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CPU Water Block Comparison on Haswell-E

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Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

Water cooling has become very popular over the last few years with the rise in use of the all-in-one (AIO) coolers. Those type of coolers combine a single or dual-fan radiator with a combination CPU block / pump unit, pre-filled from the factory and maintenance free. They are a good cooling alternative to an air-based CPU cooler, but are limited in their expandability potential. That is where the DIY water cooling components come into place. DIY water cooling components allow you to build a customized cooling loop for cooling everything from the CPU to the chipset and GPUs (and more). However, DIY loops are much more maintenance intensive than the AIO coolers because of the need to flush and refill the loops periodically to maintain performance and component health.

With the increased popularity in liquid cooling type CPU coolers and the renewed interest and availability of enthusiast-friendly parts with the introduction of the Intel Z97, X99, and Z170 parts, it was past time to measure how well different CPU water blocks performed on an Intel X99 board paired up with an Intel LGA2011-v3 5960X processor. The five water blocks compared include the following:

  • Koolance CPU-360 water block
  • Koolance CPU-380I water block
  • Swiftech Apogee HD water block
  • Swiftech Apogee XL water block
  • XSPC Raystorm water block

View Full Size

Technical Specifications (taken from the manufacturer websites)

Water Block Specifications
  Koolance Swiftech XSPC
  CPU-360 CPU-380I Apogee HD Apogee XL Raystorm
Block Top Material Nickel-plated Brass POM Acetal
Base Plate Material Nickel-plated Copper Copper
Water Inlet Jet Impingement Plate Straight Pass-Thru Jet Impingement Plate
Pass-Thru Channels Micro-channels Micro-pins Micro-channels
Coolant ports 2 4 2

Continue reading our CPU Water Block Comparison on the Haswell-E article!


September 18, 2015 | 01:36 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Thanks for the review.

Here's an unused digital download code for Metal Gear Solid V for whoever gets there first:

MVNA-OXLL-QWBP-AJIK-DPRI-RVMC

September 18, 2015 | 01:46 PM - Posted by bburnham37 (not verified)

Thanks broheim, awesome sauce.

And, thanks for not mentioning the method of redemption in the post since I'm pretty sure that's why it was still active when I redeemed it ;-)

September 18, 2015 | 02:34 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

No problem man, it expired in two weeks and i didn't want it to go to waste. Cheers.

September 18, 2015 | 01:56 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

These water blocks always seem way over priced. There really isn't much to them compared to something like a large heat pipe air cooler. Why should these cost so much more?

September 19, 2015 | 02:04 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

well the copper is expensive. so you pay for that. nickel also expensive. Blending the materials together. meaning a custom metal also adds to cost. Then each one has to be routed by a very expensive multi axis CNC machine
so yeah there isnt much to them.
but the design and building is where its at

September 19, 2015 | 07:07 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I still think they are overpriced. I suspect the margin on these are a lot higher than a big heat-pipe based air cooler. I think that this is somewhat based on the idea that it provides better cooling, so it should be more expensive, even if the BOM does not justify the MSRP.

I think another part of the problem is that these are designed much more expensive than they need to be. If you look at an all-in-one block, they mostly don't have the parts used for mounting machined out of the same piece as the block. There isn't too much point to doing this except for looks. The mounting bracket could easily be made out of much cheaper material. The block could also be designed to need a lot less machining. I suspect if you made it as a casting, it could be finished with only a small amount of machining. I have wondered if one of the all-in-one blocks could be modified to be used in a custom loop. These have to be significantly cheaper than the custom loop blocks since they are a lot cheaper than buying all of the components for a custom loop. They may be designed in such a way that they cannot be easily used with the pump removed.

September 19, 2015 | 07:17 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I see they have some built economically (copper base, sheet metal mounting brackets, and plastic top) for only about $20. It would be interesting to see how these cheap blocks compare to the really expensive models tested here.

September 19, 2015 | 07:07 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I still think they are overpriced. I suspect the margin on these are a lot higher than a big heat-pipe based air cooler. I think that this is somewhat based on the idea that it provides better cooling, so it should be more expensive, even if the BOM does not justify the MSRP.

I think another part of the problem is that these are designed much more expensive than they need to be. If you look at an all-in-one block, they mostly don't have the parts used for mounting machined out of the same piece as the block. There isn't too much point to doing this except for looks. The mounting bracket could easily be made out of much cheaper material. The block could also be designed to need a lot less machining. I suspect if you made it as a casting, it could be finished with only a small amount of machining. I have wondered if one of the all-in-one blocks could be modified to be used in a custom loop. These have to be significantly cheaper than the custom loop blocks since they are a lot cheaper than buying all of the components for a custom loop. They may be designed in such a way that they cannot be easily used with the pump removed.

September 19, 2015 | 07:07 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I still think they are overpriced. I suspect the margin on these are a lot higher than a big heat-pipe based air cooler. I think that this is somewhat based on the idea that it provides better cooling, so it should be more expensive, even if the BOM does not justify the MSRP.

I think another part of the problem is that these are designed much more expensive than they need to be. If you look at an all-in-one block, they mostly don't have the parts used for mounting machined out of the same piece as the block. There isn't too much point to doing this except for looks. The mounting bracket could easily be made out of much cheaper material. The block could also be designed to need a lot less machining. I suspect if you made it as a casting, it could be finished with only a small amount of machining. I have wondered if one of the all-in-one blocks could be modified to be used in a custom loop. These have to be significantly cheaper than the custom loop blocks since they are a lot cheaper than buying all of the components for a custom loop. They may be designed in such a way that they cannot be easily used with the pump removed.

September 19, 2015 | 07:18 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Why do I get triple post when posting from an iPad sometimes?

September 18, 2015 | 02:02 PM - Posted by H1tman_Actua1

Where is the EKWB EVO?

September 18, 2015 | 02:31 PM - Posted by Chaitanya Shukla

My thoughts exactly, why there is no EKWB CPU Block in comparison?

September 18, 2015 | 02:52 PM - Posted by Morry Teitelman

The review was done with the samples I had on hand.  The Koolance and XSPC blocks were review samples provided by the manufacturers a while back.  The swiftech blocks were from my personal collection that I have used in my own systems.  EK did not provide us with any samples...

September 18, 2015 | 02:25 PM - Posted by 4TwizZzle (not verified)

It's highly unlikely that there is any bit of laminar flow or promotion of a relevant laminar boundary layer on any of these blocks within the channels. Ideally you want a slight bit of turbulent flow near the surface area to extract the heat more rapidly.

Laminar flow has a zero velocity on the surface which ideally limits heat transfer and would be a poor design. In essence, Laminar flow would be a bad design choice if it was attainable.

Your argument for pressure drops due to an excess of turbulent flow is however a valid point and would restrict flow. I do believe that material choice and oxidation is the main culprit to the difference in the Delta T's between the limited sample size.

I really enjoyed this article, thanks!

September 18, 2015 | 06:55 PM - Posted by KingKookaluke (not verified)

Once again outstanding post by Morry! Makes me consider going back to running my own water cooling loops again.

September 18, 2015 | 08:04 PM - Posted by Branthog

Man, I've wanted to get in on water cooling for so long, but just can't justify the cost and hassle. I don't need to super-overclock my systems and water cooling doesn't make for a quiet or dust-free system, so the only benefit I'd really get from it is the fun of doing it and having it.

Which is enough when you're young and have all the time in the world, but hard to justify when you're old and busy. :D

September 19, 2015 | 03:00 AM - Posted by Tim Verry

If you are interested in getting into it without ponying up the full cost, keep an eye out on forums like [H] and PC Perspective's for users selling off their old water cooling gear. I was able to get everything I needed minus a silver killcoil and distilled water for less than $300, would have been a lot more retail. The best part is that you can usually get help putting it together at the same forums :).

September 18, 2015 | 08:12 PM - Posted by quest4glory

Morry,

Why do you say the CPU integrated graphics processor has been disabled when you're testing Haswell-E (5960X) here?

September 18, 2015 | 11:38 PM - Posted by Morry Teitelman

Good point, overlooked in the review. Thanks for pointing it out, fixed...

September 18, 2015 | 08:50 PM - Posted by Master Chen (not verified)

Only GODLIKE Swiftech, only hardcore!

September 19, 2015 | 02:06 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

To Be Honest I don't really see Pc Per as a over clocker/water cooling type site.
The impression I get about the site is. average looking aggregate/ review site, just like pretty much every other site abt this.

and this ad looks quite out of place here.

My 2 Pesos That's all.

September 19, 2015 | 11:31 PM - Posted by quest4glory

Does a site need to be dedicated to overclocking / water cooling to therefore be qualified to provide a review of water blocks?

I would have to save no to that.

This is not your "average looking aggregate / review site." Yes they aggregate links to content from the best of the PC enthusiast websites, but that's a service and convenience to the readers.

I am in no way affiliated with PC Perspective. I simply value the additional "perspective" they bring to all things involved with the personal computer enthusiast and consumer space.

September 24, 2015 | 02:22 AM - Posted by Dr_b_

The site can review water blocks for sure, but if you are only comparing it to a few other WBs, and not including one of the top selling WBs (EKWB), then making any conclusion about the winner in this test is of limited value, unless of course your only options are are the ones reviewed here. The problem with the limited review size is that its not inclusive enough, and not as thorough as other sites (extreme rigs)who do a lot more tests on liquid cooling parts.

While nice to see something different here, don't make buying decisions about a water block based on this review alone, because the gold winners here didn't perform as well as the EK blocks on other review sites.

Also, if you are liquid cooling your PC you are likely going to liquid cool your graphics card and maybe get a block for your motherboard as well, and likely those will all be from the same brand.

Here's my all EK block loop on Z97:
http://m34t.net/system1.jpg

September 19, 2015 | 07:23 AM - Posted by Rustknuckle (not verified)

Morry did you test if turning the Koolance 380i mounting 90 degrees yields lower temps like it does when using it with Ivy Bridge/Sandy Bridge E CPUs?

September 19, 2015 | 02:16 PM - Posted by Morry Teitelman

No, we did not test in that config unfortunately. The 380 block was oriented so that the micro-channels ran perpendicular to the core.

September 19, 2015 | 09:22 PM - Posted by Rustknuckle (not verified)

Here you can see the difference rotating 90 degrees can make with that block and a Sandy Bridge E CPU: http://i.imgur.com/9OSXVwK.png

September 19, 2015 | 11:01 AM - Posted by XSPSI (not verified)

No air cooler as a base test?

September 19, 2015 | 02:18 PM - Posted by Morry Teitelman

No, but you can check out other reviews for air-based temperature comparison since we include the XSPC kit as a comparison in those reviews.  This review was more to compare the performance of the various water blocks only without introducing other variables into the review.

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