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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)

For our CPU cooling tests, we use the same hardware, overclock and configuration for each and every test to minimize environment variables in testing. This allows for all results across all coolers tested on the platform to be viable as side-by-side examination for direct compare/contrast.

CPUIntel i9-10850k LGA1200 (Comet Lake), all 10 cores 4.6Ghz @ 1.190v
(3.60Ghz stock speed, single core boost @ 5.2Ghz)
MotherboardMSI Z490 MEG Godlike (bios vers. 7C70v12)
MemoryCorsair Dominator Platinum RGB, 16GB (2x8GB) DDR4-3600
StorageCorsair MP600 m.2 2280 NVMe, 500GB
GraphicsGigabyte GTX 1050Ti
Power Supplybe quiet! Dark Power Pro11 1200w
ChassisCorsair Graphite 760T
MonitoringCrystalFontz CFA-633-TMI-KU, 4x Dallas One Wire WR-DOW-Y17 sensors
Fan ControlWindows 10 Pro 64bit
Networking Disconnected, not used
Thermal CompoundArctic MX-4

Data comparisons are based on data collected from testing performed on our new Intel Core i9-10850K system, including re-visiting many previously covered products which were originally covered on the prior testing platform which pivoted around an i7-5930k (4.20ghz @1.20v).

All data reported for this article has been collected on the current Intel i9-10850k platform and will be maintained as a like-for-like evaluation of ongoing cooling coverage.

Prime95 v29.4b8 (no AVX) is used for two-hour intervals, one managing fans at 50% PWM and the other at 100% PWM, with RPM measurements being taken every 3 seconds and averaged across the duration of each two-hour capture. Omitting AVX instruction sets allows for accurate, 100% loads at chosen clock speeds, while allowing AVX instructions would provide higher  (albeit unrealistic) synthetic CPU loads and excessive heat production, less indicative of real-world use.

This also allows for a greater range CPU coolers to be tested and compared without the need to configure the system differently for smaller coolers which may not handle the excessive thermal loads being generated during testing, while larger coolers might be better equipped to manage heat output produced by the i9-10850K.

While the test platform is quite capable of a 10-core overclock at 5.0Ghz and 1.265v, we were seeing 360mm AIOs struggle to keep core temperatures in check at lower fan speeds, providing insight that the enthusiast-grade i9s need excellent cooling if the goal is overclocking.

HWInfo64 is used for real-time core temperature readout, thermal throttling alerts, motherboard power consumption, CPU speed and logging of data, while a CrystalFontz CFA-633-TMI-KU is used to monitor and later average both ambient room (2 probes) and motherboard voltage regulator heatsink (2 probes)

  • 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