TechPowerUp met over 50 brands at CES this year, more than anyone else we know of, and thus our coverage of the trade show continues on. EK Water Blocks (EKWB) had a grand showing at Computex last year, with a room full of updates and new products. Some of these showed up in a different form at CES, and others presumably are still being developed. As it turned out, EK had another room full of products this time too, including some products that we were not expecting necessarily.
Beginning our tour was a demo of the Quantum Distro PC 305 system, an EK-assembled system sold at Microcenter stores in the USA. As the name suggests, this uses an InWin 305 case and the current setup has an Intel Core i9-9900K on an ASUS ROG Maximus XI Hero combined with an NVIDIA RTX 2080 Ti. These systems are not budget friendly, but if you wanted to get an EK-distribution plate then this is currently the only way to do so. Next to these was the EK-Connect, which appears to be the final version of the long awaited fan controller project they had teased years back. The EK-Connect, as 2019 demands it, is a combination LED and fan controller, and will be supported by a software driver when ready. At the trade show, the setup just showed multiple different LED strips and fans connected, and it appears to be powered by an in-set SATA connector for power. Read past the break for more!
On a table alongside were updates to the EK-Cryofuel Solid coolants which launched last year, and seem to be fairly stable as far as opaque coolants go. The updates included new colors, including an all black color that is really hard to get right. EK says they are continuing to make sure these additional colors meet their internal tests, and are also working with a select group of beta testers, before introducing them to the retail market. Hidden in this section was a cool accessory that effectively helped confirm whether there was coolant in a reservoir or not. Presumably it works by measuring a difference in the refractive index of the material, since it is not in contact with the actual coolant, and can be used not only as a yes/no style coolant detector but also the coolant level in the reservoir itself.
A whole new product lineup, the EK-Classic, was unveiled at CES. This is their measure to offer more budget-friendly EKWB-branded products that have a minimalist design, and in many ways is an analogue to their EK-Supremacy MX as it was to the then-flagship EK-Supremacy EVO. They all have RGB integrated, however, which does seem weird for this lineup but surely EK knows their market better than I do. The lineup launches very soon, and includes the EK-Supremacy Classic RGB CPU block, a universal (for reference PCB designs) EK-FC RTX 20-series (2080, 2080 Ti) RGB GPU block, and an EK-XRES Classic RGB reservoir in a 140 mm reservoir and SPC pump configuration. We have our hands on these, and expect reviews of the CPU blocks and reservoir soon. The CPU blocks are priced at $70 for Intel/AMD versions, the GPU block at $110, and the reservoir/pump combo at $95.
We saw a prototype version of their next AIO cooler at Computex, which had a chunky CPU block that definitely needed some revision, and CES 2019 had just that. Named the EK Valkyrie Series, this will have multiple versions with different radiator sizes and provide for a more premium, fully-assembled CPU liquid cooler using their EK-Vardar RGB fans, and more RGB lighting in the CPU block too.
The EK Fluid Gaming series got some love too, with a dedicated system using their aluminium fittings and blocks. Given the more wallet-friendly aspect of the Fluid Gaming lineup, it makes sense also that the hardware in the system is less expensive than the one we see above. Indeed, the EK PowerSpec uses an Intel Core i7-9700K on an ASUS Strix Z390-E Gaming motherboard coupled with an NVIDIA RTX 2080. We get a distribution plate here too, however, so it appears that the new systems sold by EK will all have those as a unique selling point.
Along the far side of the room was the massive ASUS ROG Dominus Extreme, outfitted with an equally massive EK VRM waterblock that spans the width of the motherboard and makes for a thick, heavy product. As far as we know, only EK and Phanteks appear to have plans for motherboard blocks for the Dominus Extreme, with samples shown off at CES. Also on the motherboard was their new Annihilator Pro CPU block, an update the 1u Annihilator block that is intended to be used in cramped spaces (think server racks). The Annihilator Pro is also intended for the Intel LGA 3647 socket when it launches, and has a whopping nine ports- three G1/4" threaded ports on the top and six G1/8" ports on the sides. With an optional nickel-plated brass top, this is easily the largest and heaviest CPU block I have handled.
An air-leak test kit was next, helping end users leak test their loops using pressurized air in the loop as opposed to liquid coolants that can be messy in the case of an actual leak. This is not new or novel to the industry, but was missing from the EK product lineup, and so here we are with the new EK Force. The company is also introducing bending mandrels, which are fashioned similar to their metal blocks, and intended to be purchased for the tubing size of your interest (12/14/16 mm). The mandrels have insets for 45° and 90° turns, and also holes to ensure your tubing fits through after cutting.
Products already in the market also got small updates for 2019, beginning with lower profile standoffs for the CPU blocks and monoblocks. There were also new fittings shown, including angled adapters and T-fittings, in a more minimalist design and in chrome and black finishes. Reservoirs also had an updated RGB light ring with new feet for the Laing D5 pump versions.
Most of the products shown are not launching any time soon, with EK still finalizing details. The only ones coming up soon are the EK-Classic line of products, and the updates to the existing products shown above.