window while it is running, most cases will not afford the view. Since this window is at the top of the motherboard, it is likely the radiator would block any view once installed.
In our D-Frame, the Eisbaer has enough tubing to get us easily to the top of the chassis. The tubing on the left did require some tension to do this, but the bend angle wasn't too bad, and if it were worse, we have the anti-kink coil to help us further, if needed. We also like the match of the OCOOL on both the radiator and head unit; it is a nice touch.
Test System Setup, Thermal Tests, and Noise Results
Chad's CPU Cooler Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASUS Sabertooth Z87 - Buy from Amazon
- CPU: Intel Core i7 4770K - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Memory: G.Skill F3-2666C11D-8GTXD - Buy from Amazon
- Video Card: HIS Radeon HD 7950 IceQ - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Storage: Patriot Torch 120GB - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Case: IN WIN D-Frame - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Power Supply: SilverStone ST85F-G - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- OS: Microsoft Windows 8 Professional 64-bit - Buy from Amazon
- Software: RealTemp 3.70, AIDA64 Engineer 5.20.3400 and CPU-z 1.72.1 x64
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 more information.
With the CPU at stock levels, the Eisbaer 240 CPU is only 4.5 degrees out of the lead. The Alphacool is slightly bested by the EK Predator at this point, and a couple more AIOs as well. Still, 49.5 degrees is well ahead of most of the pack on our chart.
With our overclock applied, we find the Eisbaer 240 CPU drops behind a few more AIOs, sealed and open loops, but again, it falls in the top third on our charts. Of course, if Alphacool had shipped the Eisbaer with 80-90 CFM fans that make your ears bleed, they may have shown better against those that show as more efficient coolers.
Noise Level Results
The pump was spinning at 2600 in all of our tests, and we are pleased to report that there was not any noise associated with it from a foot away. As for the fans, however, with them controlled to the same level as all the rest, and spinning at 1050RPM, we heard 34 dB of noise from the pair at this point in testing.
In both this chart and the one we just saw, the Eisbaer gains ground on many other coolers on the list, with the lack of noise produced to keep our processor well within safe operating temperatures.
Our fans topped out at 1660 RPM, and while at this speed, we heard only 45 dB from them. Considering most other AIOs are in the 60 dB range, a lot of potential customers will appreciate this aspect.
In the Alphacool Eisbaer 240 CPU cooler, a lot is offered to the masses. While EKWB and Swiftech already offer something along the lines of what Alphacool is offering, the Eisbaer is different enough to attract buyers, without going overboard and driving people away. We liked the large chunky head unit, the light up OCOOL logo, and the fact that is nearly silent when running at full speed. In just the head unit, we also have to address the fill port, the side sight glass window for refilling or topping off the fluid, and the fact that everything is G1/4 threaded on top, so swapping parts are easily done.
We like that companies use a standard tubing rather than some dolled up neoprene, and with compressions fittings at both ends, it is not only easier to work on, it looks top notch when installed and running; more like a custom loop. The anti-kink coil is a bit old-school looking, but with the top mounts on the head unit, it does alleviate stresses that smaller cases could impose on it. Then, of course, there is the quick disconnect fitting on the one side of the run as well. This allows you to power down the system, break the connection lose, and connect up more gear. Now it may not be handy for everyone, but say you are swapping video cards a lot, this sort of feature keeps you from having to start all over every time. This connection is also color coded so that you send cold water to the device, and then it returns to the head unit to cool the CPU. Since video cards run at cooler temperatures when water cooled, this completely makes sense to route the components this way.
Then, of course, we still have the solid copper radiator to discuss, as well as the fans that cool it. Of course, using copper removes the corrosion issue that many sealed loop systems have to deal with by using special coolant. In this kit, you can add or delete anything made, as most of it is copper or nickel plated, you will not need specialized coolant, or anything more than distilled water if the use arises to need to refill the Eisbaer. We like the lower FPI count in radiators, as it makes less work for slower fans to keep up, and our results may not have been chart-topping, but they do bode well for a system that stays so quiet - this is also in part due to the fans. The Eiswind fans are better than average in airflow and static pressure. Not great, but not horrible either. The fact that even with full power, we saw them getting to only 45 dB is a pleasure. This means you do not need headphones or earplugs when the gaming gets serious.
Of course, EKWB and Swiftech have come up with similar systems, and they may have performed a bit better as well, but you do have to get your start somewhere. We are only testing one of the many variations of the Eisbaer designs, and we are sure that if you have room for the 280mm or 360mm based versions, you get everything we saw here, plus a boost in thermal performance. While Swiftech offers a reservoir and pumps outside the head unit and blocks, push pull setups, Alphacool worked it in and did not impede on other aspects of how we use these AIOs.
The second thing is that neither of the previous kits offered is a quick disconnect fitting inline on their designs. While this is not as clean as a setup as most want every day, as a reviewer, we can see the benefits of having a system to swap hardware in and out quickly, and with as little mess as possible. So while the Alphacool did not take top honors for thermal efficiency versus other similar systems, it does compete with the limited noise level and pump silence. It delivers in style and design, and with the pricing set where it is, it makes buying sealed loop AIOs near pointless.
|Quality including Design and Build||94%|
|Bundle and Packaging||98%|
|Value for Money||90%|
The Bottom Line: Alphacool offers quite a bit of bang for the buck in their Eisbaer coolers. As for the Eisbaer 240 CPU, it was quiet, which is nice, but performance is a bit lacking. It does come with all the bells and whistles though, even an inline quick disconnect fitting for the most advanced users.
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