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      03-15-2021, 03:00 PM   #1
Hallco
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Is a intercooler upgrade worth it? bmw f30 n55

Hello everyone I own a BMW 335i f30 PWG n55. Car is x drive

Today's question is if an intercooler upgrade is worth it and if it even makes a difference in terms of performance.

I performed many 0-60mph sprints and timed them all before and after the intercooler upgrade.

My mods list before intercooler upgrade: VRSF catless downpipe, vrsf chargepipe, bms intake, MHD stage 2 plus ( Car has muffler delete )

Out of 5 runs the fastest time I managed with the stock intercooler was 4.54 seconds with 1 passenger ( timed using dragy)

Car is on 18's with performance tires

Please note I used launch control every run

I was hoping to land in the low 4's and wondered how I could achieve this. That's when I started thinking about upgrading the intercooler.

I went with the VRSF race stepped intercooler, it was the biggest one they had. Dimensions: 21″ x 11″ x 6

My mods list during the second stage of testing: VRSF catless downpipe, vrsf chargepipe, bms intake and vrsf 6' intercooler ( Car has muffler delete )
Still om stage 2 plus by mhd
I then ran the 0-60mph tests again on the same road with the same passenger. This time my best time was 4.37 seconds to 60 consistently. I was very happy with the results and know I can get even faster if alone in the car, possibly 4.1.

(Gas tank was half for all runs.)

IAT- Intake air temperatures were dropped dramatically as well. Before upgrading the intercooler my IATS would go up almost by 20 every run and would land in the 30-40 degrees zone (celsius). After installing the intercooler my iIATS are always less than 10 degrees after hard pulls.
Even after back-to-back 0-60 sprints the iIAT don't even increase they go down in temperature which was very good and proved that this intercooler was really worth.

If I were to list some pros and cons for this intercooler it would be:

Pros: No heat soak, Lower IATS, More performance, faster 0-60, holds the power

Cons: Weighs about double of the stock intercooler

So In conclusion I found the intercooler is well worth it. It increases performance and prevents heat soak this is why I highly recommend it if you're tuned. Thank you.



Will release top end results in near future this thread just focused on 0-60 times
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Last edited by Hallco; 03-15-2021 at 04:27 PM.. Reason: Updates. added more info
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      03-15-2021, 03:07 PM   #2
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glad to know that it did on the N55. I did check B58 if it's even worth it and I've been going back and forth a I read somewhere about it:

"On the B58, the stock cooling system is actually very good. From what we’ve seen so far, there is little need to upgrade the cooling system unless you are frequently tracking the car or slapping a bigger turbo in the engine."

any idea re: intercooler upgrade on B58. not to hijack your post but it seems quite related. appreciate it.
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      03-15-2021, 03:25 PM   #3
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Are you running a tune as well as your mods? Are you x drive? Those are solid numbers imo. Especially if no tune.
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      03-15-2021, 03:30 PM   #4
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Stage 2 plus using mhd and its xdrive
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      03-15-2021, 03:52 PM   #5
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I mean, you should have never flashed above stage 1 without an IC in the first place, but i guess this is useful for anyone who stumbles across this thread without doing research of their own lol. I would just note that the IC is important for far more than 0-60 times. Infact, that's probably the LEAST important test for an IC upgrade since its a <5sec pull. The IC provides increasing benefit as the duration and frequency of WOT increases.

The bottom line is that IC+CP should be the first upgrade done to any N55, especially if you plan to increase boost over stock levels at all.
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      03-15-2021, 04:12 PM   #6
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I agree, I live in Canada where its always cold that's why I waited so long to upgrade the intercooler.

I have done tests on the highway before and after, I found the car is also faster up top. Will release results In another thread soon
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      03-15-2021, 04:21 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hallco View Post
Stage 2 plus using mhd and its xdrive
Man I was like DANG how did you get 4.37 without a tune?! Haha the best I've ever gotten 4.4 (I'm rwd), and I'm stage 2 bm3, cp, dp, fmic. Shit tires get replaced next month though so I'm hoping for something sub 4.4 sec finally
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      03-15-2021, 04:23 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hallco View Post
I agree, I live in Canada where its always cold that's why I waited so long to upgrade the intercooler.

I have done tests on the highway before and after, I found the car is also faster up top. Will release results In another thread soon
Understood. I would also add that looking at mods with the "how much faster can i go" approach isn't really the best way. Yes, HP/$ can be a metric, but the IC is about more than improving performance and speed. It's about delivering the same performance consistently, and perhaps more importantly, keeping IATs under control to prevent knock and keep timing reasonable.
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      03-16-2021, 04:06 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hallco View Post
Hello everyone I own a BMW 335i f30 PWG n55.

Today's question is if an intercooler upgrade is worth it and if it even makes a difference in terms of performance.

I performed many 0-60mph sprints and timed them all before and after the intercooler upgrade.

My mods list before intercooler upgrade: VRSF catless downpipe, vrsf charge, bms intake ( Car has muffler delete )

Out of 5 runs the fastest time I managed with the stock intercooler was 4.54 seconds with 1 passenger ( timed using dragy)

Car is on 18's with performance tires

Please note I used launch control every run

I was hoping to land in the low 4's and wondered how I could achieve this. That's when I started thinking about upgrading the intercooler.

A intercooler upgrade was very expensive and I did research to find if it even makes the car faster tp 60mph and found that it did but there was no evidence to back it up and so I decided to buy it and time everything myself.

I went with the VRSF race stepped intercooler, it was the biggest one they had. Dimensions: 21″ x 11″ x 6

I then ran the 0-60mph tests again on the same road with the same passenger. This time my best time was 4.37 seconds to 60 consistently. I was very happy with the results and know I can get even faster if alone in the car possibly 4.1

IAT- Intake air temperatures were dropped dramatically as well. Before upgrading the intercooler my IATS would go up almost by 20 every run and would land in the 30-40 degrees zone (celsius) after installing the intercooler my iIATS are less than 10 degrees after pulls and even after 0-60 sprints the iIAT don't even increase they go down in tempeture which was very good and proved that this intercooler was really worth.

If I were to list some pros and cons for this intercooler it would be:

Pros: No heat soak, Lower IATS, More performance , faster 0-60, holds the power

Cons: Weighs about double of the stock intercooler

So I found the intercooler is well worth it. It increases performance and prevent heat soak, highly recommended.
I admire your attempt to try to scientifically measure and validate your hypothesis with the tools that you had available. IMO though there are a few issues.

The methodology:
0-60 times are dependent on so many variables that it is very difficult to have confidence that a few tenths of a second is actually meaningful enough to draw a conclusion.

Temperature, humidity, effects on tire compound, driver variability, accuracy of measuring tools, etc. There have been many articles published by car magazines about the difficulty of scientifically measuring 0-60 in an accurate reproducible way.

The Premise:
The purpose of a front mounted intercooler is not to gain performance. It is to prevent engine performance from being lost.

So if an engine is properly tuned and well maintained, with an appropriately sized intercooler, then a larger intercooler will not improve on engine performance. The engine is already running at maximum efficiency.

Heat Soak:
If an engine has been tuned beyond stock to much higher horsepower so that its stock intercooler can no longer cool the compressed intake air effectively that can cause a condition called Heat Soak.

The driver will notice Heat Soak first as a loss of power, and subsequently an engine could potentially put itself into limp mode.

Heat Soak is not a sign of engine damage, rather it is an indication that the engine has sensed a potentially damaging situation, and it reacted by protecting itself.

When the engine senses that intake air temperatures are beginning to get too high, it starts to compensate by making ignition timing adjustments and by cutting throttle. If intake air temperature continues to get even higher then the engine goes into limp mode to force temperatures down.

It is really important to understand that Heat Soak is a sustained high rev condition. If I took a stock 300hp car out and drove around a residential neighborhood, then I tuned the same car to 500hp keeping the stock intercooler, and drove it on the same root- it would not induce Heat Soak. Even if I took both cars out cruising on a freeway trip at 80mph. Again, no Heat Soak! In these every day driving conditions I am never really using that extra horsepower for any sustained amount of time. The stock intercooler can handle the job fine.

0-60mph Is Too Short Of A Test
If I took the car out to the drag strip and ran 0-60mph or even 1/4 mile. Again, no Heat Soak! I'm only using that extra horsepower for a few seconds. It's not enough time to over run the cooling capacity of the stock intercooler.

It takes sustained high rev driving to throw enough heated air at too fast of a pace to overwhelm the stock intercooler enough to raise intake air temperature to Heat Soak levels. That means race track driving (not drag strip) with lap after lap of high speed, high rev driving.

So using 0-60 times to evaluate a stock intercooler vs a larger intercooler would be inconsequential because a five second run is way too short to cause Heat Soak. Performance would not be limited in that short of a test.

I have been able to simulate a Heat Soak situation by making rapid Wide Open Throttle runs in succession up and down the highway when traffic is light. On a typical day it may take 5-6-7 runs in a row before I distinctly feel like my engine power is down. It begins to feel less than the previous runs.

If it is a hot day in the 90's, since the intake ambient temperature is starting a lot higher, it may only take 3-4-5 WOT runs before I begin to feel Heat Soak.

Guys fixate on their Intake Air Temperatures (IAT) but the actual number is meaningless unless it is causing Heat Soak. So if guys say "oh this intercooler is better because IAT is 20 degrees lower", but neither is causing Heat Soak, then it doesn't matter at all! Both temperature readings are in normal range.

In choosing an intercooler for a daily driver (as opposed to a track car), the biggest intercooler is often the worst choice. Track guys would look at three intercoolers and choose the biggest one with the lowest IATs. Remember tracking is all high rev driving. But looking at the same three intercoolers for a street car, if all of them prevent Heat Soak, then choose the intercooler with the lowest Intake Pressure Drop.

Intake Pressure Drop happens if an intercooler is too slow pushing air through it. It is too restrictive so when pressure in the charge pipe drops it takes time to push more air through the intercooler to get the boost pressure and power back up.

Intake Pressure Drop is the worst thing for low rev daily driving. It causes Turbo Lag, that dreaded delay from when you step on the gas pedal and the engine power actually comes on. If you have Turbo Lag then you will constantly feel it every time you stop and start at a Stop sign or a red light. Or when you try to pass another car, or when you try to accelerate onto a freeway on-ramp.

I had a powerful twin turbo car twenty years ago with the worst turbo lag. I hate turbo lag.

The funny thing about turbo lag is that if you drive only that car every day you often get used to it. Many guys claim that they don't have turbo lag. They do but they just don't have anything to compare it to.

BMW friends have driven my car and remarked that it feels more responsive than their own. Our mods are pretty much the same with the big difference being that they chose big heavy slow intercoolers based primarily on low IATs, while I chose an appropriately sized, lightweight quick flow intercooler with no Heat Soak and the lowest turbo lag that I could find.

Here's the intercooler that I use. It's sized perfectly up to roughly 400hp. No heat soak and no turbo lag.

https://www.kiesmotorsports.com/prod...8;_ss=r?aff=22

If I ever upgrade my turbo to much more than 400hp then I'll sell my current intercooler and install it's bigger brother below.

https://www.kiesmotorsports.com/prod...8;_ss=r?aff=22

Hope this helps
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      03-16-2021, 04:09 PM   #10
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Yes. Your doing 0-60 pulls in the winter. My n20 would pull timing due to heat soak on stage 2 making less power AND they share the same oem intercooler.

Upgrade and be happy. Anything bigger than stock will work wonders.
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      03-16-2021, 04:25 PM   #11
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Thank you for the tests. I run my car on the track (long time Full throttle) 3 to 5 times a year (instructing different driving schools).
I don't street race or chase cars. My fun is on and off ramps and cornering.
I don't plan to go past 400HP (I want longevity vs max power).
I don't want added turbo lag.

My question is: do I go 7" or 5" intercooler? Going to get a CTS turbo as there is a reseller close by.
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      03-16-2021, 05:26 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frchdragon View Post
Thank you for the tests. I run my car on the track (long time Full throttle) 3 to 5 times a year (instructing different driving schools).
I don't street race or chase cars. My fun is on and off ramps and cornering.
I don't plan to go past 400HP (I want longevity vs max power).
I don't want added turbo lag.

My question is: do I go 7" or 5" intercooler? Going to get a CTS turbo as there is a reseller close by.
If you track the car get bigger than the typical 5'' stepped. Simple as that. Even the best 5'' stepped starts to get heat soaked and have significant IAT rise after about 7-8 seconds of WOT. Ive seen this when i do long pulls to 170+ mph despite the amount of airflow at that speed.
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      03-18-2021, 06:06 PM   #13
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I'm running basically the same FBO setup on a 335i x drive with the 6.5" stepped VRSF intercooler and yes it's winter right now but when I beat on her IAT's stay around 7-10 over ambient, which is pretty good. Haven't been able to test it when it's really hot since I got the car in November but it stays nice and cool so far.
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