EK XCL Predator 280 AIO Liquid Cooling Review Liquid cooling a Core i7 4790K processor and MSI GeForce GTX 1080 GAMING X
EK is back in all stylish black, they have released three new models in the Predator range, this round with a 280mm Predator series liquid cooler as well. We will test that Predator 280 on a Core i7 4790K processor and will add a GeForce GTX 1080 Gaming X from MSI as well to the all-in-one liquid cooling loop. The end result is awesome as, even overclocked, our graphics card would not even pass 45 Degrees C. The nice thick radiator, proper tubing and excellent water-block that is pre-filled and fitted is pretty impressive.
You know, in the world of CPU coolers nothing ever stops developing. These days you can select from a hundred different heat-pipe based coolers where many are shaped, formed and priced the same. The better heat-pipe based coolers are good though. Next in line are LCS (liquid cooling system) setups followed by the real and proper expensive liquid cooling kits. The entry level LCS products are affordable, easy to install pre-fab liquid cooling kits. We've seen and tested many of them as Corsair, Asetek, NZXT, Cooler Master and so on all have interesting kits. Weirdly enough we never tested anything from Slovenia based EK. That ends and starts today. See, things are complicated; 80% of the AIO kits out there are based on an Asetek design, as they hold all the patents. In fact, on numerous occasions they have successfully sued manufacturers for using the concept of a pump and liquid cooling block AIO. So to release an LCS product that does not interfere with existing designs that fall under a patent, EK stepped up. For their excellent stand-alone liquid cooling kits they went to the drawing table and designed the Predator series.
The EK-Predator series is now available in five models already:
EK-XLC Predator 140 159,95€
EK-XLC Predator 140 (incl.QDC) 199,95€
EK-XLC Predator 240 243,94€ 169,95€
EK-XLC Predator 240 (incl.QDC) 199,95€
EK-XLC Predator 280 (incl.QDC) 219,95€
EK-XLC Predator 360 (incl.QDC) 229,95€
* QDC is 'quick disconnect' so that you can add in a graphics card to the loop through the connector
As you can observe, the prices have been cut significantly on the 240 and 360 models. All units offer a nice thick radiator, a fan control hub and pump, and these parts are mounted together and combined with their extremely silent EK-Vardar fans. You'll spot seriously good thick tubing and an EK-Supremacy MX water block to chill your processor. This is an AIO unit, factory filled with coolant and with the fans and everything installed for you. Really, all you need to do is install it into your PC and, if you want to do so, add an extra component for cooling an additional part like your graphics card.
EK-Vardar fans with PWM control
Industry standard DDC pump, could cope with 3 blocks
Copper core radiator and blocks
G1/4 ports to allow complete customization and expansion
The kit, as always, is a bit unusual and maybe seems a little bulky to look at as a first impression as the pump sits at the the end of the radiator, here you will also see LEDs to verify power ON/OFF. Dimensions of the main radiator unit on the Predator 280, with integrated pump and reservoir are: 335x 142 x 68mm (L x W x H). This allows mounting of the unit in selected computer chassis only due to the large radiator size. This model comes with a quick decoupling connector to add/dismount gear to the loop easily and conveniently. We will be adding a 650 EURO costing GeForce GTX 1080 to the liquid cooling loop to test that. As stated, the prices on these kits have dropped significantly, making them available to a much larger demographic, the 280mm model with QDC is available for 219,95€ (incl. VAT). The performance with one CPU or with a CPU+GPU combo really is good as this review will show, as good as a liquid cooling setup you would purchase separately and install yourself. This is a product series that ups things a good notch.
So without further ado, let's head on-wards into the review.
We will test the EK-XLC Predator 280 both in a single loop just cooling the CPU - and in the second part of the article we'll add a GeForce GTX 1080 (MSI Gaming) into the loop.