It wasn’t all that long ago that large dual bay closed loop “All In One” CPU coolers were the cutting edge of mainstream technology. These loops combined unmatched ease of use with performance that was beyond all but what the best air based coolers could offer. Of course many water cooling enthusiasts scoffed at these sealed units as they were not upgradeable, couldn’t provide performance that was close to custom loops and the only customization you could do to them was change the fans. These internet pundits simply considered them a fad. Others considered them to be an excellent gateway drug for mainstream consumers, and assumed that once people got a taste of what water could accomplish they would quickly outgrow the AIOs and move on to the One True Cooling Solution: full custom water loops.
Neither of these extremes has come to pass. Instead many users have grown to love the ease of use that AIO’s offer, and while they would like to get even better cooling they aren’t willing to part ways with all that plug and play simplicity. It should come as no surprise that the invisible hand of the market would see this opportunity and create devices that correct this perceived limitation. The end result is the Customizable Loop All-In-One Cooler which boasts both ease of use and expandability, as well as potentially increased cooling performance.
Last year we took a look one such example of this next generation AIO -the EKWB Predator 240- and walked away very impressed. However, that model is not what we would call novice friendly as it did sacrifice some ease of use in order to gain its incredible performance. The latest entry into this budding field is the AlphaCool Eisbaer 240 and on the surface this model has a lot going for it.
Another interesting aspect here is the Eisbaer’s price. At just $130 it is well below the cost of competing semi-custom solutions and actually aligns well with some more simple Asetek-based AIOs from the likes of Corsair, Cooler Master and others.
First and foremost, AlphaCool may have only been founded in 2011 but in this short time they quickly have gained
an excellent reputation for making products that have (in)famous ‘classical’ German aesthetics but also classic German engineering. This however is only the tip of the iceberg and the Eisbaer 240 is not simply another ‘me too’ product meant to expand their budding product portfolio. Instead it’s a uniquely different water cooling device that certainly won’t be accused of being just another Asetek clone.
Much like the typical closed loop cooling solution, the Eisbaer boasts a dual 120mm bay radiator, comes with two fairly decent ‘Eiswind’ (‘IceWind’) stock fans running at up to 1700RPM at 1.66mm² of pressure, and a custom waterblock/reservoir combination. That’s about all it shares in common with Closed Loop Cooler series such as the Corsair Hydro, NZXT Kraken, and a host of others.
While AlphaCool did indeed make ease of use and ease of installation a priority, they also made performance a major target. After all, ‘Eisbaer’ (pronounced ice-bear) literally translates to ‘Polar Bear’ and just like the apex-predator it is named for, this new CPU cooling solution is meant to devour the competition.
The AlphaCool Eisbaer doesn’t use a typical aluminum radiator and instead utilizes an AlphaCool NexXxoS based copper core design that has been painted jet-black to give it a lower profile appearance. As you can see in some of the pictures you can still see a copper sheen on the cooling fins as only the top edge of the fins has been painted.
This radiator alone promises to boost performance well into the stratosphere as versions of it have powered many custom water loops on the other side of the pond. AlphaCool has also built in proper shrouds that not only remove the dead-zone in front of each fan’s fan’s motor hub, but also evens out the air being pushed through the radiator. This combination is supposed to reduce static pressure requirements, allows for lower rotational speed fans to be used, reduces noise, and can even boost overall performance. This truly is an enthusiasts-grade standard thickness radiator that would be right at home in a custom water loop.
The only minor issue is that it is a standard thickness radiator (with the shrouds on both sides it is 30mm thick) so this will put it a distinct disadvantage compared to the aforementioned EKWB Predator, and potentially even dual 140mm closed loop AIOs which make up for inefficiency with brute force quantity. However, on the flip side of that equation this design does allow for broader compatibility.
Moving on to the tubing, this may not be the first All In One cooler we have seen to use anti-kink exterior coils to reinforce the tubing, but the Eisbaer 240 is indeed the first AIO we have seen use these over colored enthusiast grade tubing. That’s right, this isn’t the usual automotive radiator PVC hose that most off the shelf AIOs use. Instead this is AlphaCool ‘s own 11mm (OD) AlphaTube HF PVC tubing that has quickly made a name for itself for both its tight bend radius and its UV-stability.
It is unfortunate that AlphaCool didn’t opt for clear, and rather their black colored iteration, as that would have made air burping the loop a lot easier. Nonetheless, the black looks quite good.
On the positive side, the waterblock reservoir does have a large window so finding and removing air bubbles via the ‘fill’ port is a snap. As such we recommend running this unit outside your case for a few moments while paying close attention to the reservoir window. If you see any air bubbles – which you may as ours came with a rather large one – you can then compensate accordingly. Once again this is an advanced feature that is rarely seen in the AIO marketplace. Brilliant stuff!
To ensure as much heat is transferred from the CPU IHS to the coolant inside this unit, AlphaCool has polished the all copper base of the waterblock to a literal mirror-like shine. This is easily the one of best finishes we have seen in a long time from any manufacturer.
Equally impressive is if you trace the tubing from the radiator back to the water block you will notice a rather large quick disconnect coupling. As with the tubing, this is an advanced feature rarely seen this side of custom water loops.
What this connector allows you to do is add in another radiator, another reservoir, even an entire second loop (e.g. GPU cooling solution) if you so choose, and do so without having to first drain and then refill the system. Of course there will be a minor amount of fluid and air leakage when you disconnect the coupler but it will make burping the loop much easier than with a typical Custom Loop AIO Cooler.
For those interested this too is taken directly from high end custom water loops. To be precise it is an AlphaCool ‘Eiszapfen’ Quick Disconnect kit which uses standard G 1/4 threads – so as to be universal as possible. It is unfortunate that AlphaCool only uses one of these ‘Icicles’ on their Eisbaer but considering this AIO only costs $130 and each retails for about ten dollars it is not all the unexpected.
Last but certainly not least is the waterblock and fluid reservoir that AlphaCool has used. As you can see it is downright massive compared to the typical AIO waterblock/res combination unit. This is because AlphaCool hasn’t hopped on the ‘smaller is better’ bandwagon which has recently infected the AIO marketplace. Instead this is a pump/res combination that could easily be found in a custom water loop.
Here, AlphaCool has used their DC-LT pump which is actually very quiet considering it is a 26000RPM unit. This pump is capable of moving upwards of 70 liters an hour with a reasonable .85 meter of pump head pressure which is impressive to say the least. Considering a similar AlphaCool combination unit retails for well over $50 USD it is bloody impressive to see it included in the reasonably priced Eisbaer 240!
This three pin pump backstopped by an actual reservoir of coolant blows the doors off any Closed Loop AIO on the marketplace. Instead, consumers have to look to the noticeably more expensive EKWB offerings to find its equal.
As you can see what AlphaCool has basically done is create a factory custom water loop for the masses, filled it at the factory and is selling it as an ‘All In One’ solution instead of the usual ‘water cooling kit’. Honestly, if this unit’s performance is just equal to the sum of its parts this it may just send shockwaves through the entire AIO marketplace. In either case AlphaCool has certainly put Asetek and the other OEMs on notice that the old way of doing things is quickly coming to an end and its adapt & evolve or die time.