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Major problems mounting EKWB Quantum Vector 3090 FE Special Edition waterblock

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Does anyone else with a Nvidia 3090FE and the EKWB Quantum Vector FE Special Edition waterblock has major problems fitting it to the card?
It seems like there are either different revisions to the 3090 FE boards or the manufacturing from EK is just not precise enough. Let me show you what I did:

I first disassembled the stock cooler, which really went like a breeze, no problems whatsoever.
IMG1.jpg


The first thing that really bugged me was, that there simply was no manual on how to mount the EKWB block in the packaging. Luckily I found the PDF on the product page at EKs website.
After carefully cutting all thermal pads and placing them onto the PCB along with pasting the GPU, I tried placing the PCB ontop of the block. There are a few things that don't seem to be right here:

First thing is, that on the block itself, there are two stand-offs with threads inside on the bottom side (PCIe slot) where no holes in the PCB itself exist to put a screw through. So these stand-offs are pressing against the naked PCB, which isn't optimal to say the least. There also is no hole in the backplate to mount something onto those stand-offs either?!
IMG2.jpg


You can screw those stand-offs out, but I decided to leave them in there and insulated the PCB with a small sheet of Kapton tape, just to be sure. Maybe they are there to support the PCB if the backplate is mounted to prevent PCB warping? Weird solution nonetheless.
IMG3.jpg


Moving on: The by far biggest issue now was the fact that if the PCB is placed on top of the block (which has a very tight fit), not all screws can reach their respective threads through the PCB. It looked like the PCB was shifted a bit too far down.
IMG4.jpg


After a bit of head-scratching and further inspection, it seemed that on the top right corner where the rounding edge of the PCB is, the waterblock is just too tightly manufactured and not meeting the shape of the PCB as it should be.
IMG5.jpg


There are to options: file down the edge on the block or file down the edge on the PCB to make it fit. The PCB seemed to have a large ground plane on that edge as it appears, so I decided to file the edge of the PCB down about ~0.5mm with a small needle file. That was no easy decision given the price and availability of the 3090FE!
The result looked like this:
IMG6.jpg


Now everything seems to fit very nicely into the block.
IMG7.jpg


Now the mounting screws are perfectly aligned and can be screwed through the backplate.
IMG8.jpg


Again, just to be safe: I decided to put additional Kapton tape around the filed down edge of the PCB.
IMG9.jpg


After everything mounted together, the precision which is expected for a block like this is simply not there. Sure from afar it looks nice and stuff, but for instance the clearance between backplate and cold plate is not equal and looks kind of crooked to me?! I only used the supplied thermal pads, so that does not seem to be the culprit here.
Also the PCB lays flat on the block and cannot be pushed further down (see the 12-pin MicroFit connector for example).
IMG10.jpg


Also there is a hole in the backplane on the terminal side upper left corner where a small connector sits on the PCB. I suppose this hole is placed there to make room for this connector? At least on my card this hole does not line up with anything properly and it's purpose is only a guess. Perhaps someone from EK can clarify this.
IMG11.jpg


I wonder if anyone else with a 3090FE and this EKWB block has similar issues mounting both together or if this is just because of an early batch with prototype status? I mean this block alone costs 330€, which is A LOT for a GPU water block. I think for that kind of money, a customer can expect a better experience and should not be forced to modify the PCB of a 1500€ GPU just to fit this cooler!

I just can't believe that EK does miss so many little things with this cooler, that the only explanation left is that there are different PCB versions in the field for the 3090 FE. Mine is bought January 2021. Don't know how to get manufacturing dates though.
 
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What the FIVE?

Why you ground down your pcb on a 1.5k+ gpu just to fit a block that wasn't designed right. Mind blown. I still don't get it. You should have sent that block back.
 
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Oh boy. STOP!
Call or email EK and find out what your options are. They actually have really good cs reps. If the block is borked dont potentially damage your gpu to make it fit,EVER. Send it back and get a proper replacement. Filing your gpu pcb is never a good option.
 
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We'll see how this plays out and if the card still works. I haven't finished the loop yet. All I wanted was to know if anyone else had problems mounting this particular block to a 3090 FE and if there are different revisions of the PCB out there or if I just had bad luck getting a monday block.

Although, I did not take the decision lightly I might add. I checked everything multiple times carefully. The block did not seem to be damaged or not carefully designed and manufactured. All seems to be accurately and precisely manufactured, just not fitting for my particular PCB/card. So maybe filing down the PCB wasn't the best idea, but I doubt just getting another block from EK wouldn't have fixed the problem for me. As I said: manufacturing of the block seemed flawless, hence my guess of different revisions of the PCB.

Given that, this does not explain, why there are stand-offs with threads on the cold plate on places where no holes are in the PCB and also no holes are in the backplate to screw anything through?! That just must be an oversight on EKs part.
 

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Just one question... Did you contact EK for their support with your findings before you filed down your GPU PCB??
 

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I know EK's packaging is bland, but can you confirm you actually got the right block? 3080FE vs 3090FE or some small detail like that?
 
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Just one question... Did you contact EK for their support with your findings before you filed down your GPU PCB??
I did contacted them, but not before my "modification". We'll see how this plays out. As said, I don't think an exchange from EK had much (if anything) chance of success. My block does not look like it was obviously faulty.

I know EK's packaging is bland, but can you confirm you actually got the right block? 3080FE vs 3090FE or some small detail like that?
Definitely 3090 FE! The 3090 is much taller and also has SLI/NV-Link fingers where the 3080 FE does not. My block has a cut-out (closed with a cap) for these connectors. You can see them on one of the pictures.
 
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I dont see any reason why it wouldent work
it doesn't seem like anything important is their
 

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I did contacted them, but not before my "modification". We'll see how this plays out. As said, I don't think an exchange from EK had much (if anything) chance of success. My block does not look like it was obviously faulty.


Definitely 3090 FE! The 3090 is much taller and also has SLI/NV-Link fingers where the 3080 FE does not. My block has a cut-out (closed with a cap) for these connectors. You can see them on one of the pictures.
I had issues with a motherboard water block years ago, my EVGA Classified 4 way board. The piece covering the south bridge they didn't machine out, so when putting in a GPU into the slot, it never really fit in properly and was always hanging out the motherboard.

They sent me one and it was just machined down.. Worked perfectly. Still have it here with me today for my sins :)
 
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I've checked the official EK webshop images again and even there you can see those additional stand offs with no screw holes in the backplane.
1620720260529.png

A PCB shot from the 3090 FE review on igorslab.de reveals that there are also no holes in the PCB on that bottom left edge for these stand offs.
My PCB looks exactly like Igor's, even the slightly overhanging right edge of the mounting hole on the upper right rounded corner is there.

1620720276008.png
 
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Did you read the manual carefully? The block is only mounted with FOUR SCREWS, the main four around the core. Any unused standoffs are just that standoffs, they are structural to prevent the pcb from bending, etc. The backplate takes another four screws not including its trim cover. And if you look closely the back plate has no holes where you pointed out that the pcb has no hole matching standoff. You can see that clearly in the block pick above my post. There's a standoff but it's not mounted thru the backplate, because that's how they designed it, ie. structural but not for mounting. * I should prob clarify my point by stating that the manual doesn't instruct one to install a screw into the standoff/s where there are no holes.
 
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Yes I figured that, especially the part where neither the backplate nor the PCB has holes for standoffs with threads inside. And as I wrote above I left these standoffs in there because I guessed they might be helpful for structural support. Nonetheless, I find it very odd that these are bare metal standoffs with threads inside pressing on the bare PCB without protection. Every other contact from the block to the PCB is protected by thermal pads and if no screw is needed there, is machined out as a block and not a screwed-in standoff. The screwed standoffs do press against the holes in the PCB where the PCB is reinforced with a grounded copper layer and small solder bumps. I hope you get my point here.

While we're at it, the manual also instructs you to place a lot of even very small pieces of thermal pads on various components. Some of those components do not have contact to the cold plate even with a pad on them. So that doesn't make sense either.
 

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There's will be different thickness pads, you will need to be careful where you put them. Normally EK manuals aren't too bad...
 
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This block only has 1.0 mm pads.
 
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Yes I figured that, especially the part where neither the backplate nor the PCB has holes for standoffs with threads inside. And as I wrote above I left these standoffs in there because I guessed they might be helpful for structural support. Nonetheless, I find it very odd that these are bare metal standoffs with threads inside pressing on the bare PCB without protection. Every other contact from the block to the PCB is protected by thermal pads and if no screw is needed there, is machined out as a block and not a screwed-in standoff. The screwed standoffs do press against the holes in the PCB where the PCB is reinforced with a grounded copper layer and small solder bumps. I hope you get my point here.

While we're at it, the manual also instructs you to place a lot of even very small pieces of thermal pads on various components. Some of those components do not have contact to the cold plate even with a pad on them. So that doesn't make sense either.
This is all in your head. The standoffs with no holes don't get direct clamping pressure. Actually that whole half of the board doesn't even matter. Go look at the other blocks, like for ex. a Bylski that I use atm. EK uses structural standoffs where Bylski doesn't but neither clamps down on anything on that side of the pcb.

This is insane man. You doubt the EK block so your answer is to file your gpu's pcb down. I don't see anything wrong with EK's instructions, whether I like that block or not is another story. But I do think your thinking is really flawed.
 
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You doubt the EK block so your answer is to file your gpu's pcb down.
This has nothing to do with doubt. The board just wasn't going to fit in there. I couldn't put the screws in to properly mount it because the screw holes were offset to the holes in the PCB as I mentioned.

Don't get me wrong, I really like this block. Maybe I'm not sold on this whole "hybrid backplane cooling thing", but other than that I was really looking forward to get this (and also waited a very long time while this was on pre-order).
 
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So EK got back to me after they consulted their R&D department and they kind of tried to play it down. They could not find evidence of different revisions of the board and said that most people would mount the block anyways without looking for some slight misalignments and such. May be true, but does not make the situation any better.

There sure are some manufacturing tolerances which in most cases might make mounting the block only a tight fit, but sometimes it makes mounting impossible like it was the case with at least my block/board and the few others that are in the same boat. I guess it is bad luck on our side. EK is not of much help here. They are slacking big time as of late I guess.

I replied to them and explained my concerns in detail. Let's see if they take this critique seriously or choose to ignore it.

I mean after all we are talking about a 330€ water block with a fully paid in advance 12 week manufacturing/delivery time. This is about as expansive as a water block can get and I think a customer of such a premium product can expect a premium product that works.
 
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Looks like the fault is with the PCB not the block.
 
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