Like just about every other product on the market, RGB has been popping up in the water cooling market for a while now. It started on Monoblocks and EK even had it on their new Velocity line of water blocks. But their Supremacy water blocks have mostly been lacking with the exception of the Threadripper block. But at CES this year they have introduced their new lineup called the Classic RGB. They characterize it as “minimalistic and clean while maintaining class-leading performance”. That explains the Classic part of the name, but the second half also indicates that the new lineup has also added RGB lighting as well. I’ve actually had most of the components in the office to check out and now that the cat is out of the bag I can share them with everyone. So today I’m going to check them out and do a little testing as well.
Title: EKWB Classic RGB Lineup
Review Samples Provided by: EKWB
Written by: Wes Compton
Pictures by: Wes Compton
Amazon Affiliate Link: HERE
Supremacy Classic RGB
You can’t really have a new product line without CPU water blocks, especially when you are EKWB, WB standing for Water Blocks. For CPU water blocks they have kept things very simple with just two blocks. One is the EK Supremacy Classic RGB AMD and the other is the Supremacy Classic RGB Intel. They don’t (at least right now) have any other options. Both came in the Nickel plated and plexi configuration and there aren’t any other variations on the books right now. I’m okay with that because I think the clear Plexiglass with the shiny nickel plating is the best looking for most builds.
I love EK’s packaging, you get all of the information you need on the white sticker including a line drawing of the water block and a short description of the block and the Classic RGB lineup. Then down along the side, they have specifications and the serial number. You will notice that they have just focused on AM4 support. AM4 has been out long enough at this point that I don’t think many people are looking to water cool their old AM3 system so I don’t think that is a big deal.
In fact, with this supporting just the one socket it simplifies a lot of things. When you open the box up the block comes pre-assembled and wrapped up in a bag with a small tube of thermal paste. You need to take the two layers of plastic off of the EK logo on the block and the sticker off the bottom, but I love that you can use this out of the box. Normally with water blocks, and you will see this with the Intel, they support multiple sockets so you have multiple backplates, mounting screws, and sometimes even different springs that you use depending on the socket. Speaking of which, the AM4 block doesn’t come with a backplate at all thanks to AMD using a solid metal backplate with their socket stock. So installation here is as simple as removing the AMD brackets, putting thermal paste on the CPU, then using the built-in thumb screws to tighten the block down.
Dimensionally the Classic RGB is the same size as the Intel with that square shape. It's only the AMD bracket that gives it that tall look. The mounting bracket is powder coated in a nice texture black and if you look closely you can see that the bracket is all one piece. The other thing that stood out to me is the bracket is actually slotted, so AM3 support is there you will just need the different mounting screws.
So what sets this block apart from the other Supremacy blocks from EK? Well in most ways this is just like the Supremacy Evo lineup with the exception being the only nickel and plexi blocks they have are for the sTR4 and for X99. The top block on the Classic RGB mixes the transparent look with a black metal portion down at the bottom. The black cover at the bottom of the block is there to mount and cover the built-in RGB. If the Classic RGB name wasn’t obvious enough, yes these products all have RGB lighting. These blocks specifically have an RGB strip with three RGB LEDs on them down at the bottom. The black cover helps prevent the LEDs from being seen directly and letting the plexi top diffuse the lighting.
If you have only ever worked with All in One loops you would be really blown away with the finish that EK runs on the bottom of these blocks. Look at that perfect reflection. The nickel finish looks amazing, turning that smooth finish into a mirror.
As far as styling goes, some may miss the circles, and frankly, when I saw the word classic in the name I thought maybe these blocks would have the circles. But all you really need for that classic EKWB look is their EK logo, simple and to the point.
Like I mentioned earlier, the AMD bracket is all one piece and in fact, it is locked into place between the nickel and plexiglass portions of the block. Pulling the four screws out of the bottom gets everything apart for cleaning and if you want you can convert this to Intel or narrow ILM LGA-2011 using the brackets EK sells on their website. You can also switch over to a full nickel plated bracket as well or you can refinish your black bracket to match the color of your build. It is also important to note that the bracket can be flipped horizontally if your motherboard orientation requires it to keep the waterblock top still oriented correctly. That isn’t needed with the Intel bracket, but with AMD's longer shape it is nice to know you aren’t locked in one way.
One rubber o-ring tucked into the octagon shaped grove is what keeps everything sealed together. You can see that this grove sits higher than the mounting bracket grove so the o-ring sits directly on the machined bottom for that perfect seal. The base of the Classic RGB does have the same layout as the Supremacy EVO and EK sells replacements of those as well in both Nickel and copper finishes, same with the o-ring.
The Intel model oddly enough doesn’t have the Intel name in the model name like the AMD model does. But the box is exactly the same with the exception of the new line drawing and a longer list of CPU sockets supported in the specifications on the side of the box.
Now when you get inside of the box there is one major difference between the Intel and AMD Supremacy Classic RGB’s. Where the AMD model came together and with no other parts. The Intel model needs a big pile of accessories to have that multi-socket support. In addition to the water block and thermal paste that comes in one bag. You have a bag with the backplate and rubber seal (notice that has Intel and AMD holes) and then a mounting bag. This gets you two sets of mounting brackets depending on if it is LGA-2011 with its own backplate or the rest of Intel’s mainstream lineup. There is one set of springs, washers, and thumbscrews that work with both mounting bolts. Then you have two replacement jets. Those are the thin razor blade looking plates. These change the restriction and flow depending on your CPU socket. The third is pre-installed in the block itself.
Both the AMD and Intel blocks have the same base components so it's no surprise that this black has that same amazing mirror nickel finish. I love that reflection.
So the big difference here is the Intel X shaped bracket. Beyond that, we have the same black brushed metal finish on the bottom edge that covers up the RGB lighting. You can see how the RGB light cable runs out on the bottom right from behind the cover. The plexi top cover is thick and all one piece. The name of the block isn’t cut into the side like with the original Supremacy Evo, but otherwise, it looks a lot like it, only with that black accent at the bottom.
I mentioned the lighting, but I should also point out that the RGB cable with both water blocks is about a foot long and has the traditional four pin header. This will plug right into most motherboards, assuming the plus is in the top portion of the board, reachable from the CPU socket. If you want to run more than just one you might have to get creative with a splitter, especially if you want to run all three of the Classic RGB components, most motherboards don’t have three RGB plugs supported.
XRES 140 SPC PWM Classic RGB
The same brown box treatment that all EK products have carried on with the XRES 140 SPC PWN Classic RGB. The white sticker that seals the box has that ice line drawing on it along with a short description of the product and the Classic product line. Then the specifications are on the bottom portion as well as the serial number for the pump/res with that grey sticker.
Inside the box, there are two small bags with all of the included accessories. One bag has an extension cable for the PWM cable that powers the pump, the second has everything else. That includes two Allen wrenches, five mounting screws, five plastic washers, and a PU anti-vortex foam insert.
So this pump reservoir combo should look familiar to EK users and that is because this isn’t an all-new design. Like the CPU water blocks, this is just a new revision that incorporates RGB lighting to a classic product. The product name actually helps us break this one down. The XRES part of the name is just the reservoir designation, specifically, this is a reservoir that has a pump plate on the bottom. The 140 designation just means the length of the reservoir is 140mm tall. Then SPC stands for the pump it uses. The SPC pump is EK specific and while in photos it looks similar to the DDC, it is slightly smaller, also as the PWM might imply it is a four wire PWM pump. Then last but not least the Classic RGB just means they have gone with a transparent block between the pump and reservoir where other SPC and DDC pump/res combos from EK have a black block and of course it has RGB lighting.
Taking a closer look around the pump/res you can see that there are two cables that will need to be plugged in. One is the four pin RGB header, just like the CPU blocks. The second is the four-pin fan header that powers the water pump. The RGB cable is about a foot long, just like with the water blocks and I think with this especially you may need to look at an extension cable depending on where you mount and how you route your cabling. But funny enough the PWM cable is even shorter. EK went with a super short cable here but they include an extension cord. As someone who has had to sleeve and shorten pump cables before I like this decision, even if it felt weird at first. This lets you work with an extension cable or even buy readily available extension cables and not cut up the cable attached to the pump.
For connection options, they have kept things simple. There is a fill port up top and then the left side of the pump (using the logo for orientation) has one in and one out with your standard G1/4 threaded ports. They have them labeled and the input is a little higher than the output. This view also gives a good look at the mounting posts on the bottom of the SPC pump that have metal standoffs with rubber on the bottom half to cut back on vibration.
The right side of the pump, when using the EK logo badge for orientation has the same black brushed plate that the waterblocks had. This is where they have the RGB lighting tucked away. The lighting faces into the transparent block between the pump and reservoir so I am curious to see how they will look when lit up.
Here is a look at the top cap. It threads on to the cylinder-shaped reservoir and in the middle is has a G1/4 threaded hole with a chrome plug.
Peaking into the reservoir you can see EK did mount an anti-vortex plate that can be used by itself or with that foam addition they included.
The pump doesn’t have too much going on. I already touched on the rubber pump mounts, this is the only mounting option for this pump/res combo out of the box. EK does have a whole page full of different bracket designs and I suspect their X3 Reservoir mounting clips would also work if you prefer that type of mount. The EK logo is visible on the bottom of the pump. I also have a picture of that short pigtail PWM cable that they went with as well as the traditional RGB four pin connection for the lighting.
FC RTX 2080 +Ti Classic RGB
The last component in the current Classic RGB lineup is their FC RTX 2080+Ti Classic RGB. I love EK naming because again that tells us exactly what we have. This is a Full Coverage waterblock for both the RTX 2080 and RTX 2080 Ti, specifically any cards that use the Nvidia reference PCB design at least. The box for this again has that brown box treatment like all EK products and the white product label. Funny enough I did spot a big typo on this one, but these were early samples. As you can see in the specifications they have this listed with AM4 CPU socket compatibility, it should be interesting getting it to fit! But the top of the tag helps us out and is clear to point out that this is an RTX 2080 and RTX 2080 Ti card.
Inside of the box, the block itself comes up under the cardboard flat. On top, you get two bags of required bits. This includes a lot of screws and plastic washers for the installation. You also get a small tube of EK TIM just like the CPU blocks and the two different Allen wrench sizes you will need for the installation. There are two G1/4 plugs for the block as you can pick from two different directions for in and out flow holes so you need to plug the two unused holes. Then there are two strips of thick thermal tape needed to replace what comes on your card for all of the other contact surfaces other than the GPU itself.
Here is the back side of the block, as you can see even with this being a full contact water block it does not have the metal portion of the block running the entire length of the card. There are plexiglass portions at both ends that are going to give you a peek at the PCB while still protecting it. The GPU contact surface is in the middle and you can see the memory contact points in a partial circle around it. They carved the water block name into the unused area between the two. Then out on the outer edges, you can see all of the VRM contact points on the far right and far left along with the portion.
The nickel finish on the entire block looks amazing but I was most concerned about the contact surface at the GPU and frankly I wasn’t all that impressed. Unlike with the CPU blocks, this one looks like it may have missed the last machine pass. At first glance with the thermal paste on top for a reflection, it doesn’t look too bad. But when you look down on it you can see large swirls. Machine marks aren’t out of the ordinary and frankly, I’ve seen much worse, but I was just surprised this block didn’t get the same mirror finish as both CPU water blocks.
As for the RGB lighting, it actually runs the length of the bottom of the block and then from there, the plexiglass has a carved out area to fit the cable. The pigtail for the RGB has the standard four pin connection and is 10 inches long, just like with the other Classic RGB devices. I love how they carved the grove just around that standoff. Speaking of which, even in the transparent areas of the block EK did use Nickle finished standoffs. They are thick with a nice round and smooth finish. I don’t think most people will see them, but it’s a nice detail.
The front of the block has a thick plexiglass across the top that in addition to giving us a look inside of the block also covers up the PCB down at the end to keep it safe. As far as the waterblock goes, you can see that it flows in from the left port and down through the jet and the thin fins directly over top of the GPU. From there it flows both directions to cover the memory and VRM then they join back together right below the exit port. It is hard to see in the photos but In addition to the EK logo down in the bottom right corner, they also etched the Nvidia GeForce logo.
Down along the bottom edge that same black brushed cover runs the length of the card and also wraps up over some of the plexiglass. Like on the pump and the CPU blocks this is where the RGB light strip is mounted and it helps block the direct viewing of the LEDs for a better look.
The terminal cover up on the top is also in a nice black finish. Unlike the EK Vector water block for the RTX 2080 and 2080 Ti, the Classic RGB has an older style blocky terminal cover. It is more of an everything you need and no extra material used for angled edges or anything. That said it does still have the EK logo and EKWB branding carved into the top edge though I would prefer it to be RTX or the Nvidia logo to help show which cards you have inside. The terminal has flow through ports if you want to run two cards in parallel or with the include G1/4 plugs you can hook the input and output up to either side.
Putting the FC RTX 2080 +Ti Classic RGB on to the RTX 2080 Founders Edition might make some of you a little nervous, it is not as easy as installing your CPU water block. That said it wasn’t any different than any previous water block experiences. In fact, I was surprised that the Founders Edition wasn’t any harder than the GTX 1080 to take off, taking the cooler father apart than that is a whole different story. But to install the waterblock you just need to remove the original cooler safely and clean everything up. The main thing here is having a quality small screwdriver to use, all of the screws are small especially what Nvidia used on the backplate. You start by pulling all of those tiny screws out to get the backplate off. From there each of the locations that had a backplate screw now has a bolt-like screw with a tiny hole in the top. You need a 4mm tool to remove these, it just so happens that my screwdriver when I remove the bit is the perfect size for these so they came off quickly. There are four more large spring-loaded screws around the GPU then you need to remove the three larger screws on the PCI bracket and the cooler will pull right off. Be careful not to damage the ribbon cable when unhooking that and you are all set to start cleaning. EK has a nice instruction manual on the product page that shows all of this. It also shows where to install all of the thermal pads and how to put your new thermal paste on.
Here is a look at the RGB lighting for the block without any coolant. I was impressed with how they managed to get light into every portion of the card, not just a little in the middle or the end. The long light strip along the bottom helped with this. The GeForce logo lit up with the lighting and all of the water cavity had light around its edges.
Installation and Performance
For testing, I took this as a chance to do something I have been wanting to do for a while now. Water cool our video card test bench. When taking thermal pictures of the back of video cards our Noctua NH-U12S has been getting in the way. I’ve been extremely happy with its performance, but given that, this test bench doesn’t change but every few years a water loop has been needed. I would have just tossed an AIO kit on it years ago but the Wetbench while designed for water cooling, needs longer lines than any of the AIO kit offers to be able to mount the radiator where it is needed.
Sadly though, this was a last minute plan so I had to scavenge the parts that I still needed including fittings, lines, and a radiator. The fittings I found from our old Fridge build, same with the tubing. The original plan was to use transparent tubing, which I also had but I forgot how little fun the extremely tight tubing was compared to our nice white tubing and that matches the orange and white Wetbench. So I got what I needed out, an old XSPC radiator that was surprisingly thick, two Noctua 2000 RPM IPPC fans, Swiftech compression fittings, the XRES 140 SPC PWM Classic RGB, and the Supremacy Classic RGB with the Intel bracket. Our test bench is an X299 configuration which makes installation a little easier, there is no need to remove the board to put the backplate on.
I was a little concerned that the thick radiator I went with wasn’t going to fit, but the Wetbench had room for it and the two Noctua fans to be mounted inside of the case. The removable bracket lifted off and you can mount the radiator to the bracket then the fans to the radiator in a push configuration to blow air out the back.
Getting the XRES 140 PWM Classic RGB mounted to the side of the Wetbench was without a doubt the hardest part of the whole installation. The Wetbench has a few mounting options but they are all side mounted and EKs Pump/Res has just those four bottom mounts. I dug around through my old extra brackets and ended up finding a Primochill bracket that would do the job, but I did have to drill out new holes for the SPC pump. Once I did I was mounted and good to go.
Installing the Supremacy Classic RGB waterblock wasn’t too hard. The LGA 2011 socket has the built-in mounting points so I just had to install the mounting bolts. They have knurled spots part of the way up to do this easily without any tools. The only issue I had here was that I installed the LGA 1155 mounts at first but I figured it out when I test fit the waterblock and it didn’t touch the CPU at all. You put your thermal paste on the CPU, slide the waterblock on than the plastic washers and springs. Then the cap bolts go on top. The springs don’t let you overtighten anything so you just snug them down and the black is installed.
I did have an issue with the huge fittings I had to use. They looked like they might fit, but you could install one but the second wouldn’t be able to spin to get tightened down. Because of that, I had to dig out a few swivel fittings to raise them up and apart from each other. Almost no one is using ¾ flexible these days but if you are, do keep in mind you might need to use a right-angled adapter or some other way to keep the fittings apart.
For tubbing, a nice pair of tubing cutters is needed, as you can see this is the tubing I decided to not use. The leftover white was much easier to work with. But from there you just plan our your loop then hook up one end of the hose. Remember with compression fittings to slide that on first. Then route and cut and connect the other end.
Once I was done installed distilled water, and tested for leaks and spent a LOT of time getting air out of that huge radiator I did do some testing. Your mileage will vary depending on the radiator and fans you are running, in this case, this was a very thick radiator with quality Noctua fans. I did thermal testing on both the Noctua NH-U12S I was replacing to our Classic RGB loop. The biggest surprise to me was the overall idle temperature. The Noctua cooler isn’t exactly an underperforming air cooler, but dropping 11 degrees at idle was nice to see and as an indication that I had a good contact with the Supremacy Classic RGB water block on our 7960X. From there I went through our normal tests. This meant using AIDA64 to load up the CPU. I test with the CPU load which is more realistic and the FPU load which is more demanding. I did this twice, once with the stock fan profiles from the Asus board and again with the fans and pump turned up to 100%. At the stock fan profile, things did run cooler. The 5-degree drop on the CPU load and 7 degrees with the more demanding FPU load. But I was happy to see than cranking the fan and pump up to 100% showed there was even more room left in the loop as the delta went up o 9 degrees for PCU and 14 for FPU.
I also did noise testing though to be fair the only thing that can make noise from EK was the pump. The Noctua NH-U12S, on the other hand, had just one fan where our loop had two fans that also had a higher max speed (2000 RPM). So I wasn’t surprised that at 50% fan speed things were about the same nor was I shocked when I turned the fan speed up to 100%. The two 2000RPM fans made a lot more noise at 49.3 decibels over the 43.9 of the NH-U12S. But I did note that the EK pump really wasn’t noticeable at either speed except when I had air in the loop. This was an ongoing issue when I did though. The design of the pump has the old coolant coming in right at the pump intake. So when you get air in the loop it really liked to pull the air bubbles right back into the loop when they did clear out. It might even be easier to temporarily hook the input line up to the top of the res if you have a lot of air bubbles to clear out. Beyond that, I have loved the setup!
So let's run down through what EK is actually introducing. The new lineup is called Classic RGB and it is a small lineup. EK is only bringing out what you see here as well as a backplate that goes with the RTX 2080+Ti waterblock as well as a 120mm fan mount for the included pump. The rest of their lineups have so many variations available that it can be a little daunting for some people when trying to decide so I like that you basically just need to pick from the AMD or Intel model for the CPU waterblock and they just have the one RTX based Full Coverage waterblock right now. The matching pump/res combo is only available with their SPC pump and in the 140mm reservoir combo though I imagine it would be easy for them to make a taller or shorter model.
So what is the point of the new lineup? Well, obviously every company is scrambling to slip in RGB lighting into their products for the past few years now. EK brought out their Velocity lineup just recently even which is an all-new block design and most of them have RGB as an option. But beyond that, if you want a traditional or a “Classic” looking EK water block with lighting you really could only do it with Threadripper. So EK is just refreshing a few popular models with that nice black brushed cover and lighting. Then the FC RTX 2080 +Ti Classic RGB is a little more than a refresh. This is EK bringing their classic GPU block styling to the RTX lineup, but of course, they are including RGB as well.
In my testing of the Supremacy Classic RGB CPU block and the XRES 140 SPC PWM Classic RGB, I was really happy with the performance improvement over our GPU test benches former configuration. It also added a little more style. The Asus Apex motherboard already had a few LEDs but the lighting looked great. I took a few pictures of them in action below. The CPU block is dominated by the lighting, as is the pump area on the pump/res combo, but the fade while going up into the reservoir is a nice look. Of course, if you don’t care at all about RGB you can just never plug any of it in. Personally, I’m most likely to go with white or orange lighting to match our Wetbench.
I was really curious where all of these would fit into the EK lineup price wise so here is a breakdown. First off, the RTX 2080 +Ti waterblock is $50 cheaper than their current Vector line of water blocks. It is also nice that it supports both the RTX 2080 and the RTX 2080 Ti, previously these were two different blocks. Not that I imagine anyone other than a reviewer would ever have both to swap between the two. Both Supremacy Classic RGB CPU blocks are noticeably cheaper than what is in the EK Supremacy EVO lineup right now. The red and blue models would be the closest to compare with and they are $85.99, a $16 lower price and adding RGB lighting is a nice deal! Same with the XRES 140 which is $94.90 which is basically the same price as the same pump with a 100mm reservoir and no lighting. So in addition to bringing back some of the classic EK styling and adding RGB, the Classic lineup is also going to be a nice cheaper option while still getting the same EKWB quality that you expect.