PC Components

Deepcool Castle 280EX – Compact water cooling with RGB and pressure compensation

Behind the name Deepcool hides a Chinese manufacturer of PC components. Deepcool was founded in 1996 in Beijing, China. To the Produktportfolio of the manufacturer belong among other things cases as well as CPU coolers and compact water cooling systems. About a year ago Deepcool like product line Castle EX has thrown on the market. Behind this series hide themselves compact water coolers those the focus on optics and a small volume put. So far the Castle EX was only available with a 240 or 360 radiator.

About a month ago, Deepcool added a 280 mm version to the series and named the compact water cooling system Castle 280EX. The manufacturer advertises this AiO water cooling system with a powerful yet quiet pump, an optimized pump design, fans with a high static pressure and, of course, the Anti-Leak Technology. What is behind this technology and if the Deepcool Castle 280EX can convince us, we will find out in this review. The compact water cooling system is already available and costs almost 130 Euro (current: € 117.86 *).

Technical details

Cooler specifications

Dimensions (with fan) 322 × 138 × 52 mm (W x H x D)
Weight (with fan) 1600 g
Material copper (radiator bottom), aluminum (radiator, fins)
Supported cooling capacity 350W TDP
Compatibility AMD AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, AM4, FM1, FM2
Compatibility Intel 775, 115x, 1200, 1366, 2011, 2066 (Square-ILM)
Price € 117.86 *
Special features Pump with two-chamber system, sleeved and swiveling FEP tubes, RGB illumination, Anti-Leak Technology

Fan specifications

Fan designation Deepcool TF140S
Dimensions 140 mm x 140 mm x 25 mm
Speed 400 – 1600 rpm
Volume max. 39.8 dBA
Flow volume max. 164.9 m³/h
Air pressure max. 2.0 mmH²O
Special features oil pressure bearing, 4Pin-PWM-connector

Pump specifications

Dimensions 86×71×75(W x H x D)
Pump speed 2550 rpm
Volume max. 17.8 dB(A)
Bottom plate copper
Tube length 380 mm
Hose diameter N/A
Special features ceramic bearing, 3Pin-Adressable-RGB (+5V-D-G)

Packaging & Scope of delivery

The Deepcool Castle 280EX comes well and safely packed in a colorful printed cardboard box. The use of gray and turquoise colors and a colorful product image makes the packaging stand out from the crowd. In addition to the technical data and the drawings of the radiator and pump, a list of the most important features has also found its way onto the packaging.

If you open the lid of the box, you will find a foam form in which all accessories and the compact water cooling system are embedded. This soft foam should be able to protect all components very well from damage. In addition, the radiator and pump are wrapped in a protective foil. Furthermore, the installation accessories (screws, backplate, spacer, bracket, heat conducting paste), an installation manual, numerous connection cables, an exchangeable cover for the pump, the RGB control, a sticker for the case and two non-illuminated fans are included in the scope of delivery.

Design & workmanship

When it comes to optics, Deepcool takes a middle course with the Castle EX series. The 322-millimeter-long radiator is made of aluminum and painted a simple black finish. The manufacturer has dispensed with complicated lettering, shapes or other imprints. Two 380 millimeter long hoses are connected to the radiator. For visual reasons, the hoses have been sleeved black and end at the radiator in two pressed metal housings. In addition to the hoses, there is also an outlet for filling or venting the radiator. However, this process will invalidate the warranty. The same applies to opening the pressure relief valve on the right side of the radiator.

At the other end, the hoses are naturally connected to the pump block. This connection is made by two swivelling arms to which the hoses are pressed. The round pump housing itself is made of silver-colored plastic and is 71 millimeters high. The pump hidden inside it rotates at a maximum of 2550 revolutions per minute and is connected to the mainboard via a 3-pin cable. The base plate is of course made of copper, was screwed to the pump block and has a layer of heat-conducting paste ex works.

Since the radiator and fan are designed very simply, the pump block has to bring some color into play. This is achieved by indirect RGB lighting of the milky plastic plate below the window in the lid. A small mirror with the Deepcool logo was inserted into the plate via two noses and a magnet. Depending on the position of the pump unit, this mirror can be rotated or replaced by the supplied mirror without logo.

The RGB LEDs are controlled either digitally via the mainboard using a 5V-ARGB header or via the supplied control unit. With this control unit you can control the mode and speed of the effects, but you have to open the case every time. Because of the mirror plate and a small illuminated ring under the lid, the lighting looks very chic but not overdone.

The two Deepcool TF140S fans supplied are completely black and have been optimized to generate the highest possible air pressure. This is to be achieved by nine fan blades which run close to the frame and are equipped with a kind of spoiler at the rear end. Both fans have a separate 4-pin PWM connector and rotate at a maximum of 1600 rpm. To reduce vibrations there are also rubber pads on both sides of the fan frame.

The design and workmanship of the Deepcool Castle 280EX leaves nothing to be desired. All components are cleanly workmanship and painted. The use of neutral colors in combination with the stylish RGB effects makes this compact water cooling system suitable for almost any color scheme

Mounting

A test system on a benchtable is used for the review. This allows us to exclude disturbing factors such as heat accumulation in the case. The test system consists of the following components:

The compact water cooling system comes with detailed installation instructions. These instructions explain all essential installation steps in a clear and comprehensible manner. With AM4 mainboards the installation was quickly completed. Deepcool uses the backplate of the AM4 retention module. After removing the retaining brackets on the front, four spacers with two threads each are used. These are screwed into the backplate with the thicker thread, thus preventing it from falling off.

Then the pump unit must be prepared. The Deepcool Castle 280EX can be aligned in any direction, regardless of the base. For this purpose, the manufacturer includes specific retaining brackets for the different bases, which must be screwed to the pump from below. Finally, the pump is placed on the processor and everything is screwed tight using four nuts.

The assembly is simple but well thought out. The mounting material is cleanly workmanship and the use of metal makes it very durable.

Volume and cooling capacity

As shown in the previous chapter, we use an AM4 system based on the Ryzen 5 1400 and the MSI B350 PC Mate as test hardware. The Ryzen runs on 3.8 GHz at 1.25 Volt.

To heat up the processor, the processor was loaded with Prime95 for 15 minutes. The CPU temperature was then read out using the CPUID Hardware Monitor. This test was performed in two different scenarios. Afterwards the values were compared with those of the AMD Boxed Cooler (Wraith Stealth) and the EKL Alpenföhn Matterhorn Pure. During the measurements, the room had a temperature of 22 °C.

Cooler Operating scenario RPM Temperature
AMD Wraith Stealth 50% PWM 1600 rpm 102 °C (crash)
AMD Wraith Stealth 100% PWM 2650 rpm 87 °C
EKL Alpine Föhn Matterhorn Pure 50% PWM 1050 rpm 65 °C
EKL Alpine Föhn Matterhorn Pure 100% PWM 1500 rpm 61 °C
Deepcool Castle 280EX minimum fan speed, pump to 7V 390 rpm 64 °C
Deepcool Castle 280EX minimum fan speed, pump to 12V 390 rpm 62 °C
Deepcool Castle 280EX 50% PWM, pump to 12V 1050 rpm 55 °C
Deepcool Castle 280EX 100% PWM, pump to 12V 1600 rpm 54 °C

The Deepcool Castle 280X performs very well in terms of cooling capacity and, depending on fan speed, achieves a lead of 7°C to 10°C over the EKL Alpenföhn Matterhorn Pure. We were especially surprised that there is a temperature difference of only one degree between 100% PWM and 50% PWM. However, reducing the fan speed is also urgently necessary as the fans are clearly audible at full speed. At 1000 revolutions per minute they are still audible, but much more bearable. If the fan speed is below 700 rpm, the Castle 280EX could be called quiet, if it wasn’t for the noise of the pump. The pump runs on 12V with about 2550 rpm and attracts attention with a very high pitched running noise. A throttle reduces the noise, but of course also reduces the cooling capacity.

At the end of this chapter we would like to say a word about Deepcool’s new Anti-Leak Technology. The constant temperature changes within the closed circuit cause volume contraction and expansion. In the long run, this behavior can have a negative effect on components and, in the worst case, lead to material fatigue. To prevent this, Deepcool uses a pressure equalization valve on the radiator in the Castle series. This valve is connected to an air-filled, cylindrically shaped rubber capsule in the radiator. This capsule is used to automatically equalize the pressure between the circuit and the environment. However, time will tell whether this feature also provides effective added value.

Conclusion on Deepcool Castle 280EX

Let’s come to the final conclusion about the Deepcool Castel 280EX. With the Castle 280EX, Deepcool has meaningfully expanded its series of compact water cooling systems. The Castle 280EX brings a bit of color into the game with its RGB pump, but does not look overloaded at all. In addition to the stylish RGB lighting, there is a good workmanship of all components and a simple but effective mounting system, which allows the pump to be mounted in all four directions. Together with the rotating logo and the additional mirror plate without logo there are very individual customization possibilities. Apart from the optics, however, it is above all the performance shown that stands out. Even with slightly reduced fan speeds the Castle 280EX can clearly distinguish itself from a normal air cooler.

But the achieved performance also has its price. Unregulated, both the fans and the pump can be clearly heard out of the system. In order to get silence in here, additional adjustments in the BIOS are necessary. This of course leads to a reduced cooling capacity. Last but not least there is the price of almost 130 Euro (current: € 117.86 *). This makes it difficult for us to give a clear recommendation to buy the Deepcool Castle 280EX. If you are looking for a powerful compact water cooling system with low noise level, you will find it for about 40€ less already with the Arctic Liquid Freezer 280EX. If you focus on performance and RGB, the very established Corsair Hydro Series H115i RGB Platinum is one of the biggest competitors. For a similar price, it offers two additional fans with RGB lighting.

Deepcool Castle 280EX

Design
Workmanship
Assembly
Cooling
Value for money

86/100

The Deepcool Castel 280EX is a powerful compact water cooling system with discreet RGB lighting and good workmanship. However, the fan and pump need an adjustment to be suitable for silent operation.

Deepcool CASTLE 280EX Wasserkühlung, schwarz price comparison


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Simon Lüthje

I am co-founder of this blog and am very interested in everything that has to do with technology, but I also like to play games. I was born in Hamburg, but now I live in Bad Segeberg.

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