Alphacool Cool Answer IIIPrice:
£112.79 inc VAT
The Alphacool is one of only two waterkits in this test. However, unlike the more expensive passive version, the Cool Answer comes pre-filled and ready to be installed in your system.
The waterkit comprises of a small Eheim pump, submerged in a clear acrylic reservoir. The reservoir is strapped to the system’s 120mm radiator and fan, which is in turn connected to the radiator, a copper CPU waterblock and then back through to the reservoir.
The Alphacool is a typically European low-flow setup, using 3/8” tubing. This allows the system to use a smaller pump, and it’s the pump that often defines how much noise a watercooling system makes.
The pump is powered by a little conversion board, which takes power directly from a Molex power plug, so you’ll need one spare on your PSU. As you’d expect, the little Ehiem pump is quiet. It’s not silent, though and you’ll want to isolate the reservoir assembly from the rest of the case. This is at odds to the design of the system, which is supposed to screw to a 120mm fan mount.
In practice it’s incredibly difficult to attach the radiator to your case using the provided screws. There are two reasons for this: firstly the radiator cowling hasn’t been tapped to accept the screws, which means you have to tap the holes by forcing the screws through with your screwdriver; secondly the screws are long enough to attach a fan to the cowling, so they are too long to connect the radiator directly to a fan mount. This latter fact was discovered after piercing the radiator with a bent screw.
Both the Alphacool water kits come with clips to attach the thick copper block to a variety of different CPUs. Unlike some of the other multi-socket clips, the Alphacools doesn’t require you to remove the motherboard. Instead it uses a mounting plate, with standard LGA775 pins and an Allen bolt to create the required mounting pressure for the waterblock to work effectively.
Since the Cool Answer uses both a 120mm fan and a water pump it’s considerably louder than most of the air coolers in this group test. It’s a disappointing state of affairs, because water kits should either offer reduced noise or increased performance.
This isn’t the case, while the fan and pump make it louder, it doesn’t perform as well as the Freezer 7 Pro, which is nearly a tenth of the price. With the CPU loaded the CPU was 15°C below the Intel reference, while good this is still 5°C warmer than the Freezer managed under load.
Water-cooling has its place, and that is to either reduce noise or heat. While the Cool Answer is considerably cooler and quieter than the Intel stock cooler, it’s not nearly as quiet or as cool as the £15 Freezer, so it’s very difficult to recommend on the basis of this group test.
If you’re desperate for easy, safe watercooling then I’m sorry to disappoint you because it doesn’t exist yet. If you must have a watercooling kit, then the Alphacool Passiv set is a much cooler option.
Assembly and mounting difficulty
Quality and aesthetic