CoolIT PURE: Compact CPU Liquid-Cooling System Review

Once again we are going to talk about a mass liquid-cooling solution for a system CPU. Once again it is compact, easy to install, not very expensive, but at the same timeā€¦ Read our review to find out more!

by Sergey Lepilov
06/17/2008 | 04:03 PM

Last year we already tested a solution from CoolIT Systems called Freezone that combines the principles of air-cooling, liquid-cooling and thermo-electrical cooling in a single product. I would like to remind you that this unique cooling system didn’t really show any outstanding efficiency and was defeated by a good air cooler. Moreover, CoolIT Freezone cost quite a significant sum of money.

 

However, CoolIT engineers didn’t get discouraged, and not too long ago announced a new cooling solution: CoolIT PURE – a simpler and less expensive system that sells for half the price of Freezone.

Today we are going to talk about this new solution and will see how successful this next CoolIT’s attempt turned out to be.

Package and Accessories

The new CoolIT PURE cooler comes in a relatively small box with dominating black color in the design and a few CoolIT PURE photographs on the front and back of the box:

 

There you can also find the technical specifications and the list of supported platforms. Inside the cardboard box there is a foam plastic box with two sections. The larger section holds the main system block and the smaller additional section contains bundled accessories:

Despite the seemingly secure packaging the device arrived to us with minor damage, which I am going to talk about later in this article. Now let’s take a closer look at the bundled accessories:

The retention kits for each socket type, spindles, washers, screws, tightening wrench and wire clips for the main water block are sealed in individual plastic bags. There is also an installation manual. We do not know the recommended price of this cooling system, but you can find it in retail for $95.

Deign and Functionality

CoolIT PURE system is a single unit that consists of a radiator with a fan, a pump and a water block connected to the radiator and pump with two flexible non-transparent braided pipes:

The top of the pump is covered with an aluminum plate, which seems to serve mostly decorative than practical purposes:

The pump sits on a metal stand that is screwed on to the radiator. The plastic frame with a fan is attached to the other side of the radiator:

There is not much info available about the pump. Its performance is 210l/h and claimed MTBF is 50,000 hours. It consumes maximum 8 (±0.5) W of power and should generated no more than 15dBA of noise. Unfortunately, we don’t know who makes these pumps and there is another important parameter missing: pump head.

There is a small board above the pump attached to the metal stand with a Molex connector and three more power supply connectors: first - for powering and monitoring the fan, second – for powering and monitoring the pump and third – for some unknown purposes with a two-pin cable leading to a small black box glued to the aluminum plate at the top:

There are two more cables coming out of this component that close at the perimeter of the pale teal pad glued to the bottom of this plate:

It turned out to be the LED highlighting of the CoolIT logo on the front of the plate and not a thermal electrical module, as you may have thought at first.

The fine-finned radiator of the cooling system is made of aluminum. Despite the foam plastic package with individual sections, the corners of the water block bent a few radiator fins during transportation:

We fixed all the fins ourselves before the tests. I would also like to add that the expansion tank is combined with one of the radiator sides. I found no refill opening (looks like you may need to remove one of the pipes in this case). Unfortunately, the manufacturer doesn’t disclose the components of the cooling solution.

The radiator is cooled with a seven-blade 120 x 120 x 25mm fan made by NoiseBlocker Company:

The fan sucks air in through the radiator fin array and then ousts it outside the system case. According to the marking on the fan motor sticker, CoolIT PURE has a NoiseBlocker XL2 rev. 2.0 fan. Our monitoring readings showed that its rotation speed was automatically adjusting in the interval from ~1000RPM in idle mode up to ~2000RPM under peak CPU workload. The fan bearing is claimed to run without failure for 100,000 hours and generate maximum 27dBA of noise. By the way, these CoolIT specifications differ from the data on NoiseBlocker web-site, where they claim a maximum noise level of 21dBA.

The manufacturer reveals very little info about their water block. We know that it measures 50 x 50 x 24.1mm, is made of copper covered with a thin layer of nickel alloy, and has micro-channeled internal structure. The water block weighs 125g.

If you took a closer look at the water block on the photograph on the cooling system package and compared it with a photo above you will see that it is a completely different water block than the one on the box. Our unit is of different size and with different fittings location. I have to admit that it is a pretty interesting inconsistency. Did we get some early product revision for review or the image on the box is a photo of some prototype? Anyway, we didn’t have a choice, so we will test whatever we got. By the way, CoolIT PURE uses exactly the same water block as the one in CoolIT Freezone we have already tested before.

The base of the water block is covered with a 1-mm layer of thick white thermal compound:

To protect the thermal compound against smearing, the base is covered with a protective plastic cap. The surface of the nickel-plated base is impeccably even and boasts quality polished finish. So, you don’t need to do anything here.

System Installation Tips

Since CoolIT PURE ships fully assembled and filled, all you actually need to do is install the processor water block and fit the system into the system case. To install the CPU water block you use the enclosed spindles, screws and washers for your specific type of socket. The water block is pressed against the CPU with two wire clips tightened with thumb-screws to the spindles. The installed water block looks as follows:

The water block is pressed very tightly against the processor heat-spreader. The slits and retention clips in the center of the block hold it so firmly that it wouldn’t slide even a little bit on the thin thermal compound layer. Here I have to say that you will have to apply this thin layer yourselves because the pre-applied 1-mm thick layer of thermal compound may only suit the needs of commencing overclockers. Running ahead I have to mention that we removed the original thermal compound and used Arctic Silver 5 thermal interface.

Now that the water block has been successfully installed, we have to fasten the fan with a few screws and attach the whole system to the case rear panel. As you understand, the back panel should have a spot for a 120 x 120 x 25mm fan, otherwise, you will not be able to properly install CoolIT PURE into your case without some additional work and home-made adapters.

The installed liquid-cooling system looks like this inside a system case:

Now we have to connect the power supply cable with a Molex plug to the corresponding connector on the CoolIT PURE unit and plug the three-pin fan cable into the corresponding connector on the mainboard. The system is ready to rock. The whole installation procedure didn’t take more than 10 minutes (even if the mainboard is removed from the system case). In conclusion I would like to add that CoolIT logo on the aluminum system panel glows light-blue when the system is running.

Technical Specifications and Pricing

Technical specs of CoolIT PURE are summed up in the table below for your convenience:

Testbed and Methods

Since CoolIT PURE is a very peculiar system, it was tested only in a closed system case as well as its competitor in our today’s test session. That is when the mainboard was in vertical position.

Our testbed was identical for all coolers and featured the following configuration:

Using the weakest cooling system of our today’s testing participants we managed to overclock our quad-core processor to 3.75GHz with the Vcore increased to 1.4875V in the mainboard BIOS. The monitoring utilities reported the core voltage setting a little bit lower than what was set in the mainboard BIOS: around 1.46V.

All tests were performed under Windows XP Professional Edition SP2. SpeedFan 4.34 Beta 44 was used to monitor the temperature of the CPU, reading it directly from the CPU core sensor:

The mainboard’s automatic fan speed management feature was disabled for the time of the tests in the mainboard BIOS. The CPU thermal throttling was controlled with the RightMark CPU Clock Utility version 2.35.0:

The CPU was heated up with OCCT (OverClock Checking Tool) version 2.0.0a in a 30-minute test with maximum CPU utilization, during which the system remained idle in the first 1 and last 4 minutes of the test:

I performed at least two cycles of tests and waited for approximately 20 minutes for the temperature inside the system case to stabilize during each test cycle. Despite the stabilization period, the result of the second test cycle was usually 0.5-1°C higher. The maximum temperature of the hottest CPU core of the four in the two test cycles was considered the final result (if the difference was no bigger than 1°C – otherwise the test was performed at least once again).

The ambient temperature was checked next to the system case with an electronic thermometer that allows monitoring the temperature and humidity changes over the past 6 hours. During our test session room temperatures varied between 24.5 ~ 25°C. It is used as a staring point on the diagrams. Note that the fan rotation speeds as shown in the diagrams are the average readings reported by SpeedFan, and not the official claimed fan specifications.

The noise level of each cooler was measured according to our traditional method described in the previous articles with the help of an electronic noise meter – CENTER-321. The readings were taken at 3cm, 1m and 3m distance. The subjectively comfortable noise level was considered 34.5dBA. The ambient noise from the system case without the CPU cooler didn’t exceed 32.5dBA when measured at 1m distance

IT would make sense to add another compact system fitting into a system case to compete against CoolIT PURE. Unfortunately, we didn’t have any available at the time of tests, so we picked ZEROtherm NV120 Premium cooler, which is certainly cheaper than the liquid-cooling system we discussed today:

However, as we saw during our test session, this cooler was powerful enough to compete against CoolIT PURE. We tested ZEROtherm NV120 Premium in only one mode with the fan rotating at ~1440RPM when it generated pretty moderate noise.

Cooling Efficiency and Acoustic Performance

Our regular readers may have already guessed that the weakest cooling solution today will be the new CoolIT PURE, because with this cooler installed we could only push our processor to 3.75GHz having raised the Vcore to 1.4875V in the mainboard BIOS. The hottest processor core throughout our test session hit 84ºC temperature:


Click to enlarge

Not a remarkable result, I should say. CoolIT PURE still has 250-300MHz to go before hitting the maximum processor overclocking rate. Besides, it failed to outperform ZEROtherm NV120 Premium, as you may have already understood:


Click to enlarge

As we see, ZEROtherm super-cooler gets 15ºC ahead of the compact liquid-cooling solution from CoolIT even in moderately noisy operational mode with the fan rotating at ~1440RPM. Besides, we could overclock our test CPU to the maximum (I am only talking about the maximum achievable with an air cooler). And the good thing is that there are over a dozen coolers like that out there these days.

However, we were not talking about an air cooler today, but about CoolIT PURE liquid-cooling system. At this point I only have to add that this solution is pretty noisy in case of high processor load, which is quite natural for a 120 x 120 x 25mm fan working at ~2000RPM. Here are the obtained results: 3cm – 53.5dBA, 1m – 36.8dBA, 3m – 35.7dBA. So, if the subjectively comfortable noise level at a 1m distance is around 34.5dBA, this cooling system goes far beyond this number. When the processor workload is minimal the 120-mm fan rotation speed drops down to ~1000RPM and the liquid-cooling system gets considerably quieter, however, in this case you can clearly hear the pump working. Not a big deal, but still.

Conclusion

Well, looks like overclockers can take one more liquid-cooling system off their options list. Some of you may have already realized it before the actual tests, but others arrived at this conclusion after reading through our today’s brief article. Does CoolIT PURE have any real advantages? It certainly does: universal design, compact size, complete pre-assembly and ready-to-use state, relatively simple installation procedure. All this is true for CoolIT PURE, but at the same time, it is also available at a much lower price with less noise and even better efficiency. In this case, I can hardly say who the potential CoolIT PURE users might be. Maybe those people who are willing to pay $95 for it just like the opportunity to say that they have got a really COOL cooling system :)