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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)

EK AIO Elite 360 D-RGB Temps

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Right away we see the EK AIO Elite 360 D-RGB narrowly edging out some of the most impressive 360 AIOs we’ve previously covered. There is a noticeable difference in the motherboard power delivery modules and their prominent heatsink. This is likely due to the additional fan thickness, which extends slightly beyond where this heatsink is orientated on our motherboard in reference to the mounted AIO Elite 360.

EK AIO Elite 360 D-RGB Fan RPM

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The Vardar fans used by the EK AIO Elite 360 are the fastest spinning of our testing group, which is likely to lead to a noticeable difference in noise level -- especially given that there are six of them.

EK AIO Elite 360 D-RGB Noise

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Making use of six high-speed fans on a single cooler is likely to cause a bit of stir, both in auditory and airflow terms. The EK AIO Elite 360 gets rather noisy with all fans set to 100%, so make sure to take some time and give your system the fan curve it needs to keep things cool and relatively quiet.

EK AIO Elite 360 D-RGB Acoustics

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

While they might perform well, measured noise levels of our AIO testing group impact our acoustic efficiency chart where we make consideration for how well a cooler performs under heavy use by how loudly they operate as they excise thermal loads.

EK AIO Elite 360 D-RGB Value

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

At release, the EK AIO Elite 360 D-RGB is set to be priced right at $200 from the EKWB web shop, available from Newegg and Amazon later in December. The large hit we saw from the acoustic results weigh heavily on our performance value results, as unit pricing is evaluated, but not all is lost.

EK AIO Elite 360 D-RGB Thermals

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Thermal imaging from our FLIR ONE Pro camera shows a noticeable difference of heat soak along the lateral length of the 360mm radiator as well as some splotching across the face of the pump itself. We also see a marked difference along the tubing between the pump and radiator, where we see lower thermal markers in the same locations under full fan RPM vs half PWM.

Full speed also sees the heat bloom at the center of the fan hubs, due to power consumption and friction at full speed, while this is not as visible at lower RPM.

The EK AIO Elite 360 D-RGB provides the masses with the first 360mm AIO with push+pull fan configuration right out of the box. One caveat does exist for a cooler utilizing six high-speed fans, as it can make quite a fuss when running at full speed and will need a well-defined fan curve to help keep noise levels under control. At $200 at launch, it’s also expensive, though if you’ve already shelled out for the CPU hardware (and surrounding system) required to push this cooler to its limits, a bit extra for a few more fans is almost certainly a comparative pittance. 

  • 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