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Deepcool Castle 280EX AIO CPU Cooler Review

Rating: 9.0.

When the Deepcool Castle 280EX AIO landed on my doorstep for review, it was like meeting up with an old friend. The Castle 240EX was one of the first AIO coolers I reviewed for KitGuru and is still one of the best closed-loop coolers we have tested over the past 12 months or so. Since the Castle 280EX is equipped with a larger radiator and 140mm fans, we expect a performance improvement over the 240EX, but just how will the Castle 280EX stack up against some of the more recent AIOs we have tested? Let’s find out.

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Other than the new 280mm radiator, everything about the Deepcool Castle 280EX looks identical to its original 240mm and 360mm counterparts that were released last year. Deepcool’s patented Anti-Leak Technology is once again a feature of the Castle 280EX, inside the radiator is an EPDM pressure relief bag that contracts to create a void when pressure rises to relieve pressure inside the radiator and therefore, lowering the risk of a leak.

In keeping with the other two coolers of the Castle EX series, the 280EX is outfitted with Deepcool’s Tri-Phase motor that provides the pump with a rotational speed of 2550 RPM and an almost silent 17.8dBA noise output level, as well as a copper micro-channel cold plate for efficient transfer of heat and Deepcool TF-S series high static pressure fans, with a speed range of 400-1600 RPM.

Deepcool AIOs are designed in house, so they are not just another Asetek or CoolIT rebranded unit with a customised pump top like some other AIOs on the market. The company uses a split chamber pump/CPU block arrangement to avoid any Asetek patent infringement, a design that has proven to offer efficient heat transfer in previous coolers.

As typical with modern AIO coolers, the Castle 280EX uses reinforced rubber tubing, covered with a braided nylon sleeving for a premium appearance as well as an aluminium core radiator. However, unlike many of the current crop of AIOs in recent times, the RGB lighting of the Castle EX series is quite subtle. Only the CPU block is equipped with RGB lighting and the fans are an understated all-black design.

A rather unique feature of the Castle 280EX is the CPU block aesthetics, the top cover of the Castle EX CPU block is removable. Once the cover has been removed the GamerStorm logo can either be rotated to ensure the orientation is facing the correct way up or alternatively, the logo can be removed and replaced with a custom logo of your own via the blank that Deepcool includes inside the box.

In addition to the customisable logo, the top portion of the CPU block also includes RGB lighting effects. Beneath the two-way mirror top cover is a large circular RGB zone that extends to a create a thin RGB line around the circumference of the block. The Deepcool Castle 280EX RGB lighting effects can either be synchronised from a motherboard via the 3-pin 5v addressable RGB header or controlled by a simple RGB lighting hub that is included in the box.

CPU socket compatibility of the Castle EX series is extensive, all current mainstream desktop platforms from both Intel and AMD are covered including Intel LGA 115x, 1366, 2066 and 2011, AMD AM4, AM3+, AM3/+, AM2/+, FM2 and FM1 as well as AMD high-end desktop TR4/TRX40 Threadripper. The new Intel LGA1200 socket isn’t listed as compatible on the packaging, however, since LGA1200 uses the same mounting system as LGA115x, we expect the Castle 280EX should work on this platform just fine.

Key Features

  • Anti-Leak technology
  • Specially tuned TF140 S fans
  • 5V Addressable RGB
  • Customisable CPU block logo
  • Copper micro-channel cold plate

Specifications

Radiator Dimensions 322 x 138 x 27 mm
Radiator Material Aluminium
Net Weight 1600g
Tube length 380mm
Pump Dimensions 86 x 75 x 71 mm
Pump Speed 2550 RPM±10%
Pump Noise 17.8 dB(A)
Pump Connector  3-pin
Pump Rated Voltage 12 VDC
Pump Rated Current 0.2 A
Pump Power Consumption 2.4 W
Fan Speed Range 400~1800 RPM±10%
Fan Noise Level ≤39.8 dB(A)
Fan Air Pressure 2.00 mmAq
Fan Air Flow 97.03 CFM
Fan Connector 4-pin PWM
Bearing Type Hydro Bearing
Fan Rated Voltage 12 VDC
Fan Rated Current 0.3 A
Fan Power Consumption 3.6 W
LED Type  Addressable RGB LED
LED Connector 3-pin(+5V-D-G)
LED Rated Voltage  5 VDC
LED Power Consumption 2.25 W (PUMP)

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