Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
Water cooling components inside of a chassis used to take tons of homework, and proper planning to ensure that all of the components would play nice together once everything gets shipped to your door. In the past few years, big players in water cooling products have developed "kits" which removed all of the guessing, and as long as the radiator would fit inside of the case, all you need are basic mechanical abilities, and you were good to go. This situation may work well for those who do not plan to upgrade when the next new thing comes along, and what about the people that want to benchmark CPU's, and may even be changing motherboards all of the time? They are typically left to modify a chassis for easy removal or use an open test bench, and just lay the water cooling gear wherever the tubing allows it to sit comfortably.
Up to this moment, we have seen quite a few internal "kits," but to some, that style of design does not work. Alphacool has jumped in to lend a helping hand to solve this niche segment of sales. What Alphacool has done is to take the pump, radiator, and reservoir moved it outside of the chassis in an elegant looking tower. Of course, as a "kit" needs to be, Alphacool also fills out the entire system, with a CPU block, tubing, coolant, compression fittings, fans, lights, and even adds a pair of quick-disconnect fittings. Alphacool delivers everything you need in one box and allows for more uses of the system that one could do with traditional offerings.
We are speaking of the Alphacool Eiswand. The external water loop comes with all the bells and whistles, leaving not one thing to chance. Two things come to mind with a setup such as this. Initially, we think of those who may not have the time or understanding to put together a loop, but on the flip side, using all top-tier parts, keep in mind this system is also completely modular. Which means that the advanced users can switch out fans, blocks can be added or changed at will, and Alphacool, while not the originator to external water cooling, has done so with as much elegance and visual appeal possible. Even if you have no plans to use external water cooling, after seeing the Alphacool Eiswand and all it has to offer, you may just change your mind.
Th4e specifications found on the Alphacool site for the Eiswand is quite long, so let's get to it. The Eiswand Case, or that main component housing the pumps, radiator, reservoir, and fans, stands 535mm tall, it is 210mm wide, and is also 150mm thick. The Case is made of aluminum mostly but also has a few parts made of Acetal and EVA. At the bottom of this tower, there are two G1/4" thread ports and a male 4-pin Molex connector to power it. Below those is the widest part of the tower, the base, where we find sturdy feet and a thick section which glows blue when powered.
The radiator inside of the Case is the NexXxos XT45 full copper 360mm radiator. The radiator is 397mm long, 124mm wide, 45mm thick is tested to 2 Bar of pressure, and while it offers seven G1/4" ports on it, we are only using three of them in the Eiswand. There are six fans screwed onto the radiator, which is all 4-pin powered, and are rated for 700 to 1000 RPM as their maximum. Also built in are the pumps, and yes you just read pumps, plural. To ensure against pump failure being an issue, Alphacool piggybacks a pair of DC-LT 2600 ultra-low noise ceramic pumps. These will spin at 2600 RPM; they can use up to 13.5V of power consuming only 4.9 W of energy and deliver 72 liters per hour of flow.
Along with the Eiswand Case, there is a NexXxos XP³ Light CPU water block to cool the CPU portion of your PC. The block is small, at just 57mm wide, 67mm tall, and 14mm thick, with a copper plate under it, it will fit in any situation. The block has a pair of G1/4" ports marked "in" and "out" for proper flow through the block, and the compatibility is quite extensive for both AMD and Intel, but for AM4 users, you will need to get extra hardware. To connect the components, we need tubing, and Alphacool supplied four meters of it. The tubing is black with an inside diameter of 8mm and an outside diameter of 11mm, and is made of nylon.
What is not mentioned in this chart is that Alphacool also provides this "kit" with four metal compression fittings for use on the CPU block and at the back of the Eiswand Case. We made mention of the quick-disconnect fittings, which are shown to be 83mm long, and at the widest part are 28mm in diameter. As the compression fittings are, the quick-disconnects are also made to fit the diameter of the tubing. There is also a laptop-type power supply to run the Case, it comes with the Euro and UK plugs, and all told it is 1900mm long from plug end to plug end. One last thing not mentioned is that the Eiswand also comes with a 7.5V power inverter with Molex connections.
As we look around for this product from e-tail shops, we first looked at the pricing found on the Alphacool site. It is there that we found it listed for €345.95, which is just shy of $400 on this side of the pond. Currently, you can obtain this system on this side of the pond too, but we are only finding listings at Outlet PC and Aquatuning USA.
Outlet PC is asking $371.83, plus additional money for shipping and extended warranties. Aquatuning wants less money up front with a price of $367.64, but shows shipping is extra as well. All told, unless using super-saving shipping methods, that $400 price we converted earlier is as real as it gets if you plan to buy this "kit." Yes, sticker shock is had with the Alphacool Eiswand. We can only hope that the performance is worth it and that the look, ease of use, and modularity of this system is worth it.
The majority of what can be seen on the box is visible in this image. The front of the package has a large look at the base of the Eiswand, but only of the base and a bit of the radiator section. On the top, we can see the entire tower, and the name and tagline are present on both panels. As for the back and the bottom of the box, they are blank, with only expanses of black cardboard to see.
Both of the small ends of the box are similar. Both show the Alphacool Eiswand name at the top, and both have the blue and white lettering along the bottom. The change between them is that on this end of the box, there is a small barcode sticker.
Alphacool does a terrific job when it comes to packaging all of the gear together, with nothing getting damaged on its long trip to our door. There are two sections of dense foam to cradle the Case, and also keeps heavier items away from the lighter ones. In all aspects, the components are well tended to, no matter how far they have to travel, and in this instance, everything is in excellent condition.
To give you some idea of what all is inside of the box, we removed the inner packages and set them up to view. There are two bottles of coolant, boxed up, lying down at the bottom. The Eiswand Case is also wrapped in bubbles to protect the aluminum finish, and a pair of boxes flank either side. One box contains the tubing, fittings, and quick-disconnects, while the other contains the power supply for the system.
Alphacool Eiswand Major Components
The largest component of the Alphacool Eiswand is the Eiswand Case or the tower. The base is wide and stable, starting with four feet screwed into a metal plate, which then has an opaque plastic section, and another smaller metal plate to top off the base. On it sits a tower of aluminum, which is black, grooved on the sides, and the front and back look like this, with the honeycomb mesh which allows air to pass through the tower. At the top, is the reservoir, with its viewable window. There is a window on the front and the back sides, but the top is also a window to view into the top of the reservoir.
We opened one of the plain cardboard boxes and found the CPU water block used in this kit. The block Alphacool sent for us to use4 is the Alphacool NexXxos 12164, or the XP³ Light, which is black, this is version two of the block, and all of the AMD and Intel mounting hardware is included.
In the box with the CPU block, we also located the four meters of glossy black tubing; we also find a set of four anti-kink coils to slide over the tubing. The tubing has an internal diameter of 8mm, while the outside is 11mm in thickness. As for the coils, they are larger than the tubing, but just, and there is some drag as you slide them onto the tubing.
Still, within that same box, we also located the fittings. On the left are a pair of quick-disconnects, one of which we have disassembled to see how they work. We also found a thin black box, and inside of that, we found the copper compression fittings for the block and the back of the tower. Externally, the fittings are black, they require a special wrench to over tighten them, and the sides are knurled so that you can use them without any tools.
Alphacool sends the coolant, enough to fill the tower, all of the tubing, and some extra in case you want to add more blocks and tubing. We received two one liter bottles of Cape Kelvin Catcher, ready to use coolant. The main property of using this over distilled water is that the CKC already has anti-corrosion properties, which water does not.
As this cooler was initially released, the power supply comes with adapters used overseas. There are plugs for the Euro standards and UK standards for powering devices, both of which will connect to the power brick and adapter cable. Rather than a tiny round connection we typically find on this type of PSU, this one terminates with a female 4-pin Molex connection.
In the box with the power supply, we find some adapters as well. There is an extension at the back that is roughly two feet in length, which allows for even more room to move the tower around and keep it connected to power. Alphacool also includes a 7.5V power reducing adapter. This can go in at either end of the adapter cable, or directly to the PSU, but keep in mind, it gets warm, so leave it somewhere where it is ventilated.
The top- of the tower is where the reservoir is, but there is a cover for it made of brushed aluminum, shorting the Alphacool logo in the front-right corner. Behind the top viewing window, we can see the fill port, and it is even marked "fill" for those who were wondering. The filling is easy, as the majority of the loop is gravity fed.
Skipping past the honeycomb mesh running down the back of the tower, we wanted to have a look at how it is all connected. Under the Alphacool logo, we see an "in" port on the left, the male 4-pin Molex for powering the pumps, fans, and lights, and the "out" port on the right.
Large round feet are pushed out to the corners, and use soft, dense rubber for the pads on them, ensuring a solid foundation. The feet are screwed to the metal plate, while the four inner screws are used to hold the tower together. Remove with caution.
Removing the base of the tower allowed us to get a view of the pair of DC-LT 2600 ceramic pumps used, and they are wired to take power from the Molex connection. We can also see the six LEDs on the PCB, all of which are blue, and adds flair to the unit when powered with 12V.
Just because we wondered, we kept going with the disassembly. We see that the reservoir is part of the shell, and the radiator is standing alone with the fans, and protective grills screwed to it. All of the fans are daisy chained down the side of the radiator for power, as well as connections for the various LEDs. Lying on either side, we find a second layer of fan grills, which have a dust filter media laying on top of them.
All six of the fans screwed to the radiator turned out to be these Alphacool Coolmove 900RPM fans. Since they are not visible, black on black is fine, seven blades to move air, and with dust filtering, they are likely near silent.
The NexXxos XP³ Light CPU Block
The CPU water block that comes along for the ride is indeed this XP³ Light from Alphacool. The ports on the block are marked for flow direction in the same gold paint used for the name at the bottom. The sides of the block are Acetal, but the top is a shiny black chrome plate, but it is hard to see as dirty as this is.
The bottom of the CPU block is a solid copper plate which is screwed into the bottom of the Acetal top section. There are a few obvious scratches in our block, but the contact area is slightly convex and free of major defects. A little polishing to this and the top plate, and this block will be good as new.
Looking inside of the top part of the water block, it is simple to see why flow direction is important. The in port runs through a diverter, pressing water through the cross-hatch design of the copper base. To keep this all free from leaks, there is a thick O-ring that runs around the block, sealing it once the copper screws are replaced.
The hardware to mount the block is what we have now. There is an Allen wrench for the universal studs used to hold the block in place. There are different sets for LGA2011, but the instructions do not cover what is what. To the right are the top mounting nuts, which keeps the block locked to the CPU and motherboard, and we cannot forget about the tube of TIM, which has enough for many applications in it.
There are four springs for tension to the block, and four nuts which secure the standoffs to the motherboard. The metal washers are used under the springs, while the clear washers are used on both sides of the motherboard.
Surprisingly, there's more. Alphacool sends a universal backplate with all sorts of mounting options for AMD and Intel systems. There is an AMD top mounting plate to slide over the block, as well as the Intel top plate on the right, which has a foam spacer used to isolate the middle of the universal backplate.
As for the instructions, we are given this for assembly. On the left, not all of the parts are listed, and the image of assembly does not account for the use of a backplate. We also included the instructions for the fittings in this image, where it shows not to wrench the fittings in. Finger tight is good enough.
Installation and Finished Product
Following the instructions. We mounted our block without the backplate. The plate will work just fine, and using the screws only, did not seem to warp the motherboard, the block mounting does not induce that much pressure. Makes sure that there are nylon washers on both sides of the motherboard though, they protect the traces from damage.
We are then told to add the other set of nylon washers to the top of the motherboard, and then use the standard nuts to lock the standoffs onto the motherboard. If you are using an LGA2011 system, this is not needed, but AMD users are advised to do the same as what we show here.
Taking a few more steps gets us to this point. We have applied the thermal paste, set the block and top plate over the standoffs, and locked them down with washers, springs, and then the knurled nuts. We also polished the top plate, so it looks much better now, reflecting the pair of compression fittings we installed into the top of the block.
You then need to make the connections to the compression fittings with the tubing. Make sure that the flow is correct, going in from the tower to the middle, and out the block to the tower at the top. As for the anti-kink coils, they are optional, but since Alphacool provided them, we made use of them.
The next step we took was to go ahead and make the connections to the bottom of the tower with our tube and coils over it. Nothing so far is anything impossible, not tougher than screwing in a lightbulb. We also show the adapter in place for the power delivery, but that is up to you if it is needed. We did take advantage of using the Molex extension cable, as having a plug right next to the PC is not always something available.
After filling the system and topping off the reservoir a few times, we now have the Alphacool Eiswand running is all of its near silent and LED lit glory. The base o0f the unit illuminates with blue LEDs, and the reservoir is also lit, but with white LEDs and is much harder to see in this image. We did notice though, that if you do use the power adapter, you do lose the LED lighting feature.
Test System Setup, Thermal Tests, and Noise Results
Chad's CPU Cooler Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASUS ROG Maximus VIII HERO (Intel Z170) - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- CPU: Intel Core i7 6700K - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Memory: Patriot Viper 4 3000MHz 4X4GB - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Graphics Card: MSI GeForce GTX 1060 6GB OC - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Storage: Corsair Neutron XTi 480GB - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Case: INWIN D-Frame - Read our review
- Power Supply: Thermaltake Toughpower DPS 1050W - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Home 64-bit - Buy from Amazon
- Software: RealTemp 3.70, AIDA64 Engineer 5.75.3900, and CPU-z 1.77.0 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 (October 2016) for more information.
Right out of the gate, the Eiswand performs admirably at stock, with 12V supplied to the cooler. 53.25 degrees is nothing to sneeze at, but once we added in the 7.5V adapter, the story changed. Using it, reduced efficiency, of this massive tower three degrees. On average, the results are good, but this is four to five times the expense of coolers around it.
While not the same thing as allowing for PWM control, when it comes to the overclocked runs, it seemed fair to break the results down to similar fan controls on other coolers. Using the 7.5V adapter for this result, we see that the Eiswand comes in at 72.75 degrees. Right in the middle of the chart, which isn't bad, but for the cost, we feel this should be topping the charts.
Allowing the Eiswand to run with everything the PSU can supply on the 12V line, results do not fare much better for Alphacool. While 70.75 degrees is only four degrees from the lead, we feel that this should have lead the pack, and are saddened that it does not do exactly that.
Noise Level Results
When using the 7.5V adapter for any of the testing, we took a measurement of 34 dB, coming from the back of the tower. We did have to add a wire to sense the RPM, as nothing reads it built into the Eiswand, the fans were turning at just 625 RPM at this time.
While we did see 890 RPM with our ghetto mod to the tower, the noise increased to 48 dB. We do realize that if the intent it to break records, sometimes you have to give a little to gain a little. However, we did not gain much performance to account for the extra noise.
We feel that Alphacool is on the right path with a product like the Eiswand. Not everyone is going to use this style of external water cooling, but for those who can take advantage of such a product, it is the best looking option on the market currently, in our humble opinion. The build quality is top-notch, the components used are top tier, and with little instructional help, the loop goes together like a set of Legos. We like redundancy when going for extremes in testing, and using a dual pump system puts us at ease, that we will not burn anything up. We like the lighting of the reservoir and the base, but we do wish it was lit even using the power adapter too.
Alphacool delivers everything needed in one handy package, with little thought or concern needed as to compatibility and appeal. They have you covered from the word go. We also like that you can add in bits to this modular system, and with as much surface area as the Eiswand has, under normal circumstances, the Eiswand should perform sufficiently for you.
Even though we like the idea, and we love the aesthetics of the whole thing, there are some bad parts to this discussion too. First off, the cost is expensive. For that much money being asked for someone to use the Eiswand, we feel it should be topping our charts, and it just isn't. We do realize that we test beyond normal limits, but with a product such as this, we completely expect that those who like the advantages the Eiswand offers, they are going to push their parts like we do, if not more. Sadly, without modifying the system, we do not see this as something that the enthusiast would use for record-setting attempts, even if just to try to outdo their air-cooled efforts.
The only way one can try to improve on performance is to buy six, more powerful, fans, and use more air flow and pressure to elevate the heat from the radiator. Everything else is built in. While you could also change the block to something with different flow characteristics, you may as well start piecing together bits instead of buying a "kit" that is ready to go.
The Alphacool Eiswand is not a horrible product by any means; it just did not live up to our expectations. Mainly this is due to the amount of money involved to get results found in air coolers in the $50 to $100 range; that is a hard pill to swallow. With a price tag of nearly $400, as a niche user of many products, the rest of the world will never use, we can see the need for such a device. Our issues are two-fold with the Eiswand. While we love the looks and ingenuity, it needs to perform much better out of the box.
Secondly, if you are someone who has the need for external water cooling, and like the advantages of quick-disconnect fittings, and an open loop design, you have to fall in love with the Eiswand to overcome the realities. Unless you plan to buy this and tinker with it, which is no easy task to do in the first place, we feel that Alphacool may have a tough go at making the Eiswand the success we feel it could have been.
The Bottom Line: While the performance is lackluster, and this is the most expensive cooler we have tested in some time, the Eiswand from Alphacool is almost perfect. The quality, ingenuity, feature set, and external usage should all be applauded, but we do feel that Alphacool left a lot in the tank here.
PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.
United States: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com
United Kingdom: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.co.uk
Australia: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com.au
Canada: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.ca
Deutschland: Finde andere Technik- und Computerprodukte wie dieses auf Amazon.de