Introduction to the Alphacool Eisbaer AIO Liquid CPU Cooler

Eisbaer?  What!?  Try pronouncing it like ‘Ice Bear’ and it’ll make a whole lot more sense!  It could be written as Eisbär, to confuse native English speakers more, but thankfully it is not.  It translates to ‘Polar Bear’ in German, which Germany is exactly where Alphacool is stationed.  First shown off at Computex 2016, today Alphacool is taking the wraps off of the Eisbaer AIO Liquid CPU Cooler and we have one for review!  Alphacool has worked with various partners in the past, such as Fractal Design, ASUS, Sapphire, and even Cooler Master, designing cooling solutions for their various needs; they’re actually quite the one-stop-shop for water cooling products for everyone.  This is a pretty neat looking cooler, so let’s hope the performance is as good as the looks. [caption id="attachment_183296" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Alphacool Eisbaer Alphacool Eisbaer 240mm AIO Liquid CPU Cooler[/caption] Alphacool has a vast array of cooling parts, allowing you to build your own custom cooling loops.  The Eisbaer is an all-in-one, but it kept the possibility of the end user wanting more out of their cooler in mind.  One thing that you’ll likely immediately notice on this cooler is the fact that it has quick connects.  These connectors use G ¼” threads, so you will have no shortage of parts available to you.  In fact, Alphacool says that the Eisbaer will have no problem handling two 240mm radiators and a graphics card cooler in the loop.  This cooler will absolutely be compatible with their upcoming GPX-Pro GPU cooler, which will be released later this year. You will find the Eisbaer available in 120x45mm, 240x30mm, 280x30mm, and 360x30mm radiator sizes, which the technical foundation for these radiators is Alphacool’s NexXxoS ST30 radiators.  The only difference between this radiator and the NexXxoS is a missing connector on the head and opposite side. Alphacool Eisbaer - Logo You can find some Alphacool products on Amazon, but this particular kit was provided to us by AquaTuning.us.  The Eisbaer 240mm kit has a retail price of $129 USD, which is right where I expected it to be.  You will be able to pick up your own Alphacool Eisbaer 240mm AIO kit from AquaTuning.us, ModMyMods.com, or Performance-PCS.com for at or around $129 USD plus shipping to your country.  We're told that Amazon will eventually carry this cooler, but initially you will find it at the aforementioned sites. Alphacool provides a 3 year warranty on this cooler, so as always, if something unexpected goes wrong, you’ll have their support. We will update the pricing (if there is any change) and provide links when we find it available at the various vendors. Should you have one of the other sizes in mind, here is a complete list with the MSRP of each version:   Alphacool Eisbaer Technical Specifications:   Again, this cooler looks pretty nice, but will the performance match the looks?  That's something we will have to find out in the coming pages!  Let's move on and take a quick look at the packaging and what comes inside the box, and follow that up with a performance review of this wicked liquid CPU cooler.

Eisbaer Packaging and a Closer Look

Alphacool is a new product line to me, so I’m not well versed on how they traditionally do their packaging.  For the Eisbaer, we found the exterior of the packaging to be severely lacking in technical detail, but the packaging itself was simple and nice looking.  The front and back are virtually identical, while the sides basically tell you nothing. Opening it up, we find the traditional egg carton-style packaging, which did a great job holding the product in place, as nothing was damaged. [gallery ids="183307,183308,183309"] Taking it out of the box, you see exactly how neat looking this cooler is.  The pump itself larger than the low profile ones that I’ve been accustomed to by other manufacturers, but fear not, as it is a very powerful pump.  The pump on the Eisbaer will allow you to connect yet another 240mm radiator and another cooling block – such as the GPX-Pro GPU cooler by Alphacool. Alphacool Eisbaer On the top of the pump we find the fill port, should you need to add more liquid.  The Alphacool logo has an LED behind it and will glow a soft blue.  The actual height of the pump measures approximately 2-1/4 inches tall, which isn’t bad considering performance air coolers are much larger.  Also stemming out from the top of the pump is the 3-pin power wire. Alphacool Eisbaer - Pump Top If we look at the side of the pump, Alphacool designed it with a window, which is kind of neat if you’re able to install the cooler with this showing and have a window on your case.  Unfortunately this doesn't light up and you see no moving parts, so it's merely cosmetic. Alphacool Eisbaer - Pump Side On the bottom, the copper cold plate is covered by a protective sticker, but we had some staining on the copper.  This could not be felt by your finger or fingernail, so it shouldn’t be an issue.  Not only that, it’s on the outer edges and this surface will not really come in contact with the processor. Alphacool Eisbaer - Cold Plate Here is a shot of the quick connect point.  Also note that the tubing is pretty generic with basically a spring sleeved around it to prevent kinking.  I think it’s a little tacky, but it actually does work well. Alphacool Eisbaer - Quick Connect Included with the kit are two Eiswind fans, rated at 1700 RPM but unknown static pressure or noise levels.  When Alphacool has a landing page for these products, we’ll update this review with the hard stats. Alphacool Eisbaer - Eiswind Fans Hooking up the fans to the cooler was a breeze (pun intended?).  We chose a push configuration for best cooling performance, but of course you can do a pull or a push/pull configuration if you’d like. [caption id="attachment_183296" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Alphacool Eisbaer Alphacool Eisbaer 240mm AIO Liquid CPU Cooler[/caption] You will find hardware to install this kit on any modern Intel or AMD system, a fan header splitter, and two packets of thermal paste.  Alphacool opted for packets over a syringe because they feel by the time you’d want to do a little maintenance, your syringe of paste would have been dried up already. Alphacool Eisbaer - Hardware This wraps up the introduction to the cooler and the packaging, so let’s move on and see how easy this slick looking liquid CPU cooler is to install!

Installing the Eisbaer AIO Liquid CPU Cooler

Installing water coolers is generally pretty simple, and overall I’d have to say the Eisbaer was no exception to that.  Since Alphacool didn’t provide us with install instructions, we were left to fend on our own and figure it out.  After a very short 1-2 minute examination of the hardware provided, it was determined that there would be nothing difficult about this install. Alphacool Eisbaer - Clean I already installed the fans in a push configuration for the product shoot, so that part is already taken care of.  All it involves is screwing in eight long screws, as you will see in an upcoming picture of the radiator installed.  I also cleaned off any old thermal paste with a high purity rubbing alcohol.  I also need to point out that I was forced to use the backplate from a previous cooler review, as I misplaced the factory socket backplate from my motherboard.  This did not affect installation one bit, as it was nearly identical anyway. [caption id="attachment_183296" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Alphacool Eisbaer Alphacool Eisbaer 240mm AIO Liquid CPU Cooler[/caption] Installing the radiator was as simple as lining up the holes on the top mount of my Fractal Design Define XL R2 chassis, and popping in eight screws from above. Alphacool Eisbaer - Radiator Installed I totally forgot to prep the mounting hardware prior to installing the radiator, but fortunately Alphacool made this a snap, literally.  The mounting bracket slides into some grooves and snaps into place, which this part takes all of two seconds to do. Alphacool Eisbaer - Mounting Hardware Snapped together: Alphacool Eisbaer - Mounting Hardware I went ahead and peeled the protective sticker back and cleaned off the copper cold plate.  I was hoping the staining would go away, but unfortunately it did not.  I don't feel this will be an issue, not only because it's mainly on the outer edge, but because it's just a stain and I cannot feel any imperfections on the copper. Alphacool Eisbaer - Stain The next step of the mounting hardware is putting the screws in place.  This is what took a second to figure out what they had in mind, and you basically have a long screw, slide on a spring and washer, slip it through the hole on the mounting bracket, and tighten it in place with the nut. Alphacool Eisbaer - Mounting Hardware Alphacool includes XPX Xtreme thermal paste, which they say one packet will yield you up to two installations.  I still prefer syringes since they’re easier to work with, but they gave you a packet in hopes that remnants wouldn’t dry out as quickly. Alphacool Eisbaer - Thermal Paste I squirt out roughly a pea sided amount on the HIS.  It looks sloppy, but it’ll spread out just fine. Alphacool Eisbaer - Thermal Paste While the screws are thumb screws, you’ll still want to use a screwdriver to put a bit of pressure down.  If you try to do it by hand, the spring will fight back and make your life difficult. Alphacool Eisbaer - Pump Installed All that was left was to install the fans and pump power, which are in the CPU_OPT and CPU_FAN headers respectively. Alphacool Eisbaer - Completely Installed Powering on the system for the first time, you see the Alphacool logo lights up.  The window on the pump gets a little bleed from the LED that lights the logo, but it isn’t significant.  I ended up installing the pump with the logo upside down due to orientation of the radiator and trying to keep twists and bends to a minimum in the tubing. Alphacool Eisbaer - Alphacool Logo Regarding fan noise, while I do not have a sound meter, the fans were whisper quiet at idle and low loads.  Under heavy loads, these fans get rather noisy, so beware.  Pump noise was inaudible. Since we know that everyone is curious with how well the Eisbaer 240mm performs, let's move onto the testing.  We’ll compare it to the various air and liquid CPU coolers that we’ve tested in the past, see how well it works with an overclock to 4.3GHz on a i7-4770k.  Before we get into the tests, click the next page to see what we’ve got in our system.

The Test System

Before we take a look at the performance numbers, let’s take a brief look at the test system that was used.  All testing was done using a fresh install of Windows 7 Professional 64-bit and benchmarks were completed on the desktop with no other software programs running. Alphacool Eisbaer - Completely Installed Intel Z87/LGA1150 Platform The Intel Z87 platform that we used to test these memory modules was running the GIGABYTE Z87X-UD4H motherboard with BIOS version F7 that came out on 08/05/2013.  It is understood that there is a newer version of the BIOS, however in order to not taint the results, we will be sticking with a single version of the BIOS between all coolers.  The processor used, the Intel Core i7 4770k, will be using the stock frequency of 3.5GHz with turbo boost enabled, which can boost it up to 3.9GHz.  Low power state is enabled, which clocks the CPU at 800MHz at idle. Many of the previous tests we chose not to overclock beyond the turbo frequency in order to show you what your average user would see, but we did find the limits of this particular processor without going too extreme on the voltage and will start to include those results.  The 4770k will be overclocked to a 4.3GHz turbo boost at 1.270 volts, which is over the stock 1.193v.  To push this particular 4770k stably to 4.4GHz required well over 1.4 volts, which the performance gains of a 100MHz increase was not worth that huge bump in voltage.

Eisbaer Benchmarking

In the benchmarks that will be run, we used an Intel 4770k clocked at 3.5GHz with Turbo Boost and the low power state enabled.  Turbo Boost allows the 4770k to hit up to 3.9GHz right out of the box. To record temperatures, we used Core Temp, logged the temperatures for 15 minutes or while each program was active, and averaged all 4 cores. Slimming down on the benchmarks from previous reviews, we’ll be strictly using Prime95 to stress the CPU and no games.  This will peg all four cores and eight threads to 100% with the In-Place Large FFT test, which will help us to understand exactly how hot this CPU can get with each cooler.  This will allow you to judge if the extreme punishment from Prime95 will be sufficient for your gaming or encoding needs, as you will never see above these load numbers. Ambient temperature during all testing was 74 degrees Fahrenheit. I have reviewed several other air and liquid CPU coolers in the past and you will find them in the charts below for comparison purposes.  I have also included the results for Prime95 with the CPU overclocked to 4.3 GHz on this page. Idle Alphacool Eisbaer - Idle   Prime95 (3.9 GHz) Alphacool Eisbaer - Prime95 - Stock   Prime95 (4.3 GHz)  Alphacool Eisbaer - Prime95 - Overclocked   Overall Results:  Comparing the Eisbaer to the other coolers, I found that this cooler almost worked its way to the top of every chart!  It was only 0.3* Celsius from matching the top cooler on Prime95 OC’d testing.

Alphacool Eisbaer Power Consumption

This is a newer section that we've added into the cooler reviews just to get a little more insight on what you’re getting yourself into for power consumption.  It's only fair to check out how much each cooler consumes compared to stock, so we’ll take a look at both idle and load numbers. Each cooler will not have any power elements disconnected, unless otherwise noted; rather they’re introduced to help you understand the power consumption differences between the coolers when they’re fully functional. To do our measuring for power consumption, we’ll be using a Kill-A-Watt meter hooked up to the computer only, we’ll let the system sit idle for 15 minutes after boot to allow it to settle down and take a measurement then.  The average whole number that the meter is displaying is the number that we'll use.  We’ll then load up Prime95 to put a full load on the CPU to get each core and thread to work as hard as they can, grabbing the power consumption numbers in the same way.  All tests are done at the stock turbo frequency of 3.9GHz on the i7-4770k. Alphacool Eisbaer - Power Usage   Overall Results:  Power usage is spot on with just about every cooler at idle, and this is exactly what I come to expect with liquid coolers.  The load usage was right in the middle of every other cooler, with the system coming in at 199 watts used.

Alphacool Eisbaer 240mm AIO Liquid CPU Cooler Final Thoughts and Conclusion

Alphacool is a new-to-me product, and I actually quite liked what I saw.  The cooler is pretty simple in terms of design, the hardware to install is very easy to work with, and the performance blew me away! Now don’t get me wrong, the cooler is simple in design, but it actually looks really nice.  The pump that’s integrated with the cold plate looks really nice with the glowing Alphacool logo and the side window.  My chassis doesn’t have a window, so I’ll never see it again in this case, but for those who do have windows will really like the aesthetics here. [caption id="attachment_183296" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Alphacool Eisbaer Alphacool Eisbaer 240mm AIO Liquid CPU Cooler[/caption] Installation was extremely simple, and I greatly appreciate that with coolers.  There have been a few times where I got a little annoyed with the installation techniques of coolers, but even not having any instructions on how Alphacool intended for this cooler to be installed, figuring it out and installing is was a total breeze.  There is not much the end user needs to do to prep the system, other than installing the fans, snapping on the mounting bracket, and then installing the mounting screws. Performance is where this cooler actually blew me away.  This cooler did extremely well with Prime95 at the stock 3.9 GHz turbo frequency on the 4770k, so well that it was the top of the chart!  Overclocking yielded a fair change in temperature, but it was still sitting just 0.3 degrees C from meeting the top cooler, and that was enough to keep me impressed.  Power consumption from the cooler was spot on with other coolers, so I have nothing more to say there. Alphacool Eisbaer - Prime95 - Stock The only thing that I would have to nitpick on, is the fact that the fans get rather loud when the system is under a heavy load.  At idle or low loads, the fans are very quiet, but load, be prepared for some noise. Cooler reviews from me will be changing in the near future.  For starters, I have an entirely different system that will be used for cooler reviews, using Windows 10 and still a 4770k.  With this system, I'll choose a few of the previous top performing coolers to have as data points and put the new coolers against it.  Thermal paste will no longer be the factory paste, but rather a Noctua NT-H1 paste across all coolers.  Finally, if you haven’t noticed, I actually introduced one change in this review, and that was to omit gaming and encoding benchmarking.  Why did I do this?  It really didn’t make too much sense to spend time benchmarking to obtain a game’s temperatures, as you’ve got a good baseline (idle), and the absolute max that you’ll see with the cooler from Prime95.  Prime95 is a synthetic benchmark that will provide you with completely absurd numbers, numbers that you will probably never see in real world testing. Alphacool Eisbaer - Completely Installed You can find some Alphacool products on Amazon, but this particular kit was provided to us by AquaTuning.us.  The Eisbaer 240mm kit has a retail price of $129 USD, which is right where I expected it to be.  You will be able to pick up your own Alphacool Eisbaer 240mm AIO kit from AquaTuning.us, ModMyMods.com, or Performance-PCS.com for at or around $129 USD plus shipping to your country.  We're told that Amazon will eventually carry this cooler, but initially you will find it at the aforementioned sites. Alphacool provides a 3 year warranty on this cooler, so as always, if something unexpected goes wrong, you’ll have their support. Because of the excellent performance, easy-to-install system, and great looks, I cannot hesitate to throw up the recommend flag here!  The price of this cooler is also competitive, which makes it that much more appealing! LR_Recommended Legit Bottom Line:  Alphacool’s Eisbaer 240mm AIO cooler is an exceptional performer, looks great, and will not rack your brain when trying to install it.

BONUS:  Alphacool Eisteppich Mousepad

Our friends at AquaTuning.us also included the Alphacool Eisteppich mousepad with our Eisbaer cooler.  While I don’t know the actual meaning behind the word, or if there is one, but it literally means Ice Carpet – fitting for the product line.  Alphacool designed this mousepad for those who are constantly at their PC (supposedly working per Alphacool’s description), and need a nice surface to work on. This mousepad is a flat black anti-friction cloth surface with nothing but a small Aquatuning logo in the corner, this mousepad will let your mouse glide with ease.  The underside is rubber, providing protection from it slipping while you’re in the most intense battle of the night.  Since this pad was designed with gamers and workers in mind, AKA:  Those of us who sit at their computer for hours on end, they made sure there was a 3mm worth of foam in-between to give you a comfortable surface to rest your hand on.  It’s just thick enough to give you some comfort, and thin enough to not get in the way… like a mousepad this size will get in your way, anyway! I have to be honest, when I had the box in hand, I thought it was maybe a slightly above average-sized mousepad, but oh boy was I wrong!  This thing is massive and measures 900 x 400 x 3 mm (approx. 36 x 16 x 0.12 inches).  I felt like I was unrolling it for an eternity, and it just barely fit on my photography bench! Alphacool Eisteppich Mousepad In the picture that I have provided, the fan that is sitting on the mousepad is the Eiswind 120mm fan that was from the Eisbaer cooler.  This should give you some indication as to how big this mousepad really is.  Unfortunately my desk is a little small, especially with three monitors on it, so I couldn’t fully utilize it on my desk at this point – thus no picture.  I’m actually in the market for a new desk, so perhaps it’ll work on the new desk!  I can say that trying to get my Roccat Kone XTD mouse to skip a beat was impossible, because it was able to track perfectly on this surface. Alphacool Eisteppich Mousepad If you want to grab your own Eisteppich mousepad, you can grab this at various places like AquaTuning.us ($75 minimum order) for approximately $28.35 USD plus shipping, or ModMyMods.com for $29.99 USD plus shipping (no minimum). It’s a pretty sweet mousepad, but you most certainly need to make sure you have the space for it!