Coolit ECO A.L.C. Review

ccokeman - 2010-04-01 18:25:10 in CPU Cooling
Category: CPU Cooling
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: April 12, 2010
Price: $74.99

Introduction:

When you buy your parts to build a new computer, CPU cooling is't always high on the list of things to get if you are not an enthusiast. Mainly because the CPU comes with a heatsink already! If it ain't broke then don't fix it right? Wrong! But where do you go and what do you choose? There are plenty of coolers that can do the job but the size of the heatsinks and costs can vary from the mild to the wild. One thing you think of as on the wild side is liquid cooling. Liquid cooling can be decidedly on the wild side with pumps, blocks, radiators, and tubing in a myriad of possible combination's.Then you have the possible leaks and constant maintenance that have to be attended to. In the end some people yearn for an easier way. Coolit has had the answer with their pre-assembled and permanently sealed Advanced Liquid Cooling systems that come in a variety of configurations and costs. They have taken the the wild side out of the equation and have brought reliability and long term value with the introduction of the Coolit ECO A.L.C.. Coolit has listened to the market when it comes to their products such as the Pure and Domino A.L.C. that performed well but fitting them into a chassis without room was a challenge, not to mention the cost associated with a high end pre-assembled liquid cooling system. Coolit has put the ECO together as a low (relatively at $74) cost solution with higher chassis compatibility due to the the compact assembly of the unit. Cooling the CPU down can be a challenge any way you look at it, whether using air cooling or a high end custom water cooling setup. Lets see if the Coolit ECO A.L.C. can handle the needs of the enthusiast.

Closer Look:

The Coolit ECO A.L.C. packaging comes without any flash but is all business. Each panel of the package has information about the ECO A.L.C.. Depending on which panel you look at, you will get a bit more information so you finish up with a true picture of what the Coolit ECO is all about. Information you can read includes notes about the proprietary pump and its MTBF of 50,000 hours, The high performance radiator, universal retention mechanism, Coolit's A.T.C thermal compound and more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you open the box you have a foam insert that holds the ECO A.L.C. and all of its accessories. The outside of the insert holds the accessories that includes backplates for three different Intel sockets as well as mounting brackets to fit the latest socket configurations from AMD. Splitting open the foam insert, you reach the ECO.

 

 

The contents of the packaging include everything you need to get started. You get an instruction pamphlet, the ECO A.L.C., Mounting brackets for AMD systems and backplates to install on the last three commercially available Intel sockets (775,1156,1366). The ECO comes fully assembled so all that is left is to mount it into the chassis of your choice.

 

 

 

Water cooling never looked so simple has it?



 

Closer Look:

In the past we at Overclockersclub have looked at several of Coolit's in house designed and built cooling solutions such as the Pure and Domino A.L.C.. Each one performed well and did the job it was designed to do. However fitting them into a chassis presented some challenges. This is one thing the ECO is designed to address. The ECO is a smaller package (Low Profile form factor) without the associated shrouds and parts to get in the way when you go to install it into the chassis of your choice. What you get with the ECO is a self contained, pre-filled and assembled liquid cooling solution. Vastly different from the Domino and Pure, it is cut down to the essential elements of the radiator, 120mm fan and proprietary pump/heat exchanger connected with non permeable lines to prevent coolant loss over time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you get down to it there are only three components of the ECO A.L.C.(Advanced Liquid Cooling) that you can see while there is a fourth that hopefully no one will ever see and that being the "environmentally friendly", proprietary propylene glycol mixture that includes an anti-corrosion / anti fungal mixture to ensure a long product life. We have talked about the coolant so you have the combo pump/ heat exchanger that uses an "In fluid" ceramic bearing to help reach the rated 50,000 hour MTBF. The Coolit CFF1 pump is a power optimized design that uses a paltry 1W during operation. Just a 1W draw is incredibly efficient. The pump is connected to its power source via a 3 pin connection. The tubing that directs the fluid to the radiator is connected to the side of the pump assembly for a compact fit. The rest of the assembly includes the tool less mounting system and brackets. The tool less mounting package uses thumb screws to draw the pump assembly down onto the cpu. The screw heads in these thumb screws are recessed to prove protection against tool slippage while you are tightening the pump down if you use a screwdriver. If you have ever had a screwdriver slip out and slide across that brand new high end motherboard you understand the pucker factor this innovation can prevent. The contact surface is covered with a dose of Coolit's own Pro A.T.C. thermal compound. Looking at the mounting bracket, you can see the three locations that the thumb screws need to be set to depending on which Intel socket you are using the ECO on. The AMD brackets use the standard 4 screw pattern for AM2/AM3 processors.

 

 

 

The radiator is a high performance unit designed to work well with low-noise fans. This normally means low flow as well, so the radiator is built for high heat dissipation with this lower flow. The fan is attached to the exhaust side of the radiator and pulls air through it, rather than pushing through it. There are different philosophies regarding which way is best but I will follow Coolit's installation recommendations since they have already done the required testing and research when it comes time to install the system. The tubing used is non permeable so there is no evaporation of the coolant. It is rigid but flexible at the same time.

 

 

 

There really is not a lot to talk about when it comes to the 120mm fan used on this cooling system. Other than being a variable speed fan that can be controlled via the motherboard with an 1800 RPM maximum speed, thats about it. Coolit states that the fan should be used in a pull configuration.

 

 

The installation process is pretty straight forward, and is as simple as installing a fan and bolt on heatsink. Once the board is in, I installed the radiator into rear 120mm exhaust fan location. Then I removed the protective cover on the pump/heat exchanger and mounted it to the board using the thumbscrews that thread into the backplate. Plug in the power wire for the fan to the CPU fan header and the pump to an available header or a 3 pin power connector and you are ready to enjoy the benefits of a liquid cooled system. If you look at the memory slots all six are available for use, something you don't always have with a large air cooled solution.

 

Lets end any speculation on how well the ECO A.L.C. performs by getting through the testing.


 

Specifications:

Features:

 

 

All information courtesy of Coolit @  http://www.coolitsystems.com/index.php/eco.html

Testing:

To find out the level of performance that the Coolit ECO A.l.C. delivers, I will be making a comparison of the temperatures at idle and under load. Both will be made while the CPU is at the stock voltages and clock speeds, as well as when the CPU is overclocked and 'over-volted'. This will help to show what kind of cooling performance that this that this factory sealed liquid cooling solution has to offer, when compared to other socket 1366 compatible high-performance cooling solutions. These cooling systems will be tested head-to-head as they are delivered from the manufacturer. I could throw in a bunch of testing variables, but it is not what the products are capable of as delivered. To test the idle temperatures, I will allow the computer to stay in an idle state for 30 minutes and take the idle temperature at this point. For the load testing, I will use Prime95 version 25.11 and choose the blend testing and allow the processor and memory controller to heat up to the maximum temperatures. The time frame is a four-hour run, to allow the temperature to peak - usually at or around the 14K test. I will use Real temp 3.0 to take the high and low temperatures and average the temperatures generated over the four cores as my reported temperatures.

Testing Setup:

 

Comparison Heat sinks:

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the temperatures reported. many of the heatsinks tested fell within a 3 to 4 °C range with the exception of the TRUE, NH-D14 and NH-U12P, two of which use dual fans to push air through the heatsinks while the Coolit ECO only uses one. Temperatures on an Intel Core i7 can sky rocket out of control quickly and the ECO seems be able to handle the load. While I was at it I want to see if the ECO would allow some serious overclocking with respectable temperatures so I bumped the clock speeds up to 3.7GHz (185x20) and pushed the voltage to 1.31 and started the Prime 95 testing all over again.Satisfied with the 71°C maximum temperature at 3.7Ghz, I figured I may as well try for 4.0. Bumping the volts to 1.34 and the clock speed to 4.0 (200x20) yielded a maximum temperature of 77°C. The results of this exercise show the ECO to perform right alongside what you can expect from some of the high end air cooled solutions with a little more in the tank per say when you start leaning on it. IF you need that extra couple of degrees performance you can bolt on a second fan. By adding what really is a medium CFM fan that pushes roughly 55CFM I was able to drop another 2-3 degrees Celsius off of the reported temperatures.


 

Conclusion:

The Coolit ECO A.L.C does the job it is intended to do, to cool your CPU and do it quietly. Throughout my testing, I never saw temperatures higher than 71° when I ratcheted up the voltage on the CPU to 1.31v and bumped the clock speed up to a easy overclock to put a heavier load on the ECO. This of course was after the standard testing was completed. During the standard testing, the stock clocked results were right in line with some mid to high end air cooling solutions and really only performed at a lower level than the three upper echelon heat sinks, two of those with dual fans to up the cooling ante. While comparing this cooling solution to a heat sink that is factory equipped with dual fans may seem unfair, you can add a second fan to the ECO A.L.C.. Doing this will show a measurable decrease in CPU temperatures as a nice performance bonus, not huge, but measurable. The load temperatures for the ECO under load when at stock clock speeds was a respectable 51°C. Overclocked, I reached a maximum of 60°C. Both respectable numbers and most definitely better than a stock Intel heatsink can deliver. Bumping the speeds up to 3.7GHz, I saw temperatures no higher than 71°C. All in all a fair performance. As a pre-filled, permanently sealed system, the ECO is much like the rest of the systems designed by Coolit in that really the only maintenance you will have is cleaning the dust bunnies off the radiator to keep it at peak efficiency. By using a proprietary low toxicity coolant mix with corrosion inhibitors and anti fungal properties the coolant mix should not be an issue.

The one downside I saw with this cooler is much the same thing you find with every other water cooled system on the market, be it a multiple loop custom setup or a pre-built kit. The chipset is cooled by airflow from the heat sink when using an air cooled solution. With a liquid cooled setup you don't have the luxury of airflow over the chipset, so it in turn heats up. With a custom loop you can install a water block on the chipset to solve this problem. You would think installing a a self contained liquid cooling system would be difficult but the reality is that this system is no more difficult to install than any bolt on heat sink on the market. The ECO A.L.C. uses a bolt down retention mechanism with its own back plate to keep the motherboard from flexing. The radiator just bolts right in place of a pre-existing 120mm exhaust fan. Hook up the power to the fan and all in one pump/water block and you are ready to rock and roll. Some water kits are built with only single socket compatibility but not the ECO A.L.C. You get both AMD and all the latest Intel compatibility so if you change your allegiance to a CPU manufacturer, you are not left in the ditch with a $75 cooling system. For the $75 asking price, you get a well put together package from Coolit that delivers cooling performance and increased chassis compatibility. It may not fit the needs of the extreme enthusiast but definitely meets the needs of the masses.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: