Today we review the Alphacool NexXxoS GPX. It may not be entirely clear from the product name, but what we have here is a GPU WaterBlock. Now I’m not even touching the whole water inside PC’s debate today, read it here if you wish. Theirs simply too much to cover today, so I shall digress no further. What we have is a very unique and interesting approach to common problem among us enthusiasts. The major annoyance for so many is availability and compatibility for some graphics cards. There are several reasons why a brand cannot produce a block for every card on the market. It’s more financially viable to create blocks for the most popular cards on the market, I support that. Those of us that have less common or not as powerful GPU’s, have not been forgotten, universal core only blocks from brands like XSPC and EKWB are an option.
I’m not bashing those types of products, I’ve not personally worked with any of them *yet* but you still need to couple them up with extra parts, and adaptors. Likewise one or two of the AIO manufacturers like NZXT and Corsair, have released adaptors that allow their AIO CPU cooling products to tame GPUS. They’ve been met with a so-so reception, like the universal GPU solutions, they share a common issue as some don’t cool the rest of the card in an efficient manner. The latter does not cater for the needs of watercoolers that have a custom loop either. Two interesting ideas that are good, but just haven’t hit the mark for most of us. What we want is a full cover block that cools all of the card.
The Alphacool NexXxoS GPX is essentially a mix of both the universal core only blocks and the brackets. The principle is similar in the sense that the actual main part of the product is a universal block. What’s bundled appears to be a bracket like that from the AIO manufacturers, except their not brackets, but are actually semi passive covers and they’re not universal either…they are custom-made for each unique card. Also in the kit is a backplate to aid with cooling further. The real selling point here is that the main core cooling block is removable and reusable, so in the future when you upgrade your GPU, you won’t need to purchase an entire new kit, instead you can pick an upgrade kit (backplate and semi passive cover only). In terms of pricing the version we have today is about the £70 mark and upgrade kits considerably less. This is an Interesting approach to a real issue for many, and much more friendly now and down the line on your wallet too.
So let’s as we always do, glance over the specifications before taking a closer look.
Specifications and features.
Phillips technology: Like the Alpha NexXxoS XP in 2004 patented Phillips technology in the cooling plate was developed. The Finns and channel structure has been further refined. The fins are 0.5 x 0.5mm tall and 2.5mm high. This enables a very large and rapid heat transfer from the copper to the cooling fluid.
Back plate: The back plate is Included with all GPX blocks adding small passive cooling fins to cool the back of the graphics card. This give the graphics card a great look but also protects it at the same time.
Scope of delivery:
Send it in and get one cooler for free:
If you have a graphics card that is not listed on our compatibility list Alphacool offers the service to make a cooler for your card. All you have to do is send your graphics card to Alphacool for a 3D scan. After a short time you will get your graphics card back and only need to wait for a packet with the new free cooler. For more information, click here.
I’ve had one of two Alphacool products over the last few years and packaging type and style hasn’t’ changed. A black background is accented with white and blue text. The box is clearly a universal package not that it matters of course. With the lid flipped open the first thing you’ll come across is the backplate, it’s individually wrapped. Below this is a fold out tab, beneath this is the main contents, each individually bagged. Lots of extra foam is included to keep the product safe during transit.
The manual, I cannot stress enough how pleasant it is, yes I’m actually talking about a manual…let me briefly explain. See I’ve opened a lot of boxes over the years (no filth please) and let me tell you, I’ve seen some frankly pathetic manuals. It matters a great deal here, the nature of this product needs clear and concise instructions. That’s just what I found, a clear and well laid out document with high-resolution images. It’s not really a difficult product to fit but I assure the extra mile they’ve gone, you’ll be grateful for. Especially if this is your first encounter with a GPU block. To tie in with the manual, Alphacool have bagged and coloured coded the individual parts you need.
The backplate is multi-purpose. Above all it’s an ascetic addition to cover what is 99% of the time, a messy looking PCB. A backplate really gives a product like this a finishing touch to neaten it all up. Secondly these add strength to the card and help avoid any excess strain on the PCB, some oversized heatsinks do this, and the product here today is quite heavy, so it makes sense to include one. Lastly and perhaps most important of all backplates can aid with cooling the memory chips, power regulator and such. Which can be found on both sides of graphics cards. In theory this extra *should* help to cool them
Looking at the Alphacool NexXxoS GPX from a top down angle we can now see just how the product is laid out. As I made reference to early, the main section of this product is a universal GPU block, not really any different to the offerings elsewhere. Out of the box its covered with a protective film and the underneath it is finished a high gloss black, with the ACOOL logo in the centre. Two extensions are installed but depending on how want to tube this up you could remove them and possibly fit 90′ fittings. What’s apparent about the main core is that it’s oversized and there’s good reason for this, which we’ll touch on soon. The other portion of the block is a semi passive plate, notice I say “semi” and more on that soon. The design well to be frank is simple, plain and a no frills approach.
From the underside the block will differ for each unique model but you can see the layout. The silver portion will come into contact with the actual GPU, and tame it. Notice the raised portions around the base they will come into direct contact (with thermal pads in-between) with the graphics card power regulator, vrm and memory chips. As I said each will be different but you get the idea.
Now then, we need to explore what makes this product unique, not only does the main block cool the actual GPU core but take a look at image above. A good portion of the block comes makes contact with the “semi” passive plate and should also be effectively water-cooled. Now this is not in same ball park as a full cover block of course, but the idea behind it is so simple, I can’t believe no one has come up with it sooner! Still not quite sure what I mean? Take a look at the video below.
*I had initially planned to record a how-to video but the truth of the matter is, the product is easy enough to fit
To be honest the manual does a fine job of guiding you through the process, the images above are just for reference sake. The process is what you should expect. Removal of old cooler and cleaning the GPU core, fitting thermal tape across any points the manual instructs. Fit the block and backplate, secure with washers and bolts provided.
The whole process took about 20 minutes, most of this time is spent applying the thermal tape. My only gripe here, is that the tape is very low tack and does have a tendency to stick to your fingers rather than where you need. You need to be confident in the alignment before bolting the backplate and block together, get it wrong and it could spell disaster for your card.
Test Setup & Method
Normally we would list our test bench and system specifications here but today it’s irrelevant and let me explain why. There was a great deal of time and thought put into the testing method. The biggest concern was contents of the actual loop, by this I mean what should be included the CPU in the loop or not? The final decision was to test the product solo with no additional blocks or components in the loop. The main reason for this was for comparison sake, I only have the air-cooled temperatures to compare against, we don’t have other blocks in the database, and we’re not likely to for the MSI 270x either.
The next problem was what kit to use alongside the Alphacool NexXxoS GPX, I’ve been waiting on some parts to come in for this actual review but they’ve been delayed, to complicate matters further the test pump failed recently. We opted to switch over to something more flexible and easier to control. We now use the XSPC D5 vario, for argument’s sake it’s just a D5 with and EK top. Radiator choice, I will confess was not my first choice, but contrariety to a small minorities belief, I don’t have parts coming out of my ears, the option to make a call and a magic box of parts arrive, or the funds for any alternatives at this time. We have to hand a XSPC AX 360mm radiator. To cool it I shall be using 3x Noise blockers locked at 1200rpm, for those interested the reservoir is an Alphacool Cape Corp Coolplex Pro 15 LT
So that’s what the loop consists of and in the sake of fairness to compensate for the overkill radiator I opted to lock the fans down and run the D5 at its lowest setting. As above, due to some let’s say problems… I’ve had to assemble something, frankly Frankenstein-like for the testing section of the review. For the sake of fairness, this monstrosity will be kept and reused in any future GPU Block reviews. Included is the recently review GELID fan controller, the bonus being that not only could I lock the three fans at the same RPM, but it has thermal probes and these we are attached to three key areas of the block.
I’ve included a video below if you wish, or if want to see the actual numbers, then keep scrolling
Included results for the block are referred to as MIN, MED & MAX, these results show the differences in pump flow rate. We performed the main testing with the D5 pump turned down to the minimum. It’s obvious that flow rate benefits the block. We found no need to repeat the testing with fans at different speeds as it would become too messy and irrelevant.
The numbers speak for themselves really don’t they, we were able to knock a serious amount of heat away from the air-cooled results. In terms of testing the semi passive cooling plate, I talked about it more detail in the video, but from multiples probes the hottest part of the card at any given point during the test was 50c (not core) We come back that difficult situation with this particular block as there is no other data for comparison, and I’m 99.9% sure there never will be (Being a mid-range card)
It’s a no brainer gold award, and design award on top for the Alphacool NexXxoS GPX. Its obvious why based on everything we’ve seen so far but let’s go over them for good measure. The product is a fantastic fix for a clear gap in the market. So many are in the no block available camp, and Alphacool are targeting this group of users as much as those who have more popular and recent cards. For my GPU, the chance of any other brand producing a block are slim to none. I’ve personally been searching for a solution for some months now and so have many others.
You could argue the product just doesn’t have the raw visual appeal, that the true full cover blocks do, I won’t lie I completely agree but this is reflected in the pricing. From point of purchase your already making a significant saving compared to an offering from one of the other big players, couple that with the fact you can upgrade your kit for a small amount down the line. It’ not just about the initial saving, it’s looking down the line into the future too. I’d ask just what could have Alphacool done any different to make the product more appealing visually, I suppose when it comes to dyes the obvious one would be adding a viewing window to actual core part of the block, and that might appeal to some. Personally I’m happy with it like this, I don’t see adding a small window like feature working, it would break the clean and discreet looks it has now. It’s a catch 22 situation, it’s fine as it, but some will want it to look that little bit more interesting, I get that. Their’s no real fix though and you have to take it how it is.[taq_review]We would like to thank Alphacool for providing the sample, and look forward to more from them, in the near future!