What does it take to cool Intel’s i9-12900k? Featuring BeQuiet’s Pure Loop 280

Parts used for this review

CoolerBeQuiet Pure Loop 280 (sent by BeQuiet!)
Comparison CoolerDeepCool AK620 Air Cooler (sent by DeepCool)
Shadow Rock Slim 2 (sent by BeQuiet!)
CPUIntel i9-12900K (sent by Intel)
MotherboardMSI z690 A-Pro (purchased from Amazon)
Computer CaseBeQuiet! Silent Base 802 Window (sent by BeQuiet!)

BeQuiet sent me the Pure Loop 280 and a LGA 17xx/18xx Adapter for Alder Lake testing, so today we’ll be looking at how well this liquid cooler performs using Intel’s newest i9 CPU. I’ve compared it’s performance to two other coolers to get a sense of what it takes to keep Intel’s latest i9 running cool. For this I used one high end air cooler – DeepCool’s AK620 (previously reviewed here), I also used a basic air cooler – BeQuiet’s Shadow Rock Slim 2 (previously reviewed here)

IMPORTANT UPDATE!

The results of my original testing are good.

However, since publishing this article I have retested the Pure Loop 280 with an alternative thermal paste and found greatly improved results, but because I do not have additional thermal paste from Be Quiet I am unable to verify if this is because I made a mistake with my original installation of the Pure Loop 280 or if this is due to the quality of the included thermal paste.

I will update this article once I have retested with Be Quiet’s Thermal Paste

BeQuiet’s Pure Loop 280

The Pure Loop 280 comes in a medium sized box, with molded cardboard for protection.

Included with the package are the user manual, thermal paste, zip ties, fan splitters, fans, extra coolant, and mounting for AMD & Intel systems.

Cooler Specifications

CoolerBeQuiet! Pure Loop 280
Product Dimensions (including fans)317x140x52mm
Net Weight1222g
Fan Compatibility140×140
Noise Level25% – 22.5 dB(A)
50% – 26.8 dB(A)
100% – 38.1 dB(A)
Warranty3 years
MSRP$104.90

Fan Specifications

There’s more to a cooler than just it’s heat sink. The fans included have a huge impact on cooling performance and noise levels.

Fan2x Pure Wings 2 PWM
Size140x140x25
Max Fan Speed1600RPM
Air Flow61.2CFM
Static Pressure0.76mm/h20
Noise<19.8 dB(A)
Bearing TypeRifle Bearing
Voltage range12 V

Installation

The installation of the Pure Loop is similar to that of other BeQuiet Coolers – standoffs are screwed in against the backplate, and then support bars are screwed into the standoffs. The cooler is then mounted and screwed to the support bars.

What’s different from other coolers

The CPU block has an outline of white lighting, which adds a subtle effect to the cooler. You’re not able to modify the lighting – if you must have RGB, this isn’t for you.

Source: BeQuiet!

Additionally the CPU block is just that – a block. It doesn’t contain the pump, which is now located close to the radiator – it’s the block between the tube shown in the image below. BeQuiet claims this new configuration reduces pump noise, allowing for an even quieter build.

Source: BeQuiet!

Additionally, BeQuiet has made it easy to refill the radiator – a rare option in AIO Liquid Coolers – and also included extra coolant for that task. To do so, one needs only to remove the screw shown in the image below.

Source: BeQuiet!

Testing Methodology

For each cooler, I used the thermal paste provided by the manufacturer.

To test the limits of thermal capabilities, I have tested OCCT & Cinebench with 140w & 200w power limits. I’ve also included some gaming results to show cooling results in less intensive workloads.

Thermal Results

In Cinebench, BeQuiet’s Pure Loop 280 & DeepCool’s AK620 coolers were on par with each other (regardless of power limits) and in OCCT at 200w testing, but while testing OCCT with 140w limits the Pure Loop 280 ran 5c cooler than the AK620. These coolers ran quite toasty when limited to 200w – with CPU temperatures reaching 96c. If power limits are removed, thermal throttling occurs with both coolers in these workloads.

BeQuiet’s Shadow Rock Slim 2 performed well at 140w – but it was unable to sustain 200w loads in OCCT & Cinebench, thermal throttling at ~190w of power consumption.

Gaming thermal results were genuinely surprising. Based on the high TDP results shown earlier, I expected the Pure Loop 280 to be roughly on par with DeepCool’s AK620 – but the Pure Loop kept the i9 up to 14c cooler! The Shadow Rock Slim 2 performed as expected, trailing the AK620 by a few degrees.

Conclusion

BeQuiet’s Pure Loop 280 is a little different from other AIOs, due to the customized pump and for having the ability to refill the unit. It’s nice to see an AIO which isn’t just a copy & paste of other coolers on the market. In workloads with high heat output, the Pure Loop 280 performs similarly to high end air coolers.

Intel’s latest i9 is harder to cool than previous generation 14nm CPUs, due to the increased thermal density of the Intel 10nm 7 manufacturing process. In my testing thus far, no cooler is able to prevent the 12900k from thermal throttling if power limits are removed in workloads like Cinebench.

In less heat intensive loads, such as gaming, the Pure Loop provides better temperatures than high end air cooling. If one is interested in overclocking Alder Lake for gaming, then it would be worth investing in a more powerful cooler such as BeQuiet’s Pure Loop 280.

For having great thermal performance, a unique design, and allowing users to refill the unit – and providing the fluid needed to do so – I am awarding BeQuiet’s Pure Loop 280 our Silver Award. This is a quiet, effective liquid cooler backed by BeQuiet’s excellent customer service – you can’t go wrong with the Pure Loop 280.

BeQuiet Pure Loop 280
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