UK price (as reviewed): £309.98 (inc. VAT)
US price (as reviewed): $319.99 (exc. tax)
Building on our previous review of Thermaltake's Pacific C360 DDC Hard Tube kit, we're once again looking at a custom loop kit, this time from the Slovenian gurus at EKWB. Jumping into custom-loop cooling can be quite a daunting task thanks to both the relative complexity of planning out a loop as well as the expense involved and potential risks. To counter the recent rise in budget water-cooling offerings coming from mainland China, EK essentially went with the approach of 'If you can't beat them, join them.' That is to say it has released a separate line of water-cooling components that still offer full compatibility with other components on the market (unlike its aluminium Fluid Gaming lineup) but are produced in China instead of Slovenia. One of the interesting things we have seen of late is that China is more than capable of making some pretty exceptional stuff, so that in itself shouldn't be treated as a sign of lower quality.
EKWB's Classic line is designed to offer a clean aesthetic at a more affordable starting price, the idea being that if you want the fancier options, you can step up to the parts produced in Slovenia. Speaking of, last year we had the chance to visit EKWB HQ and tour the warehouse and manufacturing facilities, so if you're interested in seeing where and how those more premium parts are made, we suggest watching those videos!
In terms of the product stack, the P360 is at the top of the Classic kit range and sports a thicker radiator than the S360. We've mentioned before that 360mm is probably the sweet spot for entering the custom loop scene; lower than that and you're unlikely to be seeing significant improvements over AIOs or large air coolers despite a hefty price hike. Much like with the Thermaltake kit, EKWB's one is focused around lighting, with the fans, CPU block, and pump unit all sporting RGB LEDs. This particular kit is a soft tubing one rather than rigid, so it's fairly beginner-friendly; we'll examine that closer upon installation.
Opening up the kit box, you're greeted with quite the plethora of items. You have the CPU block, radiator, pump/reservoir combo, coolant concentrate, fittings, tubing, and fans. Additionally, there are several extras thrown in, including a number of cable splitters (handy given the number of RGB devices), a fan mount bracket for the pump/res unit, and a bridging plug. There's also a hefty manual with clear images and instructions, which is nice given the target audience. This also provides a reference for checking whether you've missed a particular adaptor in the box or similar.
There isn't a whole lot to say about the EK-Supremacy Classic RGB CPU block in isolation other than it looks pretty good. The Classic range sports a simpler aesthetic than the regular parts, which may well appeal to a fair few folks out there. I do like EK's thumbscrews for the block mounting; they're always visible, if present, so having them look consistent with the block is sensible, and not everybody does that for some reason.
The block has an RGB pigtail that you attach to a header on your motherboard, but it's worth noting though that this is 12V regular RGB and not 5V addressable. This is actually an interesting point, as the Thermaltake kit features addressable lighting and a manual controller as well as the usual motherboard software control option. With EK, you aren't able to control individual LEDs and effects on these parts, and you have to rely on your motherboard delivering the goods. EK's main lineup is going full ARGB, and it also has a new controller, so perhaps this will change in an upcoming revision?
The pump/res is a very important part; you really want to have a proper, powerful, reliable unit. This is where I have a bit of a sticking point with this kit, as it doesn't use a full-on DDC pump. Instead, it uses a PWM-controlled SPC pump, which is a considerable step down. Now, that's not to say it won't function, but I'm always wary of lower-power pumps, and there's also the chance that this pump could limit expansion options in the future. I would have preferred a cheaper DDC over the SPC, which I understand can be tricky at this price point, but the Thermaltake kit does have one, so it can be done. The pump/res unit here is again illuminated by 12V RGB LEDs.
The EK-Uni pump bracket lets you use 120mm fan mounts to mount the pump/res. This is a nice touch, as installing the unit can be tricky if you're not up for modding your chassis. It would have been extra special, though, had EK also included a 50mm reservoir clip so that the tube can be mounted on a bracket such as the kind included in NZXT's cases.
The fittings really are a spartan affair, as you get just six compressions and that's it. Sadly, no angled adaptors are included. Naturally, there's no drain system either, but that's more of a luxury feature and doesn't matter all that much for soft tubing. It would have been nice to see just two 90° adaptors thrown in here, as even with soft tubing they can be particularly handy.
The fans are EK's RGB Vardars, which are static pressure radiator fans. Again, these ones are the standard 12V RGB variety, so bear that in mind. Being static pressure oriented, in theory this means that they should perform well in higher-restriction environments and on thicker radiators. Thankfully, we can test that fairly well with the door closed on our
easy bake oven test system.
Coolant comes as a concentrate in this kit, so make sure you have some distilled water to hand when you go to install the system! It would have been nice to have a fill bottle included, but perhaps that's being nitpicky, as it's easy enough to do with a jug and some tubing. Alternatively, just pick one up locally.
July 1 2020 | 17:34