Back in December I received a beta sample of the new CPU block from Koolance – the CPU-390.  We couldn’t tell you about it at the time, but after receiving the final product a few weeks back we were able to have a review ready for the launch.  The CPU-390 is now live and so is our review!  We love being involved in beta testing and were able to give our feedback on the initial design and since then improvements have been made.  A big thanks then to Koolance for involving us in the beta and for sending us these latest samples for review!

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The CPU-390 is the new model which is a somewhat predictable name given the last few generations of the block.  It replaces the CPU-380 which I reviewed three and a half years ago now.  At the time the CPU-380 dominated the thermal rankings – since then however the competition has got better and the 380 no longer leads in performance.  Let’s start with the unboxing first:

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As with the CPU-380 there are separate Intel and AMD versions and you must buy the appropriate one.  Having said that – the CPU-380 had a conversion kit to switch between the two and we imagine there may be a similar version coming for the CPU-390.

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Inside the box are the usual Koolance accessories which will be very familiar if you’ve owned a CPU-380. The mounts are identical which means that Koolance have chosen not to move to the more “precise mounts” offered by the competition.  While precise mounts are very easy to use and lower the risk of a bad mount they also can limit the mounting pressure and therefore may not be able to get as thin or wide a TIM spread.  They can however be useful for CPU’s like skylake where bending of the CPU due to high mount pressure has been seen.

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There are no instructions included in this box – although this is a final sample of the product it was pre-release and so instructions were not ready.  We do expect instructions to be included in the launch version as they are on the CPU-380 today.  If for some reason they aren’t in your box, then they are available online here.

Unlike the CPU-380 though there are now additional versions of the block:

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Both come in sealed plastic bags which is great.  One is a sexy acrylic topped version which is a change from recent Koolance designs, while the other is a full metal version with a nickel plated copper top.  The demarcation of the I on the CPU-390I box means that this is the Intel version.  The CPU-390CI of course has an additional C in the product name and we believe this stands for copper, i.e. the top of the block is nickel plated copper.  So just for clarity let’s run over these four models with the differing specs listed by the website:

CPU-390I – $80

  • For Intel sockets 2011 / 2011-v3 (Square ILM only) / 1151 / 1155 / 1156 / 755
  • Nickel-Plated Copper, Stainless Steel, PMMA Acrylic, EPDM

CPU-390CI – $90

  • For Intel sockets 2011 / 2011-v3 (Square ILM only) / 1151 / 1155 / 1156 / 755
  • Nickel-Plated Copper, Stainless Steel, EPDM

CPU-390A – $80

  • For AMD sockets AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, FM1, FM2, FM2+
  • Nickel-Plated Copper, Stainless Steel, PMMA Acrylic, EPDM

CPU-390CA – $90

  • For AMD sockets AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, FM1, FM2, FM2+
  • Nickel-Plated Copper, Stainless Steel, EPDM

It’s great to see Koolance offer the block in these two aesthetic versions.

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The last Koolance block with any acrylic on it that I remember was my GTX480 water block which was a few years ago now. Acrylic tops have been very popular the past few years as water cooler’s have gotten over their fear of it cracking and of dyes ruining their cooling parts.  Now we see dye filled acrylic everywhere and it’s great for Koolance to expand to support it.  For the “old school” who worry about pressure and thread stripping then the full metal block will cover that nicely indeed:

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The logos are subtler on the full metal version which is also nice.  As is usually the case the direction of the ports does matter and hence the ports are marked with small triangles.

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It’s worth mentioning that on both versions the mounting bracket is thick stainless steel.  Although the arms look quite slender there is absolutely no flex – the block feels solid and it’s nice that there are no screw heads presented on the face of the block.

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The underneath is nickel plated copper and Koolance have made sure to protect the polished finish with an easy peel sticker.  The block is secured together with 4 torx head screws.  Handily a torx head allen key is included in the box to service the block.  We love that Koolance not only allow you to open the block without voiding the warranty but also support you with the tools to do so.  It should be noted that the torx head screw will strip far less easily than the hex heads that some of the competition use.

Comparing to the older CPU-380 design we can see that the mounting bracket is far less bulky and the black bracket is more inconspicuous leaving the attention to be drawn to the center of the block instead.  The slender mounting bracket of the 390 maybe an advantage compatibility wise over the old 380 block.

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One of the concerns with CPU water blocks is always how far are the ports spaced and can larger fittings fit on the block with it’s port spacing of 28mm center to center:

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1/2″ x 3/4″ fittings are usually the most troublesome, and Koolance’s own do indeed fit with plenty of margin:

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Smaller fittings will leave more of the block visible which may be an advantage for those using dye with the acrylic top.

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7 COMMENTS

  1. #1. I use water blocks without jet plate…
    You should tests without jetplate. ¿Makes pump last longer? Do I sacrifice 10°C ?
    For non critical applications I think is better… I’m I wrong?

    #2. Koolance is getting cheaper by the minute….
    CPU-390AMD has removed support for G34 socket “server” like my Tyan S8232,
    Is just 1 centimeter of metal.. 2 small coins. How cheap is that?

    #3. CPU-390intel does not have 2011-v3 Narrow ILM, I want to buy a new server, but I’m stuck with Supermicro SNK-P0050AP4.
    ¿How cheap is not having an optional Narrow ILM?
    Square ILM is 80x80mm
    Narrow ILM 56x94mm (similar to AMD, but not compatible WTF?) Intel finally realized AMD mount is not that bad, if want to make board small.
    But intel decided not to make a compatible mount? ¿Why there is not an Universal Mount?
    Why does a few milimeters hurt so much to a billion dollar company?
    Cheap bastards. LOL. Jajajajajajaja

  2. Koolance should not include thermal paste, if want to save costs, instead of cutting features, nobody use it anyway…
    How good is it anyway? I use Antec formula 7 or 6, I’m happy. Won’t change for another brand.
    not electric conductive…
    Diamonds dust is cheap.
    very thermal conductive.
    Does not dry and crack like OCZ freeze…
    Is not as hard as “the other diamond thermal paste brand.” = Does not need as much pressure.
    Can be reused.

  3. Another thing I don’t like about the 390 are the arrows, the 380 arrows are smarter, less confusing…
    390 is crazy.

  4. I currently have a CPU 380i, with only 1C improvement in temps on this benchmark, I’m not about to dump $80 on the 390i. Very nice review though, very thorough.

    • It’s worth noting that no other reviewer or manufacturer had a CPU-380 as good as mine – other’s (e.g. thermalbench) have shown a bigger increase between the two. So if my 380 was just a lucky golden sample and yours wasn’t then you may see more of a difference. However all I can do is test what I have as best I can 🙂

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