Hey guys, today we're starting a new series. It's going to be called OMG Tech - tech which is different from what the norm or the market demands of us. First episode is going to feature the ASUS RYUJIN III coolers. It's an overbuilt and over-engineered cooler with a screen on the cooler itself. ROG RYUJIN III 360 and 240. We'll do proper benchmarking and provide you the results in terms of - is it just looks or are they actually performers as well. Let's open them up and see what they are capable of!
Here are the fans and if you look closely enough, it's missing something. It has no cables because they've gone the same way as Lian Li and they've made them connect to each other through these little pins on each side. They control both the speed as well as RGB.
If you try to connect it the other way around, it doesn't really click in place and you can feel that it doesn't align properly. But once the connection is right, it actually holds really nicely. I don't think I've been excited about fans as much before, but that is cool.
Right, let's take the actual cooler out. Previously we have already tested out Ryujin 2 and one of our observations about it was that in marketing, Asus shows this beautiful set and once you assemble everything, there's just a gazillion cables which are actually really hard to cover because you've got the fan cables, the RGB cables and it all has to go to a separate hub. In this particular example, you don't need any of that. There is actually no hub in this box. All the connections happen through the block. That's the whole assembly. So there are a few notable differences between Ryujin 2 and Ryujin 3.
The first one is actually the biggest one. It's the screen itself. One of the main things that Asus has done with version 3 is provide extra storage on the cooler assembly for the screen alone, essentially doubling the amount of storage. So now you can have higher quality animations and longer videos, which is a nice touch.
They also increased the thickness of the radiator by about 3mm, which increases the total service area. Furthermore, they have enlarged the inner diameter of these tubes by 2mm, which reduces the flow resistance. We will test the performance of that a bit later on. I just wish that they made some changes for attaching the fans to the radiator. So you just go and click them in or something without needing to screw everything together. But even without that it already looks a lot more clean.
Alright, let's try to set this all up. There are two sets of cables. And the reason for that is because one of them has a female connection, the other one has male. That's because it depends on your orientation, how you want to place your fans. So technically speaking you can connect this from either side. And the other end features the RGB header and fan header. So essentially you just connect the cable straight into your motherboard and you're good to go. It's kind of ingenious.
On the pump itself we have two cables as well. We have the pump header (this is just connected to a pump header on your motherboard or a fan header), as well as a USB connection, which is going to be doing most of the controls.
Pro tip here is to push it towards itself, pinch it and it comes off. What you want to do now is figure out how you're going to install these fans if you want them in a push or pull configuration.
Normally on the high end fans you actually have a little sign showing which way the air goes. Normally the air is pushing towards the back of the fan, but some fans do have it inverted so do check it properly. For this setup we will have it in a pull configuration, therefore any dust that accumulates on this side could be easily maintained and just cleaned off on later stages. If you do mount it on top, here it doesn't really matter as much. Alternatively you can mount the fans up top pushing the air out. So any dust that's collected you can still clean from the bottom.
With the fans screwed in it looks very clean. One thing I noticed is actually there's a little bit of a gap in between the fans and the radiator. So it doesn't quite seal, it looks like it's a design feature to give it more of that edgy look. But it looks quite nice.
The next step is to take off the inner plate, the same way as before. Start taking off from one side and just push it towards the middle, it comes out. So this actually looks quite clean.
We'll do the same for the 240mm radiator and we'll go and start testing them to see how they perform against each other and also against some more normally priced coolers.
Before we tackle the testing results, let me cover a few observations. Installing the cooler was pretty standard, just follow the provided manual. In our case we are using the AM5 platform with Ryzen 7700X which loves to get hot under full load. The water block does come with pre-applied thermal paste and yet another cover, making it convenient and protecting new builders from getting thermal compound everywhere.
Before fully cable managing the cooler, it's beneficial to first arrange the fan cables during an initial trial. This should be done post-installation, provided there's enough room. Despite the magnets being sturdy, there's still a risk of the cable getting dislodged during the cable management process. Therefore, avoid applying excessive force on the cable during setup.
I do like the fact that the cable ends up with a more standard fan and RGB connections rather than using something proprietary. I wonder if ASUS will be interested in joining the Wendel and GamersNexus OpenPleb project to keep things to a particular standard between different manufacturers.
The block of the cooler has the flexibility to be installed either horizontally or vertically. This versatility is beneficial for unconventional cases where an aesthetically pleasing screen orientation is desired. However, ASUS suggests positioning the pipes either above or below the block for optimal performance.
Regarding the screen, although it's nice to have real-time temperature and frequency readings, their continuous fluctuations don't provide a comprehensive understanding of the system's status. A separate tracking tool that logs data over time might offer more utility. On a different note, the display could be used to enhance the aesthetic of the build, perhaps by playing a GIF or video that aligns with the overall design.
Just like physical mounting can be done in two ways, you can also change orientation of the screen in the software should you desire.
In terms of fan control, the system is not as intuitive as I'd like. With an ASUS motherboard, there's a division in the settings where the motherboard fans are managed by the motherboard itself. In contrast, the pump and VRM fan settings are controlled via a separate menu where the display is also managed. This segregation of control settings seems overly complex and unnecessary.
Let’s now jump into some performance testing, and here we included a 360mm Liquid cooler - ASUS Strix LC version 2 for comparison. It is a higher-end cooler just without the screen. The AMD 7700X CPU really does need a good cooler to get the most out of it. We have carried out a few tests but will focus on the ones that have the most impact for end users, starting with just doing a quick drag race between all 3 of these coolers where we set all fans as well as pump to 100%.
In this test the larger Ryujin 3 cooler is leading, while ROG Strix LC is performing the worst. The difference of over 5 degrees is actually significant. What is interesting - the 240mm version is also outperforming the Strix. You can also see here we have two options with VRM fans set to 50%. This is due to the fact that this small fan is notably the loudest component in the system. I was curious to see if reducing its speed would have a noticeable effect, and interestingly, there was minimal difference. It was observed that the 240mm cooler seemed to perform better with the fan speed reduced. However, this is actually attributed to the CPU lowering its boost frequency.
Temperature by itself is not a good parameter and as I mentioned earlier the VRM fan is loud. While everything is at 100%, the coolers are actually similarly loud at around 50 to 51 dBa. Turning down the VRM fan reduces that noise significantly. Also due to its size, the pitch of this noise is rather annoying so I am really happy to be able to slow it down.
For fair consistent comparison we also tested with fan speeds noise normalised to 40dBa and we yet again see 240mm cooler performing the best with about 58 degrees delta above ambient so let’s dig a little deeper.
When we check out frequency over time, all 3 of these coolers look similar and it is pretty hard to see a winner. But when we zoom in, there are three distinctive frequencies. The Strix cooler is about 50 to 80 MHz slower than Ryujin 3 360mm cooler and the 240mm is somewhere in between. The difference isn’t huge but you can actually get more performance from these coolers, which is a nice touch.
The next question is VRM fan and its performance. This is actually a bit of a funny one. While VRM on motherboards gets hot, especially when using higher end chips and overclocking them - those motherboards normally have beefy VRM heatsinks. Also higher-end boards normally use overkill VRM which can operate at high temperatures with no problems.
We set-up a separate test using the 240mm cooler and checked VRM temperature as reported by this ASUS ProArt board. At different fan speeds there is some variance in max temperature but it is not huge and all of them are miles below max operating temperature. Take for example ASUS TUF Gaming B550M-Plus Wi-Fi - it is using these VRM from Vishay. You can see from the datasheet the max operating junction temperature is 150 C.
The place where you may want to add extra VRM cooling is probably the lower end boards, but then it would be a weird purchase to get a 300 or 400 dollar cooler for a sub 200 dollar motherboard. Which leads us well to the conclusion.
ASUS Ryujin 3 is certainly a high end cooler with pretty good performance, but the main selling point is of course the 3.5 inch screen which is a gimmick for some but a cherry on top for others who want to make that super personal build. I do like the improvements ASUS did over the gen 2 like the single cable connection which is using magnets. I hope they fix the software issues with the fan controls and make all work in a single menu. Other than that, it is a cool product for those who can afford it.