Introduction

When it comes to the liquid cooling, the first name that comes to one’s mind is EK Water Blocks. EK® Water Blocks, the premium liquid cooling manufacturer, bears the name of its founder Edvard König. It all started with the enthusiasm of one man and his ventures with liquid cooling back in 1999. Ever since its inception the EK Water Blocks has become the premium brand in liquid cooling solutions and this brand is highly popular among the modders, PC Builders, and water cooling enthusiasts alike. Today, the products of EK® are available in more than 30 countries worldwide and the company holds several partnerships with some of the most recognized brands. Not only their products are of high quality but their customer support is up to the bar as well and this is what really matters.

We have recently reviewed EK-AIO 240 D-RGB cooler. EK Water Blocks has released their new AIO coolers introduced in Online Expo 2021. EK Water Blocks has sent us their new EK-AIO Basic 240 for the review. The idea behind Basic series is simple. EK Water Blocks has removed the digital lighting from the fans and the block resulting in all black cooler which will definitely come in handy for the neutral/stealth builds. This is coming at a good price point now. The EK-AIO Basic 240 has an MSRP of $89.99 as compared to the MSRP of $119.99 on the D-RGB version.

The EK-AIO Basic 240 is a 240mm CLC which comes with 2x EK-Vardar S120 Dark Edition High Performance Fans and a universally compatible CPU water block with tool-less mounting mechanism for easy installation. This AIO does not have a quick disconnect so these are not expandable coolers like their XLC-Predator or Phantom series coolers which were built around modularity and expandability. This product is compatible with popular RGB sync technologies from all major motherboard manufacturers. The EK-AIO Basic 240 is compatible with – Intel Sockets LGA: 1150, 1151, 1155, 1156, 1200, 2011, 2011-3, 2066 and AMD Socket: AM4.

Item:                                     EK-AIO Basic 240

Manufacturer:                      EK Water Blocks

Price:                                    $89.99 [MSRP on EKWB Shop]

Specifications

Packaging and Unboxing

The cooler is shipped inside a white color cardboard packing box.

There is a picture of the cooler. The picture is evident of all black theme behind the Basic series coolers. The socket compatibility information is printed on the bottom. This cooler is compatible with leading sockets from Intel and AMD excluding TR4/xTR4 sockets.

Features of the cooler include:

  • Maintenance free
  • Silent Operation
  • Addressable D-RGB
  • Easy Installation
  • Top Class Performance

EK Water Blocks has highlighted three key components of the cooler here; powerful pump, fans, and the efficient radiator. There are diagrams showing the dimension of the unit. The cooler is designed in Slovenia and made in China.

Specifications of the cooler are printed in 6 languages. The socket compatibility information is printed on the bottom

Opening the box will show the nicely packed contents in the egged carton. There is a white color Styrofoam pad on the top and a multilingual comprehensive user guide.

Accessories

Let’s take a look at what EK Water Blocks has provided in the accessory box.

EK Water Blocks has provided a comprehensive user guide on the installation and maintenance of the liquid cooler. The guide is multilingual.

The mounting hardware is included in a transparent container which is labeled for ease of identification. I have sent the picture to their marketing for correction on the label.

We have:

  • 1x Metallic Backplate
  • 2x Intel Mounting Brackets
  • 2x AMD Mounting Brackets

We have:

  • 4x Thumb caps/nuts
  • 4x Springs
  • 4x Intel LGA20xx standoffs
  • 4x Other sockets standoffs
  • 5x screws for the mounting brackets

We have:

  • 4x small screws for the radiator
  • 16x screws for the fans (2 sizes)

EK Water Blocks has provided a Y cable which allows the user to connect both fans to a single fan header on the motherboard. 1x Ectotherm thermal paste is also included.

Closer Look

It is time to take a closer look at the components. Before that here is what EK Water Blocks is saying about the cooler. “The EK-AIO Basic 240 is a non-RGB, price-conscious all-in-one liquid cooling solution for your CPU. It offers all the water cooling benefits in a compact, easy to install, and maintenance-free design. This EK AIO comes with a universally compatible CPU water-block, along with a pre-filled pump-reservoir combo. It is ready to go straight out of the box. Less fuss, more cooling!”

The cooler is compatible with Intel LGA20xx/1366/1200/115x sockets and AMD AM4 socket.

RADIATOR

The EK Water Blocks EK-AIO Basic 240 is a 240mm CLC cooling solution. It has a 240mm radiator with 2x EK-Vardar S120 Dark edition fans.

The dimension of the radiator is 275 x 120 x 27mm. The thickness of the radiator is 27mm. With 25mm fans the overall thickness would be 53mm with the screws heads. The radiator has a 22 fins per inch (FPI). There is a gap of 105mm between any two fan mounting holes on the radiator. We have a black color housing of the radiator and the overall build quality and finishing is good. The dimension on the packing box shows the length of the radiator to be 273.9mm whereas the specifications on the website is showing this figure to be 275mm.

Radiator is made of aluminum hence it is light weight. This is EK Water Blocks own design. The blocks on both ends of the radiator are rectangular. Fin stack is dense and taking into account the left and right side channels, it has total 12 channels for water flow. There is no protective plating under the mounting holes on the radiator assembly much like what we have seen on the majority of AIO solutions in the market with a few exceptions.

The radiator assembly has a nice clean finish all around. There is no EKWB branding on the side of the assembly.

The above picture shows a close up view on the fin stack. EK Water Blocks has done a neat and clean job on the radiator.

The far head has a rectangular design and a neat finishing. You can also take a close up look on the fins. We have a few bend fins but the overall finishing is good enough. The length of the far head is 20.70mm.

The build quality of the cooler is top notch all around. EK Water Blocks is using straight fittings on the radiator with large size aluminum couplings/covers in matte black color finishing. This large size could increase the overall thickness of the assembled cooler. There is a sticker pasted on the far head showing the part no or serial no of the cooler.

There is what seems to be a refill port on the radiator. It is reserved only the factory use. Don’t attempt to open the port as you may lose the atmospheric pressure of the loop.

The EK AIO comes pre-installed with reinforced and sleeved rubber tubing, each fitted with an aluminum cover to ensure they’re ultra-durable. The tubing has a nylon braided sleeve on it and runs to an approximate 350mm length which is kinda short length and should have been 400m or so in my opinion.

PUMP/BLOCK

Let’s take a look at the Monoblock of the cooler.

The EK AIO comes with a universally compatible CPU water-block, fitting all the latest Intel & AMD CPU sockets as well as featuring a tool-less mounting mechanism for easy installation along with a pre-filled pump-res combo design. The EK AIO Basic CPU Monoblock features a brushed aluminum cover on the top in the black color. This is another difference between the Basic and D-RGB coolers as we have backlit acrylic cover on top.

The block has a dimension of 88x70x53mm and is made of ABS plastic housing, copper cold plate and steel mounted pump. There is a blue color cover on the EK Water Blocks brand logo. Don’t forget to peel it off after the installation to have that feeling of association with the brand. The dimension after installing the mounting bracket would be 94.50x70x53mm.

The above picture shows the sub-components of the complete block assembly. Following are the specifications of the pump:

Speed 450 ~ 2600 RPM ± 10%
PWM Range 20 ~ 100%
Connector 4-pin PWM
D-RGB Connector 3-pin addressable connector

All sides except the tubing end of the block are identical. We have a splendid brushed aluminum finish on the top section and matte black color on the lower housing.

There is a single 4-pin flat cable coming out of the pump to power its motor. It has an approximate length of 495mm.

Taking a look at the rear of the block, we have diamond-cut rotary fittings on the block. There are aluminum covers on the fitment giving a nice and clean look. We are still finding two screws. These were there on the D-RGB version to access the RGB strip on the block and replace it with your own. I am not sure what purpose do they serve here. Its diamond-cut rotary fittings allow for easy installation and adjustment of the rubber tubing, featuring a full range of movement to make the EK AIO suitable for installation in even the tightest spaces.

One thing to observe the angle of fitment of the tubes on the block. Unlike the majority of the AIO cooling solutions in the market, these tubes are not in 90° fitment as they sit in the same side of the block. By design, the EK-AIO sports the top mounted approach.

We have a copper base measuring 58x55mm. Thermal paste is pre-applied.

The above picture is showing the copper base after removing the pre-applied thermal paste. There are two holes on each side of the housing. This is where the mounting brackets are installed.

The above picture shows the EK-AIO 240 D-RGB and EK-AIO Basic 240 side by side for the comparison. The Basic series cooler does not have digital RGB lighting on it and it is all black.

FAN

EK Water Blocks has bundle two Dar Edition of Vardar S120 fans. Each fan has 7 blades which optimized for high pressure and low noise operation. They are industrial-grade high-static pressure radiator fans primarily created for the highest-performance liquid cooling systems. There are not anti-vibration pads on the mounting corners. We have a large diameter center on the fans. There is an EKWB branded sticker on the center.

There is EK Water Blocks branding on the side of the frame. There are no arrow symbols to guide the novice users in determining the direction of airflow and blades’ spin.

The backside of the fan shows the 4-arms assembly on the main frame with one arm having a wider area. The cables are routed on this wider arm towards the exterior of the fan. EK-AIO Vardar S are printed on the sticker. The fans are designed in Slovenia and manufactured in China.

Each fan has a 4-pin PWM fan connector having an approximate length of 485mm. The cable is flat in design.

The specification of the fans are:

Dimension 120x120x25mm
Type 4-pin PWM Connector
Speed 550-2200 RPM ± 10%
Airflow 77 CFM
Air Pressure 2.89 mmH₂O
Noise 33.5 dB(A)

 

Installation

We have recently upgraded our Intel test bed  and are now on Intel LGA1200 socket. Installation is as follow:

Place the backplate on the backside of the motherboard on the socket area by aligning the holes on the socket with the backplate holes. User should pay attention on the orientation of the backplate for the Basic and the D-RGB versions as orientation is different for both series of the coolers. I also observed during the testing of EK-AIO 240 D-RGB that the orientation of the backplate on the Intel LGA1200 socket was same as is on the Basic series coolers but it was not same for the LGA1151 socket. By that time I did not check the manual. The manual indeed mentioned the different orientation than the one on the Basic series coolers.

Use the Intel LGA 115x/1200 pillars or standoffs to secure the backplate with the motherboard.

Install the fans on the radiator. You can do this step after installing the radiator in the chassis as well.

Install the Intel mounting brackets on the block.

Place the block on the CPU by passing the mounting bracket’s holes on the threaded portion of the pillars/stands. Place the springs on the pillars/standoffs.

Use the provided thumb nuts to secure the block on the CPU.

Install the radiator in the chassis. You can use the Y cable to connect both fans to the single fan header on the motherboard. Another fan header would be needed for the 4-pin PWM cable coming from the block to power the pump. This would complete the installation.

There is no clearance issue with respect to the DIMM slots and first PCIe slot. Make sure your chassis has clearance for 240mm radiator.

Testing

We have upgraded our Intel test bed recently. A few coolers have been tested on this setup. More will be added after the testing in coming time.

Following test benches have been used: –

  • Intel i7 10700k
  • MSI MAG Z490 TOMAHWAK
  • T-Force NightHawk RGB 16GB @ 3200MHz
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 FE
  • addlink S70 256GB NVMe SSD
  • bequiet! Straight Power 11 850W Platinum PSU
  • Open-air test bench

Here is the settings table for testing:

Clock (MHz) 3800 All Cores
Voltage (V) 1.034
Clock (MHz) 4700 All Cores
Voltage (V) 1.255
Clock (MHz) 5100 All Cores
Voltage (V) 1.345
Turbo Boost Disabled
C-States Disabled
Speed Step Disabled
Thermal Paste Noctua NT-H1
Thermal Paste Application Dot Method in the center.
Test Run Time 30 minutes
Idling Time 10 minutes
Fan Speed 100% PWM Duty Cycle and Auto PWM
Pump Speed Connected to the AIO Pump header to run at 100% speed
Header CPU_Fan header for the fans and Pump_Header for the pump
Software AIDA64 6.3 Extreme [FPU]

 

We are using Noctua NT-H1 thermal paste for coolers testing. Using a same thermal paste for all coolers would ensure the standardization. Delta temperatures are reported on the graphs. The testing is done on an open air bench system. Once inside the chassis, the temperatures are expected to rise and would largely depend upon the optimal airflow inside the chassis.

Not every run of the stress test may yield the same result. This could well be due to many factors like mounting pressure, thermal paste application, varying ambient temperature. Not to mention the silicon differences even among the same category of the chips. Hence, it is pertinent to mention the testing methodology along with the specifics.

The coolers are also tested using Auto PWM function. MSI is using Smart Fan mode in the UEFI/BIOS which is not pure Auto PWM but it is what is available to us. The above picture shows the MSI default fan curve for the Smart Fan mode. Since all the coolers will be tested using the same configuration and settings, same margin of error applies to all.

Let’s take a look at the results.

3.8GHz All Cores

3.8GHz is not a tough challenge for any cooler and resultantly all coolers are in the same range. Needless to say that EK-AIO Basic 240 is on the top with only 0.1°C difference.

4.7GHz All Cores

EK-AIO Basic 240 is again on top with a difference of 1.9°C over the Antec Neptune 240.

4.7GHz All Cores [Auto PWM]

The EK-AIO is trailing by 0.5°C difference which is marginal.

Fans’ Speed on Auto PWM

The above graph shows the maximum speed attained by the fans on the Auto PWM. For comparison, we have included the rated speed of the fans to have reference in determining the Auto PWM range.

5.1GHz All Cores

Now coming to the ultimate challenge of handling the CPU with all cores set to run at 5.1GHz using 1.345V, the EK-AIO Basic 240 shows its true cooling potential as it is sitting on the top with a minimum of 2°C difference over the other coolers.

Conclusion

EK Water Blocks has introduced their new coolers during the Online Expo 2021 in January, 21. They have released the EK-AIO Basic series coolers in 240mm and 360mm size. The term Basic here shows some differences over the D-RGB series coolers. The Basic series coolers are black from head to toe in literal meaning. Fans are Dark Edition of Vardar S 120. The radiator itself is black much like the D-RGB series coolers. The block does not have acrylic top with backlit D-RGB LEDs. Instead we have a brushed aluminum top cover on the block.

EK Water Blocks has sent us their EK-AIO Basic 240 and 360 coolers for the review. The cooler features a brushed aluminum cover on the universal compatible Monoblock. This is in-house design from EK Water Blocks and features 2x EK-Vardar S 120 Dark Edition high performance fans. The EK-AIO Basic 240 is compatible with – Intel Sockets LGA: 1150, 1151, 1155, 1156, 1200, 2011, 2011-3, 2066 and AMD Socket: AM4.

The unit has an aluminum radiator measuring 275 x 120 x 27mm. The thickness of the radiator is 27mm. The overall thickness would be 53mm after installing the fans. The radiator has 22 FPI. The radiator has a black color housing. The EK Water Blocks is using low evaporating rubber tubes with nylon braided sleeves running to approximately 350mm in length. The tubes are installed on straight fittings on the radiator with aluminum clamps which are in matte black finish.

The cooler features a universal compatible Monoblock with a dimension of 88x70x53mm. The block is made of ABS material with copper cold plate and steel mounting pump. There is an EKWB brand logo in silver on the corner of the block. The tubes are installed on the block using diamond-cut rotary fittings with similar aluminum clamps. The overall build quality is top notch and speaks of what we can expect from EKWB. The cooler features a PWM pump which is rated for 450 ~ 2600 RPM ± 10%. There is no power consumption information provided in the specification. The PWM range of the pump is 20~100%. The block has copper base with cold plate. The surface of the base is flat and we have roughly 58x55mm dimension of the base. The base comes with the pre-applied thermal paste. On top of that, EKWB has also bundled their Ectotherm thermal paste.

The EK-AIO Basic 240 comes with the two EK-Vardar S 120 Dark Edition fans. These are high-performance fans designed for liquid cooling solutions. These fans are rated for up to 2200 RPM ±10
% speed with a maximum airflow rating of 77 CFM at air pressure rating of 2.89 mmH₂O. These fans feature 7 blades to ensure high pressure with low noise operations. The installation is an easy task and the comprehensive user guide is provided to help the users in installation.

The EK Water Blocks EK-AIO Basic 240 is listed at $89.99 at the time of the review. The price cut makes sense as EKWB is targeting the budget segment with no frills but pure performance. EK Water Blocks is offering 5 years warranty. The performance of this cooler is excellent on our test bed though at present there are not enough coolers tested on our newly upgraded Intel test bed but it is a good indicator of a healthy competition and it has won our Performance Award.

Many thanks to our friends at EKWB for sending in a sample of their 240mm EK-AIO Basic.

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