Tuesday, February 14th 2017

EK Water Blocks Apologizes to Customers with Re-designed Threadripper CPU Block

EK Water Blocks (EKWB) did not have the greatest end to 2017, losing key members of their top management, some of whom found employment with CORSAIR as we later found out. The performance of their CPU water block for AMD Ryzen Threadripper CPUs was also a matter of great debate among enthusiasts, with the cold plate having machined microfins that occupied an area smaller than that occupied by the CPU dies themselves. A few tests from end users and the media alike pointed towards disappointing thermal dissipation relative to the competition and, even though EKWB insisted that the block was good enough, the bad press likely was enough to convince them otherwise.

In a public apology published as a press release on their website, EKWB today even conceded that they did not give their best for the product as it is and laid down some plans to make it right. It begins with a redesign of the cold plate, which affects current and future products alike, as well as doing right to the customers who purchased the previous design of the CPU block as well. Click on the story to know more.

First up, the redesigned cold plate. On the left is an illustration of an AMD Ryzen Threadripper CPU complete with that large IHS and PCB relative to anything else we see in the mainstream and HEDT market. In the middle is an image showing how the older EKWB coldplate for the platform fared, with what was essentially the cooling engine of the old EK-Supremacy EVO used in a larger space to fill up the gaps. This allowed them to bring out a product to market sooner than others, a smart business move without the power of hindsight, and one that led to others taking time and bringing out better compatible solutions which meant that in the long term, the EKWB solution was left wanting. On the right is the new cold plate design, one that improves vastly on the cooling engine to take good advantage of the available space. Indeed, we even see extensions in the longer axis which should allow for better heat transfer from the cold plate to the coolant, albeit yours truly is concerned at the higher coolant flow restriction resulting from this change.
What about those who purchased products based off the older design, you ask? Well, there are some options here. EKWB decided to hold off on releasing some monoblocks to incorporate the new cold plate, but those who purchased the EK-FB ASUS ROG ZE RGB Monoblock can apply for a free upgrade kit shown above. Proof of purchase is a must for this, but that is only fair and EKWB promises to ship the kit at their expense as well if you are comfortable to make the swap yourself. If not, there is a video going over the process or you can also contact them and they will assist you with it.

More relevantly, however, those who purchased the actual EKWB Threadripper CPU block itself will not be able to take advantage of such an upgrade kit since the mounting mechanism is different as well. The new CPU block design will install similar to a monoblock from the other side of the PCB, so this makes sense to us. Those who purchased the older block before the 24th of November, 2017 is entitled to a 25 €/$ coupon code to the EKWB store, and if you have the proof of purchase as well then you have the option to get a partial refund instead. This seems confusing in that there is no mention of what is done regarding the orders placed after that date, and presumably the latter refund option is actually for the recent orders since everyone likely has proof of purchase irrespective of when the purchase was made. We have contacted EK for clarification on this matter, and will update the post accordingly.

In EK's own words:
"Our engineering team is hard at work with developing a new CPU water block which will be specifically designed for HEDT AMD Ryzen Threadripper processors. We hope that the partial refund will compensate for the lack of performance of the EK-Supremacy EVO Threadripper Edition CPU water block and that you, our customers, will put your trust in our upcoming products."
It takes courage to admit fault, whatever be the reason that drove the admission, and work to make things right. EK Water Blocks enjoyed the market share and reputation before to where people would trust them enough to place pre-orders for water blocks even without knowing how they perform, but that did take a ding post the Threadripper CPU block design of old. What do you think about the apology and subsequent steps? Feel free to comment on the story and let them know if you felt the steps taken were adequate, more than expected, or whether they should have done more. I am sure they will appreciate your feedback one way or the other.

Update: February 15, 2018 - The new head of marketing for EKWB confirmed that the rebate/discount is for customers of the CPU block before the 24th of November, 2017 after all. He clarified by saying the block went on a permanent discount after this date to reflect the market, so the discount will help previous customers to get on par with the current price point for the product.
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