A Closer Look at the Predator 240
A Closer Look at the Predator 240
Let's start with the elephant in the room. The Predator is massive. How massive you may ask? Think 295mm (11.61”) long, 133mm (5.24”) wide, and a whopping 68mm (1.69”) thick with its fans installed. The scary thing is that the hard edges, all-black aesthetics, and nary a piece of plastic anywhere make it look even larger. Expect some challenges fitting this into most cases.
To put these dimensions in perspective a Corsair H110i GT's radiator is only 30mm deep, and only the H80i GT is thicker at 49mm. In other words this 240x120x48mm radiator is only slightly thinner than a H80i GT's and that figure grows when its integrated shroud is taken into account.
While this unit is technically an All-In-One sealed water cooling device, the fact it is made up of the same core parts and has 'AIO' in its name is about the only thing it shares in common with the typical products in this category. Instead it is best to consider the Predator 240 a factory-built custom water loop that comes prefilled and ready for use.
The amazing dimensions are literally only the tip of the iceberg with the Predator 240, but before we move on it is also worth pointing out that this radiator is not only thicker than most but it also boasts a copper-based design rather than the usual aluminum. In essence it uses a slightly modified EK CoolStream PE 240 radiator.
As with an 'off the shelf' PE 240, the EK Predator 240 uses copper for the water channels, brass for the end chambers / water reservoir, and only uses aluminum for the housing. Copper and brass may indeed be much, much for effective than aluminum but they are also heavier, harder to shape, and all round noticeably more expensive. This is why most AIO's almost never use copper rads and instead go with cheaper aluminum as price and profit are a prime consideration rather than performance. EK obviously didn’t cut any corners here. This fact alone does help justify the rather high asking price of the unit as a two bay copper radiator of these dimensions typically goes for $60 all on its own.
Albeit impressive in its own right, the radiator is only one element of EKWB’s impressive design. The tubing and connectors are also different from what consumers will find in the AIO corner of the market. Basically, EK has used their own custom ACG compression fittings and they’re of extremely high quality, completely justifying their off-the-shelf price of $7 each. More importantly these chrome fittings allow the tubing to easily swivel which will make installation that much easier.
The de-facto standard for AIO tubing in synthetic rubber and whether it is FEP, PA, or EPDM the end results are basically the same: ease of use is above reproach and there’s almost no liquid evaporation over time. Each have has its own minor points of variance, but the material used is not the important part. Instead it is the dimensions that matter. Yes, girth does matter.
The typical outer-diameter usually runs from 9.5mm (3/8”) to 14.3mm (9/16”). Compared and contrast that to the Predator's 16mm OD (10mm interior diameter) tubing and you can see that EK has done all they can to not only increase the fluid capacity but also reduce pressure requirements.
It may not be evident by just looking at the pictures, but EK has actually used about 15.8” worth of this EK ZMT tubing here. This too is noteworthy as only a few AIOs have this kind of length, with 12” to 14” being more typical these days. This added length in conjunction with the swivel connectors will make this cooler easier to install but it may become a hindrance in more compact enclosures.
At the other end of the tubing is a pair of 90° swivel connectors and an honest to God real waterblock rather than an oddball pump / block combo. To be a bit more precise this is an EK Supremacy MX waterblock which is one of the better ones you can find and would set you back a good $60USD if bought separately.
One of the nice bonus features of this block is its inclusion of four pre-installed, spring loaded retention bolts that simply slide in and out to fit different sized CPUs. This too will make installation easier than usual, though with a few caveats we will go over in the setup and installation section.
More importantly as this is high end EK block the efficiency of it is simply off the charts compared to the typical AIO waterblock. This does not even take into account the fact it is drop dead gorgeous. Instead they say a picture is worth a thousand words. We couldn’t find type small enough to fit a thousand words in its reflection, but as you can see 'mirror shine' is not an exaggeration. With that base EK shows the rest of the AIO marketplace how quality finishing is done.
Attached to the radiator’s edge is the aforementioned brass water chamber which will hold significantly more fluid (EK uses a water / glycol mix) than the typical AIO. This should help keep CPU temperatures lower as there is simply more fluid mass to absorb heat before a saturation level is reached.
Since the waterblock is not the typical combination unit found in AIO's EK had to move it to a different location; right next to the reservoir. It is a pretty powerful DDC 3.1 pump as well. Even in a 6 watt, 3.1 configuration this is indeed overkill for a single rad / single block unit, but as the Predator can be upgraded it does make sense (this is where the additional chrome end caps sprinkled around the radiator come into play). In either case, for a single loop like this, we have zero concerns over the radiator's backpressure being too much for the unit to handle.
Also note that EK uses what they call a Hovercore to insure vibrations from the high output pump aren't transmitted to the chassis. This involves cantilevering the pump out from the radiator (it is separated by a suppressive, vibration-dampening gasket) so it doesn't actually make contact with the metal case itself.
Last but not least there are two two EK Vardar branded fans which are capable of running at up to 2200RPMs (ours ran at about 2255 and 2249). At this speed they can move 77 cubic feet of air a minute at an extremely potent 3.16mm/H2O of static pressure and retail for about $20 each.
In addition, EK is the first to take fan control in an entirely new direction. Instead of relying upon software they have included an integrated quad 4-pin header fan controller. This combination not only exceeds expectations but makes USB based solutions look downright cheap by comparison.
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