Introduction to the Deepcool Captain 240 EX AIO Liquid CPU Cooler

Launching in April and under its sub-brand ‘Gamer Storm,’ Deepcool launched a newly upgraded cooler series called the Captain EX.  Under this all-in-one (AIO) series, you will find 120mm, 240mm, and 360mm variants, which feature several features, such as their patented SS Design (Separated Section), a steam punk appearance, visible liquid flow, and LED lighting.  New features with these coolers include things like upgraded high-density water micro-channel, anti-explosion rubber, unique silent TF 120 double-blade fan, as well as tooling free installation solution.  These features do sound promising, so hopefully they allow the cooler to perform well.  The Captain EX series visually looks similar to the former Captain series, but Deepcool upgraded a few features.  See the chart below for a comparison of the two coolers. Deepcool Captain 240 EX - Assembled Deepcool’s idea behind the high-density water micro-channel, is that every last drop of liquid inside the cooler will be able to absorb and dissipate heat efficiently.  Couple that with their anti-explosion rubber tubing, and they’re promising you that the safety and stability of the self-governed circulation channel in the cold plate.  Deepcool includes two TF 120 fans, which are designed for high static pressure and low noise.  The fans also feature an anti-vibration rubber to absorb most of the fan’s operating noise.  Overall, on paper, this cooler is sounding great, but we will have to see how it performs in our testing. The Captain 240 EX was made very affordable, with an MSRP of $109.99 and selling for $89.99 shipped on Newegg or $106.61 shipped on Amazon right now.  Like all of their other liquid cooling products, Deepcool has placed a 3-year warranty on the Captain EX.  Should you find something go wrong with your cooler, you sure do have a nice guarantee behind it. Not a whole lot has changed between the original Captain series vs. the Captain EX series, but take a look at the chart below for a comparison. Deepcool Captain 240 EX Technical Specifications:
Captain 240 Captain 240 EX
Fan Dimensions 120X120X25mm
Net Weight 1183±10g 1249±10g
Fan Speed 600±200~2200±10%RPM 500±200-1800±10%RPM
Fan Air Flow 182.24CFM (MAX) 153.04CFM(MAX)
Fan Air Pressure 3.71mmH2O(MAX) 3.31mmH2O(MAX)
Fan Life Expectancy 100000 hours 50000 hours
Fan Noise Level 17.6~39.3dB(A) 17.6~31.3dB(A)
Fan Bearing Type FDB(Fluid Dynamic Bearing) Hydro Bearing
Fan Connector 4-Pin
Fan Rated Voltage 12VDC
Fan Rated Current 0.26±10%A(MAX) 0.12±10%A(MAX)
Fan Power Consumption 3.12W 1.44W
Main System Dimensions 89X65X82mm 92.5X93X85mm
Radiator Dimensions 274X120X27mm
Radiator Material Aluminum
Pump Life Expectancy 120000 hours
Pump Connector 3-Pin
Pump Operating Voltage 6~13.8VDC
Pump Rated Voltage 12VDC
Pump Speed 2200±10%RPM
Pump Current 0.16±15%A
Pump Power Consumption 1.92W
  For being a relatively inexpensive AIO cooler, will the price tag on the Captain 240 EX match the performance?  That's something we will have to find out in the coming pages!  Let's move on and take a quick look at the packaging and what comes inside the box, and follow that up with a performance review of this wicked liquid CPU cooler.

Captain 240 EX Packaging and a Closer Look

Of the Deepcool products that I have seen, their packaging isn’t overly flashy, but rather colorful, simple, and to the point.  The Captain EX follows that trend, as on the front of the box we see a top-down view of the visual water block along with a few key features pointed out.  Flipping the box to the rear, we find the physical dimensions of the cooler plus socket compatibility.  That’s all there is to the packaging. [gallery ids="186033,186034,186035"] Opening it up, we find the traditional egg carton-style packaging, which did a great job holding the product in place, as nothing was damaged. Deepcool Captain 240 EX - Box Interior Pulling the Captain 240 EX out of the box, you can’t help but notice the design elements of the pump.  You will find a series of fins – purely aesthetic – and a red tube going into the top of the block; It is said to be a “reactor-style” housing.  This looks pretty neat and will definitely draw one’s eyes right to it, provided your case has a window. Deepcool Captain 240 EX Looking a little closer at the pump block, we find two screws for mounting.  This means that we’ll end up having a little assembly for the back plate and mounting system.  The pump block does have LED lighting behind it, which we will see later on. Deepcool Captain 240 EX - Pump Flipping the block over we find pre-applied thermal paste.  For this review, we will be using the factory-applied paste.  It came in decent shape, but it appears as if a tiny bit rubbed off in packaging. Deepcool Captain 240 EX - Thermal Paste Connecting from the radiator to the pump, we find anti-explosion rubber tubing with braided sheathing, giving it a very nice look.  The connection points do rotate to some extent, helping with your installation.  You will also notice a 3-pin power connector cable coming out of here.  Here is a closer look at the mounting screws, the Gamer Storm logo, but most importantly notice how the wiring from the power cable isn’t fully seated inside the pump assembly. Deepcool Captain 240 EX - Pump Included with this kit are two Gamer Storm TF120 fans, capable of pushing roughly 153 CFM with a very high static pressure of 3.31mmH20 at roughly 1800 RPM.  The maximum noise level produced from these fans is rated at 31.3 dBA, which is basically a whisper quiet library in loudness.  The fans do have an anti-vibration rubber around the mounting points to further reduce noise.  These fans should be more than adequate for this system and I can’t wait to see how the whole system performs. [gallery columns="2" ids="186042,186043"] Installing the fans is a breeze, as all you do is line up the holes and tighten them down with the fan screw. Deepcool Captain 240 EX - Assembled Lastly, the accessories included provide everything you need to install this on any modern Intel or AMD system.  There is also a fan hub provided, which can connect up to four fans. Deepcool Captain 240 EX - Hardware This wraps up the introduction to the cooler and the packaging, so let’s move on and see how easy this neat looking liquid CPU cooler is to install!

Installing the Captain 240 EX Liquid CPU Cooler

This page will be rather brief, because Deepcool (Gamer Storm) has made the Captain EX series completely tool-free, and this will make for a rather simple installation.  Quite frankly, though, I would highly recommend you use a screw driver to tighten the mounting screws.  However, the other parts for installing the mounting system are absolutely done without tools and very quickly. I always start off by cleaning the CPU with a high purity rubbing alcohol to ensure any old paste is removed and any contaminants are gone.  I am using the factory paste for this cooler. Deepcool Captain 240 EX To start the installation, I took the back plate and stuck the screw bolts through on the 115X hole. Deepcool Captain 240 EX - Back Plate Slipping it through was easy enough, though there is nothing provided to “stick” it to the back of the motherboard.  I think friction will be enough to get this started and would recommend either holding your hand underneath or just standing your system up. Deepcool Captain 240 EX - Back Plate Installed I followed that up with installing the thumb nuts to hold the back plate in place. Deepcool Captain 240 EX - Mounting Bracket Installation Next I slid the Intel mounting bracket across two screws.  Depending how you are installing the cooler, you will mount these horizontal (as I did) or vertical. Deepcool Captain 240 EX - Mounting Bracket Installation Finish that up with the screw cap and you’re ready to install the block. Deepcool Captain 240 EX - Mounting Bracket Installation But first, let’s get that radiator up.  It’s as simple as lining up the mounting screws to the mounting area of your choice in your case – the top in my installation. Deepcool Captain 240 EX - Radiator Installed   Also, before installing the pump assembly, I went ahead and connected the fans to the fan hub (Centered in picture), just so I didn’t have to worry about anything being in the way.  This habit sort of stems from installing those massive air coolers, which you absolutely must do it beforehand! Deepcool Captain 240 EX - Fan Hub Installation Now we’re ready to install the pump assembly.  I typically prefer having four mounting screws for a guaranteed even installation and paste disbursement, but for this design they chose two screws.  This does make things easy and should still provide adequate pressure across the entire processor. Deepcool Captain 240 EX - Completely Installed Overall, installation took me maybe 15 minutes tops, and that’s inclusive of attaching the fans to the radiator all the way to securing the block. Lastly, firing it up, we get a chance to see the red LED over the reactor-style shroud and it looks pretty neat.  This only pulses and there is no way to make it steady that I have discovered.  Nevertheless, it does help draw attention to the block even more for you windowed case users. Deepcool Captain 240 EX - Running While I don’t have a sound meter to test the loudness of the cooler, at idle you absolutely cannot hear the pump or fans from 3-4 feet away, and under full load, it’s hardly disturbing and nice and quiet yet.  It’s not the kind of quiet that you won’t have to nudge your volume up a bit, but it’s a quiet that you don’t have to shout at someone while speaking with them. Since we know that everyone is curious with how well the Captain 240 EX performs, let's move onto the testing.  We’ll compare it to the various air and liquid CPU coolers that we’ve tested in the past, see how well it works with an overclock to 4.3GHz on an i7-4770k.  Before we get into the tests, click the next page to see what we’ve got in our system.

The Test System

Before we take a look at the performance numbers, let’s take a brief look at the test system that was used.  All testing was done using a fresh install of Windows 10 Professional 64-bit and benchmarks were completed on the desktop with no other software programs running. Deepcool Captain 240 EX - Running Intel Z87/LGA1150 Platform The Intel Z87 platform that we used to test these memory modules was running the GIGABYTE Z87X-UD4H motherboard with BIOS version F7 that came out on 08/05/2013.  It is understood that there is a newer version of the BIOS, however in order to not taint the results, we will be sticking with a single version of the BIOS between all coolers.  The processor used, the Intel Core i7 4770k, will be using the stock frequency of 3.5GHz with turbo boost enabled, which can boost it up to 3.9GHz.  Low power state is enabled, which clocks the CPU at 800MHz at idle. Many of the previous tests we chose not to overclock beyond the turbo frequency in order to show you what your average user would see, but we did find the limits of this particular processor without going too extreme on the voltage and will start to include those results.  The 4770k will be overclocked to a 4.3GHz turbo boost at 1.270 volts, which is over the stock 1.193v.  To push this particular 4770k stably to 4.4GHz required well over 1.4 volts, which the performance gains of a 100MHz increase was not worth that huge bump in voltage.

Captain 240 EX Benchmarking

In the benchmarks that will be run, we used an Intel 4770k clocked at 3.5GHz with Turbo Boost and the low power state enabled.  Turbo Boost allows the 4770k to hit up to 3.9GHz right out of the box. To record temperatures, we used Core Temp, logged the temperatures for 15 minutes or while each program was active, and averaged all 4 cores. Slimming down on the benchmarks from previous reviews, we’ll be strictly using Prime95 to stress the CPU and no games.  This will peg all four cores and eight threads to 100% with the In-Place Large FFT test, which will help us to understand exactly how hot this CPU can get with each cooler.  This will allow you to judge if the extreme punishment from Prime95 will be sufficient for your gaming or encoding needs, as you will never see above these load numbers. Ambient temperature during all testing was 74 degrees Fahrenheit. I have reviewed several other air and liquid CPU coolers in the past and you will find them in the charts below for comparison purposes.  I have also included the results for Prime95 with the CPU overclocked to 4.3 GHz on this page. ** Click any image below for a larger and clearer view ** Idle Deepcool Captain 240 EX - Idle   Prime95 (3.9 GHz) Deepcool Captain 240 EX - Prime95 - Stock   Prime95 (4.3 GHz)   Overall Results:  Comparing the Captain 240 EX to the other coolers, we found that it performed very well with the stock configuration, coming in nearly at the top.  When it came to overclocking the 4770K to 4.3GHz, the cooler seemed to struggle a bit in comparison to the stock frequency numbers, but still performed quite well.

Captain 240 EX Power Consumption

This is a newer section that we've added into the cooler reviews just to get a little more insight on what you’re getting yourself into for power consumption.  It's only fair to check out how much each cooler consumes compared to stock, so we’ll take a look at both idle and load numbers. Each cooler will not have any power elements disconnected, unless otherwise noted; rather they’re introduced to help you understand the power consumption differences between the coolers when they’re fully functional. To do our measuring for power consumption, we’ll be using a Kill-A-Watt meter hooked up to the computer only, we’ll let the system sit idle for 15 minutes after boot to allow it to settle down and take a measurement then.  The average whole number that the meter is displaying is the number that we'll use.  We’ll then load up Prime95 to put a full load on the CPU to get each cooler to work as hard as they can, grabbing the power consumption numbers in the same way.  All tests are done at the stock turbo frequency of 3.9GHz on the i7-4770k. ** Click the image below for a larger and clearer view ** Deepcool Captain 240 EX - Power Usage   Overall Results:  I typically don’t expect much difference with coolers that don’t have fancy things, like the V3 Voltair TEC cooler, so the Captain 240 EX performed just as I expected.

Deepcool Captain 240 EX Liquid CPU Cooler Final Thoughts and Conclusion

So what is there to be said about the Captain 240 EX?  Well, to start, it most certainly is a darn nice looking cooler.  Some may find the design elements goofy, as they’re used to the traditional, but I found them rather eye catching.  The pump assembly has a reactor-style to the shroud, and that shroud even has a red LED behind it to show off your new investment.  Unfortunately the LED only pulsates, but it isn’t an obnoxious pulsation, either. Deepcool Captain 240 EX - Assembled Installation was extremely simple thanks to the mostly tool-free design, and took no more than 15 minutes to do.  At first, when I opened the package, I was dreading the install because there were a few oddball brackets.  Once I got to it, it took all of two or three minutes to get the bracket fully installed.  There are some systems that require much more of your time, so I give Deepcool props for a rather simple installation system. Performance:  What can I say other than:  Awesome!  For a $90 cooler, this thing packed a huge punch.  I think it even sets a nice bar for what other manufacturers need to do to wow their customers.  The Captain 240 EX found itself near the top in the stock frequency tests, and the top cooler originally ran right around $129.  Unfortunately when it came to overclocking, it seemed to have a little trouble keeping up with the other coolers that it was tested against, but it still performed quite well. Again, you can get your very own Gamer Storm (Deepcool) Captain 240 EX for $89.99 shipped on Newegg or $106.61 shipped on Amazon right now and it includes a 3-year warranty, should anything go wrong with your cooler. Deepcool Captain 240 EX - Completely Installed There really wasn’t anything that annoyed with the cooler.  The pulsating LED on the pump was probably my only real gripe, as I would have rather put it static or turned it off completely, but gosh - that's totally minor. There are tons of coolers on the market today (64 different models on Newegg alone), but with how inexpensive this cooler can be had for and how well it performed, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this cooler to anyone. LR_Recommended Legit Bottom Line:  Deepcool’s Captain 240 EX is an inexpensive all-in-one liquid CPU cooler that packs a nice punch for under one hundred bucks!  This cooler even makes the more expensive ones look way overpriced.