EVGA CLC 280 RGB CPU Cooler Review

Comparison Hardware, Evaluation & Conclusion

We retain the hardware configuration from previous big cooler reviews while comparing the CLC 280 to previously reviewed rivals. We retain the stock fan configuration of our Corsair 760T case, removing the magnetic panel cover to mount radiators under its top panel in exhaust orientation.

Comparison Products

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Three similarly sized closed-loop coolers set the pace for the CLC 280. Cooler Master’s Masterliquid Pro 280 comes in at an identical price (MSRP), the NZXT Kraken X61 was known for its great cooling performance, and Swiftech upped the game with the X240 H2’s ability to be reconfigured with additional components.

Test Results

EVGA leads the cooling performance metric with a temperature delta of only 37°C. Our comment about airflow at the recessed edge of the fan frames appears accurate too, given the ultra-low CPU voltage regulator deltas of 7°C at full fans and 10°C at half speed.

One might have expected the greatest cooling effect to come from the fastest fans, but that statistic went to Cooler Master. Will the CLC 280 also be the second noisiest?

Actually, the CLC is the noisiest cooler in spite of its second-place fan RPM. This could set up an interesting cooling-to-noise chart . . .

Since low noise is also a performance metric, cooling-to-noise ratio is the best way to rate a cooler’s overall performance. The CLC 280 takes third place overall in Acoustic Efficiency, though it really must be noted that its full speed performance was best. That’s certain to affect the buying decisions of many overclockers.

Not surprisingly, the cooler with the best overall full-speed performance, EVGA’s CLC 280, also had the best value at that speed. The MasterLiquid Pro 280, on the other hand, needed to be $10 cheaper than the Kraken X61 to edge it out in value at both half and full speeds.

So what would we do with the CLC 280? Well, if we needed all of that cooling performance and didn’t mind a little extra noise, we’d use it. Perhaps even without the software. After all, those are PWM fans. Thus we recommend the CLC 280 specifically to buyers with hot processors and room for a 2x 140mm radiator.

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  • AnimeMania
    General Closed Looped Cooler questions:
    1) Why are the cooling plates round when CPUs are square?
    2) Do the cooling plates cover the entire entire CPU, even the larger ones like Threadripper and X299 CPUs?
  • loki1944
    Most certainly will be looking at this CLC for my next build; nothing comes close to that cooling performance AIO wise.
  • aidank
    Looks like the EVGA's results at 50 % fans are about the same as the other coolers at 100 % fans (in a cooling sense) but with greatly reduced noise.
  • Crashman
    1839266 said:
    General Closed Looped Cooler questions: 1) Why are the cooling plates round when CPUs are square? 2) Do the cooling plates cover the entire entire CPU, even the larger ones like Threadripper and X299 CPUs?

    1.) I believe the one you're looking at is machined from roundstock using a lathe
    2.) It completely covers Intel's desktop CPUs (even LGA 2066), but does not completely cover Threadripper CPUs.
  • Zaporro
    It seems EVGA wins over cooler like NZXT Kraken just because its fans allow for higher RPM which happens at cost of noise, which is nothing special, everyone can just ramp up RPM's.

    Here is much more detailed and in depth comparision https://www.gamersnexus.net/hwreviews/2788-evga-clc-280-review-vs-nzxt-x62-corsair-h115i/page-3
  • redgarl
    EVGA, put back on the shelve and running for my life...
  • Lutfij
    The stuff coming out of Asetek is getting slimmer by the bucket loads. It's good to see that there are more offerings by other company's though if you follow through the way case manufacturing(in one common factory) has risen and a number of them have the same internal design+structure, then air cooling is a better route to go when aesthetics is brushed aside.
  • steve42lawson
    I've had bad luck with EVGA Video Cards (had several die after a few months of standard use -- my NVIDIA GeForce replacement has been working fine for over 2 years, now), so I'm dubious as to the quality of anything coming out of EVGA!
  • svan71
    4 cards die? I wouldn't stand too close to you during a thunderstorm.
  • loki1944
    2630046 said:
    I've had bad luck with EVGA Video Cards (had several die after a few months of standard use -- my NVIDIA GeForce replacement has been working fine for over 2 years, now), so I'm dubious as to the quality of anything coming out of EVGA!


    Have had an EVGA GTX 660 3GB running fine for almost 5 years now, EVGA GTX 1060 3GB for over a year, EVGA 1300W PSU for 3 years, EVGA 1000W PSU for 2 years, EVGA 750W PSU for 18 months.