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EK-Nucleus AIO CR360 Direct Die Review – Core i9-14900KS Delid

Rating: 9.0.

If you are a regular viewer or reader, you will have seen a series of videos from last year where we helped EKWB develop their direct die CPU block for custom loop cooling. Since then, EKWB has launched the world's first AIO designed for cooling delidded Intel LGA1700 CPUs. In this review, we are taking a look at the EK-Nucleus AIO CR360 Direct Die cooler and finding out if it can tame the Intel Core i9-14900KS.

Timestamps:

00:00 Start
00:46 Hardware and Pricing
01:40 EK Nucleus AIO CR360 Direct Die
04:25 The fans
04:43 Direct Die / Pump
05:37 Accessories / mounting hardware
07:04 Intel i9 14900KS
07:20 Test hardware – info about MSI & Gigabyte boards
08:16 BIOS and benchmarks
09:48 Delidding the 14900KS
13:59 CPU is de-lidded – install time
16:36 Cable connections
16:57 Performance testing
18:08 James' thoughts

EK-Nucleus AIO CR360 Direct Die Features:

  • An exclusive direct die cooling engine with a nickel-plated cold plate designed specifically for Intel socket LGA1700 delidded CPUs, which is the first ever AIO of its kind.
  • A unique rotatable pump block top cover made from brushed aluminium featuring a skull emblem and RGB lighting ring with an alternative plain brushed aluminium cover with an RGB lighting ring included in the box.
  • The Included EK-Loop daisy chainable 120mm fans are equipped with digital ARGB lighting, high static pressure and PWM speed control.
  • And a 360mm radiator with brushed aluminium side trim panels, reinforced sleeved rubber tubing and fittings hidden by a black aesthetic cover.

Specifications:

  • CPU Socket Compatibility: Intel LGA1700
  • Radiator Material: Aluminium
  • Radiator Dimensions: 400 x 124 x 27mm
  • Radiator Tube Length: 400 mm
  • Pump Unit Dimensions: 82 x 63 x 61.6mm
  • Pump Speed: 3100 RPM ± 10%
  • Pump PWM Range: 20 – 100%
  • Cold Plate: Nickel-plated copper
  • Pump Connector: 4-pin PWM
  • Pump Noise:
  • Pump LED: 5V Digital (Addressable)
  • VRM Fan: N/A
  • Fan Dimensions: 120 x 120 x 25mm
  • Fan LED: N/A
  • Fan Speed (PWM): 550 – 2300 ± 10%
  • Fan Max Airflow: 72 CFM (Max)
  • Fan Max Air Pressure: 7mmH2O
  • Fan Noise: 36 dB (Max)
  • Fan Bearing: Fluid Dynamic Bearing
  • Fan Connector: 4-Pin PWM
  • Warranty: 5-years Limited International Warranty

Test System Specifications:

Testing Methodology:

We are primarily focussing on the performance of the cooler at 100% fan speed. We will focus on cooling performance using a manual overclock with all-core frequency and VCORE locked to 5.8GHz P-Cores/1.38v VCORE voltage.

A standard EK-Nucleus AIO CR360 LUX D-RGB is used for the stock CPU test pre-delid, and the EK-Nucleus AIO CR360 Direct Die cooler is used on the modified delidded CPU.

  • The test data is logged using HWINFO and the final 10 minutes of the data is calculated to find the average CPU temperature.
  • For testing, we use a 30-minute looped run of Cinebench R23 and record the steady-state CPU temperature at the end of the test. This ensures that the CPU has had ample time to warm up and reach a steady state under both of the coolers.
  • The ambient is maintained at 19-21 degrees Celsius. Where there is variation beyond this temperature range, we add extra repeated tests to ensure consistency. However, this is well controlled now with A/C.

Thermal Performance

This line chart shows the CPU temperature of the stock unmodified CPU versus the delidded CPU and EK-Nucleus AIO CR360 Direct Die cooling over the full 30-minute Cinebench R23 looped run. The chart speaks for itself, it's clear to see an almost 20ºC temperature drop with the delidded and direct-die cooled CPU.

When we take the average temperature from the final 10 minutes of the Cinebench R23 Loop run, we again see an almost 20ºC improvement in CPU package temperature when delidding and direct die cooling the Core i9-14900KS with the EK-Nucleus AIO CR360 Direct Die cooler, which is an impressive showing.

Cinebench R23 Multi-Core Benchmark Scores:

Above: Typical Cinebench score with stock IHS and 360mm AIO cooler.
Above: Best Cinebench R23 Benchmark score with Direct Die cooling.

Closing Thoughts

The video pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the EK-Nucleus AIO CR360 Direct Die cooler. It's reasonably priced compared with traditional style AIO coolers, it is easy to install once you have your CPU delidded, it looks good, the build quality is high and the results of direct die cooling using the EK-Nucleus Direct Die AIO on a high-end LGA1700 CPU are spectacular to say the least, so taken as a whole it’s a great product.

I have dabbled with direct die cooling previously and worked with EK in the development of the company’s EK-Quantum Velocity² Direct Die CPU water block for custom loop cooling, so I was expecting a positive result but I never imagined that the drop in package temperature for the Core i9-14900KS was going to be this dramatic. Knocking 20°C off the average over a 30-minute Cinebench R23 stress test is very impressive and it also improves system stability with BIOS defaults loaded.

There are some negatives to using the EK-Nucleus AIO CR360 Direct Die cooler though, the user will have to delid the CPU which is a daunting task that can sometimes not quite go to plan and cause damage to the CPU, but if you use the EK-Quantum Velocity² IHS Removal Tool, watch the delidding video by EK’s Joe Robey and follow the instructions carefully, the risk of causing damage to the CPU is minimal and you should be successful.

The only other minor negative with the EK-Nucleus AIO CR360 Direct Die is that the delid tool isn't included with the cooler and you are not going to be direct die cooling anything without one. My suggestion to EKWB would be to either offer a discount to consumers who buy the direct die cooler and the delid tool together or bundle the tool with the cooler for an increased price. But other than those minor negatives it’s a brilliant product and essential if you want to extract the best possible performance from the Intel Core i9-14900KS.

The EK-Nucleus AIO CR360 Direct Die 1700 D-RGB is available to purchase now from OverclockersUK priced at £199.99 HERE.

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Pros:

  • Great thermal Performance on high-end LGA1700 CPUs.
  • Easy cooler installation.
  • Excellent build quality.

Cons:

  • The user is required to delid the CPU.
  • No delid tool is included with the cooler.

KitGuru says: If you are planning on picking up an Intel Core i9-14900KS then I would recommend getting the EK-Nucleus Direct Die cooler. Keeping the CPU cool with a standard AIO is very difficult and can lead to system instability.

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Rating: 9.0.

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