EVGA CLC 280mm Review vs. NZXT X62, Corsair H115i

By Published February 01, 2017 at 9:00 am
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EVGA’s closed-loop liquid cooler, named “Closed-Loop Liquid Cooler,” will begin shipping this month in 280mm and 120mm variants. We’ve fully benchmarked the new EVGA CLC 280mm versus NZXT’s Kraken X62 & Corsair’s H115iV2 280mm coolers, including temperature and noise testing. The EVGA CLC 280, like both of these primary competitors, is built atop Asetek’s Gen5 pump technology and primarily differentiates itself in the usual ways: Fan design and pump plate/LED design. We first discussed the new EVGA CLCs at CES last month (where we also detailed the new ICX coolers), including some early criticism of the software’s functionality, but EVGA made several improvements prior to our receipt of the review product.

The EVGA CLC 280 enters the market at $130 MSRP, partnered with the EVGA CLC 120 at $90 MSRP. For frame of reference, the competing-sized NZXT Kraken X62 is priced at ~$160, with the Corsair H115i priced at ~$120. Note that we also have A/B cowling tests toward the bottom for performance analysis of the unique fan design.

Relatedly, we would strongly recommend reading our Kraken X42, X52, & X62 review for further background on the competition. 

EVGA CLC 280mm Tear-Down

We’ve got a full tear-down video going live tomorrow, but some photos from the process are embedded below. The EVGA CLC 280mm cooler uses the expected Gen5 Asetek pump with minimal internal customizations, beyond the usual LED plate and diffuser. Internally, the pump block consists of the impeller, the coldplate and its densely packed microfins, and a foam noise damper between the top of the pump block and the pump plate.

Two PCBs exist internally and are oriented in an outer/inner layout. The outer PCB is for the LED management and controller, the inner PCB is for pump control and is provided by Asetek. This is similar to the Corsair H1XXi series PCBs, but significantly different from the NZXT X42/X52/X62 series. You can view our NZXT tear-down here for a comparison.

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EVGA’s cooler comes with the usual Intel and AMD brackets, and will offer free AM4 brackets for those who purchase a unit prior to the Ryzen launch. Nothing is new with regard to mounting – it’s using the same trivial-to-install Asetek cap screws and standoffs as always, which we’ve come to appreciate for their simplicity and strength.

A mini USB cable runs to a USB2.0 header on the board to provide RGB LED control via software. The software wasn’t ready for us to fully dig through prior to this review’s publication, but we’ve worked with the basics and can go through a few features that are noteworthy: EVGA plans to offer user-upgradeable firmware are major, we think, as is their intent to synchronize GPU and cooler LEDs through the software. It’d be interesting if EVGA also explored this for their motherboards.

At CES, we criticized EVGA’s initial plans to rely on liquid temperature for the fan speed adjustment, as we’ve proven that liquid temperature is hugely disparate from actual core temperature. This is particularly true with Kaby Lake, where it is neither unreasonable nor uncommon to see a ~29-33C liquid temperature while pumping a 95C package temperature. For this reason, building fan speed based upon liquid temperature is inadvisable, but EVGA was responsive to criticism and (as we understand it) has updated the software to function with greater sense.

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The software offers usual fan speed control options and relies on an internal thermocouple for liquid temperatures, which we show in our tear-down video that goes live tomorrow. As expected, the cooler is an assemblage of plastic and a coldplate comprising the pump housing, with densely packed copper microfins for increased surface area.

Color tuning and profiles are more limited than what you’ll find with NZXT, but also more advanced than what Corsair offers on the H115iV2. EVGA strikes a mix and lands dead center in terms of price-to-customization, with regard to visuals.

Continue to Page 2 for CPU cooler testing methodology.


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Last modified on February 01, 2017 at 9:00 am
Steve Burke

Steve started GamersNexus back when it was just a cool name, and now it's grown into an expansive website with an overwhelming amount of features. He recalls his first difficult decision with GN's direction: "I didn't know whether or not I wanted 'Gamers' to have a possessive apostrophe -- I mean, grammatically it should, but I didn't like it in the name. It was ugly. I also had people who were typing apostrophes into the address bar - sigh. It made sense to just leave it as 'Gamers.'"

First world problems, Steve. First world problems.

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