Today’s review of the EK Supreme HF Full-Nickel is a little different–the Supreme HF isn’t new to the market, or to us, but it’s undergone a variety of updates and revisions since we last tested it. The one thing that has remained constant through all the revisions and updates is the microchannel base, so performance should be similar, but based on how the Koolance CPU-370 outpaces the CPU-360, saying “same base = same performance” would be misrepresenting the truth.
Revision 1.0 of the EK Supreme HF is what we originally tested–it looked and felt a lot like an original Supreme but performed incredibly well. From there, EK gets a little sloppy with the revision numbers as there was a second, unnamed revision that was an all-metal (copper or nickel-plated copper) design with a square top; we’ll call that revision 1.9. Unfortunately, revision 1.9 had a minor design flaw: its barb spacing was too close together for the largest compression fittings to fit. EK rolled out a revision 2 to fix that oversight. Around the same time, the square top design was adapted to the acetal and acrylic varieties (the plastic versions of the square Supreme HF never had the barb spacing problem); at that time we finally had a full line-up with a consistent style. Revision 2 lasted until just about a month ago, supplanted by revision 3 (although EK is calling it “Easy Mount”). Revision 3 updates the mounting to the “Easy Mount” system, swaps in MX-4 for MX-2 as the stock thermal paste, and no longer includes injections plates #2, #3, #4, or the blank.
Today we’ll be testing revisions 2 and 3 of the full-nickel variety. There are a large variety of configurations you can buy a Supreme HF in–full-copper, full-nickel, nickel + acetal, copper + acetal, nickel + acrylic, and copper + acrylic. They range in price, looks, anti-tarnish ability, and possibly performance. EK will probably say they won’t vary in performance but the Supreme HF has a very deliberate bow and metal is (much) stronger than plastic. How does that change performance? Well, with different structural materials, the bow will be different and that means different contact and that means different performance (how much different is the question). When we tested the metal Swiftech GTZ SE against the plastic GTZ, they performed noticeably differently (they’re the only deliberately bowed block where we’ve tested metal vs. plastic top; the same base was used for both blocks). This is not to say that the full-copper or full-nickel Supreme HFs will perform better, this is just to say that the blocks have a chance of performing slightly differently. We’ll try to fit in a test of a plastic top Supreme HF when possible, but until then, I would only consider this review indicative of performance with a full-copper or full-nickel Supreme HF rev 2 and 3.
The last time we tested the Supreme HF, we mostly liked it–it was a tremendous performer but had an awful mounting system, dated looks, and the best injection plate wasn’t installed as stock. This time around, EK has a new mounting system, the looks have been updated, and the best mounting plate is installed as stock. That said, the block isn’t without flaws.
First, to change mounting plate, you need to completely disassemble the block as the mounting plate is sandwiched between the top and the base. The mounting plate also plays a role in holding the major o-ring in place and because the mounting plate doesn’t attach to the top, the o-ring is held between two objects that can move separately–any shifting and the o-ring falls out as you’re trying to assemble the block. The answer would be to just place the base onto a static top/mounting plate/o-ring assembly but you’re left blindly trying to place the injection plate on the injection chamber (which has no guidelines or posts to hold/place the injection plate).
Second, the heads on the hex screws (for use with a 2mm hex/allen key) strip too easily. This is something a lot of blocks have in common.
Third, while the Easy Mount mounting system is a big upgrade from the old mounting system, it’s still somewhere between mediocre and good in the grand scheme of things. We’ll get into this in more detail later.
So it has flaws, every block does, but these are usability issues and they demand a little more consideration than some of the more basic issues other blocks have. Flaws aside, how does it perform? How does the new mounting system work? Hopefully we’ll be able to answer all the questions in the rest of the review.