XSPC have been around for a few years now, quietly going about their business and producing quality water-cooling kit. We had the pleasure of reviewing the RS240 kit some years back and were very impressed with it. With the EX 240 kit XSPC hope to take performance to the next level.
The Kit as you have probably worked out by now is based around three main components. Firstly, the classic X20 750 Litre/hour dual bay res/pump combo. Secondly, the Raystorm CPU Water-block. Seen as the successor to the Rasa, although the Rasa can still be purchased and is a great water-block in it's own right, the Raystorm promises even better performance, along with some bling party tricks. Last, but by no means least, the star of the show, the new EX series Radiator. Billed as a slimline radiator with the same diminutive dimensions as the RS series, but having the same performance envelope as the much thicker RX series. Only time, and of course the rigorous OC3D torture test will tell how the XSPC offering stands up to the competition.
As we're dealing with three stars of the show, and because we don't want one of them thinking the're some sort of diva, it only seems fair to give each of them their own section here.
Raystorm CPU Block
- Designed for Multi Core CPU’s
- High Performance Copper Base 56x56x3mm
- CNC Cut Acetal Top
- G1/4″ Threads
- 4x 3mm LED Holes
- Compatible with Most Compression Fittings
- Supports Sockets LGA775, 1156, 1155, 1366 and 2011
Supplied with mounting hardware, 775, 1156/1155, and 1366 backplates,
twin blue LED, allen key, and K2 thermal paste.
EX 240 Radiator
- Copper and Brass Core
- Black Matt Paint Finish
- RoHS Compliant
- Dimensions: 121 x 35.5 x 275mm (WxDxH)
- Weight: ~507g
- Ports: G1/4″
- Screws: 6-32 UNC
- Fans: 2 x 120mm (4x with push/pull)
Supplied 30mm and 6mm 6-32 UNC screws
X20 750 Pump reservoir Combination
- G1/4″ threads
- High quality acrylic
- Removable brushed aluminium faceplates
- Brass screw threads
- Low noise, low vibration (42dB Max)
- Pump performance: 750 lph
- Delivery head: 1.8m
- Voltage: 12V (4pin)
- Dimensions: 149 x 100 x 85mm (WxDxH)
- Two 5mm LED holes
- Individually pressure tested
Supplied with black and silver faceplates, screws, allen key, and a blue LED.
Up Close: EX 240 Radiator
With the EX series of Radiators XSPC claim to have produced a low profile radiator with the same dimensions as the RS series, but with the same performance characteristics as the award wining, but much thicker RX series. This they claim on their website has been made possible by ..."split fins, improved soldering techniques and welded seam tubes". The radiators are design optimised use with low RPM fans, and as such are intended to produce effective cooling at low noise levels.
The Radiator comes packaged in a simple black box, with the Blue XPSC log picked out on the front. The Radiator is protected by a bubble wrap sleeve which has a zip-lock bag of screws attached to it.
Once opened we see that the EX 240 Rad is indeed a low profile radiator, measuring in at just 35.5mm thick, it is only just 0.5mm thicker than the RS series, so I think we can let XSPC have the "same size" claim with that, and is certainly a great deal thinner than the RX series which weighs in at 63mm think.
Perhaps the most striking feature of the EX is the matte Black finish. With most rads on the market being either gloss or satin finish the EX certainly stands out from the crowd, and it's not just the shroud that's finished in matte black, the whole of the fins and end sections are also given the stealth treatment. The bright yellow areas you can see, are of course the shipping plugs and are removed when you fit your chosen tubing attachment. While on the subject of the ports it's worth noting that although this model only has ports on one side, XSPC do produce a multi port model.
Having seen a few rads in our time, it's often no less surprising to see them arrive with bent fins and areas of damage within the heat exchange area. Nothing that's going to affect performance, but at the same time does beg the questions as to how the damage happened, and how the heck the manufacturer let the product out of the factory in such a state. This happens to such an extent in the industry as to be seen as normal, that said, it is no less acceptable. I'm pleased to say that there are no such issues with the review sample radiator from XSPC, and as we were lucky enough to have two of the EX series available to us I can confirm that this was not a one off fluke.
Taking a closer look at the EX radiator we can see that ample space has been given between the screw points and the heat exchanger core of the radiator. In fact, XSPC have allowed a generous 10mm on each side, which when looked at a different way, means that the business end of the EX radiator is in fact only 15.5mm thick. The image below right also allows us to get a good idea of the fins spacing on the EX series. For those of you too lazy to count...Well you're just going to have to count, we're not going to do everything for you.
Up Close: X20 750 Dual 5.25" bay Pump/Reservoir
The X20 750 has been around in one shape or form for a number of years and has established a reputation as something of a classic model in the bay res world. Having the 750 litre/hour pump located inside the reservoir removes the need to find a separate home for your pump within your case. Additionally, as the pump essentially surrounded by water, this acts to some degree as a sound deadening medium.
The X20 750 comes with two interchangeable face plates, one in satin black, and the other in aluminium. Both have a hairline brushed finish. The face-plates are secured by means of 4 small nickel plated Allen head bolts in the corners. The face plates each have a slim vertical window down one side to allow viewing of the coolant inside, and the XSPC logo in the bottom right hand corner. Not only is the design of the face plate sleek and simple, but as XSPC say themselves on their website, it's also easy enough to use it as a template to make your own custom faceplate designs
Looking at the body of the reservoir in a bit more detail we note that XSPC have used varying thicknesses of clear acrylic in it's construction, with the front being made of a 5mm sheet, the rear from 10mm and the rest of the body from 4mm acrylic. this presumably is to put the strength where it's most needed whilst keeping the weight (and cost) down.
Looking at the top we see that a simple threaded plastic plug gives access to the filling hole, whilst on the sides we can see that the groove allows easy access into the twin bays for which it is intended. XSPC have thoughtfully included threaded brass inserts so as to allow for a more secure fixing into your drive bays without risk of over tightening and splitting the acrylic. Turning our attention to the busineess end of the reservoir we can clearly see the inlet and outlets for the water. XSPX include bards for these mounts, but have also kindly threaded them a G1/4 so as to allow pretty much any fitting to be used should you so desire. Whilst round the back it's also worth noting the braided power lead and also the not so obvious holes that allow the accommodation of the supplied 5mm blue LEDs
Up Close: Raystorm CPU Block
Seen by many as the successor to the RASA CPU water-block (which is a cracking waterblaock and still very much available), the Raystorm offers greater performance and increased CPU compatibility. (a separate AMD version is available so fret not). The Raystom comes in 3 parts, the main block, the acrylic mounting bracket, and the black aluminium trim. This trim can be easily removed should you not wish to use it, or perhaps, if you wish to change it's colour or appearance.
The copper face of the water block is finished to a very high sheen (believe it or not, the picture below right is taken with the protective plastic film still attached. There is decent spacing between the G1/4 threads to allow for the attachment of bulky compression fittings. The outer mounting bracket can be rotated though 90 degrees, not that this matters too much as each of the 4 sides has a hole for a 3mm LED.
Rather than have a separate accessories section for each of the main components included in this kit it seemed sensible to dedicate this section to the accessories as a whole. Where to begin, there's a lot of stuff comes with this kit.
Lets start with the selection of back-plates and fittings that come with the Raystorm CPU waterblock (below left). Remembering that the Raystorm is supplied as a separate unit should you wish to fit to an AMD block, it's nice to see that as far as Intel is concerned XSPC have catered for all the relevant current chips in the form of the LG775, 1155, 1156, 1366 and 2011. The Raystorm also comes with 2x3mm Blue LEDs on braided cables should you wish to illuminate the acrylic sections of the block. While on the subject of LEDs lets also take a look at the accessories that come with the X20 Reservoir (below right). Along with the interchangeable faceplates already discussed XSPC include a set of 4 Nickel coated Hex head bolts, along with, you guessed it, a 5mm Blue LED to continue the theme through into your reservoir.
The Radiator comes with a total of 8 each of both 6mm and 30mm matte black cross head screws, enabling it to be mounted either directly to a panel, or to the surface of a standard 25mm thick fan. A more than thoughtful inclusion I think and a detail that earns XSPC brownie points with us. But that's not all, if you want to mount your radiator external to the case XSPC also include 4 angled 80mm to 120mm angled brackets, making it easier to attach to 80mm fan mounts whilst at the same time ensuring that the separation provided ensures ample airflow to the fins.
The radiator also comes with 2x120mm 1200rpm fans, The fans are fairly simple black 6 bladed affairs but look like they should do the job well enough. The torture test of course will find them out should they be lacking! Ccontinuing the theme of attention to detail XSPC have also included a set of 2x120mm black coated metal fan guards. Although a simple design, We have to say this concentric circle look is one of our all time favourites. And yes, of course the fan cables are braided.
And so finally to the barbs and tubing. XSPC provide a total of 6 G1/4 to 1/2" high-flow barbs, which is all that you will require for the assembly of the kit. You are of course free to use these or swap them out for another style of fitting should you wish, but to be honest, they're pretty decent and seem to do the job well. A total of 2 metres of clear 7/16" tubing also comes with the kit. A tight fit over the 1/2" barbs but easy enough to ease into place, the tubing can then be secured with the rather industrial looking clips. Just remember to slide them over the tubing first or you'll be cursing yourself.
The Kit comes with instructions for the attachment of the Raystorm block to the CPU. The instructions are in English only and are printed in full colour on gloss paper. Information is clear and concise making for what should be a pleasurable build. That is however as far as the instructions go. After that you're on your own. As this "kit" is to some extent at least aimed at the person who wants to venture into water-cooling but who does not feel brave enough to select and assemble their own kit, it might have been nice for XSPC to include a full set of instructions in the form of an assembly guide, taking the builder through such things as flushing bleeding and filling in addition to the nuances of exactly where to stick their LEDs!
As detailing the whole of the assembly process would take an article in itself I'll simply comment that it was a pleasurable process, the CPU block went on without the use of swearing and the rest of the kit went together as intended. there were no missing parts and no no damaged items. Remember the rule about this section? The shorter it is the better the item is to fit.
Performance and testing
To provide continuity the test set up is as always
Gigabyte UD3R V2
Intel i7 950 @ 4GHz 1.25v & 1.35v
Mushkin Radioactive 2000MHz
Cooler Master Storm Trooper
For the first test we set our i7-950 overclocked to 200x20 @ 1.25v for a clock speed of 4.0GHz. We allow the system to idle for 30 minutes and then run Prime95 'maximum heat maximum stress' setting for a further 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes we note the temperatures of all cores and the ambient temperature of the room. An average of all cores is taken, then the ambient temperature is removed from this figure and this gives us the delta temperature. Delta is the temperature difference above ambient which is a truer reflection of the heat-sink performance rather than mere maximum figures. Testing in an Igloo or the Sahara would give vastly different maximum temperatures, yet the Delta could be the same.
The second test follows all steps from above but with a 200x21 @ 1.35v for 4.2GHz overclock, the extra voltage in this test allows us to see if the heat-sink can cope when extreme loads and overclocks are applied
The last test is at 4.4GHz, 200x22 @ 1.45v and is an extreme test that only extreme coolers will ever pass. Any cooler in this graph is a one of the elite few that has the cooling ability to dissipate the heat created during this grueling test.
This is the second XSPC kit we've looked at here at OC3D, and it has to be said we continue to be impressed. with the exception of coolant XSPC have included absolutely everything you need to assemble not just a basic water cooling set up, but one with style, substance, and a little bit of bling. Each of the components used is strong in it's own right, from the classic X20 750 twin bay reservoir with integral pump and interchangeable face plates, through the new EX240 low profile radiator from which the kit gets it name, all the way to the stunning Raystorm CPU water-block. But XSPC don't stop at just providing you with these components, they also provide LEDs to light up your work and all the fittings and attachments you could possibly want to get your rig "under water".
So XSPC on paper at least appear to have a winner on their hands. But that's not where the story ends though is it? Not at all. This kit has to perform, and perform well to justify the outlay.
So does it? Well look at those performance figures and tell me this kit isn't worth the money. Ok, you're dropping nearly £150 on it, but each of the items is a quality piece of kit in it's own right, and as your experience and confidence grows you're most likely going to be able to re use elements in future builds and perhaps sell on the items you no longer require. Unlike PC hardware, this stuff won't be redundant and old had in 2-3 years. Yes there are a few WC kits in the rankings that beat it, but they don't beat it by much and have much larger radiators which are much less likely to fit into your rig, or at the very least take up valuable space or cause you to have to get the dremel out.
Lets take a step back and look at this again. We have here a slimline 240mm Radiator that is able to pretty much match two other 360mm Radiators. It gets to within 0.5 of a degree of the Swiftech H20 X20 (which is a pretty noisy bit of kit for the money), and even manages to get within 5 degrees of it's bigger older brother, the XSPC RS360. That's no mean feat by any-ones standards. And it manages all this with only 2 very quiet 1200rpm "stock" fans.
Whilst we're talking about noise, lets mention the X20 reservoir/pump combination. This unit has received criticism in the past for being quite a noisy affair. We have to say we experienced no such problems. This may in some part be due to taking a little bit of time to make sure the reservoir is properly mounted and isolated with all the screws done up tightly rather than using the cases "tool-less" design to secure the unit in place. It's also fair to say that although the supplied fans do a fantastic job at very low noise levels, We think the unit could be capable of even better performance figs should you choose to upgrade the fans.
Upgrade is also a key word when talking about this kit. Ok so you've bought your kit, but a few months down the line you want to water-cool your GPU. No problem, just buy your block of choice, a few fittings and add it into the loop. An extra rad to help with the cooling? Again no problem, just buy it and add it in. Try doing that with a sealed system.
Lengthy conclusions are easier to write when the kit reviewed is bad, or at the very least in some way flawed. Problem is, this XSPC kit is good, very good, which leaves me very little to write about in the way of criticism, and boy do I like to be critical when the need calls for it. Ok so the price is a bit steep, but then if you're going to buy cheap water-cooling kit then you might as well not bother at all, stick to air and live the easy life. So XSPC could have included instructions on how to assemble the whole kit down to the minutest detail, but researching how to do this and making your own decisions is something of a right of passage into the world of Water-cooling. This might be water cooling, but there is no wet nurse.
We'd actually finished with this review and conclusion at this point but then thought we might go a little bit further asnd see how the XSPC kit compares to a custom loop. So under exactly the same testing conditions the XSPC kit was put up against the following: Watercool Heatkiller rev 3 Copper, Phobya G-changer v1.2 360 (3.120 double thickness radiator fitted with 3 of the mighty Scythe gentle typhoon 1850 fans), and the Laing DDC-1 + 18W pump with EK X res 140 Pump top. So how did the XSPC kit perform. Well i'm glad in some ways to say it was beaten, as I would have thrown the rest of my kit out of the window if it hadn't been, but it wasn't beaten by much, not much at all. At the all important 4.4GHz at 1.45V test the custom loop returned a Delta T of 48.75, just 5.25 degrees cooler than the XSPC kit. I think those figures speak for themselves, and leave me feeling nothing if not a little depressed.
In reviewing the equipment and components that come through our hands here at OC3D there are but a few items that stick out as genuinely great. We're pleased to say the XSPC EX 240 watercooling kit is one of these items. The kit is currently on pre-order from Specialtech with stock dates expected around the end of July.
Thanks to SpecialTech for the kit on test today, you can discuss your thoughts in the OC3D Forums.