The Bottom Line
- + Compatibility
- + RAM clearance
- + Intense aRGB display
- + Performance
- + Low cost
- - Noise
- - Connectivity could be simplified
Should you buy it?AvoidConsiderShortlistBuy
Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
Every once in a while, we run across an AIO that seems to buck the trend. Typically, you need to spend more than $200 to get to the top of our thermal charts with performance. However, as the Liquid Freezer II did a couple of years ago, we have another sealed liquid setup for your CPU that can take on the big names in the game and not attack your bank account while doing so.
Even though we are a tad late to the party with the latest cooler we tested, Enermax has broken the mold this time. Not only is this cooler able to keep up with products twice its cost, but it does so with all of the fanfare that the market demands of current products. Compatibility, a bold display of RGB illumination, clearance, tons of accessories, and performance we did not expect. As we mentioned, this is a rare occurrence where you see a CPU cooler, liquid or air, that can impress us to the point of being excited to bring it to you so that you may take advantage of what is out there at a seriously affordable price point.
We want to get right into it and introduce the Enermax AQUAFUSION ADV 360mm aRGB liquid cooler without being too longwinded about what we have for you today. Suppose you have yet to hear anything about this product. In that case, you are missing out, as Enermax does everything possible to deliver a top-tier product without the inherent cost associated with such products. Cost is not everything, though, and as you will soon see, Enermax delivers in almost every aspect to deliver a product worthy of your time and investment.
Within the chart we configured from the product page, we see that we are discussing the ELC-AQFA360-SQA from this lineup, but there are 120mm and 240mm options available, and you also get to choose between black and white models. Compatibility covers the latest Intel sockets and even goes back to the LGA115x, 2011, and 1366 sockets. As for AMD, they offer similar support, where even the FM sockets are covered, along with AM3, AM4, and AM5.
The radiator of our version measures 394mm in length and 120mm in width. It is 27mm thick, made of aluminum, and painted black in this instance. Between the radiator and the head unit are two tubes made of rubber that are 400mm long and sleeved with black braided plastic as the covering. The cold plate in the head unit is made of copper and is machined with a convex surface. Within the head unit is the pump, which we are shown spins its impeller on a ceramic bearing that should last 50,000 hours before Enermax expects you may see it fail.
Cooling the radiator is a trio of UCSQUARGBA12P-AQFA 120mm fans, which are 26mm thick due to the rubber corners applied to the slightly rounded fan frames. These fans use an RPM range of 500 to 2000, delivering 39 to 79.8 CFM of airflow with up to 3.6 mmH2O of static pressure. The noise level is 15 to 32.6 dB(A), lasting twice as long as the pump's MTTF. Each fan comes with a 4-pin for power and a 3-pin for aRGB illumination, which have plenty of length to be hidden and reach the required connectors on your motherboard. As a side note, Enermax also includes a controller for those without an aRGB-supportive motherboard to fix that issue.
Two other points should be mentioned as well. The first is that the Enermax AIO comes with Dow Corning TC-5121C thermal grease, and should you have an issue, these units are backed with a five-year warranty.
More important to many than all of the goodies you get and how amazing the product looks comes down to the cost. Shockingly, we saw on the Enermax product page for the AQUAFUSION ADV 360mm aRGB liquid CPU cooler that the MSRP is only $119.99. If that wasn't good enough on its own, when it came to shopping at Newegg or Amazon, we see similar, if not better, deals. Newegg has it listed at $119.99 with a $10 mail-in rebate. We haven't had the greatest luck with MIR deals, but feel free to try.
On the flip side, we looked at Amazon for the AQUAFUSION ADV and were not disappointed to see its current price of $104 with no strings attached. What is even better is that the AQUAFUSION ADV coolers are priced even better than the aforementioned LFII coolers from Arctic, which were all the rage when they hit the market. Still, we feel Enermax has surpassed what Arctic had to offer and does so with much more involved.
While saving money up front, the packaging is still quite attractive. The bulk of the front panel offers the company name and logo at the top, with an illuminated image of the product in the middle and the AQUAFUSION ADV name across the bottom. At the panel's top-right, we also see the various sync methods it will work with, including a notation of addressable RGB from Enermax, which refers to their controller inside the box.
From the previous image, we laid the box on its back to expose one of the longer sides of the box. It is much of what we described seeing on the front panel but with a slightly different layout of the image and product name.
The next panel is smaller, and while mostly black, there is some information to see. The serial number is in the middle, while the UPC and EAN are to the right. Under it is a statement from Enermax that covers them against any changes.
The second of the longer panels has the company and product names at the top, with twelve multilingual descriptions below it. The statement says, "This closed-loop CPU cooler features high-performance PWM fan and high-efficiency ceramic bearing pump to constantly keep your system cool and quiet."
The last of the side panels is another of the smaller ones and ensures you have the information to see if it fits in your chassis. There are dimensions of the head unit, both height and size around it, the tube length, and the radiator measurements.
On the back, things start with a thorough list of specifications covering everything we discussed earlier except for the warranty period. On the right half, we see features listed with images. Enermax covers the Luminous Aurabelt and Infinite RGB Reflection, the SquA RGB ADV fans, the RGB Control Box, the dual chamber head unit, the patented CCI and SCT technology, and motherboard synchronization.
After opening the lid and sliding the foam and manual out of the way, we can see that Enermax uses cardboard to keep the components apart and free from damage. The radiator is slid inside cardboard to protect the fins and paint, while everything else is wrapped in plastic. The fans ride in the box on the right, while the head unit, hardware, and accessories are all found on the left.
Enermax AQUAFUSION ADV 360mm aRGB Liquid CPU Cooler
The head unit is topped with plastic, which is done with a mirror finish, as seen by the reflection of the braided tubes on the right side. The mirror is backlit with an infinity mirror design, which we will show later in the review.
The right side of the head unit is where the tubing enters and exits the pump and cold plate. We can see the ninety-degree swivel fittings and the rubberized rings that keep the black braid in place. We also see that while most of the head unit is black, the top portion is gray or silver, depending on the angle.
What we will call the top of the head unit (as installed), you will find the pump power lead emanating from the plastic, but there is also a rubber cover we removed from the head unit. Under that cover is a 4-pin male plug used for the aRGB illumination of the head unit. You may have also noticed the grooves, like the one below the pump power lead. These are used to mount the brackets to the head unit, with a pair of holes in the groove for screws to secure them.
We have removed a protective plastic sticker to expose the copper cold plate of the AQUAFUSION ADV. Doing so shows the semi-circular machine marks left in the copper, and we could put a straight edge against it to see that it is slightly convex. We also noticed the pair of screws used to make the cold plate tamper-proof for most users.
Moving away from the head unit, we extended the tape measure to see what was happening with the tubes and the pump power lead. We can see that the power lead is nearly twelve inches long and is sleeved, while the tubing is roughly fifteen and a half inches long, allowing plenty of installation options with this AIO.
The end of the radiator has stickers on it, one of which covers the importer information, while the other houses the serial number, should you have binned the box and run into an issue. We also see that the tubes at this end use similar rubberized collars to secure the tube and braid, while to the right is the fill port, which is closed off and inaccessible for future topping off of the AIO.
Typical to many mainstream AIOs, we get a black radiator with a high fin count and fan mounting holes placed on the side rails. We see slight fin damage at the left, but overall, we can deal with it, as it is so small compared to the overall surface area that the fans will cool.
As we move around to the side of the radiator, we find that Enermax dressed it up, not only with their name in bright white lettering but also with some styling added to the metal sides attached to the radiator, with grooves and angles to set them apart from the standard fare.
Accessories and Documentation
The black brackets and backplate are where we will start the hardware display. To the left are the AMD brackets that screw onto the sides of the head unit. In the middle is the Intel-specific backplate that covers the mainstream sockets. To the right are the Intel head unit brackets covering all the sockets specified in the chart.
The rest of the mounting hardware is what we see in this image. We have the LGA1700 studs and washers, the AMD standoffs above the LGA2011/2066 standoffs, and the LGA115X/1200 studs and washers to the right, along with black spacers and the knurled mounting nuts with springs.
Along with the Enermax labeled Dow Corning paste, we get five screws to secure the brackets to the head unit. Below those, we see three sets of four long screws for mounting the fans to the radiator, as well as the same amount of short screws to secure the radiator to the chassis.
We have these three adapters to ease the fan connectivity or change how they operate. At the top is a sleeved 3-way fan splitter cable to allow users to push all three fans with a single fan port on the motherboard. Should you wish to run the fans at full speed all of the time, there is a SATA to 4-pin adapter to do that, and at the bottom is a noise-reducing adapter, which takes the 12V input and reduces it to 7.5V.
To help with aRGB control, we have some options. On the left is an adapter specific to GIGABYTE motherboards, changing the tight 3-pin to a 5V ARGB layout. We then run into the standard aRGB connector to power the head unit, with the tiny 4-pin connection at one end. In the middle is the aRGB control box with buttons to change modes and such, while to the right of it is an aRGB splitter cable so that the head unit and fans can connect to a single header. That leaves us with the SATA to 2-pin lead, which powers the aRGB control box.
The trio of fans that ship in the box are the UCSQUARGBA12P-AQFA fans we mentioned earlier. While not square, they are not exactly round either, but all have an aRGB ring around them, which also shines through the back via the holes around the frame of the central fan. The white blades and hubs also glow with aRGB lighting, and these fans also have louvers on the back to help redirect airflow straight out of them. As to the leads on the fans, there are a 4-pin fan power lead and a 3-pin aRGB lead, both of which are over a foot long.
Lastly, we have the manual for the cooler, which takes you step-by-step through the various socket installations, with a connectivity guide at the end of it all. A parts list is included to help eliminate any confusion from all of the hardware we have shown. To the right is the insert for the fan noise-reducing adapter, showing that you install it before the splitter cable so that all fans take the effect.
Installation and Finished Product
We replaced the sticker to keep us from damaging the cold plate; it does not ship in this condition. As you can see, we have installed the AMD brackets onto the head unit using the provided screws. Remember, there are no threads in the head unit; you create them as you install the brackets.
With an AMD system, you will need to use the stock backplate. With it in place, you install the standoffs into the backplate and screw them down until the plastic spacer snugly presses against the motherboard using your hand and the knurled portion of the standoffs.
After applying thermal paste, we placed the head unit with the brackets aligned with the standoffs. Once there, you use the spring-loaded nuts and a screwdriver to lock the head unit down. We turned the nuts until we ran out of threads.
We also installed the three fans to the radiator and secured the radiator to the top of the testbed. The fan leads are long enough to manage and keep out of the way while still making it to the 3-pin ARGB header and the fan power header with plenty of slack. With 400mm of tubing offered, we had no issues mounting the radiator above the board, but we could have also installed it in the front of a chassis.
In any stronger lighting, the head unit LED display is a bit tougher to see, but all the same, we like what Enermax has done. Not only do the rings at the edge multiply but so does the Enermax name in the center. We have a better view coming up.
As many will find inside their chassis, this is what the Enermax AQUAFUSION ADV looks like under power with dimmed lighting. The lighting synchronizes with the motherboard, and the fans match while the head unit is doing its thing. We also mentioned that the back of the fans allows light to pass through them, and you can see that reflected on the lower edge of the radiator.
We can now see the AQUAFUSION ADV in all its glory from a better angle. The head unit displays its pattern much better, and the fan lighting is intense. The glow provided to the rest of the components is some of the brightest we have seen, and we feel that Enermax made sure not to cut any corners with what we have seen thus far.
Test System Setup, Thermal Tests, and Noise Results
Chad's CPU Cooler Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII HERO [Wi-Fi] (AMD X570) - Buy from Amazon
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3600X - Buy from Amazon
- Memory: Corsair Vengeance LPX 4000MHz 4X8GB
- Graphics Card: ASUS GeForce RTX 2060 6GB OC - Buy from Amazon
- Storage: Galax HOF Pro M.2 1TB SSD
- Case: Hydra Bench Standard
- Power Supply: ASUS ROG Thor 850W - Buy from Amazon
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Home 64-bit - Buy from Amazon
- Software: AMD Ryzen Master, AIDA64 Engineer 6.25.5400, and CPU-z 1.92.0 x64
To see our testing methodology and to find out what goes into making our charts, please refer to our 2020 CPU Cooler Testing and Methodology article for more information.
To be blunt, we are overly shocked at what Enermax was able to do in our first thermal test. It is quite the feat, with only a 0.2°C difference between the AQUAFUSION ADV and the H150i Elite Capellix at nearly twice the cost. Remember that we are using PWM to control the Enermax cooler, while Corsair needed everything the fans could deliver to hit those results.
Enermax lost a bit of ground when we increased the heat applied to it, but for a cooler of this type and the cost involved, getting to within 0.7°C of the top of the chart is still quite impressive. Again, the pack leader needed way more from the fans to accomplish this, but the Lian Li, MSI, and Fractal Coolers played by the same rules as this AQUAFUSION ADV.
Aside from the outlier from Corsair, Enermax is within a degree of the best options in AIO tech. This test is with the fans at full speed, and considering we have only 1.4°C from the previous chart, we can see that Enermax tuned the PWM curve to nearly the best performance you can get without making your ears bleed to do so.
Noise Level Results
Set up as described, our pump spun at roughly 3100 RPM but made little noise. It was always the fans that were making any audible noise. In this test, with PWM in control of the fans, we saw them averaging 1333 RPM during the run, delivering 35 dB of noise into the room. Compare that to the Corsair at the top of the thermal chart, at 58 dB.
Again, PWM is in control, and we did get an increase in noise levels, but this time to the tune of 45 dB. The fans only increased to an average of 1496 RPM for this run, and again, compared to the chart-topper at 57 dB, it is easy to see why we praise this Enermax solution as we do.
If you allow this trio of fans to give it everything they have, you may want to get your ears ready for the 70 dB of noise they produce. Our fans topped out at 2188 RPM, which is within that plus or minus ten percent, but jumping from 45 dB to 70 dB was worth very little thermally, so we do not advise anyone needs to use this method.
First, let us address the visual aspects of the AQUAFUSION ADV AIO. Simply put, there are not many AIOs that deliver like Enermax has. Yes, you could get a programmable screen, but will pay a hefty add-on cost. Enermax provides a mirrored infinity-type head unit that dresses up the AQUAFUSION better than a log and a simple ring of RGB around it. We also have to discuss the fans, which have some of the coolest lighting of any fans we have seen in our career.
On top of that, the radiator is dressed up with style and the Enermax name, where many options on the market seem to overlook this part of the AIO. When we finished the installation, we were quite pleased with what such a minimal investment can get you, especially compared to what the Arctic LFII coolers offered at a similar price. Remember, you can also opt for a white variation of this AIO with no additional cost.
Functionally, we are overly impressed with what Enermax can achieve. Looking at our thermal charts, it is easy to see that anything better than this AQUAFUSION came with a higher price point, and even with the Corsair cooler at the top of the charts, they had to use their maximum fan mode in software to do so. With Enermax, there is no software, just motherboard control, and you are good to go. If you look at what the LFII did in our charts, it was a couple to a few degrees warmer, depending on the test.
It is nowhere as attractive a solution, especially with that large VRM fan, and its advantages are questionable. Noise is a bit more than we see from other solutions but is not outside of the realm of tolerable, and while at full blast, the fans are ear-numbing, the PWM curve programming is done so well that unless you are just showing off for that extra degree, it isn't needed.
We also want to cover the accessories. Not only do you get a fan splitter cable to ease wire connectivity of the three fans, but Enermax also includes a noise-reducing adapter to give users the option of getting even less noise delivered. However, performance will not be as impressive. We also like that there is an included controller for the aRGB portion of the AQUAFUSION ADV. There are many older systems that Enermax supports, such as LGA1366 and FM sockets from AMD, which do not provide any RGB control onboard. Having the controller does not deliver the same effects as your motherboard sync, but at least it isn't completely lost for users of older-generation equipment.
The cost is the largest part of the AQUAFUSION AVD 360mm aRGB AIO that will attract customers. With an investment of only $104 to $119.99, depending on where you shop, you will be hard-pressed to find a solution at this price range that can do what Enermax has done. You get everything you could ever need to run the AQUAFUSION ADV on just about any system still in use, and there is no need for complicated software that may leave you holding the bag when it is updated, and your product is written out of it.
The Enermax AQUAFUSION ADV will work right out of the box without any hassles and without raiding the coffers, allowing you to use the extra funds on storage or upgrade your RAM to 48GB density over 32GB. At the end of it all, all we can say is you need to try one for yourselves, and you will glow about its capabilities as we have in this review.