Alphacool International GmbH, based in Braunschweig, Germany, is a world-renowned manufacturer of (water) cooling components for the consumer, OEM, server and industrial sectors. In addition to expandable AiO water cooling systems, the portfolio also includes components for custom water cooling systems, fans and custom coolers for industry. With the Core Ocean T38 series, the manufacturer has introduced a new AiO water cooling system in October 2022, which is powerful, but at the same time should be easy on the wallet. We will test the 360 mm version of the Alphacool Core Ocean T38 today.
The development focus for the Alphacool Core Ocean T38 was on high cooling performance at a fairly low purchase price. Alphacool manufactures the Core Ocean T38 in 120mm, 240mm, 360mm, 280mm and 420mm versions. Compared to the Eisbaer series, however, you have to do without the expandability of the circuit with the Core Ocean. For this, there is the 360mm variant tested by us already for €85.98 (RRP) to purchase in stores.
Alphacool Core Ocean T38 review: technical details
|Dimensions (with fan)||397 x 120 x 63 mm (W x H x D)|
|Weight (with fan)||1550 g|
|FPI (Fins per Inch)||19|
|Compatibility AMD||AM4, AM5|
|Compatibility Intel||Intel LGA 1700, 1200, 115X, 2066|
|Price||€ 85.90 *|
|Fan designation||Alphacool Core 120|
|Dimensions||120 mm x 120 mm x 25 mm|
|Speed||0 – 2500 rpm|
|Volume||10 – 34.3 dBa|
|Delivery volume||max. 106.7 m³/h|
|Air pressure||max. 2.13 mm-H2O|
|Bearing type||hydraulic bearing|
|Nominal voltage||max. 0.4 A|
|Nominal power||max. 4.8 A|
|power connection||4-pin PWM|
|Dimensions||approx. 70.2 x 46 x 70.2 mm (W x H x D)|
|Pump rotation speed||2500 – 3500 rpm|
|Tube length||400 mm|
|Power connection||4-pin PWM|
|Power connector Digital aRGB||3-Pin 5V (male & female, cable length 30cm)|
|Number of aRGB LEDs||12|
Packaging & Scope of delivery
Alphacool packages the Core Ocean T38 360mm in a large cardboard box with very few colorful accents printed on it. Predominantly, the cardboard is kept brown and reveals little about the components inside. The manufacturer’s lettering and product name have been printed on the cardboard in blue ink. Furthermore, technical drawings of all components like radiator, pump and fan can be found on the packaging. Exact technical specifications of the AiO water cooling system were not printed on the cardboard.
Opening the box, one first encounters assembly instructions and a thin mat of foam. Below that, you’ll find the water cooler in a protective cardboard form. Furthermore, the radiator and the pump are wrapped in an additional plastic foil. Also individually packaged are the three enclosed fans, which are hidden in a white cardboard box. Alphacool has placed the rest of the mounting accessories in a bag and divided them into AMD and Intel accessories.
Design & Workmanship
In favor of the purchase price, Alphacool does without expensive RGB fans or a particularly eye-catching design of the pump block or the radiator. Thus, the latter is completely painted black and designed surprisingly thick with a depth of 37 millimeters. The radiator’s fins are made of aluminum and have a density of 19 FPI. The manufacturer’s lettering is printed on the side of the radiator in gray and white.
The FEP tubing is 400 millimeters long, encased in a fine black sleeve, and ends at the pump block in two movable joints. This combination allows the radiator to be easily placed anywhere in the case. The low height of the pump block and the flexible joints also allow the water cooling to be easily accommodated in flat SFF cases. Both on the pump block and on the radiator, the hoses have been crimped with the connectors and are therefore not expandable.
The pump block of the Core Ocean T38 is based on a non-nickel-plated copper plate, which has been fitted inside with many thin cooling fins and a nozzle plate for even distribution of the water flow. Above the plate sits the pump with ceramic bearings, which performs its work with a maximum of 3500 revolutions per minute. The pump is covered by a lid made entirely of plastic, into which the manufacturer’s logo has been stamped.
Despite the restrained design, Alphacool has not completely abandoned RGB. For example, the upper left corner of the pump housing is slightly angled and made of a milky plastic. There is also another milky strip a few millimeters below the edge of the cover. Behind these two elements, Alphacool has hidden 12 LEDs that can be controlled via a 3-pin ARGB connector.
The included fans are from the Core series and deliver exactly what would be expected with the name. Both the frame and the fan have an all-black design and are made of plastic. The nine fan blades end very close to the frame, but do not feature any special design. Alphacool also completely does without decoupling elements for the Core fans. In return, however, the maximum speed of the fans is 2500 rpm and the connection is made in each case via a black 4-pin connector, which can be combined into a cable harness via the included 3-way PWM splitter.
Overall, the build quality of the Core Ocean T38 looks very solid. The paint on the radiator is clean and there were no bent cooling fins. There is also basically nothing to complain about the fans, although they are only made of a simple plastic. We were somewhat disappointed by the quality of the pump block. Its plastic seems quite thin and hollow.
Alphacool Core Ocean T38 review: assembly
For the review, we are using a test system on a benchtable. This allows us to rule out factors such as heat buildup in the case. The test system consists of the following components.
- AMD Ryzen 5 1400 @ 3.8 GHz at 1.25V
- MSI B350 PC Mate
- Crucial Ballistix Sport LT gray 32 GB DDR4-3000
- Corsair Force Series MP510 960GB Nvme
- Gigabyte AORUS GTX 1060 6G
- LC-Power LC550 V2.31 Platinum Series 550W
For an AMD system, Alphacool relies on the existing backplate of the motherboard. After removing the plastic brackets on the front, the pump block must be equipped with the correct retaining brackets. These can be easily inserted and hooked into each other via a rail system. Then you need to prepare the four mounting screws with a spring and two spacers each.
Now that the correct amount of thermal paste has been applied, the pump block can be placed on the CPU and secured with the mounting screws. This step was unfortunately a bit fiddly, because the springs and spacers are not tight and have to be held with the fingers, while the screws are guided through the mounting frame.
The assembly of the Core Ocean T38 360mm is done quickly, but not quite as well thought out as other manufacturers. On the other hand, the mounting material looks very high-quality and the cooling block sits firmly on the CPU. The springs also allow the contact pressure to be adjusted.
Loudness and cooling performance
In order to heat up the processor, it was loaded with Prime95 (Maximum Heat) for 15 minutes. The CPU’s temperature was then read out with the CPUID hardware monitor. This test was performed in two different scenarios. The values were then compared with those of the AMD boxed cooler (Wraith Stealth) and a normal 120 mm CPU cooler. During the measurements, the room had a temperature of 20°C.
|AMD Wraith Stealth||50% PWM||1450 rpm||99 °C|
|AMD Wraith Stealth||100% PWM||2650 rpm||89.8 °C|
|LC-Power LC-CC-120-RGB||50% PWM||950 rpm||61.1 °C|
|LC-Power LC-CC-120-RGB||100% PWM||1500 rpm||56.6 °C|
|Alphacool Core Ocean T38 360mm||Fan 50% PWM
Pump 50% PWM
|Fan 1600 rpm
Pump 1800 rpm
|Alphacool Core Ocean T38 360mm||Fan 100% PWM
Pump 100% PWM
|Fan 2500 rpm
Pump 3200 rpm
As you would expect, the Alphacool Core Ocean T38 easily leaves the boxed and 120mm tower cooler behind. Even with reduced pump and fan speeds, the temperature difference is almost 9°C, meaning the CPU barely gets warmer than 52°C. This shows that the Core Ocean T38 could easily cool even high-end CPUs. To be fair, however, one should not expect anything else from an AiO water cooler with a 360 mm radiator.
However, we are somewhat disappointed by the AiO system’s overall noise level. The three 120 mm fans are much too loud at the maximum speed of 2500 rpm. Fortunately, they can be turned down considerably due to the wide speed range. Nevertheless, they can only be described as quite pleasant below 1200 rpm.
The same is unfortunately true for the pump. Even at lower speeds, an audible humming or whirring can be heard from the pump. Noise-sensitive owners could probably hear the hum out of a closed system without any problems.
Summary of the Alphacool Core Ocean T38 Test
The attempt to bring the water cooling know-how from a custom or expandable compact water cooling system to the entry-level AiO segment has unfortunately only partially succeeded for Alphacool with the Core Ocean T38. The large radiator, the long hoses and the neutral design, which does not completely forgo RGB, speak for the Core Ocean T38. The mounting accessories are also extensive and offer high compatibility for all current sockets including Intel LGA1700 and AM5. Finally, there are the high-performance fans and the powerful pump.
However, the latter is also a big disadvantage at the same time. Due to the generated noise, the pump is not suitable for silent systems, even with a reduced number of revolutions. A certain whirring and humming almost always emanates from the pump. We also find the mounting system to be a bit too fiddly compared to other AiO water cooling systems.
However, with a price of €85.98 (MSRP) for the 360mm variant, Alphacool offers the Core Ocean T38 at a very reasonable price. Only a handful of systems are cheaper in the current price comparison, but they do not have RGB lighting or support the current sockets. So in terms of price-performance ratio, this Alphacool does everything right with this AiO watercooling.