EK Predator AIO Review
Published: 8th October 2015 | Source: EK | Price: £168.95 @ OCUK |
In the introduction we wondered whether the EK Predator 240 would represent something where the whole was greater than the sum of its parts. The reason for this is that the "parts" in this case are all taken from EKs extensive inventory. The radiator, for example is a no clone plucked from an OEM factory, it's a fully-fledged, if slightly modified 38mm thick EK CoolStream PE radiator. The CPU cold plate is another EK item, this time in the shape of the Supremacy MX. Even the fans are EKs own 2200RPM Varder units. Then there's the Rubber tubing and EKs own Nickel plated compression fittings. In fact, the only thing in the assembly that isn't EK badged is the DDC pump. And don’t go thinking EK haven't just slung this lot together though and hoped for the best. No Sir. There's some real finesse gone in to this, not least of which is the Hovercore dampening technology that EK have used to acoustically decouple the 6W DDC pump from the body of the radiator and thus reduce the noise vibration harshness transmitted into the chassis. We have to say at this point we were sceptical that the DDC pump would be as quiet as EK had claimed, but you know what? It is. Yes you can hear it, but it's not intrusive and nowhere near as loud as we thought it would be.
Assembly is a bit of a mixed bag, on the plus side the fans come pre attached and are configured to pull rather than push the air through the rad. EK have even gone so far as to loom the fan cables out of the way so as to give a very neat and professional appearance. The down side of this is that if you wish to turn the fans round you're going to be undoing all their hard work, and most likely won't get it all to look as nice. It's also worth mentioning that if you've got AMD kit and have skipped the rest of this review then you can start to get all indignant right about now....Are you ready...The Predator can only be fitted to Intel CPUs. Yup, that's right, no AMD compatibility what-so-ever. Also, if you're fitting to anything other than 2011 then you'll also need to remove the standard Intel backplate from your motherboard and replace it with the supplied EK one. As this involves a lot of ferreting around near the socket with the supplied torx wrench we do advise the use of extreme caution as there's lots of things around there you really don't want to slip and knock off your motherboard. If you're using 2011 then there's no need for all this malarkey but you will need to remove the existing spring tension bolts and replace them with 2011 ones. This unfortunately involves the removal and replacement of four very fiddly and very small circlips. Our approach to this was to totally gut the room we were using of all furniture, and to paint both the floor and the walls white. This way we were at least able to find the circlips once they flicked off into the unknown.
Fitting the Predator into the case was pretty straight forward, however do be aware that the setup is pretty much locked to an extract configuration. This is fine if you're using it in the roof, but less of an obvious choice of orientation if you're thinking of putting it in the front of your case. Also, if you're thinking of a roof mount then you're going to need a case with at least 68mm of space or a decent offset, as the rad/pump assembly makes for one chunky monkey.
As we've already mentioned, the pump was way more quiet than we were expecting. The fans though, at their full 2200rpm made as much noise as their 33.5dB(A) would have you believe. Not that they were any louder than other AIO system fans we have tested, indeed, they were a good deal quieter than some, in particular the Corsair units attached to the likes of the H110iGT and the 100iGTX.
From a performance standpoint the Predator made a reasonable fist of things. OK, it didn't dominate the charts, but then it was never going to beat the 360mm or 280mm Rad systems. It did though do pretty damn well and is well deserving of its place in the 4.6GHz club.
You'll maybe have noticed that we haven't really touched upon the modular aspect of the Predator to any great extent, and the reason for this is that we've been mulling it over in our heads. Normally we're pretty dismissive of the concept, having seen it done in a bit of a half arsed way from other manufacturers. But there's something about the Predator that makes us feel a bit different. Maybe it's the nice clean coldplate, devoid of any piggybacking pump, perhaps it’s the use of genuine EK compression fittings with proper diameter tubing, or possibly the use of an actual DDC pump that makes this cooler feel like the modular concept isn't just a gimmick. We're not sure what it is, and to be honest, we're still not sure how we feel, but we know we feel different about it.
And so to the ugly subject of price. Buying a Predator will leave you with little change from £170, which by any measure is a shed load of money to pay for an AIO. If you want outright performance, there are other directions you should look in, If you want better performance at a lower price, there are still many others to choose from, but if you want what we think is the best made, quietest, highest quality AIO on the market, made from genuine EK components all of which can form part of an evolving system then the Predator is worth a look but personally we think you would be better off just buying an EK custom kit and building it yourself. Like many things in life once you get it wet you cant help but keep doing it ;)
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