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6.0 Powestroke Cold Air Intake Guide

Jake Mayock

Meet Jake

Jake is a founder of 8020 Media and one of the lead writers at DieselIQ. He has over 10 years of experience in the automotive industry and is the proud owner of a 2002 F-350 7.3 PowerStroke. When Jake isn’t working, he’s usually wrenching on his PowerStroke, single turbo BMW, or Miata track build. Jake delivers tons of knowledge and hands-on experience and is a valuable asset for those looking to take their diesel to the next level. He is highly knowledgeable on Powerstroke and Duramax diesels.

A cold air intake, or performance intake, is a great mod to increase power and engine efficiency on the 6.0 Powerstroke. Since the 6.0 Powerstroke is a turbocharged engine the increased airflow over the stock intake system helps improve turbo efficiency and increase horsepower.

There are tons of 6.0 Powerstroke intakes on the market. You’ll see names from performance intake to cold air intake to ram air intake. All these intakes are virtually the same. This guide will discuss the different intake upgrade options available and provide our recommendation on the best 6.0 Powerstroke intakes on the market.

Looking for more than just an intake? Check out our 7 Best 6.0 Powerstroke Mods and 6.0 Powerstroke Bulletproofing guides.

6.0 Powerstroke Intake Upgrade Guide

6.0 Powerstroke Intake Upgrade Benefits

A cold air intake helps the 6.0 Powerstroke breathe better by increasing airflow by more than 30% over the stock intake. The increased airflow reduces stress on the turbocharger, allows it to spool more quickly and with less restriction. This increases overall engine efficiency and therefore increases horsepower, in addition to providing a bit more turbo reliability.

An upgraded intake on a stock 6.0 Powerstroke won’t provide the same benefits as on a tuned 6.0L, but it still offers great performance gains. Gains increase for tuned engines since the primary way a tuner increases power is by increase boost, or the psi the turbo compresses air to. When boost or psi is increased the turbocharger has to work harder to compress the same amount of air to higher pressures.

The more compressed the air is, the less “space” it takes up and therefore the more air you have to send into the engine. This is when the stock 6.0 Powerstroke intake becomes restrictive because it cannot supply enough air to compensate for the additional air needed. Here are the performance benefits of a cold air intake:

  • 5-12whp gains
  • 15-25wtq gains
  • 30%+ increase to airflow
  • Better throttle response & turbo spool
  • Small MPG increases
  • Cool engine sounds

Power gains on a stock 6.0 Powerstroke are going to be on the lower end of the range. Tuned engines will be towards the higher end as the benefit of a cold air intake increases when boost levels are increased.

Cold Air vs. Ram Air vs. Performance Intake

As we mentioned above, you’ll see numerous names for aftermarket 6.0 Powerstroke intakes. Cold air intake is probably the most common name but also the least accurate. A true cold air intake typically relocates the air filter to a location within the engine bay that is cooler. This is popular on JDM vehicles where the intake filter is relocated to the bottom inside of the front bumper. The purpose of a real cold air intake is to draw in colder air since colder air is more dense.

Ram air intakes typically keep the stock intake location but simply aim to remove restriction and increase air flow. They are slightly less restrictive in the sense that they draw air in a lot closer to the engine giving a shorter path to travel to reach the turbocharger.

All the intake systems on the market for the 6.0 Powerstroke utilize the factory intake location. My ultimate point here is that whether your intake is called a cold air, ram air, or performance intake they are all virtually the same thing since no intake systems actually re-route the location of the air filter.

The only important factor for a 6.0 Powerstroke intake is whether it is an open or closed intake. 

Open vs. Closed 6.0 Powerstroke Intakes

You will see two different 6.0 Powerstroke intake designs: open and closed. Closed intakes have the air filter sitting within an enclosed box. Open intakes have the air filter exposed directly to the engine bay and not housed in anything.

Open intakes provide greater increases to airflow whereas closed intakes provide less airflow benefits since the box they sit within creates some restriction. Additionally, open intakes are also a bit noisier and provide a more noticeable “whoosh” sound which some people like and some don’t. The argument for closed intakes is that they provide lower intake air temps (IATs) since they are not directly exposed to hot engine bay air.

So which is better? We prefer open air intake systems for the 6.0 Powerstroke since it provides greater airflow increases and therefore more performance benefits.

If you want quieter noise then get a closed air intake, but otherwise we recommend open intakes. They are cheaper and provide more power gains. Some open intakes will come with “heat shields” that are said to prevent the intake from sucking in hot air. Heat shields are pretty much window dressing and don’t really do much.

Do Intake Air Temps Matter for Turbodiesels?

You might be leaning towards a closed intake system since I mentioned they do tend to have colder intake air temps. However, the difference in air temps between an open and closed intake is probably in the range of 1-3 degrees, so it’s rather minimal.

Secondly, air intake temps really don’t matter for turbocharged engines. On turbo engines, like the 6.0 turbodiesel, the air goes from the intake system to the turbo. Turbos run very hot and therefore heat the air up naturally as it compresses it. After being compressed by the turbo it goes through the intercooler which cools it down before it enters the engine. The difference of 1-3 degrees isn’t going to overwhelm your intercooler and its ability to cool the air.

Do they matter for naturally aspirated engines? Yes. Because air entering the intake is sent directly into the engine. So if it’s 5 degrees hotter when it enters the intake it will be 5 degrees hotter when it enters the combustion chamber. But for turbocharged engines the difference is miniscule due to the turbo and intercooler.

Best 6.0 Powerstroke Cold Air Intakes

As we mentioned above, we prefer open air intakes since they are cheaper and provide better power gains. There are also some really good closed intakes available for the 6.0 Powerstroke, they just provide slightly less performance benefits and are more expensive.

At the end of the day, a closed intake will be just fine for your diesel unless you are shooting for crazy power levels to the point that you really need the extra airflow they provide. However, better performance and less expensive sounds like a win win to us for open intakes.

Boosted Performance 6.0 PowerStroke Intake Upgrades

1. Boosted Performance 4″ Intake Upgrade

The Boosted Performance 4″ open intake delivers over 50% more air-flow than the factory 6.0 PowerStroke intake. It uses a high-quality S&B filter with 4″ aluminum piping and a clean wrinkle black finish. The open design ensures maximum air-flow and performance with incredible turbo & induction sounds.

At $299 it’s hard to beat the great balance of quality, price, fitment, and performance gains. If you’re looking for a top-tier 6.0 PowerStroke intake for a great price then look no further. Couple the intake upgrade with the Boosted Performance 6.0 Intake Horn for even better air-flow and power gains.

Price: $299.00 & free shipping

Buy Here: 6.0 PowerStroke Boosted Performance Intake

2. Sinister Diesel 6.0 Powerstroke Open Intake

I mentioned that open intakes are cheaper. Sinister Diesel is probably the only exception to this statement as their intake is about the same price as closed intake systems. However, they offer great quality which is reflective in the price. And the striking blue color looks cooler in your engine bay.

While a pricier option on the list, Sinister’s open intake will provide good performance gains and is legal in all 50 states, including California. If you don’t care about looks enough to spend the extra money then the Boosted Performance 4″ intake above is likely a better choice.

Price: $414

Buy Here: Sinister Diesel Cold Air Intake 6.0 Powerstroke

3. Banks Power & S&B Closed 6.0 Intake

Our favorite closed intakes are Banks Power and S&B. Both intakes are pretty similar although the S&B option comes in about $100 cheaper and actually cheaper than the Sinister open intake as well. These 6.0 Powerstroke intake systems will provide less power and airflow than open systems but will also be slightly quieter. These two companies are some of the most trusted names in the diesel space and are the only two closed systems we would recommend.

Price: $349 S&B / $449 Banks Power

6.0 Powerstroke Intake Upgrade Summary

Whether your 6.0 Powerstroke is completely stock or tuned, an intake is one of the best performance modifications. It increases airflow to the engine which improves turbo efficiency and therefore increases horsepower. Power gains are modest on stock engines but will open the engine up and help it breathe better resulting in faster turbo spool and better throttle response. On tuned engines an intake will provide nice power gains and also help improve turbo reliability.

We recommend open air intake systems since they provide more airflow and therefore better power gains. The only time we recommend a closed system is when you really really care about noise and want something a bit quieter. The slightly lower intake temps from closed systems are outweighed by the increased airflow of open systems as intake temps aren’t meaningful. However, closed intakes will still provide enough improvement to airflow unless you are shooting for huge power levels.

Looking for even better airflow and power gains? Check out our 6.0 PowerStroke Intake Horn Guide.

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  1. Hi I have a 04 F2 50 super duty very good condition to Florida truck the owner before me did the APR studs call their intake and the EGR delete. My head gasket on the passenger side rear started to leak truck never overheated anything I shut it off right away but I had put a new radio in my truck and I grounded out The truck due to hook it up amps and forgetting to disconnect the wires to the speakers from the factory amplifier. Before that my truck wasn’t cycling all the way it would start up perfectly no codes popped up that I started getting white smoke one day after I stopped at the gas station and started my truck back up I had white smoke coming from the exhaust then it went away. I took the turbo out the intake off because it was leaking in the back while I’m there I took out the oil cooler in it looks like the factory one but the screen underneath the oil cooler that goes into the top of the motor was completely clogged up and had a tear in one of the screens so I pull the APR valve out and that was a little crummy looking also so I had antifreeze in the oil it wasn’t creamy or milky. I took off the driver side valve cover it was all gunked up look in the filter that goes on the valve cover was completely garbage so I decided to pull the injectors on the driver side injector two was crummy looking and looked like the tip was clogged up where the fuel comes out the plug was actually soaking wet where it plugs through the head to connect to the harness injector number four was completely dry it looked completely clogged up and had a little rust on the tip so I think that explains why I wasn’t getting full cycle six and eight we’re fine after they took out all the glow plugs and the glow plugs not real burnt. I did forget to say that I did have a code for the control module for the glow plugs so I think I shorted that out there in the install of the radio and the amps so I bought a new one hooked it up along with the ICP sensor and pigtail then Nicole shut off. So I was thinking since I’m down that far to pull the heads this is been started before but I’m right there so I decided to pull the heads on the truck and that’s the next step on that I’m ready to take them off they’re all in Bolton now what should be my steps. The EGR delete is completely deleted I have the coolant filter system head studs and gasket in the cold air induction is what it seems like and it’s tuned. So I would need all new gasket seals new oil cooler the water pump is fairly new in the clutch fan is brand new there anything else that I should be doing to these modifications. On the heads should I change the injector cups while I have them out I’ve done the injector cups on another vehicle before two of them would that be part of this process as the head goes please get back to me I wanna make sure this thing goes back together correctly in the right steps and the correct way thank you very much

  2. Cut your losses. 6.0 is argued as the worst Diesel ever. Great for the first 80k,then you pay for it again. . Farmers pass them on to their kids, there just not enough intelligence in the design. 6.9 7.3 real power plants.

  3. The article is an excellent resource for anyone looking to enhance the performance of their 6.0 Powerstroke engine. The guide provides a comprehensive and easy-to-understand explanation of the benefits of a cold air intake system and offers valuable insights into the specific options available for this particular engine. I appreciate how the article breaks down the installation process, making it accessible even for those with limited mechanical knowledge. The inclusion of detailed product recommendations and the pros and cons of each option further adds to the article’s usefulness. Overall, this article stands out for its informative content, user-friendly approach, and ability to guide Powerstroke owners towards making informed decisions for maximizing their engine’s potential.

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