Whenever we see an all-in-one water-cooling setup that combines a pump, radiator, fan, and miniature reservoir in a small enclosure, we get nervous. They remind us of those wacky commercials from the black-and-white era of television, when a slick-haired man in a fuzzy gray suit would try to sell you some mystery tonic that could cure your coughs, polish your car, and kill your cat. Just as those elixirs are little more than junk science, we’ve found that budget water “coolers” attempting to put too many operations under one roof tend to perform marginally better, and often worse than, your processor’s cheapo stock cooler.
We’re used to testing ultra-performance cooling products from CoolIT, which helps to explain our mild shock when we first laid eyes on the company’s Pure CPU cooler. It certainly looks like one of CoolIT’s usual peltier coolers, only it isn’t. The Pure is just a plain old water cooler sans CoolIT’s typical technological wizardy. The pump sits a smidgen to the left of its usual location and the cylindrical radiator—lacking any thermoelectric devices attached to the side—is now squared up and screwed into the device’s 12cm fan.
Attaching the self-contained cooling system to your processor requires a standard motherboard removal. We were surprised to find the results well-worth the effort. The Pure isn’t the best cooler we've tested, but it’s strong for its size. And unlike some of the smaller all-in-one water coolers we’ve tested, the Pure actually cools. It cools well, too, outperforming an Intel stock cooler by a hefty 14 degrees in our CPU Burn-in test. And did we mention it’s quiet? We’re talking cat-walking-on-carpet quiet. You can barely hear the whir of the Pure’s fan even if you suction-cup your ear to the side of your chassis.
The cooler’s lack of customization is troubling, given how much CoolIT’s worked to combine automatic power controls with its devices. There’s no way to modify the Pure’s cooling level, a deterrent for power-users who don’t mind trading a little extra noise for increased cooling prowess. The design of the cooler is also a sore spot for enthusiasts. The pump rests on a large plate that runs parallel to—and almost directly against—your case’s side panel. It’s not as much of a concern for those with solid doors on their cases, but it kills the aesthetics of a transparent or grated panel.
We've seen this plate on CoolIT’s other coolers, but that’s because there’s no other way to pack the accompanying reservoir and thermoelectric cooling modules into a self-contained device. Since the Pure is little more than a bare-bones water-cooling unit, surely CoolIT could have combined the water block and the pump, devised a new design for the pump entirely, or just minimized the panel.
The CoolIT Pure is an easy to install water cooler that is more powerful than a typical stock air cooler. However, it lacks the super-powerful heat reduction and configurability of CoolIT's other products. The Pure might not make an enthusiast happy, but it’s a great fit for silent-performance rigs and water-cooling newbies alike.
The Postal Service
Better-than-average performance, simple installation, quiet as a sleeping animal
Death Cab for Cutie
No power modification options, bulky design
Best scores are bolded. Idle temperatures were measured after an hour of inactivity; load temperatures were measured after an hour’s worth of CPU Burn-In (four instances). Test system consists of a stock-clock Q6700 processor on an EVGA 680i motherboard.