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Recently we had a chance to look at a couple of EK products. I reviewed their 295×2 waterblock,and just a few days ago Lvcoyote reviewed their Supremacy EVO CPU waterblock. Both of those products performed quite well during their reviews. Today, we have a complete custom kit from EK, which they call the EK-KIT X240. This kit comes with a 2×120 mm double thick radiator, their DDC 3.2 PWM Elite Edition pump, the Supremacy Clean CSQ waterblock, and all the parts needed to complete a full custom loop. Today, we will put it through its paces and see how it fares!
Specifications and Features
Below is a list of Specifications and Features from their website. As you can see, the X240 kit comes with everything you need to get started in water cooling. CPU Block, radiator, fans, pump, reservoir, tubing, fittings, coolant treatment, and cable splitters. The big difference in the EK kit versus AIO units is at least two fold. First, with this not being an AIO, you can easily expand it and not worry about the horsepower needed to push the water through. Speaking of pumps, the included pump (DDC 3.2) can support a couple of radiators and blocks while maintaining adequate flow (~1.5 GPM). The second part is the quality of the parts used. An AIO is a bit more disposable as they use weaker pumps or cheap tubing for example, compared to a custom kit like this. Below is a list of parts that are included.
From the EKWB website:
- Universal CPU water block: EK-Supremacy Clean CSQ (incl. LED diode, mounting- & thermal material)
- Radiator: EK-CoolStream RAD XTX 240 (Double)
- Radiator fan: EK-FAN Silent 120-1600 RPM (2pcs)
- Water pump: EK-DDC 3.2 PWM Elite Edition (incl. pump holders)
- Reservoir: EK-RES X3 150
- Tubing: PrimoChill PrimoFlex™ Advanced LRT™ 13/10mm (2 meters)
- Compression fittings: EK-CSQ Fitting 13/10mm – G1/4 Nickel (8 pcs)
- Coolant concentrate: EK-Ekoolant EVO Clear (100mL; for 1L of coolant)
- Y-cable splitter: EK-Cable Y-Splitter 2-Fan PWM (10cm)
- ATX bridging plug
This kit fits the following sockets:
- Intel LGA-775, LGA-1366, LGA-1150/1155/1156, LGA-2011
- AMD Sockets: 939, 754, 940, AM2(+), AM3(+), FM1, FM2
Meet the EK-KIT X240
We are going to attack the parts individually, starting out with the retail packaging, biocide product, and the fittings. The retail packaging clearly holds to EKWB’s white and orange color scheme. Recently (a couple years now?) they changed their design a bit and have circles on a lot of their products for the major design feature, and we see that here on the front of the box. On the rear we see high level information in different languages describing what is included as well as compatibility.
Next up, we see the included coolant additive, which helps keep the water free of bio products and in tip top shape. This bottle is a concentrate and should be used with 900mL of distilled water for a proper mix. To wrap up this set of pictures, I showed a shot of the EK Compression fittings.
The first item we will look at in more detail is the included EK-RES X3 150. The reservoir is made from acrylic (so don’t clean it with alcohol or solvents!) and is an improved design based off their previous reservoirs, the EK Multioption line. The design improvements came from the port locations as well as the bottom for optimized flow.
The reservoir in the kit is decent sized (compared to what I am used to with their competitor) coming in at 150 mm (nearly 6″) by 60 mm (~2.4″) and holds a maximum of 240ml of liquid. As you can see by the pictures, there are several ports on the device, which will accommodate all sorts of orientations. EK also offers the reservoir in a smaller size (X3 110) and two larger sizes (X3 240 and X3 400).
Next up is the included radiator, the EK-CoolStream RAD XTX 240 (Double). The XTX line of radiators is designed for “extreme enthusiasts” according to EK. This particular radiator is stated to work well even with low speed fans. And judging by the low FPI (11), that should hold true compared to radiators with a higher fin density where high static pressure fans are required for best performance. The radiator is made out of a steel frame, copper fins and tube (H90), along with brass chambers. The radiator measures (LxWxD) 11″ x 5.1″ x 2.5″. Remember, it is a ‘double deep’ radiator, so be sure that your case can support it!
As far as looks go, the pictures may deceive you a bit… the color is jet black. Due to the bright sunlight and my seeming inability to take true to life color pictures in that type of light, the radiator appears almost brown in the photos. But again, it is jet black. Moving on from my deficiencies, we see the EK symbol stamped on the sides and top. There is a fill port up at the top along with a total of four ports on the bottom (2 on each side) to allow for more configurations. All ports/threads are the standard G1/4 size. Overall, its a good looking radiator… as far as good looks go on a radiator anyway!
Next up is the CPU block. EK is using their solid EK-Supremacy Clean CSQ. Most know of the tried and true EK-Supremacy HF and this block is its successor. EK states the redesign allows for 20% more flow and performance/temperature improvements of 2 °C over the HF it replaces. The EK-Supremacy Clean CSQ comes with different jet plates to allow optimum cooling depending on the CPU it rests on. Being a universal CPU block, it will fit Intel sockets 775, 1150, 1155, 1156, 1366, and 2011. AMD sockets 754, 939, 940, AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, FM2, and FM2+ are all supported as well. So, any remotely modern socket is supported out of the box.
The base that makes contact with the CPU is made of copper and has a mirror finish. This one shipped with a clear acrylic top, so you can see the jet plate and thin micro channels that help keep the CPU cool. I love the look of the clear acrylic top I have to admit. It looks way better than my now retired old Apogee XT, that is for sure.
No water cooling kit would be complete without a set of included fans. EK uses their EK-FAN Silent 120-1600 RPM. This 120 mm fan is controlled by voltage, so it has a 3-pin connector for power and RPM monitoring. EK rates the airflow at almost 59 CFM @ 28.5 dB with a max current of .12A, or around 1.4 Watt. Cable length is pretty liberal at over 19″ (500mm to be exact).
As far as looks go, it’s a fan. She is jet black and does the job fairly quietly. I cannot confirm their decibel ratings, but it was not loud even when cranked up. It seems like a solid match for the low FPI radiator it comes with.
Next up, I will talk briefly about the installation. With the included instructions, things were a breeze once I planned out the location of the all the pieces. Everything went inside Corsair’s Air 540 case, which is more like a cube than a typical rectangular style case. There is a lot of room on the back side to place things… assuming you do some form of cable management. When building this unit, I was more interested on the look of the front or exposed side than worrying about the back. Indeed, it is a tangled web I weave of wire management!
I chose to put the pump under the 5.25″ bays, smack in the middle of the mess of wires. The reservoir was mounted to the back of the case above the 2.5″ drive caddies. This lets gravity assist the pump for priming at least. I could have moved the reservoir up to the front, as it would look good there. However, I chose to make shorter tubing runs, and thus a slightly cleaner look my priority.
As we can see with the radiator, there is BARELY enough room in the Air 540 for the fans and the radiator. In fact, there is only enough room due to the offset of the fan/radiator mounting points, the fact that the motherboard doesn’t have very tall heatsinks, and that my memory doesn’t have monster heat spreaders.
As you can see from the final installation picture, installed it looks pretty darn good. The clear top on the block, the clear tubing and water, along with Galaxy’s 780 Ti HOF really make a pretty cool theme. The ASUS board with its black and red theme add a bit of color, along with the ram that kind of sticks out like a sore thumb. This build needs some of the new Corsair Dominators in there instead! As you can see though, I am a function over form type of builder.
As stated at the top of this section, installation was easy once I figured out where I wanted the parts. A couple of screws here and there, and things were in place. Some elbow grease and a bit of saliva helped route and mount the tubing in the loop. Next was priming the pump and leak testing before we moved into ‘production’. Easy breezy lemon squeezy.
Next up, we’ll see how the kit performed. My testing included idle temperatures, Prime95 v28.5 (1 hour), Battlefield 4 (1 hour), and 3DMark (Fire Strike) looping for an hour. The ambient temperature was 22 °C for all testing. I used MX-2 thermal paste between the block and CPU IHS. I also tested each three times (three different mounts). The temperature values below are an average of these tests.
Listed below is the hardware used:
- Intel i7 4930K @ Stock and 4.4GHz 1.28v
- ASUS X79 Gene
- 4x4GB DDR3 1866 MHz CL9 1.65v
- Galaxy GTX 780Ti HOF
- Case fans: 3x Yate Loon 140 mm @ 1K RPM
The unit I used to compare it with is my existing NZXT Kraken X60 with its stock fans and profiles (silent and extreme). The EK kit is has a bit more radiator area being a thicker radiator versus the 140 mm wide Kraken. At stock clocks, almost across the board the EK-KIT beat out the Kraken X60. In the case of Prime95, it was by 6 °C with the Kraken on silent and the EK-KIT at 1K RPM, and 7 °C with the Kraken on Extreme and the EK fans at 1600 RPM. Checking out Battlefield 4, it showed very little differences at either fan speed with the temperature differences only about 1 °C… a statistical tie to me. Last but not least is 3DMark (Fire Strike). While this is a 3D test for all intents and purposes, the Physics/CPU test tends to beat on the CPU pretty hard for around a minute at a time then backing off a bit for the 3D tests. Here the EK X240 kit again flexed its double deep radiator brawn and besting the Kraken by 5 °C with the fans turned down, and 4 °C with them turned up.
Overall a solid showing at stock clock speeds.
I then overclocked the i7 4930K to 4.4 GHz using 1.28 V actual (read from voltage read point on load) and put it through the same set of testing. We didn’t see a tremendous difference here truthfully with the EK X240 kit coming out on top, but this time it was across the board. Prime95 showed a 5 °C difference in favor of the EK kit with the fans at 1K RPM and a 3 °C difference while at 1.6K RPM. BF4 showed only a 2 °C difference on low and a 3 °C difference with the fans turned up. In Fire Strike, we saw very little difference with only 1 °C separating both kits at both fan speeds.
What review of ours here at Overclockers.com would be complete without really leaning on the system, right? To that end, I raised the clock speed on this CPU to 4.7 GHz and raised the voltage to a ‘higher than needed’ value (1.49 V actual). I then pumped it through wPrime a few times and came up with a max temp 72 °C. Not too shabby. I am sure it would go up a few more °C with a more constant load with these voltages, but this was pretty easily benchable. On the Prime95 side, we see after running for a while that we hit a max temp of 86 °C, which for the processor at that clock and voltage is a pretty good effort given the wattage that needs to be cooled.
In the enthusiast’s world of computing where the market is nearly saturated with AIO’s, EK has a full custom kit to break the mold. While it is not a first of its kind, it remains one of the few out there. EK chose quality parts from their huge stable of offerings to include into one package, which takes the guess work out of part compatibility. In the forums we have a thread a day asking these very same questions about compatibility, so there certainly is a market for it.
In terms of performance, the testing I went through earlier shows that it can improve significantly from one of the top AIOs… and it was even a 2×140 mm radiator. The EK X240 kit does of course have the double depth radiator, which more than compensates for the extra width on the thin 2×140 mm radiator. I would have to imagine that it would beat out other AIOs with 2×120 mm radiators by the same or an even bigger margin. So, we can see the performance is there. The overall build quality was good across all the products in the kit while installation with the included instructions is also a breeze once you get part location and tubing routing down.
The next talking point here would be the price. The EK-KIT X240 comes in at $399.99 at Frozencpu.com. On the surface that seems pretty expensive. If pieced together it would cost you about the same anyway. The big difference is that a complete kit like this takes all the guesswork out of your water cooling build and you can be confident that everything inside the box will work with each other. This is a far cry from the $120-$140 that AIOs offer. However, the EK-KIT X240 is a full custom loop, period. They are not in the same class, so it’s a bit unfair to compare it to most AIOs.
Then there is the Swiftech H220-X. At $140 you essentially have an AIO with custom abilities there as well. But then again, you have to then buy the right G1/4 fittings and other tubing to expand it, which eats into that significant price difference a bit. With that, the price can be something of a turnoff for those not familiar with the water cooling scene/market. Can you build one cheaper that performs about the same? Sure you can. However, you may not have the same high quality parts throughout the loop and have to make sure everything is compatible (fittings, etc.) which can be a pretty daunting task for a lot of people.
In the end, EK has brought out a very good looking kit (to me), but most important to me is it performs well. The EK-KIT 240 managed to keep a hex core Intel cool enough at 4.7 GHz. There are not many AIOs that can do that. The pricing may feel a bit high, but to be honest this is a full custom water cooling loop with all the parts chosen for you. And in that light, its pricing fits the market well. Getting down to it, the EKWB EK-KIT X240 is Overclockers.com approved!