Introduction

Deepcool was founded in 1996 with its headquarters in Beijing with the focus on providing best and personalized thermal solutions for the customers around the world. When it comes to the enthusiast-grade PC components, Deepcool is a well-established and recognized brand which is gaining more popularity. The company is focused on providing better thermal solutions in the form of the air and liquid coolers. Their Castle Ex is a high-end AIO CPU Cooler that has form and function in a single package. Company is offering PC Chassis, Power supplies, Case Fans, Laptop Coolers, desks for PC, Lighting solution. Gamer Storm is the brand of Deepcool under which enthusiast-grade PC Components are offered to the market. Tri-Stellar, Quad-Stellar, Genome/II, New Ark 90 are some of their popular and highly customizable PC Chassis in the market.

When Deepcool announced their Castle 240EX and 360EX, it took me by surprise as I was not expecting them to release yet another Castle series cooler after releasing the Castle 240/280 RGB followed by the V2 of the Castle series with the main difference being the V2 generation has Anti-Leak technology. The Deepcool Castle 360EX CPU Liquid Cooler has 360mm radiator and comes with 3x stylish TF120S fans which have specifically been tuned and designed to match the radiator. We have earlier reviewed their TF120 fans and found them to be good performers. The main block of the cooler retains the footprint of the Castle line up in the form of large size circular designed block with the top featuring the ARGB lighting. This time they have changed the top a bit in that the top lid is now removable so that the direction of the Deepcool logo can be changed so that the logo’s right side is always up. Also, they have given a blank holder on to which the user can use their logo to be featured under immense lighting on the block. They have improved the pump’s design by using a dual-chamber approach and have used 25% more skived fins to increase the heat absorption area. Since there is only one block with the ARGB lighting there is less cable clutter in the accessories as compared to the other ARGB coolers.

  • Item:                              Castle 360EX
  • Manufacturer:                DEEPCOOL
  • Brand:                            Gamer Storm
  • Price:                             $159 [at the time of the review]

Specifications

Packaging and Unboxing

The Deepcool Castle 360EX CPU Liquid Cooler is shipped inside a cardboard box in typical Deepcool styling.

This side has GamerStorm brand logo printed on the top left. Anti-Leak Tech Inside is highlighted on the top right. There is a picture of the cooler in the main section. CASTLE 360EX 360mm Liquid Cooler is printed on the bottom right. The ARGB lighting compatibility with the motherboards’ lighting headers is printed on the bottom left.

This side has Castle 360EX printed on the top left. Salient features of the cooler are printed in 10 different languages. The specifications are printed in the tabular format. There is a GamerStorm brand logo printed on the top right side. There are pictures printed on the far right side with the dimension of the product.

This side has GamerStorm brand logo and name printed in the middle.

This side has Castle 360EX printed in the middle in the white color. There is multiple graphical information about the cooler below the model.

This side has GamerStorm brand logo printed on the top left. Anti-Leak technology has been highlighted in detail over here.

This side has GamerStorm brand logo printed on the top left followed by the Castel 360EX printing. +5V addressable RGB LED lighting is equipped on this cooler and Deepcool has bundled a dedicated lighting controller. A serial no sticker is pasted at the bottom. The cooler is made in China.

Opening the box will show a white color Styrofoam placed over the contents. The contents are tucked inside an egged carton for maximum safety during shipping. The fans and the accessories are placed inside white color boxes.

Accessories

Following are included in the Deepcool Castle 360EX CPU Liquid Cooler box:

  • 1x 360mm Radiator and pump unit
  • 3x TF120S 120mm Fans
  • 1x Intel Backplate
  • 2x Intel Mounting Brackets
  • 2x AMD AMx/FMx Mounting Brackets
  • 2x AMD TR4 Mounting Brackets
  • 4x Intel LGA20xx Standoffs
  • 4x AMD AM4 Standoffs
  • 4x AMD TR4 Standoffs
  • 4x Small Screws for the Mounting Brackets
  • 12x Fan Long Screws
  • 12x Radiator Small Screws
  • 1x Deepcool Case Badge
  • 4x Plastic Catchers
  • 4x Thumb Nuts
  • 4x Intel Long Screws
  • 1x Blank Spacer for Logo
  • 1x Lighting Controller
  • 1x Motherboard Sync Cable
  • 1x 3-way PWM Splitter Cable
  • 1x User Manual

Closer Look

The Deepcool Castle series of the coolers from the Deepcool has gained much popularity among the PC enthusiasts as these coolers not only pack performance but the double windowpane design on the water block with killer digital RGB lighting effect for infinity mirror effect really catches the eye. We have earlier reviewed their Castle 240 RGB CPU liquid cooler. This time we are testing their Castle 360EX cooler.

Radiator

The Deepcool Castle 360EX is a 360mm CLC cooling solution. It has a 360mm radiator with three TF120S non-RGB fans which have been specifically tuned and designed for the radiator use.

The dimension of the radiator is 402 x 120 x 27mm. The thickness of the radiator is 27mm. With 25mm fans the overall thickness would be 52mm. The radiator has total 48mm of thickness with the barbs which is still less than 52mm of overall thickness with the installed fans. The radiator has a 20 fins per inch one (FPI).

The radiator is made of aluminum hence it is lightweight. This is Deepcool’s own design. The blocks on both ends of the radiator are not rectangular and have rounded edges. Fin stack is dense and taking into account the left and right side channels, it has a total of 13 channels for water flow. It is following the double tunnel configuration. It has a standard inlet and outlet blocks for the water flow. There are no protective sheets over the fins under the fan mounts. So, take care while mounting the fans as longer screws could damage the fins which would hamper the performance of the cooler. It is recommended to use the supplied long screws to mount the fans on to the radiators.

There is a gap of 105mm between any two fan mounting holes on the radiator. The total depth of the radiator including the barb fittings is 45mm. There is a refill port on the radiator. Surprisingly, it has a Warranty Void sticker pasted on it. Refill port helps the users to refill the coolant should it’s level drop affecting the performance of the cooler. The unit comes with pre-applied thermal paste.

The right side of the radiator has a pressure release valve at the bulkhead side. The Deepcool is now using Anti-Leak technology which is their patented tech in their liquid coolers. With AIOs, the major concern of the users has always been the fear of leaking which may happen due to the internal loop’s pressure or due to the loose fittings. Deepcool after 5 years of R&D has come out with a unique solution which they have named as Anti-Leak.

The above picture shows the block diagrams of the typical or standard AIO on the right side and the Anti-Leak enabled on the left side. Deepcool has installed an elastic based pressure-released bag on the outlet side of the radiator. One side of this bag is dipped in the coolant whereas the other side is exposed to the air. When the internal pressure reached the atmospheric pressure or exceeds it the bag will be squeezed. This would increase the internal volume of the loop and would cause the increased pressure to be released in the air through the valve. This would reduce the risk of the leakage in the AIO owing to the increased internal pressure.

The anti-leak AIO is a new concept of its type and if proven successful it will be the next big thing in the AIO design. the press-relief bag is made of the premium EPDM material produced by DuPont with properties like elasticity, anti-corrosion, heat resistant. So far, everything looks good on the paper. Only the long term testing would tell the tale but it is for sure that Deepcool has given the users where others have not yet.

The above picture shows some graphs from Deepcool internal testing where they are showing the advantages of using anti-leak cooler over the time of period when the coolant’s temperature increases it increases the volume of the loop hence the non-anti-leak coolers are more at the risk of leakage due to pressure buildup.

The far-head of the radiator has a sticker pasted on it as can be seen in the above picture. This is not an Asetek design.

The tubes are firmly fitted on the radiator assembly and on the pump housing. There is one striking difference than what we have seen on the other AIOs (excluding Alphacool’s) on our test bench when it comes to the tube fitting on the barbs. Majority of the AIOs have heat shrinks covering the point where tubes are fitted onto the barbs. This unit, however, has hexagonal shaped cover covering the tubes. This elaborates the looks of the unit. The soft tubing is made from upgraded anti-explosion rubber tube manufactured using an anti-corrosion, crush resistant and thermostable material. The soft material tubing are flexible and don’t produce kinking which is always a plus. Deepcool is using mesh sleeve on the hoses to give them a clean look. The length of the tube is approximately 465mm. This length is more than one would need. Thankfully, they have addressed the tube length issue as the earlier versions of the Castle coolers have 300mm length of tubes.

Pump/Block

Let’s take a look at the main element of this cooler. It is the water block with the pump housing. With Castle series of the coolers, Deepcool has put forward an altogether a new design, a new approach that would make this cooler stand out from the competition and in our little knowledge, this would be the second design after the NZXT Kraken series to feature an infinity mirror design on the block. The cooler is compatible with AMD AM4/TR4 sockets and Intel LGA 775/1366/115x and 20xx sockets.

We have a spherical like cone design on the block with a much wider base and relatively narrow top. This also reminds us of the cooling towers from the nuclear reactor plants though they usually have a tight neck. The block has a size of 86x75x71mm. There is a highly reflective glass top covered with a protective sheet. The top is where the first visual difference is coming from Castle EX series coolers when compared to the Castle RGB and RGB V2 coolers. The top lid is not removable. This is done to address the complaint in the earlier versions as the GamerStorm logo was fixed and there was no way to change its orientation should the coolers be used in different angle mounting. Now, Deepcool has provided two features at the users’ disposal:

  • The user now can change the direction or orientation of the logo so that it will always be right side up.
  • The user can use the blank cover to use their own logos to be feature under the immersive lighting.

The above picture shows the blank cover that has been supplied in the accessories.

The above picture shows the backside of the cover.

The above picture shows the block with the top lid removed. It is still a mesmerizing look!

There is a sticker pasted on one side of the housing with Open and Close printed on far ends along with the arrow lines. This is a visual aid for the user to know in which direction the cover is to be rotated for the desired action.

Without turning the power on of the unit, we don’t see anything other than the reflection on this glass top. Once powered on, we can see a black color GamerStorm logo in the center and with rainbow effect applied, it gives a spinning impression which looks that good in person. Addressable RGB LEDs are under the glass top. We have double window panes on the top to be exact. One good thing about the design of the pump and RGB LED lighting solution is that there is no branding on any side of the housing.

The tubes are installed in 90° mount on the base of the block making them protrude by approximately 18mm. Tubes can be rotated to the left or right side position. Two cables are coming out of the pump housing. One is a 3-pin flat cable with an approximate length of 270mm. This is the RGB connector that can be hooked up with the provided RGB controller or dedicated RGB sync cable. The second cable is a 3-pin flat power cable. The LED connector is using the format +5V-D-G. Its rated voltage is 5VDC with a power rating of 2.25W.

The Deepcool is using pressure charging impellers driven by a three-phase x-life motor to deliver strong liquid flow yet be quieter.

The Castle EX series coolers are using low profile double chamber design with separate channels for coolant flow. This will help to increase the heat exchange efficiency, and decreasing the operation noise and energy loss.

The motor of the unit is using the high-quality ceramic bearing to obtain the near-silent performance level. The pump has a rated speed of 2550±10% RPM at 12VDC rated voltage. Power consumption is 2.4 Watts using 0.2A current. The noise level is rated at 17.8 dB(A).

Let’s take a look at the base of the block. The base has a size of 52x52mm which is quite large given the size of CPU IHS that we will be using for the testing. I7 6850k has a surface area of approximately 37x37mm. The base is implemented in a polished finish cooper. Please, note that it is not fully polished to give a mirror effect. It is rounded on 4 corners It seems to be a plain surface.

Deepcool has used 25% more skived fins on the backside of the copper base hence the heat absorption area is increased.

Deepcool has bundled 3x TF120S fans with this cooler. These are actually enhanced version of the original TF120 with specs tuned for better performance on the radiator as original TF120 is optimized for chassis airflow.

Each fan has 9 blades with dedicated air channels on each blade. There is a GamerStorm brand logo sticker in the middle of the fans. There is an additional layer at the trailing edge of each blade to counter the air drag. The logo in the center is in the white color. Each blade’s far edge side has symbols printed. These are the same as are printed on the center. I am not sure if they are done purely for aesthetic purpose or have something to do with the actual performance. There are anti-vibration rubber pads on every mounting corner.

Looking at the side of the fan will clear the picture even better. The mainframe is made of the plastic. There is a ring running across the fan blades which is a part of the mainframe. It has the same styling as can be seen on the center sticker and the far edges of the blades. GAMER STORM is printed on one side whereas the top side has two arrow indicators. They show the direction of the airflow and blade spin. The overall frame design helps in flow-amplification with noise-canceling.

There is a flat 4-pin PWM power cable coming out of the fan. Since these are not RGB fans hence there is no RGB LED power cable. Cable’s length is approximately 280mm.

Looking at the backside of the fan, we can see a 4-arms assembly holding the blades and the center. There are GamerStorm brand logo and name printed on the top of the sticker pasted in the center. TF 120S is printed in the center. The fan is made in China. One of the arms has a widened body as it carries the power cable. There are air-forming channels on the edges of the frame.

These fans are rated at 12VDC with a rated current of 0.15A with the power of 1.8W. The fan speed is 500 ~ 1800±10% RPM. Maximum airflow on 12VDC is 64.4CFM. The noise level is rated at <32.1 dB(A). Maximum static pressure is 2.33mmAq. The fans are using the Hydro Bearings.

Cables and Controller

Let’s take a look at the bundled accessories.

Deepcool has bundled one 3-way PWM splitter cable. The user can connect all the three fans of the cooler to a single header or power source using this cable.

There is a Motherboard ARGB Sync cable. One end has a proprietary 3-pin connector to which the pump block’s LED cable is connected. The other end has two ARGB connectors. One is labeled for the Gigabyte motherboards and the other is labeled for the Asus/ASRock/MSI motherboards. The user can sync the lighting of the block with the motherboard’s lighting this way.

Deepcool has bundled a dedicated controller as well. It has three buttons with this labeling:

  • Mode +
  • Speed
  • Mode –

The top button loads the next lighting mode. The middle button controls the lighting speed and works only in the dynamic lighting mode. The bottom button loads the previous lighting mode.

The controller has SATA connector on one end and the 3-pin proprietary connector on the other end.

RGB Lighting

The Deepcool Castle 360EX CPU Liquid Cooler features a 16.7M true color ARGB flowing light system with 5 in-built effects:

  • Dynamic
  • Static
  • Breathing
  • Comet
  • Fashion Collision

Here are some pictures for your eye pleasure.

 

Installation

We have tested the Deepcool Castle 360EX CPU Liquid Cooler on the X99 platform using 2011-3 socket. Installation mechanism is straight forward on this socket as you don’t need backplate on this socket. Here are the steps:

  • Install the fans on the radiator.
  • Install the Intel Mounting Brackets on the Pump’s base using 4x small size screws. Once installed the head of the screw should align with the surface level of the bracket.
  • Install the Intel LGA-20xx standoffs on the socket.
  • Place the block on the standoffs.
  • Use thumb nuts to secure lock the block on the CPU. Preferably go diagonal when using thumb nuts for even pressure.
  • Connect the 3-pin power cable of the block to the CPU/AIO/Pump fan header of the motherboard (preferably). You can use another fan header in which case if the header is 4-pin PWM then change the control type to DC from the UEFI/BIOS.
  • Connect the 3-pin LED cable to the controller or the MB Sync Cable.
  • Connect the controller to the PSU SATA controller or MB Sync cable to the 5V lighting header of the motherboard.
  • Connect the fans using 3-way PWM splitter cable to the fan header of the motherboard.
  • You can install the radiator on the desired location inside the chassis before installing the block or afterward.
  • This would complete the installation.

There is no clearance issue with respect to the DIMM slots and first PCIe slot. Make sure your chassis has clearance for 360mm radiator.

Testing Methodology

Testing

Following test benches have been used: –

  • Asus ROG Strix Z390-E Gaming
  • Intel i7 8700k @ 5.0GHz
  • Corsair Vengeance Pro RGB 16GB @ 3200MHz
  • HyperX 120GB SSD
  • Thermaltake ToughPower RGB 750W PSU

Following software were used for testing and monitoring.

  • AIDA64 Extreme 5.99

Here is the settings table for testing:

OC Voltage (V) 1.310
OC Clock (MHz) 5000
Turbo Boost Disabled
C-States Disabled
Speed Step Disabled
Thermal Paste Noctua NT-H1
Test Run Time 60 minutes
Idling Time 15 minutes
Fan Speed Manually set to run at 100% speed
Pump Speed Connected to the AIO Pump header to run at 100% speed

 

I am using Noctua NT-H1 thermal paste on my test benches. The use of the same thermal paste for all coolers will ensure the standardization and mitigate any performance benefit that may come using the supplied thermal paste. Delta temperatures are reported on the graphs. The testing is done on an open-air bench system. Once inside the chassis, the temperatures are expected to rise and would largely depend upon the optimal airflow inside the chassis.

Not every run of the stress test may yield the same result. This could well be due to many factors like mounting pressure, thermal paste application, varying ambient temperature. Not to mention the silicon differences even among the same category of the chips. Hence, it is pertinent to mention the testing methodology along with the specifics.

This time around I decided to take a different route and tested the cooler on the 8700k chip at 5.0GHz. The graph has two custom loop kits, one air cooler, and now three AIOs on it.

Let’s take a look at the results.

Results

Deepcool Castle 360EX CPU Liquid Cooler Review

This is the first time that I have seen an AIO cooler beating the Asus ROG Ryujin 360 as it had a crown for some time now though I am still waiting to see if any 240mm AIO could beat the Asus ROG Ryuo 240 on my bench. Superb performance by the Deepcool Castle 360EX CPU Liquid Cooler!

Acoustic

Due to certain uncontrollable environmental noise, I am unable to measure the true noise level of the fans using a sound meter. Based on my experience with testing the CPU Coolers and the fans, the TF120S fans on the Deepcool Castle 360EX CPU Liquid Cooler are a bit loud and can be easily heard.

Conclusion

The Deepcool Castle 360EX is a 360mm CLC cooling solution. It has a 360mm radiator with three new TF120S fans. The dimension of the radiator is 402 x 120 x 27mm. The thickness of the radiator is 27mm. With 25mm fans the overall thickness would be 52mm. The thickness of the radiator with the barb fittings is 48mm. The radiator is made of aluminum hence it is lightweight. This is Deepcool’s own design. The radiator has 20 FPI. There is a gap of 105mm between any two fan mounting holes. The soft tubing is made from upgraded anti-explosion rubber tube manufactured using an anti-corrosion, crush resistant and thermostable material. The soft material tubing is a bit flexible and doesn’t produce kinking which is always a plus. Deepcool is using mesh sleeve on the hoses to give them a clean look. There is a refill port on the radiator, which to my surprise has a warranty void sticker pasted on it. There is also an Anti-Leak pressure release valve on the side of the radiator which is Deepcool’s implementation of taking care of the loop’s internal pressure and the way to release the pressure before it can become dangerous with the risk of leakage.

The distinct design on this unit comes from the block itself as has been the Castle series cooler’s footprint. What makes this block standout is its extra-large size and double window panes with infinity mirror lighting effect for pure immersion. This time around the top cover of the block can be taken off to adjust the orientation of the GamerStorm logo. Now, regardless of the orientation of the block, the logo will always be right side up. Kudos to their team for this simple yet effective design! Also, the users can swap the logo with their own logos. There are two cables coming out of the pump housing. One is the flat 3-pin power cable and the other one is the flat 3-pin addressable RGB cable. The base is made of copper and is polished finish but not mirror-like. The base measures the 52x52mm. Deepcool has increased the skived fins by 25% hence increasing the surface area for heat dissipation.

The Deepcool is using pressure charging impellers driven by a three-phase x-life motor to deliver strong liquid flow yet be quieter. The Castle EX series coolers are using low profile double chamber design with separate channels for coolant flow. This will help to increase the heat exchange efficiency, and decreasing the operation noise and energy loss. The motor of the unit is using the high-quality ceramic bearing to obtain the near-silent performance level. The pump has a rated speed of 2550±10% RPM at 12VDC rated voltage. Power consumption is 2.4 Watts using 0.2A current. The noise level is rated at 17.8 dB(A).

The Deepcool has provided three TF120S fans with this cooler which are designed specifically for the radiator use. Like their baseline TF series fans, the user can remove the blade assembly from the frame. These fans are rated at 12VDC with a rated current of 0.15A with the power of 1.8W. The fan speed is 500 ~ 1800±10% RPM. Maximum airflow on 12VDC is 64.4CFM. The noise level is rated at <32.1 dB(A). Maximum static pressure is 2.33mmAq. The fans are using the Hydro Bearings. A 3-way PWM splitter cable is provided so that all fans can be connected and controlled by the single fan header. These are black color fans without RGB lighting.

Deepcool has provided an RGB controller for the digital RGB lighting on the block. It is SATA powered and has simple operations of loading lighting modes and controlling the speed of the dynamic lighting modes. The user can also sync the lighting with motherboard 5V lighting headers using the bundled motherboard Sync cable.

The Deepcool Castle 360EX CPU Liquid Cooler is listed at $159 at the time of the review. Deepcool is offering 3 years limited warranty on these coolers. I put the cooler to test the thermal performance on Intel i7 8700k overclocked to 5.0GHz and this cooler has outperformed the beefy Ryujin 360 from the Asus which has been the crowned prince on my graphs. Guess, it ain’t any more! When it comes to the coolers, the price becomes the foremost critical factor in determining the true value proposition. The Cooler Master ML360R RGB is costing $139 at the moment and it comes with three ARGB fans in addition to the ARGB lighting on the block with a plethora of accessories. Deepcool Castle 360EX’s performance is justifying the price but still within this price more ARGB stuff would have been added value. Personally speaking, I like the all-black theme of the fans.

We are thankful to Deepcool for giving us the opportunity to review their Castle 360EX CPU Liquid Cooler.

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