Battle of the Water Cooling Kits

Alphacool Xtreme Pro 240

Packaging & Manual

Out of all the kits, the Alphacool was the first to arrive. The kit was packaged in a large cardboard box with 'air packets' to cushion any impact. I was also surprised to see a rather cool (no pun) Alphacool poster for covering those plain areas of your wall!

Alphacool Box Alphacool Box

The retail box is very flashy, with both German and English language being used. The contents of the box are protected by two large foam inserts that prevent anything from moving around too much.

Most impressive of all was the way that Alphacool have gone to the trouble of individually packaging each and every component in its own plastic box. This may be due to the fact that Alphacool also sell each of these components individually through retailers, but it's a great touch never less.

Alphacool Package

With all the components laid out, you can see exactly what you are getting for your money. Lets see what Alphacool say about this kit and find out exactly what is included:

"The set for professional users!
New copper cooler with cross-running channels in the PCF (c) building method, by means of which the surface for the heat dissipation is drastically increased. This allows stable operation at extreme summer temperatures, highest Overclocking potential and Low Noise at the same time. This cooler is conceived for the highest requirements. The bearing surface of the cooler is flat and polished. Safe work with no additional start-up relay with extremely quiet 12 V pump. With the 240 single radiator and high-quality Alphacool fan - a set with very high performance!"


- NexXxoS Xtreme II 240mm radiator
- CPU Alphacool NexXxoS XP cooler
- Mountings for AMD XP, AMD 64 and Opteron, Intel 478 and Socket 775
- Laing DDC Pump, incl. Water tank (can also be mounted in 3,5" slot)
- Bridging plug for the ATX power supply
- 4 Meter hose PUR 10/8mm transparent,
- 2x Alphacool Fan 120x120x25
- Watter additive Tec-Protect-Plus 0,5litre
- 8x connections Plugin with G1/4"-external thread on 10mm (external diameter) hoses,
- Adhesive tape 13cm long and 10cm wide for pump mounting
- Thermal paste
- Manual

Alphacool Manual Alphacool Manual

The Alphacool manual is in both English and German, and covers the majority of information needed to get your water cooling system up and running. As this is not a pre-built kit, some basic knowledge is obviously advantageous. As you can see above, the manual is in black & white, but still manages to include clear, detailed images.


Water Block & Accessories

The water block plays a very important part in any water-cooling system. Without a well designed block, heat will not be efficiently transferred into the water. There are several types of block design, all which produce different results - I'd love to go into detail but I'm afraid this is beyond the scope of the review.

NexXxos XP NexXxos XP

The included water block is Alphacool's own NexXxos XP. Having photographed all components in all of the water cooling kits already, I can tell you that the NexXxos has by far the best finish of all the blocks in this review.

The internals of the block are based upon a jet impingement design whereby the water is forced through small nozzles onto the surface of the block. The blocks surface has small pins cut into its centre to further facilitate the transfer of heat into the water.

Alphacool have actually won many awards for this block, and it is often regarded as one of the top 3 water blocks available.

The only disappointing aspect of this block is its mounting hardware, which unfortunately hides the majority of the blocks good looks under an ugly metal frame. It would have been nice to see this block use the same mounting mechanism as Swiftech's latest blocks.

Alphacool Accessories Alphacool Accessories

Above you can see the 3 different types of mounting hardware provided in the kit. Each comes with a small allen key and a screw for clamping the block in place. Also included are two 3-Pin to 3-Pin fan extension cables, and a PSU jump-start plug, which allows you to power on the pump without switching the rest of the PC on - great idea.


Pump & Reservoir

Alphacool have yet again brought a smile to my face with their choice of pumps, opting for the Laing Delphi 12v. This pump is best suited to restrictive water-cooling loops, which indicates that it should easily be able to handle any additional water blocks (Graphics, Northbridge..) you might want to add at a later date.

Alphacool Pump Alphacool Pump

Alphacool pump Alphacool Pump

Most notable about this pump/reservoir combo is that it you have to build it yourself. The pump, as previously stated, is manufactured by Delphi, with Alphacool designing a rather cool looking reservoir to sit on top.

The process of installing the reservoir on top of the pump is fairly simple and detailed within the manual. However, you will find yourself reaching for certain screwdrivers that don't often get used!

The following specifications have been taken from Laing's website:

- Motor design: Electronically commutated, brushless DC, spherical motor
- Voltage Range: 8 to 13.2 VDC
- Starting Voltage: 9 to 13.2 VDC
- Maximum system pressure: 22 PSI
- Maximum flow @ 13.2 volts = 400 LPH
- Temperature range: Up to 140°F (60°C)

Alphacool have also included fittings so that this pump can be mounted in a 3½" drive bay area, or affixed to any part of your case using the provided sticky pad.


Radiator & Fans

Responsible for removing the heat dumped into the water, the Radiator and Fans play a large roll in keeping CPU temperatures down. Radiators are singly the hardest item to install within your computer case, with many people choosing to mount them externally.

Alphacool Radiator Alphacool Radiator

Despite Alphacool stating in their kit specification that the included radiator is a NexXxos Xtreme radiator, to me it looks like an identical match for the Black Ice Xtreme II radiator currently installed in my own PC.

If the radiator is indeed a BIX-II, then Alphacool have indeed made another great component choice. The BIX-II radiator is actually one of the most compact 240mm radiators on the market (133x273x45mm WxHxD), with performance matching or exceeding that of its competitors.

I was disappointed to see that Alphacool haven't included any external mounting hardware for the radiator. Many water-cooling kits have brackets which allow for the radiator to be mounted either from a 120mm fan vent or from the power supply screw holes.

Update 27/06/06
Alphacool have informed me that mounting hardware in the form of screws for affixing the radiator to the case should have been included in the kit. These allow for the kit to be installed in a way similar to the pictures here.

The fans are labelled up as Alphacool's own brand, and boast 43.5cfm at 19dBA when running at 12v. This should make the Alphacool an ideal kit for those of us who enjoy silence.
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Most Recent Comments

26-06-2006, 09:51:50

JN
Today (and for the past 2 weeks) i look at water cooling kits from Alphacool, Swiftech, Thermaltake and XSPC to find out just what water cooling kit is worth splashing out your hard earned cash on.

Review Here

26-06-2006, 09:55:03

llwyd
well done mate, time well spent! awesome review

(as you can tell by the time stamp im still in the middle of reading it)

26-06-2006, 10:11:16

FarFarAway
Nice review mate. I read it before posting

26-06-2006, 10:17:56

JN
lol, cheers guys.

26-06-2006, 12:37:05

NickS
Awesome review man, I really enjoyed it. Some of those kit's really kicked butt!

Nick

26-06-2006, 13:47:12

Raven
must say the thermaltake didnt manage well.

45celsius at load is higher than i get on air :/

26-06-2006, 13:50:23

JN
Quote:
Originally Posted by Raven
must say the thermaltake didnt manage well.

45celsius at load is higher than i get on air :/
Yeah it wasn't too great. I'm wondering if it was down to that kink in the radiator pipe that was causing greatly restricted flow..

26-06-2006, 14:15:39

FragTek
can't wait to read the review when I get home, looks great!

26-06-2006, 14:55:14

Raven
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='XMS'
I'm wondering if it was down to that kink in the radiator pipe that was causing greatly restricted flow..
possibly, if you still have the radiators you could do a flow test and se how much time is needed for 1L water to flow through.

27-06-2006, 05:33:29

PV5150
An excellent and comprehensive review as usual XMS. How good is the finish on the NexXxos?

27-06-2006, 05:38:51

JN
Thx PV - and ye, that block was like a mirror.

27-06-2006, 06:44:11

FragTek
Finally got a chance to read throgh the whole review, looks good mate! There were some decent looking kits there. Seems the TT kit had some major faults though but I suppose that's to be expected from a TT water kit.

I definately think that the Swiftech kit has the most potential... Replace the tubing with some larger diamater stuff and you could see a great deal more performance mefinks.

Nice one mate.

27-06-2006, 07:25:42

JN
Agreed Frag. I've pretty much got the same kit as the swiftech one but with 1/2" tubing. My temps are about 1-2oc lower on average.

27-06-2006, 10:13:49

Ham
Another fantastic job XMS. Looking at those temps tho, its it all really worth it me wonders. My Evo keeps my 3500 @ 30idle ~37load. And thats not 90nm.

27-06-2006, 10:30:26

JN
Yeah, the only thing you need to take into consideration when comparing it tho is the vcore used and room temp. These were taken with 1.6v cvcore and room temp of 26oc.

27-06-2006, 10:33:41

FarFarAway
Ye twas a hot one last week

27-06-2006, 10:35:27

JN
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Kempez'
Ye twas a hot one last week
For sure. At one point in the tests i was seriously considering tipping all of that deionised water over my head

23-07-2006, 17:25:03

browney
For Alphacool Complete Retail Universal Kit (All CPUS/Chipsets/VGA/Rad/12v Pump/Cables/Tubes/Coolant)

1.Doesn any one know if there are chipset problems with the DFI LanParty UT NF4 SLI-D

2.Any problems with the VGA and a ATi X1800XT?

23-07-2006, 18:09:18

Futures Truth
Nice review! Couldn't of come a better time. I'm researching water cooling, and it's a big help to me! Thanks! Awesome reviews, I read it all before posting =]

23-07-2006, 18:09:46

FarFarAway
Quote:
Originally Posted by browney
For Alphacool Complete Retail Universal Kit (All CPUS/Chipsets/VGA/Rad/12v Pump/Cables/Tubes/Coolant)

1.Doesn any one know if there are chipset problems with the DFI LanParty UT NF4 SLI-D

2.Any problems with the VGA and a ATi X1800XT?
Unsure of exactly what you mean mate

The kit we reviewed did not have either of those components in it.

23-07-2006, 18:13:54

JN
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Futures Truth'
Nice review! Couldn't of come a better time. I'm researching water cooling, and it's a big help to me! Thanks! Awesome reviews, I read it all before posting =]
Glad it was of use Futures

Have you decided on what one to go for?

24-07-2006, 06:12:01

browney
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kempez
Unsure of exactly what you mean mate

The kit we reviewed did not have either of those components in it.
Well will the chipset w/c block fit? since my X1800XT is very close to the chipset fan

www.browneyonline.co.uk/browney/pictures/computer/wcfit/

24-07-2006, 06:17:11

JN
I'm highly doubtful that the NB blocks included with the kits will fit the SLI-D. You'll most likely need to purchase a seperate NB block.

As for the GPU block, i'd check the manufacturers site for compatability.

24-07-2006, 06:23:36

browney
Yer thats what i though Grrr

Not very clued up on w/c

p.s nice forum people you have here

24-07-2006, 06:27:24

JN
Quote:
Originally Posted by browney
Yer thats what i though Grrr

Not very clued up on w/c

p.s nice forum people you have here
TBH, unless you're going for a totally silent system i'd give NB cooling a miss. It only really helps at very high FSB's imo.

And thanks

24-07-2006, 06:33:19

browney
Quote:
Originally Posted by XMS
TBH, unless you're going for a totally silent system i'd give NB cooling a miss. It only really helps at very high FSB's imo.

And thanks
Oh right so what one would you recomend?

Damn i was pricing things up

24-07-2006, 06:39:27

JN
Quote:
Originally Posted by browney
Oh right so what one would you recomend?

Damn i was pricing things up
It all depends on what you're looking for really:

Price+Performance = XSPC X20 Dual Xtreme

Performance+Easy Install = Swiftech H20-220

Performance+Quiet = Alphacool Xtreme Pro 240

And if you want GPU cooling, i'd probably buy the GPU block seperately from HERE

EDIT: Also remember that 2 of these kits (the Swiftech and Alphacool) are available from Specialtech.co.uk with the OC3D 10% discount code

24-07-2006, 06:47:05

browney
Quote:
Originally Posted by XMS
It all depends on what you're looking for really:

Price+Performance = XSPC X20 Dual Xtreme

Performance+Easy Install = Swiftech H20-220

Performance+Quiet = Alphacool Xtreme Pro 240

And if you want GPU cooling, i'd probably buy the GPU block seperately from HERE
Thanks it looks like it would be

1x EK-NF4 rev1.1

1 x EK-FCX1800 X1800/X1900

1 x XSPC X2O Dual Xtreme WaterCooling Kit

£169.96 incl post

24-07-2006, 06:55:01

JN
Quote:
Originally Posted by browney
Thanks it looks like it would be

1x EK-NF4 rev1.1

1 x EK-FCX1800 X1800/X1900

1 x XSPC X2O Dual Xtreme WaterCooling Kit

£169.96 incl post
Ye, thats not a bad price at all for a full kit including NB & GPU water blocks. Just make sure you get the right size barbs for those extra blocks when ordering

24-07-2006, 06:58:43

browney
Are those like splitters?

EDIT. Are those to connect the hose to the waterblocks?

Sorry if i sounds dumb its just i have never done O/C before

24-07-2006, 07:10:14

JN
The barbs are what allows you to connect the tubing to the blocks.

After taking a closer look at the EK blocks i directed you to, they only come with 1/2" barbs. The XSPC X20 kits come with 10/8mm tubing, so they wont be compatable without purchasing some new barbs.

Your best bet would be to contact watercoolingshop, and ask them if they have any 10/8mm barbs that are compatable with the EK water blocks. New barbs will probably add an extra £5 or so to your order.

24-07-2006, 07:22:08

browney
Contacted www.watercoolingshop.com Iíll give an update once I get a reply

Thanks

24-07-2006, 07:47:11

browney
Hi Steven,

The EK waterblocks use a G1/4" thread so you can easily replace the fittings with 10/8mm compression fittings.

You need the product below. (2 for each block)

http://www.watercoolingshop.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=49_55&products_id=147

Regards, Paul

WaterCoolingShop.com

Sound right?

24-07-2006, 07:49:18

JN
Yep, Paul knows his stuff when it comes to water cooling

24-07-2006, 07:51:08

browney
Just got to save now then :P

24-07-2006, 07:51:59

JN
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='browney'
Just got to save now then :P
hehe yup, money always helps

24-07-2006, 08:05:41

browney
Ek got back to me about the chipset wb



Hi!

Should work with no problam at all!

Best, Eddy

24-07-2006, 08:53:41

JN
Good stuff - i also forgot tot plug the fact that we'll be reviewing one of the EK GPU blocks shortly - so keep an eye out

24-07-2006, 17:26:20

WC Annihilus
Tight. Eddy is supposed to be a real nice guy and his blocks perform quite well

24-07-2006, 17:31:16

Futures Truth
Quote:
Originally Posted by XMS
Glad it was of use Futures

Have you decided on what one to go for?
Most likely the Alphacool Xtreme Pro, unless I decide on having NoL build a phase change unit for me.

09-08-2006, 12:44:21

PapaLaz
Hi all, first post here so go easy

Just wanted to thank you for this review. I've been doing the hardware side of PCs for ages, and am just about to venture into watercooling my rig. After reading this review (linked from the watercoolingshop.com site) I decided to go for the XSPC X2O kit, looks excellent value for money.

Also ordered the X2O VGA block to go on my X1900XTX (already has ramsinks from the Zalman VF900), and an extra CPU extension ring (theres tons of passive sinks on this BadAxe, and was worried that the CPU block wouldn't fit).

I'd like to get it installed internally in my Akasa Eclipse, but not sure yet if it'll be possible - don't think it'll fit even if I rip most of the drive bays out. Will probably have to get a hole cut in the roof, but am cack at anything like that, and terrified of bodging up the case

Anyway, thanks for the great review (and top forums !!) - I'll get some posts/pics up when it's all done. Any advice would be VERY welcome too.

PapaLaz

09-08-2006, 12:47:33

Ham
If your really worried you could send off you case to kustoms?

09-08-2006, 14:09:34

JN
Hi Papalaz,

I'm glad you liked the review, and thanks for swinging by the forums.

Did you decide to go for the XSPC Dual Xtreme kit? If so, you have a few options....

1. Send the case to kustompcs.co.uk and have them cut 2x120mm holes in the top of your case as Ham rightly said.

2. Mount the radiator on the back of your case using the included mounting brackets.

3. Mount the radiator on top of your PC (in a koolance fashion) using the included mounting brackets.

Feel free to ask any further questions

09-08-2006, 14:31:09

PapaLaz
Yes, it was the Dual Xtreme kit I went for.

Long term I think I'll look at getting the holes cut into the top (and possibly get Kustom to do it - thx). All the kits arriving tomorrow, and as I'm sooo impatient I'll be setting it up right away.

Not sure if I fancy mounting it at the back of the case, on the 120mm mount, due to the jungle of cables that reside there, but I quite like the sound of having it external on the top. Wasn't aware the kit came with fixings for that - how does it mount exactly, you mentioned brackets, does it clamp across the top or something ?

The main reason I've decided to go water was for temps. My system is very quiet on air atm (120mm front & back, Scythe Ninja + 120mm, Zalman VF900 on the gfx), but I'd like the temps more stable. With the E6600 @ 3GHz-ish it idles@39-40 and loads@60-65. I can get the E6600 stable @ 3.6GHz, but I have to pump around 1.6v into it, and that gets me idle@48-50 load@65-75... waaay too warm.

Haven't been able to find any review of the XSPC VGA block, but it was stated for the x1800/1900 so should be fine. If I start enjoying the wc lark I might get one of the complete gpu/mem blocks, but thought i'd start out gradually

Thanks again for all the help/advice !!

09-08-2006, 14:37:16

Mullet
Welcome aboard bud...

I am going to be hacking lumps out of my eclipse 62 shortly....will post up some pics for you to digest to help you make the decision re. rad install. Personally for cleanest look I'm going for an internal fitting (in top of case)..will be using a PA120.2....and the thermochill grill will be used as a cutting template....

09-08-2006, 15:16:56

PapaLaz
Thx - that'd be excellent.

You think it's possible to get it all under the top, with just grills on the top, whilst leaving room for PSU (presume you'd have to forget the 1st 5.25 bay). Was thinking it would have to go half/half, with the rad under the case level, and the fans above... not a great explanation, but you get what I mean

Love the case, there's so much room for keeping all the cables tidy, and I'm sure i can get the pump etc tucked at the bottom to the right of the case.

My Mrs just said "whats the point in having it inside - dont you want the radiator outside to cool down the water".. maybe I should just get her to put it together for me

09-08-2006, 15:54:27

JN
Quote:
Originally Posted by PapaLaz

Not sure if I fancy mounting it at the back of the case, on the 120mm mount, due to the jungle of cables that reside there, but I quite like the sound of having it external on the top. Wasn't aware the kit came with fixings for that - how does it mount exactly, you mentioned brackets, does it clamp across the top or something ?

..

Haven't been able to find any review of the XSPC VGA block, but it was stated for the x1800/1900 so should be fine. If I start enjoying the wc lark I might get one of the complete gpu/mem blocks, but thought i'd start out gradually

Thanks again for all the help/advice !!
The radiator actually comes with 4 polished steel brackets. Normally these would be used for fitting the radiator over an 80mm fan hole, but i found them equally as effective for mounting the radiator on top of a case. They give the radiator around 5cm space from the case, so airflow is not a problem.

You'll see what i mean when you get the kit tomorrow

10-08-2006, 12:51:06

Mullet
Not sure what the thickness is on your rad but I know I will lose the use of 2.5 drive bays. The PA120.2 is 64mm thick...but pretty much pwns on the cooling front!! The thermochill grill provides a good template for cutting and looks nice too!!

http://www.thermochill.com/

10-08-2006, 12:58:51

PapaLaz
Well the kit arrived, and I'm one very unhappy bunny !!!

Everything inside was perfect, except this forgot to ship one vital ingredient - no tubing. I've sent a couple of emails through the contact page at watercoolingshop and also fired one off to Paul at XSPC (his addy was on the back of the manual)... sent them about 4.40pm, hoping someone would sort it out and get tubing in the post to me... still no replies.

More annoyed as I'd taken tomorrow off work to get it all built, after intending to assemble and leak test tonight. Shocking - how can you miss out such a vital piece.... No contact numbers for the store or XSPC so all I can do is send them mails.

Sorry, just venting, obviously I'm pretty gutted.

Also, FYI, the retail pack is shipping in the same brown box you recieved, and the manual is still based on the single 120mm rad.

Update - as I write this Paul has just emailed me to apologise, and he's gonna try and get some tubing in the post for me tonight. Fingers crossed.

Having now had a good look at the rad, I'm probably gonna mount it on the back 120mm for now - mounts look pretty sturdy. Will go inside eventually but think I'll leave the hacking to the pro's

10-08-2006, 13:43:56

JN
Hi Papalaz,

Thats a bit of a bummer. Paul is normally really quick at replying to e-mails. I imagine he was probably just rushed off his feet at the time.

It's a shame they havn't got the manual and packaging sorted yet, but if you need any help - just ask

Fingers crossed for the arrival of your tubing tomorrow

10-08-2006, 13:57:46

PapaLaz
I think to be fair to Paul, he said he'd just got home, so was probably travelling around 4.45 when I sent the mail. He's since mailed me back to say he had some tubing at home which he's got out in the last post for me, and will send the original stuff tomorrow. Fair play to him, that's a decent enough response - was just gutted when I got home "ready for work"

Not too bothered about the manual and packaging, looks simple enough to install. Only thing which will take some working out is the VGA block (I got the XSPC one to match the rest). Bundle of strange tiny washers to clamp in onto the supplied backplate... sure it'll all make sense once I whip the VF900 off, and if not I can polly use the nipples/clamps from the 900.

Overall though the kit looks awesome, really is a nice rad. Also the fans are now supplied with 3-pin connectors which is a real result - they're nice long cables too to get inside the PC (and can then go on my akasa fan controller).

Lol - last thing to slow me down will be the filler cap on the pump/res, think it was put on by Superman !!

Thanks again for the advice and offers of help... will probably make some posts late on tomorrow.

Oh, one last thing... as I'm putting the rad on the back, I was gonna build it all up, then leave it outside the case to leak test. Think I'll have to put long tubing on the rads, as that'll have to stay near the case, with the tubing going through the pci backplate. Yeah, only way to do it... sorry, thinking out loud

10-08-2006, 14:42:32

Mullet
Quote:
Originally Posted by PapaLaz
Well the kit arrived, and I'm one very unhappy bunny !!!

Everything inside was perfect, except this forgot to ship one vital ingredient - no tubing. I've sent a couple of emails through the contact page at watercoolingshop and also fired one off to Paul at XSPC (his addy was on the back of the manual)... sent them about 4.40pm, hoping someone would sort it out and get tubing in the post to me... still no replies.

More annoyed as I'd taken tomorrow off work to get it all built, after intending to assemble and leak test tonight. Shocking - how can you miss out such a vital piece.... No contact numbers for the store or XSPC so all I can do is send them mails.

Sorry, just venting, obviously I'm pretty gutted.

Also, FYI, the retail pack is shipping in the same brown box you recieved, and the manual is still based on the single 120mm rad.

Update - as I write this Paul has just emailed me to apologise, and he's gonna try and get some tubing in the post for me tonight. Fingers crossed.

Having now had a good look at the rad, I'm probably gonna mount it on the back 120mm for now - mounts look pretty sturdy. Will go inside eventually but think I'll leave the hacking to the pro's
Aye....my EK blocks arrived without barbs!! Not so worried tho...not Paul's fault....a balls up at EK's end of things...he has already responded and 6 shiny barbs are making their way to me.

PapaLaz.....what rad did u go for in the end? Here's a pic of another install done by someone I know on an eclipse 62 using the PA120.2

http://i44.photobucket.com/albums/f1...4copyLarge.jpg

Measurements are included......

Looks very nice IMO

16-11-2007, 07:09:59

tsinc80697
Just about to dabble inwot watercooling and a change of case. Been looking at the Antec P182 and the H20-220 Apex Ultra. Just been asking in another thread if they will fit together.

As this review is quite old, are there any newer kits out there that will out perform the Swiftech kit for around the same price?

Looking for performance/silence really but not at an silly price!
Reply
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