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EK AIO Elite 360 D-RGB Review: Tasteful Sophistication, With Six Fans

The complete push+pull package

EK AIO Elite 360 D-RGB
Editor's Choice
(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

Our Verdict

The EK AIO Elite 360 D-RGB offers some of the best cooling performance in a closed-loop cooler, while making use of push+pull radiator fan configuration. It does so at the expense of higher decibel levels, so make sure to read up on how to make use of your motherboards’ BIOS settings for fan curves.

For

  • Sophisticated pump design
  • Six fans operate in push+pull
  • Includes aRGB/PWM fan hub

Against

  • Noisy when fans operate at full speed
  • Mounting has to account for added thickness

EKWB, the Slovenian company which specializes in custom watercooling components and kits, has expanded into the closed-loop AIO market, with the six-fan, push+pull EK AIO Elite 360 D-RGB being the latest addition to its AIO line. And while it requires a bit more planning for logistics and case mounting, the cooler’s style and performance notably follow EKWB’s primary DNA.

Specifications

Thickness1.13" / 28.7mm (3.25" / 82.6mm w/fans)
Width4.75" / 120mm
Depth15.6" / 394mm
Pump Height2.5" / 63.5mm
Speed ControllerBIOS
Cooling Fans(6) 120 x 25mm
Connectors(7) 4-Pin PWM
(7) 3-Pin aRGB
(1) SATA
Weight83.0 oz / 2355g
Intel Sockets115x, 1200, 2011x, 2066c
AMD SocketsAM4
Warranty5 years
Web Price$200

Features

EK AIO Elite 360 D-RGB

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Following up on EKWB’s original EK AIO lineup, the AIO Elite 360 D-RGB ships with six cooling fans for push+pull operation. Most AIOs make use of a push configuration, meaning the fans force air through the radiator to dissipate out the back. The second set of fans included with the AIO Elite 360 ‘pulls’ the warmed air through the radiator, assisting in the exhaust dissipation much as you’ve probably seen on several big air coolers over the years.

Mounting hardware includes support for most Intel sockets and the addition of AMD’s AM4.  The inclusion of an aRGB + PWM fan hub provides centralized lighting and fan RPM control and utilizes a set of PWM and aRGB accessory cabling.

A small syringe of EK-TIM Ecotherm compound tags along to round out the usual installation components.

EKWB covers the AIO Elite 360 D-RGB with a five-year warranty.

EK AIO Elite 360 D-RGB

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The pump of the EKWB AIO Elite 360 D-RGB looks similar to previous versions of EK AIO models, although it brings a much more sophisticated approach by combining angled, mirrored finishes and dark, opaque acrylics. The reflective EK logo provides the only aRGB lighting accent on the pump housing, taking a ‘less-is-more’ approach on lighting accents. A pair of 90-degree swivel fittings allows rotation and movement during pump installation and radiator mounting.

EK AIO Elite 360 D-RGB

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The base plate of the EK AIO Elite 360 is a solid sheet of satin milled copper, which ships with a patch of pre-applied thermal compound already in place. The additional syringe of EK-TIM Ecotherm compound is a nice addition for system builders who need to re-mount the EK AIO Elite after the first original installation or for any hardware upgrades in the coming years during (or after) the 5-year warranty period. EKWB claims an updated and more efficient pump unit is used for the new Elite 360.

Cabling to support the operation of the pump unit includes an aRGB lighting header for the EK logo backlighting and a 4-pin PWM for pump impeller control.

EK AIO Elite 360 D-RGB

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The base of the EK AIO Elite 360 is milled extremely flat; we are not able to see light peeking between our steel rule and the copper contact plate. A flat surface combined with an alternating ‘X-pattern’ seating of the mounting hardware should provide for a uniform thermal compound mounting patch when we remove the pump from the CPU’s integrated heat spreader (IHS).

EK AIO Elite 360 D-RGB

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Removing the cooler after installation can provide an indication of the success (or failure) of thermal compound spread between the cooler and the top of the CPU and integrated heat spreader (IHS). The EK AIO Elite 360 seated very well atop our i9-10850k.

EK AIO Elite 360 D-RGB

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The EKWB AIO Elite 360 D-RGB arrives with six 120mm Vardar S fans, which are both aRGB and 4-pin PWM managed.

EK AIO Elite 360 D-RGB

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Using three fans to push air into the radiator, while also making use of the three additional fans to extract and exhaust the warm air makes for a push+pull setup, which allows for optimal thermal performance. Of course, the cooler can operate with only three fans like a typical AIO, but then we ask, why would you spend extra for three more fans?

EK AIO Elite 360 D-RGB Radiator

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The AIO Elite 360 utilizes a relatively standard aluminum radiator, which has threaded machine screw mounts on both sides for the 120mm Vardar S fans to anchor to.

EK AIO Elite 360 D-RGB Control

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

PWM and aRGB lighting control of the EK AIO Elite 360 D-RGB are managed via the provided fan hub to simultaneously control lighting and fan speed for the connected components, which can include the pump. The hub makes use of a PWM and aRGB header for motherboard and lighting control, or via other modules set up as part of your PC’s lighting and fan control ecosystem. When powered, the EK center logo shines with the same aRGB lighting accents seen on the pump housing.

EK AIO Elite 360 D-RGB Build

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Installation of the EK AIO Elite 360 is very similar to most other 360mm liquid coolers, with the exception of the extra fan depth required from the push+pull setup. This means that additional clearance is necessary inside cases, so plan to account for that extra inch or 25mm of fan thickness.

  • Tom Sunday
    More and more AIO's. Must be big profits in keeping the Devs pushing these into the market with new announcements daily. But almost everybody now has one or has been scared into buying one. Coming soon: It appears that the Alder Lake CPU has a more rectangular shape with exact dimensions of 37.5 x 45.0mm whereas the existing 10th gen CPU's with the square-shaped package feature dimensions are a perfect square (37.5 x 37.5). The new dimensions would mean that Alder Lake CPUs and all future CPUs would no longer be compatible with the existing socket layouts. But with my 3-year old water pump now making noises I do need a new AIO and have been eyeing the EKWB Slovenian company. It seems that with Intel changing the actual chip size in late 2021 that no present AIO's will fit, then cover the new CPU footprint or actually being unable to adequately cool the new generation of CPU's? So perhaps a "cheap" air-cooler may need buying to tie me over and to not winding up with an expense AIO that essentially is obsolete in less then 1-year. Or it holding me hostage in upgrading my Mobo for some time to come? And most certainly I would want get at least 3-5 years out of a new "jumbo AIO" and with prices now going onto and over $300. The Deal: "Go big or go home. We will give you the LED to show you the way. Let's be extra cool it's all for your protection." Thoughts?
    Reply
  • nofanneeded
    A small hint to EK, which is better ? double the fans or doubling the thickness of the radiator ?

    The answer is : Double the Radiator is better . that more thickness is wasted.
    Reply
  • PlanesFly
    nofanneeded said:
    A small hint to EK, which is better ? double the fans or doubling the thickness of the radiator ?

    The answer is : Double the Radiator is better . that more thickness is wasted.

    What you neglected to reason out is that 50-60mm radiators need push/pull to work best. Thick radiators also require higher airflow to get the benefit as they are 2 pass and without elevated airflow the 2nd pass nets you little.
    Reply
  • nofanneeded
    PlanesFly said:
    What you neglected to reason out is that 50-60mm radiators need push/pull to work best. Thick radiators also require higher airflow to get the benefit as they are 2 pass and without elevated airflow the 2nd pass nets you little.

    True but thats for optimal result . it is still better result with double thick Radiator VS push pull fans and half the radiator.
    Reply
  • Smackaroy
    Wonder why it performance is a bit better than the other aios, It has 3 extra fans for god sake! this just proves that all aios perform the same it just depends what fans you put on it
    Reply
  • TallentedOne
    I'm curious why you have been using the ML360P Silver Edition in recent comparisons instead of the ML360R? Your own review of the Silver Edition (https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/cooler-master-masterliquid-ml360p-silver-edition,6341.html) showed it performed worse from a cooling perspective compared to the ML360R.
    Reply
  • Phaaze88
    Well, that's a waste.

    Surely the manufacturers/engineers know what's holding back performance on hybrid coolers isn't moar fans and moar radiator, but what's on the other end?
    ¯\(ツ)
    Reply
  • Darkbreeze
    PlanesFly said:
    What you neglected to reason out is that 50-60mm radiators need push/pull to work best. Thick radiators also require higher airflow to get the benefit as they are 2 pass and without elevated airflow the 2nd pass nets you little.
    Not higher "airflow" but higher static pressure. You can put fans with 200CFM on there, but if they have .098mm H20 static pressure, they aren't going to do much. In fact, they'll probably do a lot of stalling and suffer from major inversion leakage. A fan with 70CFM and a 2.5mm H20 static pressure however, will likely handle the thicker radiator, or heatsink, just fine.

    With 3.16mm H20 static pressure, those 120mm Vardar 120ER RGB fans can likely push their 77CFM through a thicker radiator just fine. Or this radiator for that matter. I'd like to see the same tests done again with ONLY the front three fans installed, to compare the difference. I imagine there isn't a terrific difference, maybe 1-5°C, which makes the cost of the additional three fans that are tacked onto the price of this unit somewhat hard to swallow. Barring some astounding different in performance between a three fan setup compared to six, I'd prefer to see them take the cost of three fans off and sell the unit as is or as mentioned, maybe with a thicker radiator. Those fans have plenty of static pressure and CFM to handle it I think.

    It would also be a heck of a lot quieter with only three fans running full out, rather than six.
    Reply