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The AlphaCool Core Ocean T38 360mm AIO CPU Cooler Review: Loud and Proud

While the all-in-one CPU cooler industry is dominated, at least in mindshare, by flagship coolers from the industry’s biggest brands, the market segment overall has grown over the years to cover a much larger gamut of users. From flagship coolers to sub-$100 specials, effective AIO coolers have become available and affordable for most mid-range and higher builds. Thanks in part to some intensive competition in this space, we’ve seen several vendors bring down even 360mm coolers to the sub-$100 market in an effort to get in an edge over their competitors, and a sale in the process.

Looking at an opportunity to grow their own customer base, even the normally premium-focused AlphaCool has opted to get into this action with their Core Ocean lineup of coolers. And today, we’re taking a closer look at the Core Ocean T38 360mm, AlphaCool’s latest entry-level AIO cooler.

At a high level, the Core Ocean T38 has been designed to balance performance with manufacturing costs, allowing the company to put together an effective cooler that can still be priced low enough to reach budget-conscious consumers. Sticking with an aluminum radiator and keeping the frills such as RGB lighting to a minimum, the T38 is primarily aimed at system builders who require straightforward, effective cooling solutions – and without the complexity of AlphaCool’s renowned open-loop custom liquid cooling kits. As we’ll see, nothing comes for free, but AlphaCool has been able to put together a rather effective CPU cooler for $100 that’s hard to ignore.

AlphaCool Core Ocean T38 360mm AIO CPU Cooler
Specifications
Type All-in-One Liquid Cooler
Dimensions 397 x 120 x 63 mm (radiator with fan)
Fans 3 x 120 mm Hydraulic Bearing Fans
2500 RPM (max)
RGB Yes, Pump (RGB)
Supported Sockets Intel: LGA1700 / LGA1851

AMD: AM5 / AM4

Warranty 3 Years
Price $100

 

Packaging & Bundle

AlphaCool packages the Core Ocean T38 AIO CPU cooler in a simple and functional cardboard box, the dimensions of which are indicative of the cooler’s size. The front of the box features basic dimensional schematics, delivering a professional aesthetic theme. Inside, the cooler is securely housed within custom cardboard inserts, carefully engineered to protect the cooler during shipping and handling, ensuring it reaches the customer in excellent condition.

As expected from an entry-level product, the bundle accompanying the Core Ocean T38 AIO is limited to just the parts that are absolutely necessary for the installation of the cooler. Aside from the mounting hardware, there is a syringe of premium thermal compound and a 3-to-1 power connector for the radiator fans.

The AlphaCool Core Ocean T38 360 mm AIO Liquid Cooler

At first glance, the AlphaCool Core Ocean T38 AIO CPU cooler follows the same general design as most AIO coolers available today. It adheres to the conventional AIO structure, which includes a single radiator, two hoses, and an integrated block and pump unit. Meanwhile the pump block section features a copper CPU contact plate attached to a compact pump. AlphaCool uses rubber hoses covered with nylon sleeving for added protection, which are practical though somewhat rigid.

As a key feature of this model, the AlphaCool Core Ocean T38 AIO cooler includes a radiator entirely made of aluminum and is 38 mm thick. This thickness requires a PC case that can accommodate its size along with three 120 mm fans aligned in sequence. For proper installation, this setup demands a total clearance of more than 63 mm when the fans are attached. The radiator’s design adheres to the standard dual-pass cross-flow configuration, featuring small fins connected to thin, elongated tubes, all of which are made out of aluminum. Technically, aluminum is significantly worse compared to copper in terms of thermal conductivity and energy transfer, so it remains to be seen if sheer size can make up for it. The company logo is discretely printed on the sides of the radiator.

The main block of the AlphaCool Core Ocean T38 AIO cooler is constructed primarily from plastic, featuring a top cover that includes an LED strip for subtle lighting effects. The block features 90° fittings on its side where the hoses attach. Two cables protrude from in between the fittings: a 4-pin power cable and another for the LED lighting. The cooler includes customizable RGB lighting with 12 digitally controlled LEDs located at the top of the main block. This feature provides subtle, adjustable lighting to enhance the aesthetic appeal of the cooler. The LED lighting cable must be connected to an external RGB controller, as none is provided with the cooler.

The base of the main block assembly in the AlphaCool Core Ocean T38 AIO cooler features a rectangular-shaped coldplate, which is secured to the plastic base cover with ten screws. The surface of the contact plate is not mirror-finished, but it is sufficiently smooth and flat for effective heat transfer. The main block doesn’t come with any kind of thermal paste pre-applied, so it is necessary to use the included thermal compound during the initial installation of the cooler. The size of the contact plate itself is adequately suited for Intel socket 1700 and AMD socket AM5 processors.

AlphaCool supplies three Core 120 mm fans alongside with the Core Ocean T38. Their part number is JE12025L12V and, although we cannot find much information about who their OEM is, they have a hydraulic bearing engine and a ludicrous maximum speed of 2500 RPM. Aesthetically, these are simple black fans without any lighting installed. The fan power cables feature a standard 4-pin connector and cannot be daisy-chained, but they can all be connected to a single power header with the use of the included adapter.

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