The Alphacool Eisbaer 240 CPU AIO Liquid Cooler Reviewby E. Fylladitakis on August 1, 2016 9:00 AM EST
- Posted in
- Water Cooling
When liquid cooling became a trend in the 90’s, many companies were founded focused on the design and supply of PC-specific liquid cooling systems. One of these companies was Alphacool, a German manufacturer that diversified into producing liquid cooling systems for industrial and medical applications as well.
Perhaps the biggest issue of liquid cooling is complexity, requiring quite a bit of extra effort and attention from the user. For custom loops this was certainly true, even when complete kits were supplied by most manufacturers, as the installation alone is much more complex than that of a simple air cooler. The relative safety and simplicity of all-in-one (AIO) liquid cooling systems does lure those who want a liquid-based cooler with the installation straightforwardness of an air-based cooler. However, AIO solutions are relatively inflexible, and some hardly perform better than high end air-based solutions.
In this review we are having a look at Alphacool’s latest product, the Eisbaer. The Eisbaer, which stands for “polar bear” in German, is a modular AIO liquid cooler that Alphacool designed for those that wish to combine performance and simplicity with future upgrades and flexibility. Alphacool has designed four versions of the Eisbaer that all share the same block/pump assembly but have different radiators and fans. The Eisbaer 120, 240 and 360 come with one, two and three 120 mm fans respectively, while the Eisbaer 280 comes with two 140 mm fans. For the means of this review, Alphacool supplied us with the Eisbaer 240, the dual 120 mm fan version. Although the concept of modular AIO liquid coolers is not new, Alphacool’s liquid cooling parts have had a good reputation, leaving us curious about how their first AIO liquid cooler will perform.
Packaging & Bundle
Alphacool supplies the Eisbaer in a dark cardboard box with relatively simple artwork printed on it. It is very sturdy and the cooler is protected inside a cardboard shell and covered in nylon bags, providing more than enough protection during transport.
The bundle accompanying the Eisbaer 240 is almost typical and limited to the necessary mounting hardware, two “Eiswind” 120 mm fans, an adapter for connecting both of the fans onto one 4-pin header and two doses of thermal compound. It is interesting to point out that the thermal compound is Gelid GC Extreme, a relatively premium thermal paste. The Eiswind fans are PWM compatible, with a sleeve bearing engine and a maximum speed of 1700 RPM.
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Sushisamurai - Sunday, August 7, 2016 - linkI think mainstream computers/CPU's don't need liquid, at all. If you're running an enthusiast build/HEDT then I think it's almost necessary. My CPU draws almost 230W at full load - I didn't bother putting an air cooler for noise issues.
rhysiam - Monday, August 1, 2016 - link"I personally think that air coolers have reached their EOL. There is no need for a big chunk of metal to sit on top of your motherboard especially when nowadays you can buy an excellent AIO that is reasonably priced, quiet, cools better, and looks aesthetically more pleasing, and its painless to install"
I can't agree with you at all on this. If we consider the three key metrics we can quantify being price, noise and thermal performance; air coolers objectively beat AIO water coolers by a significant margin. Entry level water coolers like the H60 are more expensive, hotter and louder than a wide range of air coolers, and perform terribly compared to similarly priced air towers (H60 prices take you into mid-range air cooler territory). Once you move up a tier to high end air coolers like the NH-D15, you need to spend far more money to get a similarly performing AIO. There are 240mm closed loop water coolers that appear to offer superior thermals for close to the $100 mark, but they do so by using hair-dryer like fans. If you want D15 performance from water and care at all about noise levels, you need to be prepared to spend a lot of money.
There are absolutely benefits to AIO water coolers: stress-free portability, RAM compatibility and potential to use in smaller cases. But, if you care primarily about getting the highest performing and quietest CPU cooler for your dollar, air still wins every time.
Hxx - Tuesday, August 2, 2016 - linkI bought an H55 for $25, an H110 for $55, and H100i gtx for $75, a thermaltake water 2.0 performer for $20, a thermaltake 240mm water 2.0 for about $50...over the past 4 or so years. Yes not everyday prices, but newegg sales, microcenter open boxes, etc. Like I said, no need for an air cooler anymore. Corsair even goes as far as covering your components if your cooler for whatever reason breaks and takes some other components with it.
The latest cooler I bought is the corsair h100i gtx for $75. My overclocked core i7 4770k 4.6ghz sits at 25C and 40ish when gaming in a corsair air 240 case. The pump is in "quiet mode". I can't hear the fans or the pump so I m happy. Also $75 is not a lot of money for a CPU cooler when a high end air cooler is almost just as much.
ikjadoon - Tuesday, August 2, 2016 - linkWrong. You need to update to Gen5 Asetek.
$25 cheaper than the NH-D15, quieter than the NH-U14S, and 5C cooler than the NH-U14S.
Keep up with reviews, dude.
rhysiam - Wednesday, August 3, 2016 - linkSo this Eteknix review paints quite a different picture of that cooler you linked: http://www.eteknix.com/arctic-liquid-freezer-120-a...
A full 14 degrees hotter than the D15 on an OC'd CPU (3570K) at 1.35V. Acoustics are still great, but temps, while fine, are hardly world beating. In fact they suggest 1.35V on an i5 is asking a bit too much of this 120mm cooler.
My issue with the HardOCP review is that the biggest load they put that cooler under is a 4.4Ghz OC on a 4770K at a measly 1.25V. That's just not enough to push any half decent cooler. Obviously it's got a great price and is really quiet, so would be a good choice for lots of people looking for a mild OC, but if all you want is a 1.25V mild OC, another valid option would be a cheap air cooler for $25?
I'm not saying AIO coolers don't have a place, clearly they do. But to say they make air coolers "EOL" is just not accurate IMHO.
Also, maybe ditch the BM next time? I expect better from comments here at Anandtech.
letmepicyou - Monday, August 1, 2016 - linkWhat you're missing about water cooling might be the fact that water cooling setups are WAY more convenient than some of the better air solutions out there. I can show you a nook in my one cupboard where I have some of the best air coolers around (Tuniq Tower, Antec CNPS 10X, Thermalright Silver Arrow, the list goes on). The problem with air? First is the weight it puts on the motherboard (which is a particular concern if you move your computer regularly). Second is the fact many high-end air coolers interfere with the ram slots, depending on the cooler / motherboard combo you happen to be using, and whether or not your ram happens to have taller than average heat sinks.
The perfect solution? An AIW water cooling setup. There is no motherboard stress worth mentioning, and I have GOBS of clearance for literally any ram I choose to use, regardless of where or how it's oriented on the board. I have a pretty stout system (i7 4790k, stock clocks) but it's not always about overclocking ability or raw cooling potential, sometimes it's about pure logistics.
rhysiam - Tuesday, August 2, 2016 - linkWhile water may be more convenient, it's also more expensive for a similar performance tier. And it's not like low profile RAM is hard to find or has any real drawbacks. Air certainly puts more weight on the motherboard, but it doesn't introduce liquid to the system. So while water is likely safer for a portable system, I'd suggest air is the safer bet for a static PC.
Clearly you'd prefer to spend more or sacrifice cooling performance for system portability and RAM compatibility... that's fine, there's heaps of situations where that's the right call. But there's undoubtedly a place on the market for the superior performance per dollar that air coolers offer.
retrospooty - Tuesday, August 2, 2016 - link" Second is the fact many high-end air coolers interfere with the ram slots, depending on the cooler / motherboard combo you happen to be using"
- You may have a point if you are upgrading an older system and therefore stuck with particular existing parts, but if you are building a new system you can build a better cooled system for cheaper with a good air cooler.
zodiacfml - Tuesday, August 2, 2016 - linkThat gave me an idea for a future build. I guess, water cooling should be focusing on graphics these days.
ikjadoon - Tuesday, August 2, 2016 - linkYup. I'm slapping this AIO CLC on my next GPU: cheaper than NH-U14S, cooler than a NH-U14S, and quieter than a NH-U14S--all at the same time! :D
The reign of air coolers is about to end with Gen5 Asetek.