Defending AlphaCool and the risks of water cooling

Four years ago, in late March 2014, I had my first attempt at a water-cooled system. Using my wife’s computer as the guinea pig.

About two months later, I posted pictures showcasing the aftermath of a failure in one of AlphaCool’s water blocks. And I’ve shown those pictures on other forums as one of the potential dangers of custom water cooling. Since then, my story has been used as a reason to not buy AlphaCool’s water cooling products. Or to not water cool at all.

In late 2016 on an Overclock.net thread, user Rockzzz said this:

I returned the item for a refund in the end, 3 days ago, because I’ve no trust : simply said, if there are no risks, as alphacool claims, alphacool should have no problem granting a real responsibility and warranty.

And there truely were more than “risks” in the past: http://www.kennethballard.com/?p=886 . It took this guy like 6 monthes to get the issue warranted and sorted out, and seeing the pictures he shew, damage seem pretty bad and obvious. Of course, there was no certainty for the disaster being caused by the cooler, and yeah, it does not say-it-all for the whole product line. But I’m not sure alphacool sells a lot all-in-all.

And later said this:

And they’re probably as much afraid of the insurance-fraud-guy as I am of the possible unreliability of their product line.

If they face a dishonest guy deliberately and slightly unscrewing a hose, just to get it leaking on the remains of his PC, then requesting a full RMA of his build, this becomes very annoying for them.

For what I’m concerned, yeah indeed, I won’t use watercooling until I’m in need of serious overclocking and until the PC-build-value/warranty is not a worry anymore.

This thread was about the AlphaCool Eisbaer expandable AIO. Which deviates significantly from the custom water loop that suffered catastrophic damage, with AlphaCool’s CPU block being the culprit as far as I could tell.

That said, let me make this clear: AlphaCool was in no way responsible for how long it took for me to resolve the issue. That fell entirely on the liability insurance company.

As such the only part in that situation where I fault AlphaCool is not informing me in advance they were handing it off to their liability insurance company. And I feel they did that to avoid making any statements to me that could be construed as admitting liability. Even mentioning that they’re handing it over could be interpreted as an admission of liability.

Prior to handing the case over, AlphaCool was stellar in their response. They seemed just as interested in finding out why one of their products failed in a catastrophic manner.

But once they handed it over to the insurance company, it was out of AlphaCool’s hands. Meaning their liability insurance carrier, Westfälische Provinzial Versicherung AG (Westphalia Provincial Insurance), bears full responsibility for the claim not being resolved in a more reasonable time frame. Especially since they initially claimed I used fittings that I never actually used, a fact claim made in contradiction of all evidence.

* * * * *

Custom water cooling is not without its risks. And at the time I published what happened, catastrophic failures were continually insinuated as a risk of water cooling, but virtually no one had shown one. And I changed that. Showing the pictures of the damage, describing what happened, and reporting on the progress of the claim and its final resolution.

Something that had been continually insinuated as a real risk of water cooling now had pictures to go with it.

But I posted all of that more to explain how to handle the situation, should it arise. Don’t panic. Take lots of pictures. Assess the extent of the damage. And, of utmost importance, keep calm and collected when writing e-mails. In my instance, I didn’t write any e-mails until several days later, after I’d fully assessed the situation and identified what hardware would need to be replaced.

Let me make this abundantly clear: the risk of that actually happening is very low. Arguably lower now than it was four years ago. Provided you take all the proper precautions, starting with picking quality parts. I even specifically said, when deciding to go with Koolance for the CPU block over going back to AlphaCool, that what happened was a “one in a million” chance.

The progression on Absinthe, now Amethyst, and other water-cooled builds including Beta Orionis and Desert Sapphire show that I did not let this one setback dissuade me entirely with AlphaCool. I’ve used several of their products without issue. Indeed the AlphaCool CPU block is the only AlphaCool product with which I’ve had any issue.

AlphaCool’s products have otherwise been a great value, overall. Their fittings tend to be much less expensive than the competition but still work very well.

Amethyst, the successor to Absinthe, has several AlphaCool products, all of which came from Absinthe and its predecessor. The D5 pump is AlphaCool branded, and the pump housing is AlphaCool. The 90° female-to-female G¼ fittings are all AlphaCool. As are the radiators: XT45 triple-120mm on the top, ST30 dual-120mm on the floor. Their radiators are some of the best performing radiators you can buy.

The AlphaCool CPU block was the only product of theirs that has ever presented any kind of problem. And as far as I’m aware, I am the only publicly-documented case of someone experiencing a catastrophic failure.

* * * * *

To repeat, and repeat, and repeat, since it must always be said: custom water cooling has risks that you won’t find with AIOs and air cooling. And AIOs still have a risk you won’t find with air cooling. That’s just the nature of the beast. And if you decide to custom water cool your system, you must be open to accepting and accounting for that risk.

Which, above all else, is what I intended to showcase: the risk involved. The very, very low risk involved provided you, again, take all proper precautions, starting with selecting quality parts.

And taking your time.

And double-checking everything thoroughly.

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