EK’s new mounting system, Easy Mount, is a big step up from their old, primitive mounting system. That doesn’t mean it’s great, however. I worry about its compatibility (from a mounting pressure point of view) with all sockets and it still has an initial assembly that (almost) requires you to completely remove your board. Like the old one, it is fundamentally the same installation procedure for all sockets, with the only a change in spacers/insulator between the backplate and the back of the board. Here’s a walkthrough installation on LGA1366.
All the parts needed, and some you don’t (the four black spacers and the four clear washers are needed, the four metal washers are not). Depending on the socket, a rubber insulator may be used in place of or in tandem with the black spacers. First four steps are to place the short screws into the backplate.
Steps five through eight are to place the black spacers on the short screws opposite from the screwhead. Step nine is to slide the backplate and screw assembly through the motherboard’s socket mounting holes. A flat surface is almost required for this step–without pressure to all four screws at once this is surprisingly difficult.
Steps ten through thirteen are to place the clear washers on the short screws. Steps fourteen through seventeen are begin to tighten the custom posts to the short screws.
Step eighteen is to flip the board over. Steps 19 through 22 are to tighten the custom posts to the short screws as well as possible. Doing these steps well is extremely important but also difficult–there is no easy way to grip the custom posts. If these steps are not done well, any time you remount the block, the custom posts will come off with the thumbnut and you’ll have to redo a significant amount of the installation; you also won’t have even mounting pressure if all posts aren’t tightened evenly. Step 23 is to flip the board back over. Step 24 is to place the block on the custom posts.
Steps 25 through 28 are to place the springs on the custom posts. Steps 29 through 32 are to tighten the thumbnuts down until they stop, at this point your mounting is complete.
I think this mounting system is somewhere between mediocre and good. Like the old one, the time and effort it takes to get the backplate/threaded post assembly loosely attached takes longer than the entire Koolance mounting process and significantly longer than the Swiftech mounting process. Unlike the old one, repeated use is actually pretty easy.
Attempting installation with a board that isn’t completely removed from the case (even connected to the PSU or to the HDDs) is really difficult. I can’t imagine doing it on anything but a flat surface either–the short screws don’t stick straight out (toward the board’s mounting holes) without pressure to all four of the screw heads at once and because they’re so short, an even, steady surface is really necessary for them to poke through the board’s mounting holes. It’s also hard to do just one at a time due to the black spacers required between the board and the backplate. I’m also not a fan of mounting steps that you need to get exactly right or regret it later (e.g., tightening the custom posts to the short screws).
Repeated use is where this mounting system does have redeeming qualities as it’s easy to use once the initial assembly is done. The thumbnuts don’t hurt your fingers and they stop at an even pressure–those are really important and good qualities.
However, there is a notable issue with a capped thumbnut system–it only has one setting. Without modifying the system or strategically adding washers, you can’t get more or less mounting pressure. This has me concerned that Easy Mount is not the most multi-socket compatible approach. Intel and AMD sockets are all supported by the same Easy Mount equipment but there is neither a single CPU/board relative dimension nor a single mounting force guideline. The springs included are short, stiff springs; a difference in 1mm of compression feels like it would be a really big difference in mounting pressure. Then there’s also the question of how strictly should they stick to the mounting force guidelines–if they could get more performance by going over the maximum force, should they? What if they chose the max performance pressure setting on Intel and that made it particularly difficult to use on AMD? What about future sockets?
It boils down to this: for a single mounting hardware spec to cover multiple sockets, a choice is needed between ease of use, performance, and compatibility (pick up to two). You can pick all three if you use multiple mounting systems, but that can be more expensive. Koolance chose performance and compatibility, making up significant ground in the “ease of use” category with a really simple backplate installation and finger-friendly thumbnuts. Swiftech doesn’t use their great mounting system on AMD, choosing performance and excelling with ease of use (but only for Intel sockets). Enzotech chose none-of-the-above; at stock their blocks are only compatible with LGA775, the EZ and Z adapters aren’t easy to use and stock mounting nor adapters provide very much mounting pressure. Where does EK fall? EK’s old mounting system chose performance and compatibility, eschewing ease of use (in a big way). With the Easy Mount, they chose ease of use with their capped thumbnuts (if you ignore the initial installation, it is easy to use), so that leaves the choice between performance and compatibility. Which did they choose? It’s really hard to choose some of both with such stiff springs, so I’m not sure that’s on the table. So if there’s a performance drop from rev2 to rev3, then they erred on the side of compatibility. If there’s no performance drop, questions need to be asked about compatibility.
Overall, I have mixed feelings about this mounting system. Repeated use is good, as is the even pressure the capped thumbnuts deliver, but the initial assembly is actually a little worse than the old one (shorter screws are harder to manage while dangling from the backplate) and then there’s still questions to be answered about compatibility vs. performance. The new aspects of the mounting system leave me impressed but the installation remains difficult. For a user who will only do two or three mounts before settling, it isn’t a huge gain going to the Easy Mount system. The initial installation needs to be significantly improved for this to be considered a good (or better) mounting system.