AMD Ryzen Threadripper Waterblock Comparison #1

Author:Kyle Bennett

Date: Friday , September 08, 2017

We have been waiting for AMD Threadripper CPU custom cooling parts to make their way to us. We have our first two purpose-built Threadripper waterblocks from XSPC and Bykski. We put both these coolers to the test with our 4GHz overclocked Threadripper in hour long stress tests to see how our temperatures fare.

Threadripper Water Cooling

We have reached out to every company that has sent us a press release on its new Threadripper waterblock, and asked for a sample. Some have never responded back, some have refused samples for not giving them free advertising, and others have stepped right up to have their products reviewed. And lastly we have simply purchased some Threadripper waterblocks as well.

XSPC RayStorm Neo

The first company that got information to us on Threadripper waterblocks was XSPC. The fine folks over there, which have been a pleasure to work with, got us its RayStorm Neo TR4 model waterblock over in prototype form. While there are going to be a few small changes to the production waterblock, none of those changes are going to impact the unit's cooling ability. The flow, coldplate design, materials, and finish will be the same. The "Neo" version of this waterblock comes with FragHarder LEDs. Below is our unboxing video in which we show measurements on the block and we also take it apart to show you construction.

Bykski A-RYZEN-Th-X

Last month, Bykski came up in HardForum conversation, and I went ahead and purchased its Threadripper waterblock. I had never before used its cooling products, so it was truly a shot in the dark, but I went ahead and purchased from China. At the time I was fully unaware of it USA based store. I did get shipping from Asia in 21 days. Below is its breakdown video that we did.

Threadripper Specific Waterblocks and Cooling

We have to keep in mind just how big the Ryzen Threadripper is physically.

Above is an 2.5 inch SSD sitting on top of the Bykski waterblock to give you some idea of the sheer size of these. When AMD first sent out its Threadripper review kits, AMD supplied a Thermaltake Water 3.0 Triple RIING AIO cooler system. The coldplates on the current AIOs in the market were designed for CPUs with a single die, so the surface area those cover is not large enough to physically cover the two dies that lie underneath Threadripper's huge Integrated Heat Spreader (IHS). You can see where we had some issues and lapped our system to get better mating surfaces, which worked well, but not nearly well enough.

As you can see in the video above, the cooling fins on the RayStorm and the Bykski are significantly larger in terms of the surface area that those cover.

While the Thermaltake Water 3.0 unit would keep our Threadripper cool enough to run 4GHz benchmarks as shown in our review, once the cooling system heat-loaded the CPU would get too hot and cause a failure. This is not to bag on the Thermaltake Water 3.0, as it was in no way designed to handle the Threadripper, but was simply one of the larger AIO systems that AMD decided to go with for the Threadripper launch.

Once we got our XSPC RayStorm in, we immediately got it running on one of our Koolance EX2-1055 cooling systems. While this system did a much better it still simply did not have enough radiator cooling and pump flow to keep up with the Threadripper at 4GHz across all 16 cores for long. All full loads of Prime95 Small FFT would put an end to the stability inside 20 minutes. Of course you can argue that Prime95 is not realistic for load tests, but the fact is for many of us enthusiasts, we dial in our systems with Prime95 to simply build us a "bulletproof" system that is rock solid no matter what you do with it.

After our shortcomings with the Koolance system, we reached back out to XSPC and asked them to pair our RayStorm waterblock with a full XSPC cooling system. They asked what we wanted, and of course we asked for the biggest and baddest we could get. We elected to go for the RayStorm Pro D5 Photon RX 480 system.

The system has a 4-fan RX480 radiator and a pump-reservoir combination unit that uses a D5 pump which is considered the best in the industry.

Once we received it, we went back in and plumbed it into our test bench and moved forward on getting our Threadripper fully stable while overclocked. You can also see the Koolance drybreak coupling system we use to move waterblocks around easily. These fittings have gotten extremely less expensive over the years. We are using the QD3 series fittings.

You will notice a lot of spillage in the video above. This was due to me having the fitting low in the system so there was a lot of head pressure. Raising the drybreak fittings up the level of the reservoir will remedy this spillage where you get hardly any spillage at all as shown in this video.

Now that we have covered our journey in Threadripper cooling from the hardware angle, let's look at what is certainly the second most important thing to cover; TIM application.