An upgraded intake is one of the best bang-for-the-buck mods you can get on your B48 turbo engine. Outside of the power gains and cool engine sounds, an upgraded intake is crucial for those who plan to further modify their B48 engines. We always recommend an upgraded intake as the first mod to make on the B48, or any BMW engine. The increased air volume is critical for unleashing additional power through mods such as a piggyback or flash tune, downpipes, etc.
This guide will walk you through the performance benefits of an upgraded B48 intake and lay out all of the top intakes on the market.
B48 Upgraded Intake Performance Benefits
- Gains of 10-12whp and 10-14wtq
- Improved throttle response
- Faster turbo spool and increased turbo efficiency
- Awesome intake sound under acceleration
- 30-50% increase in air flow filter volume
The benefit of an upgraded intake comes from the increased amount of air it is able to suck into the engine. More combustion equates to more power, and oxygen is a huge combustion factor. The more pressurized the air is, the more oxygen rich the air is, and therefore the more power you will create. Sucking more air into the engine naturally creates higher intake air pressure, as a greater volume of air is entering a fixed-size area.
Benefits of an Intake on Higher Boost
When you add a tune to your B48 to increase power, this is achieved by increasing boost (psi) levels. As boost levels increase, the turbocharger has to compress more air. Compressing more air requires more air to coming in, which is why an upgraded intake is crucial for further modification of your B48. Additionally, the increased air pressure created by the increase air flow, improves turbocharger efficiency as the compressor wheel is doesn't have to spin as fast to create the heightened boost levels.
B48 Upgraded Intake Options
The OEM intake system is a box, with a filter inside of it. While the box might help pre-intake air pressure, it is highly restrictive as it has a very limited volumetric capacity. Additionally, the filter on the inside of it is restrictive because it is too small to handle large amounts of airflow.
With the exception of Dinan and a few others, all the intake systems on the market for the B48 are "open" systems, where the intake box is removed and replaced with an open air system. Some people will argue that removing the air box is stupid because it decreases intake air pressures, but we disagree. While an open filter will have lower pre-filter air pressure, its significant increase in air flow will actually result in higher post-filter air pressures than you'd get with a box system. For this reason, as you'll see, the box systems usually offer weaker performance gains than open air systems.
Here are the B48 intake systems we'll cover in more depth:
- BMS B48 Billet Intake (Burger Motorsports)
- Injen B48 Intake System
- MST Performance B48 Cold-Air Intake
- Dinan B48 Cold-Air Intake
Cold-Air Intake vs. Short-Ram vs. Normal Intake
BMS calls their intake system a "billet intake", Injen calls it a "short-ram", and MST and Dinan call theirs a "cold-air intake".
They are all the same! Traditionally speaking, a cold-air intake would relocate the location of the filter, usually somewhere in the bottom of the engine bay near the bottom of the front bumper. It was called a "cold-air" intake because air is colder at the bottom of the engine. A short-ram intake would not relocate the intake filter. It would simply offer a bigger filter, but sit in the same location as the OEM system. It was called short-ram because the air has to a shorter distance to travel from the filter to the engine, since cold-air systems usually required longer piping to relocate the filter.
On the B48, all intake systems utilize the OEM air box location, and thereby they are all really the same. The names are just marketing preferences for each company!
Burger Motorsports makes our favorite upgraded B48 intake: the BMS Billet Intake. BMS's intake is the best bang-for-the-buck intake system, with the lowest price-per-horsepower. The BMS intake system actually retains a portion of the OEM intake system, which is why it is so price friendly. With this system, the top housing and the filter of the OEM intake system are removed, and the upgraded filter sits in the bottom part of the housing. This setup makes it a super quick 5-minute install.
The BMS system is cheaper than all the other options because it doesn't utilize a heat shield, which you'll notice on the other systems. A heat shield is simply a physical barrier that sits between the filter and the engine block. Obviously, its intention is to reduce intake air heat by blocking some of the heat waves from the engine. A heat shield is great for anyone that believes in the myth of the "hot air intake", but in our opinion the added cost does not justify the benefits.
The BMS system is one of the louder intakes on the market, due to the open air nature and lack of heat shield.
Price: $179 + Shipping
Horsepower gains: 10whp intake only, 16whp when combined with a JB4
Price per HP: $11.19 to $17.90
The injen "short-ram" intake system for the B48 completely replaces the OEM system, removing all components. It uses a larger intake piping system which connects directly to the intake manifold, compared to the B48 intake which connected to the OEM intake piping.
When you compare the two filters, the Injen system uses a skinnier but longer cone filter, compared to BMS which uses an S&B inverted cone filter which is shorter and wider. In my opninion, the Injen filter is too skinny for the area it takes up in the engine bay, which leaves a lot of open gaps. However, I might not have done the Injen intake justice with the dusty engine bay picture! The Injen system is also available in polished or black colors, which looks way better than the blue/red combo in my opinion.
Overall, despite my not so appealing picture, the Injen system has received high remarks from the tuner community and is one of the most popular B48 intake options. The system also includes a heat-shield to protect it from engine block heat waves.
I thought it was also worth mentioning that Injen does make a closed-box intake for the B48. As we discussed previously, these offer smaller horsepower benefits, but might make sense for someone who wants to retain the look of the stock box, or someone who believes in the air pressure benefit of boxed systems. The box system boasts 8whp and 7wtq gains, about 4whp and 7wtq less than the open-air system. The system is $350, which is $200 less than the Dinan box system, but its not made of carbon fiber!
Horsepower Gains: 12whp and 14wtq stock
Price per HP: $25 per 1whp
Dyno Results: https://x-ph.com/injen-intake-for-bmw-b48-230-330-430/#images-14
Sound Clip: go to 14:30 of this video https://youtu.be/I9oXHnQAtdw
3. B48 MST Performance Cold-Air Intake
MST Performance is a relatively new-to-the-block manufacturer of BMW intakes and chargepipes, based in Taiwan. From an initial look, the intake appears to be a box system, but its actually an open-air intake system with a heat shield covering the top of the engine.
While most systems with heat shields only use one between the filter and engine block MST goes above and beyond with an above filter shield, which actually looks pretty cool in my opinion. We're not super familiar with MST, but we've heard good reviews from the community so far. The only downside is the added topside heat shield comes with a price, making this the 2nd most expensive intake behind the Dinanc carbon fiber one.
It is worth noting that the additional heat shield will reduce the loudness of the intake compared to the other open-air B48 intakes.
Horsepower Gain: 10-12whp claimed (no dyno's)
Price per HP: $37.50 to $45.00 per 1whp
MST Sound Clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IaC957ugbCs
4. Dinan Carbon Fiber B48 Intake
The Dinan system is a closed box system that fits directly into the OEM intake location. It's the most expensive intake system for the B58, coming it at $550. However, it is fully made of carbon fiber and looks awesome in the engine bay!
The intake filter within the housing is 34% larger than the OEM filter, resulting in a good increase in air flow. However, while 34% sounds good, this intake providers the least air flow benefit of all the options. With that being said, this intake is still perfectly capable of handling tuned and modded B48's and should suffice for anyone that isn't dropping a massive turbo on the B48 and trying to make crazy power.
The Dinan intake claims 6whp and 6wtq, which is about half that of the other systems. Additionally, this intake will be the quietiest due to the enclosed nature. However, it still provides some sound benefit over the OEM system.
On the positives, it made by Dinan and won't impact your BMW factory warranty.
Horsepower Gains: 6whp and 6wtq with no additional mods
Price per HP: $91.67 per 1whp
Final Thoughts on B48 Intake Brands
Ultimately, any one of these options listed is capable of handling B48's with FBO mods, upgraded turbochargers, etc. Therefore, they all suffice and pass our test and get our recommendation.
What it comes down to is your preference on price and whether you believe in the enclosed box, heat shields, and all that jazz - and if you care about sound and looks. Our top recommendation is BMS - we don't believe the heat shield is worth the cost and the performance numbers disprove the enclosed box theory.