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Pretty uncool: Half of tested watercooler radiators fail to use advertised copper

WTF?! Have you ever found that your all-in-one CPU cooler radiator gets clogged up or shows signs of unexplained corrosion? It’s surprisingly common, which is why Igor Wallossek of Igor’s Lab fame investigated six brands of AIO coolers, discovering that half of them don’t use the high-end materials they claim.

Wallossek’s in-depth look at the different radiators includes purchased products from Alphacool, Aqua Computer, Bykski, EK Water Blocks, Hardware Labs and Watercool.

Each AIO cooler radiator is thoroughly examined. Make sure to check out the whole thing, but the summary is that only half of the manufacturers that said they used copper in their products really did use the material.

Of all the those tested, it was the Aqua Computer: airplex radical 2/120 with aluminum fins that came out on top, with Wallossek offering nothing but praise for its materials and build construction.

The Alphacool NexXxoS ST30 Full Copper X-Flow 120mm also did well, though it was noted that the screws are a little soft on this model, and it had slight oxide layers on the tin.

Only the fins on Hardware Labs’ Black Ice Nemesis GTS – 120 XFlow are made from copper, but the company does advertise this fact. There was also no detailed information on some of the materials, which could lead people to assume that copper is used more widely in this radiator.

The remaining three products – the Watercool Heatkiller RAD 120-S Black, Bykski CR-RD120RC-TN-V2, and EKWB Quantum Surface P120M Black – were all advertised as having channels made from copper (or copper H90, in EKWB’s case) when they were actually made from brass, an alloy made of copper and zinc.

Wallossek found that the EKWB radiator had alkaline liquid residues, as did Bykski’s rad, which also used extremely leaded solder that is prohibited in the EU.

Wallossek recommended that manufacturers improve their quality checks and stop relying on their OEMs for their tests and checks. His next round of investigations will cover CPU coolers from Corsair, Thermaltake, and some Chinese brands.

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