EK has been contributing products to the AIO cooler market for a while now, despite the fact that it primarily focuses on custom water-cooling parts. It’s come up with some interesting designs too, from high-end expandable liquid coolers to traditional ones designed to compete with the coolers from the likes of Corsair and NZXT. The EK Nucleus AIO CR240 Lux D-RGB is the latest model and it’s available in both 240mm and 360mm flavors, and it’s the former we’re reviewing here.
It features digital RGB fans and an RGB-enabled pump, but while these parts often have to be connected via spitter cables, EK instead offers its own daisy chain system. This not only allows you to use a single 3-pin RGB header to control both fans’ RGB lighting, but EK has also combined the PWM cable into the mix, with both elements running through a single cable.
You still need a free 4-pin fan header and 3-pin RGB header to control them, but this is a handy feature that helps reduce cable clutter in your case’s interior. The pump is controlled separately, though, which is good because you may well want to have it running at full speed most of the time. It does have its own PWM cable too, so you can easily adjust its speed.
The pump was supremely quiet even at maximum speed so it’s unlikely you’ll want to reduce its speed, but if you do, you’ll need to set at least 20 percent speed in your motherboard’s PWM control setting for it to spin up. The fans proved to be quiet too, with no unpleasant noise or vibration and just a low thrum of airflow, despite spinning at 2,300rpm. They shifted a considerable amount of air too.
Meanwhile, the EK’s RGB lighting is vivid, with accurate color reproduction, and while the pump’s large ring is attractive enough, the fans are the centerpiece, with perfectly diffused lighting across the blades, as well as similarly vibrant, accurate colors to the rest of the setup. Despite coming from a custom water-cooling component manufacturer, though, the EK Nucleus AIO CR240 Lux D-RGB is a standard sealed unit with no way to expand it in the future, for example, to add a GPU waterblock to the loop.
The cooler comes with two sets of fan screws, with one set being longer than the other in order to cater for passing through case panels and fan mounts. However, these screws shouldn’t be used to just fit fans to the radiator, as they can pass through its mounting threads and potentially damage its fins and coolant channels. One plus point, though, is that they do at least give you the option of adding a second row of fans to the cooler to boost cooling further, sitting between the radiator and your case.
As you’d expect, given that both AMD’s Socket AM5 and Intel’s LGA1700 platforms have been around for a while, the cooler is compatible with both of them out of the box, as well as Socket AM4, LGA1200, LGA115x and LGA20xx sockets too. Mainstream desktop Intel sockets need the included backplate, while AMD socket installations use the motherboard’s backplate with Socket AM4 and AM5.
In a first for any all-in-one liquid cooler we’ve reviewed, you not only get pre-applied thermal paste on the contact plate, but a tube of it in the box too, so you get the best of both worlds – you can install it easily the first time, and you have a tube of paste spare if you ever need to reinstall it.
You also don’t need to worry about the orientation of the pump, which has an EK logo on it. The top section can be removed and rotated so it aligns with the pump in any orientation. The only potential issue with the pump/waterblock unit is that its large mounting plates might be a tight fit on some mini-ITX motherboards.
EK Nucleus AIO CR240 Lux D-RGB cooling performance
When dealing with our Socket AM4 system and its AMD mounting gear, the EK Nucleus AIO CR240 Lux D-RGB managed a CPU delta T of 51°C, matching the best 240mm AIO liquid coolers we’ve tested, such as the Corsair iCUE H100i Elite Capellix, and even being within a degree or two of large 360mm models such as the MSI MPG CoreLiquid K360. Only the Thermaltake Pacific Tough C360 DDC custom kit was more than 2°C cooler than the Nucleus, but it costs significantly more money.
It was a similar story in our LGA1700 system, where the EK Nucleus AIO CR240 Lux D-RGB bettered the NZXT Kraken Z53 by 3°C and was only a degree behind the mighty NZXT Kraken X73 RGB with its 360mm radiator. Again, if you spend a significant amount more money, a custom kit such as the Thermaltake Pacific Tough C360 DDC will shave a few degrees off the temperature, but for an AIO cooler equipped with just a 240mm radiator, the EK Nucleus AIO CR240 Lux D-RGB fared very well in our thermal tests.
EK Nucleus AIO CR240 Lux D-RGB pros and cons
- Great cooling and lighting
- Easy to install
- Daisy-chained PWM and lighting cables
- There are cheaper 240mm liquid coolers out there
- Might not fit all mini-ITX motherboards
- Pump lighting can’t be daisy-chained to fans
EK Nucleus AIO CR240 Lux D-RGB specs
Intel compatibility: LGA1700, LGA1200, LGA115x, LGA 20xx
AMD compatibility: Socket AM4, Socket AM5
Radiator size with fans (mm): 124 x 281 x 52 (W x D x H)
Fans: 2 x 120mm
Stated noise: 36dBA
EK Nucleus AIO CR240 Lux D-RGB price
Price: Expect to pay $150 USD / £140 GBP
EK Nucleus AIO CR240 Lux D-RGB review conclusion
Not only is the EK Nucleus AIO CR240 Lux D-RGB well-designed and good-looking but it’s also priced well. Similar premium coolers with digital RGB lighting, great performance, and low noise retail for more than the Nucleus’ asking price, including the Corsair iCUE H100i Elite Capellix and NZXT Kraken Z53 RGB. We love the RGB lighting, quiet fans, and pump, as well as the daisy chaining cables. Even the packaging is a step up from previous EK AIO coolers.
You’ll need to tap into your motherboard’s EFI or software fan and RGB control to get the most out of it, but that’s not hard these days. Your only other option is to go for NZXT or Corsair with their CAM and iCUE software suits, but they cost considerably more money.
As a result, we can highly recommend the EK Nucleus AIO CR240 Lux D-RGB, whether you have a 16-core monster CPU that you need to tame in a case that only has room for a 240mm cooler, or you just want to keep a mid-range chip supremely cool with a minimum of noise and fuss.
Good-looking, quiet and kitted with great features, including daisy-chained cables. This is an excellent liquid cooler.