VRSF Race 7.5" Intercooler Review/Install Tips - N54/N55

houtan

Sergeant
Nov 2, 2017
465
170
0
Ride
135i N55 DCT; PS2
Yes, another intercooler post 😊. This install is on an N55, but I spend most of my time in the N54 section on this forum so posting here, and the install should be the same or similar.

My current intercooler, by ATM (thread here: Ambient Thermal Management FMIC Review), served me extremely well over the last seven or so years. However, I recently upgraded my Pure Stage 2 turbo to an Pure Stage 3 turbo and thought it would be a good time to upgrade my intercooler as well. So the search for an upgrade to the upgrade began.

There were four options I basically agonized over: Wagner EVO III, BMS Race, VRSF 7.5” Race, and ARM 1k. Long story short, I went with the VRSF. I know it performs well (based on various threads and the logs of a friends car) and the price was right at $480 shipped.

Just as in my prior intercooler thread, I would like to share information on packaging, build quality, measurements, installation, fitment, and performance. I am sure a lot of this information is available already, but a lot of info is a few years old, so maybe some of this will be new or useful to someone else.

Before I go into further detail, here are some threads or videos I referenced for installation and general information:

- https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct...=y45ut4mmHTg&usg=AOvVaw2aMo8lycdcsKciHXCQgYTE

- 7.5" VRSF race intercooler.... review (1addicts.com)

- My Experience Installing VRSF 7.5" Race Intercooler (with log results) - N54Tech.com - International Turbo Racing Discussion

- Some Help For Those Who Install A 7.5''Race InterCooler | *********** Forums

- Wagner EVO III Comp FMIC (1addicts.com)

Packaging

The intercooler packaging was excellent. The intercooler and ancillary parts came in one large box. The intercooler was fully protected inside a large two piece Styrofoam mold and ancillary parts were placed in a separate box. Everything arrived with zero damage.

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Build quality

Intercooler: The build quality of the intercooler is great. I have read mixed reviews on various VRSF products, but nothing negative to report here. The welds, end tanks, fin density, are all top notch.

Ancillary parts: Everything is great here as well. The silicone hoses are excellent quality. The J-pipe is powder coated black and looks great. The kit includes t-bolt clamps which have been leak free for me and two screws to mount the intercooler. Ultimately, I decided to use my own preferred screws and washers for the install; more on that later.

Basic measurements

I am sure you have heard this before, but this intercooler is HUGE. Even though I was expecting it to be big, I was still surprised at how big it is in person. It really is big.

One interesting result was the weight. I noticed my intercooler weighed more than the same intercooler in one of the threads I referenced earlier in the post. I reached out to VRSF to ask if anything has changed and the response was the newer intercoolers have more fin density, so the weight has gone up.

Intercooler:

Weight: 36.3lbs (the weight in the N54tech thread from 2017 was 33.8lbs)

Depth (front): 3”

Depth (rear lower core): 3.5”

Total Depth: 7.5”

Width of core: 20”

Diameter of inlet/outlet (internal): 2.65”

Diameter of inlet/outlet (external): 3.02”

Ancillary parts:

Diameter of silicone hoses (internal): 3” at end tanks, 2.5” at J-pipe

Diameter of J-pipe (internal): 2.5”

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Installation and fitment

No surprise here, cutting is required. Most videos and threads I have seen use either a dremel or an angle grinder with cut off wheel. Those both obviously work, but, if you have a multitool, that will be your secret weapon. Cutting the black plastic was quick and precise with this tool and made this part of the install very quick. I put a small piece of aluminum between the plastic support and radiator to ensure I did no damage anything if the blade slipped or if I was cutting too deep. My friend accidentally punctured his AC condenser a few years ago doing this install so I was able to learn from his mistake. When the major cutting was complete, I cleaned things up with my Dremel using the sanding attachment.

You will have to relocate your ambient temperature sensor. I went with the location identified in one of the youtube videos I linked above. It has worked great in this location.

Finally, when installing the cold side silicone hose and J pipe, I removed the fan this time. Previously, I would get the correct orientation with the hose clamp only snug but tightening was not possible due to the tight space. So once the orientation was correct, I would have to drop the intercooler, remove the pipe, fully tighten the hose clamp, then reinstall everything. With the fan removed you can access the hose clamp while the cold side hose/j-pipe is in its final location. This may not be an issue on MT cars, but with AT/DCT cars, the factory trans heat exchanger makes things a little more challenging.

After the required cuts were made, overall fitment was honestly perfection. Fan shroud fitment was great and clearance between the hoses and radiator fittings was good. The bumper went on just like factory, without any need to stretch and pull it to fit. You will see in the pictures below.

Cutting tool:

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The next series of pictures will give you reference points on where I cut:

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Here is the thin aluminum sheet I used for protection. I got mine from Lowes. It saved me a few times so highly recommended:

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Here is how the intercooler fit when the cutting was complete:

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This is how I moved my headlight washer hoses out of the way:

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This is where I relocated my ambient temp sensor:

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This is 135i specific, but this is how much you have to shave off of the front grill:

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Parts I added to the install:

1. Hanger bolts from McMaster-Carr. Not required but I feel more comfortable not having to remove the screws from the plastic mounting points. 18-8 Stainless Steel Wood Screw Threaded Stud, 1/4" Screw Size, 1/4"-20 Stud, 2" Long | McMaster-Carr

I purchased three different sizes but the correct one is the one I linked above:

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2. Stainless steel lock nuts, nuts, and washers. Two nuts were used to thread in the hanger bolts into the plastic mounting points https://www.lowes.com/pd/Hillman-1-4-in-x-20-Stainless-Steel-Hex-Nut-10-Count/3816083, the lock nuts https://www.lowes.com/pd/Hillman-6-...l-Standard-SAE-Nylon-Insert-Lock-Nuts/4756509 and washers https://www.lowes.com/pd/Hillman-6-...Steel-Standard-SAE-Fender-Washers/3811479were used for final install.

Here is a picture of the stainless steel nut which was used to install the hanger bolts. Final install was completed with the Lock Nut and washer I linked above:

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Final install pictures:

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Performance

This intercooler flat out works. I am running a Pure Stage 3 turbo at 575whp and the intercooler has kept things cool. Below is a 3rd – 5th gear log at full tilt with ambient temps around 75 degrees and the intercooler doesn’t break at sweat. I have hundreds of logs and they all look similar, with temps going down before they go up.

datazap.me | houtan | VRSF Race Intercooler Log

For me, this has been an extremely positive upgrade in terms of performance and quality. After my PS3 upgrade, my IATs were starting to creep into the 120 degree range with my ATM intercooler, and now I am realizing that intercooler was not the correct size for my new power level. The VRSF 7.5” race intercooler is better sized for my new turbo and should be the last intercooler I install, even as I turn up the boost.

If you have any additional questions or if I left out anything, please feel free to ask or chime in. Finally, thanks for reading!! Hopefully I helped somebody!