fmic vs tmic

Why should you upgrade your 2015-2019 Subaru WRX intercooler?

It comes down to this: The 2015-2019 Subaru WRX and has a factory top mount intercooler that is overworked, under-designed, and generally inefficient. The stock top mount intercooler was never meant to handle the power levels that the new generation of Subarus produce like a front-mount intercooler (FMIC) can handle. Over time this can lead to degraded performance and even engine failure as some potential limitations of your factory intercooler setup.

We're here with a solution: an aftermarket intercooler upgrade.

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Front mount intercooler vs a top mount intercooler. Which one is best?

Here at Modern Automotive Performance, we get many questions related to selecting a top mount intercooler or front mount intercooler upgrades for your Subaru WRX, and we’d like to bring some clarity so you can get the right selection of intercooler products–that perfect, good fit. It's one of the most common mods for 2015-2019 WRX owners who plan to build past the standard stage 2.

There’s a bit of unnecessary controversy surrounding the two mods, and with the release of our own WRX top mount intercooler, we hope to clear that up for good. Some of the most common questions we get are:

  • Does a TMIC have less lag than a FMIC?
  • Does a FMIC cool charge air temps better than TMIC's?
  • Does a FMIC have better airflow properties than a TMIC?

We’ve got a great selection of intercooler kits. If you're in the market for a good quality Subaru TMIC or FMIC mod or complete intercooler kit, keep reading!

Which placement for intercooler kits creates more turbo lag, front mount or top mount?

front mount vs top mount intercoolertmic vs fmic

The top mount intercooler has more space to breathe and this allows it's cylinders to fire with less lag, and on the contrary, a front mount has considerably more distance to travel between both. While you won’t feel the difference when flooring it, the difference is noticeable with more advanced tools.

Does a FMIC cool better than a TMIC?

Top-mounted coolers are definitely hotter than other types of aftermarket parts being close to the engine, so they risk getting damaged sooner with the close proximity, or if something happens during installation or maintenance on the car itself. 

Even when driving (and not idling), a top mount intercooler may not be able to keep up with cooling charge temps that front-mounted intercoolers would be able to handle with ease. Add a few performance modifications into the picture, and you've got enough heat under the hood to fry an egg on your intercooler. This is not ideal for performance, so a front mount intercooler gets the nod in this category.

In a nutshell, a front mount intercooler is a better option for those who want to keep their engine as cool as possible, even in higher temperature weather. It's also an efficient way of cooling your car down because air can reach all three dimensions without losing too much energy in the process. Top-mount intercoolers have no such luxury however, so if you value performance over anything else, go with this type instead. Make sure it won't obstruct visibility or harm other components when installed properly. 

Which Subaru intercooler has better airflow?

A top mount intercooler will be more efficient with airflow than a front-mounted, with the only reason being the shorter path from your turbochargers to intake. You'll get air quicker and sooner, but don't confuse this with lag, as it is pressurized. 

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What Subaru WRX mods work best with either intercooler type?

This is a tricky question to answer, but it's all about how you want to drive your car, whether or not you have extra time, and your budget. When it comes down to it, all out track machines will benefit more from a front mount intercooler, and a commuter will benefit from both.


Front mount intercooler upgrades are typically more expensive and require modification to fit. Kits are readily available (we love these Cobb or Perrin Front Mount Intercoolers Kits) which make the process easier, but there is no avoiding the cutting and modifications you'll need to do to get it to fit. When running an aftermarket turbo, we recommend a FMIC to handle the extra heat discharged from the turbocharger. However, for most customers, the best bang for your buck is a TMIC Upgrade including charge pipes, designed to be a direct bolt in replacement for your 2015-2019 WRX intercooler.

For the best selection of custom design complete intercooler kits at the lowest price on the internet, Modern Automotive Performance is here for you. Replace the limitations of your factory intercooler setup with an intercooler that’ll be a perfect direct fit vehicle fitment with the design of an intercooler that has both good looks and great performance. Whether you’re doing A to B normal use driving or performance driving, checkout our inventory or contact our experts today!