Introduction

When it comes to 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 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.

Elite, Elite, Elite! Elite as in enthusiast-grade, I take it! EK Water Blocks has released their all-out 360mm AIO cooler. We have recently reviewed their EK-AIO 240/360 Basic and D-RGB editions. Now, we are taking a spin on their EK-AIO 360 Elite D-RGB version. It is a 360mm CLC cooler but with three key differences over the EK-AIO 360 D-RGB or even the 360 Basic editions. EK Water Blocks has provided 6x EK-Vardar S 120ER D-RGB fans as compared to 3x on the regular 360 D-RGB edition. They have also bundled their EK-Hub which allows the user to connect all 6 fans and the block of the cooler to the hub which in turn is connected to the motherboard’s 4-pin PWM fan header and 5V digital light header. Take a note though, there is still no ARGB controller in the box! The last difference is the re-design of the water block. We have a heavier and taller block as compared to the regular 360 D-RGB edition and we no longer have that acrylic diffuser on the top. Only the EK logo on the top is backlit. The pump is the same as we have seen on the D-RGB and Basic editions with the difference that this pump has higher RPMs with a modified PWM range. The Elite edition is available in 280mm and 360mm versions. They have recently revealed the special limited edition version of Elite coolers with the block and the fittings in Gold color. This product is compatible with popular RGB sync technologies from all major motherboard manufacturers. The EK-AIO 360 Elite D-RGB is compatible with – Intel Sockets LGA: 1150, 1151, 1155, 1156, 1200, 2011, 2011-3, 2066, and AMD Socket: AM4.

Item:                                   EK-AIO Elite 360 D-RGB

Manufacturer:                     EK Water Blocks

Price:                                  $199.99 [MSRP]

 

Specifications

Packaging and Unboxing

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

There is a picture of the cooler with digital lighting on the fans and the block. The socket compatibility information is printed on the bottom. This cooler is compatible with leading sockets from Intel and AMD.

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.

Specifications of the cooler are printed in 8 languages. The socket compatibility information is printed on the bottom

Features of the cooler include:

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

There is a thick black color Styrofoam having the contents neatly and tightly placed in it. There is a black color Styrofoam pad cover on the top with the multilingual user manual on it.

Contents

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 two versions 280 and 360 have the same guide which is understandable as the mounting is the same.

The mounting hardware is included in a transparent container which is labeled for ease of identification.

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:

  • 12x Philips Head Screws UNC 6-32x6mm
  • 12x Philips Head Screws UNC 6-32x30mm
  • 12x Philips Head Screws UNC 6-32x34mm

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 Elite 360 D-RGB is an all-in-one liquid cooling solution for your CPU. It offers all the benefits of a water-cooling solution in a compact, easy to install, and maintenance-free design. The EK AIO Elite comes with a universally compatible CPU water-block, along with a pre-filled pump-res combo design for a liquid cooling solution that’s ready to go straight out of the box. It’s simple, efficient, and comes with fully customizable D-RGB lighting. Cable management – To help manage the cables of EK-Vardar fans, the EK-AIO Elite unit comes with an included EK-Hub, offering multi-connection with seven sets of addressable RGB LED headers and 4-pin PWM fan headers. The EK-Hub will help you neatly organize the Push-Pull fan configuration.”

The cooler is compatible with Intel LGA20xx/1366/1200/115x sockets and AMD AM4. Every component of the cooler has an EKWB seal confirming the genuinely EK product.

RADIATOR

The EK Water Blocks EK-AIO 360 is a 360mm CLC cooling solution. It has a 360mm radiator with 6x EK-Vardar S 120ER D-RGB fans.

The dimension of the radiator is 395 x 120 x 27mm. The thickness of the radiator is 27mm. With 25mm fans on one side, the overall thickness would be 53mm with the heads of the screws. With 6 fans the overall thickness would be 80mm roughly. The radiator has 18 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 are good.

The radiator is made of aluminum hence it is lightweight. This is EK Water Blocks’ own design. The blocks on both ends of the radiator are rectangular. The fin stack is dense and taking into account the left and right side channels, it has a total of 12 channels for water flow.

The above picture shows a close-up view of the fin assembly showing a neat and clean job done by the EKWB.

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 far head has a rectangular design and a neat finishing. The length of the 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. There is a warranty void sticker pasted on the port cover.

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 400mm length which is good enough for any use.

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 Elite CPU monoblock features a full cover with only EK logo being backlit. This block is quite heavy and has more height than the monoblock on the regular D-RGB/Basic editions. The block has a dimension of 88x70x64mm and is made of Black nickel housing, copper cold plate and steel mounted pump. There is no cover on the EK Water Blocks brand logo.

Following are the specifications of the pump:

Speed1000 ~ 3300 RPM ± 10%
PWM Range25 ~ 100%
Connector4-pin PWM
D-RGB Connector3-pin addressable connector

 

The speed of the pump and its PWM range is different than the regular D-RGB and Basic edition pumps.

The top of the block has a glossy finish on the black nickel frame. It is quite a fingerprint catcher so handle with care. There is a plastic-based frame on the side with the tubing end.

There is a two-tone color on the housing. The top and bottom sections have a silver lining in between which gives cool looks to the overall block. There is no branding on the sides.

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. There are two screws. You can remove them to take out the RGB strip on the block and replace it with your own. 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 is the angle of the 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 on the same side of the block. By design, the EK-AIO sports the top-mounted approach.

There are two cables coming out from the mid-section of the housing. Both cables are flat.

We have a 4-pin PWM connector cable powering the pump. It has an approximate length of 465mm. The other cable is for digital lighting. It has a pin-out format of 5V, D, Empty, Ground. The D-RGB cable has an approximate length of 460+60mm. There is a VDG labeled connector as well which is for the GIGABYTE motherboards.

We have a copper base measuring 58x55mm. Thermal paste is pre-applied. Look at the fine finish on the housing. There are two holes on each side of the housing. This is where the mounting brackets are installed.

FAN

EK Water Blocks has provided 6x EK-Vardar S 120ER D-RGB fans. Each fan is packed inside a transparent container with an EKWB seal.

Each Vardar S 120ER fan has 7 frosted blades 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. The frame of the fans is in the black color finish. There are no anti-vibration pads on the mounting corners. We have a large diameter center on the fans housing the addressable RGB LEDs. There is an EKWB branded sticker in the center.

There is EK Water Blocks branding on the side of the frame

The backside of the fan shows the 4-arms assembly on the mainframe 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 is printed on the sticker. The fans are designed in Slovenia and manufactured in China.

There are two flat cables coming out of the fan. One is the 4-pin PWM fan connector having an approximate length of 490mm and the other is a dual header (male+female) cable for ARGB lighting measuring an approximate length of 395+100mm.

The specification of the fans are:

Dimension120x120x25mm
Type4-pin PWM Connector
Speed550-2200 RPM ± 10%
Airflow66.04 CFM
Air Pressure2.89 mmH₂O
Noise36.4 dB(A)
ARGB Connector5V,3pin ARGB dual Header
EK-HUB

EKWB has provided a hub with the Elite version of the EK-AIO cooler which was not present in the regular D-RGB and Basic edition coolers. This hub is simply a splitter without a controller.

The EK-HUB is a 14x port hub that allows seamless connectivity of up to 7x ARGB devices and 7x 4-pin PWN fans. The hub has a transparent top cover. Each dual-port is clearly labeled starting from ARGB-Fan 01 to ARGB-Fan 07. There is a backlit EK brand in the center.

The power specification of the hub is printed on the back. There are 4x small mounting holes that are provided to install the Hub in the chassis. The hub is SATA powered.

Here is a side view of the hub. Notice that each dual-port has a 3-pin ARGB port followed by a 4-pin PWM port. The red color 4-pin PWM fan port designates that the PWM signal of the fan connected to this port will be read in the UEFI/BIOS and its duty cycle will be followed by all other ports. This means that we can’t control the speed of the individual fans/pump for that matter so if you are connecting the pump’s 4-pin connector to the EK-HUB as well then the fan speed on the red port will also apply to the pump port. There is no way you can have the pump set at 100% duty cycle and fans at different duty cycles. If that is the case then simply connect the pump’s power cable directly to the motherboard’s 4-pin PWM header or designated pump header. There is a 3-pin port on the right that connects the provided cable to the 4-pin PWM header on the motherboard.

The other side of the hub has a similar layout except that there is a 2-pin port here which is for connectivity with the 5v digital light header on the motherboard.

We have an ARGB and Fan port here.

The EK-Hub is SATA powered. You will have to connect the SATA connector of the PSU cable to the hub.

EK has provided screws and cables with the hub. The screws are to be used to install the hub in the chassis.

We have:

  • 3-pin to 4-pin PWM fan cable
  • 2-pin to 3-pin ARGB Sync cable

The above picture shows the EK-Vardar S 120ER fans connected to 12x ports on the EK-Hub. Hub’s own cables are also connected to the 2-pin and 3-pin ports.

D-RGB Lighting

There is no dedicated controller provided with the cooler. You would need to have an ARGB lighting header on the motherboard or a compatible controller to make the ARGB lighting work on the cooler. In my opinion, there should have been a dedicated controller in this price tag as well.

Installation

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

Place the Intel backplate on the backside of the motherboard.

Use the Intel LGA115x standoffs to secure the backplate with the motherboard.

Install the fans on the radiator.

Install the Intel brackets on the base.

Place the block on the CPU by aligning the holes on the mounting brackets with the threaded sides of the standoffs. Place the springs on the standoffs.

Secure the block on the CPU using the thumbscrews on each standoff.

Connect the fans of the block to the EK-HUB and connect the hub’s 4-pin PWM connector to the motherboard’s 4-pin PWM header and 3-pin ARGB cable to the 5v header on the motherboard. Connect the PSU’s SATA cable to the EK-HUB.

There is no clearance issue with respect to the DIMM slots and first PCIe slot. Make sure your chassis has clearance for a 360mm radiator in terms of length and thickness (80mm roughly). The top mounting would have consideration for the RAM clearance. Make sure you do proper homework in this regard.

Testing

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

Following test benches have been used: –

  • Intel i7 10700k
  • MSI MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK
  • 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)1.025
Clock (MHz)4700 All Cores
Voltage (V)1.255
Clock (MHz)5100 All Cores
Voltage (V)1.345
Turbo BoostDisabled
C-StatesDisabled
Speed StepDisabled
Thermal PasteNoctua NT-H1
Thermal Paste ApplicationDot Method in the center.
Test Run Time30 minutes
Idling Time10 minutes
Fan Speed100% PWM Duty Cycle and Auto PWM
Pump SpeedConnected to the AIO Pump header to run at 100% speed
HeaderCPU_Fan header for the fans and Pump_Header for the pump
SoftwareAIDA64 6.3 Extreme [FPU]

 

We are using Noctua NT-H1 thermal paste for coolers testing. Using the same thermal paste for all coolers would ensure 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 the 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, the same margin of error applies to all.

Let’s take a look at the results.

3.8GHz All Cores

All top 4x coolers are within the 1°C margin of error.

4.7GHz All Cores

All top 3 coolers are with the margin of error, though the EK-AIO 360 Elite D-RGB is on the top.

4.7GHz All Cores [Auto PWM]

The EK-AIO 360 Elite D-RGB is on the top with a 1°C difference over the second contender. Despite having lower RPMs on Auto PWM the 6x fan when combined are doing the magic.

Fans’ Speed on Auto PWM

The fans were doing 1288RPM on Auto PWM configuration. The fans are rated to spin at 2200 RPM at a 100% duty cycle. Despite being decent on the RPMs the number of fans makes up for the loss if any.

5.1GHz All Cores

The ultimate test of the coolers is to handle the 100% synthetic load at 5.1GHz all cores on 1.344V VCore. The EK-AIO 360 Elite D-RGB has a solid lead in the graph.

Acoustic

The fans are loud at full speed and we measured them to making 62 dBA with an ambient sound level of 33 dB(A).

Conclusion

EK Water Blocks sent us their EK-AIO 360 Elite D-RGB cooler for review. The elite edition of the EK-AIO coolers differs from the other coolers in this lineup by having a different block, 3x more fans, and an EK-Hub. The elite edition comes with 6x EK-Vardar S 120ER D-RGB high-performance fans. The EK-AIO 360 Elite D-RGB 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 395 x 120 x 27mm. The thickness of the radiator is 27mm. The overall thickness would be 53mm after installing 3x fans. With 6x fans, the thickness of the assembled radiator would be around 80mm. The radiator has 18 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 400mm 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 88x70x64mm. The block is made of Black Nickel material with a copper cold plate and steel mounting pump. The top of the block has a solid nickel cover with a backlit EK logo. 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 1000 ~ 3300 RPM ± 10%. There is no power consumption information provided in the specification. The PWM range of the pump is 25~100%. These specifications are different than the other coolers in this line up suggesting the pump has more RPMs with a modified PWM range. The block has a copper base with a 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 360 Elite D-RGB comes with 6x EK-Vardar S 120ER D-RGB 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 66.04 CFM at air pressure rating of 2.89 mmH₂O. These fans feature frosted 7 blades to ensure high pressure with low noise operations. These fans have ARGB LEDs housed inside the center. There is no dedicated controller provided in the accessory. The installation is an easy task and a comprehensive user guide is provided to help the users in installation.

EKWB has bundled an EK-HUB in the box. This is a 7x ARGB and 7x PWM fan ports hub which allows the user to connect up to 7x ARGB devices and 7x 4-pin PWM fans to it. The hub is SATA powered. The hub does not have any controller as it is only a splitter hub allowing to connect up to 7x devices to a single 4-pin PWM fan header and 3-pin 5V header on the motherboard. There is a backlit EK logo in the center. Good point is that all the fans and the block are using standard 3-pin ARGB connectors for universal compatibility with any standard 3-pin 5V controller. I would suggest EKWB increase the thickness of the radiator to like 38mm or so or more to take full advantage of the powerful pump and push/pull configuration though this would definitely increase the overall thickness of the assembly which may have compatibility considerations with respect to the chassis.

The EK Water Blocks EK-AIO 360 Elite D-RGB is listed at $199.99 at the time of the review. EK Water Blocks is offering 5 years warranty. We have a premium price tag for 3x more fans, a hub, and probably a modified pump. There is still no controller in the box. The EK Water Blocks EK-AIO 360 Elite D-RGB has lived up to its name on our test bench and with 5 years warranty and good build quality; it has won our Performance Award.

Check Out Our Other EK AIO Reviews

EK-AIO Basic 360 Cooler Review
EK-AIO Basic 240 Cooler Review
EK-AIO 360 D-RGB Cooler Review

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