Ever since my first escapade into liquid cooling, I’ve been obsessed with GPU water blocks. A piece of acrylic often sandwiched between machined metal and housing either copper or aluminium fins that’s deeply satisfying to watch in action. It turns your PC’s thermals into a functioning work of art, and the next generation of water blocks set for Nvidia Ampere’s RTX 30-series graphics cards are masterpiece-grade.
There are two designs that have won me over: one from EKWB and another from Corsair. Neither have been officially launched per se, but they have been either teased or spotted online—and they’re stunning. Take a look below.
Perhaps it’s the compact design, made possible by Nvidia Ampere’s new PCB and cooler design—that push-pull fan configuration is useful even if you’re looking to peel back the included cooler and fit your own. The EKWB model has ports extending out parallel to the PCIe connector and is sure to find a home in some absolutely gorgeous gaming PC builds.
What’s not yet clear is which water block designs will work across different PCB designs. The Nvidia Founders Edition, despite a long history otherwise, is not utilising the reference PCB—that is to say it’s non-standard. Some water blocks, then, will be built to accommodate reference third-party cards, while others may make the most out of Nvidia’s tiny PCB and new 12-pin angled connector.
The Corsair design was scraped off the Corsair website (via Reddit)—and the tell-tale new 12-pin connector confirms its Ampere intentions—while EK teased its design over on Twitter. There’s also a listing for another RTX 3080 and RTX 3090 compatible water block from EKWB on Google, which now redirects to a 404 on EKWB’s webshop. This is different to the block pictured above, and appears to be for the reference PCB design.
Furthermore Bykski has unveiled its RTX 3090 and RTX 3080 compatible block, which is built for the Founders Edition models.
I would say it’s a shame to tear the Founders Edition cooler off—it’s a rather capable design as Dave explains in our Nvidia RTX 3080 review—but when the liquid-cooled alternative looks so good I’m not going to lose any sleep over it.