Overclocking expert Der8auer has tested a prototype EK-Nucleus AIO CR360 Direct Die D-RGB all-in-one CPU cooler in his lab. The niche this product addresses is highlighted by the name – it is an AiO CPU cooler that is designed for the direct die cooling of (delidded) Intel Socket 1700 CPUs. EKWB’s product is only available for pre-order at the time of writing, but if Der8auer’s test results showing potential 20 degrees Celsius deltas are confirmed by shipping product tests, it could be a compelling product for direct die performance-PC enthusiasts.
Der8auer explains that the EK-Nucleus AIO CR360 Direct Die D-RGB AiO cooler is an unusual product, as it is designed solely for CPU-delidded Intel Socket 1700 systems (Intel 12th, 13th and 14th Gen). The physical qualities of an Intel chip make it an unnatural fit for direct die cooling, mainly as once the IHS is removed an outer plastic socket sits proud of the silicon. Thus, EK has a specially designed cold plate – which fixes to the CPU – avoiding extra user-side complications as much as possible.
Other design touches that make this different from other EK Nucleus AIO products include: the Skull motif on the CPU block, custom rigid backplate and mounting plate assembly, and Der8auer seems pleased that Conductonaut by Thermal Grizzly (his company) is in the pack. On the other side of the equation, you can clearly see that the cold plate is precisely extruded in the center to nestle into the mounting plate gap and touch the CPU silicon.
The overclocking expert said that he would be comparing the EK-Nucleus AIO CR360 Direct Die D-RGB AiO cooler with the best custom liquid cooling solutions in the future, but wanted to establish a baseline to give viewers an idea of the potential on offer.
In the chart above you can see EK’s direct die prototype compared with Corsair’s very capable A115 CPU air cooler. Both coolers would be fitted to a delidded Intel Core i9 -13900KS for Cinebench testing. However, the A115 required a prototype Thermal Grizzly copper heatspreader to fit the consumer-standard air cooler, which would benefit it by 6-8 degrees benefit vs stock, according to Der8auer.
The chart shows an immediate and sustained advantage for the EK-Nucleus AIO CR360 Direct Die D-RGB AiO cooler. It delivered a 15 degrees Celsius delta, which was only getting better over time. Remember, the Corsair air cooler was also aided by the delidded processor and custom heatspreader – otherwise we might have been seeing 20 degrees Celsius and better deltas.
In terms of performance, the air-cooled CPU was seen to deliver about 38,300cb with the AiO-cooled chip achieving just over 39,100cb. The CPU clocks were much more steady at 5.6 GHz using the AiO, but with the air cooler in place they often dipped to 5.4 GHz.
It may be unfortunate timing for the new EK-Nucleus AIO CR360 Direct Die D-RGB all-in-one CPU cooler, as we are nearly at the end of the Socket 1700 era. Der8auer admitted he didn’t know what might need to be done to make the AiO Intel 15th Gen CPU compatible.
The EK-Nucleus AIO CR360 Direct Die D-RGB is available for pre-order in Europe for €200, and we can see it is listed for US customers at $183.99. The estimated delivery date for US customers is March 22. There’s also a handy button to get a reminder when the cooler becomes available.
For some further context, last July we reviewed the closely related EK Nucleus AIO CR360 Lux D-RGB for fully clothed CPUs. Despite price concerns and a slight noise disadvantage against the best rival AiOs, our review crowned it the new king of AiO cooling.
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Mark Tyson is a Freelance News Writer at Tom's Hardware US. He enjoys covering the full breadth of PC tech; from business and semiconductor design to products approaching the edge of reason.
Long time ago... got some overclock... today I see my 35w tdp cpu about 1ºc above ambient temp and think WHY I need a space heater machine :DReply