BMS F series n55 intercooler

F87Source

Sergeant
Oct 14, 2019
329
144
0
Canada
Ride
2017 Bmw M2
Introduction:

As hinted to by the title I am going to be reviewing the BMS F series N55 intercooler for my 2017 bmw m2 with a 6 speed manual transmission. Before we begin I have to extend a shout out to BMS for giving me a discount to review this intercooler, but like always I will be writing an unbiased review.


Credit:
All images in this review were taken by me.


Disclaimer:

Any technical advice, installation instruction, or product installation, decision to purchase a product is done so at your own risk I will not be responsible for personal injuries, injuries to others or any living being, any damage to your car, or any property damage.


Customer Service:

As per usual BMS customer service is absolutely top notch, you will always get in contact with a human and most of the time within minutes of your email - like it is fricken shocking how fast they reply I literally just put down my phone and I instantly get an email back. Props to BMS on this from they are extremely good at reply times, like I cannot commend them enough for how fricken good their response rate is, even on weekends too 1000/10 BMS. (Unlike another intercooler company who never got back to me ever, just an auto reply from their email server and that was it).

But fast reply times are no good if the customer support is not knowledgeable or rude. Well I must inform you BMS customer service is insanely knowledgeable and insanely patient, no matter how many questions were asked they will always reply promptly and never hint that they are getting frustrated with you. Again 10/10 BMS your customer service is impeccable and should be the benchmark of bmw parts vendors.


Shipping:


So lets begin with a quick discussion regarding the shipping of this intercooler:

1) Shipping/Processing: this intercooler was shipped via Fedex from California to Canada and it was incredibly fast taking only a couple of days to arrive. Processing time was about 1-2 days after placing the order which was also incredibly quick compared to other bmw parts vendors. The intercooler also arrived undamaged and in perfect condition which is always nice.

2) Packaging: The packaging is exceptional with a thick cardboard box on the outside and incredibly thick but soft foam that was cut out to be a clam shell where the intercooler would sit inside a perfect cut out for it. Overall the packaging is very nice and there literally would be no way for it to be damaged (even from a drop or abusive handling) unless it was punctured by a really long object.

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Credit: F87source


Overview:

Now lets move onto the overview of this intercooler and take a look at some of the images of the exterior.

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The exterior of the BMS intercooler is extremely nice. The welds are great - there are no welding stalactites that I could see inside the intercooler. The exterior finish coating is nice and smooth, and does not have any scratches. The fins were straight and unbent and the intercooler step also had the air deflectors inside on the hot side. The intercooler inlet and outlet to the charge pipe ends were smooth, polished, and did not have any deformations. The interior of the end tanks were also clean of any casting abnormalities. Also like all aftermarket intercoolers the metal end tanks and inlet/outlets are very nice for users looking to push high horse power levels and alot more boost than stock, this should increase reliability and durability over stock. Speaking of durability the BMS intercooler was absolutely solid it felt sturdy and tough, the core itself likely due to its bar and plate design felt extremely ruggeded and likely able to take more punishment without damage from road debris compared to the stock intercooler. Overall this is a really nice intercooler for the $329 price, and certainly feels like it is more premium than the price suggests.


Stock intercooler vs the BMS intercooler (Dimensions):

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Core dimensions:
Stock (LXWXH): 49.5 cm X 10 cm X 14.5 cm
BMS (LXWXH main core, LXWXH step): 51 cm X 12 cm X 15 cm, 51 cm X 4 cm X 6.5 cm

So a quick summary on this section we see that the bms intercooler has a negligibly longer core (can’t go too much longer than stock or you compromise fit and end tank design) but nonetheless it is longer. The BMS intercooler is also 2 cm wide than stock which increases the volume of the intercooler allowing for a higher thermal capacity before heat soaking, the bms intercooler’s main core section has the same height as the stock intercooler, but it does include a step adding and extra 331.5 cm2 of surface area and 1,326 cm3 of volume which will aide in cooling. The bms intercooler is also significantly heavier than stock, I could not get a measurement of weight but it was atleast 3X heavier than stock. Overall the BMS intercooler offers more surface area, volume, and weight compared to the stock intercooler.

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Stock intercooler inlet and outlet: Inner diameter = 54 mm, outer diameter = 61 mm


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BMS intercooler inlet and outlet: Inner diameter = 54 mm, outer diameter = 61 mm

So just looking at the inlet and outlet diameters they are the same on the BMS intercooler and stock intercooler so there shouldn’t be any fitment complications on this regard.
 

F87Source

Sergeant
Oct 14, 2019
329
144
0
Canada
Ride
2017 Bmw M2
Fin Density:

Stock intercooler:

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Looking at the stock intercooler we noticed a few things about the fin design, the first one is that the fins have a louvered design. This increases the surface area of each fin which will help with cooling. Also we can see the fin design is extremely spaced which results in a low fin density of ~7 fins per cm.

BMS intercooler:
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Looking at the BMS intercooler there are a few things that becomes apparent, the first thing is the non louvered nature of the BMS intercooler. This is likely due to the extremely tight spacing of the fins, but it looks like they have double stacked fins and staggered them to increase surface area in essence creating a compact louver. The BMS intercooler also has an extremely squared fin array (meaning better air flow vs. high density but “crushed together fins” of other “HD” fin intercoolers), that in conjunction with the lack of louvers means the BMS intercoolers has extremely stiff and strong fins (I did push on the fins to test rigidity and they would not budge unlike the stock intercooler which has extremely malleable fins) which should mean increased durability in the even it gets struck with debris. The BMS intercooler fins also have have a density of ~8 fins/cm* (if you do not count the stacked fins which is hard to see in this picture - it looks so much different in real life, with the double fin louvers it is in the 14 fin/cm range). But like previously stated, the benefit of this BMS intercooler fin array is that despite the density the fins are perfectly straight so it doesn’t impede air flow unlike other high density intercoolers out there. So BMS did a good job ensuring that these fins were all perfectly straight and thus the air flow is not impeded. Overall the BMS intercooler has an incredibly dense fin array with straight fins that do not impede air flow, and are extremely durable.

Note* I have compared this intercooler with other super expensive premium brand stepped core intercoolers and the BMS intercooler has a much higher fin density than those other brands. There is only one other intercooler brand with similar fin density, however what I noticed is their fin array is crushed together which doesn’t offer good air flow imo.


Bar and Plate design:

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The BMS intercooler utilizes a bar and plate core design compared to the tube and fin design of the stock intercooler. The benefits of a bar and plate core is that it has a higher thermal capacity before heat soaking, but thermal recovery is slower. Overall it is a fairly typical style of core for the F series N55 engine, but the one improvement I could see is if BMS added more fins on the interior of the intercooler to further improve heat transfer, that would make this intercooler even better.


Overall Summary on thermal capabilities:

Overall the BMS intercooler should vastly outperform the stock intercooler in terms of thermal management due to the following improvements:
Increased surface area: This is because of the slightly longer core, the addition of the step, and the increased fin density with the double fin design.
Increased volume: It is thicker, and has the stepped portion
Higher mass: Due to its full aluminium bar and plate design, and metal end tanks.


Fitment on the m2:

In regards to the fitment on the m2 I would give it an 8/10, everything fits perfectly with the few exceptions that I will speak of in a bit. The mounting tabs that supports the intercooler and allows the screws to be bolted into the radiator mounting brackets fit and line up perfectly. The intercooler mounting rails (2 vertical metal tabs on the sides of the intercooler) that allow it to slot into the radiator mounting brackets also fit perfectly. When the intercooler is bolted in it also sits all the way up and fits without issue.

Now this is the the only 2 gripes I had with this intercooler:

1) The driver side radiator fan mounting tab does not fit, so I had to bend it backwards which was really easy to do and afterwards it cleared the radiator fan. This is not a huge issue because the passenger side tab still supports the radiator fan and prevents rattles, and intercoolers like the CSF don’t even have these tabs. The passenger side tab does fit without issue.

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2) The second issue is that the stock driver side charge pipe (cold side) will not fit, it is about 2 mm short and thus the C-clips will not slide in and lock the pipe in. Again a small gripe but aftermarket charge pipes will solve this issue.


Here are some more images on m2 fitment:

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Data on IAT’s:

To be updated more extensively once I drive my car with the new intercooler enough.

I always have MHD’s logging module running at all times when I drive my car, so I always have a record of iats. When I drive at high speeds I note the delta between the ambient temperature displayed on the dash and the iats shown by mhd, then I take a note when idling in stop and go traffic as well. After the drive I will screenshot the gauge and in the photo descriptions I will note the temperatures (ambient, iat during high speeds, and iat during idling) I observed. I will also take data logs whenever possible, so far I have hundreds of data snippets and multiple logs of both pulls and full drives of the stock intercooler, I am now in the process of collecting it for the BMS intercooler.

However here is what I see so far:

1) Stock intercooler:
a) To be updated

2) BMS intercooler (to be updated with more details):

a) When driving at high speed even on 33C ambient temperature days I notice iat’s are only 9C higher than ambient which is insanely good. This delta decreases to around 5C on colder days with ambients of 10C - 15C.

b) On sub 30C days I notice IAT’s are sub 50C even in bumper to bumper traffic, while on 33C days I notice IAT’s are only reach 50C max. On cooler days of 10C - 15C iat’s in bumper to bumper traffic are in the low 20C range (this can change based on if the fan is on).

c) After a long drive and with the car heat soaking in the sun on a hot 33C day the intercooler temperatures will heat soak to a high 58C - 60C temperature range (normal even on the stock intercooler). But as soon as the car starts (even sitting idling) the radiator fan and air flow through the intercooler is capable of dropping those iats to 48C - 50C. When ambient temperatures are lower the temperatures are also correspondingly lower.

Overall from what I am seeing in every single instance the BMS intercooler has lower iats and significantly better thermal management compared to the stock intercooler.


Summary:

Overall the BMS intercooler is a very nice upgrade for the car and it is quite affordable. It keeps IAT’s alot lower than the stock intercooler and should be a necessary upgrade for anyone tuning these cars as IAT’s can get out of control with the stock intercooler, and if you are using poor gas that can cause knocking which is bad for the engine if prolonged. This intercooler also has a very nice fin pack compared to intercoolers much more expensive and build quality is impeccable. The only few things I would ask BMS to improve is: the radiator fan mounting tab positioning so it fits the m2 without modification, the driver side charge pipe connection so it is a bit longer so it will fit the stock charge pipe, and add more fins to the bar and plate internals to improve heat transfer. Otherwise I really like this intercooler, and would recommend it to anyone.
 
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