Thus far, all of my GPU water block reviews have been on the reference NVIDIA GTX 1080 PCB for which more companies offer compatible products simply because they sell more. For a change, I wanted to cover how companies handle third-party PCBs that differ greatly from NVIDIA's reference design, and what better way to do so than by using the popular ASUS Strix variant? This PCB design is wider, longer, and uses taller inductors, which are all a challenge to GPU-block manufacturers, and today, we do a two-in-one by comparing products from EKWB and Bykski. Thanks to both for providing samples for this test.
As an example, I have an image above of the "EK-FC1080 GTX Ti Strix - Nickel" installed on the card. The name is a handful, and the way these words are arranged doesn't necessarily make sense, but you can see immediately how the block design is more complex here in having to handle everything. For instance, consider the use of a thin stainless steel plate to allow the coolant to pass from one zone to another to accommodate the tall inductors where acrylic or POM acetal could not be easily milled, or having cutouts to make sure no capacitors hit the top.
When Bykski first came to the attention of the western world, similarities to EKWB were extremely easy to find, especially when it came to their CPU and GPU water blocks. Bykski did not have a good time then, and perhaps it was good that they waited for a few years before expanding outside of Asia since they now have their own distinct ID via their "FOUR" series to where they are legitimately a big brand where it counts. They have contracts with Colorful and Thermaltake, whereas EKWB has gone from strength to strength and has added contracts with ASUS and MSI, so the parallels continue. So let's us without much further ado begin our detailed look at both GPU water blocks now.