Sharp. Shiny. Solid. Three best words I can come up with to describe the presence of this block. The sweeping arcs of the mounting bracket and the second tone/texture on the top are the only things that aren’t a sharp edge, even the mounting holes are hexagonal; and it looks great in person and it feels great in person too. It’s a heavy, solid block. It’s also really shiny, but shiny without being reflective. The machining marks are visible because of it, but buffing them out would probably also reduce the angular play of this block (and introduce unnecessary reflections). Having to use round fittings and tubing is a bit of a letdown with the aesthetics of this block. My aesthetic opinions aside, there are some other things to note about the look and assembly of this block.
First, the barb spacing is really tight. Using 3/8-1/2″ Bitspower and Koolance compression fittings isn’t possible (and larger is obviously even more impossible). Even using 3/4″ OD tubing can be really tough, depending on your clamps. The cuplex kryos HF edition addresses this slightly, allowing for 3/4″ OD tubing and 1/2″ OD compression fittings to work more easily, but the few extra millimeters don’t buy you the ability to use large compressions at all.
Second, there are only 4 screws used on the entire block–and they’re on the underside. This means any alteration to the mounting hardware or the inner o-ring requires everything to be disassembled. This issue is very much a form vs. function argument, but I’m going to side with function here. Installing the thicker inner o-ring wasn’t particularly easy as I was trying to juggle the two mounting brackets, the screws, the base, and the o-ring trying to escape the cavity. This same issue would crop up when switching socket hardware as well. The screws themselves are an improvement from Enzotech/Heatkiller/Koolance, but only by a little–these are just larger hex screws. I’d really like to see Torx be implemented in the unseen places of blocks, especially the base fastening since that’s where I have the most stripping issues.
Third, the mounting kit included with my block was horrible. Nearly unusable. Threading the screws through the backplate, through the plastic spacer, through the rubber insulator (that is open-ended where LGA1366 screws go, so it gets out of position easily), through the board, through a washer, and into the hexnut is a chore. It’s possible though–what was almost impossible on the hardware sent with my block was threading the screw into the hexnut as it just wasn’t catching easily. Reviewers have been assured that the issue in the mounting will be fixed by the time it retails. But even when it works, I still don’t like this mounting that much compared to how refined the Swiftech/D-Tek/Koolance mounting kits are. Compared to the EK and HK mounting systems, it’s superior for three reasons: no need to thread nuts down a couple inches of threading (vs. EK), the use of thumbscrews and beefy springs (vs. HK), and as long as you don’t lift the block off during disassmebly, the hexnuts don’t loosen from the backplate/board assembly (they do on the HK). Long story short, assembly shouldn’t be required. Assembly is okay when there is a benefit, but there are simpler and better mounting systems out there.
All griping aside, there are some really, really nice things about this block. The base is just great. Rectangular micropins are a great idea and, as you’ll see, work great. The flowpath is as simple as possible, minimizing restriction without forgetting performance. I’ll reiterate that the screws on the base are an improvement compared to what Enzotech/Heatkiller/Koolance blocks use. The solid feel is on par with Swiftech and Koolance and the ‘tightness’ is on par with EK (as witnessed by the deformation on the base from the bow). No, the pins are not in a perfect grid, but that’s a non-issue in terms of performance and they certainly won’t break off. As many words as I used nitpicking about parts of this block, it really is very well thought out and very well constructed.