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Call me VSG
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12,852 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
As usual, posting in here to make sure the forum ToS are acknowledged.

Introduction
Love it or hate it, the fact is that Asus motherboards get the most love from waterblock manufacturers. For this particular board (Asus x99 RVE), there are full board (VRM + chipset) blocks from EK, Bitspower and Watercool to go with a full cover kit from Bitspower (motherboard + CPU) and then there are the monoblocks from EK. These were something I was always fascinated by when I first saw them launched for the Asus z87 Maximus VI Impact. Being able to cool the entire motherboard with a single block, and possibly have better CPU cooling performance than dedicated CPU blocks sounded great. By the time the monoblock for the x99 RVE had launched, some very good CPU blocks had also come out. So how does this fare then compared to these? Does it make sense to go with something that is motherboard specific at all? Thanks to Derick and Niko from EK, we now have the opportunity to find out for ourselves.

Let's begin by taking a look at the specs courtesy the product page:

EK-FB ASUS R5E Monoblock water block is a complete all-in-one (CPU and motherboard) liquid cooling solution for Intel LGA-2011-V3 socket Haswell-E CPU and ASUS Rampage V Extreme motherboard.

This water block uses award winning EK-Supremacy cooling engine to ensure best possible CPU cooling. The water blocks directly cools Intel LGA-2011-V3 socket type CPU, Intel X99 Express southbridge (PCH) and power regulation (VRM / MOSFETs) module as water flows directly over all critical areas. It is a very high flow water block that can be easily used with systems using weaker water pumps.

Base of the waterblock is made of nickel plated electrolytic copper while the top is made of quality acrylic glass material. The sealing is performed by quality rubber gaskets.

Water block is mounted with enclosed M3x5 DIN7985, M3x8 DIN7991 and M4x8 DIN7984 screws and PVC washers and utilizes the factory provided MOSFET backplate. The nickel plated brass screw-in standoffs are pre-installed and allow for easy installation.

Enclosed thermal pad is used on voltage regulator modules to improve cooling performance of the waterblock. On the CPU and southbridge (PCH) chip please use the enclosed electrically non-conductive thermal grease EK-TIM Ectotherm.

Enclosed:
- water block
- mounting mechanism
- thermal grease Gelid GC-Extreme (1.5g)
- thermal pads

Fittings are not enclosed! Two fittings are needed for proper operation.

Made in Slovenia - Europe!

PLEASE NOTE:
- Fittings are not included! Due to immense variety of fittings/barbs available on market and no prescribed standards, we guarantee compatibility only for connectors bought from our web site.


The specs are listed out in a more descriptive manner, and are common for all 4 variants of the RVE monoblock: Clean CSQ and Original CSQ, both coming in acetal+nickel or plexi+nickel finishes. The product page also has a plot of the hydraulic restriction for these blocks compared to a few others that EK makes along with P-Q curves for their budget pumps. I liked seeing this because this shows they are confident about even these "weaker" pumps being able to handle the monoblock quite easily. This backs up their statement on the monoblock being a high flow component. Two things I would like to see added here: Warranty, and exact type/number of components inside. The first can be found on their terms of use page which lists a 2 year limited warranty on all products, as well as on the product box itself, but the second is not answered fully anywhere, including the user manual. But we will take a look at what is inside.

Unboxing and Overview

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The outer packaging is in the same manner as all EK blocks, with a white/orange color scheme and an Original CSQ representation on the sleeve cover itself. A sticker reminds you that this is a Clean CSQ variant inside while the finish is marked down at the bottom. Despite there being no copper only versions, the list in there contains a copper acetal and copper plexi mention. This is something they do with all the blocks irrespective of whether all the options are even available. The back side lists some of the specs in multiple languages whereas on the sides, we get the contact information for the company itself as well as another confirmation of the exact version inside. If you haven't figured it out yet, I chose to have the nickel plexi version in Clean CSQ.

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On the other two surfaces not covered by the sleeve, we have sealing stickers as shown above. If your box arrives with this torn, then do inspect the contents inside to be sure this is still a brand new product you received. There is also the production date listed for the part, this particular one having being manufactured on the 10th of February, 2015 and not the future if the US dating convention was to be followed.

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Tearing the seals then allows for the inner box to slide out. This has yet more information on the back, including the terms of use that lists out the warranty.

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Opening the box, we are greeted to the first set of parts inside: an instruction manual (that may have some errors as far as some of the pictures go depending on when you bought this, but nothing that is a deal breaker) which can be found online here, two sheets of thermal pads (100 x 16 x 1 mm) and the mounting accessory pouch. Note that the second thermal pad sheet was actually right under the sheet seen in there. As far as the mounting accessories go:

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Unfortunately I forgot to place in the two allen keys that come in there, but we will get to those soon as well. You need, for installation, 4 spacers, 5 self-adhesive washers, 2 M3x8 DIN7991 screws, 4 M3x5 DIN7985 screws, 4 M4x8 DIN7984 screws and the accompanying Torx T20 key. As you can see, you are provided some spares as well which is good to see.

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Below is a divider that also reminds you of other products that EK makes, and the lower compartment houses the monoblock itself along with the provided tube of Gelid GC-Extreme:

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The bottom itself has a nice, thick piece of soft foam to protect the block at the bottom. The top itself is mostly ok too with the cover in between. There is not much to go on the sides though, so you are still left at the mercy of the shipping courier as to whether this arrives in a good shape or not. Mine came in flawlessly via DHL straight from EK itself so that could be an option too.

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The block itself comes in a plastic pouch which has another seal on it, re-assuring you that no one has touched it since it was packed. Now let's get it out:

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Ah, that does look good if I do say so myself. There are the usual stickers on the EK logo, as well as the protective sticker on the back over the cold plate (which has a nice mirror finish as with the other EK CPU blocks we have seen before already). There are also some small stickers that only get involved if you end up disassembling this. We also see the cooling areas themselves on the back. It's not one continuous piece of metal, but rather three separate pieces just as you would on the VRM, CPU and chipset blocks.

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The plexi top in the Clean CSQ variant comes well polished out of the factory itself, although you may still want to go the sandpaper and polish route if so desired.

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There aren't any indications on the block itself but the instructions make it clear to have the port shown above be the inlet port. Unlike CPU blocks were you have to route coolant around so both ports can be placed far away enough to fit larger fittings, the monoblock does not have that problem. So here you see that the coolant drops down directly over the cold plate itself. There is a jetplate still involved to split flow across the microchannels and aid in heat transfer but it does more than just that.

Disassembly
As always, disassembly was done post all testing. Let's begin by taking a look at the screws holding this together:

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There are essentially 6 main pieces in total- two plexi tops, a metal section holding the CPU cooling engine and 3 cold plates- in here. To separate the chipset section from the rest of the block, you have to remove the three lower screws on the top plexi section holding the two pieces together:

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The bottom section is held leak-free by the use of O-rings, there are no hidden male-male G1/4 fittings here:

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In fact, the inlet and outlet ports here are not even threaded:

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To remove the VRM cold plate, there are 6 screws that come in play at the top:

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Here are the three pieces removed so far:

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The VRM block seems simple in design, and that's all that is really needed here. You want the coolant to traverse the length of the VRM section with heat transfer along the way by the use of thermal paste or thermal pads:

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Now let's get back to the chipset block before heading back for the CPU core area itself. Another 6 screws, identical to the ones above, hold the top and the metal sections together:

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Removing the plexi itself allows for a prime time for some polishing. Just don't lose those O-rings. If the larger one from inside gets out, you may consider getting some silicone grease or simply using some stop plugs as you fit in it place. We also see here that the actual part in contact with the chipset is a very small fraction of this entire piece. The rest is just routing and using the provided screw holes in the motherboard. Even stock chipset cooling solutions these days are more for aesthetics than anything else. The coolant comes in the right port (as seen from the front with the plexi on top), goes down to the chipset cold plate, cools the chipset and then takes a U-turn upwards before heading out the left port.

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There are machining marks everywhere, even the chipset cold plate, aside from where the actual coolant goes through which seems to have received a polish. I would have liked to see a polish on the cold plate itself, seeing how small it is, but I also realize that this is not going to do anything tangible from what we have here already. I also noticed another partial fingerprint beside the cold plate here which was an easy fix but should not have been there. We saw this also with the Supremacy MX where it was on the jetplate so I urge EK to improve on their QC as business expands more.

Now back to the larger piece. 4 of the same screws hold the CPU cooling section (or engine, as EK calls it) in place:

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The monoblock uses the same cooling engine as from the original EK Supremacy which was a very good CPU block to begin with. Given how the Supremacy Evo is out already, let's see the differences accordingly:

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For x99, the Supremacy Evo comes with a 0.1mm thick jetplate compared to the 0.77mm thick jetplate here. This by itself does not mean much since a much larger block will not be susceptible to bowing as much, and the thickness of the jetplate depends also on the height of the microchannels and the contact pieces above it. Speaking of the microchannels:

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The Supremacy Evo (cold plate on the left) has had a lot of use since I got it, please excuse its relative tardyness. A good wipe and polish will make it look like the one on the left that is from the RVE monoblock. Aside from that, there is an increase in the microchannel number on the Supremacy Evo. We have a 1.27″ x 1.27″ area coverage of microchannels (aside from the corners of course), compared to 1.27″ x 1.36″ in the Supremacy Evo. This means there is a larger heat transfer area from the cold plate to the coolant with the Supremacy Evo, and really no reason to not use this itself seeing how the cold plates themselves match. In fact, I was able to install the Supremacy Evo cold plate on to the RVE monoblock without any issues. But knowing how everything else was not designed for this, and also how people won't really have the luxury to swap this around, I don't recommend going this route in general. For the tests, the original cold plate was used to eliminate any issues and also to represent the product as it arrives. But a quick test done with the Supremacy Evo cold plate showed some marginal improvement in CPU core temperatures, but within the margin of error to draw any conclusions.

Unfortunately this is where I had to stop because of one single screw on the top that had a stripped head out of the box:

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There was nothing I could do to get this out, and so the disassembly ends here. But the only thing left to be seen was the top plexi piece and the bottom metal piece separately so I am not going to lose any sleep over this. Now let's take a look at the installation section.

Installation
The pictures below were taken for demonstration only, and done post actual testing and disassembly. So if you notice any broken seals or some condensation from distilled water inside, now you know why. Given how the product only works with one motherboard, there's no surprise that we begin, and end, with the Asus x99 RVE:

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This assumes that you are doing installation on the motherboard as you get it new out of the box. If not, do remove the CPU and replace the plastic cover on top and also remove the RAM sticks too. Given the nature of this monoblock, the stock socket backplate is incompatible. So we need to dig into the motherboard accessory box and find the replacement backplate:

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This comes with a Torx T20 key as well, but EK does provide one with the monoblock. You have to loosen the 4 screws holding the socket latch mechanism and backplate in place, enough so that the backplate can be removed. If you read my review of the Supremacy MX, you would realize how much I dislike this from an average consumer's point of view but this was actually a lot simple due to the nature of the socket here. Once loosed enough, the backplate simply falls off:

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I think you can see where this is going. Install the new backplate by lining up the holes and screwing down the 4 screws. Just make sure you have the insulated surface in contact with the motherboard PCB:

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Congratulations, you have finished the most difficult part of the installation process. No, really you have. The rest of it is quite simple. You need to now remove the stock heatsinks from the motherboard. Note that this can be done first as well but I would recommend getting the backplate part done and doing a quick test on air to make sure everything is ok and you did not do anything to the socket pins or the socket itself during the swap. Now is also the time to install the CPU back in (but hold off on the RAM just yet):

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Let's begin with the chipset heatsink:

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There is a backplate here held in place by 4 larger, flat head screws. Ignore that, and unscrew the smaller 4 screws that don't interact with the backplate:

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Asus uses what definitely feels and acts like pink bubblegum here. It is also very hard to completely remove from the chipset die. Do the best you can but don't worry about having some of it left over.

Next up is the piece that houses the ROG LED in the middle. To remove this, identify the 3 screws just above the PCI-E lane distribution table on the back side of the PCB:

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Now disconnect the 2 pin LED header:

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There isn't anything here that this piece is cooling. It may look and feel like the other heatsinks but all it is doing in providing a housing for the LEDs. The monoblock thus also ignores this section completely. The only reason to remove it is because it comes in the way of the block itself.

Now on to the VRM heatsink. It has a backplate as well, and a heatpipe that goes to another heatsink that doubles up as an I/O cover. Two screws on the backplate, and 4 on the I/O cover section that need to be removed from the back:

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Keep that backplate around, as it will be re-used. Make sure to not lose that thermal pad on there as well. Here's a look at the board sans these removed pieces:

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Looking from the back, it just seems like a Rampage V Black Edition needs to happen now. But I digress, let's get the monoblock on now. Begin by cutting the provided thermal pads into shape over these two sections here:

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Once done, remove both sides of the plastic covers on the thermal pads. The actual VRMs are on the lower section which comes in contact with the VRM cold plate we saw earlier, and the top pad goes over the inductors just as a safety measure in case some boards were manufactured out of spec and contact the metal block above. If you notice no contact, then your board is absolutely fine. To aid in heat transfer, you can consider having some TIM (electrically non-conductive, the provided GC-Extreme works fine here) over each of the VRMs. But the stock VRMs on this motherboard are very good to begin with and so the thermal pads provided are plenty enough. No need to go buy expensive Fujipoly Extreme/Ultra Extreme pads here either.

Next up, apply TIM on the chipset die as well as the CPU IHS. The smallest of grains is plenty for the chipset, and in fact what I put in here for the demo ended up being more than needed:

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For the CPU, there are several trains of thought. I prefer a single line down the middle for LGA 2011/2011-3 but ended up using less than optimal here as I found out soon:

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Now get the block and the mounting accessories out. Keep in mind that the spacers/insulators around the CPU itself are removable but don't do so:

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Having made sure they are all on, peel off the stickers from the self-adhesive washers and glue them on to the 5 standoffs on the chipset section:

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Make sure to not block the threaded holes on the standoffs. The washers are simply to prevent any shorting issues that could occur by having the standoffs in direct contact with the motherboard PCB.

Now you can either place the block down with the cold plates facing up and align the motherboard with the holes or go with the motherboard down and place the block on top while aligning the holes accordingly. Personally I found that doing the latter, then lifting the two together and rotating the set by ~45º allowed for an easy installation- this kept the block on top (with one hand holding it in place) while giving enough room underneath to screw these together. Begin with the 4 M4x8 screws around the CPU itself. These can be hand tightened down to give the block some rigidity while working on the other ends:

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Now use the provided screws and Allen keys (M3x8 goes through the VRM backplate w/TIM on the top and M3x5 goes through the chipset backplate at the bottom). Screw these down alternating between ends and then screw in the 4 M4x8 screws fully till you run out of thread. No guess work needed anywhere which is good to see.

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Mounting each time was really consistent, and once you figured out how much TIM is needed then it is no trouble to get a good spread. For example, even with the non-optimal TIM application from earlier:

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Just adding a bit more on the CPU and adding less on the chipset gave me 5 good mounts during testing. The thermal pad over the VRMs also made good contact with the block as seen here:

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The other pad had no contact at all, which I suppose just means that this motherboard was built to specs. Yay!

One small section on filling and bleeding this:

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Due to the complex nature of this block, it will take longer to fill and bleed this completely so be aware of that.

Now on to testing, beginning with liquid flow restriction.

Liquid Flow Restriction
Testing methodology

I used a Swiftech MCP50X pump with a FrozenQ 400mL cylindrical reservoir. The pump was powered by a direct SATA connection to an EVGA 1300G2 PSU, and was controlled by an Aquacomputer Aquaero 6 XT. There was an in-line flow meter previously calibrated, as well as a Dwyer 490 Series 1 wet-wet manometer to measure the pressure drop of the component under test- in this case each radiator. Every component was connected by 1/2″ x 3/4″ tubing, compression fittings and 2 T-fittings with the manometer.

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Do click on the image for a better look if need be. The gist essentially is that EK's claims hold true here. The coolant enters the inlet port on the left, falls directly over the jetplate which then splits it into two and goes through the microchannels. From now the flow is actually split in parallel with one half going up to the VRM on the right, traversing to the left and coming to the outlet port, while the other half goes down to the chipset block (right port) goes through it and comes back up the left port and meets the other exiting stream at the outlet port. This, combined with no necessary routing of the coolant or inserts as in the Supremacy Evo, means that the monoblock ends up being less restrictive than very many CPU blocks even with this essentially doing the same function as 3 blocks. This is some excellent design, especially noting how the Bitspower kit is more restrictive than the Bitspower CPU block it uses and is good news for people using pumps with lower head pressure such as the EK DCP 2.2 and DCP 4.0. What about thermal performance? Let's take a look now.

Thermal Performance
The test was done on the following system:

LGA 2011-3: Intel i7 5960x

The behemoth 8 core, 16 thread unlocked CPU is the current enthusiast top CPU from Intel. Running at ~$999, it is one that benefits from a custom loop for sure.

Motherboard: Asus ROG Rampage V Extreme ( of course!)
RAM: Corsair Dominator Platinum DDR4 2666 MHz (4x4gb)
CPU frequency: 4.4 GHz at 1.3 Vcore

Testing methodology

Pump: Swiftech mcp35x2 set to 1.2 GPM
Controller: Aquacomputer Aquaero 6 XT
Radiator: HardwareLabs Black Ice Nemesis 480GTX with Noiseblocker NB-eLoop B12-3 fans at full speed
TIM: Gelid GC-Extreme

Everything required was placed inside the hotbox and the ambient temperature set to 25 ºC. TIM cure time was taken into consideration and 5 separate mounts/runs were done. For each run, a 90 minute Intel XTU stability test was performed. XTU is a stability test from HWBot that uses a custom preset of Prime 95 to ensure the load is uniform on each run. CPU core temperatures were measured using Aida64 and average core temperature was recorded at the end of each run. Loop temperatures were recorded using 2 inline and 1 stop plug type temperature sensor connected to the AQ6 and the average loop temperature was recorded at the end of each run. A delta T of CPU core and loop temperature was thus calculated for each run with an average delta T then obtained across all 5 runs. This way the cooling solution is taken out of the picture. The average is reported below with standard deviation accounted for:

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Interactive version here

There is only way to install this of course, so regular or goofy orientations do not apply here. We see that the performance here is not as good as the EK Supremacy Evo which does make sense given how this is based off the older Supremacy. But it still comes within 1 ºC on average of the top performing CPU block which is really good. Comparing this to the other full cover kit I have here from Bitspower, it also performs better than the competition.

What about the VRM temps?

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Interactive version here

There's only one other liquid cooling solution here, and there is very little to pick between the two. Both do a good job compared to the stock cooler which, in this hotbox, benefited from the active airflow too. Chances are that the difference might well be greater in a typical case if air cooling is not set up correctly. Then again, note that the X-axis in delta with respect to ambient temperatures so the rest of the cooling system comes into play here- pump, radiator, fans- which can favor the waterblocks. If I end up getting more RVE motherboard VRM blocks then I will plot out a waterblock only chart taking loop temperatures into accord.

As far as chipset temperatures go, given the nature of the ~5 W TDP here there is really nothing to distinguish between any of the 3 and were within margin of error. The delta T value itself is also so low that even that stock heatsink is really overkill for it.

Conclusion
The EK monoblocks for the Asus x99 RVE cost $186.99-$191.99 in the USA as of the date of this article, depending on the exact variant chosen. The obvious price comparisons would be (1) EK Supremacy Evo + EK Asus x99 motherboard kit, (2) Bitspower Summit + Bitspower Asus x99 motherboard kit, (3) Watercool Heatkiller IV Pro + Heatkiller RVE motherboard kit and (4) Bitspower RVE FC kit. Combination 1 costs $208.94 for the nickel plated variants (copper versions will be $192.90 in total), combination 2 costs $209.90, combination 3 costs $69.95 just for the CPU block in nickel/plexi with the motherboard kit not available for purchase in the US yet (€119.95 inc. VAT from Watercool directly, before shipping, for the nickel plated variant) whereas combination 4 costs $169.95. Aside from the last one, the EK monoblock definitely makes the most sense financially. But keep in mind that this is motherboard specific whereas CPU blocks at least can be transferred over for the time being.

The EK monoblock is a high flow component which will definitely come in handy for people worried about loop restriction. It performs well thermally, and comes close to a margin of error difference compared to the current CPU block leader on my 5960x. It also cools the VRMs down a lot, especially compared to the stock cooling solution. As far as the Bitspower FC kit goes, the EK monoblock outperforms it everywhere. Also, this is a true monoblock- there may be several separate pieces but they all have to be together for the block to work. The Bitspower kit is composed of 3 separate blocks and a large connection piece. In the end it does not matter much but this does seem to have taken more effort in the design.

Having said that, I only wonder what would have happened if the Supremacy Evo cooling engine was incorporated here. The current setup works well, but then again the same could be said about the transition from Supremacy to Supremacy Evo itself. Finally, installation here is not straightforward, but not as bad as I thought it would be. It took me longer to fill and bleed this than it took me to install it from the beginning.

It comes down to this- will you be keeping the Asus x99 RVE for a long time? Given the nature of Intel CPU releases and how the enthusiast platform lifetime is longer, it would be fair to assume that the EK monoblock accordingly will also have a long lifetime. Two things not considered yet will possibly sway your decision in favor of the monoblock- aesthetics and ease of loop plumbing. There's something else entirely about having a massive piece of plexi (with colored coolant) or acetal covering half the motherboard. Being able to plumb with just 2 fittings instead of 6 (if using discrete blocks) is very nice too, as is not having to worry about fitting sizes. You can easily fit in even the large koolance QD4 fittings here.

I don't want to drag this section along too much but seeing how the chipset here is on its own, I wonder what the interest in a CPU + VRM only block would be. Do let me know in the comments below, or pass on your comments to EK directly via social media. Thanks for reading!

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Robocop is #1 movie ever
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2,191 Posts
Nicely done. I am convinced. Now I just need to obsess on whether or not I want circles. Maybe I will get one with and one without. Or maybe not. I am curious to see this unit with indigo extreme.
 

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Call me VSG
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12,852 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Well do let us know how it worked out. You have one shot with Indigo Extreme but given how consistent this has been as far as mounting goes, I would like to think it would work well.
 

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Thanks for the review' am also curious about the indigo xtreme, I have both the block and indigo xtreme, maybe I'll take the plunge first lol
 

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1,313 Posts
Awesome review as always

Heres what weird...every time I buy something, immediately afterwards I find a review that you did relevant to my purchase. For example, I just took the dive and bought the 5960k. Basically 6 cores FTW & FMYWALLET. Now Im in a desperate race to get a motherboard. I actually bought a z170 board and cancelled the order and went with x99 (for reasons)

So now I need a mobo and a block or blocks. Ive never had a large monoblock before and its interesting that you have to fill and bleed the block. It makes sense sits its so large and the flow could easily go through the block without ever filling it up. Ive only had to do something similar when I added my serial connector to my crossfire setup. But had you not put that picture in and mentioned bleeding it, I wouldnt even have thought to do it. So thanks. Otherwise I wouldve been on the forums wondering how I keep seeing less fluid in my res and not knowing its the air from the block making its way through. I wouldve thought I had a leak and torn the whole thing down. Again, thanks. You have no idea how much trouble you saved me.

My next question...do you prefer monoblocks over having separates? I really need to figure out which mobo Im going to get. My new cpu is going to be here tomorrow and I have to be able to test it. Always had ASUS mobo's but I cant drop $500 on a board. So the scramble begins
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But if you think Monoblocks are the shizzle (yes, I used that term), then I might consider only buying a mobo that has a monoblock. Decisions...
 

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2,754 Posts
I've used both the, the stand alone blocks for cpu and vrm as well as the mono block for this board.

Stand alone
+Better cooling performance for both cpu & vrm.
-More clutterered.

Monoblock
+Cleaner look and less clutter.
-Worse cooling performance on both cpu & vrm.
 

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Call me VSG
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12,852 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Worse cooling is not really a concern anymore now that EK is using the Supremacy Evo innards in their newer monoblocks. They also only cover CPU + VRMs so it makes even more sense to me- especially for those who don't switch hardware often.
 
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