EVGA CLC 120 and CLC 280 Test and review: two closed loop CBO

EVGA CLC 120 and CLC 280 Test and review: two closed loop CBO

EVGA has now officially introduced two closed-loop cooling systems called EVGA CLC 120 and CLC 280. Both systems have entered our test lab, so we are happy to offer the readers a detailed EVGA CLC 120 and CLC 280 test. In addition to performance and noise, we We also estimate the utility EVGA for fan control, pump and RGB-illumination.

Initially, EVGA planned to present the systems of CBOs in the QRC and QRG rulers , which supported the rapid expansion of the contour using fittings. But, apparently, the company changed its decision. Systems in the CLC line can not open the circuit. Actually, it can be seen by the name: CLC or Closed Loop CPU Cooler, that is a processor cooler with a closed loop.

At the moment, there are two models in the CLC line. The CLC 120 cooler uses a 120 mm heat exchanger that can be installed in virtually any enclosure. Therefore, it can be recommended to almost all users. The second model is not quite usual, as many manufacturers, together with a 120-mm cooler, produce a 240-mm version. But the CLC 280 rests on a larger 280 mm heat exchanger. It should have a positive effect on cooling performance, but many computer cases allow you to install a maximum of 240-mm radiator.

EVGA CLC 120 and CLC 280 Test and review: two closed loop CBO

Between the two CLC models there are significant differences in price. If the CLC 120 can be purchased for 99.90 euros , then the CLC 280 price is 149,90 euros . As we can see, both cooler coolers are related to more expensive models. But EVGA promises not only high cooling performance and low noise, among the advantages mentioned powerful software and synchronization of the backlight with EVGA GeForce GTX video cards. Here it is worth mentioning that the CLC systems themselves are manufactured by Asetek . They have much in common with the recently tested Celsius models from Fractal Design . But there are also significant differences in pump and fan control, maximum fan speed, design and size of heat exchangers. Unlike EVGA, Fractal Design chose not 120- and 280-mm formats, but 240- and 360-mm formats. It will be interesting to compare the performance of all four formats.

EVGA CLC 120 and CLC 280: In Detail

The fastening is very similar to the Fractal Design Celsius cooling system , however, it is typical for the modern generation Asetek. On the rear side, with the help of bushings with a two-sided thread, a plastic plate is installed, after which the cooler is screwed with nuts. The installation is simple, the mount is compatible with various CPU sockets. Unfortunately, our test sample did not contain fasteners for the new AMD AM4 socket. But EVGA offers a free extra kit. It’s not quite common to have a complete USB cable, to which we will return a little later.

EVGA CLC 120 and CLC 280 Test and review: two closed loop CBO

Two EVGA EVOs differ only in the size of the radiator and the configuration of the fans, but they are oriented to different scenarios. The CLC 120 can be installed in small form factor (SFF) systems with compact dimensions, where there is usually enough room for mounting a 120 mm heat exchanger. The CLC 280, on the other hand, promises a much higher cooling performance with a significant heat exchange area.

The design of CLC coolers can not be called extravagant, but it’s more interesting than the strict Fractal Designs. This applies to the water block with RGB-backlighting, and a heat exchanger with fans.

The water-block with a pomp is enclosed in a frame made of silver plastic, and a transparent glossy lid is installed on top. The inscription EVGA on the center is highlighted.

EVGA CLC 120 and CLC 280 Test and review: two closed loop CBO

The plastic frame has a mini-USB connector. If you want to control the SVR and backlight, then the connector should be connected with a complete cable to the USB 2.0 comb on the motherboard. Then it is enough to launch the EVGA utility, which will provide management of both OWS.

Of course, EVGA CLC 120 and CLC 280perfectly cope with the basic functionality of the FVO. The manufacturer has applied a layer of thermal paste from the bottom of the water block, which is protected by a transparent plastic film – it is easy to mold before installation.

In addition to the mini-USB cable, two non-removable wires are connected to the water block. A cable with a 3-pin plug is responsible for the power of the entire VDU. A cable with a 4-pin PWM plug provides through-power / fan control. They can be managed by both motherboard and EVGA utilities.

The thickness of the radiators is 2.8 cm (CLC 120) and 2.7 cm (CLC 280), that is, they are even thinner than the heat exchangers of the Fractal Design Celsius family (3.1 and 3 cm, respectively).

Fans are pre-installed on the radiator, so the user will not have to install. The concave frames of the fans are visually impressive. If you believe EVGA, this step allowed to reduce the noise level of the fans. Two 140 mm CLC 280 fans operate at speeds from 600 to 2.200 rpm. Through the motherboard of our test system, we were able to set the speed between 650 and 2.300 rpm, an error of less than 10 percent can be called quite acceptable.

EVGA CLC 120 and CLC 280 Test and review: two closed loop CBO

As for the 120 mm CLC 120 fan, the PWM range is declared from 500 to 2,400 rpm. But in practice, we got a more significant deviation than the 140-mm fans: the speed was between 570 and 2.550 rpm. As you can see, the minimum speed of both fans is about 600 rpm, so the noise level at minimum rpm should be low. Special Teflon Nano bearings guarantee a long service life of the fans.

As we noted above, installing EVO EVGA is easy and simple. Including without extracting the motherboard from the case. Is that the hole in the tray of the motherboard should be large enough.

As for the free space around the processor, the NWS usually has very moderate requirements. With the water block, there will be no conflict between memory slots with a high heat spreader. The only problem can be the connection of a mini-USB cable, which on our motherboard was closely pressed to the radiator of cooling components.

EVGA CLC 120 and CLC 280 Test and review: two closed loop CBO

EVGA CLC 120 and CLC 280: EVGA Flow Control

Fractal Design allows you to set automatic control of the air conditioning system or connect fans to the motherboard, but EVGA chose a different path. Thanks to the connection of CBO to the computer via the USB interface, the EVGA utility allows you to control the pump, fans and RGB-illumination. For this purpose, the temperatures of the processor and the refrigerant are monitored. The pump can be controlled manually in the range from about 2,000 to about 3,000 rpm. As for the fans, it is possible not only to set a fixed speed, but also to set the speed curve depending on the temperature. But EVGA for some reason limits the speed range. For example, in the case of the CLC 120, the speed can only be reduced to 1.000 rpm.

EVGA CLC 120 and CLC 280 Test and review: two closed loop CBO

There are also various RGB-backlight effects. It is possible to change the color of the illumination depending on the temperature, so the critical temperature will be immediately visible. In general, the Flow Control utility is quite functional. But its installation requires a Windows operating system no older than Windows 7. However, most users are probably more concerned that the fans can not be adjusted over the entire speed range.

EVGA CLC 120 and CLC 280: Noise level

EVGA CLC 120 and CLC 280 Test and review: two closed loop CBO

The fan frame can be made in any shape, but at maximum speed it will still work quite noisy. What we got in the case of EVGA CLC systems. Even the only 120mm CLC 120 fan at maximum speed worked quite noisy. But two 140-mm CLC 280 fans were even more loud. Therefore, in practice, the speed of operation of the fans of both air heaters is better to be reduced. At 1.000 rpm, large 140-mm fans operate a little louder than 120-mm models for a 240 mm SRO. One 120 mm CLC 120 fan, on the other hand, works a little quieter. We also conducted tests of the effect of pump speed on the noise level. At a fan speed of 1,000 rpm, the pump can be set to maximum speed without problems. Through the Flow Control utility, you can reduce the speed of the pump, which will slightly reduce the noise level.

EVGA CLC 120 and CLC 280: Tests with a regular fan

EVGA CLC 120 and CLC 280 Test and review: two closed loop CBO

In the next test scenario, we will evaluate the performance of a cooler with a standard fan at 1.000 rpm and at maximum speed. For the tests, we conducted measurements without the housing cover, so that it does not limit the cooling performance.

Above we have already stressed that both models of the CLC family of CLC are oriented to different usage scenarios. What is clear from the test results. At an acceptable speed of 1.000 rpm, the CLC 120 cooler showed cooling performance at the level of simple single tower coolers. On the other hand, in compact SFF enclosures that do not have room for tower coolers, compact SVRs show quite comparable cooling performance. The difference between the minimum and maximum pump speed in Flow Control is barely noticeable. Therefore, in everyday conditions, you can safely reduce the speed of the pump. If the CLC 120 requires maximum cooling performance, the fan has a decent speed margin. He went around the high-performance air coolers a bit, taking the place behind most of the SVO with a 240-mm heat exchangerEVGA CLC 120 and CLC 280 Test and review: two closed loop CBO


The CLC 280 wins from large and high-speed fans at full speed, the system bypasses the majority of 240-mm SVO. Even at a moderate speed of 1.000 rpm, we get one of the most powerful SVO on the market, except that Fractal Design Celsius S36 with a large 360-mm radiator remains ahead.

EVGA CLC 120 and CLC 280: Tests with a reference fan

To compare the “clean” performance of coolers without the influence of regular fans, we equip all coolers with our reference fans. We used powerful Noctua NF-A15 PWM fans, the distance between the fixing holes is 105 mm, the speed is up to 1,200 rpm. If there was no possibility to install such fans on the radiator, we used a more compact Noctua NF-F12 120 mm at a speed of up to 1,500 rpm. In the case of coolers designed for “real” 140mm fans with 140mm hole spacing, we used the NF-A14 PWM.

EVGA CLC 120 and CLC 280 Test and review: two closed loop CBO

For the CLC 280 tests, we used the NF-A14 PWM fans. In the case of the CLC 120, we chose the NF-F12 PWM fans.

With the reference fans, both CLC 120 (2 degrees) and CLC 280 (1 degree) showed slightly higher performance at 1.000 rpm. But the alignment of forces has not changed. At 600 rpm SVO CLC 120 showed performance at the level of simple tower coolers. In the case of the CLC 280, the performance is higher than most CBOs with 240 mm heat exchangers. Even at 600 rpm we got an impressive level of performance.

EVGA CLC 120 and CLC 280: Conclusion

Water cooling systems are sold by many companies, but there are very few manufacturers directly, so there is a risk that the CBOs will be similar to each other, like two drops of water. However, if we compare the new models of EVGA and Fractal Design, the difference between the two models of the same manufacturer is still present.

First, both companies chose radiators of different formats. If Fractal Design decided to adhere to the formats 240 and 360 mm, then EVGA chose 120- and 280-mm heat exchangers. The goal is clear: the CLC 120 is well suited for compact enclosures in which a full-fledged air cooler is problematic to install. But, at the same time, the performance corresponds to the usual tower coolers, which in this case simply would not fit. The CLC 280 provides a slightly higher level of cooling performance than conventional 240-mm models. The question is: will users be willing to sacrifice compatibility to get a slightly higher cooling performance? But if you can install a 280-mm radiator in your case, then the choice is obvious.

Both EVGA CLC 120 and CLC 280 both convinced us by simple installation and user friendliness. There is no possibility to extend the outline, but CLC is not required to serve. The EVGA Flow Control utility is an important advantage of the system, since it greatly improves the user-friendliness, with its help it is possible to conveniently manage the SVO. The utility monitors the CPU and refrigerant temperatures, as well as the pump and fan speed. The user can independently set the fan performance curves. But the speed of the pump can only be set at a fixed level. Although there is a drawback: the fan speed range is artificially limited in both the speed graph and the runner in the utility. That is, the fans will not be able to slow down to the lowest possible speed. Let’s hope that EVGA will present an update. To connect the USB on the motherboard you need a USB 2.0 comb, which is found in a whole lot less. But, at least, you do not have to allocate a 4-pin PWM socket on the motherboard.

The 280 mm closed loop circuit is also available, for example, in the form of the Alphacool Eisbaer line. The contour of the data can be expanded with the help of installed fittings, it is also pleasantly pleased with the price of 125 euros, which is about 20 euros cheaper than the EVGA model. But this is a problem in Russia. The advantages of EVGA include the operation of the SW without any user support, more elegant design, RGB-backlighting and management through the utility. Interestingly, the line of Fractal Design Celsius is cheaper than EVGA CLC, despite the same OEM. Even the 360-mm version costs 30 euros cheaper than the CLC 280. But the Flow Control utility offers more control options than the automatic speed control system for Celsius fans and pumps, and the RGB backlight has additional options. But whether to overpay – decide for yourself. At the time of publication, the EVGAs have not yet appeared in Russian retail, so we can not compare prices in rubles.

EVGA with a new line of Closed Loop CPU Cooler was able to present both the powerful CLC 280 and the more flexible version of the CLC 120. The advantages of EVGA systems include user friendliness, advanced control through the Flow Control utility. But prices, unfortunately, can scare away potential buyers.

Advantages EVGA CLC 120 and CLC 280:

  • Different sizes of heat exchangers for small format systems and large casings
  • High cooling performance CLC 280
  • A handy utility for managing the OVO and the RGB backlight system
  • Relatively good compatibility, simple assembly
  • Manufacturer’s Warranty 5 years

Disadvantages EVGA CLC 120 and CLC 280:

  • The maximum fan speed is hardly applicable in practice due to the high noise level
  • In the Flow Control utility, the minimum fan speed is set too high
  • The pump is noticeably audible at 12 V, but its speed can be reduced almost without loss of cooling performance

Source: evga

EVGA CLC 120 and CLC 280 Test and review: two closed loop CBO was last modified: June 18th, 2017 by Tomas Shellby