Performance and Conclusion

Performance Results

Test Platform
Processor Intel Core i7-4820K
Motherboard MSI X79A-GD45 Plus
Memory Samsung 8GB (2GB x4) 1600 MHz DDR3
Graphics Card XFX AMD Radeon 5450 (Fanless)
Storage OCZ Vertex 460 120GB SSD
Power Supply Corsair TX650 650W ATX PSU
OS Windows 8.1 64-bit

I tested both coolers using the same Intel LGA 2011 platform, with a Core i7-4820K generating the load temps for both stock results and with a 4.50 GHz overclock on all cores (at 1.30v). Ivy Bridge-E is an aging platform, but the key here is consistency of load temps across coolers, and here the Intel Core i7-4820K (130W TDP) is still capable of producing a challenging thermal load - particularly when overclocked.

We begin with a look at CPU temperatures at stock clocks:

The 280 mm Eisbaer was the highest performing cooling in this small (but select) group at stock speeds, which only surprised me until I realized that the default 1100 RPM fan speed with the Eiswind-14 fans was much faster than the < 900 RPM of the Eiswind-12 fans at load during the same test. The Eisbaer 360's 120 mm fans are PWM controlled, and can operate from 550 - 1700 RPM based on load and motherboard settings. In any case it was impressive to see both Eisbaer coolers perform notably better than the Corsair H100i GTX and Noctua NH-D14 in this first test.

Next we have results from the 4.50 GHz overclock (on all cores) at 1.30v:

I was surprised that the Eisbaer 280 outperformed the 360 in this test as well, considering its fans were still spinning at 1100 RPM and the Eiswind-12 fans were able to increase with load temps. I use a modest fan profile which favors low noise (minimum fan speed 25%, 40 °C target), though PWM fans generally speed up even under stock loads with this profile. The Eisbaer 360, rather unsurprisingly, did not need to increase fan speeds at all to contend with the stock CPU load, and while it did increase as expected (ending up at around 1400 RPM) with the overclocked CPU, I could have achieved better results with a manual increase in speed with the triple 120 mm fans, given the 1700 RPM max.

Finally, a look at the noise output of the coolers tested (noise testing is performed with the CPU at stock settings):

Here a couple of things stand out. First, the fixed fan speed of the 280 mm Eisbaer creates quite a bit more noise than I was expecting from 1100 RPM fans, though it did produce the best temps of the group so I can't complain too much. The second thing to note here is the fact that idle and load temps are identical across the board. This is due to a couple of factors in this group (other than the fixed fan speed of the Eisbaer 280), including the Eisbaer 360's constant fan speed with stock CPU loads, and the problem with testing the noise output from an effectively silent cooler such as the Noctua NH-D14 (which did not register noise above ambient at idle or load).

More performance could be had from the Eisbaer 360 with a more aggressive fan profile, but at the expense of higher noise output. Somewhere between the 32.5 dBA of the 360 and the 37.5 dBA of the 280 there is probably a happy medium, but I did not have time to test with additional fan profiles. As it stands the Eisbaer 280 is a better performer even with 1100 RPM fixed fan speeds, which invites the possibility of swapping out quiet PWM fans for lower noise and potentially even more impressive performance.

Conclusion

Given the excellent performance of both Eisbaer liquid coolers it becomes easier to justify the price tag, considering the performance is due largely to their premium construction. All-copper radiators, a high-quality pump, and very effective fans combine to make these Eisbaer coolers an impressive pre-built solution. The flexibility to easily add components to the loop using the quick-lock closure, as well as the ability to refill the unit - or even replace any of its parts using off-the-shelf liquid cooling components - make these far more than your typical "all-in-one" liquid CPU cooler.

Really, these are a pre-assembled collection of custom cooling parts, and that fact helps to make the MSRPs of both coolers much more reasonable - €139.95 (approx. US $153) for the Eisbaer 360 and €124.95 (approx. US $137) for the Eisbaer 280. At these prices (though slightly lower from US distributers currently, as we see above) the Alphacool Eisbaer models are going to be found at the high end of the liquid CPU cooler market, but everything about these coolers is top-notch, including their performance. I will add that other sizes, including 240 and 120 mm, are also available in this series.

The high performance, flexibility, and quality components and construction make Alphacool's Eisbaer liquid CPU coolers a top pick if you can afford them. If you are in the market for an ultra-premium self-contained liquid CPU cooler experience these are the best I've found to date.

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