Like all radiators that make their way into the lab, they are looked over and worked over quite rigorously. The EK CoolStream RAD XT 360 received the same treatment as all others; we threw a lot of wattage and high pressure flow rates through the EK CS360 and reported here on the numbers logged. Now it is time to see how the CS360 compares price wise to other triples. Leading into the price table, the CoolStream is priced competitively against the rest of the triples we have tested. We will start with our subject currently under the microscope and then go alphabetical from there. Prices captured on 12/25/2009 and are subject to change from the time of review publication.
In the intro, I laid out many of the different products we have come to know EK for and now add a radiator to that list, the EK CoolStream RAD XT series is here. If you are a regular forum rat like me then you know of the buzz surrounding an EK product release and the CoolStream followed suit. EK has become widely known for market leading performance and aesthetics to match and this is the expectation we water heads have when we see the EK logo. The features and specs of the CoolStream drive right up the radiator market sweet spot, with standard fan spacing and 11FPI for all of us who prefer medium speed fans and G1/4 barb ports. The EK CS360 also comes in with a conservative footprint, which means it can fit in many tight spots giving you those precious few millimeters to run tubing or fit a pump. Restriction is put at ease by the two rows of brass tubes in U-flow configuration. In addition, the price point of the CoolStream is on the more affordable side of the spectrum. On paper, the CoolStream 360 is very close the radiator I would make myself if I had the opportunity for the current radiator market.
However, we have to go further than paper and after putting the CoolStream 360 through the standard rigor of radiator testing there are a few things that EK can improve on with the next version. The thermal performance of the EK CS360 did not measure up to the EK pedigree trailing behind the PA120.3 by 10% or more at every fan speed. Yes, I am comparing thermal performance of the CoolStream to a more expensive radiator, but the PA series is the universal measuring stick for thermal performance. I do not mean to imply the CoolStream is not capable of dissipating the heat load of our typical loops. The CS360 can shed 400w with 1400RPM fans and maintain a 10C delta and 300w with 1000RPM fans at the same delta. The only other item I would like to see changed is the M3 tapped mount holes and screws, 6-32 or M4 are the norm and the CoolStream is one of two radiators I know of using M3.
In the charts for thermal results, we compared the CS360 to the PA120.3 and restriction compared the CS360 and MCR320. For a larger comparison of the CoolStream 360 against other triples, check out the Triple Radiator Comparison report, which will be updated with the latest radiator testing after this review.
Wrapping up this review, the EK CoolStream RAD XT 360 testing was a reminder of why testing is important. The specs and design of the CS360 hit the sweet spot for radiators, but the thermal performance just did not hit that same sweet spot. I spent a long time looking at the fin to tube contact trying to find a reason for the moderate thermal performance, but the contact points all seemed normal. The only other things I can point a finger towards is the 2mm wide tubes and 6mm wide copper fins, those are the active cooling components that could affect performance besides fin to tube contact. Maybe I had my expectations a little high for the CoolStream, but I think there are many of you out there who had the same high expectations. If the CoolStream follows the EK tradition, we will be seeing a Version 2 that keeps all the winning features and amps up the performance near the top of the class. Overall, the EK CoolStream is a solid radiator just a little light on performance but can certainly handle our typical loops. I want to thank for sponsoring the testing, without Etailers like PPC’s feeding our water cooling addiction we would still be running heater cores and certainly would not have the luxury of all this testing. Thanks again for reading, and we will see you soon with another review.