Five years after the launch of its first Silent Loop liquid cooler, be quiet! is following-up with a sequel aptly dubbed the Silent Loop 2.
Available in 120mm (£94), 240mm (£120), 280mm (£130) and 360mm (£135) flavours, the new range is described as "the high-performance and whisper-quiet all-in-one water cooling unit for sophisticated users with overclocked systems." Sophisticated as we are, it's our turn to take the Silent Loop 280mm for a spin.
All-in-one closed-loop setups from a variety of ODMs share so much in common that it is becoming increasingly difficult for one retail model to stand out from the next. be quiet!'s configuration - a 314mm x 140mm x 27mm aluminium radiator coupled to a pump via 400mm of sleeved tubing - doesn't look all that different to the norm, yet there are enough subtle tweaks to suggest that the German firm has paid attention to the details.
The most obvious upgrade is that while previous be quiet! liquid coolers were bundled with entry-level Pure Wings 2 fans, Silent Loop 2 comes equipped with top-of-the-range Silent Wings 3 as standard. A welcome change, as is the addition of aRGB lighting to the CPU block. be quiet! has historically shown restraint when it comes to gaudy illumination, and the subtle implementation on offer here is right up our street. There's a thin slither of lighting on three sides of the brush-effect pump cover, providing smooth effects that are by no means ostentatious.
It is a very nice looking block, and as you'd expect, there's some thought gone into the bundled accessories. A four-pin Y-splitter cable is included to ensure both fans occupy only a single header, a SATA-powered RGB controller is at hand for those lacking motherboard synchronisation, and there's even a SIM removal tool. Wait, what? After scratching our heads for a brief moment, we turned to the manual to discover that there's an inset button on top of the CPU block that can be used to enable/disable the fixed-white backlight behind the be quiet! logo; the SIM removal tool simply makes the button easier to trigger.
As a nod toward longevity, be quiet! also provides a 100ml bottle of water and propylene glycol coolant, used for topping-up the loop via a fill port located at one end of the radiator. Another nice touch, but if we're talking about the long run, be quiet!'s three-year warranty is shorter than certain rivals, and the small bundled tube of thermal paste doesn't have a great deal in it. There's no paste pre-applied to the large nickel-plated copper contact plate, yet there's enough in the tube for at least two installations, and it should be pointed out that many manufacturers don't include any additional paste at all.
Looks rather dashing inside our test platform, wouldn't you say? We've started to see a lot of circular pump heads in recent years, and striking though they are, there's something to be said for a square pump atop a square CPU socket. It looks natural and be quiet!'s relatively simple design is likely to be an excellent aesthetic fit for most builds.
Installation on our AM4 test platform is a tad more involved than usual as Silent Loop 2 opts against using the default AMD mounting brackets. Not a bad idea, in our book, as the standard hook mechanism never feels entirely convincing. be quiet!'s replacement brackets are fixed in place using standoffs, and the pump head then screws on top securely. The whole process is relatively painless, and by using its own fixings throughout, be quiet! ensures that every screw, washer and bracket is finished entirely in black. Better still, by relying solely on three motherboard headers (three-pin AIO power, four-pin fan, three-pin aRGB), there's little clutter and no need for any superfluous software.
All the latest Intel and AMD sockets are supported (though you will need an optional BZ008 mounting kit for Threadripper), and as a be quiet! product, there's a particular emphasis on 'whisper-quiet operation.' In addition to the high-quality Silent Wings 3 fans, the pump is said to employ a three-chamber design and 'massive dampening' to help absorb vibration and keep noise output to an absolute minimum.
We're liking what we see, but how does Silent Loop 2 compare to some of the best air- and liquid-cooled competitors on the market today? There's only one way to find out.