This has been a long time in the making. The product itself, and the review too. I was present in person at Quakecon 2015 when EK Waterblocks announced the Predator series of AIO coolers, and I actually had my sample from EK arrive over 4 months ago. Hectic schedules, and a product recall later I am finally publishing my review of the cooler. I want to apologize to EK and my readers for the delay, but hopefully this will yet help people make a decision and add on to the more mainstream coverage of these units. Thanks a lot to EK for sending the sample for testing.
Let’s begin by taking a look at the specs courtesy the product page:
- Dimensions: 295 x 133 x 68mm (L x W x H)
- Fan type: EK-Vardar F4-120ER Predator Edition (550-2200rpm)
- Tube length: ~400mm (15.75in)
- Fitting type: EK-ACF Fitting 10/16mm
- Coolant type: EK-Ekoolant EVO Clear
- Pump type: Laing DDC3.1 6W
- Total liquid capacity: ~290mL
CPU socket compatibility
- Intel LGA-775
- Intel LGA-1150/1151/1155/1156
- Intel LGA-1366
- Intel LGA-2011(-3)
- EK-XLC Predator 240
- EK-TIM Ectotherm (1g syringe)
- Main Power and PWM signal cable
- CPU Mounting mechanism
- Installation manual (ENG)
These are the specs for the Predator 240 AIO, and there is also an informative diagram with dimensions of the unit here. It must be noted here that EK has since also released a Predator 240 w/QDCs (quick disconnects) and there is also a Predator 360 w/QDCs (with a 360mm radiator and 3 fans, instead of a 240mm radiator and 2 fans here). Another change since launch is that currently purchased Predators are all revision 1.1 vs 1.0 with the changes related to the mounting mechanism of the CPU block and also to the O-ring inside the CPU block. The former is mostly because some motherboard makers did not stick to Intel specifications for the LGA 2011 (-3) and LGA 115x square ILM wherein there were no cooler mounting holes that went through the motherboard PCB. The CPU block (an EK Supremacy MX, which was separately reviewed here earlier) that came with R1.0 used the same mounting as the Supremacy MX stand alone block- a one piece set up that fit both the LGA 2011(-3) and 115x sockets from Intel. Revision 1.1 units will come with mounting hardware similar to what we have seen with the Supremacy Evo (reviewed here, and here) which uses a multi piece setup for the different socket types and is independent of motherboard musical chairs.
The bigger change, and one that really resulted in the product recall, was a batch of O-rings provided by their supplier which under some specific conditions failed to keep the block leak proof. Consider the case of a sealed loop where the coolant temperature increases as the CPU core temperatures also increase. The reservoir being completely topped off, the loop pressure also increases accordingly with no pressure relief anywhere. At a certain point, some of the O-rings ended up porous and coolant seeped out of the gap between the CPU block top and cold plate. Some O-rings even came apart in pieces. Some customers have had damages to other hardware (motherboards, and GPUs for example). If this sounds terrifying, it should be. The Predator unit was marketed mostly for enthusiasts who do not wish to go through the experience of setting up a custom loop and these leaks were not customer fault.
Then I saw EK handle this in a manner which I really appreciated as both a consumer and reviewer. They recognized the problem was more widespread than previously thought of from a handful of complaints about this, and did a complete product recall. Customers worldwide who had purchased the product have till end of February, 2016 to decide if they want to participate in this process, and there is more information on this here. Without going into too much detail, everything is being covered for affected customers- shipping, a product swap form R1.0 to R1.1 and also compensation for any damaged hardware as a result of leaks. I have worked with a lot of AIO makers and no one has an explicit policy about replacing damaged hardware in writing. Raijintek came close but it was more to do with OcUK/CK there, and Corsair tends to do this on a case by case basis but that’s about it from what I know. I am happy that my own unit has not had any of these issues, and I will not go through the RMA process myself. But I feel assured knowing that customers will be/are being taken care of the right way and so this is where I will stop talking about the issues that hit R1.0. They will also not influence my review of the unit in any way because (a) my unit is unaffected as I mentioned, and (b) I haven’t seen any complaints from R1.1 units so far. If anything changes, I will update the review accordingly.
Update: 2 days before I published this review, the O-ring on my Supremacy MX failed as well. This happened during an expansion test when the heat load was much higher than what it would have as just a CPU cooler, and the O-ring came apart in multiple pieces, not just become porous. I would now say EK did absolutely the right thing here with recalling every R1.0 unit. Anything less, and things would have been a lot worse. Thankfully nothing happened to damage my hardware since I observed a leak immediately when turning the pump on after the first trial, but I did go ahead and contact EK support as a regular customer to see how they would handle it and was pleased to see they were treating me appropriately without giving me any benefit as a reviewer. I decided to not go through with the recall myself because I have spare O-rings as it is, and now the unit works without any issues at the same heat loads previously exposed to.
Thank you for bearing with me through that super long introduction, and let’s now take a look at the unit beginning on the next page.