Wednesday, January 13th 2021

EK at CES 2021: Active Backplate, New Torque Fittings, Concept Cases!

EK Waterblocks, who have decided to go by EK for the brand presence in the retail stream henceforth, had a stronger showing at the virtual CES 2021 than most other brands, and showcased a good deal of new products amidst their EK Expo ongoing as of this post. The most interesting product to me at least was their upcoming actively cooled backplate solution, which is different from what Aqua Computer has done to date in that it has an actual cold plate and coolant going through a small block on the back rather than just a heatpipe. Now I will mention that Aqua Computer had shown off some renders of their own take of this, but this is the first time a retail solution has been shown off by a company.

EK says that the new backplate offering will come in either acetal or nickel-plexi variants, and will incorporate a thicker terminal that splits coolant flow to the front and back. The backplate, first coming for the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080/3090 reference PCB, will make direct contact with the components on the back as well, with freshly conducted internal testing showing VRAM cooling improvements in significant double digits already. The company plans to make this an option for other popular new GPU releases as well, except for the RTX 3090 FE that gets its own bespoke cooling solution with the backplate connected to the coldplate on the front via thermal pads for a more petite, semi-active cooling solution coming up soon. The first active backplate is due to release in a month, with cost on the order of a typical GPU block itself. Click past the break for more from EK at CES 2021!
Fittings are the bread and butter for most PC DIY watercooling companies, and EK has had a massive refresh in the recent year with their Quantum Torque range of fittings. At CES 2021, the company showcased new additions including compression fittings in all colors match their Quantum Magnitude CPU block accents, as well as new female-female angled adapters and T-splitters that look quite sharp if I say so myself. They also showed off a new drain valve fitting with a locking cap and sliding mechanism that takes far less space compared to a typical ball valve fitting, and fits in with the design aesthetic. Finally, we saw new stop plugs in different sizes and heights to cater to different needs, and these all come in their four Torque fitting finishes.
Joining the new fittings were new pump bodies/heatsinks for the Xylem D5 and DDC respectively, with machining from a single chunk of brass that then gets plated in two finishes as seen in the images below. The DDC heatsink is cleaner in aesthetics with fins that visible when installed anymore, and cutouts for the cables in either pump option.
Taking a sharp right turn, there was a concept case with desk/wall mounting options. EK has dipped toes into the case world from time to time, including the EK-Vulture that seemed ahead of its time in hindsight, and the new concept case is an open frame with 4 mm thick aluminium panels that would not look out of place in an InWin catalog. Indeed, EK is still considering manufacturing from a third-party vs. doing it themselves, and are far enough in this thought process to where I expect the case to become reality sooner than later (maybe Q4 this year at the earliest, though). The case differs itself from other such offerings in providing clamp feet that allow installation on desks similar to monitor arms, as well as standard VESA mounts on the back for wall mounting. There are radiator mount hinges not shown in the image below, and the panels are customizable to allow for a reverse ATX motherboard orientation as well.
You can also see sneak peeks of that concept case in the images below, however those are more relevant to the Lian Li O11-D external cooling unit. This is effectively a pedestal from the Caselabs days, in that it screws into the bottom of the case and re-uses the stock feet that you had to remove in the previous step, except given a modern touch throughout with a custom push-fit distro plate for tubing routes in/out and also radiators that can be installed in either side (or both). The distro plate has built-in D5 pump, and comes with a pump block plate if you want to use an internal pump inside the case. I want to see a version sold without the pump in this case, just to save customers money on the secondary pump that is redundant otherwise. EK plans to also sell this as a standalone external cooling box with a roof panel.
Lastly, there was mention of their recently launched Fluid Works workstation PCs, as well as various partner-specific products from AMD, ASUS, Powercolor MSI etc. We expect to hear (and have already heard in some cases) more about these from the partners themselves in due time.
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34 Comments on EK at CES 2021: Active Backplate, New Torque Fittings, Concept Cases!

#1
Ferrum Master
If only there would be point water cooling current gen cards... Nvidias doesn't clock, and AMD' s are super power limited.

But the backplate idea is fine... could pay attention to VRM areas more, but that' s left for the version 2 and buy from us again.
Posted on Reply
#2
Caring1
I'd rather see active backplate cooling for Motherboards.
Posted on Reply
#3
Dammeron
Caring1
I'd rather see active backplate cooling for Motherboards.
Why would enyone need such a thing? Remember Thermalright IFX-10? There is a reason it was short-lived.
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#4
DeathtoGnomes
well this almost like a baby step to right side up gpu cards :rolleyes: :D
Posted on Reply
#5
Valantar
Dammeron
Why would enyone need such a thing? Remember Thermalright IFX-10? There is a reason it was short-lived.
The rear of the CPU socket can get really, really hot, so although cooling the back of the board is quite inefficient, it's still more efficient than not doing so.
Posted on Reply
#6
ZoneDymo
damn EK, the active blackplate was MY idea >:L

but yeah, as was mentioned, overclocking on current cards is meh or worse...artifically limited so little point in these
Posted on Reply
#7
MDWiley
Not sure why everyone's saying this is pointless. The 3090's rear VRAM gets super hot. People are modding their back plates and putting RAM water blocks on them.
This is perfect for 3090 owners, though it looks like it's for reference cards. Wonder what they'll do with the 3090 FE (if anything).
Posted on Reply
#8
VSG
Editor, Reviews & News
MDWiley
Not sure why everyone's saying this is pointless. The 3090's rear VRAM gets super hot. People are modding their back plates and putting RAM water blocks on them.
This is perfect for 3090 owners, though it looks like it's for reference cards. Wonder what they'll do with the 3090 FE (if anything).
I've mentioned more about their plans for the 3090 FE in the post, although you will get a better look at it during their expo later today.
Posted on Reply
#9
MDWiley
VSG
I've mentioned more about their plans for the 3090 FE in the post, although you will get a better look at it during their expo later today.
Woops, I missed that in the article somehow. Thanks for the info!
Posted on Reply
#10
m2geek
No word on the new/working software for the EK Connect?

Lame.
Posted on Reply
#11
VSG
Editor, Reviews & News
m2geek
No word on the new/working software for the EK Connect?

Lame.
I did not have enough time to ask this, the AMD keynote was next up. But I understand that they went back to the drawing board for this and are aiming for a new release soon.
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#12
ThrashZone
Hi,
New sort of piping system
Using the same port as both inlet and outlet lol
Posted on Reply
#13
thesmokingman
Seriously EK, spend some damn money on a proper interval of tooling swaps cuz ya still clearly don't care about tool marks.
Posted on Reply
#14
ThrashZone
thesmokingman
Seriously EK, spend some damn money on a proper interval of tooling swaps cuz ya still clearly don't care about tool marks.
Hi,
Yep
Bad thing last I saw of optimus gpu blocks they don't care either.
Only the plexi looked nice and clear.
Posted on Reply
#15
thesmokingman
ThrashZone
Hi,
Yep
Bad thing last I saw of optimus gpu blocks they don't care either.
Only the plexi looked nice and clear.
They're cutting corners with that crap substandard markings. I dunno, I guess us hobbyist are either too clueless or don't care. I suppose we could reach and say the positive thing is that all those markings reduces laminar flow, smh.
Posted on Reply
#16
ThrashZone
thesmokingman
They're cutting corners with that crap substandard markings. I dunno, I guess us hobbyist are either too clueless or don't care. I suppose we could reach and say the positive thing is that all those markings reduces laminar flow, smh.
Hi,
Yeah last I read from someone else is the marks cause turbulence lol
Pretty lame but maybe watercool will serve up some nice offerings.
Posted on Reply
#17
Valantar
I'm not a fluid dynamics engineer, but I can't imagine tool marks like that having a measurable - let alone noticeable - effect on flow or thermals. They're not that big.
Posted on Reply
#18
thesmokingman
Valantar
I'm not a fluid dynamics engineer, but I can't imagine tool marks like that having a measurable - let alone noticeable - effect on flow or thermals. They're not that big.
We're joking about it. You know its a rationalization.
Posted on Reply
#19
ThrashZone
Hi,
Yeah it's rough mill is so the nickel has something to hold onto lol
Posted on Reply
#21
ThrashZone
Hi,
Optimus said nickel shows everything as an excuse for the milling marks lol

Someone posted a copper block and well no kidding optimus made no attempt to remove the imperfections so of course nickel will show them all so this is code for yeah we don't care about smooth milling anymore we're in a hurry to ship out items before people cancel orders :-)

EK just pumps items out this has always been the case it's a norm.
Posted on Reply
#22
thesmokingman
EK blocks from 5-6 years ago didn't have tooling marks like this from what I can recall. I have some 290x and 7970 blocks I can pull out to confirm later.

And yea, it's just cost cutting. You're supposed to replace the tooling after so many hours because the tooling wears out. And once it wears out it leaves tooling marks cuz your tolerances drop from the wear. There's other things you can do to reduce tool marks, like milling to reduce tooling marks which obviously they don't give two cents about.
Posted on Reply
#23
ThrashZone
thesmokingman
EK blocks from 5-6 years ago didn't have tooling marks like this from what I can recall. I have some 290x and 7970 blocks I can pull out to confirm later.

And yea, it's just cost cutting. You're supposed to replace the tooling after so many hours because the tooling wears out. And once it wears out it leaves tooling marks cuz your tolerances drop from the wear. There's other things you can do to reduce tool marks, like milling to reduce tooling marks which obviously they don't give two cents about.
Hi,
Maybe not 5 years ago but here's a nearly 4 year old 1080ti block that has plenty can't find my titan Xp water block it's the same.
Posted on Reply
#24
Valantar
I mean, the only way to avoid milling marks like those is essentially to polish the metal after machining. Which, considering it has zero effect on cooling, is just unnecessary work and thus an unnecessary increase in production costs. Why bother?
Posted on Reply
#25
ThrashZone
Valantar
I mean, the only way to avoid milling marks like those is essentially to polish the metal after machining. Which, considering it has zero effect on cooling, is just unnecessary work and thus an unnecessary increase in production costs. Why bother?
Hi,
Just slop in the cnc machine or object being machined is not stationary enough or both.
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