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    Velos Designwerks | An in depth look into "Which M3 / S65 V8 Supercharger kit is better"?

    Over the past few years, the most common topic in regards to the S65 and aftermarket performance has been "Which Supercharger kit is better" (or something along those lines). It has been discussed so much it's turning into one of those topics that you do not discuss among friends such as politics and religion as it could quickly ruin a friendship.


    I am confident in saying that i doubt anyone has had more experience with the two most popular candidates than I have.


    Over the past few years I have had countless hours of direct contact with both the AA Systems as well as the ESS Systems. Everything from have hours of seat time behind the wheel of E92's equipped with both kit down to the packaging of each kit and everything in between. I would like to touch on a few topics while I post the differences of both systems.


    The list of similarities is pretty short, both are supercharger systems applied to the S65 engine. Thats might just about be it.


    Power and Power delivery:
    Horsepower and Torque gains are just about the most discussed aspect of the systems.


    As far as horsepower goes, without a doubt a comparable ESS system will make more horsepower. It has been proven countless times with dyno charts from both companies as well as from customers and other types of individual testing. I will post two charts below as it will refer to them a few times through out my post.


    Other than the chargers there has not been much discussion as to "why" one kit makes more power. It has been attributed to "one charger is larger than the other" but it actually goes much deeper than that. I will do my best to explain.


    Boost: it is no secret that the charger makes boost etc... which allows us to make more power from an S65.


    Once the air is compressed it has to makes it way into the intake manifold and then to the engine. The ESS system has a very short amount of travel between the charger and engine, the fastest path between two points is a straight line.


    While the AA system requires the compressed air to travel quite a bit before entering the intake manifold, it much travel around a few 90 degree bends and actually go full circle before reaching the intake manifold, if you study physics you will see why this is not ideal.


    A little background on superchargers: they take power to make power (we can go deeper into this by request but it has been discussed many times over).
    Considering above, the ESS system does not have to work as hard to make the required boost to achieve the required power output; however, the AA system not only has to travel much longer distances but it also have to enter the intercooler half way between it's travel. During testing the AA system has to actually make a few extra pounds of boost to compensate for the few pounds of boost that are lost during the travel and from the intercooler. Which in turn forces the engine to work harder because it has to create more boost and is actually forced to work harder to compensate for a less efficient system.


    Charge cooling: I want to be the first to recognize the improvements of aftercooling as an effective method of charge cooling, i have been a long time believer of intercooling and refused to admit aftercooling could be efficient.


    The method of charge cooling should dictated by the platform and the system to find the most efficient method. In our case, space is an issue which is probably a big reason improvements in aftercooling have been addressed over the past few years. For example: the N54 which was the first recent turbo model by BMW was intercooled; however, the S63TU found the M5 is aftercooled and makes more power. Which makes my point that the method should be dictated by the platform.


    Going back to the Boost section above, running an aftercooler allows the compressed air to reach the engine with less restriction and at the same time placing less load on the engine to make power.


    Tuning: Tuning is just as important as the hardare as it needs to be perfected to allow the car to make power and make it safely but tuning also plays a hand in regards to power delivery and the overall user experience provided by the system.


    The two largest things i've noticed after having been behind the wheel of both systems.


    The first is the throttle response. The ESS system feels like a wire, the response is instand and smooth but powerful, with traction off and street tires on a 20" wheel the car will get away from you in third gear if you allow it too.


    The AA system is smooth but it has a weird hesitation around 3K which could be attributed to the design of the system since the compressed air has to travel quite a bit (compared to the ESS System) or it could be software. This hesitation can be exaggerated based driving style or not be noticed at all based on driving style.


    Second is the power delivery at redline. The ESS system revs cleanly to redline. If anyone has driven a stock E92 M3, you know that as you approach redline the throttle starts to close and if you hit redline it's a soft redline, you dont bang on it like the E46 M3. It seems AA has not figured this out and it gives the driver a weird drop off as you close in on redline, where the ESS system feels like it just wants to keep going. The only thing possible is to shift early once you've become accustomed to the system however, you are then missing out on a few hundred RPM of the power band given AA lowers the redline and you still need to shift early. This dip/drop off is seen on all dyno charts.


    The system as a whole and going back to stock: Both systems can be installed by the end user; however, the AA system requires more parts due to the systems design. It also requires quite a bit of cutting compared to the ESS system. The ESS system includes any factory parts that require cutting so you actually retain the stock part that is modified instead of actually modifying your actual stock part. This plays a big role in going back to stock as with the AA system you will need to purchase a few parts to successfully put your car back to 100% factory form.


    Meth: Meth has been one of the quickest ways to make more horsepower and provide an edge to anyone looking for one. However, i am not sure if requiring your system to use meth is the best method of making power. The ESS systems make more power without meth while the comparable level 2 AA system makes less power with meth. It is an added piece of the system which add to the systems install difficulty and could be a turn off for the DIY member. It is also something else that requires maintenance. Some other aftermarket systems come with some sort of light or gauge when your tank is empty, hopefully AA can add this to their system as it should have already been included.


    Price: There is a difference of $2,225.00 between the AA Level 2 and the ESS VT2-625 (comparable systems) in ESS's favor. Where there is efficiency there will be savings without sacrifice.


    **If anyone has any questions or would like to discuss any points of my post please do so and i will answer to the best of my ability.


    Dyno Charts used for reference: Both charts were done at the same Dyno Jet. How do i know? Like Chris Berman would say on Sports Center "because we were there". Both posted in SAE and Smoothing 5.
    ESS VT-625 System with full exhaust and no meth:


    Click here to enlarge


    AA Level 2 System with full exhaust and meth:


    Click here to enlarge

    Last edited by Jean@VelosDesignwerks; 10-03-2012 at 01:49 PM.

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    Why just limit this comparison to AA (HKS blower) vs ESS (Vortech)? Click here to enlarge Gintani & VF Engineering both use the Vortech V3 supercharger as ESS, so it'd be interesting to see the difference the tuning makes.
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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by benzy89 Click here to enlarge
    Why just limit this comparison to AA (HKS blower) vs ESS (Vortech)? Click here to enlarge Gintani & VF Engineering both use the Vortech V3 supercharger as ESS, so it'd be interesting to see the difference the tuning makes.
    I would love to but i do not have any first hand experience with the other two systems. Where i've had a ton with the two mentioned above.

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    Fair -- Really wanna see (like everyone else) all 4 of the majors run equal level kits compared (same dyno, same day & same conditions)
    COBB AP ProTune by Bren of ///Bren Tuning
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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by benzy89 Click here to enlarge
    Fair -- Really wanna see (like everyone else) all 4 of the majors run equal level kits compared (same dyno, same day & same conditions)
    It would definitely be interesting to say the least.

    However, power is just one aspect when it comes to selecting a system, sadly I can only provide personal input on two of the four.

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    2 out of 3 members liked this post. Yes Reputation No

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    Well this is opening a small can of worms.

    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Jean@VelosDesignwerks Click here to enlarge
    Over the past few years, the most common topic in regards to the S65 and aftermarket performance has been "Which Supercharger kit is better" (or something along those lines). It has been discussed so much it's turning into one of those topics that you do not discuss among friends such as politics and religion as it could quickly ruin a friendship.
    I've dealt with this topic likely longer than anyone having my car supercharged before just about anyone. So, I've studied this very closely.

    Trying to set things straight considering how much BS is thrown around by companies trying to sell kits has gotten me in a fair amount of trouble and is one of the reasons for BimmerBoost's existence.

    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Jean@VelosDesignwerks Click here to enlarge
    As far as horsepower goes, without a doubt a comparable ESS system will make more horsepower. It has been proven countless times with dyno charts from both companies as well as from customers and other types of individual testing. I will post two charts below as it will refer to them a few times through out my post.
    Regarding this claim, I think it is clear to everyone by now that the Vortech based kits will make more peak horsepower. However, the Active Autowerke HKS kits sure seem to have a fatter curve although less peak power. This affects driveability and performance certainly so there is more to it than just the peak horsepower. The performance results support this as well.

    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Jean@VelosDesignwerks Click here to enlarge
    Once the air is compressed it has to makes it way into the intake manifold and then to the engine. The ESS system has a very short amount of travel between the charger and engine, the fastest path between two points is a straight line.


    While the AA system requires the compressed air to travel quite a bit before entering the intake manifold, it much travel around a few 90 degree bends and actually go full circle before reaching the intake manifold, if you study physics you will see why this is not ideal.
    This is really due to AA using a FMIC whereas ESS does not. I want to point out ESS has talked down on other water/air setups that are very similar. So, this idea of design superiority is mostly falsely propagated by them. A FMIC setup can be very efficient as well.

    This is compressed air traveling not exhaust gases. The idea is for it to go through the intercooler then to the motor.

    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Jean@VelosDesignwerks Click here to enlarge
    Considering above, the ESS system does not have to work as hard to make the required boost to achieve the required power output; however, the AA system not only has to travel much longer distances but it also have to enter the intercooler half way between it's travel. During testing the AA system has to actually make a few extra pounds of boost to compensate for the few pounds of boost that are lost during the travel and from the intercooler. Which in turn forces the engine to work harder because it has to create more boost and is actually forced to work harder to compensate for a less efficient system.
    I have to strongly disagree with this.

    The ESS system does not have to work as hard to make the boost? Boost is a measure of backpressure. If your argument is that the AA system is less efficient due to the distance the air has to travel this would create more boost, not less, and the compressor would need to be spun harder generating more heat. A more efficient system will have the supercharger creating less boost yet yielding more power.

    Also, boost is not equal between the two as they have different compressor maps and supporting mods will change the boost pressure as well.

    I don't understand the point at all as far as the engine having to work harder to compensate on the AA system. How so? What is the engine doing differently and how is it working harder? They drop the redline, if anything, the ESS kits have to be wound out higher to make their peak HP. Another thing to to consider is if the AA systems would make more peak HP if they were revved higher.

    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Jean@VelosDesignwerks Click here to enlarge
    The method of charge cooling should dictated by the platform and the system to find the most efficient method. In our case, space is an issue which is probably a big reason improvements in aftercooling have been addressed over the past few years. For example: the N54 which was the first recent turbo model by BMW was intercooled; however, the S63TU found the M5 is aftercooled and makes more power. Which makes my point that the method should be dictated by the platform.


    Going back to the Boost section above, running an aftercooler allows the compressed air to reach the engine with less restriction and at the same time placing less load on the engine to make power.
    I much prefer the water/air setup and agree with you here on everything except for the idea of less load on the engine. Air that is more dense will make more power requiring more fuel. How is it less load?

    Secondly, the M5 weighs a ton more than the 335 with the N54. It will go into limp mode around the track after a lap due to heat soak so even the more efficient water cooling can't help it. Also, once water gets hot it takes more energy to bring it back down to temp. So there are pluses and minuses here. BMW has used both setups so that should tell people plenty right there regarding the merit of both approaches.

    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Jean@VelosDesignwerks Click here to enlarge
    The first is the throttle response. The ESS system feels like a wire, the response is instand and smooth but powerful, with traction off and street tires on a 20" wheel the car will get away from you in third gear if you allow it too.


    The AA system is smooth but it has a weird hesitation around 3K which could be attributed to the design of the system since the compressed air has to travel quite a bit (compared to the ESS System) or it could be software. This hesitation can be exaggerated based driving style or not be noticed at all based on driving style.
    I don't see how the throttle response can be seen as so good in the ESS system when it's just a vortech blower that sucks power at low rpm. The first thing I noticed when I got supercharged is how much worse the throttle response was down low. This is going to be the same for pretty much every centrifugal system, it won't respond like the car did in NA form. Maybe I'm more sensitive to this than others but throttle response on ANY of the supercharged system won't match the car in the naturally aspirated form.

    That said, the compressor map of the HKS system shows it tends to get into its efficiency range faster and have a thicker mid range.

    This is a very subjective point regarding the response. Technically, since these superchargers are all centrifugals, they will all be mechanically spun and this will be detrimental to response down low.

    I strongly agree with you regarding the rev out to redline point as there is a bunch of power up there at peak as the S65 in stock form is designed to make all its power up top. I have discussed this with AA and they have their reasons for keeping it low. I definitely prefer to use my entire powerband.

    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Jean@VelosDesignwerks Click here to enlarge
    Dyno Charts used for reference: Both charts were done at the same Dyno Jet. How do i know? Like Chris Berman would say on Sports Center "because we were there". Both posted in SAE and Smoothing 5.
    ESS VT-625 System with full exhaust and no meth:
    Can we get an overlay? You have both .drf files?

    I think you raise some interesting questions with this thread but it really reads like a product brochure with the goal being sales rather than a technical discussion. You highlight some good points but I see areas where the technical arguments don't hold up.

    Regardless, it makes for an interesting debate and over here it can take place without people choosing sides and disparaging any other approaches without the blind fanboys. I look forward to seeing what others have to say.
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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by benzy89 Click here to enlarge
    Fair -- Really wanna see (like everyone else) all 4 of the majors run equal level kits compared (same dyno, same day & same conditions)
    I just want to point out I attempted to organize this, at the request of ESS, only for ESS to back out at the last minute.
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    Race all the kits with the same retail price. Discussion over

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    @Sticky

    It's been discussed to death but most of the time it's from the other side of the fence in regards to facts posted about one system over another from someone who has no experience with the other. I've had experience with both.

    The AA system has a pressure loss of over 2 psi from charger to engine, so the engine is actually supporting more boost than what it's receiving. Which is why i mentioned the overall system needs to be efficient not just the ideals of one form of charge cooling over another.

    Most of my points can be debated but as mentioned most of the time it's on paper and not after experiencing both systems.

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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Andrew@activeautowerke Click here to enlarge
    Race all the kits with the same retail price. Discussion over

    I'm not even sure what this means coming from a company representative.

    Why would a consumer that is just looking for a quality entry level system even care...

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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Jean@VelosDesignwerks Click here to enlarge
    Most of my points can be debated but as mentioned most of the time it's on paper and not after experiencing both systems.
    As I stated I don't think there is anyone here who has more experience with boosted S65 motors than myself. I was setting records with mine before AA even had a kit for sale.

    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Jean@VelosDesignwerks Click here to enlarge
    The AA system has a pressure loss of over 2 psi from charger to engine, so the engine is actually supporting more boost than what it's receiving. Which is why i mentioned the overall system needs to be efficient not just the ideals of one form of charge cooling over another.
    How is it losing pressure? As stated, if the FMIC setup is less efficient boost should be measured as higher due to restriction.

    I'd love to have impeller speed numbers from both.

    Why is the FMIC not efficient?
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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
    As I stated I don't think there is anyone here who has more experience with boosted S65 motors than myself. I was setting records with mine before AA even had a kit for sale.
    My comment was not directed towards you, I apologize if it seemed so, i was reffering to the nature these threads tend to take.

    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
    How is it losing pressure? As stated, if the FMIC setup is less efficient boost should be measured as higher due to restriction.

    I'd love to have impeller speed numbers from both.

    Why is the FMIC not efficient?
    It's not un common for turbo cars to loose a few psi through a from mount, even the most efficient intercoolers will have some sort of pressure drop.

    However, turbo's are not dependent on the crank. I would not want this to take a turn towards which charge cooling method is better as I intended to compare both systems from an overall perspective.

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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Jean@VelosDesignwerks Click here to enlarge
    It's not un common for turbo cars to loose a few psi through a from mount, even the most efficient intercoolers will have some sort of pressure drop.
    No it is not but there are efficient front mount designs. I mean we would need to see numbers from the compressor to where it enters the manifold to say anything definitively for both setups. We can't just make statements as facts.

    All of these setups will see some pressure drop on the inlet and outlet of the cooler. They have to as to cool there will be air turbulence to a degree. I haven't taken a physics class in forever but @DBFIU knows this stuff.

    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Jean@VelosDesignwerks Click here to enlarge
    I would not want this to take a turn towards which charge cooling method is better as I intended to compare both systems from an overall perspective.
    That's perfectly fine and understandable. How the air is cooled is a major factor though.
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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
    No it is not but there are efficient front mount designs. I mean we would need to see numbers from the compressor to where it enters the manifold to say anything definitively for both setups. We can't just make statements as facts.

    All of these setups which some pressure drop on the inlet and outlet of the cooler. They have to as to cool there will be air turbulence to a degree. I haven't taken a physics class in forever but @DBFIU knows this stuff.
    It's not a statement made as a fact, it's been tested. Andrew can feel free to comment if there have been upgrades to anything over the past year if he chooses too.

    Also, we both know the more surface area you have getting cool air, the better the cooler will work. The AA systems intercooler is mounted directly behind the bumper. I don't remember the exact percentage but a ver low percentage of the intercooler actually gets fresh air.

    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
    That's perfectly fine and understandable. How the air is cooled is a major factor though.
    Correct, the point i am making is i wouldn't want to end up with another air-to-air vs air-to-water thread.

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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Jean@VelosDesignwerks Click here to enlarge
    It's not a statement made as a fact, it's been tested.
    Ok but no test numbers have been posted.... would you mind sharing the results please?

    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Jean@VelosDesignwerks Click here to enlarge
    The AA systems intercooler is mounted directly behind the bumper. I don't remember the exact percentage but a ver low percentage of the intercooler actually gets fresh air.
    At speed more air flow is desired but the intercooler is essentially using outside air temp to cool the hot compressed air. It won't rise as high in temp as much as some of these air/water setups due to the physical properties of air/water. I mean look at where the ESS cooler is located, not exactly the best spot to get "fresh" air so to speak either so once it is heat soaked it will have issues.

    Their are merits to both approaches. Personally I prefer the air/water for hard acceleration runs (1/4 mile) but the FMIC probably has some advantages on the track relating to heat soak as it can never get as hot. AIR obviously can't move as much heat.
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    I know your intent and it is extremely sad and shady. I wish the community actually knew what was happening here.

    I will no longer respond to you or anyone else from your company. Have a great day !

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    Who gives a $#@! about graphs! Show me some races between these kits, track#s, 60-130 etc. This is what customers want to see!!! Real world results!!!
    John 3:16


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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by leo985i Click here to enlarge
    Who gives a $#@! about graphs! Show me some races between these kits, track#s, 60-130 etc. This is what customers want to see!!! Real world results!!!
    I'd love to organize another shootout... but trying to get all these kits together is a mess.

    Track numbers show all the supercharged kits doing some good stuff.
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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
    I'd love to organize another shootout... but trying to get all these kits together is a mess.

    Track numbers show all the supercharged kits doing some good stuff.
    Let's just hope a buncha supercharged M3's with different kits and similar setups show up at the air strip event.
    John 3:16


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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by leo985i Click here to enlarge
    Let's just hope a buncha supercharged M3's with different kits and similar setups show up at the air strip event.
    Well I'm going to whoop on all of them. And perceived efficiency won't have anything to do with the result.
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    Yes Reputation No
    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Jean@VelosDesignwerks Click here to enlarge
    yno Charts used for reference: Both charts were done at the same Dyno Jet.
    Jean can we get a direct overlay please from both .drf files?
    Chrome Space Bar Issue: http://www.boostaddict.com/showthrea...338#post738338


    Stage 2 or 2.5 E9X M3 S65 V8 supercharger kit for sale
    : http://www.boostaddict.com/showthrea...r-kit-for-sale

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    2 out of 2 members liked this post. Yes Reputation No
    Why so much drama

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    Needs more

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    The way the OP wrote this article makes it sound like the AA kit is a POS or something. Not very nice, coming from another vendor. Is there some bad blood between these companies?
    John 3:16


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    Yes Reputation No
    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
    Jean can we get a direct overlay please from both .drf files?
    I don't have both .drf files, i got the image from a thread that was posted but i know it was at the same dyno.

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