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DDC Ultra Pump Review and Flow Testing

The perfect water pump for a water cooling loop would be one that has high flow, high head pressure, very low noise, minimal heat dump (in other words, high efficiency) and was small and looked cool. Fortunately, the perfect pump is readily available and made by Liang... it's the 18w DDC pump!

Industry guru "Cathar" recently had this to say on XtremeSystems...
"For pumps, I'd been pushing hard both on-line over at Procooling, and behind the scenes with a number of industry players. While I never spoke directly to Laing, quite a fair bit of feedback and suggestions did flow from me to them through different channels, and now we have the Laing DDC+, which if you read my specs for the "perfect pump" over at Procooling, the DDC+ is almost exactly what I was pushing for. With the after-market 1/2" tops, the 18W DDC+ is exactly what I ever envisioned the ideal PC water-cooling pump to ever be."
As Cathar suggests... Alphacool has developed a cool looking plexi top that increases performance significantly. Other companies have made similar tops (i.e. Radical and Petra).

Other benefits of the Alphacool DDC Ultra include:
  • 5mm LED drilling
  • G1/4 BSPP threads
  • Rubber isolated 3.5" drive bay mounts
  • Available matching reservoir
Some excellent reviews and data on this pump include:

There are numerous reports that the Alphacool reservoir impeedes perforamance and makes bleeding difficult. In fact, in the following graphs borrowed from H2Okoeling.dk, it's clear that even with the reservoir top (denoted by AGB) it's still a very capable pump and significantly out-performs the D5.

My own test results also showed that the impact on flow was negligable as long as there was absolutely no air in the reservoir during operation. Thus I decided to combine the reservoir with a more functional DangerDen Fillport and Res.

However, given the unique design of my loop and some of the high restriction elements in it (as you will see as this blog unfolds), I decided that a second pump would likely improve flow rates significantly. Using a second pump also provides some redundancy allowing me to maintain use of my system in the event a pump fails and I need to RMA it.

Reliability and robustness of these pumps seems to be the only potential fault. Numerous people have complained of premature failure of the pumps. I therefore plan to exploit an automated system shutdown process in the event of a loss in flow that I'll describe fully in the monitoring and control post when I get to that.

Pump Mods and Installation:

  • On the main pump with the res, I bored out the top inlet to 3/8" (9.5mm)
  • I found that air was getting trapped in the Alphacool res cap so I filled it with epoxy
  • I installed the main pump in a Coolermaster 4-in-3 drive bay box using the included isolation mounts thus double isolating the pump from the chassis
  • Installed a pair of Blue LEDs in the plexi top.
  • I finished the install of the main pump assembly with a plexiglass front panel to minize noise and improve aesthetics.
  • I left the secondary pump unmodified and mounted it in the top blow-hole area of the case on its side so it takes input directly from the output of the first pump.

Installation Pictures:

The DDC Ultra with res attached (note epoxy filled res cap)...

The DDC pump, res and Remag flow meter assembly to be inserted in 4-in-3 drive bay...

Pump installed in drive bays with plexi front...

Due to the inaccessibility of the Alphacool Res, I used a Dangerden Fill-Port res as the main bleeding mechanism for the loop. I modified the res by adding some low density aquarium sponge to the top 1/3 of the res to trap air as dual pumps will quickly froth any air in the loop unless otherwise trapped like this. Since the res is normally designed for a T-Line application, I modified it to include an inlet port that comes directly from the PSU water block. I drilled a hole, tapped it to G1/4 and then epoxied the fitting in to prevent cracking or leaks since the curved surface prevented the normal application of a rubber o-ring to seal it.

Fill-Port Res and 2nd Pump installed in blow-hole (just forward of PSU)...

View of 2nd pump and res from the side and below...

Pump Flow Testing:

I performed my own flow tests using a pair of buckets to confirm that my pump was performing to specs and to test the impact of some elements of my loop on flow. The results are interesting.
The test rig was extremely simple...

The red bucket is full of water and an open-ended piece of Masterkleer 7/16" tubing is inserted well into the bucket. The other end is attached to the inlet to the pump. Another length of tubing on the outlet of the pump terminates in a ball-valve (allowing me to prime the pump by shutting the valve) that empties into the graduated blue bucket. The time (as measured by a stop-watch) for the pump to fill the graduated bucket from 2l to 6l (or pump 4l of water) was measured and then converted into l/m in the chart below.

All of the devices tested in the chart below, were simply attached either to the pump outlet directly or to the drain end of the outlet tube.

It was very disheartening (although not unexpected) to see the impact on flow of the crappy Innovatek flow meter 2.0. As others have reported, this thing is a flow killer and a waste of money! I later included a Remag flow meter in the loop but haven't yet measured the impact on flow.

The Black Ice GT (240) rad was also more restrictive than I would have liked, but again, it's not unexpected (more on that on my post regarding the rads).

A pleasant surprise was that after modding the top inlet to 9.5mm it allowed the addition of the reservoir with no impact on flow performance. Even without the modded top, the reservoir was not a major detriment to flow... however, it was vital that the reservoir have absolutely no air in it (making it useless as a bleeding tool). If even the slightest bit of air was allowed in the reservoir it would cause cavitation and flow rates would plummet.

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