Alphacool Eisbaer 240 CPU Cooler Review

Author: AkG
Date: August 11, 2016
Product Name: Alphacool Eisbaer 240
Part Number: Alphacool Eisbaer 240
Warranty: 3 Years
Share |

Setup and Installation Issues

It should come as no surprise that the AlphaCool Eisbär installation is as unusual and as quirky as the cooling device itself. Most All In One CPU cooling solutions try to replicate the installation process of air based units in that they are meant to be as simple, and user-friendly as possible. AlphaCool on the other hand have taken a different path. Instead of modifying hardware meant for air coolers and design a set of steps around it, they started with their custom water cooling kit and adapted it. The end result is the same: the waterblock and radiator are firmly attached, but for anyone with extensive experience with AIO's, that experience will be of little help.

Before we get to the meat of this installation and the issues that will indeed pop up, we do wish to make it crystal clear that the Eisbär is not an overly difficult device to work with, it is simply different from most and more finicky. Compared to the EKWB unit it is a ¬¬¬¬downright joy to work with. However, compared to something line the NZXT Kraken X31 there is certainly a lot of room for improvement.

No matter what device you intended to use, usually the first thing that has to be done is to install the custom hardware that’s required to mount the waterblock to the CPU. This is done so that you can reinstall the motherboard as early in the installation process as possible.

AlphaCool does not do this. Instead there isn’t any 'top' mounting bracket to hold the plastic backplate in position. Instead the waterblock itself is what holds the backplate. This is how things are usually done in water cooling 'kit' side of the marketplace as it does save a few dollars on mounting hardware. It does however make installing the device harder, and makes the entire process much more tedious, time consuming, and does slightly increase the risk of damaging a critical component during the process.

Basically what you have to do is hold the backplate in position with one hand, and gently lower the motherboard on to a flat surface, all the while hoping the four small integrated standoffs stay in position. You then have to gently lower the waterblock in position, and then screw the four bolts to keep the block in position while fighting the tubing which wants to move the block out of position.

We truly wish that AlphaCool had included two quick disconnectors so that we could have simply disconnected the radiator, mounted the waterblock/reservoir combination unit to the motherboard, and then reconnected the tubing. This is because the tubing is rather inflexible, and sprouts directly from the block’s topmost area. This is one area AlphaCool really needs to either take a page from other AIO manufacturers and mount the tubing on the side with flexible connectors, or include two quick disconnects.

If that was not enough to make things more difficult that needed, the non-integrated springs on the screws are rather stiff and will take effort to overcome. The knurling is also too small to grasp properly, forcing you to use a screwdriver to get them installed. That is not what we would classify as a 'user-friendly' combination to say the least.

On the positive side this extra resistance is due to the built in anti-kink coiling that makes for a much more robust tubing setup that will never be damaged during the installation phase. Also, while the waterblock and reservoir are larger than any other AIO, this not necessarily a bad thing. This added volume gives the Eisbär much better cooling abilities and a higher thermal limit than most dual 120mm AIOs.

If all that is not enough, this waterblock is downright huge and rather unwieldy all on its own so a second set of hands is strongly recommended. However, even before you can do any of this, owners also have to first prep the block since AlphaCool doesn’t ship their devices with the mounting brackets pre-attached.

While large the Eisbär block will not interfere with the DIMMS on any motherboard that respect the Intel CPU socket area specifications, though we would not want to mount this cooler in a mITX case.

Once this is done, the next step is to install the radiator. This too is an exercise in patience as the less-than-flexible tubing will become even more unwieldy and harder to bend into place. We found that getting the first screw into position is going to take patience and precision, as the hoses will want to yank the radiator out of position. Once again having a second set of hands will make the build go a lot faster.

Before you begin though, ensure that your case uses 15mm spacing standard for its two top mounted fans, and not the 20mm standard. Otherwise you will either have to drill new holes, get a new case, or create an adapter to mount the Eisbär to your existing case. In other words, double check to make sure the fan holes are far enough apart – but not too far!

With that done all that is left is to install the fans. This actually leads to the last issue: no built-in fan controller. AlphaCool expects you to use the motherboard to control the cooler’s fans. This means either using two fan headers or purchasing a fan splitter – as one was not included with our sample. In either case since these are 3-pin and not 4-pin the ability to be controlled via the typical motherboard is very limited. AlphaCool really should have at the very least included 4-pin PWM capable fans.

Overall this installation procedure is fraught with issues, but none of them is insurmountable. Rather, they are all more annoyances that simply make the setup and installation of this fantastic unit harder than it needs to be. This does highlight AlphaCool's lack of experience with AIO kits in general, as well as the level of experience that most AIO users have – as this installation is more custom water block territory than it is 'plug and play'. Hopefully future revisions will come with a more refined installation process. In the meantime, patience and persistence is the key to this battle.

Latest Reviews in Cooling
January 11, 2018
CORSAIR has introduced their most powerful power supply yet and some new additions to their always popular line of Hydro Series liquid CPU coolers....
May 10, 2017
All in one water CPU coolers are everywhere these days but Fractal Design's new Celsius S36 dares to do things differently. At 360mm, it may be long but its price to performance is incredible....
August 11, 2016
Prebuilt AIO or a potentially complicated custom loop? Alphacool believes we shouldn't have to choose and their Eisbaer 240 combines both under one roof and could blaze a new trail....