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Cooling Alphacool HF 14 Yellowstone Review

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by bentleya, 8 Nov 2009.

  1. bentleya

    bentleya Lian Li Snail :)

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    Alphacool HF 14 Yellowstone
    Intel 775 & 1366 Review

    Introduction

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    Welcome to my review of the Alphacool HF14 Yellowstone - before we get on to the interesting stuff and all the nice pictures that I have in store for you, I would like to thank Kaner at Alphacool for providing the HF 14 Yellowstone CPU waterblock for this review, as well as thanking Rob and his team at WCUK (Watercooling UK) for the on going support and service to the community and myself.

    You’re likely to know Alphacool was founded in 2003 in Germany, with one purpose: to supply quality water cooling to the masses from Europe to Asia. Since it was founded, they have innovated many designs from NexXxoS to the Cape, XexXxoS XP and now Yellowstone and Livingstone.

    The Yellowstone is one of new range of CPU block released this year by Alphacool, continuing the design and innovation from it’s predecessors, the NexXxos series of blocks. with Lots of great improvements from the old and with the added benefit of being available in lots of fancy colour combinations. This makes this block great for any colour-schemed or themed build.

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    So what do you get in this nice retail packet, I hear you ask. I was a bit surprised and shocked at the same time. With mounting bracket, screws, nuts and the extra few things needed to mount the block to your motherboard and thermal interface material (TIM as we know it) also being chucked in, the only thing really missing and letting it down is a back plate.

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    An Overview of what is included:

    • Instructions
    • Thermal Interface Material (TIM for short)
    • Mounting Hardware​

    So with the above all in mind and with past experience with other blocks in which I own, it has one of the best if not best packing around. With the block clearly visible on first sight through the plastic casing and cardboard internals housing the rest of the goodies supplied with the block.

    Block Characteristics

    The Yellowstone has a direct vertical water supply that goes straight though the integrated pre-chamber which is machined into the top of the block. The water is then forced onto the pins on the base of the bock. With it being optimized for Socket 1366 processors, aka Nehalem aka Core i7, it will be nice to see if it can cope on a 775 platform, as well as on the i7 platform it is designed for.

    A few key features of the block included:

    • ¼ BSP thread barb holes
    • Variety of colours (sliver, black, red and bronze)
    • Patented tightly focused water Jet Design
    • Dimensions 52x52x16mm (WxDxH) (Without mounting bracket)
    • Dimensions 95x95x16mm (WxDxH) (With mounting bracket)
    • Weight 410 Grams
    • Compatible with Intel socket 775, 1166 and 1366​

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    The block is fully CNC machined with a media blasted brass top and clear lacquer for protection, which is available in a range of colour including silver, black and bronze. Unlike some of the ranges of the Alphacool blocks this model has ¼” BSP threaded barb holes, which makes it easy to add a range of barbs or compression fittings of your choice.
    You can find out later which fittings will work with this block.

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    It has an integrated anodized mounting plate, which has no contact to the hydrophilic area. As well as being 3mm thick, and 2mm thick around the mounting hole section of the mount, it has the capability of being able to mount on 775, 1166 and 1336 Intel Motherboards. The block has its own mounting hardware similar to most blocks on the market to date.

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    The base, which is made out of electrolyte copper and is 3mm thick has a rectangle pin base area in the centre with a larger square section for the return flow water around it. The pin base area measures 17mm x 20mm with a square area of 340mm2 and 12 rows of 14 pins, which gives the base 168 pins of 1mm width. The pins are raised 2mm of the base of the block to make flow more, not less, restrictive. The base can easily be removed from the rest of the block by unscrewing the 4 screws on the top of the block, which makes it easy to maintain.

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    Flow

    For the restrictive test to see how much the block limits flow, I ran the pump at 12v, and added a Digmesa Flow Meter to the loop, along with normal loop components for a actual loop result. With information recorded once every minute, a total of ten recordings are averaged out and made into simple graphs. Since I use the same setup for each block I test, with all the parts being the same, I am able to compare the restrictiveness of each block to other blocks later on.

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    Flow Rate Loop – Laing DDC 1T + XSPC Res Top, 2 Meters XSPC 7/16” Tubing
    Alphacool NexXxoS 360mm Radititor, 2 Alphacool Ball Valves, Disstilled Water​

    This is just a basic flow restriction test however - testing this way has it downside, compared to Pressure Drop Testing. This testing is more accurate, as well as faster and easier to do. I will update this review in a few months once I am able to get hold of the right gear for this.


    Thermal Test Specification

    A 5-mount test with 1hour with each mount, 50 minutes ‘warm up’ and 10 minutes of temperature logging.

    • The 775 Test Setup is as follows: Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 G0 Stepping overclocked to 3.4 GHZ (no lapping) running on a Gigabyte EP45-UD3P motherboard. 4GB (4x1GB) of OCZ DDR2 Sliver memory with Corsair fan module, the motherboard cooling is stock with no extra airflow. Video card is an EVGA 8800GT, also on stock cooling. The power comes from a Zalman 850W Modular PSU, plus a Samsung 500GB Hard drive split into 2x250 GB partitions. Test case is a Le Chuck Test Bench, which has horizontal mounting.

    • The 1366 Test Setup is as follows: Intel Core i7 920 D0 overclocked to 3.6 GHZ (no lapping) running on a Gigabyte UD5 Extreme Motherboard. 6GB (3x2GB) of Patriot Viper DDR3 1600MHz Memory - the motherboard cooling is stock with no extra airflow. Video card is an EVGA 8800GT, also on stock cooling. The power comes from a Zalman 850W Modular PSU, Samsung 500GB Hard drive split into 2x250 GB partitions. Test case is a Le Chuck Test Bench, which has horizontal mounting.

    • The cooling setup I am using is based more around Euro Style, with a few exceptions.

    o Radiator: Alphacool NexXxoS Xtreme III 360mm Radiator 3x Scythe S-FLEX SFF21D Fans @ 1200rpm, I chose this rad, as it has great value for money and good performance to go with it.

    o Radiator: Alphacool NexXxoS Xtreme III 360mm Radiator and 3x Scythe S-FLEX SFF21D Fans @ 1200rpm, (I chose this radiator, as it has great value for money and good performance to go with it.)

    o Pump: I run a Laing DDC 1T with an XSPC res top, also known as the Swiftech MCP350, run at 12V. (I chose this pump, as DDCs seem to be the norm with most users using the basic model.)

    o Loop Order: Optimal to my needs my loop is setup in this order, XSPC Res Top > DDC > Digmesa Flow Meter > 360mm Rad > Temp Sensor (Water In) > Ball Valve > Block Being Tested > Ball Valve > Temp Sensor (Water Out) > Res Top. (For an optimized loop for any set up always have your res feeding the pump.)​

    • TIM Material I use MX-2 like most other enthusiasts and testers alike, with it working as soon as you apply it (no break in time like AS5). Also being non conductive, conductive could become a problem with multiple applications per test and multiple blocks. The TIM application method I use is the dot in the center. (small pea sized dot applied to centre of CPU, then when block is Compressed TIM is spread evenly across the cores of the CPU), Recorded data is only used if the TIM application is good after inspection on remount (my way of validating my results)​

    Thermal Test Results

    775

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    775 Average Temp Over 5 Mounts 28.7°C​

    To give a comparison, i have tested the EK Supreme, which was the best 775 Block for some time.

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    As you can see, the Supreme is still better than this block by a margin. But as the yellowstone has been designed and developed for i7 CPU's i don't think it did bad at all.

    1366

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    1366 Average Temp Over 5 Mounts 32.4°C​

    To give a comparison, i have tested the EK Supreme, which was the best 775 Block for some time but has performed poorly against new blocks on i7.

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    As you can see, Yellowstone is better then the Supreme, being designed for i7 CPU's it has an advantage to begin with but the Supreme still cools the CPU Well.

    Fitting Compatibility

    Over the past few years we have seen a great increase of fittings available on the market, thanks to emerging companies like Bitspower and TFC, with companies in the fittings market changing and adapting they ranges to suit the needs and the trends of modern water cooling. Thanks to this modern compression fittings and adapters come in many shapes, forms, colours and most sizes. So let’s take a look at what fittings this block can handle.

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    As you can see the 3 most common sizes of compression fittings from TFC and Primochill do not fit, which is a shame. I will update with the other companies and smaller fittings once i have sourced them.

    With the thought of guaranteed protection, I would advise you to read Martinm210 advice, which is quoted below.

    Where To Buy[/SIZE]

    Considering this block comes in at the high end of the price range with the modest EK Supreme being £39.99, the Alphacool block is a whole £16.48 more expensive. However the build quality makes up for it with it being made fully in Germany to the highest standards. The style makes up for it also. With many colour options, and the all sliver not costing any more than the black and bronze version I tested here, there is an added bonus for you bling loving water coolers out there.

    It was hard finding respectable e-tailors for this block, as some of the most popular shops both in the US and UK simply don’t stock it - however AC-Shop are doing what they do best and came up with the goods. I have included Performances-PCs as it was the only place in the US I could find but I would always prefer to buy from WatercoolingUK, Sidewinders or AC-Shop thanks to all three giving great service, fast delivery and a friendly touch in my experience.



    United States
    Performance-PCS - $89.95

    United Kingdom
    Watercooling UK - £49.99

    Conclusion

    Pros
    • Brass top which makes it really strong – i.e. no cracking, which can occur with acrylic tops
    • ¼” BSP thread barb ports for ultimate compatibility with G1/4” threaded barbs and fittings
    • Variety of colours to suite individual preference and build colour coordinating
    • Multiple Intel platforms for increased compatibility

    Cons
    • No Back Plate Provided (have to buy separately)
    • AMD users have to by separate mounting plate or block as there is no truly universal mounting plate
    • 3/8” and ½” Compression Fittings Don’t fit​

    Final Thoughts

    The new Alphacool Yellowstone isn’t just a lovely looking block - it actually performs just as well as it looks. It a great design and works well with both 775 and I7 CPU’s. With an all metal top and bottom, you can easily powder coat the block to your desired colour if Alphacool doesn’t do the colours you’re after. But the main downside and the only one that bothers me is the compression fitting issue, with 3/8” and ½” in both Primochill and TFC Compressions fittings.

    So with the normal German engineering you accept from Alphacool and with great performance on i7 and only slightly worse then the EK supreme on 775. I would recommend this to anyone, who has the budget for it or is looking for a replace block after upgrading from 775 to i7.




    (With Out the following people and companies for amazing help and support, this would not have been able to happen.

    www.watercoolinguk.co.uk www.alphacool.com www.xspc.biz www.skinneelabs.com

    Skinnee from XS, Bundymania from ForumDeluxx, 775matt from WCUK,
    HESmelaugh from ForumDeluxx, Rob* from WCUK, prosser13 from OCN)​
     
    Last edited: 21 Nov 2009
    bodkin likes this.

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