Duramax LB7 cold air intake from Banks Power

Duramax LB7 Cold Air Intake Upgrade Guide

Jake Mayock

Meet Chandler

Chandler is a leading content writer for 8020 Media. Outside of writing truck related GM content for Chevy Trucks he creates a lot of articles around LS engines over on TuningPro. Chandler is a gearhead with tons of hands-on experience. Furthermore, he has a masters degree in history that makes him invaluable in crafting high-quality, well-researched articles on both classic and modern Chevy trucks.

A cold air intake can add up to 15whp and 25wtq to the Duramax LB7, among a number of other performance benefits, this makes an intake one of the best performance upgrades for these engines.

Outside of just power gains you get improved gas mileage, better throttle response, and faster turbo spool. Ultimately, it creates a more efficient engine by removing airflow restrictions from the factory intake.

Based on our experience selling and installing intakes on LB7’s we are going to discuss the performance benefits, open vs closed considerations, and recommend a few of our favorite intakes.

Duramax LB7 Cold Air Intake Benefits

  • +5–15 horsepower
  • +10–20 lb-ft of torque
  • Increased fuel economy
  • Increased engine sounds
  • Increased throttle response

The most obvious benefit from installing a cold air intake is the performance increase. Due to the higher flowing nature of an aftermarket intake, you can usually see gains of 5–15 horsepower and 10–20 lb-ft of torque. You will see even more when combining an intake with a downpipe or tuning, which is usually the next step for most people.
In addition to having better performance, you’ll also notice the throttle response is better and your engine gets slightly better gas mileage. The difference is not drastic, but it is typically in the 0.5–1.5 mpg range. 

Finally, you’ll also be able to hear your engine much more through an aftermarket intake. Not only does the larger filter make more noise, but even intakes with airboxes do not have the insulation the OEM intake does. It’ll be very obvious to you and everyone else in the car when you upgrade the intake, and most people enjoy the sound.

Open vs Closed Intakes

When picking out an LB7 cold air intake, a decision you will be presented with is whether to get an open or closed intake. The stock Duramax LB7 intake comes with an airbox, and most aftermarket intakes have one, too. The purpose of an airbox is to seal off the filter from the engine bay to improve cooling and longevity. It shields the filter from the engine bay heat, and also stops it from accumulating as much dust and debris. 

One downside is that many people claim that airboxes can impede airflow by adding a restriction on the filter’s ability to suck in air. In addition, they are also more expensive, as sometimes just the airbox can add as much as $100 to an intake kit. Also, on turbo-diesels like we mentioned, intake temperatures are not nearly as important as the intercooler. So you might be paying a significant amount extra for an airbox that doesn’t help with cooling. 

Typically, we recommend using open intakes, but closed ones get the job done too.

Best LB7 Intakes

  • Banks Power Ram Air Intake
  • S&B Cold AIr Intake
  • Volant Cold Air Intake

There are dozens of LB7 cold air intakes and short ram intakes on the market, and these are the top three out of them all. These are widely considered by enthusiasts to be the best performance intakes for the LB7, and they all produce similar amounts of horsepower and torque. We recommend the Banks Power unit if you can afford them, but the S&B and Volant are also solid options. Let’s dig in!

1) Banks Power Ram Air Intake

Price: $449.00

First up on our list is the ultra-popular LB7 Banks Power Ram Air Intake. Banks Power have produced some very popular and powerful Duramax parts over the years, including for the LB7, and they are very respected within the community. It might sound a little surprising to be picking a ram air instead of cold air intake for the Duramax LB7, but this is one of the few cases where it makes sense. 

The Banks Power LB7 intake is marketed as a ram air intake, but you’ll notice from the design that it locates the filter in the same place as all the LB7 cold air intakes. This means the Banks Power will deliver close to the same IATs as a cold air intake. It comes with an open airbox that hangs down in the engine bay, and is connected to a two-piece tubing system. 

With the Banks Power, you can see maximum gains of 15 horsepower and 25 lb-ft of torque with tuning. The intake flows 57% better than the stock unit, and can be had with either an oiled or a dry air filter. If price is not a factor, the Banks Power LB7 intake is the best option. 

2) S&B Cold Air Intake

Price: $349.00

The next intake on our list is the S&B LB7 Cold Air Intake. The S&B is one of the most popular LB7 cold air intake kits on the market, and S&B themselves are quite a reputable company. Not only are they known for their intake systems, but their air filters themselves are some of the most popular and widely used on the market. Many aftermarket intakes use S&B filters over K&N filters on turbo-diesels due to superior performance. 

The S&B LB7 intake comes with either dry or oiled filters, and has an airbox with a closed lid. However, you can remove the lid if you choose to. The S&B has a similar design as the Banks Power, but the filter does not hang down and is visible due to the see-through cover. Compared with OEM, the S&B intake flows more than 42% better. 

The S&B LB7 cold air intake is another one of the top choices on the market, and it is also CARB certified with its own EO number. That makes it a great choice for those in states with stricter emissions. It’s a little cheaper than the Banks Power intake and works about as well, and is an easy choice for second place. 

3) Volant Cold Air Intake

Price: $386.90

Duramax LB7 cold air intake Volant

The final intake we recommend is the Volant LB7 Cold Air Intake. Volant is another popular name in the intake industry, and they make a wide range of systems for many vehicles, including for more than just turbo-diesels.

The Volant LB7 cold air intake comes with an airbox and your choice of either a dry PowerCore filter or an oiled MaxFlow 5 filter. Both are high-velocity venturi filters that work exceptionally well. The Volant is designed very similarly to the S&B intake, but the top of the airbox is not see-through. Also like the S&B, the Volant intake is CARB certified with an EO number. 

The Volant intake costs between the Banks Power and S&B intakes, and it performs about the same as either. Some people might prefer the S&B due to the see-through cover, but the Volant air box looks nice, too. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I put a cold air intake on my Duramax LB7?

A cold air intake is a great way to increase horsepower and torque and improves gas mileage. It is a very popular Duramax LB7 modification.

How much horsepower will a Duramax LB7 cold air intake make?

A Duramax LB7 cold air intake can add 5-15 horsepower and 10-25 lb-ft of torque. They are great LB7 upgrades that are easy to install.

What is the best Duramax LB7 cold air intake?

The best Duramax LB7 cold air intake is the Banks Power ram air intake.

Is a cold air intake worth it on the Duramax LB7 diesel?

Yes, an LB7 cold air intake will increase horsepower and torque and improves gas mileage. It is a very popular Duramax LB7 modification.

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