EK-XLC Predator 240 Expandable Liquid CPU Cooler Review

Test Methods, Results And Conclusion

The EX-XLC Predator 240 simply bolts in place, after connecting the cables and adding thermal paste as instructed.

We retain the hardware configuration from previous big-cooler reviews to maintain result consistency. Here's how it compares dimensionally to other models in today's test.

Liquid CPU Cooler Specifications

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Test Results

We’re starting to notice that CPU water blocks of expandable liquid coolers don’t apparently take full advantage of higher-capacity pumps and radiators, compared to true closed-loop designs that are specifically optimized to cool their single water block. On the other hand, a retest using added components, such as a GPU block, wouldn’t be possible with those non-configurable liquid cooling systems. Further, it would cause arguments between varying factions if we were to pick between an EK or Swiftech block for universal adoption, and still different arguments if we picked an EK GPU block for the EK system and a Swiftech block for the Swiftech system. We’ve even heard past arguments that we should know better than to use brand X or Y’s GPU block and that every reasonable builder will mix these components.

Testing as-delivered configurations leaves no room for additional arguments beyond the basic “what else can it cool” debate, which as mentioned above just leads to further arguments. EK’s Predator 240 takes second place in CPU cooling to a non-expandable closed-loop in thermal performance, and its top-mounted fans have less cooling effect on the motherboard’s PWM-based CPU voltage regulator.

The Predator 240 doesn’t send a separate signal back to the motherboard for its pump tach, so we’re left looking at just fan speed. Its fan spins a little faster than most competitors, but what impact will that have on noise?

Swiftech’s H220-X looks great on the noise measurement, but jumping up a couple charts shows that it got that low noise while providing less cooling. Once again, the Predator 240 falls slightly behind the non-expandable Frostflow 240L.

Overall performance is a comparison of temperature to noise, and this is where Swiftech’s lower fan speed pays dividends. Unfortunately, the non-expandable Frostflow 240L still comes out on top, and EK’s noise to cooling ratio is worse than Swiftech’s.

High-quality re-usable fittings and oversized components designed to allow future upgrades take their toll on pricing. We can only recommend the Predator 240 to buyers who are absolutely certain that they’ll eventually want to add more components to their cooling loop.


✓ Pros:
 High capacity radiator, easy expandability, quality components throughout.

✗ Cons: Large, pricey, short warranty.

Verdict: The EK-XLC Predator 240 appears to have the capacity to cool many components in addition to a high-end CPU. Without adding any of those components, its extra capacity and cost appear wasted. We recommend this unit only to the same type of buyer who might otherwise have considered a component-based cooler from the outset, as a way to get set up quickly.

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15 comments
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  • alidan
    you really need to have 2/3 air coolers on any list as well.

    1 - stock
    2 - highest recommended air cooler
    3 - best air cooler

    for me it would take a water cooler that was so significantly better than a noctua nh-d15 to get me off my plans for air, just because if a pump fails, I can't replace that fast, but if a fan fails, I have a spare.
  • Gam3r01
    The conclusion has two "w"s in "Without"
  • shrapnel_indie
    Still waiting on "pro" reviews for the CryOrig series of water coolers. (A40, A40 Extreme, and A80)

    Sad to see a leader in custom parts 1) not beat Swiftech by more, and 2) lose to a closed loop AiO. Part quality better be a big part of its cost, or you're paying only for their name.
  • cbrunnem
    MSI X99A gamer doesnt have drilled holes. the holes push through easily.
  • Crashman
    436635 said:
    MSI X99A gamer doesnt have drilled holes. the holes push through easily.
    So the holes are in the board but not the foam pad? We've seen that too. As long as the cooler fits without damaging the board or modifying the cooler, we're not worried about its compatibility.
  • Olle_P
    Are the temperatures given in farenheit or celsius?
    My guess would be farenheit, since you don't want the CPU to run at 60C above room temperature. Adding 2-3 times as much heat from a graphics card to the cooler's burden would make the CPU run too hot.
  • Crashman
    2268561 said:
    Are the temperatures given in farenheit or celsius? My guess would be farenheit, since you don't want the CPU to run at 60C above room temperature. Adding 2-3 times as much heat from a graphics card to the cooler's burden would make the CPU run too hot.
    Celsius. Recent Intel CPUs can run for many months at 95 °C fully loaded without showing damage, and the Haswell-E has proven even better at handling heat than most of those (surviving at 105 °C for long duration).

    When we set up the initial test the target was 95 °C, but most of the coolers and cases tested can't maintain it. Because the test only last a few hours, I increased the thermal threshold to 115 °C. We break things so you don't have to :D
  • Karadjgne
    If they were going to compare against a AiO, would have been better I think to include a Corsair h100i instead of the Frostflow
  • JackNaylorPE
    How about a test at equal noise output .... say 35 and 40 dbA ?
  • zodiacfml
    It probably won't happen as cooling is limited by its surface area. The Noctua probably has more surface area than most AIO watercoolers.
    Personally, I'd take the less performing, more expensive, and theoretically less reliable watercooler because it is easier to install, less risk to break the motherboard/CPU, and avoid the need for another exhaust fan or set.

    269694 said:
    you really need to have 2/3 air coolers on any list as well. 1 - stock 2 - highest recommended air cooler 3 - best air cooler for me it would take a water cooler that was so significantly better than a noctua nh-d15 to get me off my plans for air, just because if a pump fails, I can't replace that fast, but if a fan fails, I have a spare.
  • Karadjgne
    This article wasn't about big liquid vrs big air, there's enough of those already. It's an article comparing abilities of sectional AiOs vrs a standard AiO. This article is for those who have already looked/compared big liquid vrs big air and have already decided on an AiO, but might feel like a sectional is something to consider with possible gpu additions.
  • gondo
    If you want a regular waterblock that is expandable without the pump attached there are 2 choices. EKWB Predator, and the Swiftech. Swiftech puts the pump on the surface of the rad so you loose the choice of which side to put fans on. EKWB puts it on the bottom of the rad so 240mm actually takes 270mm or so of space.

    For quality, EKWB is the best and expandable so it can do a video card and CPU on the cheap compared to a custom open loop. It's an intro kit into the world of open loop. I think it succeeds. If the user wants to get a separate pump and reservoir in the future then that is possible as all components are standard such as the water block and fittings. Swiftech doesn't have standard compression barbs unless you buy the upgraded premium kit.

    I agree it's hard to sell an expensive AIO such as this for just a CPU, and also hard not to spend a few more bucks and just get an open loop kit. But there are some people who will want the cheapest kit for now with the option to upgrade in the future, and this is it.
  • evan8683
    The problem with EK products is the taxes. You pay close to a QUARTER of the cost of whatever you're buying just in taxes. You want to buy $400 worth of products? Expect to pay close to $100 on top of that in taxes!
  • Crashman
    2272076 said:
    The problem with EK products is the taxes. You pay close to a QUARTER of the cost of whatever you're buying just in taxes. You want to buy $400 worth of products? Expect to pay close to $100 on top of that in taxes!
    We went with US pricing, so that's after any foreign taxes.
  • Karadjgne
    I like the idea of options. It's why I built a pc, not bought a console. The option to change things if I'm not happy with the current setup is a serious bonus in my mind to the modular CLC. Add a gpu... sure. Chanel tubing, great, even add colors and lighting. It honestly seems like the best of both worlds. Buying a custom loop all in one box, pre-thunk, no research required, just minor assembly. Yes, I'm lazy too, so this would be perfect if I was planning on going in that direction.

    The one option that doesn't seem available is software. I'm really attached to the nzxt CAB software, do doing everything with separate controls irks my lazy side.