An all-in-one liquid-cooler with a built-in display
As one of the few players in the all-in-one liquid-cooling market—which marks the midpoint between air-coolers and custom water-cooling loops—CoolIT’s coolers have to compete with Corsair’s Asetek collaborations as well as both other categories of coolers. CoolIT’s Eco A.L.C. cooler (reviewed June 2010) performed to within a few degrees Celsius of our champion air- and liquid-coolers, but its single fan was noisy and it didn’t significantly outpace our category leaders. The CoolIT Vantage A.L.C. has all the features of the Eco but adds an LED screen and a wireless receiver that will tie in with CoolIT’s upcoming Maestro control software. Can it match the performance of our category leader, the Corsair H70 (reviewed October 2010)?
The Vantage's LCD display shows coolant temperature, not CPU temperature.
The Vantage A.L.C. uses the same mounting system as the Eco—a three-position Intel Socket 775/1156/1366 bracket with backplates for each, plus an AMD bracket. The radiator is the same, though CoolIT uses a spacer to add a fan’s-width of space between the radiator and rear of the case, allowing for less turbulent airflow. The spacer is easily replaced with another 12cm fan if you want a two-fan configuration.
The pump is integrated into the water block, and the 12cm radiator fan’s 4-pin PWM header runs directly from the pump unit, which also houses the Vantage’s controller, as well as an LED-lit LCD that displays temperature, fan speed, system mode, and more. The display is the Vantage’s biggest selling point, since it allows you to monitor coolant temperatures from outside your case (assuming your chassis has a side window). The LED backlight can be set to one of six colors, and the screen rotates by 90-degree increments, so you can install it in whichever orientation you choose. Although the temp display is useful, it only denotes coolant temperature, which is usually much cooler than the CPU temperature. The Vantage’s pump unit also integrates a wireless receiver that will integrate with CoolIT’s upcoming Maestro platform, which allows cooling and lighting control via software.
The Vantage’s controller has three fan-speed settings: Quiet, Performance, and Extreme, but regardless of setting, the fan will spin at its maximum speed when coolant temps climb above 55 C—something we never saw, even after upping the intensity of our CPU burn-in test to the point where our stock Intel cooler couldn’t keep up. And even at the Extreme setting, with two fans running, the Vantage was much quieter than Corsair’s H70.
Unfortunately, a cool display and quieter fans don’t make for a better cooler. Though the Vantage outperformed the Cooler Master Hyper 212+ by nearly 5 C at full burn, it couldn’t match the Corsair H70’s cooling prowess, even with two fans, due no doubt in part to the H70’s bigger radiator. Nor could it match the performance of our top-tier air cooler, Prolimatech’s Armageddon, with two fans.
The Vantage does have several things going for it. First, it’s much quieter than the H70, even with the H70’s optional fan-speed limiters in place. Its future Maestro integration increases its appeal to those who plan on dropping $90 on CoolIT’s software and hardware-management package, and the LCD display is useful if you have a side window on your case.
The Vantage A.L.C. isn’t for everybody. There are more effective and cheaper options in both the all-in-one and air-cooling markets—Corsair’s H70 in the former case; Prolimatech’s Armageddon in the latter. Unless the LCD display or Maestro integration are must-haves, the CoolIT Vantage A.L.C. is not.
CoolIT Vantage A.L.C.
LCD display; Maestro integration; easy install; two-fan support; usually quiet.
Expensive; not the best cooler for the cash.
Vantage (Extreme mode, 1 fan)
Vantage (Extreme mode, 2 fans)
Corsair H70 (2 fans)
Cooler Master Hyper 212+
Prolima Armageddon (2 fans)
100% Burn (C)
Best scores are bolded. Idle temperatures were measured after an hour of inactivity; load temperatures were measured after an hour running Intel’s internal Lynnfield thermal testing utility at 100-percent load. Test system consists of Intel Core i5-750 overclocked to 3.2GHz on an Asus P7P55D Premium board in a Corsair 800D case with stock fans. Temperatures taken via HWMonitor.