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Enermax Liqtech 120X AIO Liquid CPU Cooler Review

Enermax Liqtech 120X AIO Liquid CPU Cooler Review

Enermax also makes the Liqtech 120X CPU cooler, a more extreme single radiator based AIO, with all the sleekest trimmings, which they sent in for testing.

@chad_sebring
Chad Sebring
Published Fri, May 16 2014 5:05 PM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:32 PM CDT
Rating: 82%Manufacturer: Enermax

Introduction, Specifications and Pricing

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As we mentioned in the last AIO review we brought forth, we recently received a total of three AIOs from Enermax. We have seen the "sport model" if you will, in the Liqtech 120S, but this time around there are some major changes. Where most companies would grab a thicker single radiator at this point for the midrange solution, Enermax has gone in an entirely different direction. Not only do they spruce things up with metal trimming on this latest model, but they have also changed the OEM of this AIO from the first one we looked at. This time we have a product very similar to what SilverStone brought out in the Tundra Series; yet Enermax pulls this off with their own style, as not to get anyone confused.

Along with the new OEM manufacturer, the plastic on the head unit has been traded out for a full metal casing. We also notice on these units that the swivel fittings are a bit beefier, and thicker walled tubing is also used this time, without the corrugated sleeves. While still using a thinner style single radiator in this model, the sides have been dressed up similar to what SilverStone did with theirs, but Enermax does it with a motherboard heat sink, or memory heat sink design to it. One other major trade off to these new AIOs that are just surfacing is that fins of the radiator in the traditional sense are removed, and we deal with something more akin to a CPU air cooler.

As you can tell, even before we get to the unboxing images, the looks and styling of the Liqtech 120X that we are going to look at today have us very interested in figuring out what this AIO can do. We already know it is going to look sleek inside of a build and with a lot of manufacturer's motherboards, since this cooler takes on a black with red trim theme that seems to be everywhere currently.

At this point, we need to get through a few images and get really up close and personal with Enermax's midrange AIO. Then it will be time to put it through its paces, and see just how well it contends with our test system, so we can see if the Liqtech 120S is any indication of this dual fan AIO's potential, or if this is more a case of all-show and no-go.

The Liqtech 120X is also designated as the ELC-LT120X-HP, and following the previous models, this means the 120X is a high performance model as well. This time, the head unit is comprised of a top plate that acts as a heat sink, a midsection of metal, and at the base of the cooler there is a copper cold plate to exchange the heat to the liquid inside. In the midsection is the pump that is capable of 2500 RPM on its ceramic bearing, and is what will send the heated coolant to the aluminum radiator. As we mentioned earlier though, this radiator design incorporates flat and even fins, much like an air cooler, and none of that zigzag fin design most radiators offer.

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Along with the head unit and radiator, the Liqtech 120X ships with a pair of ED122512S-PA fans to strap to either side of the radiator. These fans come with a three way switch on them to limit the fan speeds to three levels, topping out at 2500 RPM. At that speed, these fans will deliver 110 CFM each, and offer 7.4 mmH2O of static pressure. On paper, these 4-pin powered PWM fans look like they should be more than capable of handling its business; especially considering what we saw with the 120S and a single, less powerful fan attached to that. This Liqtech 120X shows a ton of promise, but as always, we will let the charts do the talking soon enough.

Looking around the internet in search of this cooler in some e-tailers listings, we find at this time that it is near impossible to locate on any shelves. We have to assume stock will be arriving shortly, but the press release lacks that information; as well as most news channels not having it listed, we find nothing on this unit's pricing. If we were to hazard a guess at this point, considering the pricing of the Liqtech 120S being in the eighty to eighty-five dollar range, this cooler will likely be sold at, or just less than $100 USD. In the grand scheme of things, pricing is only one aspect of the cooler industry, and we will see soon enough how the aesthetic and performance end up. By the end of this review, you will have a full picture of what the Liqtech 120X from Enermax is.

Packaging

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Black and red is the theme on the packaging, as well as on the product inside. We can see the cooler in the large image on this front panel, and under the naming toward the bottom we find icons displaying six features this AIO has to offer.

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This side panel pretty much mimics the front panel, offering the naming, along with an image of the cooler inside of the box.

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Looking at the back of the box, we see things start with a long list of features to be found in the 120X. We can also see dimensional drawings of the head unit and the radiator with the fan, and off to the right are images of five features of this cooler. That leaves the bottom of the panel to be used to display the specifications chart.

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The last panel is bright red with white text on it. It tells us here about this closed loop system, PWM fans, and the high efficiency pump; all coming together to keep your system cool.

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Inside of the box there is a cardboard inner compartment that secures all of the bits and pieces in this AIO for transit. Along with being compartmentalized to stay out of each other's way, all of the components have also been wrapped in thick plastic bags. This allowed the Liqtech 120X we were sent to arrive in perfect condition.

Enermax Liqtech 120X AIO Liquid CPU Cooler

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After a bit of unboxing and removing a few bags, we can now get a good look at the top of the head unit. There is a heat sink like design to the top as Enermax paints their name on two edges, and also paints their logo in the center.

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Somewhat beefier swivel fittings are part of this OEMs head unit, and we can also see that the rubber tubing is exposed after the cover is put on the keep the tubing on the fittings.

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On the opposite side of the fittings, right under the cap, the 3-pin power lead for the 2500RPM pump comes out of the block. Both the top and the thicker midsection are aluminum, and the hardware screws directly into the side of the head unit.

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The cold plate is a large expanse of copper that is shipped with this protective cover on it. To mount he cold plate to the head unit, this design uses Torx screws. While it's easy enough to find tools for removal, please don't remove it, as it will void the warranty and likely make a big mess.

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With the protective film removed, we can see a semicircular pattern of milling marks across the base. The center of this block is the high point, and slopes away from the center slightly as it expands to the edges.

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While the box and specs charts show that there should be 310mm of length between the head unit and the radiator (which equates to very near a foot in length), on this unit we find a mere ten and a half inches of tubing to get this radiator installed.

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Looking into the fin stack of this radiator, you can see the vertical tubes that carry the coolant from the bottom to the top, and back down the other side, but notice the fins are flat and have room for air flow, much like those low FPI radiators on the market.

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The fins also have notches at the edges to disturb the air flow from the fans a fair bit, as well as the low spot in the middle to increase efficiency. Both edges of the radiator, on both sides, have a red silicone strip applied to them to isolate the fans from the radiator, and help with that red on black theme.

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Enermax also dresses up the side of the radiator like the SilverStone Tundra coolers offered, but it's done in Enermax's own style. The plates applied look like heat sinks, and will make a great looking addition to any chassis.

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Skipping ahead and grabbing the long fan screws from the hardware, we now have the fans on the radiator, and are essentially ready with the AIO half of the mounting. We just need to take a peek at the hardware, and get the back plate on the motherboard so we can get to the testing.

Accessories and Documentation

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In this image we have the AMD head unit mounting brackets flanking both sides. These can easily be swapped out with the Intel brackets that come screwed onto the head unit already. The back plate is universal of AMD and Intel, and it is drilled to allow the bracket to go on two ways for Intel systems.

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Here we have spacers, mounting screws with springs for tension, and the LGA2011 mounting screws to the left. There are eight short screws to mount the fans or the radiator, eight long fan screws for sending through both fans (and even the case), and that leaves us with the four studs that go through the back plate.

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The rest of the hardware includes a Y-splitter cable to power both fans from one PWM header on the motherboard. There is also an LGA775 preload insert for the back plate, some thermal paste, and a sticker sheet to isolate the back plate for use with AMD motherboards.

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The manual provides a parts list to verify you have what you are supposed to have, and takes you through all the steps needed to get the Liqtech 120X installed into any system it will fit inside of. There is really nothing about this kit that is confusing, and it is really simple to install.

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We also wanted to show off the pair of fans that come to cool that radiator. These are a pair of ED122512S-PA fans that boast over 100 CFM and over 7mm H2O of static pressure at full blast. If you look close at the fan on the right, you can also see the three position switch for the built-in fan controller.

Installation and Finished Product

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Getting the back plate onto the motherboard is pretty easy. All you need to do is line up the flat spots on the studs with the flat spots in the back plate to keep them from spinning, and slide the studs through the holes.

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To lock the studs into place and carry on with the installation of the head unit and screws, the black plastic spacers that are offered are tight to install, and keep the studs in place for you. So not only are they locked into place in depth, they also are locked from spinning as we drive the screws home.

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We found this head unit to be a little larger than most, and with our Thermal Armor on this board, we could only install in this orientation of with the fittings toward the PCI-e slots. Also, we tend to mount the radiator to the outside of the back of this D-Frame, but with the tubing being shorter than normal, that was not possible this time around.

Test System Setup, Thermal Tests and Noise Results

Test System Setup

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I would first like to thank ASUS, InWin, Corsair, and Fractal Design for supplying products for me to test with.

To see our testing methodology and to find out what goes into making our charts, please refer to our CPU Cooler Testing and Methodology article.

Thermal Results

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At minimum, slightly edging out the Liqtech 120S at stock levels is expected, since this version is cooled by two fans.

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This is where we were perplexed to say the least. Verifying pump speed and fan RPM, we found that we were at maximum specification for both, yet our results find that the dual fan Enermax AOI gets beat by a degree and a half by the 120S. While not that bad of a result in the large picture, something just isn't right about this design, or maybe it is our specific model.

Noise Level Results

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The pump at full speed is less than the 34 dB we got from our fans at 1800 RPM, with only 7.5V sent to it for power. At this level, things are very tolerable, and there is not really much of any annoyance to have to deal with here.

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Part of the thermal issue could have been the fans too. As we now have 12V running to the fans, and they top out at 2500 RPM, we have slightly less noise from these 110 CFM fans than the TB Apollish Advance fan on the 120S. Either way, in the larger scope of things, it is still pretty noisy.

Final Thoughts

There is no doubt that we loved the styling and theme offered with the Enermax Liqtech 120X. With the dual fans, the slick looking side panels on the radiator, and even the one off head unit, aesthetically there is nothing bad to say about this design. It is something anyone would enjoy, and it matches well to all those red on black motherboards out there. The installation was pretty simple, and since we saw AIOs from the same OEM from SilverStone, it was almost like visiting with an old friend. Compared to the Liqtech 120S in either form, the Liqtech 120X is definitely the eye catcher of the group so far, and will definite sway a lot of potential customers to choose this cooler.

Our problem is that while all of the RPMs check out, as verified via AIDA64, the pump and the fans were seemingly going as they should; yet when looking at the overclocked results, and taking averages of multiple block mounts tested in multiple orientations, nothing can explain its lackluster performance. Considering the 120S uses a much denser radiator, and only one fan at 105 CFM, the 120X and its large fin openings and 220 CFM of airflow should have been at least a couple of degrees better. We find that that is definitely not the case here though, and while it is extremely nice looking and well designed aesthetically, we cannot overlook what the charts show us.

Even without an official price at this point, and even if our guess is right and these release to the masses at around $100, even as slick looking as it is, something just doesn't add up. Keeping it short and sweet: the only way I would buy the Liqtech 120X over either of the S models is if it releases for around $70 (which it will not), or if the thermal anomaly gets fixed somehow. There is always the chance that we got a bad unit, but after almost six years of cooler testing, we have a good idea of what to look for. There was no gurgle; we ran the radiator and head unit in many orientations and with multiple mounts, and all the test results came out very close to each other in the test run.

It definitely defies logic, and what looked great on paper has not proven to be as effective in real life. We do still have one more AIO from Enermax to look at yet, so maybe they can go two out of three with their AIOs. I wouldn't in any way say this product fails outright -it just fails to meet expectations, and did not outperform is lower modeled brethren.

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After a year of gaming, Chad caught the OC bug. With overclocking comes the need for better cooling, and Chad has had many air and water setups. With a few years of abusing computer parts, he decided to take his chances and try to get a review job. As an avid overclocker, Chad is always looking for the next leg up in RAM, cooling, as well as peripherals.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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