Alphacool Eisbaer Extreme 280 CPU Cooler Review

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Alphacool is an experienced OEM specializing in water cooling components and accessories. They have been around for over a decade and have their hands in designing and manufacturing cooling systems for many different industries. Of course, we’re most interested in their consumer desktop components and the Eisbaer Extreme 280 is Alphacool’s high-end all-in-one liquid CPU cooler.

Specifications

Alphacool Eisbaer Extreme 280 Specifications
Socket Compatibility Intel: LGA 771/775/115x/1366/2011/2011-v3/2066
AMD: 939/940/G34/FM1/FM2(+)/AM2(+)/AM3(+)/AM4/TR4
Reservoir Integrated 138 mL
Radiator: Base NexXxoS 280 ST30
Size 2 x 140 mm
Material Solid Copper
Color Black
Connections 1x IN, 1x OUT, 1x Fill Port
Connection Type G 1/4″
Pump: Alphacool Eispump VPP755 V3
Connections 4-pin PWM & 4-pin Molex
Maximum Head Pressure 4.25 m
Five Adjustable Steps 2100 RPM (120 L/h)
2700 RPM (140 L/h)
3330 RPM (280 L/h)
3950 RPM (320 L/h)
4350 RPM (340 L/h)
Housing
Size 385.5 x 156 x 64 mm
Material Aluminum with plastic side strips
Fans: Alphacool Silent Wings 3 powered by be quiet!
Size 140 x 140 x 25 mm
Bearing HDB
Max Fan Speed 1300 RPM (+/- 200)
Voltage 5-12 V
Power Consumption 4.8 W (0.2 A)
Airflow 64.81 CFM
Static Pressure 1.84 mmH2O
Noise 31 dBA
Connection 4-pin PWM
Block: Eisblock XPX
Size 65 x 65 x 30 mm
Connections 2x G1/4″
Pressure Tested 2 Bar
Material Nickel-plated copper base with aluminum/acetal housing

Features

Alphacool Eisbaer Extreme AIO

The perfect all-in-one CPU watercooling solution. Simply install and receive the best cooling performance. If there’s a need, simply expand the circuit using the quick-release fasteners. The pump is one of the most powerful on the market and the be quiet! Silent Wing 3 fans perform well with low noise.

Alphacool Silent Wings 3

be quiet! is known for its extremely quiet and powerful fans. Due to this, we have partnered with be quiet! and equipped the Eisbaer Extreme with the fantastic be quiet! Silent Wing 3 fans.

Eisblock XPX

Accept no compromises! The Eisblock XPX CPU cooler is currently one of the most powerful water coolers on the market, winning multiple awards for performance from independent reviewers. The cooler is simple to install yet the cooler is packed with technology inside to ensure high performance. This includes the patented ramp technology to optimize the water flow in the cooler. You can learn more about the CPU cooler here.

Hose and Eisbaer Ready quick fasteners

The new silky matte hoses in combination with the new design of the Eisbaer Ready quick-release fasteners make a huge difference visually. The new Eisbaer Ready quick releases are 100% compatible with the well-known and proven Eisbaer Ready quick releases. If you already own Eisbaer Ready products, you can easily integrate Eisbaer Extreme into your loop.

Solid copper radiator and elegant housing

The elegant case is largely made of aluminium. However, the radiator is made of pure copper. Don’t worry, the aluminium doesn’t touch any fluid! This guarantees an extremely high cooling performance. Copper is superior to aluminium as a material to dissipate heat and this is why we like to use it for radiators. The large aluminium housing encloses and protects not only the radiator but also the fans, the reservoir and the pump.

Pump and reservoir

The latest version of the VPP755 not only offers incredible performance but is extremely quiet in operation. Of course, you can control the pump as well as the fans via a PWM connector. The huge reservoir encloses the pump almost completely. This further minimizes the background noise, as the reservoir also serves as sound insulation. The design has been patented by Alphacool. Further details about the pump can be found here.

Packaging & Accessories

There is information about the cooler on all sides of the box. The front has the most information including a good image of the Eisbaer Extreme’s hexagonal grille, tubing, and water block. Underneath the model name, it also shows all of the supported CPU sockets of both Intel and AMD. Along the bottom, there are details on parts used, including the VPP pump, XPX block, fans by be quiet!, and quick disconnects.

Box

Box

Box

Box

The cooler is well-protected with foam to hold it in place during transport.

Opened

Other than the cooler itself, a multi-lingual user manual and bag of all of the mounting hardware and accessories are all that’s included in the box.

Manual & Accessories

Alphacool Eisbaer Extreme 280

The Eisbaer Extreme has a simple aesthetic with a completely matte black finish which will blend in with any color theme. The cooler is rather large with a 2 x 140 mm radiator, pump, and reservoir all within the aluminum and plastic shroud. We can also see the fans are set up to pull air through the radiator as opposed to the more common setup of pushing air through.

Alphacool Eisbaer Extreme 280

Alphacool Eisbaer Extreme 280

A Closer Look

The water block has a blue Alphacool logo and white model name displayed on top of an aluminum housing. The 3-pin plug is solely for illuminating the Alphacool logo. The base of the block has recessed screws and a smooth finish, although not mirror-like.

Eisblock

Base

The shroud has a fill port and a reservoir window to easily monitor and add coolant when needed. The IN and OUT lines are clearly displayed on the radiator shroud as well.

Fill Port

Reservoir Window

IN/OUT Lines

The Eisbaer Extreme has a hexagonal grille for protecting the radiator from damage on one side and the fans on the other. The plastic side pieces to the shroud have a subtle Alphacool logo on the ends. On the fan side, we can see the be quiet! branded Silent Wings 3 fans along with anti-vibration foam lining the fan opening of the shroud.

Hexagonal Grill

Logo

Silent Wings 3

Foam

There are a total of four cables attached to the Eisbaer Extreme. The 4-pin Molex + 4-pin PWM is for powering and monitoring the pump. The other 4-pin PWM is for powering and monitoring the fans. With PWM connectors, the pump and fans can easily be controlled with the motherboard’s BIOS. The 3-pin attached to the water block is just for illuminating the blue Alphacool logo on top of the block.

Cables

One of the best features about the Eisbaer Extreme is that it makes use of quick disconnects on the tubing. This makes for easier installation and potential for future expansion of the loop. As mentioned earlier, the tubes are labeled IN and OUT on the shroud so that water is flowing in the correct direction, the quick disconnects are also installed in such a way that they can only be connected in the proper flow direction.

Quick Disconnects

Installation

Here, we have a better look at all the parts required for mounting the block to the motherboard. There are seven total pieces needed to mount to Intel’s socket 1151, in this case, a Z370 motherboard: the block itself, a bracket to match the motherboard socket, screws, springs, washers, nuts, and motherboard backplate.

Mounting Hardware

The first step is to slide the required bracket pieces into slots on the edges of the block. The pieces will snap and lock into place when installed correctly.

Bracket

Bracket Slots

Bracket Installed

Next, we have to mount the screws onto the bracket. I like this method in that we won’t have to try shuffling the block, backplate, and screws when installing. The order that the individual pieces are placed can be seen below. We have the screw, spring, and washer on the top side to even out the mounting pressure. Then, a nut goes on the other side of the bracket to hold the screws in place.

Screw Parts – Installation Order

Screws Installed

The backplate goes on the back of the motherboard, and there are two strips of tape to secure the backplate if you choose to do so. I don’t like securing backplates to my motherboards with tape and would rather have a little more trouble installing the cooler than have sticky residue left behind on my board. However, many cooler manufacturers provide tape for their backplates, it’s not just an Alphacool thing. To install the backplate onto the motherboard, slide the screw sockets along the grooves in the backplate until they match the mounting holes on your board, then set the backplate into the holes. Next, we just have to apply thermal paste to the CPU (not pictured), slowly place the block down onto the CPU, secure the screws by hand, and tighten with a screwdriver.

Backplate

Backplate Installed

Close Up

Test Setup & Methodology

Test Setup
CPU Intel i7 8700K @ 4.7 GHz, 1.125+ V
Motherboard ASUS ROG Strix Z370-F Gaming
RAM 2 x 8 GB G.Skill TridentZ DDR4-3200 15-15-15-35
GPU EVGA RTX 2060 XC ULTRA
Storage Intel SSD 660p Series 1 TB M.2 NVMe
PSU Seasonic X-750 Gold
Heatsinks Alphacool Eisbaer Extreme 280 (Stock)
Enermax Aquafusion 240 (Stock)
Scythe Fuma Rev. B (Stock)
EVGA CLC 240 (Stock)
Noctua NH-D14 (Stock)
be quiet! Dark Rock 3 (Stock)
Thermalright Venomous X (1x Gentle Typhoon AP-15 w/ 25 mm shroud)
Equipment
Fluke 52 II Dual Input Thermometer
Tenma Sound Level Meter

Methodology

All testing was performed on an open test bench, which minimizes ambient temperature and gives a “worst case” scenario for sound level.

Cooling performance was tested as follows:

  • Disabled all BIOS settings that cause the CPU clock speed and/or Vcore to fluctuate (although there was still some Vcore fluctuation under load).
  • Ambient temperature was measured with a Fluke 52 II at ~1 inch from the intake fan(s). Then, subtracted from the recorded temperatures to get ΔT.
  • Varied Vcore (in BIOS) from 1.125 V to 1.375 V in 0.050 V increments to increase heat. Stopped increasing Vcore once a core reached ~100 °C.
  • 20-pass 2048 MB RAM LinX runs at each Vcore interval were used to load the CPU.
  • CoreTemp was used to record minimum and maximum core temperatures.

Sound level in dBA was measured 10 cm from the intake fan with the fan speed set to 100%. Then, the sound level was estimated for other distances using the following formula:

L2 = L1 – 20 * log10(r2/r1)

  • L2 = dBA @ desired distance
  • L1 = dBA @ reference distance
  • r1 = reference distance
  • r2 = desired distance

Why estimate sound level instead of measuring at further distances? It’s because the meter I’m using is most accurate between 40-130 dBA, so I needed to measure really close to the source to make sure my readings were within that range to get the most accurate measurements.

Results

Cooling Performance

The Alphacool Eisbaer Extreme easily outperformed the four air coolers and two other AIO liquid coolers tested. This is the expected result since the Eisbaer Extreme uses a 280 mm radiator and 140 mm fans, making it the largest cooler in my testing pool. Although, I would have liked to see it outperform the field by a larger margin considering its size and cost.

Noise

The noise was on the mid-high end of the spectrum for the coolers I tested. Although, that doesn’t mean it’s actually loud in practice. Remember, the SPL readings are made with the fans at 100% speed and on an open bench, so these are worst-case scenarios. So, other than the Aquafusion, all of these coolers should be relatively quiet at 2-3 feet while inside of a case, even at 100% fan speed. Of course, lower fan speed will help as well, and the Eisbaer Extreme has the headroom to allow that without sacrificing much in cooling.

Conclusion

The Alphacool Eisbaer Extreme is a large 280 mm AIO liquid cooler made with quality components usually reserved for custom water loops. The matte black finish of the aluminum and tubing along with the hexagonal grill make for aesthetics that blend with any theme.

The built-in reservoir window and fill port are great for monitoring and refilling or topping off the coolant. The use of quick disconnects makes for effortless expansion for adding a GPU into the loop without needing to drain, disassemble, re-route and re-install every component of the loop.

Results of the cooling and noise testing are favorable to the Alphacool Eisbaer Extreme with it outperforming the rest of the field along with reasonable noise levels.

If there has to be a downside to Alphacool’s Eisbaer Extreme, it would have to be its size. It’s truly a massive AIO cooler since the housing has to hold many parts, and one should be sure it will fit into their case before purchase.

Coming in at around $278 (converted) may seem expensive for an AIO cooler, but we have to remember that the cooling parts used are the same that would be used in a custom loop along with the quick disconnects and aluminum housing to hold all the parts. The price isn’t bad for what Alphacool is providing, however, the performance/price isn’t stellar on the Eisbaer Extreme since it doesn’t beat out other cheaper AIO coolers by a huge margin.

The Alphacool Eisbaer Extreme 280 is basically a custom loop packaged together into an aluminum housing instead of the traditional AIO unit where the parts are specifically designed to be for an AIO unit. So, the Eisbaer Extreme has the flexibility, perks, and performance close to that of a custom loop while still being relatively compact.

Click to find out what this means

– Matt Green (MattNo5ss)

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