Custom PC

OPINION: Should there be more water-cooling bundles?

By Antony Leather. Posted

This month I’ve been playing with a hardware bundle that MSI and EK sent me, which includes MSI’s MPG Z590 Carbon WiFi board plus a waterblock that cools the CPU as well as the VRMs. You also get EK’s leak tester thrown into the package, plus a voucher worth €50 to spend in EK’s online store.

The two companies partnered up for the Z490 version of the board as well, but that board was decidedly mid-range and water-cooling it seemed a little pointless in the first place. The new board, though, is much beefier, both in terms of its 16-phase power delivery and its price. At £300 inc VAT, it’s firmly in premium territory even if the MPG range sits below the MEG range in MSI’s motherboard arsenal.

Meanwhile, the bundled waterblock has a fairly standard-looking design that cools the CPU and both banks of VRMs – I definitely prefer these types of blocks to ones that just cool your CPU, as it usually pays to cool as many hot spots on your motherboard as possible.

The waterblock covers the motherboard’s VRMs as well as your CPU

The inclusion of all the gear in one box is definitely a boon, saving you having to fish around for a compatible waterblock on EK’s website. The inclusion of EK’s leak tester is a great idea as well – I suspect that many newcomers to water cooling, and maybe even quite a few seasoned veterans, don’t own one yet.

The results were good too, with a 5-10°C drop in VRM temperatures, and our water-cooling system was able to keep Intel’s Adaptive Boost Technology active for our entire 15-minute stress test on our Core i9-11900K. This means that all of its eight cores sat at 5.1GHz and didn’t move a megahertz.

However, it wasn’t the performance that impressed me most with the MPG Z590 Carbon EK X, but the price. The kit currently costs £450 inc VAT, which includes the motherboard, leak tester and waterblock. When you price up these components individually, and consider the included voucher too, you’re looking at over £530.

That’s an £80 saving, and the voucher could pay for your tubing and fittings, or go towards paying for a pump, reservoir or GPU waterblock. Being able to sell extra gear is probably why EK included the voucher too, but the point is that this bundle saves you money and includes all the gear (or money) needed to get the product working.

Water-cooling kits very often don’t meet both these criteria, and they also remove customisation from the equation. I think most people will want to choose their own fittings, tubing and coolant, and this bundle enables you to do that. If you want this board with a compatible CPU and VRM waterblock, as well as a leak tester, it’s essentially a no-brainer.

This got me thinking about whether other manufacturers should follow suit. We already have pre-water-cooled motherboards, but they’re invariably hugely expensive due to their unique integrated design.

Comparatively, the waterblock included here has only been tweaked slightly between models, so it isn’t expensive to design, plus it’s easy to fit, especially as the motherboard has also had its heatsinks removed.

Bundles such as this one offer a great way for manufacturers to make their products more accessible, and to encourage enthusiasts to head to their websites to buy the rest of their gear, especially if a voucher is included. If we save money in the process then that’s a win-win situation.

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