(Update) The roundup has been expanded to include the TechN AM4 water cooler and measurements on a 12nm Ryzen 2700X.
In this review / roundup, we take a look at current CPU water coolers for AMD Socket AM4. In addition to well-known giants in the custom watercooling sector like Aqua Computer, Watercool, TechN and EKWB, this time manufacturers that are not exclusively specialized in watercooling are also getting into the mix. Specifically, Corsair, Raijintek and Phanteks. We also got to compare a special specimen with the Optimus Foundation cooler.
We take a look at the water coolers in terms of cooling performance, flow rate, but also workmanship. The assembly is also examined by us.
Note: For organizational reasons regarding the availability of the test systems, many pictures were taken after the test. Therefore, there may be traces of use on the cooler. The scope of delivery is also not always complete in the photos, but is listed by us. We will talk about the workmanship at delivery in the continuous text!
Test system and procedure
System Ryzen 3000 7 nm
- Processor: AMD Ryzen 3900X
- Mainboard: Gigabyte X570 Aorus Master
- Thermal compound: Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut
- Memory: Crucial Ballistix 3200 RGB
- Graphics card: Sapphire Radeon VII
- Storage: Samsung SSD Pro 960 1TB
- Case: Phanteks Evolv X
- Power supply: Corsair HXi 750 Watt
- Monitoring: Aqua Computer Aquaero 6
Water cooling details
- Tank: Heatkiller Tube 150-
- Temperature sensor: Phobya
- Pump: Laing DDC 1T+ PWM
- Flow meter: Aqua Computer High Flow
- Radiator: Watercool MO-RA 3
- Graphics card cooler: Phanteks Glacier Radeon 7
The CPU coolers were each mounted with Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut thermal paste and the AMD Ryzen 3900X was fully loaded with prime95 12K and came up to about 170W. The water temperature settled at an almost constant 25 degrees, but was permanently monitored. The measurement was carried out until the maximum temperature was reached. The difference between CPU and water temperature was taken as the result. Each CPU cooler was measured four times to get the most precise results. From these measurements, we averaged the two middle results. The “outliers” (the measurements were very constant) downwards and upwards were thus omitted. We also recorded CCD temperatures of the Ryzen 3900X.
Test system Ryzen 2000 12 nm
Water cooling components and order in the 2700X system:
- Custom DDC 18W
- MO-RA3 420 with 9x Arctic P14
- Aqua Computer High-Flow
- Aqua Computer temperature sensor
- Alphacool quick release
- CPU Cooler
- Alphacool quick connector
- Hose: Mayhems Ultra Clear
- Liquid: Aqua Computer DP Ultra
The coolers were installed four times each and measured over 100 minutes each time. The CPU was fixed at 1.35V and loaded with prime95@12k. Power consumption was ~160W for the CPU. Using a Watercool-MO-RA3, the water temperature was stabilized at 25 degrees.
The watercoolers in the overview
|Aqua Computer Cryos|
|Weight||160 g||150 g||446 g||257 g||186 g|
|27 mm||37 mm||28 mm||28 mm||32 mm|
|Fin surface||30 x 28 mm||43 x 29 mm||43 x 35 mm||43 x 35 mm||43 x 30 mm|
|Weight||329 g||197 g||340 g||250 g|
|32 mm||37 mm||29 mm||25 mm|
|Fin surface||46 x 40 mm||28 x 28 mm||41 x 30 mm||27 x 26 mm|
The water coolers in detail
Aqua Computer kryos NEXT Review
Aqua Computer supplies the kryos NEXT with thermal paste (Kryonaut) and the little mounting hardware needed. More than screws with springs are not needed besides the backplate from AMD!
The kryos NEXT is available in numerous variants. Lid made of copper, acetal, acrylic, with display and so on and so forth. We test the Aqua Computer kryos NEXT with a milky acrylic lid. An RGB LED can be inserted into it, which diffusely illuminates the lid.
Due to the compact, rounded design, the cooler does not look so bulky, even though thick-walled acrylic is used. The edges are flattened and nicely finished. The “NEXT” lettering is applied to the lower edge and “made in germany” is a bit more discreet on the right edge. The block is pulled through by a bracket made of solid 2.5 mm thick stainless steel.
The distance between the threads is 27 mm and as the guide integrated into the lid shows, the lower thread is intended as the entrance. The lid is released from the nickel-plated base plate via four screws on the underside.
The base plate made of nickel-plated copper is about 2.5 mm thick and the cooling structure is directly incorporated into it. Unlike all the other test subjects, Aqua Computer relies on a cross structure that covers 30 x 28 mm. The width of the fins is less than 0.2 mm. They stand absolutely perfectly.
The assembly is faster than described! You put the cooler on the CPU and screw the spring-loaded screws into the AMD backplate. Done!
For the screws, only an Allen key (enclosed) is needed. The contact pressure is determined by the springs.
Corsair Hydro X XC7 RGB Review
The Corsair XC7 is the entry-level model of the Hydro X series with which Corsair has recently been involved in the custom watercooler sector. The water cooler is delivered in a colorfully designed package with plastic inlay. The scope of delivery includes a manual, screws, a backplate and the mounting frames for the different sockets. The thermal paste is pre-applied. Overall, it feels very reminiscent of Corsair’s AiO water coolers.
Corsair goes for a large-scale format with a lot of visibility in the XC7 RGB. The design language is not as angular as EKWB, but similarly generously sized. The transparent nylon is framed by a black plastic frame. Corsair uses plastic a lot anyway, and so the Corsair XC7 is correspondingly light. It weighs just 140 grams. No comparison to most other coolers in this comparison test.
The design with the multiple beveled edges knows how to please. Even the nuts of the mounting material were designed appropriately. The Corsair logo is integrated on the lower side. The interior and the logo are illuminated by an RGB module under the black frame. The cable is led out at the bottom edge and relies on Corsair’s own RGB connector. This means that a corresponding controller (Lighting Node, Commander, etc.) is necessary.
The spacing of the symmetrically positioned G1/4 connectors is 37 mm. Input and output are not noted on the cooler itself, but it can be seen in the manual and from the water routing inside that the right port is designated as the input.
The large round radiator base is carefully and evenly nickel-plated, you can’t complain here. The mounting frame is plugged in, held by plastic hooks and is familiar from various Asetek AiO coolers. No comparison to the steel/aluminum systems of the competition.
For the inside, Corsair has nothing to be ashamed of. Opening it requires a T6 screwdriver. The fins are placed on an area of 43 x 29 mm on the base plate. The procedure called “skiving” is common for AiO coolers. The 60 cooling fins come to a height of 5.3 mm including the base plate. In addition, Corsair installs a transparent plastic jetplate with a thickness of about 0.6 mm, which seems quite fragile.
For the illumination, unlike EKWB, not just a RGB strip is thrown into the cooler, but a solid, ring-shaped board with 16 LEDs firmly screwed into the cooler. Thus, it cannot be easily replaced, but it is clearly more valuable than the Slovenian competitor. Overall, the plastic is well-made, but not particularly solid.
Mounting the Corsair XC7 RGB is a breeze. The universal backplate from Corsair is used for this. This is fixed with the washers and the spacer bolts.
Now the cooler with the corresponding frame can already be put on and screwed tight with the attractively designed nuts and springs.
The RGB cable has to be connected to a controller from Corsair, which is unfortunately not available to us. Note the horizontal alignment of the connectors!
EKWB EK-Quantum Magnitude Review
From the flagship EKWB EK-Quantum Magnitude we have both the Full Nickel and the Plexi D-RGB variant available. Both come identically packaged and equipped. After opening the box, you are greeted with a reminder to get more EK products if your budget allows it after ~250€ and 215€ respectively.
The scope of delivery includes the mounting material including backplate and 1g Thermal Grizzly thermal paste. In addition, an alternative jetplate with 0.6mm thickness is included (0.5 mm are installed). Despite the complexity and modularity, the manufacturer does not include a manual, which is justifiable in the digital age.
The design of the Quantum Magnitude block is typical EK with a square base shape. The bottom part of both blocks is identical, only the lid makes the difference here. The “Full Nickel” variant uses a solid nickel-plated copper lid, while the Plexi variant uses an acrylic one that allows you to see inside.
The design is minimalistic and not elaborate. The corners of the square are beveled, just like the edges of the lid. That’s about it in this sense. The very bulky frame is conspicuous, which doesn’t turn out as massive as in the Optimus, but visually stands out even more. Particularly in the AMD variant, the block seems to have been placed somewhat unkindly into the frame and looks like a foreign body, but that is certainly a matter of taste.
The workmanship of the EK Quantum Magnitude is overall good, solid and stable. The weight of almost 450g already shows the use of materials. However, we definitely have reason to complain. If you remember the price of over 200 to 250€, there is criticism especially in the area of surface finish: The nickel lid was very stained on the visible upper side when delivered. This can easily be polished out, but should not be necessary! Also, one or the other edge is a bit rough and there are also stains and milling marks in the edge area. The German products do this better.
The threads are 27 mm apart, so they offer space for large connections. The left port is intended as an input. For AMD, as is directly visible in the Plexi variant, the inlet is diverted by means of an insert and is thus supposed to accommodate the chiplet design of the Ryzen 3000 CPUs. Below that is the nozzle plate.
The base plate is about 3.4 mm thick, the cooling fins cut directly into it. The fins are 0.26 mm thick with a spacing of 0.4 mm. The area covered is 43 x 35 mm. The manufacturing is very good at this point. The fins are perfectly parallel!
In the D-RGB variant is a strip with digital RGB LEDs somewhat loveless, loosely inserted and comes to one when opening. The cable is also simply squeezed between the frame and the block. Corsair and Phanteks do this much more elegantly.
However, the number of LEDs is impressive: 30 shine on the block. Since they are aligned to the center, you can see clear hotspots, which are especially noticeable during running effects.
The mounting is well solved. A separate backplate is used into which the spacer sleeves provided with washers are screwed. The Magnitude Quantum is placed on top of this.
The screws are screwed in together with the springs and thus the block is fixed. This does not work without tools, but it is on a good, convenient level.
Optimus Foundation Review
The attractively packaged Optimus Foundation cooler comes with required few screws and washers. In addition, there is a tube of thermal paste. Due to the lack of RGB, there are no cables or anything similar. A backplate is also not required for the AM4 variant.
The Optimus Foundation AM4 cooler is available with an acetal and acrylic lid, we had the acrylic variant for testing. Optimus does not spare superlatives in the description and mentions original Plexiglas and Polycast for the acrylic used.
What is immediately noticeable about the very classically held Optimus cooler is the very robust and solid manufacturing, which clearly stands in front of a fancy design. There are clear edges and no frills here. The angular acrylic lid is screwed onto an exceptionally thick aluminum plate, which measures a proud 6.3 mm. This is also unadorned except for the Optimus lettering.
When it comes to acrylic, the crystal-clear impression of the Phanteks C350A is not achieved here, but it is even more robust. Every part is neatly crafted. The manufacturer advertises that the acrylic lid is insensitive to cracks and breaks due to the special processing. Either way, the material effort is impressive.
The threads cut into the acrylic have a spacing of 32 mm and the lower connection is thereby intended as an entrance. The symmetrical design allows the lid to be rotated if needed. The screws are screwed through the acrylic lid directly into the aluminum threads of the bracket.
The nickel-plated base, which has minimal, optical inaccuracies (the horizontal scratch on the photo was made after the measurement!), is also screwed to the aluminum with four Phillips screws. All threads are thus located in the sturdy metal.
The cooling plate is the highlight of the Optimus Foundation. It is about 3 mm thick. The fins were CNC cut directly into the base, as is common with custom blocks. However, Optimus does this in a dizzyingly delicate dimension. The fins are only 0.106 mm thick and the gaps (micro channels) between them come to only 0.203 mm. The surface area and cooling capacity are correspondingly large, but so is the resistance to flow.
The insanely small fins cover an area of 43 x 30 mm. On closer inspection, they are not perfectly even. This can be seen, for example, the EK cooler even cleaner, but just not so filigree! Overall, it can be said that Optimus has put the focus more on the material and functionality. Design and surface finish are merely neat.
The Optimus Foundation cooler does not require a backplate for installation. The screws are attached directly to the motherboard with plastic nuts and then the cooler is aligned.
Subsequently, only the thumb nuts are tightened. This is done quickly and completely without tools and is one of the easiest mounting systems currently available. The manufacturer does not use springs for contact pressure.
Phanteks C350A Review
Phanteks delivers the C350A nobly packaged in a box with a removable lid. The cooler is embedded in foam and almost looks like a piece of jewelry. The scope of delivery consists of spacer sleeves and screws for mounting, thermal paste and most importantly adapter cables for LED lighting.
The Phanteks C350A is the exclusive AMD variant of the C350i. The design is more in line with the usual designs of water coolers than it is the case with the products from Corsair and Raijintek. The classy packaging is confirmed with a classy design. Crystal clear, thick-walled acrylic on a nickel-plated copper radiator and a solid metal bracket. Two black bezels made of aluminum concealed the mounting points of the brackets and attractively frame the cooler. The water block weighs in at a proud 330 grams.
The covers are magnetic and can be easily removed. You not only get access to the screws underneath, but also find an RGB strip with three RGB LEDs. These are 12V RGBs that can only light up in one color at a time.
Due to the small number of diodes and the placement on only two sides, the illumination is less even and spectacular than, for example, Raijintek, but is still rendered very appealingly and brilliantly due to the perfect acrylic. Advantage: The RGB connection cable is modular and can be removed. Disadvantage: Two connectors are needed because the RGB boards are not connected to each other. The Y-cable is included.
The connectors with 32 mm spacing are arranged horizontally and cut directly into the acrylic. There is no mandatory inlet, both connectors can be used as input or output. This can also be seen directly from the horizontal cooling fins underneath, which have neither guide nor jetplate.
The block is held together by the hidden screws, and does not have any visible screws when viewed from below. The base thickness is 4 mm and the cooling fins, which are very tall at 5 mm, cover an area of 46 x 40 mm. The number of fins is rather small and the distances are correspondingly large, flow fanatics will be pleased.
The workmanship is remarkable throughout. The lid is crystal clear and beautifully crafted. We are also thrilled with the brilliant, mirror-like nickel plating inside and out. Overall, the Phanteks is really a great piece of workmanship and doesn’t need to hide from the really big ones.
Not much needs to be said about the assembly. The AMD backplate is used, into which screws including spacers are screwed.
Now you just have to apply the thermal paste and put the cooler on and tighten it by means of its large, spring-loaded screw. Done! The mounting system is thus almost perfectly implemented and does not even require tools!
Raijintek CWB RGB Review
The CWB from Rajintek comes in small, colorful packaging. The scope of delivery includes the mounting material including backplate, thermal paste and an RGB controller. A manual is also included.
Raijintek follows a similar design language as Corsair with the CWB RGB. Large format and multiple beveled edges. However, Raijintek does not provide any insight. Thus, the top side is completely black. The satin acrylic lid is only visible at the edges and at the threads.
The ports are aligned vertically and have a spacing of 37 mm, input and output are not defined.
The block itself looks very sturdy and like it was cast from one piece, which speaks for the decent manufacturing. Nevertheless, it is made of plastic for the most part, and the entire substructure is also made of plastic. The copper cooling plate is inserted into the plastic frame, which has a very decent nickel plating. Only small impurities tarnish the impression.
Only about 28 x 28 mm are covered by a micro-structure. The fins are 3 mm high and divided into three segments, with the middle one being slightly higher. The fins are very close together and pose a challenge to the pump. The symmetrical design without jetplate and guide also explains the freedom of choice of input and output
As the name suggests, Raijintek also uses RGB lighting, which is diffusely visible at the mentioned points. The connection cable comes out on the right side and can thus be laid well. As with the EOS RBW AiO, they made a mistake with the connector. Despite 5V ARGB, they use a connector that also fits on a 12V 4-pin header, which would destroy the RGBs! When using the digital RGB controller in the scope of delivery, one is on the safe side.
The workmanship both inside and outside is ok. There are no major faux pas and everything is mounted without play. However, the block triggers enthusiasm neither from the inside nor from the outside. The price is with 59€ and digital RGBs again appealing.
The assembly is compared to the Mitbewerbend somewhat cumbersome and also visually not appealing. This is especially due to the conspicuous mounting frame, in which the block is inserted. Similar to Corsair, Raijintek also adopts the system of its own AiO coolers, which is just a bit small.
It uses its own plastic backplate, through which long screws are passed. The spacer sleeves are mounted on it and finally the large mounting frame.
Now, after applying the thermal paste, the cooler is placed in the frame and screwed to it. The manufacturer advises using an open-end wrench to install the fittings. This is at least questionable due to the acrylic threads, we advise against it and only recommend “hand-tight” screwing, as is actually common in the WaKü area. After the unfavorable layout of the RGB connector, this is the second stumbling block for inexperienced users!
TechN Waterblock AM4 Review
Here you can find a detailed review of the TechN AM4 cooler
TechN ships the cooler with the required stainless steel mounting hardware and a very sturdy backplate. Arctic MX-2 thermal compound is also included.
The TechN AM4 cooler features clean, angular, and very large-scale design defined by anodized aluminum frame that connects the cooler and mount into a single unit. The magnetic inlay underneath the plexiglass can be removed and replaced.
The visual and haptic quality is beyond reproach. A perfect finish is complemented with a perfect fit, resulting in a high quality 340 gram water cooler made of aluminum, copper and plexiglass
The two vertical ports with 29 mm spacing are cut directly into the thick Plexiglas, allowing the use of even very thick hoses.
The lower connection is intended as an inlet, as the water guide easily shows. A jetplate is not used.
If required, the interior can be illuminated in the desired color using the three built-in 12V RGB LEDs. Despite the low number of LEDs, the illumination is much more even than on the EK Quantum. Of course, you can’t come close to the multitude of effects of the digital RGB LEDs.
Like the Optimus Foundation cooler, TechN relies on an extremely fine cooling structure with 0.15 mm fins with 0.2 mm spacing, which is clearly better crafted, however. The base plate of the cooler is also very carefully crafted and pleases with a perfect surface.
The assembly of the TechN is well thought-out and simple. The stainless steel screws are screwed together with the springs through the cooler into the backplate, which is equipped with an insulating foil. The screws sink flush into the aluminum frame and provide appropriate feedback due to their defined end point
Watercool Heatkiller IV Pro Review
Watercool delivers the Heatkiller IV Pro with instructions, mounting material, but unfortunately still without thermal paste.
It is available, just like the kryos NEXT, in different variants, although not quite as numerous. Solid copper, nickel-plated, acetal and acrylic are available.
In terms of design, the German manufacturer chooses a pleasing middle ground between the somewhat squat Aqua Computer and the large-scale design of an EK. Visually as well as haptically, the uncompromisingly excellent workmanship stands out. The perfect edge processing is rounded off by a superb surface.
The holder is also not only of high quality, but elegantly integrated. Despite its strength, it does not look clunky and is, in our opinion, the most coherent integration to the cooler together with Phanteks. The Watercool Heatkiller IV also has the bottom connector as the input. The distance between the threads is 25 mm. The 70 micro fins (Pro Veriante) incorporated into the nickel-plated bottom plate are absolutely parallel, but cover a comparatively small area. Whether this is a disadvantage, we will see now!
Ryzen 3900X 7 nm (170W)
Ryzen 2700X 12 nm (160W)
As expected, cooling performance of most coolers is on par. The TechN water cooler is positioned at the top in both cases. The EK Magnitude Quantum and the Optimus Foundation cooler follow with a small gap. However, the Watercool Heatkiller IV is on a par here without special Ryzen optimization. In the measurement on the 2700x, Heatkiller is even ahead of the Quantum Magnitude. The
Aqua Compuer kryos NEXT follows with less than one degree
Thus, the coolers of the specialized manufacturers are only slightly different in terms of cooling.
Among the other manufacturers, only Corsair can keep up the level to some extent. Raijintek CBW and Phanteks C350A bring up the rear and are about 5 to 7 degrees behind the top.
With the Ryzen 3900X, we also want to keep an eye on the CCD temperatures. The average temperatures of the two CCDs follow.
Here the ranking changes, the Optimus slips “behind” the Heatkiller. Again, the four custom manufacturers are on par overall. The gap to the Corsair is slightly larger as the kryos NEXT catches up. Again, Raijintek and Phanteks bring up the rear.
The picture is turning. The Phanteks cooler manages the highest flow and somewhat compensates for the cooling performance. This is in contrast to the Raijintek, which has the worst flow rate in addition to the second worst cooling performance.
The Optimus also poses a big challenge to the pump and is clearly behind Watercool and EKWB, which have some of the highest flow with identical performance and thus seem perfectly balanced. The TechN follows suit seamlessly.
It is hardly possible to draw a real winner from the test due to the very close measured values. For us, the TechN AM4 in particular, which can pull off the best performance, and the Watercool Heatkiller IV PRO proved themselves. Both coolers deliver excellent temperature values and flow rates, as well as superb build quality. Both watercoolers also have a great price/performance ratio, with the Heatkiller IV being even cheaper depending on the version, but the TechN being the more optimized and even slightly better CPU watercooler.
The EKWB EK-Magnitude Quantum * can convince in terms of both cooling performance and flow rate, but the price is off the charts at over 200€. The use of materials is noteworthy, but the finish still needs to improve. The bottom line is that you get a highly optimized cooler for a lot of money.
The same goes for the Optimus Foundation cooler, which also has a very high performance. The miracles of several degrees difference, however – on our CPU – fail to materialize. The flow rate also suffers significantly, but compensates with massive materials. Here, however, we would wish for a more careful finish.
The well-made Aqua Computer kryos NEXT lines up seamlessly with the candidates and does not allow itself any slip-ups, but does not stand out either! The Corsair Hydro X XC7 RGB
* was the most convincing of the manufacturers that do not specialize solely in water cooling. The performance and flow rate are competitive. There is room for improvement in the choice of materials.
The Phanteks C350A makes an excellent impression in terms of build quality and is a dream for high-flow systems. Unfortunately, its performance is noticeably below the competition.
Even though there is no winner, the Raijintek CBW is clearly the loser for us. Its cooling performance belongs to the closing field, the flow rate is poor, assembly and workmanship are also not convincing.