The search for the perfect cooling solution for that new PC you’re building never seems to end. Every manufacturer vouches to have the most efficient, quietest and cheapest solution available, and if we merely took their word for it, there would be no need to shop around.
As of late, advertising has reached an unprecedented level with the overwhelming popularity of the Internet and people’s ability to research a product down to its very last detail. Some days I almost (and I do mean almost) wish that we were not bombarded with so much information as it does lead to sensory overload causing even the simplest decision to be nearly impossible to make!
Whether you’re choosing air or water cooling, there is one simple fact that always comes to the head of the pack: simplicity is a MUST. No one wants to go to be forced to go to engineering school to learn the proper way to install a CPU cooler and they want it to just work straight out of the box with little tinkering. While the enthusiast market is growing day by day with people becoming ever braver to try more difficult installs, there is still only a very small segment of the market willing to put in the effort, and rightfully so.
CoolIT has specialized in PC cooling and has products to cover pretty much any area of the current market. From TEC-based monsters to the venerable all-in-one water cooling solution, CoolIT has been very busy in doing its homework and listening to its customers to make sure it’s in tune with what is expected in current products as well as future releases. Having tested its products before I can attest to the fact they do build quality stuff with a strong attention to detail and performance.
Today we get a look at the ECO A.L.C (Advanced Liquid Cooling). There was a time no so long ago that all-in-one solutions were scoffed at without a thought and were nearly ineffective and costly as well. Thankfully, that day is in the past and with releases such as the CoolIT Domino and the very successful Corsair H50 people are forced to take a long hard look at these types of coolers. I have said it many times in the past, water cooling is nearly unsurpassed with its ability to remove tremendous amounts of heat load without falling victim to heat soak. Multi-core processors have the uncanny ability to push their cooling solutions to their limits while overclocking pushes many past the point of failure.
With a simple design, CoolIT is once again setting the stage for another budget water vs. high-end air cooling battle. While we are not directly comparing the ECO to any air solution, we will give you all the facts you need to make the decision as to which way you should go for your next build. When the dust settles, I feel you just may be surprised at the results, so with no further ado, let’s get the ECO A.L.C. out of its box and onto a CPU and let parts do the talking.
Shipped in a rather plain and colorless black and white box, the ECO is well packaged and protected in a solid foam clamshell. Just for giggles I even sat down on the box and it held all 200lbs of my weight without feeling like calamity was imminent. Once out of the packaging and onto the table we see that we are given a simple yet elegant cooling solution. The quality is readily apparent and without a doubt you can see the engineers did their homework.
Focusing in on the pump/cup block once again shows off the clean lines and styling. The shroud has the CoolIT logo and part name printed on it and you can also see the simple yet effective thumbscrews used to attach it to the CPU socket. Should you prefer it, the screws are also able to be fastened using a Philips style screw driver.
The radiator is compact and has a solid feel. There is no flex in the metal and the finish is excellent. All of the connections are firm with no play so there is no worry the hoses could come loose once installed inside your case. To me, this is the main appeal of a pre-filled water cooling solution as most people are far too afraid of leaks when contemplating a custom-built water cooling loop.
While we are not given the exact specs of the included fan, I was happy to see it was of the 4-pin PWM style, meaning it will be able to be finely controlled by the motherboard’s BIOS as nearly all current motherboards have very effective fan control features built in. This will further enhance the effectiveness while helping maintain quiet levels, should that be within the desired operating parameters.
The base of the High Performance FHE (Fluid Heat Exchanger) has micro channels that help maximize cooling potential. It also sports pre-applied thermal paste so you can skip the often messy step of applying it yourself. Also take note of the simple multi-mount tabs. All you have to do is pull up on the thumbscrew to slide the tabs into the position needed for your socket. I think this innovative design feature is top-notch and far better than shipping multiple brackets for the 3 main Intel sockets.
Here we see the rest of the included hardware which comprises the many back plates for the 3 Intel sockets as well as the required mounting tabs for AMD sockets and also the respective back plate. Four screws and a simple installation guide round out the included parts.
I cannot emphasize just how much the simplicity of this design impresses me. While I have built many custom water loops for my personal PC over the years, it was still a daunting task which took days to do properly. This sleek design is sure to be a big hit with the mass market as long as it works as well as it looks.
Now that we have shown you the goods, it’s time to get it installed and see just what it’s made of.