If you want to get into water cooling but are a bit put of, or quite frankly terrified of the thought of putting together a custom water loop then you will quite naturally be drawn to one of the many AIO solutions on the market today. But what of the future? There may come a time when your knowledge, experience and confidence combine to out weigh the burdon of terror and the urge to build a custom loop becomes irresistible. What will happen to that expensive AIO solution then? If only you could re use it, or maybe even just part of it to lessen the pain of the financial sting from binning it or selling it on.
On the face of it the Eisberg from Cooler Master appears to be just another AIO water cooler. Look a little deeper and you'll notice several features that indicate that the Eisberg is something a little different. With both the Radiator and Pump/res assemblies having compression fittings, and the pump/res having a fill port it becomes possible to change any of the core components, meaning the future expandability alluded to above becomes a very real option. With this in mind lets look at the technical specification to see just what £119 gets you.
Copper Jet stream Enhanced Bi-Directional Micro Channel CPU Water block
German Designed, Axial rotation, Ceramic Bearing
Pump Head Pressure
|3600RPM (1950 with 9v adaptor)|
10/8mm Black with Black anti kink coil
1 x 120mm 100% Copper
156 x 124 x 30mm (without fan)
2 x 1600 rpm Cooler Master Fans
All In One CPU Cooler
1x Cooler Master Eisberg
Up Close: Packaging and contents
Packaged in Cooler Masters distinctive Black White and Purple , the box displays some nice arty shots of the cooler inside but doesn't neglect to give the details and specs on the back.
Cooler Master have again favoured the Eco Friendly Egg box style packaging. With each of the individual item then being individually wrapped in polyethylene bags further protection against bumps and scratches is provided
Although the bags aren't labelled at least each of the sets of fittings comes in their own little bags.
Cooler Master have also included a 3 speed fan reducer (12v,7v,5v). We've shown it in the images below to help give you an idea of the size of the diagrams and text on the instructions. Pretty damn small and next to useless is our measured opinion.
Up Close: The Cooler Overview
The first thing you notice about the Eisberg 120 is the size and sheer bulk of the cold plate assembly. The expanded diagrams towards the bottom of this page best describe why this is so, but suffice to say that the cold plate also doubles as a small (Very small) reservoir.
The Eisberg has very flexible high gloss black tubing, which when coupled with the gloss black anti kink coils should make for easy installation into cramped spaces. With 35cm total distance from black to radiator the Eisberg has just that little bit more tubing length that than most AIOs. And if it's still not long enough, or perhaps even too long it can always be cut down or swapped for longer.
The images below are taken from the Cooler Master website and illustrate well the technology utilised in the construction of the Eisberg.
Bi Directional Micro channels and Jet stream technology up close.
Up Close: Contact Plate and Radiator
The window in the side is a bit of a give away to this cold plate being more than just..well..a cold plate. Peer through the window and you can see the axial flow pump assembly assembled within a chamber which is designed to double as a small reservoir. If you were to use this unit and upgrade later there'd be nothing wrong with keeping it as is, but we would recommend the addition of a slightly larger reservoir in your system. The image blow right shows the Matte black compression fittings and the fill port which are key to he Eisberg's expandability.
The contact plate is large and although not mirror finished is certainly very shiny. Mounting brackets slot into the grooves near the base as we will see when we come to the build section.
Both the contact plate and the radiator are copper so as to reduce the risk of corrosion that can occur with dissimilar metals. In the images below we can clearly see the copper of the cooling fins that the paint hasn't quite made it through to. Although this might look a bit tatty in fact the lack of a paint coating can only help the heat transfer as air passes through.
A few bent and dented fins were noted on the radiator, although this is nothing unusual it is worth mentioning. The same Matte Black compression fittings as on the cold plate also serve to attach the tubing to the radiator.
The Eisberg comes with a pair of 120mm 1600 RPM fans as well as a selection of long and short screws to enable mounting. Also included are a pair of thick rubber spacers. These serve not only to reduce transmitted sound and vibrations from the fans through the case, but also act as baffles, slightly increasing the distance of the fans from the radiator surface and as such improving the airflow and cooling capabilities.
Ron Swanson is a real man, not the sort to read instructions and neither are we. Which is just as well really as should we need a "reference" source to confirm we've done things right then we'd best prepare to break out the magnifying glass. We're not joking here. These instructions are small and we mean Comedy small. To give you an idea the size of the un expanded image on your screen below left is pretty much life size. Having eventually worked out which screw we needed we assembled the gear and readied for assembly (we actually turned out to have selected the wrong screw, that's how bad the pictures are and as the packets of screws aren't labelled there's nothing else to go by).
If you're using anything other than 2011 then you'll need to use one of the supplied back plates. As we are then we can screw straight into the Motherboard.
Washers go over the screws then springs over the washers. Black internally threaded tubes are then screwed down over the top of each of the screws until the base of them touches the washers, or in other words, as far as they will go. No need for screwdrivers as it's all finger tightened.
Getting the Radiator in is not nearly as simple and is practically a two person job. What you're making here is a sandwich which goes fan-baffle-rad-baffle-fan. Easy enough to attach the inner fan to the rad with the baffle in between, but not quite so easy to line up the outer fan-baffle-rad assembly while at the same time feeding the long screw through from outside the case. As the baffles are quite a floppy rubber they also have a tendency to slip into the fan blades if not held in place when tightening the screws.
Eventually we got the radiator assembly in place and with no filling or bleeding to do were able to fire up the trusty Cooler Master "Test Trooper" (with the side panels on of course and commence testing. We were a little surprised how noisy the Eisberg was. The given 25.5dBA seems a little on the low side. The 9v reducer did quieten things down a little though but still a faint Buzz could be heard through the case sides.
Intel i7 3960X Stock@ 1.1v (undervolted) 4.0GHz @ 1.25v 4.4GHz @ 1.35v 4.6GHz @ 1.45v Gigabyte X79 UD3 Corsair Vengeance LP Memory Corsair HX850 V2 Corsair Force GT 60GB Coolermaster Storm Trooper.
As usual we'll be testing our coolers at varying levels of overclock and increasing levels of voltage. this in turn of course means increasing levels of heat which the coolers need to dissipate. To begin with we start with the undervolted stock speed. Why undervolted? well if you have things set on "Auto", you may well be using more volts than are actually required to run at the chosen frequency, for example our 3960s will run quite happily at just 1.1volts, solid as a rock, 24/7, and as such we use this as our starting point.
Continuity is very important in testing, and for this reason we keep as many of the potential variables as locked down as possible. We will be using OCCT in Linpack X64, AVX compatible with all logical cores tested and 90% free memory utilised. The test is set up to run automatically with just a few clicks to set it going. A 10 minute idle followed by 30 minutes of testing and a 5 minute cool down is the order of the day and brings the total test time per clock speed to 45 minutes. So as to remove subjectivity in determining whether a CPU has failed, OCCT is set to stop the test and register a fail should the max temp exceed 80 degrees. In testing we noted that if even just one of the cores exceeds 82 degrees OCCT halts the test and a fail is recorded.
Although the Pump also had a 9v speed reducer we have conducted all testing of the pump at the full 12 volts. However as the Eisberg came with a 3 speed fan adapter we have tested at all speeds and at all overclocks. Making for a potential 12 tests which at 45 minutes per test makes for a grand total of 9 hours of testing. If you want to run at the lower pump speed, expect a 2-3 Degree increase in temps across the board.
At stock and on high fan settings the Eisberg was on a par with the recently reviewed H60 and within a degree or two of the H100 at both High and low fan speeds.
Turning now to the 4GHz test we up the voltage to 1.25 volts, this is what is deemed normally as stock volts. Something we are always harping on about on the forums is AUTO does not mean stock volts, and normally if you overclocking with "auto" volts the motherboard will be upping the volts much more than needed if you were to do it manually. By whichever means it happens, upping the volts (especially from our 1.1v undervolt) does have a big impact on temps, with an average increase of 10-15 degrees seen in the results.
The Eisberg looks better able to dissipate the heat that the increased voltage brings when compared to the H60 and the Seidon 120M. Like the Eisberg both of these are 120mm radiator units however the Eisberg benefits from the additional fan and the rubber baffles. The Eisberg also matches the X40 which although a single fan unit has a larger 140mm rad and fan.
Upping the volts still further we achieve a stable 4.4GHz overclock at 1.35 Volts. It's here we start to separate the wheat from the chaff, with lesser coolers not able to disperse the increased heat effectively. Again we see a jump of 10 degrees or so from the figures at 4GHz. Both the H100 and the well-respected D14 are creeping into the 70s here, indicating that only the cream of the crop will excel at this level.
At the lowest 5v fan speed the Eisberg wasn't able to cut the mustard with the test failing after just a few minutes. At both Medium and high speeds though things were still going well with the unit still a degree or two cooler than the other 120mm units in the charts, and again trading blows with both the X40 and the H100.
Although only a 120mm unit we were hopeful that the twin fans and baffles would enable the Eisberg to pass the hard-core 4.6GHz test. Sadly it was not too be, showing just how intensive this extreme test is on a cooler.
Whether or not you consider the Eisberg as a serious proposition depends very much on what you intend to do in the future. Looking at the performance charts and bearing in mind the £120 price tag it'd be reasonable to suggest that you might be much better of with one of the cheaper and better performing AIO systems such as the X40 H100 or H100i, or for that matter the even cheaper Seidon or H60. And if you can guarantee you're never going to want to advance to a custom loop then these are most likely the better options for you.
If however you suspect that having gotten your feet wet you may feel tempted to go the whole hog and build a custom loop then the Eisberg offers something that the others do not. Modular design, Expandability, call it what you like but the Eisberg isn’t simply an AIO. It offers something the others don’t. Albeit at a price (and a big price at that). Should you wish, each of the main components of the Eisberg can be re-used in whole or as part of a fully custom loop. With this in mind, it is then only fair that we look at what else your £120 will get you. Taking a gander around a few of our favourite e-tailers we can indeed piece together a similar spec'd (if not slightly better) setup for pretty much the same price. Would you be better off doing this rather than buying the Eisberg? Well it depends on your ambitions. If you want to put together your own loop then selecting your own components separately is the better way to go. If you're not quite ready to put your own loop together then maybe, just maybe the Eisberg has something to offer.
We say maybe because there are a few other things to think about while mulling over that potential purchase. From a practical view point the Eisberg is fairly easy to install but does present several opportunities to grind your teeth and practice your "naughty" words. For starters it could benefit from better instructions as the diagrams on those provided are comedy small. The radiator/fan/floppy rubber baffle assembly is a bit of a fiddle, actually, it's a lot of a fiddle with the rubber baffle forever falling into the fan blades while you try to line all the holes up. On the plus side, and yes there are some positives, the cold plate assembly although bulky is simple to locate in place and the chosen method of attachment to the Motherboard is simplicity itself, with no risk of over-tightening the screws.
In use the fans were reasonably quiet on the low setting (via the 3 speed molex/fan adapter) but became more noticeable on the medium and high 12v setting that we test at. Still these are 1600RPM fans so they're always going to emit a bit of a whir at full tat. The pump however emitted more than “A bit of a whir” and was much louder than expected as well as being louder than any other pump we've ever heard, drowning out the noise of the fans at both the 12v and lower voltage settings. Regrettably we found noise emitted to be intrusively audible through the case sides with the observer sitting 2-3 feet away as it would be in the average desk top set up. When the Eisberg was released, which is now some time ago, there were quite a few comments floating around that the pump was very noisy. Cooler Master were assuring that this was a characteristic of the pre release versions and would be fixed so as not be of detriment in the final retail version. Unfortunately we have to say that many months down the line the issue does not appear to have been rectified and that the noise produced by the pump whether it be at the full 12v, reduced via the included cable, or even attached directly to a motherboard header is still intrusively and unacceptably loud. We actually contacted Cooler Master about the problems we were having and they thought it might be faulty so sent us a second one. Sadly the replacement unit was exactly the same no matter what we tried to do to tame the noise, the only thing that seemed to change was the pitch of the pump rather than the volume of the noise created. If you take into account the eye watering £120 price tag, lack luster performance and quite plainly annoying pump noise we feel we have to say that this is a rare misfire for Cooler Master and we would not recommend you buy this product at all.
Thanks to Cooler Master for the 120L on review today, you can discuss your thoughts in the OC3D Forums.