EK Supreme CPU Water Block Page: 1
Introduction
 
EK Water Blocks really need no introduction. In fact, their reputation for stringent quality control and production of gorgeous looking, and equally well-performing waterblocks precedes them.
 
In 1999, Edvard König had a dream to produce functional watercooling blocks whilst retaining a goal that every series of waterblocks there-after were to be better than the previous - in cooling performance and quality. Now, in 2007 EK's vision for quality watercooling components is now stronger than ever. But enough from me, I'll let 'Eddie' tell it how it is:
 
From the beginning Company’s most important role is to keep close contact with customers and listen to their needs and comments. To supply water cooling enthusiasts with products they want. Company’s main aim is to continuously develop extreme high performance and esthetic water blocks.!!Company is planning to set distribution channels into EU countries. Although company is getting a lot of enquiries, policy of company is to get resellers and distributors which can offer quality service to customers, which is company’s primary value.
 
I must say, it's quite a valuable set of ethics to have in this day and age of mass production. Ethics, which will no doubt hold EK Water Blocks in good stead for many years to come.By now many of you would have heard the rumblings amongst the PC enthusiast community of something special coming out of EK Water Blocks. If you guessed the EK Supreme CPU water block, then you would be correct. Overclock3D has been given a review sample of the EK Supreme and we intend to test it  to see if the rumours are really true - is this the water block that is capable of breaking the year-long reign of the D-TEK FuZion?
 
EK-Supreme water block
 
So without further delay let's head into the review to see if we can crown the EK Supreme as the new cooling king. Let's start by taking a look at the specifications of the EK Supreme.
 
 
Specifications
 
Due to the fact that the EK Supreme has only really just become available, specifications are sketchy to say the least. Eddy has given us a few details on the EK Supreme's Product Page, here is what he has to say:
 
EK-Supreme universal water block for all socket CPU's has been designed for the hardest enthusiast user. The base plate is made of electrolytic copper lapped and polished to +/- 0,0007 mm flatness. The top is made of quality POM Acetal.

The EK-Supreme cooling engine uses fin design. The water accelerates through thin jet plate channels through 49 very thin channels, which gives extreme cooling surface. The copper base is also very thin, which gives very short distance for temperature to transfer from CPU to water.
 
One particularly interesting point that EK makes about the EK Supreme is the fact that it has a very thin base, which means that the heat from the processor has less distance to travel to the cooling medium. Now although this sounds perfectly logical there are conflicting schools of thought as to whether the base thickness of a water block should be thicker or thinner. Many argue that there is a happy medium for a thick base where it actually allows for even distribution of waste heat emitted by the processor. Well I guess we're going to have to reserve judgement until a little later in the review.
 
Let's head over the page to see the EK Supreme in all its glory...


EK Supreme CPU Water Block Page: 2
Packaging
 
I must say that the packaging chosen by EK Water Blocks is minimalist and unassuming to say the least. It hasn't changed a bit since the last time I bought some EK kit. A small rectangular cardboard box is all that houses the EK Supreme and it is even missing the customary sticker on the outside....Is this any way to treat a future king of cooling! On the flip-side, cost cutting on the packaging means that more money can be spent on R&D and I have no problems with that.
 
EK Supreme box EK Supreme box contents
 
Included in the packaging is the EK Supreme's mounting hardware and the water block itself is enclosed in bubble wrap. The bubble wrap kept me engrossed for hours. Furthermore; please excuse the background change from white to royal blue...I thought the royal blue was quite fitting for the occasion.
 
EK Supreme package contents EK Supreme close-up
 
Now I now you're just sitting there mesmerised by the beauty of the EK Supreme aren't you. Well let's not stop while we're on a roll and have a little bit of a closer look.
 
 
A Closer Look
 
I was a little surprised that Eddy shipped the EK Supreme without some form of anti-oxidation measure in the packaging, nor was there any plastic protection on the base to prevent accidental scratching. The EK Supreme that I received had considerable oxidation already, and as such, would benefit from the inclusion of an silica crystal sachet.
 
You will notice that the EK Supreme comes with a universal mounting plate which is nice for those on older platforms, or alternatively, those who upgrade quite regularly.
 
EK Supreme base
  
After consulting with Rob from WaterCooling UK about the state of the copper base we have come to the conclusion that Australian Customs may have put their greasy mits over the block on its way to me. Rob kindly supplied me with a photograph showing the condition of this very block the day it was shipped. I have included the image below.
 
EK Supreme prior to shipping
 
I'm sure many of you have already seen internal shots of the EK Supreme, but it wouldn't be a review if I didn't include some here. There are 4 Allen head screws to remove and the block is then able to be pulled apart.
 
EK Supreme internal shot Internal shot again
 
The EK Supreme uses a thin metal plate which has been laser cut to force coolant onto the 47 thin copper fins of the base. The plate is able to be removed for both maintenance purposes, and according to Eddy, there will be both a performance plate and high-flow plate made available.
 
Laser cut plate
 
The coolant enters into the block via the slightly off-set inlet (below) and is forced directly through the metal plate and on to the copper base. I can't help but feel that this is going to be very restrictive to flow...perhaps as restrictive as the Swiftech Storm G4.
 
EK Supreme Delrin top
 
The image above of the Delrin top clearly shows how the coolant is forced through the large inlet (half obscured by the chamber itself) and the coolant can then travel around the extremities of the base before heading out the outlet barb (bottom of image). The inclusion of the rubber 'O' ring around the inlet chamber ensures that the incoming cool fluid doesn't mix with the outgoing fluid that is carrying heat away from the processor. Quite an ingenious setup really.
 
There are two particular areas of the EK Supreme that warrant a mention, simply because they may be an issue if you decide to purchase the block. First of all I suggest that you purchase a back plate to help reduce some of the stress placed on your motherboard by the included springs. They are exceptionally stiff, and subsequently, you run the risk of breaking traces on your motherboard by tightening the block down too hard. I lost my test rig's P5B Deluxe as a result of running without a back  plate. You have been warned.
 
Secondly, you may run into compatibility problems with the mounting plate. On my P5B Deluxe the mounting plate got in the way of the heatpipe cooling solution covering the mosfets. The EK Sepreme is able to be rotated 90 degrees, and doing so aleviated the problem. I did try the EK Supreme on my ASUS Blitz Formula SE, and again the mosfet cooling on the side and top of the motherboard were an issue. If you are looking at purchasing this block, I would suggest getting yourself some copper BGA heat sinks at the same time.
 
compatibility issues with ASUS P5B Deluxe
 
Now that we have had a look at the sexy exterior and interior of th EK Supreme let's head over the page to see how we're going to test it...


EK Supreme CPU Water Block Page: 3

Testing Methodology

For the testing phase of the review I have chosen to test the EK Supreme against a number of well known water-cooling blocks: the Swiftech Storm G4 rev. 2; the XSPC X2O Delta, and of course the D-TEK FuZion.

A quadrella of quad-cooling goodness

A Laing DDC Pro pump with OCLabs alternative top will be used to assist in making a comparison. I shall be looking specifically at pressure drop, flow resistance and cooling performance from within a CPU only water-cooling loop. I will be running the Laing DDC Pro pump at 9v,10v, 11v and 12v and the pressure drop and flow of the pump will be noted. All tests will be run 3 times to ensure the elimination of any oddities. I have included the setup details below:

Pressure Drop

For the pressure drop test I used a 25L portable water container filled with 20 litres of water, with a 1/2" plastic threaded barb placed in the bottom to represent the reservoir. A stop tap was inserted immediately after the 1/2" barb to allow for a faster water-block change. The True-Flow pressure meter was used to record the head pressure per 1 minute testing cycle. The pump was primed and let run for a short period to ensure that no air bubbles were left in the loop.

The first run made was with only the pump and pressure meter included in the loop and the water pressure noted. Then for second run the EK Supreme waterblock was included into the loop and the drop in loop pressure recorded, and the same procedure was done for each of the water blocks.

* 1 x Laing DDC Pro pump with OCLabs alternative top @ 9/10/11/12v
* 1 x EK Supreme; XSPC X2O Delta; Swiftech Storm G4 and D-TEK FuZion water block
* 1 x Powertech variable DC power supply (quoted accuracy /- 0.2V)
* 1 x Multi-meter
* 25L portable water container
* 1 x Glycerine filled True-Flow pressure meter. (kPa/PSI)
* 1/2" ID XSPC tubing
* 1/2" barbs
* 2 x stop-tap fittings

Storm pressure drop XSPC X2O Delta pressure drop

EK Supreme pressure drop D-TEK FuZion pressure test

Flow

In a similar test to the pressure drop testing above, the flow test will highlight just how much the waterblocks restrict the natural flow of a water-cooling loop. Utilising a very simple setup consisting of a pump, I/2" ID tubing, water blocks, bucket and a stopwatch we will see how far removed from the absolute flow of the pump, that the water blocks hinder flow. Incidentally, this is the same way that we test GPU blocks in past reviews...hence the included image below. Running the pump into the bucket for one minute and then measuring the amount of water pumped will be the 'absolute flow' of the pump. Once again the pump will be run at 9v,10v,11v and 12v.

To calculate the flow-loss or restriction of each waterblock, they will each be included into the loop (one at a time) and the same procedure followed. The flow rate will be recorded in Litres/ hour. All simulations will be run 3 times each to ensure uniformity of the results and an average then taken.

Flow testing

Loop Simulation and cooling performance

I have decided to impliment a control setup for the testing phase of this review. In doing so I have replicated a CPU only water-cooling loop similar to that in conventional water cooled setups, but also one that should return consistant and unbiased performance results. The EK Supreme and other water blocks performance will be assessed at the Laing DDC Pro's operating voltage of 12 volts. For each run, the pump was allowed to run for 20 mins to ensure the evacuation of all air from within the loop. The temperatures were taken at 30 minute intervals to allow them to 'settle'. Two instances of ORTHOS will run simultaneously in order to simulate load.

Test setup

Arctic Silver 5 was used as the TIM for testing all water blocks in this shootout  I have recorded temperatures at idle, load and and an overclocked loaded state; all temperatures were taken using Core Temp 0.95.4 beta and water/ambient temperatures were taken using a common household mercury thermometer. The mercury thermometer was allowed 5 minutes to aclimatise to air and water and then the temperature recorded. The setup used has been included below:

* 1 x Laing DDC Pro pump with OCLabs alternative top @ 12v
* 1 x EK Supreme; Swiftech Storm G4; XSPC X2O Delta, and a D-TEK FuZion water block
* 1 x Powertech variable DC power supply (quoted accuracy /- 0.2V)
* 1 x Multi-meter
* 1 x Toyota Camry heater core
* 1 x Scythe Ultra Kaze 2000RPM cooling fan
* 1/2" ID XSPC tubing
* 1/2" barbs.
* 1 x Intel Q6600 SLACR G0 stepping quad-core processor
* 1 x ASUS P5B Deluxe wifi/App motherboard (bios version 1101)
* 1 Gigabyte 7600 graphics card
* Logitech generic mouse
* Logitech G15 keyboard
* 2GB OCZ PC2-6400 Titanium RAM
* Antec NEO EarthWatts 500W PSU
 

Please be mindful that all water block mountings were done so without a back plate. Hypothetically, the findings reported on the following page could be potentially better if the ability to screw the water block right down were available at the time of testing.

Follow with me over the page to see the test results...



EK Supreme CPU Water Block Page: 4

Testing

You can see from the pressure and flow testing that our assumptions on the EK Supreme being restrictive were spot on. Both the XSPC Delta and D-TEK FuZion clearly facilitate considerably better flow.

Pressure vs Flow chart

Looking at the figures another way. We can really see the dramatic pressure drop exhibited by both the Swiftech Storm and the EK Supreme.

Pressure Drop vs Flow

However, when it comes down to the business end of the performance testing we see a vastly different picture. Sure we knew that the Swiftech Storm G4 would be a little out of its league when it came to keeping an overclocked quad-core cool, but the  EK Supreme takes the lead over the D-TEK. Please bear in mind that this is a stock D-TEK FuZion without the assistance of performance nozzles, which ensures fairness when compared to the stock EK Supreme. It looks like we have a winner.

I did mount the EK Supreme horizontally and vertically on my motherboard, and the vertical mounting certainly gave a better performance on my quad-core. Horizontally mounted the EK Supreme bettered the FuZion by around 2 - 2.25 degrees C; vertically mounted the results below are even better.

#Note: During the overclocked testing for the EK Supreme my P5B Deluxe decided to turn up its toes and die. You've seen it before: fans and lights on but nobody's home kind of thing. I had managed to complete 2 mounts of the water block, but not a third so please be mindful of that when looking at the results.

EK Supreme

Looking at the ΔT chart, it becomes very plain to see that EK Water Blocks are definitely on to a winner. It will be interesting to see how much of a change there will be between the performance and high-flow plates for the EK Supreme when they become available.

Delta T chart

Well there you have it! The D-TEK FuZion has finally met its match on a level playing field. Once Eddy makes the alternative plates available for purchase we'll run some comparisons between them and the D-TEK nozzles, but for now let's head over the page to see what we've learnt from todays review...



EK Supreme CPU Water Block Page: 5

Final Thoughts and Conclusion

So how well did the EK Supreme perform in todays review?

There's simply no denying that the EK Supreme is an absolutely gorgeous pice of kit, and something that we've come to expect from cooling hardware coming out of EK Water Blocks. The lower profile; engraved Delrin top and shiny chromed mounting plate all add up to a winner in my books. However, the motherboard compatibility of the EK Supreme slightly detracted from the experience. Although, in defense of EK with regards to the compatibility problems, many overclocking enthusiasts tend to do away with manufacturer solutions, and instead opt for their own custom cooling.

Performance-wise the EK Supreme is certainly very capable, as was demonstrated in our performance testing today. The EK Supreme clearly beats the stock D-TEK FuZion pound for pound. However, with the availability of jet nozzles for the FuZion this lead may be significantly reduced. In the near future I will be re-running the tests with a nozzled FuZion to see how things pan out.

The restrictive nature of the EK Supreme also warrants a mention here simply because you will need to have a considerably powerful pump if you're going to run with a loop setup above and beyond the typical. For example: CPU; GPU (x2), and NB blocks may bring your flow to a halt if running an underpowered pump.

The pricing of the EK Supreme is the absolute kicker here though. With the D-TEK FuZion coming in at around £37.99 Incl. VAT, the EK Supreme comes in considerably further below that at £34.99 Incl. VAT from our friends at WaterCooling UK

Let's have a look at the performance break-down:
 
The Good
• Performance (beats a stock FuZion)
• Looks
• Price
• Universal compatibility
• Low profile
 
The Mediocre
• Restrictive
 
The Bad
• Nix, nada and zip
 
I have decided to award the EK Supreme the Overclock3D 'Best in Class' award for its performance today in beating the stock FuZion. Whilst people may argue with this result it is based purely on the results of a level playing field. The EK Supreme has also earnt the 'Value for Money' award based on its excellent price.
 
Best in class award Recommended award
 
Overclock3D would like to thank WaterCooling UK for providing the review sample.
 
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