The Alphacool NexXxoS Cool Answer 360 DDC/XT Liquid Cooling Kit Reviewby E. Fylladitakis on October 24, 2016 9:30 AM EST
The Alphacool Repack Reservoir
The Alphacool Repack is a reservoir designed to fit into a 5.25” external drive bay. This kit includes the DDC version of the reservoir that is designed to be joined with a Laing DDC pump. Although this particular version cannot be used with any other kind of pump, Alphacool offers several versions of this reservoir, including a simple version with compression fittings only.
The Repack is made almost entirely out of clear acrylic. The acrylic is very thick and inflexible, giving the reservoir exceptional overall mechanical strength. Alphacool installs a black metallic plate at the front of the reservoir with their logo, mainly serving as a level meter, but it can be removed if the user wishes. A metallic support plate at the rear of the reservoir is used as a support for the pump.
Two round openings for the pump’s headers and two threaded openings for compression fittings can be seen at the rear of the Repack. Note that the reservoir has internal pathways that separate the incoming and outgoing flows. The left of the compression fittings leads directly to the output of the pump, while the right fitting is for the incoming flow that leads the liquid into the reservoir. Unfortunately, there is no decoupling method for the pump, as it gets attached directly onto the metallic support plate. This transfers all of the vibrations of the pump to the reservoir and, in extension, to the case. Depending on the materials and the quality of the case, this can increase the overall noise output of the system.
The Laing DDC-1T pump
The Laing DDC-1T pump is not of Alphacool’s design. Rather the pump is a product of Goulds Water Technology, a Xylem brand, a company that specializes on commercial and industrial pumps. So that the pump could be used inside a PC, Alphacool merely attached a Molex power connector and a 3-pin tachometer sensor.
Although it looks like a very simple plastic apparatus, the DDC-1T is actually one of the best low-voltage DC pumps currently available. It utilizes a hemispherical motor that does not require shaft bearings and/or seals, significantly improving reliability and minimizing noise. The DDC-1T is also very powerful for a 10W device of this size with, according to Alphacool, a maximum discharge head of 3.7 meters and a maximum flow of 420 l/h. Goulds Water Technology states 4.5 m head and 410 l/h respectively in their specifications sheet.
The only downside of the DDC-1T is the narrow voltage operating range. This particular model can only operate with a voltage of 8V to 13.8V (12V maximum for a typical PC) and has a starting voltage of at least 9V, severely limiting its speed control capabilities. This is why Alphacool offers it with a Molex power connector; although your motherboard’s header should not have an issue powering the 10W pump, the company does not expect users to try and speed control it, as it can easily stall and stop if the supplied voltage drops under 8V, or not even start under certain situations.
Alphacool HF Brass Compression Fittings
Although the selection of proper fittings may seem like a mundane task, there are at least a few things that serious water cooling users need to be aware of. The first is the material of the fitting, as certain metals can cause serious corrosion even when using highly anti-corrosive liquid mixtures, and the second is the coloring (if present), as colors will fade very rapidly on certain materials like copper and brass.
Things get a little more complicated with compression fittings. Unlike simple barbed fittings, the compression fittings are made for tubing with a specific internal and outer diameter (ID and OD respectively). They are more convenient as this allow the user to tighten them by hand and offer more room for aesthetic interventions, but their nature requires precise machining with minimal tolerances. A poor quality compression fitting can easily become the source of leaks.
Alphacool’s HF fittings are made of brass and specifically for 13/10 mm OD/ID tubing. They are painted back with a chromating method that binds the color to the brass, preventing fading. The locking rings have a textured design for better grip. At nearly 6€ per piece, these are rather expensive, but the quality assurance is probably worth the high cost in a system that a poor quality item can cause catastrophic failures.
Alphacool Coolmove 2 Fans
Alphacool also supplies three 120 mm fans with this kit. The fans have black glossy frames and semitransparent blue blades. The blades are not flat but have jagged edges and hemispherical engravings, giving it a golf ball appearance. Their cables are sleeved using typical nylon black sleeving.
The company has rebranded the fans, hiding the OEM from the public. According to their specifications, these fans has a maximum speed of 1300 RPM and Hydro-Dynamic Bearings. It seems strange that the company decided to include a nine-blade design in a kit with a radiator this thick; fans with fewer and wider blades would have better pressure and could achieve better performance, especially at lower RPM. Alphacool however states that the XT45 is optimized for low/medium speed fans, which explains their choice.