AIO or All-In-One CPU coolers are a fairly standard bunch. They almost universally contain the same component parts of a pump on the CPU block, some tubing and then a radiator with fans attached. Even though they arrive on my desk with slight variations in size, colour, packaging, etc., it’s not often that I see something that actually looks different. Well, that changed for me today as I was able to get up close and personal with something a bit different from Deepcool.
It features a glass tube between the CPU block and the pump that allows you to see the liquid moving around in the loop, well, it does when there’s a few bubbles in it along with a pulsating red light that comes from the ‘reactor style’ housing. It is of course the Gamer Storm Captain and I have the 240 EX version which is their new upgraded version with better flow, better tubing, and in my opinion, much better styling. The complete unit is all black apart from that red glass tube and red lighting feature as well as red vibration absorbing pads on the 120mm fans. Let’s take a look at the full feature list and the tech specs as also available on the Captain’s website and then move on together to have a good look at what you receive for your hard earned cash, starting with the packaging and working our way in from there.
- Upgraded high-density water microchannel with powerful self-governed circulation system, 10% more efficient heat dissipation.
- Amazing glass design & patented visual external-circulation system.
- Updated tooling free installation solution, solid 100% metal material clip.
- Unique silent TF 120 double-blade fan to offer a higher air pressure for radiator, more efficient to take heat away.
- Upgraded anti-explosion rubber tube, anti-corrosion, crush resistance & Thermostable material.
- Three-phase induction motor built-in the powerful closed impeller, the stronger liquid flow & bigger delivery head.
- Long lifetime ceramic bearing with MTBF 120,000 hours.
- Crazy steampunk appearance & the unique reactor-style pump housing.
- Bionic red LED breathing light lightening up while operating.
The following specifications are as listed on the Gamer Storm Captain 240 EX product website.
High-End Desktop i7
Core i7 Extreme/i7/i5/i3
Phenom II X6/X4/X3/X2
Athlon II X4/X3/X2
|Fan Air Flow||153.04CFM（MAX）|
|Fan Air Pressure||3.31mmH2O(MAX)|
|Fan Life Expectancy||50000 hours|
|Fan Noise Level||17.6~31.3dB(A)|
|Fan Bearing Type||Hydro Bearing|
|Fan Rated Voltage||12VDC|
|Fan Rated Current||0.12±10%A(MAX)|
|Fan Power Consumption||1.44W|
|Main system Dimensions||92.5X93X85mm|
|Pump Life Expectancy||120000 hours|
|Pump Operating Voltage||6~13.8VDC|
|Pump Rated Voltage||12VDC|
|Pump Power Consumption||1.92W|
Your typical ‘gamer’ black and red colour scheme greets us on the front of the outer packaging. The model name and Gamer Storm logo are clearly displayed along with a large feature image of the reactor-style pump housing as well as the features and benefits highlighted with smaller graphics.
The side of the box continues with the black and red theme, but only the model. logo and a small image of the AIO with fans fitted.
The back of the box is quite simple in design focusing on only the supported processors and a large image with product measurements.
The final side breaks from the black and red theme. The face is all silver with again the Gamer Storm logo and the model name shown and additionally a QR code for the product website.
As you may have noticed, the Captain 240EX took a bit of a battering as it traveled the globe on its way to me, nevertheless the internal packaging of formed card pulp kept the unit perfectly safe. There was no damage to the AIO inside.
Let’s now move on to a closer look at the cooler itself in all its glory…
Let’s get everything out on the table and go through the loot. The AIO component comes with a 240mm radiator hooked up to a novel – but not novelty – reactor style pump which is combined with the cold plate that sits atop the processor. We are also supplied with two Gamer Storm TF120 fans which are near silent when running. There are the usual fixtures and fittings that are required to use the cooler with all current and recent AMD and Intel processors and a fan splitter that will run the pump and up to three fans from a single motherboard header as well as some paperwork.
The fans are capable of moving 153.04CFM of air at 1800rpm. They are all black with red vibration pads as opposed to the previous design which had red fins with a black border. They come with a 4-pin PWM cable which is well braided.
The centerpiece of the AIO loop is that fantastic looking Steampunk pump; with its red glass tube that allows you to see the liquid flowing – if there’re any bubbles in the loop anyway- as well as the breathing light ring on top that shines red in a slow on/off way.
It’s fairly tall since the pump is separate from the cold plate in as far as the actual route of the liquid. Deepcool’s Gamer Storm logo is emblazoned on the side though it’s fairly subtle since it’s not a new-fangled RGB LED signpost.
The cold plate is a large pure copper affair, not much more to say about it but thought you’d like a picture. 🙂
The hoses that connect the pump to the radiator are very nicely braided which gives them an air of quality as well as being functional as they protect the flexible tubes. Sadly it’s not user-serviceable in the way of some modern AIO loops, the fill port is firmly closed with a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sticker on it – remove it and lose your warranty.
Now that we have seen all there is to see we shall move on to the testing.
CPU: Intel Core i7 4770k
Motherboard: MSI Z97I Gaming AC
Memory: 8GB (1x8GB) Team Group 2666MHz
Cooler: Deepcool Gamer Storm Captain 240 EX
Thermal Paste: Noctua NT-H1
Storage: Sandisk Ultra II 240GB
PSU: XFX XTR 850
Installation and testing were carried out on a test bench rather than inside a conventional case. While this has the benefit of being easier to physically install as there is not as much stretching as well as easier access to motherboard jumpers and sockets, it has the disadvantage of not having any reduction in sound so what I hear may be more exaggerated than if it were in a case.
Thermal performance is judged on four factors overall; the idle temperature at stock and overclocked speeds, as well as the loaded temperatures at stock and loaded speeds. During the testing, whether that be the idle or loaded testing, the system is either at idle or full load for a duration of five minutes before any readings is taken. The average temperature across all four cores is then noted down and used as the results. All room temperatures are recorded beforehand as well as during the test to ensure that the delta temperature is as accurate as possible.
Installing the Deepcool Gamer Storm Captain 240 EX was easier than saying it’s full name. Sadly it comes with a plastic back plate instead of metal which I would have liked to see and so we might come across problems from the board flexing but at least this means there is no chance of conductivity issues, unlike some coolers I’ve used in the past. The pins that go into the backplate with a satisfying push stay in place and the whole thing is first held in place with four thumbscrews.
Next, comes the metal cross bars which again are held in place with thumb screws and finally the reactor style pump unit is held in with some more thumb screws. You can almost install this without even looking at a screwdriver, the exception being the fans and radiator installation, but as I don’t trust my fingers I chose to use one to screw everything into place. I should mention that the pump arrives with thermal compound already applied, but as we always use the same paste when testing coolers I had to remove this before applying the Noctua NT-H1.
The reason for changing the paste is quite simple, we want to know how efficient the hardware is and so we remove as many variables from the equation. The test bench contains the same physical hardware even down to the SSD and the last variable that can affect performance is the TIM which is also removed. This should leave us with a level playing field to see what the hardware alone is capable of. If you want to know the other side of the coin you can read Gavin’s Thermal Paste roundup here.
The fans will need to be screwed into place as these screws also hold the radiator to the case, although shorter screws are also included so you can fix the rad directly to the case and have the fans visible instead of sandwiched between the metal. This second option is the one I’d recommend as even though it shouldn’t make much difference when it comes to performance you do get to see the fans in all their glory rather than simply looking at a bare radiator.
Lastly, of course comes the point of plugging everything in and thankfully Deepcool has included a four-port fan hub that allows for the pump and all fans to be attached to the CPU fan header. The hub’s cable is noticeably different when it comes to the sleeving used, it’s a cheap-looking flexible cover compared to the heavy duty, coarse sleeves used on the fans and the pump. When you see both close to each other when installed on a motherboard it is obvious and rather a shame that the same sleeves weren’t used.
On the first installation, everything progressed very smoothly. The straightforward process was completed within a few minutes and once the fans were screwed into the radiator the motherboard fired up with a satisfying whirr of fans and glowing light from the pump housing and all tests completed successfully although somewhat higher temps were reported than I had expected to see. After a bit of back and forth by email Deepcool sent a replacement to test which showed similar high temperatures. Again it was back to email Q&A to check for another possible fault when I was advised to try reseating the pump housing and hold it firmly in place while screwing all four corners down tightly instead of simply tightening in a cross pattern. This method reduced the temps to something more normal.
To round out the testing I removed the pump unit and refitted it a final time with the recommended method to double check it wasn’t a fluke. Again the temperatures reported during testing were roughly where I expected to see them but how well (or badly) did it perform? Onward we go to the results…
A fairly average start as we look at the idle chart for 3900MHz, not a bad start but others are doing it better.
As we turn up the heat and push the processor to its maximum load it again doesn’t look great for the Captain 240 EX, sitting in the middle below it’s older self.
With the processor running at 4.5GHz and idling we see a much different story. the delta temp is the same as before we overclocked the chip so while others really start to show the strain the Captain takes it all in its stride.
Finally, we look at the fully loaded and overclocked chart and unfortunately the strong showing in the idle figures is not repeated with the cooler dropping again to the mid-table. it is clear though that it is much more capable of overclocking that its older self, and we should also remember that the fans are only running at 1800rpm instead of perhaps 2400rpm or higher.
There’s no Software section as the Captain is controlled by the motherboard software.
From the moment we got the Deepcool Captain 240 EX out of the box, it’s been a process of taking the good with the bad. We’ve had great looks and nice braiding on most of the components but poor braiding on the fan hub, as well as the regrettable decision to use a plastic backplate which may or may not have been a factor of the installation issues I had.
The new fans are what the EX is all about and running near silent while being pushed to max RPM is a nice thing, even if a lot of the noise reduction is done through speed reduction. I would have liked to see these running just a little faster to get some better performance compared to the competition but when it came to overclocking at least the EX proved to be an improvement on the previous design.
Deepcool’s Captain 240 EX looks awesome in black with subtle red accents, and if you get a chance to see the white one it looks even better. It’s not just looks, but it is better than the previous non-EX version when you consider looks, cooling performance and noise, but there are just some areas that I think could have been improved further to make a truly outstanding product.
Thanks to Deepcool for sending their Gamer Storm Captain 240 EX in for review, it walks away with our Design Award as well as our Silver Award today.
- Gorgeous looks for both the black and white versions
- Reasonable cooling performance that it a step up from the previous generation
- Fair pricing in both UK and US
- Good quality braiding on hoses, fan and pump cables
- Near silent running while at max RPM for pump and fans
- Installation process is a challenge to perfect
- Some poor choices in design such as the fan hub braiding and plastic backplate