Enermax ELC120 Review

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Enermax have been around for two decades now and continue to be a dominant force in top quality power supplies, stylish and elegant cases and even with their award winning fans.  Having had the pleasure to test out the Enermax ETS-T40 CPU Cooler, I expect a strong showing from Enermax today given their lineage in the industry.

In particular today, I will be taking a look at one of their latest CPU cooler offerings, more namely the ELC120 AIO CPU cooler, which uses 2 x 120mm fans from their T.B Apollish range.  With this being a water cooler, how will it cope with my i7-4770k under load?  Will it buckle under the heat or will it set a new standard in AIO cooling solutions?

Let’s take a look, starting with the specifications…

Specifications

ELC120
Compatible Sockets Intel® LGA 775/1150/1155/1156/1366/2011
AMD® AM2/AM2+/AM3/AM3+/FM1/FM2
Cold Plate Material Copper
Weight (w/o fan) 495 g
Warranty (years) 2
Pump
Bearing Type Ceramic Bearing
MTBF (h) 50,000
Motor Speed (RPM) 2,200
Rated Voltage (V) 12
Rated Current (A) 0.45 (Ø 0.34)
Radiator
Dimensions (mm) 151 x 120 x 32
Material Aluminium
Tubes
Material FEP
Length (mm) 315
Fan
Dimensions (mm) 120 x 120 x 25
Bearing Type Twister Bearing Technology (patented)
MTBF (h) 100,000
Rated Voltage (V) 12
Rated Current (A) 0.45 (Ø 0.25)
Connector 4 pin PWM
Mounting Metal screws
ELC120-TA
Silent Mode Performance Mode Overclock Mode
Speed (RPM) 800 – 1,500 800 – 1,800 800 – 2,200
Air Flow (m3/h) 56.5 – 107.5 56.5 – 129.1 56.5 – 157.8
Air Flow (CFM) 33.3 – 63.3 33.3 – 76.0 33.3 – 92.9
Static Pressure (mm-H2O) 1.0 – 1.7 1.0 – 2.3 1.0 – 3.4
Noise Level (dB(A)) 18.5 – 25.5 18.5 – 29.4 18.5 – 32.8
LED blue
ELC120-TB
Silent Mode Performance Mode Overclock Mode
Speed (RPM) 800 – 1,500 800 – 1,800 800 – 2,200
Air Flow (m3/h) 63.9 – 121.1 63.9 – 147.3 63.9 – 180.0
Air Flow (CFM) 37.6 – 71.3 37.6 – 86.7 37.6 – 105.9
Static Pressure (mm-H2O) 0.7 – 1.7 0.7 – 2.4 0.7 – 3.6
Noise Level (dB(A)) 17.3 – 24.3 17.3 – 28.3 17.3 – 31.2

 

Starting with the front of the packaging, we are presented with the Enermax logo in the top left and corner in red, with an illustration of the actual cooler, the ELC120 just underneath that. On the bottom, we can see a red strip which contains information regarding socket compatibility and which model the ELC120 is out of the two available currently on the market. The one I have in my possession today is the ELC120-TA which includes 2 x 120mm T.B Apollish blue LED fans.

On the rear of the box, there is more information regarding specifications and a graph showing expected performance based on an older Intel i7 920 which is irrelevant today as CPUs, especially Intel’s latest range named Haswell, seem to run ever so hot when pushed.

Bundled with the Enermax ELC120 AIO CPU cooler, we have the following:

• 1x Liquid CPU Cooler ELC120-TA/-TB
• 2x T.B.Apollish blue 12cm fans (only ELC120-TA)
• 2x T.B.Silence 12cm fans (only ELC120-TB)
• 1x Intel® CPU Bracket
• 1x AMD® CPU Bracket
• 1x Back Plate
• 4x Back Plate Nut
• 4x Bracket Screw
• 4x Bracket Screw for Intel® LGA 2011 socket
• 8x Fan Screw
• 4x Case Screw
• 8x Rubber Pads
• 1x Installation Guide

Taking a first look at the ELC120, you can see the radiator, which is the main cooling component as this is where the fans blow air over the fins, which in turn cools the fluid which in turn, cools the CPU directly. Between the CPU block, which also contains the 12v pump, there is approx. 31.5cm of tubing, so plenty of room when mounting the radiator into your case; I would recommend on the rear of the case as an exhaust. The cooler itself is all black bar the white Enermax logo in the centre of the block/pump.

Having a closer look at the CPU block/pump, we can see the Enermax logo in all its glory which in my opinion, makes the ELC120 block look elegant and stylish. The green casing underneath protects the pre-applied thermal paste from being tampered with during transit and it is always nice to see companies going the extra mile to ensure products arrive at the door just the same way they leave the factory. Also present is one of two 4 pin fan headers; where the 2 x 120mm fans connect to the pump, then connect into one of the 4 pin motherboard fan headers, preferably the actual CPU fan header.

Here we have the base of the CPU block, with the pre-applied Enermax thermal paste. Due to our testing methods, we use Noctua NT-H1 to keep testing consistent between CPU coolers. The base is made of copper and isn’t nickel plated like on a lot of CPU coolers found today.

To connect the radiator to the CPU block/pump, we have black FEP (fluorinated ethylene propylene) tubing, which has a plastic type feel to them, which makes them pretty durable in my eyes.

With the 2 x 120mm fans installed, the radiator does look brilliant in my opinion, but this does increase the diameter of the cooler to 8cm, so if you’re planning on buying this cooler, make sure you have enough room to mount the cooler.

 

Installation of the Enermax ELC120 AIO CPU cooler was one of the easiest I have had the pleasure of installing to date. It literally took 1-2 minutes which reflects in the illustrations below and I’m sure you will agree.
Starting off with the back plate, which is made of solid plastic (I personally prefer metal as its stronger), there are 4 little nuts with rectangles which go through the mounting holes (clearly marked in the instructions for which socket your using), which the screws latch onto which keeps the mounting bracket stay on securely.

One feature of the mount I found interesting with the 4 x rubber washers on the cooler, which I assume is to protect the back plate from the side panel of the case. This is something I really do like about Enermax; going the extra mile for the consumer.

The next step of the installation process, is attaching the CPU mount to the block/pump. This is simply a case of slotting it on and twisting it to ensure the mounting locks line up. This also allows you to mount the cooler with the pump/tubing coming out at which angle you desire; please remember to take the green CPU block cover off otherwise you might come into problems.

The next stage is to attach the CPU block/pump to the motherboard. Obviously at this point I cleaned the CPU block and applied some brilliant Noctua NT-H1 to fit in-line with my testing. Once the block is lined up the way you want it, all you need to do is screw the 4 long threaded screws into the rectangle through bolts in step 1 and tighten them in; not too tight as to cause damage to the threads.

Voila, there you have it, a very simple, pain free and fast installation of the Enermax ELC120 AIO CPU cooler. Only thing remaining is to connect the fans up to the adapter with the pump power lead on which then connects into the CPU cooler fan header and the jobs a good one; Please note that installing the radiator with the 2 fans is just like installing a fan, you screw the 4 x screws into the mounting holes found on the case and you can only install the ELC120 onto 120mm fan mountings.

 

Well the Enermax ELC120 AIO CPU cooler has gone through my testing and has had plenty of time to show what it can do combined with the hot chip that is the i7-4770k, but how did it do?  Is it a desirable cooler and how was the acoustic performance in comparison to other coolers that have had the same treatment on the test bench?

Starting with the aesthetics of the ELC120, I have to say I really love the look and design of the cooler.  From the subtle but elegant look of the CPU block/pump all the way down to the radiator and equipped 120mm fans which have always been a favourite of mine, everything on this cooler screams quality to me and it’s something I feel Enermax should take pride in.  One thing I would love to see though is the use of a metal back plate on the mounting kit; it just gives it that extra feel of quality and makes the overall installation experience better in my opinion.  With that being said, I can’t really fault the design and feel it is one of the ELC120’s strong points.

Moving onto the main focus of the ELC120, the cooling performance, it definitely has a much stronger place on the market than the ETS-T40 that I previously reviewed.  At stock, the temperatures were much better and easily competed with the other coolers that have been on test with my i7-4770k.  At load and when the Haswell chip is overclocked to 4.5GHz, the ELC120 is really in is element, keeping up with the goliath air coolers currently on the market but with the added advantage of looking stunning and allowing you to use any RAM you wish.  Memory clearance isn’t an issue with the ELC120 so you can rest assured when choosing RAM for your build.  Overall the cooling performance was better than I expected so again, I can’t fault the ELC120 on cooling performance, so far so good!

Next it’s time to talk about the acoustic performance of the ELC120, this is where it started to go a little pear shaped for the cooler in question.  At stock and even loaded, the noise levels were just as quiet as the other coolers, better than some but worse than others, but when a heavy load was placed on the ELC120 in the way of the 4.5GHz overclock, it was a similar story, so nothing to worry about here.  One thing I have to mention is the constant ramping up and down of the pump/fans under PWM control.  This can be quite annoying but you can always reduce the voltage with a resistor and you shouldn’t have this problem, while keeping temps pretty low and consistent also.  One great feature of the fans included, is the adjustable fan speed in the way of a switch, which is located close to the centre of each fan.  The adjustable speeds include 1500/1800/2200rpm which is pretty fast and I think it would have been better to include a slower setting such as 800rpm for those noise freaks among us.  Other than that, another solid showing in testing from the ELC120.

Touching on the price, coming in at just under £66, some could find that quite expensive but given that you get a quality AIO CPU cooler that looks great, performs well and compared to some other AIO coolers on the market, it is quite a bit cheaper for roughly the same performance.

The Enermax ELC120 is a fantastic cooler and if this was in the £50-60 price bracket, it would be a no brainer and almost certainly get our Value award but it was not to be today, but given its great looks, solid consistent performance it clearly deserves our award for Design as I feel it’s one of the best looking coolers on the market and just about wins our performance award due to beating the rest of the coolers in our 4.5GHz load tests; very impressive indeed!

Thanks to Enermax for the ELC120 and I look forward to seeing more in the near future.

  • Performance
  • Design
  • Value

Summary

With its great looks, quality performance and overall solid build quality, it would be hard not to recommend the Enermax ELC120 AIO CPU cooler for anyone in the market for one. At a reasonable price of £65.99, this is one cooler that does exactly what it says on the tin with great elegance, great job Enermax!

4.7

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