I am taking a look at one of the possibly best AIO coolers in the market today. It is EK-Nucleus AIO CR360 Dark. Dark here refers to the black color scheme of the unit without any RGB lighting effects. This cooler is compatible with Intel LGA1700 and AMD AM5 sockets in addition to support for other sockets.

This cooler has EK-Omnilink technology that makes the cable handling convenient, new positioning of tubes for better clearance, a new pump design, and a dense microfin copper cold plate. The pump top is still rotatable though it is not backlit, unlike the CR360 D-RGB.

Product:               EK-Nucleus AIO CR360 Dark

Price:                    USD 129.99 [At the time of this writing]

CR360 Dark Specifications

EK Nucleus AIO CR360 Dark Specifications

Packaging and Unboxing

EK Nucleus AIO CR360 Dark Packing Box

The cooler is shipped inside a white-themed packaging box made of cardboard material. This unit is compatible with: Intel Sockets LGA: 1150, 1151, 1155, 1156, 1200, 2011, 2011-3, 2066 + Next-gen Intel Socket, 1700 and AMD Socket: AM4, AM5.

EK Nucleus AIO CR360 Dark Unboxed

There is a thick black color Styrofoam pad into which the cooler and fans are tucked. There is another orange color container placed on the side with the caution text of this side up. It has accessories.


Let’s see what is provided in the accessories department.

EK Nucleus AIO CR360 Dark Accessories 1

EK Water Blocks has provided:

  • 1x Intel Mounting bracket
  • 1x AMD Mounting bracket
  • 1x Intel LGA1700 backplate
  • 1x Intel other sockets backplate

Besides, there is a comprehensive user guide with pictures providing installation guidelines on supported sockets.

EK Nucleus AIO CR360 Dark Accessories 2

There are:

  • 4x Thumb Nuts with Springs
  • 4x Intel LGA20xx thumb screws
  • 4x Intel/AMD thumb screws
  • 8x Philips UNC 6-32x30mm Fan Screws
  • 8x Philips UNC 6-32x34mm Fan Screws
  • 8x Philips UNC 6-32x6mm Radiator Screws
  • 4x Philips Head M3x4mm Mounting Bracket Screws
  • 1x ECO-TIM Thermal Paste Tube
  • Micro-Fit 8-Pin Connector Cable
  • Tool for easy installation/Removal
EK Nucleus AIO CR360 Dark Tool 1

EK Water Blocks has provided a tool that makes it easier to handle the standoff screws. This is a must-have when working with tight-spaced areas near the socket area, particularly the top left-most mounting hole that sits close to the capacitors of the VRM area. I appreciate EK Water Blocks for thinking this deeply and providing a simple solution.

EK Nucleus AIO CR360 Dark Tool 3

There are two holes on the body of this tool on opposite side. EKWB was clearly thinking ahead. These would come in handy when removing the thumb screws from the motherboard. But one thing they missed in my opinion is the provision of cross-bar that can be attached to this tool and provides a convenient way to remove or install the thumb screws.

Closer Look

Let’s take a look at the unit.

EK Nucleus AIO CR360 Dark Radiator

EK Water Blocks is using aluminum radiator having a dimension of 400x124x27mm (LxWxH). This unit has a thickness of 27mm and it would come to 56mm approximately after installing fans (27mm thickness of EK Loop FPT fans).

This radiator has a FPI count of 20 and it has a total of 12 channels for coolant flow. The mounting holes on opposite ends have a standard gap of 105mm. EK Water Blocks has done a nice job in fin stacking on this unit. We did not observe any bend or broken fin.

EK Nucleus AIO CR360 Dark Radiator Tubes

Looking at the near block or the tube connection side, we noticed that this design differs from the design over the EK-Nucleus AIO CR360 Lux A-RGB cooler. The tubes’ connection with the fittings is not hidden on the CR360 Dark. There are clamps concealing this connection and there is possible a third port that could very well be to refill the unit. There is a large size cap over this port and it has a warranty void sticker that implies that this port is reserved for factory use only.

EK Nucleus AIO CR360 Dark Side View

This unit does not have a diamond cut brushed aluminum plating on the side frame of the radiator. The side frames have a simple layout without any branding. The gap between the actual fin stack and the side frame is reduced providing more surface area.

There is no protective plating under mounting holes. The CR360 Dark uses Ultra-Low evaporation rubber tubes with fine threading. There is a fine nylon braided mesh sleeve on the tubes which is aesthetic purpose. This tube runs to approximately 400mm.

EK Nucleus AIO CR360 Dark Block 1

Block or pump housing on this unit is a different design. The pump housing has a dimension of 82.3×69.2×61.6mm and it is made of ABS material. The pump top is made of ABS material as well. This design is almost a circular one. The sides of the pump housing have a simple black finish without any branding.

EK Nucleus AIO CR360 Dark Block 2

The pump top is removable and rotatable. There is an EK logo that can be used to grab the top and lift it off. There are no digital RGB LEDs in the Dark edition.

EK Nucleus AIO CR360 Dark Block 3

The above picture shows the inside of the pump housing after removing the top cover. There is no 3-pin pad on any corner. This is because there are no RGB LEDs housed inside hence no active connection is needed.

EK Nucleus AIO CR360 Dark Block 4

The above picture shows the inside of the pump top. It seems that EK Water Blocks uses a standard top on all versions with or without 3-pin connection.

EK Nucleus AIO CR360 Dark Block 5

Looking at the backside, we can see two tube connections at 90° angle. These are using rotary fittings and this time around, EK has narrowed the gap between the connections.

According to EK, this would help install this unit in space constrained areas. There is a flat cable coming out under the tube connection.

EK Nucleus AIO CR360 Dark Block 6 1

One cable has a 4-pin PWM connector to power the pump.

EK Nucleus AIO CR360 Dark Block 6

This unit comes with pre-applied thermal paste and EK Water Blocks has also provided a tube of thermal paste in addition. The copper base measures roughly 38x38mm. The copper cold plate of this unit has dense microfins for efficient heat transfer.

There are 4x golden color holes on the ABS housing above the copper base. The mounting bracket is installed on these holes. The PWM range of the pump is 20~100% and has a speed range of 3100 RPM ±10%.

EK Nucleus AIO CR360 Dark Fan 1

EKWB has provided EK-Loop FPT fans. FPT stands for Full Pressure Technology. These fans feature full frame design that does not allow air to escape and helps in maintaining the pressure. There are 7 blades per fan with a large diameter center with EKWB branding.

The holes between the corners and the inner ring are covered from the rear side. The backside of the fan has an X shaped arms design. EK-FPT FAN – 120ER is the model of the fan. We can see the power rating of this fan as well. Each mounting corner has a black color anti-vibration pad.

EK Nucleus AIO CR360 Dark Fan 2

Each fan has a small size cable tucked to one side of the frame. These fans feature EK-Omnilink concept where by EKWB uses an 8-pin microfit connector to daisy-chain the fans. This reduces the cable clutter and only one cable comes out to be handled by the user.

EKWB has provided an adapter cable that is connected to the daisy-chained fans. It has a standard 4-poin PWM connector on the one end and the proprietary connector on the other end.

EK Nucleus AIO CR360 Dark Fan 3

The above picture shows two fans inter-connected using 8-pin microfit connectors. Each fan has a male and female connectors on a single cable to allow daisy-chaining. Salient specifications of these fans include:

Speed Range550 – 2300 RPM ±10%
Noise Level36 dB(A)
Air Flow72 CFM
Static Pressure2.7mmH₂O
BearingFluid Dynamic Bearings


We are not covering the details of installation. Installation is a breeze and we did not observe any peculiar issue to report. The tool makes the life easier and we can install this cooler even with more confident than before. Please refer to user guide for more details.


The following configuration is used for thermal testing:

  • AMD Ryzen 7950X
  • EK-Nucleus AIO CR360 Dark
  • Kingston Renegade Fury 32GB 6400MHz CL32 DDR5 kit
  • ASRock Phantom Gaming RX 7600 Graphics Card for Display
  • Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus 2TB NVME SSD
  • Be Quiet! Straight Power 11 1000W Platinum
  • Open-Air Test Bench

Here is the settings table for testing:

Clock (MHz)Auto
Voltage (V)Auto
Boost Clock Override+75Hz
Platform Thermal Throttle LimitAuto
Thermal PastePre-Applied
Thermal Paste ApplicationDots Method
Test Run Time30 minutes
Idling Time10 minutes
All Fans Speed100% PWM Duty Cycle
Pump Speed
Stress SoftwareCINEBENCH R23.2
Monitoring SoftwareHWINFO64

We are reporting delta temperature in the graph because room temperature varied from 20.9°C to 22.8°C throughout the day. 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.


EK Nucleus AIO CR360 Dark Thermal Performance

My main test with this platform is with socket power of 200W (resulting package power of 205W). In this test I also test the coolers in noise normalized configuration. The ARCTIC LF-III 360 ARGB Black was producing 39.7 dBA at 100% fan speed whereas the EK cooler was at 46 dBA at fans full speed. To achieve 39.7dBA on EK cooler the speed of fans was reduced to 72% PWM range where they were spinning at around 1757 RPM approximately. This speed is way low than the 2000 RPM on the P12 fans.

As can be seen, EK-Nucleus AIO CR360 Dark has maintained its dominance throughout the test. Even at the noise-normalized testing, it was unrivaled.


Nucleus is the new of a new generation of AIO coolers from EK Water Blocks. EKWB has released two broader categories in this new generation. They are named as LUX and DARK. As the name indicates, LUX series of coolers pack digital RGB lighting effects whereas the DARK series of coolers have a black color theme. LUX series also has white edition coolers. So far, 240mm and 360mm size coolers are made available.

The EK-Nucleus AIO CR360 Dark is compatible with Intel LGA115x, 1200, 1700, 2011, 2011-3, and 2066+ Next-Gen Intel socket. It is compatible with AMD AM4 and AM5 sockets. The DARK version of Nucleus series of the coolers have no D-RGB lighting effects. This is a one of the prime differences. The rest of the differences come from the brushed aluminum plating on LUX series of the coolers and the full block coverage on the radiator that sits flushed with the 120x27mm EK-Loop FPT fans.

The CR360 Dark has an aluminum radiator having a dimension of 400x124x27mm (LxWxH). 27mm is height of this radiator. Since this cooler comes with 27mm thick fans, the overall height of this unit would be 56mm approximately including the heads of the Philips screws. FPI count is 20 and there are 12 coolant flow channels.

EKWB is using ultra-low evaporation rubber tubes with nylon braided mesh sleeves. These tubes have a length of 400mm. Speaking of fittings, this generation is still using rotary fittings but this time EKWB has reduced the gap between the tube ends so as to make this even more compatible in tight spaces.

The pump housing is made of ABS material. The pump top is rotatable so that the EKWB logo remains up-right. This unit has a copper base having a dense microfins making up the copper cold plate for efficient heat transfer.

EKWB has employed a PWM controlled pump having PWM duty cycle of 20% ~ 100% rotating at 3100 RPM ±10%. EKWB has provided their EK-Loop FPT fans with this cooler. These fans feature a closed frame design that prevents air from escaping and it would help in maintaining the pressure.

EK has also introduced a EK-Omnilink concept with this generation. Each fan has a tied-up cable of short length. One end of this cable has a female micro-fit 8-pin connector and the other end has a male 8-pin micro-fit connector. These connectors are daisy-chained to each other and then there is a single extension cable providing a 4-pin PWM connector.

These fans use fluid dynamic bearings and are rated for 550 ~ 2300 RPM ±10% speed generating a maximum of 72 CFM airflow at static pressure of 2.7mmH₂O (figure taken from fan’s webpage). These fans are rated at 36 dB(A).

I have tested this cooler on AMD AM5 socket. Installation is breeze and easy and involves 17 items for block’s installation on this socket. I did not observe any issue during installation. The tool comes in handy when handling the standoff screws or thumb screws.

The EK-Nucleus AIO CR360 Dark is listed at USD 129.99 at the time of this writing. This is a competitive pricing and EKWB has made it a more appealing proposal with 5+1 years of warranty. This cooler has a fantastic performance when I put it against the two best coolers from ARCTIC. Even at noise normalized configuration, the EKWB cooler offered a superb cooling. This cooler is perfectly suited for the black or neutral theme builds.

Take a look at our one of our exclusive 24 liquid coolers marathon in which EK-Nucleus AIO CR360 Lux D-RGB (Same design, same cooler) came out a runner up with a close margin.


  • Excellent Thermal Performance
  • Rotatable Pump Top
  • All Black Theme
  • EK-FPT 120mm Fans
  • Easy Cable Management using EK-OmniLink
  • Intel Next gen Socket support
  • Easy Installation
  • 5+1-year Warranty
  • Price


  • Bit Noisy
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