Koolance PMP-450 (D5 Vario) Pump

Posted: April 3, 2011 in Pumps
Tags: , , , , , ,

Probably one of two most popular pumps in all of watercooling, the Koolance PMP-450 is a D5 Vario pump and packs a very strong amount of pumping power while retaining it’s built in variable speed controller.  There are multiple flavors of this pump and I have personally used the D5 series ever since my first loop watercooling several years ago.  Koolance has taken this very popular variable speed pump and added what it has been missing for far too long…an RPM sensing wire.

I would like to give special thanks to Tim from Koolance for sponsoring this powerful pump:

Overview

Koolance offers two flavors of the PMP-450 pumps.  One is the subject PMP-450 pump with variable speed control and the second is the PMP-450S pump which is fixed and designed to run at high voltage and higher speeds.

The pump comes in a factory box as a “Bare Pump” type product.

Box indicates it is a Laing D5-38/810 vario with 1/2″ barbs

Well packaged bare pump, no accessories

Both flavors of the pump share the exact same pump housing with the exception of the rear cup in which the PMP-450 has a hole where the variable speed control protrudes.

Variable speed controller and a BLUE RPM WIRE!!!!!

What’s different about the Koolance Brand pump?

There is one thing that I had always very much missed with various other D5 Vario pumps, and that’s the RPM sensor wire.  I’ve have several non Koolance brand variable speed D5 pumps now and none of them ever came with this very valuable feature.  As far as I know, Koolance is the only one to offer a variable speed Laing D5 that comes factory with the blue wire 3 pin RPM sensing wire.

Why is RPM sensing important?

RPM readout provides two important bits of information:

  • Pump and Loop Health Indicator – Having the ability to read RPM is a good way to see the pump is functioning as it was designed.  Sudden changes in RPM are indicators that either something has changed in the loop (IE a block is plugging), or that the pump is experiencing problems.  Without the ability to monitor via RPM, you are left with very little indication.
  • Pump Failure Shutdown – RPM is likely the easiest method of setting up an emergency pump shutdown routine.  Most motherboards and bios tools have some ability to set a minimum RPM level for the CPU fan header.  While this was originally intended to serve as a failsafe for CPU heat sink fans, it also works for pumps that have RPM sensing abilities.  While the D5 series may very well be the most trusted pump in all of watercooling, it’s always good practice to have a failsafe.  Running two pumps in series can give you redundancy, but what happens if you have a single pump and the pump fails…bad things can happen.  I personally have had an instance where I was working on my case and accidentally bumped a loose molex connector only to have the pump quit working.  My 8800GTX video card loop actually melted the acetal in my VGA block and the tubing had deformed to the point that it was nearly ready to burst.  Luckily I was right there looking and noticed the water boiling in my loop after getting a sense of some odd smell.  Had the tubing burst, surely there would have been disaster.  Having had the pump on a shutdown routine, would have prevented that.

Soo…I’m extremely happy that Koolance has now provided us with a D5 Vario WITH RPM sensor!  That’s awesome!

With that, let’s look around the pump.  It does come with a nice steel base which lifts the pump off the ground.  This metal base is ideal for sitting on a decoupling material since there will be no issue with heat.

1/2″ barbs come factory, no need to install a top for larger tubing

Now, let’s have a look on the inside, first and overall parts picture:

Tool-less disassembly reveals the goods, Ceramic/Carbon ball bearing, spiral volute

Another nice features of the PMP-450 is the completely tool-less ability to take the pump apart.  The pump is held in place by the large ribbed collar which simply unscrews with the twist of the hand.  The large o-ring you see sits in the volute housing and seals the metal pump housing to the thermoplastic volute.

At the heart of the pump and common to all D5 & DDC pumps is the very desirable ceramic ball bearing which mates up with a graphite impeller bearing cap.  The one point is the only point of contact and wear and makes for an extremely long life.  I have yet to see one wear out unless someone accidentally ran one dry.

The other perhaps not so obvious feature that makes a very large impact on the pump is the metal pump housing (Canned Spherical Motor).  There are two benefits to this.   One is the cooling capability and heat transfer that the metal housing provides.  Unlike it’s brother DDC series which uses a plastic housing and resulting heat buildup, the PMP-450 and it’s metal house serves extremely well to watercool the pump.  This does lead to more heat entering the water, however the cooling ability is beneficial to the pump electronics in keeping it cool.  The other benefit to this canned housing is how the metal canning creates a water tight seal around the motor housing.  While the pump is mounted any failure in the o-ring or other possible leak will generally have a very difficult time ever finding it’s way into the electronics of the pump.  I think it’s the above two reasons that make this pump one of the most durable water cooling pumps on the market.  They are water cooled, and have built in leak protection.

Easy assembly

So the pump overall has some real durability enhancing features, it has an RPM sensing wire, and very easy to take apart and clean for maintenance needs.

About the only downside I can think of is the larger size and lack of decoupling pad.  Some folks also have noted that the barbs are slightly over-sized and take a little more force to install tubing on.  I consider oversized barbs a big benefit in general because it generally leads to much lower chance of leaks.  Also decoupling material such as a piece of egg crate works perfectly fine.  I just wouldn’t recommend bolting the metal stand to the case if possible.

12V Test Results

Detail (Retest Done 12-15-12)

Koolance-PMP450-PQdetail12V

Following my usual pressure vs. flow rate testing, I came up with the following family of curves at 12V.  Generally settings 4 and 5 would be good options for average to higher restriction loops and settings 2 and 3 for very low restriction loops.  Setting 1 is really a bit too underpowered to maintain acceptable flow rates, although I would encourage anyone to try.  Note that my setting 5 is actually max and setting 1 is min.  I figure anyone that is operating at 5 likely has the knob turned to the max which is very slightly more than 5, etc.

Setting 1 through 5. Pressure is the solid lines, Watts is the dashed lines.

12V vs 24V

You may have noticed that the pump is perfectly capable of operating at higher voltage up to 24V.  This may lead you to believe there would be a significant performance difference between 12V and 24V.  I tested that below:

Setting 5 12V vs 24V, very very minor benefit with low restriction loops

Unfortunately there is not much benefit to using 24V on the PMP-450 pump.  Up to about 1.5GPM there really was no measurable benefit, on the contrary because it was consuming about 1-2 watts more.  I would not recommend purchasing a controller to operate this pump beyond 12V, it’s just not enough difference to bother with.

Performance PMP-450 vs PMP-400 + Top

While tops don’t help much on the PMP-450 pump because the factory top is already very good, they do help a lot on the PMP-400.  Soo…many have folks choose the PMP-400 for it’s slight performance advantage.  Here is that comparison:

The difference here will not add up to much temperature difference, but the PMP-400 with top is a slightly stronger pump for our more restrictive water cooling loops.

Size

One thing you should also consider with this pump is it’s relative size.  It is generally bigger than the PMP-400 or other DDC pump at least until you put on a top and lift the PMP-400 to provide more cooling.  Then they are comparable.

Size Comparison

On the left is actually the 450S model, but both (450 & 450S) are the same size so I reused the picture.  Without the lifting base, the PMP-400 is a fair amount more compact.  Size is something you’ll want to consider.  Also note that the inlet port and outlet ports are reversed between the two pumps.  The PMP-400 with top accepts the in from the top, where the PMP-450 accepts the in from the side.  Depending on your tubing configuration, you might have a preference one way or the other.

Noise

The pump is extremely quiet, particularly when installed in an acetal aftermarket top.  Check out the noise data in my pump noise round 1 piece where I tested both the stock top and after market top.

Efficiency

Not a huge deal as I think the differences are relatively small, but the PMP-400 when coupled with an aftermarket top will produce slightly more pumping power per watt than the PMP-450, but that is only after the PMP-400 has had the factory top (with an inlet elbow) removed.

Not quite as efficient as a PMP-400 with top

This is pretty minor when you’re talking about 20 watts worth of heat, but something to consider if you’re looking at running something extreme like triple pumps in series.  The PMP-400 with top is a bit more efficient by a few watts depending on the restriction.

Conclusion

Pros
  • Extremely reliable long lasting pump
  • Canned metal housing protects electronics from leak damage
  • Canned metal housing cools the pump motor very well
  • Factory Top performs very well, no inlet elbow
  • Factory Top comes with 1/2″ barbs
  • Koolance brand includes an RPM sensor wire, yes!!
  • Factory speed controller built in (no need for voltage controller to reduce speed)
  • Easy tool less entry
  • Cost – When compared to a PMP-400 plus top
  • Very Quiet
Cons
  • Larger in size
  • Not quite as powerful as a PMP-400 with top
  • Not quite as efficient as a PMP-400 with top
  • No decoupling pad or accessories (bare pump)

So there are some give and takes when compared to the PMP-400 series, but you’ll find the user base very much split out there.  I believe the durability, long life history, and cool operation are all very desirable features many prioritize highly.  I like this pump very much, and particularly like it now that Koolance has provided us with the RPM sensor.  You really can’t go wrong with either the PMP-450 or PMP-400 pumps, I use them both myself and can’t really pick a favorite because I see benefits in both models.  The nice thing about the PMP-450 is that you get a speed controller and a good 1/2″ compatible top factory out of the box.  You also get a pump that runs very cool and has a long history of reliability.  These are all very good qualities and I highly recommend it.

Cheers!
Martin

Comments
  1. Alvin says:

    Martin, you mentioned there is a 3-pin tach. So I can connect that to an available 3-pin fan header on my motherboard, right? Do that 3-pin power up the pump also or it’s strictly for rpm monitoring. Only the molex connecter will power the pump, am I correct? You see I’m planning on buying the Koolance RP-450×2 using two of these in series. Good thing too, since I’ve read your review of the reservoir, thinking I can buy the reservoir, plug two of the four inlets/outlets then they are already in series, not realizing that there’s a series accessory needed, a noob move!

    Anyway, it’s a great review! Love the clarity of the pics.

    • Martinm210 says:

      Yes, these have a 3 pin plug with the blue tach wire. You can connect it to any motherboard fan header that has RPM monitoring and you will read the RPM direct.

      Yes, the power comes from the 4 pin molex connector. The 3 fin fan connector is only for RPM.

      Thanks!

      • Ahmed A. says:

        Hey Martin great job on this review. Would you happen to know what the wattage or amps is for the this pump at 12V on setting 5? i’m trying to calculate load for an Aquaero 5 XT.

  2. martin, would it be safe to use an adapter to have the pump be powered and monitored solely by the motherboard?

    Most new boards include fan controller software and I’m thinking this would be a great way to clean up wiring in a case.

    • Martinm210 says:

      Sure if the motherboard can handle it, but that can be hard to figure out sometimes and I wouldn’t recommend it unless you had some sort of documentation provided by your motherboard manufacturer that said it’s capable of handling at least 25 watts. I just feel better about connecting to a controller designed for pumps. If it burns out you can replace it fairly easily, but damaging a motherboard is bigger problem.

      I like to think about it in terms of watts. Some efficient fans such as the GT15 only consume about 1 watt. This pump consumes 22 watts. So connecting this pump to your motherboard is like connecting 22 GT15 fans all on the same header.

  3. Martinm210 says:

    Ahmed:

    This pump in a water cooling loop will consume somewhere between 18 and 21 watts depending on the restriction. Under high restriction it consumes slightly less. Hope that helps..Martin

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  6. Andrew says:

    Martin –

    I had one of my 450 pumps go out – and accidentally ordered the 450s as a replacement.

    Before I install/void return policy of the 450s – would it be OK to just run 1×450 and 1x450s with my RP252x2?

    • Martinm210 says:

      Yeah, it’s fine at 12V, I just wouldn’t run the S models at full 24V on aftermarket tops. I had vibration issues with one of my S models at 24V speed on non factory tops. There is a little bit of pump sample variance out there, some have more balanced impellers than others. At 12V both of mine worked fine though and will be a lot like a regular 450 at setting 4.5 or so.

  7. deadfire19 says:

    Hello,

    As this pump contains an RPM sensor could you please take the back off and take a photo of where the RPM sensor is connected to the PCB. Would be very grateful as I would like to mod an RPM sensor onto my Swiftech MCP665.

    Many Thanks

    Dominic

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