EK Supremacy PreciseMount Add-on Naked Ivy ReviewManufacturer: EKWaterBlocks
UK Price (as reviewed): £3.95
US Price (as reviewed): $4.99
It's been nearly a decade since we water-cooled a CPU with no heatspreader. They were introduced for a very good reason - crushed cores. We only managed it once or twice, but it's a sickening thing to have happen nonetheless. Back in the days of rather iffy waterblock mounts that were very much left up to the user to decide things like pressure and level mounts, the risk of a crushed core was high.
Thankfully, since the Integrated Heat Spreader (IHS) was introduced, crushed cores have been a thing of the past. However, if you're keen to get every last degree of cooling out of your water-cooling kit, then it probably won't surprise you that the IHS usually doesn't help things. It's just an extra layer between your thermal target and shiny waterblock, which means that in theory, heat won't be able to get from your CPU to your waterblock as quickly. There is the argument that the IHS helps to spread the head across a larger area and may aid cooling, especially with large contact area waterblocks that are pretty much the norm nowadays.
On the left our de-lidded Core i5-3570K and on the right without its heatspreader - click to enlarge
However, as we all know, Ivy Bridge CPUs shipped with a little issue. Intel decided to use thermal paste instead of solder for the contact between the actual CPU core and the IHS. Coupled with the fact that the thermal paste seems to be severely lacking in thermal performance, Ivy Bridge CPUs have generally been quite poor overclockers, due to the fact they tend to get very hot very quickly, even if you have high-end water cooling. Sadly, the same seems to be true for Haswell CPUs too, as you can read about in our review of the Core i7-4770K
and this news story
. It wasn't long before enthusiasts took things into their own hands and it's now not uncommon to physically remove the IHS to replace the default paste with a higher performing one.
The results have been pretty clear, with substantial drops in temperature, especially under load. And, now there is a way to go about the process with a greater degree of safety. EKWaterBlocks has recently started selling special mounting supports for its Supremacy waterblock that allow it to sit on a bare CPU core. The mount has been specially made to apply enough pressure without risking a crushed CPU core.
We used Coollaboratory Liquid Pro as our thermal paste - click to enlarge
The Supremacy PreciseMount retails for a paltry £4 and includes replacement threaded pins for your Supremacy waterblock. As you'd expect, they have lock-off points to prevent you over-tightening the thumb screws. The kit also includes plastic washers that you'll need to place under the pins to achieve the correct height for the waterblock and prevent any undue pressure on the exposed core.
The kit includes washers and replacement pins which are slightly shorter than the stock ones supplied with the Supremecy waterblock - click to enlarge
The pins themselves are also slightly shorter than you'd expect due to the fact you'll need to remove the socket mechanism from the motherboard as it gets in the way, with the exposed CPU core sitting a few millimetres lower than the heatspreader. To remove the socket mechanism, all you need is the supplied star wrench to remove the three screws holding it in place. Needless to say you'll need to be incredibly careful not to ding any pins in the CPU socket. We left the CPU in there as long as we could to help protect them.
Removing the socket mechanism is pretty easy, just be sure not to damage any pins - click to enlarge
We'd already de-lidded our CPU and there are hundreds of guides on how to do this. it's actually pretty easy, needing no more than a razor blade, as the heatspreader is held on with only a mild adhesive and thermal paste. To test the mount we took temperatures using Coollaboratory Liquid Pro
thermal paste, applying it to the core and both sides of the heatspreader. We then mounted the waterblock three times, both with and without the heatspreader, using the two different EK mounting kits.
Our test settings were a 4.6GHz clock speed using a vcore of 1.3V, a triple 120mm-fan radiator and Laing D5 pump with just the CPU in the loop cooled by the EK Supremecy waterblock. We'd already seen a 14°C drop in temperature compared to the stock CPU under load by removing the heatspreader and applying new thermal paste and we've included this result in the graph as well.
Heatspreader removed + EK Supremacy PreciseMount
De-lid + Coollaboratory Liquid Pro
Stock Core i5-3570K (4.6GHz 1.3V)
°C, lower is better
The difference between a stock CPU and post de-lidding is clear - it makes a hell of a difference, at least for us. We also noticed much better results using a metal-based thermal paste than something like Arctic MX-2, particularly in the long term. With our CPU loading at a 14°C lower delta T with an ambient temperature of 23°C, the EK Supremacy PreciseMount managed to knock a further 3°C off the delta T - not quite what we were expecting but its a 7 per cent improvement nonetheless.
The EK Supremacy PreciseMount is about as niche a product as they come but equally it performs perfectly and is extremely fairly priced. That said, the hassle and risk involved in having to remove the standard cooler mount coupled with the fairly modest performance improvement means its probably not worth it for most people, over simply de-lidding and applying better thermal paste.
It will be interesting to see if the kit catches on, especially in the wake of the Haswell launch and yet another generation of hot-running CPUs and high heat density. Have you de-lidded your Ivy Bridge CPU? Let us know your thoughts in the forum.