Computex 21: Q&A with EK Water Blocks

In-depth interview with EK

Just a few days ago, we covered a plethora of exciting news and upcoming products from EKWB, a leading company in the water cooling industry. But we’ve also reached directly to EKWB for an „under the hood“ interview. In order to pierce the veil a bit, we sent a set of questions to EKWB. Just a few days ago, we finally received EKWB‘s answers to those questions and we’d like to share the whole interview with you today.

Q: Are your customers interested more in high-end products (Quantum) or do they prefer more mainstream (Classic or AIO coolers) products, when they build their CLCs?

A: EK Water Blocks has built its reputation on being a leader in custom loop liquid cooling for 15 years, but we have also entered other segments which are steadily growing. We put our vast knowledge of cooling and industrial design in all of our solutions so we can satisfy users. There is a lot of interest in our current and upcoming EK AIOs, as well as gaming PCs from EK Fluid Gaming, and EK Fluid Works workstations.

Q: What type of EK blocks is more frequently purchased by your customers? Do they rather buy CPU blocks or GPU blocks? Or is it actually quite an even ratio?

A: Since CPU sockets don’t change very often, customers can reuse the same CPU water block for a longer time period. PC users change graphics cards more often, therefore they buy more water blocks for graphics cards.

Q: Which CPU and GPU brands are more prevalent in EK customers? AMD or Intel? GeForce or Radeon?

A: The general market share ratio of these brands, such as AMD and Intel, directly correlates with the hardware that EK customers purchase.

Q: Have you experienced a significant decrease of interest in GPU water blocks due to global unavailability of graphics cards in the retail market?

A: We service a niche market and our products are for hardcore enthusiasts with high expectations. Demand for our products has remained stable so far. As a result, we are doing more and more pre-orders, so that we can plan and regulate production. At the same time, customers know the product will be available, so it’s a win-win scenario.

Q: You have recently released Quantum full cover blocks for Gigabyte Aorus Xtreme and Master graphics cards. Those cards are equipped with rather massive coolers. However, in our in-depth review, we found said cooler performing surprisingly below average despite the vapor chamber design. Have you also experienced similar results with your internal testing?

A: The answer to this question will be provided later as the R&D dept. is currently overwhelmed.

Update (07/09/2021): We test all of our GPU water blocks before releasing them. We test for performance and proper contact on the GPU die. If we ever get suspicious, we try testing on another sample since the geometry of the CPU die can also affect the cooling performance. We test air coolers only for the baseline. We have compared our air cooler test results of Aorus RTX 3090 Xxtreme and Asus ROG Strix Gaming OC GeForce RTX 3090 graphics cards that have the same TDP (power) and similar size of air coolers. Both cards were tested at the maximum power limit 450 W and the ambient temperature 23 °C, the Strix fans were running at 3000 RPM and the Xtreme fans were running at 3100+2600 RPM. The average GPU core temperature for the Strix was 67,3 °C and maximum 68 °C, and for the Xtreme average GPU temperature was 62 °C, and maximum 63 °C.

Q: EK also released active backplates a few months ago. Are you satisfied with customers’ interest in these products? Or do your customers still prefer more traditional passive backplates? Is it maybe too soon to make any conclusions yet?

A: The active backplate was a completely new product, and as such, we could not fully predict the reaction of the public. Our customers as well as partners and media have accepted the product very positively and we are satisfied with the results so far. Not to mention, the competition has had no problem embracing it as well, if you know what we mean. 🙂

Q: Are Lignum products to be seen in the near future? (interviewer has a soft spot for wooden products in general so he’s fond of Lignum products)

A: The EK Lignum product line will stay part of the EK product portfolio in the future. In June 2021 we will release a new GPU water block for the GeForce RTX30 series compatible with the reference design and later this year also a water block compatible with the Zotac Trinity. We are also exploring new wood options. Stay connected with us on social media and our newsletter to be informed about new EK Lignum products.

Q: How do you optimize coolant flow and mitigate hydrodynamic instability when developing new products? Do you use purely software simulation and analysis or do you prefer to use physical testing and prototyping? Or perhaps a combination of both methods?

A: To ensure the best possible outcome when developing new products, we use a combination of both methods. Software simulation and analysis as well as prototyping and physical testing in our inhouse research and development testing facilities guarantee the ideal results. Years of experience among our senior R&D team members is also a crucial factor.

Q: EK-TIM Ectotherm is produced and developed by EK? Or do you outsource the production and development elsewhere?

A: EK-TIM Ectotherm is an outsourced thermal compound made in China according to the EK Water Blocks specifications. It’s a very old product, but as the saying goes, if it ain’t broken, why fix it? 😊

Q: Do you get involved in any OEM collaboration? Can we find some custom EK hardware in the corporate segment?

A: The strategy of the company is that we don’t get involved in OEM production, but rather do co-branding collaborations. We add our value and knowledge to products when we are collaborating with another vendor. Of course, things are much different in the enterprise segment where there is no possibility of disclosing some of our partners.

Q: EK also offers water cooling hardware for professional users, not just gamers and enthusiasts. Are you satisfied with interest in EK products in this market segment? Are owners of Quadro or Radeon Pro graphics cards even interested in water cooling their setups? Can you provide us with a ratio between gaming and professional water-cooling hardware among your customers?

A: The segment for professional cooling solutions has a big potential for EK Water Blocks. The interest of professional customers, such as digital content creators, researchers, and deep learning developers, is growing according to our expectations. As a result of customer demand, we introduced 2 new Computing series workstations at the EK Expo Computex 2021. They showcase the same power and performance as the original X7000, but are available in more convenient and accommodating forms. We will also be extending the portfolio of our Pro series water blocks for the latest workstation GPUs, like the A4000, A6000, A100, etc.

Q: Are you willing to disclose a compound, which you use in your AIO coolers to prevent galvanic corrosion? What is the expected lifespan of EK-AIO coolers? Is it significantly longer period than 5 years, which are covered by warranty?

A: How long the AIO cooler will last depends on how good the user takes care of it. Some users will get more time out of their coolers and others less; however, on average, the product lifespan is at least 5 to 7 years. The coolant we use is specifically designed for our closed loop coolers, so we cannot disclose any of the specifics.

Q: Have you considered using a copper radiator to differentiate yourselves in AIO market segment and perhaps to prevent any possible predicaments of galvanic corrosion?

A: The AIO recipe has been on the market for more than a decade and a mixed metal loop can be kept in check with a specific coolant mixture. This is one of the main reasons it’s a sealed unit, so that users don’t have to worry about compatibility. It remains to be seen if we will look into copper radiators on AIOs. 😊

Q: Why should beginner water cooling enthusiasts choose EK products for their first builds?

A: EK stands for technology, innovation, and passion. It is also our secret recipe, which might sound simple, but is impossible for others to replicate. There is a reason why EK is the most dominant brand on the liquid cooling market. It’s when you combine everything together, you can see that it’s the best and safest option. Our products are leading when it comes to performance, and we also take care of our customers. We have a very dedicated customer support team and community managers as well, so if anyone has additional questions or issues, we are there to help. We take great pride in our communication with the market, the way we write detailed product descriptions, how we constantly improve our user manuals, and of course our compatibility database as well.

Q: Can you disclose your plans for the future apart from what we’ve seen at your Expo? What are we expected to see from EK in years to come?

We revealed many innovations at EK Expo Computex 2021 and Strictly Quantum – EK-Matrix 7 explained events, and although we like to think about the distant future, it is also important for us to achieve our short-term goals. Enthusiasts will just have to wait until CES to learn more. However, we can definitively say that more innovations are coming, and if you want to be informed about them, stay connected with us through our social media channels and newsletter.

Final thoughts

So, there you have it guys. We sincerely hope you found our interview with EKWB as gripping as we did. You can also look forward to a bunch of upcoming reviews of EK AIO coolers quite soon. We’ll be looking at some current as well as upcoming products from EKWB so stay tuned!

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