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Real world comparison of the top AIO's on the market right now.

PaulieG

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So, originally I was going to do an in depth review on the AIO's that by most reports are considered two of the best on the market right now, the EK Basic 360 and the Arctic Cooling Freezer II 280. I quickly realized that I no longer enjoy the technical jargon the same way that I did in my younger days. So, I shit canned that idea. However, I did think it was my duty to give my thoughts on these 2 coolers along with the EK 240 and Alphacool Eisbaer 360. All of which I have running in rigs right now. The EK and Arctic Cooling AIO's are both cooling 5950x's with Noctua NT-H2 TIM and are in Lian Li Lancool II Mesh cases sitting right next to each other in the same room at an ambient temp of 72f. Please note that none of these AIO's are designed by Asetek.

I just picked up the Arctic Cooling Freezer II 280 about a week ago. First impression. Shitty packaging. Super thin cardboard. I was surprised there wasn't some molded cardboard around the radiator. It was just in a plastic bag. Luckily everything inside appeared to be in good condition but I thought it should be packaged better. The block looked good and the radiator is exceptional. Installation. I'm not saying in any way that this installation was hard. It wasn't. The block mounting was just cumbersome compared to the EK AIO and took twice as long to install start to finish. Oh, and what's all this damn play in the backplate? I know that it does eventually lock down, but this was not confidence inspiring at all. I think they should put a little tube of MX-4 with at least 2 applications instead of that tiny pouch which will do 1 application at best. The cooling is quite good while running WCG on standard settings with the 5950x in 95w eco mode. Usually in 60-64c range. I'm happy with the performance. I'm guessing the 360 version may get the 5950 another 2-3c cooler.

The EK AIO 360 is currently installed on one of my 5950x's and one of my 10850k's. Packaging is stellar. Box is solid like a good PSU box, with molded cardboard around all components. All screws are labeled for each platform. The mounting hardware is by far the best I've seen on an AIO for both AMD and Intel. The install is a breeze. Very simple, fast and secure. The EK blocks are fantastic and the radiator is really good, but the radiator is the one component where I think Arctic has the very slight edge on quality. EK includes a small tube of their own TIM, which is enough for 3-4 applications. The TIM is "fine", but I do notice a 2-3c drop when I elect to use NT-H2 instead. I keep it around for when I do builds for other people. The cooling of this AIO is excellent while running WCG on standard settings with the 5950x in 95w eco mode. Usually 54-56c.

The Alphacool Eisbaer 360 is a curious beast. The packaging was fantastic. The overall quality of the block and radiator is in the same range as the EK and Arctic. The block is nicer than the Arctic, but not as nice as the EK and the radiator is similar to the EK radiator. However, the installation hardware is a big fail due to an awful, ridiculous excuse for a backplate. It's this thin sort of flexible piece of plastic that makes it damn near impossible to install the block without another set of hands. Luckily, I noticed the the EK backplate would likely work with the Eisbaer top mounting screws. Once I swapped out the crappy backplate for the EK backplate, the install went much better. The included full tube of XPX-1 thermal paste was a nice touch. I like this paste. It's within a couple of degrees of NT-H2 and really easy to apply. Temps are within 2-3c of the the EK AIO when mounted to the 5950x under the same conditions.

Not a ton to say on the EK AIO 240 other than to say it's just a mini version of the 360. I won't use it to cool a beast like a 5950x or overclocked 10850k, but I'd say it's the best option of all of the 240's for chips like a 5600x or a 10700k. It did a fantastic job on both of those chips, and once again, the quality of packaging and components is awesome and the mounting is about the best you will ever see in an AIO.

So there you go. Nothing technical. Just my recent experience with the best AIO's out there and some other pretty good options, with some Caveats.

I'll most likely revise this later this afternoon with additional details on fans etc.
 
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Tnanks buddy!
 
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So, I shit canned that idea.
I used to think this was one word, and then there was the aweful sound of a dumpster falling over to go with it.

Thanks for this mini-review on stuff, I was looking at Corsairs 115i 280 but I was seeing low opinions on it, and its more expensive than the AF2 280 on amazon ( $170 vs $112 )

EDIT: The only thing I dont like about the AF2 is the block, I prefer the hoses on the side
EDIT2: the AF2 radiator is 38mm and the115i radiator is 27mm, so the AF2 can claim better cooling.
 
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PaulieG

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I used to think this was one word, and then there was the aweful sound of a dumpster falling over to go with it.

Thanks for this mini-review on stuff, I was looking at Corsairs 115i 280 but I was seeing low opinions on it, and its more expensive than the AF2 280 on amazon ( $170 vs $112 )

EDIT: The only thing I dont like about the AF2 is the block, I prefer the hoses on the side
The EK has side hoses and in the same price range as the AF2. One other thing, you can order straight from EK. The shipping is a little higher and takes a little longer, but no tax, the packaging is better than Amazon and they include a nice pen with every order.
 
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The EK has side hoses and in the same price range as the AF2. One other thing, you can order straight from EK. The shipping is a little higher and takes a little longer, but no tax, the packaging is better than Amazon and they include a nice pen with every order.
I prefer to stay with 140mm fans to keep with the case motif. EK doesnt offer a 420 AIO, but there isnt much demand for it.
 
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Quick n dirty, just the way i like em. My reviews that is!

I dont use AIOs but i may at some point. Much appreciated.
 

FireFox

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The Alphacool Eisbaer 360 is a curious beast. The packaging was fantastic. The overall quality of the block and radiator is in the same range as the EK and Arctic. The block is nicer than the Arctic, but not as nice as the EK and the radiator is similar to the EK radiator.
Agree with you.
I have an Alphacool Eisbaer 360 which i bought a few months ago and used it for less than a month ( my first AIO ) i was pretty happy with the performance, it was cooling my 10700K at 5.0GHz. Now it's laying in a corner :oops:
 

PaulieG

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FireFox

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Well, I'm guessing if you all fixed the damn backplate, it wouldn't be sitting in the corner. :laugh:
I just prefer custom loops over AIO's
 

PaulieG

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I just prefer custom loops over AIO's
I figured, but I couldn't help myself. :laugh:

All in good fun. Eddy already knows my thoughts on this.
 

EddyAlphacool

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Yeah, i know the issues with the backplate. Its a bit tricky to mount it. With the new coming up AIO generation and DIY cpu cooler we will change the mounting stuff on our products to make it easier.
 

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I dont know who i should blame but this was the only way i could mount it to make it fit:oops:

Alphacool.jpg
 

PaulieG

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I dont know who i should blame but this was the only way i could mount it to make it fit:oops:

View attachment 203231
I didn't have that issue. My entire issue was the fact that another company's backplate worked 10x better than what Alphacool included. When they get that worked out, I'd say they will have a hell of a product if nothing else is changed for the worse.
 

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Update: I think I was a little lazy and tired when I applied TIM on the AC Freezer 2. Last night I reapplied and reseated. I saw a 2c improvement in temps. I'm guessing the 360 will be right on par with the EK as far as temps go. However, the mounting system still sucks ass compared to the EK.
 

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IF you mount an AIO 10 times, you will get 10 different results because you cant applied the TIM everytime in exactly the same way. And your room temperature is also not everytime exactly the same. Not even in a room with a corresponding air conditioning system. That is impossible. In my entire hardware life I have never seen a test room, not even for many thousands of euros, that can always maintain the same TEmperatur in all areas of the room. And I've already seen a hell of a lot of test rooms.
 

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IF you mount an AIO 10 times, you will get 10 different results because you cant applied the TIM everytime in exactly the same way. And your room temperature is also not everytime exactly the same. Not even in a room with a corresponding air conditioning system. That is impossible. In my entire hardware life I have never seen a test room, not even for many thousands of euros, that can always maintain the same TEmperatur in all areas of the room. And I've already seen a hell of a lot of test rooms.
Absolutely, but in my experience minor fluctuations in ambient temperatures result in negligible differences. The same with TIM application, if you are OCD the way I am. I will say that my cases and test benches are all within a 6 ft. area in my basement on the same table.
 
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Agree with you.
I have an Alphacool Eisbaer 360 which i bought a few months ago and used it for less than a month ( my first AIO ) i was pretty happy with the performance, it was cooling my 10700K at 5.0GHz. Now it's laying in a corner :oops:
Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML360R RGB with Arctic p12 i7 10700kf 5.0hghz NOT 1.275 volt (1.2700 was for my i5 10600kf) 1.230 cpuz (bios 1.220)



2021-06-23 14_15_16-Window.png
2021-06-23 14_16_40-Window.png
 
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FireFox

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43 uncore? Bump it up.
 
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https://valid.x86.fr/hg3dpj

I tried 50 but it wouldn't boote, than i had ram problems took 1 pair out and it bootede i but not 50 after the first ram clicked in the slot i could boote uncore at 48, i would just leave it at that since changing it to 50 wasn't an option

2021-06-23 14_19_17-Window.png

2021-06-23 14_20_59-Window.png


Still an improvement
2021-06-23 14_54_47-Window.png
 

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43 uncore? Bump it up.

https://valid.x86.fr/lt8gyb I tried 50 but it wouldn't boote, than i had ram problems took 1 pair out and it bootede i but not 50 after the first ram clicked in the slot i could boote uncore at 48, i would just leave it at that since changing it to 50 wasn't an option

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EddyAlphacool

Alphacool Rep
Joined
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Messages
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Absolutely, but in my experience minor fluctuations in ambient temperatures result in negligible differences. The same with TIM application, if you are OCD the way I am. I will say that my cases and test benches are all within a 6 ft. area in my basement on the same table.
That is all correct. I just wanted to point out that one cannot be ultra-precise in such tests and that differences of ~1°C should not be taken so seriously. Of course, as an editor/reviewer you want to be as accurate as possible and do everything to get correct and reproducible results (12 years ago i was a cooler reviewer by myselfe). But the normal user should always keep in mind that there can always be minimal fluctuations in the results. I just think that discussions that revolve around the decimal point are always completely superfluous.
 
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Thanks for the review. :)

I'm thinking about AIO watercooling my 11700 (non-K) to unlock its full potential. I currently have a Corsair H100i Platinum lying around, but I don't like the way it needs to be plugged into a USB header and then everything on it is controlled via software. I always say simple is best, including cables, and control via PWM. It's a shame AIO manufacturers and retailers don't indicate this on their spec sheets.

I've looked at the Arctic Freezer II 280, the be quiet! Silent Loop 2 280, the Corsair H115i Pro XT, and the EVGA CLC 280.
  • I know the Arctic doesn't have RGB, has excellent performance, and is controlled via PWM all the way, but I'm not a big fan of its design.
  • The be quiet! is new to me, but I'm so far happy with their Shadow Rock LP, so I know at least the fans must be great on the AIO too.
  • I've had several Corsair AIOs in the past, and I trust the brand. I'm just not sure if the H115i Pro XT needs software control, or not.
  • The EVGA looks like a nice, simple AIO, but suspiciously has a USB plug just like my H100i.
Seriously, why is everything software controlled these days? Does nobody know how to enter the BIOS anymore? :confused:
 

FireFox

The Power Of Intel
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I've had several Corsair AIOs in the past, and I trust the brand. I'm just not sure if the H115i Pro XT needs software control, or not.

That's actually the biggest (perf aside) concern for me when it comes to AIO's, pretty much all of them have RGB nowdays and I want to be able to run them without software, and far as I'm aware corsair is one of the few you can run without any software once you have them set up. I don't want any company's RGB trashy bloatware apps and services on my PC. You never see this kinda thing ever discussed either which I find.. curious.
 
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