Not so long ago, PC liquid cooling was considered to be an extreme approach, one performed by hardcore enthusiasts and overclockers alone. There were no commercial products available and every individual system was designed by the user. Radiators were modified heater cores extracted from cars, CPU blocks were rare and occasionally machined at local workshops using a copper block and a mill, while high-performance tubing came from shops with medical supplies.

As demand grew, aided by the ever-increasing noise of small CPU heatsinks, companies specializing in these "open loop" liquid cooling solutions began turning up -- a little too fast perhaps, as tens of companies were founded within a few months' time and very few of them actually survived for more than a couple of years. Enthusiasts could then buy specialized liquid cooling equipment and even whole kits from just one seller and only had to assemble the setup into their system. That of course is no simple process for an amateur and a nightmare for a system builder, who had to find ways to ship systems pre-filled with coolant or assume that the user has the skills required to fill & maintain such a system. The payoff in terms of cooling was often immense, but the potential market remained limited to advanced users only.

Liquid coolers finally achieved adoption with the wider enthusiast use base at the start of this decade, when the likes of Asetek and CoolIT Systems came up with an inexpensive closed loop solutions, a design was just as simple to install as a common air cooler and required virtually no maintenance at all. However, as convenient as these all-in-one (AIO) solutions may be, hardcore enthusiasts find them lacking and inflexible. Some of the compact AIO designs can hardly compete against air-based solutions in terms of performance. A few companies began making their systems expandable, but the main parts of the system still cannot be upgraded. As such, AIO coolers rarely are acceptable solutions for the most hardcore of enthusiasts and overclockers, who need the best performance and still prefer designing and building their own liquid cooling systems.

Alphacool is a German designer and manufacturer of liquid cooling systems for PCs who has also diversified into producing liquid cooling systems for industrial and medical applications. They are one of the oldest companies in the field and, even though we did have a review of their recent Eisbaer AIO solutions, their specialization lies with the design, manufacturing and supply of high performance liquid cooling parts for advanced PCs.

Except from individual parts, Alphacool also supplies their products as complete pre-tested kits. It is one of these kits that we will be reviewing today, the NexXxoS Cool Answer 360 DDC/XT. The kit includes:

  • 1x Alphacool NexXxoS XP3 Light Cooling Block
  • 1x Alphacool Repack 5,25 Bay Reservoir
  • 1x Laing 12V DDC-1T Pump
  • 1x Alphacool NexXxoS XT45 Full Copper Radiator
  • 3 meters AlphaTube tubing HF 13/10 (3/8“ID) - clear
  • 6x Alphacool HF 13/10 Compression Fittings G1/4
  • 3x 120 mm Alphacool Coolmove Fans
  • 1x Alphacool CKC Cape Kelvin Catcher Liquid 1000ml
  • 1x ATX-bridging plug (24 Pin) - black

Packaging & Bundle

Alphacool supplies the NexXxoS Cool Answer 360 DDC/XT kit in a large, very sturdy cardboard box. The artwork is simple, based on pictures of the included parts and basic information about the kit.

Every included part is packed in its own cardboard box, meaning that the exterior box only provides shipping convenience and protection. The packaging of the individual parts, with the exception of the liquid pump, bears the Alphacool company logo. The clear PVC tubing does not have its own packaging, though that would be redundant as it is nearly impossible to damage such an item during transport. Alphacool also supplies a thorough manual.

The NexXxoS XP3 Light Block & NexXxoS XT45 Radiator
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  • JoeyJoJo123 - Tuesday, October 25, 2016 - link

    >The home user's typical workloads don't benefit from overclocking
    Typical home users aren't spending at least a thousand dollars on a custom built PC, and investing in the enthusiast platform (x99) as opposed to the standard desktop platform (H170).

    >the increase in performance is marginal and not worth the effort.
    My 6600k went from 3.5GHz to 4.6GHz after an overclock and minor overvoltage to ensure system stability. I don't think that's at all marginal. Additionally, many boards are coming with EZ Overclock modes if you invest in a K-series CPU + Z170 chipset motherboard. You go into the BIOS and select their preset. I started with Gigabyte's G5 Gaming's 6600k @ 4.4GHz preset and changed the multiplier from 44 to 46 and the core voltage up by +50mV. ASUS boards have a dynamic overclock function that goes through a series of reboots to find your processor's best overclock, which can change from chip to chip. It's nowhere near as hard as you make it out to be and a 31% increase in peak performance for the same money spent isn't as inconsequential as you make it out to be.

    >Sure there's showboating to friends and emotional self-gratification, but those aren't tangible rewards.
    Rewards such as going from 90 FPS min, and 130 FPS average in a game on a 144hz Freesync monitor to a 110 FPS min and 155 FPS average is an actual tangible benefit to me. In fact, that's indicative of the extra performance I got, without having to lower a single graphical setting to achieve.

    >in my opinion, it's wasteful, childish, and silly.
    In my opinion, it's wasteful, childish, and silly to try to force your opinion that overclocking is against your religion on an internet site full of enthusiast PC users. You're not an enthusiast PC user that likes to overclock? Fine by me. I don't go around saying that people should always buy overclockable K-series CPUs rather than settling on a basic i5 or i3, as everyone has different use-cases. But I certainly don't really care to hear from morons who say my real world gains from overclocking a $200 processor are wasteful, childish, or silly.

    Just FYI, that's the pay I get from a half-day of work. Why the hell do you care if I overclock some sand made into circuits? Why do you think you have any say in how other people spend their money?
  • BrokenCrayons - Tuesday, October 25, 2016 - link

    <...aren't spending at least a thousand dollars...>
    Typical home users really do drop over 1K on their computers. It's a lot more common than you might think. I'm surprised you'd open this post with a claim about costs and then make a counter-point using a diametrically opposed perspective at the end of it.

    <...went from 3.5GHz to 4.6GHz...>
    The numeric value of the overclock isn't the focal point of that argument. There are a lot of other factors that contribute to a computer's capabilities. Your word processor and e-mail fetching won't dramatically change due to your efforts. Games, though entertainment and not particularly important, won't see benefits either even with very high end graphics cards as AT's recent benchmarks analyzing CPU performance have previously proven. So yes, I still feel it's not consequential and certainly not worth the effort.

    <...going from 90 FPS min, and 130 FPS...>
    I highly doubt there's a situation in which a framerate increase of the numbers you're expressing reasonably results solely from overclocking a CPU in the scenario you're describing.

    <...don't really care to hear from morons who say...>
    I'm not forcing my opinion on anyone. No one is being chained to their chair and made to read, think about, or respond to my comments. If my comments encourage the occasional person to think about computing and put it into a different perspective, then I'm happy to have done so. If that requires they go through a little discomfort during that self-analysis wherein they redirect their anguish at me in the form of name-calling, then so be it. However, that portion of your post does support my comment about how childish these sorts of things become and the sorts of people attracted to such ideas. I imagine you weren't setting out to support that portion of my argument, but I'd be remiss were I not to point it out.

    <...the pay I get from a half-day of work...>
    Cleverly using a response to hint at your personal wealth. Hmm...interesting.
  • kn00tcn - Wednesday, October 26, 2016 - link

    you highly doubt there's an fps situation!? what's your problem, crysis1 for example is known to top out around 80fps on all modern gfx cards due to cpu limits that only a cpu overclock can increase

    all game benchmarks that have an amd cpu against an intel cpu clearly show a drop in fps (if not average then it's the minimum) on the same gfx card

    all the people talking of 60hz or 'a 1070 is overkill for 1080p' completely ignore 120+

    all the singlethreaded software alone is being gimped on the more expensive platforms since those cpus are lower blocked than the regular consumer ones, so overclocking is the only way to have more cores AND stay at 4ghz
  • fanofanand - Tuesday, October 25, 2016 - link

    Other than the minor insults and bragging about your income, this was an excellent rebuttal. I would like to see more of this type of debate/discussion. :)
  • kn00tcn - Wednesday, October 26, 2016 - link


    also one key thing about E series, they are usually clocked much lower, meaning single thread performance drops, affecting tons of use cases
  • Death666Angel - Tuesday, October 25, 2016 - link

    "but in my opinion, it's wasteful, childish, and silly."
    And there you lost all credibility in this discussion.
  • BrokenCrayons - Tuesday, October 25, 2016 - link

    <And there you lost all credibility in this discussion.>
    Why would anyone worry about establishing credibility in a comments section under an article about a computer water cooling system? Of all the things in life there are to worry about, that seems pretty insignificant. It's a bit like worrying about what your friends think of the color of crayon you used on the birthday card you made for your parent in elementary school art class. :)
  • Andrew LB - Wednesday, February 8, 2017 - link

    I have a roughly 30% overclock on my graphics card that is water cooled and it results in an FPS gain from 35-40 to a nice solid 60fps locked. Interesting how the moment someone makes a point which refutes your claims, out comes the condescending attitude and insults. The sign of someone who lost the argument.
  • Samus - Monday, October 24, 2016 - link

    Using a dielectric liquid helps mitigate risk of a leak, as does occasional maintenance. Just like a car, and speaking from experience, a liquid cooler leak is generally slow and can be caught before damage is done. The only time I've had a leak was after getting back from a LAN party where my case was being transported and the next morning I noticed my carpet was wet (the system had been on all night)

    One of the fittings was just a little lose and needed to be tightened. I lost about 60ml of coolant and it trickled over my videocard and motherboard to the bottom of my case. Since I use an inert coolant and wetter water as a deox no damage was done.
  • Achaios - Tuesday, October 25, 2016 - link

    Ι agree with BrokenCrayons. Not to mention that squeezing more performance out of CPU's above a certain point easily achievable by Air Coolers is meaningless after 2011 and the introduction of the i5-2500k.

    Only component worth of liquid cooling is the GPU IMO.

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