Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
Looking to Enermax for liquid cooling solutions, it was that you either hunted down a Liqtech cooler or found one in the Liqmax series. What we do know of both groups of coolers is that Enermax did not want to pay the "tax" that Asetek puts on all of their coolers, so they went with a Chinese manufacturer. This almost bypassed the patent issue, but it usually meant that the coolers could not be sold on this side of the pond. However, still opting for a secondary AIO builder to make the new cooler, Enermax has stepped away from the who patent issue all together this time.
To get out of any lawsuit, the main stipulation is that an AIO, to be legal in the USA, cannot have the pump inside of the head unit in a specific way, where there is not a separation between the CPU block and the pump. We have seen many ways to get around this idea in the past. Coolers with large head units to contain separated pumps and cold plates, designs more akin to custom loop designs, we have even seen the pumps placed on the radiator, and not like Swiftech would do it, but on funky brackets, which just made things ugly. Enermax is taking an avenue we have not seen yet, where they have incorporated the pump in-line with the tubing.
With a new series of coolers hitting the market, Enermax is now showing off the Liqfusion series. From what we can gather, currently there is one offering, but we can only assume more will follow soon. Not only does Enermax bring in a new way of controlling the flow of coolant into the Liqfusion series, but they also incorporated the Enermax T.B. RGB fans we looked at back in February. Not only is there a spectacular light show coming from the fans hanging on the radiator, but the head unit also has a similar light ring on it as well, and a transparent window on top to view a flow indicator. At first glance, things are going well for Enermax and their latest Liqfusion 240 RGB AIO, but we will need a closer look and to get the testing completed before we get too excited.
The ELC-LF240-RGB ships compatible with anything Intel has produced singe LGA775 and works with anything since AM2 for AMD. The materials that make up the loop are like that of other AIOs, where a copper base is used on the head unit, the aluminum is used in the radiator. The head unit is 74mm in diameter, but due to the mounting hardware that is built into it, one dimension is 95mm, and it stands 51mm tall. The tubing, which contains the pump assembly is 400mm from fitting to fitting, while the radiator is 120mm wide, 272mm long, and is 27mm thick. The cooler ships with some Dow Corning thermal paste, as well as a 100 ml bottle of coolant to refill the loop as needed. As far as the warranty is concerned, if anything were to go wrong with the product, Enermax covers you for two-years.
The impeller of the pump spins on a ceramic bearing while sipping only 0.18 Amps of current. It is a 12V pump but uses a 3-pin fan connection to pull it from the motherboard. The included pair of fans are 120mm in size, and are part of the T.B., or Twister Bearing fans. With a rated lifespan three times that of the pump, and they do require 0.30 Amps through 4-pin fan connections. Airflow is rated as high at 102.17 CFM, but we feel they are adding the fans specifications together here. We also think the same of the 6.28 mmH2O rating of the static pressure. The T.B. fans are shown only to deliver 28 dB(A) of noise, and both fans are RGB backlit. This does mean that the fans have two leads to connect, the 4-pin PWM connection we mentioned earlier, as well as a 4-pin RGB connector.
While the design is slightly unconventional, we still will compare it to all of the other 240mm AIOs we have seen in the past, and that goes for the price as well. We would expect a cooler such as this to release to the market in the range of $129.99 to $139.99, as that is where many of the big name companies range with their AIOs. That being said, we find that Enermax is selling the Liqfusion 240 RGB with more reasonable expectations. Considering the fan kit we tested came with three fans for $99, we are already at $66 for the fans and control system. Now take into account that the cooler sells at Amazon for $119.99 and at Newegg for $113.99, you could conclude that you are paying only $50 to $60 for the cooler beyond the cost of the fans alone. However, when reviewing a product such as this, we do have to look beyond the bling-factor, and see if the entire design is worthy of investment. With that in mind, let's carry on, take a good look at the Liqfusion 240 RGB, do some testing, and let the pieces fall where they may.
The front of the box offers a glimpse of the Enermax Liqfusion 240, illuminated, on the left side. In the broad band of red, there are mentions of the possibility of RGB-Sync with supporting motherboards, a look at the flow indicator, and that the RB lighting is addressable. At the bottom of this band, we also find the socket support lists.
Most of the side of the box look like this. We only took one image as we did not want to have to say the same thing a bunch of times, but it is pretty enough to show once. The company name is at the top, and in much larger test in the center, is the product name in full form. We also like the rainbow of colors across the bottom, as it is a nice touch to help draw your eyes to the packaging.
The only side panel that differs from the previous image is what we see in this one. In many languages, we see that Enermax explains that this is a closed-loop liquid cooler for your CPU, and it features high-performance PWM fans and uses a ceramic bearing all in an attempt to keep your system cool and quiet at the same time.
The back of the box is the one panel that gives you all of the information you need to know about the Liqfusion 240 RGB. On the left is a list of features, which is followed by four images to show things off. At the bottom are dimensional renderings, while to the right is a specifications chart which is very similar to the one we covered.
Inside of the box we see that all of the bits are wrapped in plastic, and are then set into compartments inside of the inner cardboard packaging. We do get more than we expected to find with an AIO in the box, and the way everything is packaged ensures that it does not come out of the box scratched up and with dings in it from parts coming together in transit.
Enermax Liqfusion 240 RGB CPU Cooler
The head unit is made of the cold plate, the chamber for the liquid to pass through it, and on top of it all is the fancy cover with the included flow indicator. The top of the cover has a brushed metal ring with the Enermax name done in exposed metal. The outer ring of the cover is where the RGB LEDs are, and this light also glows in towards the center, which can be seen on the flow indicator once running.
On the right side of the head unit is where the adjustable angled fittings are. They allow the coolant to go in one side and out the other, to shift the heat to the radiator. A single lead comes from between them, and since the head unit does not contain a pump, it is to drive the RGB LEDs.
After removing the protective sticker from the base, we can see the machine marks left in the copper plate, which has been nickel plated. The center of the plate is the highest point, with a mild deflection from it as you move to the edges. However, convex base designs have proven to work well in the past.
As you move away from the head unit and get much closer to the radiator, you will eventually run into the in-line pump. It is powered with a 3-pin fan connection and has a rubber cap over it, and the Enermax log on the top to dress it up. While it covers both lines, only one line is powered by the pump, while the other is retained for a cleaner installed appearance.
From the fittings on the head unit to the edge of the radiator, we see that Enermax has supplied us with sixteen inches of tubing. Not only that; the retention system looks clean, just like the braided cloth covering on the tubes.
The radiator is what we expect to see with just about any AIO. The header at the left is thicker so that the tubes can attach to it, and the high-density FPI of the aluminum fins is typical.
There is one more thing to show. While Enermax bills this as a closed-loop system, it has a way to add coolant. By removing this thumbscrew, you can use the provided coolant and top off the loop to get rid of noise from air pockets, or to top it off as some evaporates over time.
Accessories and Documentation
One plastic container has all of the mounting hardware inside of it. There are the universal top bracket and the backplate at the top, one with the spreader inside of it, and the other with the tube of TIM. At the bottom, we see eight long, and short fan screws, the RGB controller for those without motherboard RGB, and to the right are the screws, nuts, and washers used with the mounting mechanism.
Enermax also offers all of the wires you could ever need. There is a Molex to 4-pin fan adapter to run the fans at full speed, and off to the left is a 24-pin jumper to use when refilling the loop. Next is the 4-pin RGB splitter, and to the right is the SATA power for the controller box, as well as a Y-splitter cable for the fans and an extension for the pump.
There is a bottle containing 100ml worth of Enermax coolant with a thin nozzle for ease of filling the loop. We also found another packet of thermal paste in the box, as well as the four Velcro straps to help maintain the wiring inside of the chassis.
The T.B. RGB fans delivered in the box are this pair of UCTBRGB12 fans. Oddly, while the specifications show that the fans need 0.30 Amps, the sticker says different. Aesthetically, the seven black blades in the black frame are standard, but the thick ring on the front edge and the grooves missing from the frame offer what appears to be four rings of RGB LED lighting once the system is up and running.
Where literature is concerned, we first need to address the blue paper. This is a warning to anyone looking to refill the loop and steps that should be taken before attempting it. On the right is the manual, with its list of parts, installation guide, and how to go about adding coolant. The manual comes with many languages inside, but will get even the most novice assembler through the process.
Installation and Finished Product
Following the instructions, we located the correct holes for LGA115X support and put the screws through the steel and dense foam isolation material. The backplate is open in the middle, so orientation does not matter. There are also AMD mounting locations on either side of the Intel ones, which is done, so the bracket orientation still does not matter. Keep in mind, at this point, the screws, all still lose, makes it tough when flipping the motherboard.
After dropping nylon washers over each screw, and then screwing down the barrel nuts, we can go to work on the rest. The next step is to lay the top bracket onto the nuts, and using four more screws, tighten them down so that it locks all of the hardware together with the motherboard.
When it comes to mounting the head unit, we first applied TIM, then aligned the wings on the head unit, with the captured screws, and lined them up with two of the four holes in the top bracket. It could be turned ninety-degrees from what we see here, but the extra holes means the top bracket orientation is irrelevant too.
All installed and ready for testing; we can get an idea of what we get with the Enermax Liqfusion 240 RGB. Not only does the light surround the head unit, but it can also be easily seen through the frames of both fans. Now hopefully it cools as awesomely as it looks.
Because the view in the last image is somewhat limited, we wanted to ensure you that you get to see all of the RGB LED lighting in full glory. This is the key selling feature to this AIO, and we do have to say that we do like what we see now, and with motherboard control or use of the controller that came in the box, you have tons of optional ways to deliver a flood of RGB LEDs into your build.
Test System Setup, Thermal Tests, and Noise Results
Chad's CPU Cooler Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASUS ROG Maximus VIII HERO (Intel Z170) - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- CPU: Intel Core i7 6700K - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Memory: Patriot Viper 4 3000MHz 4X4GB - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Graphics Card: MSI GeForce GTX 1060 6GB OC - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Storage: Corsair Neutron XTi 480GB - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Case: INWIN D-Frame - Read our review
- Power Supply: Thermaltake Toughpower DPS 1050W - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Home 64-bit - Buy from Amazon
- Software: RealTemp 3.70, AIDA64 Engineer 5.75.3900, and CPU-z 1.77.0 x64
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 (October 2016) for more information.
Six point two five degrees out of first place looks much worse on this chart than it is. Sadly though, while 57.25-degrees is reasonable with the CPU at stock speed, there is not an AIO on there that does worse, unless it is smaller or set, so the fans are barely turning.
With the overclock applied and the fans still controlled by PWM, the gap widens to nearly ten degrees out of the lead. 75-degrees is more than we expected to see from an AIO of this size, and it is hard to put a favorable spin on things when it performs the same as the $50 MA410P.
Letting the fans do what they can to cool the radiator, we gained a whole lot of noise to obtain one degree in efficiency. Still close to ten degrees from the top of the chart, and beat by a $45 air cooler says it all.
Noise Level Results
The noise levels start out on a good note, where the fans in our test topped out at 1272RPM delivering only 30 dB of noise. We also disabled the fans at idle to test the pump, and while turning at 5768RPM in all of our tests, it was delivering 29 dB of noise to the room, and without the rubber cover on it, it was louder.
At this point, we still feel that the fans are relatively silent in operation. With the fans getting up to 1486RPM, we only raised 3 dB to 33. It may not look good on the chart, but that is just breaking into the average human's range of picking up and distinguishing noises.
To gain just a single degree in performance from the Liqfusion 240 RGB, we had a massive increase in sound. Nearly doubling the rating to 58 dB, it is many magnitudes louder than it is under control of PWM circuits. Our advice is simple, don't run the fans at full power.
It has taken us a bit of time, sitting here contemplating, how we would spin the end of the review to shine a bright light on the Enermax Liqfusion 240 RGB. If you are one to follow trends blindly, regardless of the money spent or the benefits to be had, then this cooler is for you. Many companies have moved to RGB lighting, although Enermax has done a brilliant job of offering RGB LEDs, we do not feel that it is enough. At one point in our career as a reviewer, we recall cooler companies caring about being the best in performance, but the trend has moved to bling over everything else. Enermax follows suit with what manufacturers "think" is best for the buyer, and at these prices, even innovations like moving the pump to put the screws to Asetek and adding a flow indicator isn't enough to keep us interested.
While it is a decent performer, as long as you do not plan to overclock your CPU, then things look better, but still not that good. In stock tests, as well as those that followed, the Liqfusion turned in the highest results of any 240mm AIO we have tested to date. With "funny" specifications for the airflow and pressure, we had no idea what the fans were capable of, but the bottom line is we were right, they added the figures together, which makes the customer feel like they are getting something they are not. There were some things we did like about the Liqfusion 240 RGB semi-sealed AIO, but once we add pricing as another factor into what we got, things get drug further downhill.
Compared to other AIO, we do not fault Enermax in the prices we see. The Liqfusion 240 RGB can be had for less than $120, which in the grand scheme of things seems excellent. However, when you look at the results in the charts, even if you can find this on sale, it is still twice the cost of what you would pay for some air coolers which are just as quiet, and deliver the same results. Granted, ten degrees is not that big of a temperature swing from first place to where this cooler landed, know that all of your money went into the RGB LEDs and the extra controller. What you are buying in the Enermax Liqfusion 240 RGB is some of the best lighting in the industry, but it appears that, like many other manufacturers, they are okay with charging big bucks for a cooler with lackluster performance.
The Bottom Line: We give Enermax credit for the amazing looks of the Liqfusion and its ability to stay quiet under normal conditions. Even while the score looks good, the cost compared to better coolers, and the fact that it is the lowest performing 240mm AIO we have tested, should keep you away!
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