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EK is Imploding | Investigative Report


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EK Water Blocks is accused of non-payment of contractors, employees, and suppliers. We dug into the story and came into contact with now over a dozen people, at time of publishing, who verified various versions of this report.

 

We have collected spreadsheets, cost sheets, chat logs, screenshots of emails and messages, contracts, and tax status information painting a picture of a company driven into the ground by a CEO put in place by the founder. The story is bleak, and we think EK's only chance at recovery is IMMEDIATE rectification followed by swift internal action to correct company culture, behavior, and handling of money. EK's founder must now bear the difficult burden of righting his ship, but at this time, it is unclear how much the founder might be implicated in all of this.

 

EK has taken legal action against some who have spoken out. GamersNexus has prepared all necessary evidence in the event a follow-up is required or if EK becomes further legally active.

 

Edited by Slaughtahouse
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Everyone here knows I do not have very positive opinions about EK and their role in the industry these days, but I do feel bad for any employees who aren't being paid what they are due if true.

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  • Slaughtahouse changed the title to EK is Imploding | Investigative Report
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10 hours ago, Slaughtahouse said:

 

 

As usual, great investigative work by GN. I personally do not bare any issues with EK, however the situation between them, their employees and suppliers is a complete mess based on this report. Not a good situation at all, fingers crossed the employees get what they are owed as soon as possible... without hours shaved.

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23 hours ago, Barefooter said:

It will be nearly impossible to "right the ship" after something like this comes out!

For some, for sure, but for those who need a product and are only interested in getting what they need, EK will still have plenty of buyers.

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10 minutes ago, ENTERPRISE said:

For some, for sure, but for those who need a product and are only interested in getting what they need, EK will still have plenty of buyers.

Corsair is quickly taking over the entry-level WC business, and I feel like the higher-end stuff is becoming less niche with a select few companies establishing themselves more and more in that space. Those that already go with Watercool, Optimum, etc., the 'bougie' stuff, wouldn't likely go back in a hurry to EK. And the entry-level anything business is always super competitive and has even less brand loyalty.

 

EK has been losing customers from both, and if this is how they handle things internally - I don't see them ever correcting either path. They have long been charging premium prices for mid-range products, and while we all hoped they'd right their ways... I don't think it's going to happen.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Alex
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13 minutes ago, Alex said:

Corsair is quickly taking over the entry-level WC business, and I feel like the higher-end stuff is becoming less niche with a select few companies establishing themselves more and more in that space. Those that already go with Watercool, Optimum, etc., the 'bougie' stuff, wouldn't likely go back in a hurry to EK. And the entry-level anything business is always super competitive and has even less brand loyalty.

 

EK has been losing customers from both, and if this is how they handle things internally - I don't see them ever correcting either path. They have long been charging premium prices for mid-range products, and while we all hoped they'd right their ways... I don't think it's going to happen.

 

 

 

 

And their pricing premium only keeps going higher!

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14 minutes ago, Alex said:

Corsair is quickly taking over the entry-level WC business, and I feel like the higher-end stuff is becoming less niche with a select few companies establishing themselves more and more in that space. Those that already go with Watercool, Optimum, etc., the 'bougie' stuff, wouldn't likely go back in a hurry to EK. And the entry-level anything business is always super competitive and has even less brand loyalty.

 

EK has been losing customers from both, and if this is how they handle things internally - I don't see them ever correcting either path. They have long been charging premium prices for mid-range products, and while we all hoped they'd right their ways... I don't think it's going to happen.

 

 

 

 

Definitely. There are other companies out there that have been around for a good long time, generally speaking not the same large product range but a competitor to EK all the same. 

 

Fortunately we have a decent selection of companies to choose from even if EK went the way of the dodo. I have thus far not really had many quality issues with EK but hear about the downhill quality problems from others. My only issue was with a recent CPU Block purchase whereby the nickel plating had left blockages on the cold plate. It eas easily rectified...but that is not the point.

 

I have not owned a single Corsair WC product so cannot comment on how good they are but so far as their product range, they have come on leaps and bounds.

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I will give credit where it's due. EK is very good at a few things. 

  • Marketing/branding
    • They actually advertise 
    • They sponsor a lot of builds/content
    • nice packaging
    • They have staff on popular forums to answer questions
  • Online configurator
    • Very noob friendly
    •  suggests things based on desired use case, but also offers an "expert mode" to override and  manually select things
  • Quick launch following new GPUs + wide compatibility
    • They obviously work with manufactures to get samples ahead of release to have block on the market sooner
    • They tend to offer designs for all the common AIB models
  • A one brand solution
    • They offer everything from blocks to rads to tubing so you can stick to a single brand

Unfortunately they aren't the best when it comes to making quality products or standing behind them. I understand that by being a larger company dealing with a larger volume of product, that you will have more failures. And people speak louder about issues than good experiences. The problem is the horror stories about dealing with their customer support. If they would take pride in their products and just warranty things with no hassle, that would really help their brand image. 

 

Nobody gets everything right. To get the best possible loop, you'd end up piecing something together from multiple bands. EK offered an OK option for every part if you just wanted to go to one vendor. Corsair now offers a very similar experience and they did it quickly by outsourcing from well regarded brands to do so. Their fittings are Bitspower, the rads are HardwareLabs (L-series so a bit lower performance than GTS and GTX equivalents). Their coolant was a Mayhems blend not sure if the newer version still is... 

 

I've been into watercooling for quite a while and I have used just about every brand from Danger Den to Optimus. I have plenty of EK products and I have experienced a lot of their common issues. Outside of the EK-Pro lineup, I wouldn't buy any of their new stuff. 

 

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45 minutes ago, Fluxmaven said:

Their coolant was a Mayhems blend not sure if the newer version still is... 

 

No one knows. Corsair has basically just said they source the new stuff (XL8) from Taiwan and that it's incompatible with their old Mayhems blend coolant (XL5). I'd guess a generic glycol based premix.

 

As for the rest of your post, I have not had one single good experience with an EK product, not one. The Evo Supremacy plating was awful and flaked away in a way that blocked up the fins leading to system freezes from hitting 100C on the 4790k. Was also missing mounting hardware in the box when new. Similar story with my old 980 Strix block and its plating. The only EK part I have in my current rig is a reservoir/pump unit and that is because it's what Micro Center had stocked locally when I needed one. I've snapped two of the plastic retention arms so far just from trying to take the pump out of the housing. 

 

 

Edited by Sir Beregond

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Only EK product I've used in recent years was an AIO I won during an early foldathon here at EHW, like in 2020 or 21 or so.  I appreciate the gift from a folding event, but yeah.......the EK Basic 240 is already failing and its seen less than a year's (actual) use.  If anything, I'd say that AIO has probably 6 months worth of actual usage on it, if that.  And its already failed.  It honestly was probably beaten by air coolers from the factory, my 5800x never did run correctly with that AIO on it.

For out of the box parts, I'd trust an aliexpress cheapo knockoff air cooler LONG before I'd put anything modern EK in my system again.

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Their ZMT is good, but even that I found it's just better to go with Watercool's version as it's much more pliable and doesn't harden over time.

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Posted (edited)

Some of the Youtube comments worth highlighting:

 

Quote

Slovenian person here, employed in slovenian "computer dev" private sector for 2 decades. After seeing the LinkedIn list and the description of how these people behaved, I can only say you've experienced ""the "balkan" way the things operate"". Not proud of it and most of people will deny it; but in Slovenia, that saying goes. Things will not get better and in my country, the CEO will sack or get rid of the company, start a new one and rip people off some more AND debt will NOT! be repaid due to the laws here. He will do this simply because he can as there are no state level repercussions to it. It's a level of almost normal conduct in my country and while people try to flee from these practices, there are others who love them. Seems that was the case here.

 

Quote

Lawyer here, and you are correct that there are legal remedies for nonpayment of salaries that could be quite severe for EK. Practically speaking, however, they are also not paying their taxes, which may suggest an impending bankruptcy (likely a chapter 11 reorganization since the company has underlying value). If they do enter bankruptcy, the lawyers, government, and employees will get paid first (likely in that order), assuming the US entity has the money to pay. A wave of employee litigation may speed up that bankruptcy, but really if they're not paying their taxes the writing is on the wall. I am curious what kind of illiquid investments led to this shambles, but the company culture seems to be a big part of the blame. Fantastic reporting.

 

Quote

I am an attorney. I don't generally practice labor law. However, I can say that every state which I am aware of, including Texas, has a statutory provision that awards attorneys fees to successful plaintiffs (employees) in lawsuits for unpaid wages. If you are an employee and your employer has not piad you your wages for more than a month contact a local labor attorney. They will assess your case for free and if your case is viable they should take it on contingency. Contingency means that the lawyer will front all of the costs for the lawsuit and will be paid their costs fees by your employer in the final settlement or award.

 

Quote

My employer and by extension myself have had quite the struggle getting EK to be cooperative with us after making several purchases in the tens of thousands. We started distancing ourselves about a year ago. A lot of our difficulties with them are starting to make sense with this coming to light. Keep up the good work.

 

Quote

"We'll see you at Computex. I'll be there. No takesies backsies." Truly terrifying words from Steve.

 

Edited by Slaughtahouse
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5 hours ago, Alex said:

Their ZMT is good, but even that I found it's just better to go with Watercool's version as it's much more pliable and doesn't harden over time.

ZMT can be ok, but its such an inconsistent product, why risk it? Sometimes its rather dirty. Often times its out of ID/OD spec tolerances.

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Lol, does this mean all my EK water cooling items will become rare commodities in the future that I'll be able to ask for and receive a fortune for them on (e.g.) eBay?

 

Note to self: never tee off Tech Jesus.

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18 hours ago, schuck6566 said:

Steve from GN spent $40,000 on this follow up video about EK. Dedication!

 

 

Great coverage as usual. I have to say, EK is a real mess for all sorts of reasons. It really shows that the culture is entirely screwed up.

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1 hour ago, ENTERPRISE said:

 

Great coverage as usual. I have to say, EK is a real mess for all sorts of reasons. It really shows that the culture is entirely screwed up.

 

Explains why so many of us, generally speaking, avoid EK. I just didn't expect it to be THIS bad. Too many horror stories that are likely driven by the systemic issues within the company. Whether its products failing, customer service, high costs compared to comparable alternatives, and their overall marketing strategy. Appealing to the (larger) market focused on RGB, shiny stuff vs. highly performant equipment. 

 

Thanks for sharing the follow up link from GN. I'm about 50% through that video. Super interesting content, could be a A&E special.

 

Next time on Slovenian Greed

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4 minutes ago, Slaughtahouse said:

 

Explains why so many of us, generally speaking, avoid EK. I just didn't expect it to be THIS bad. Too many horror stories that are likely driven by the systemic issues within the company. Whether its products failing, customer service, high costs compared to comparable alternatives, and their overall marketing strategy. Appealing to the (larger) market focused on RGB, shiny stuff vs. highly performant equipment. 

 

Thanks for sharing the follow up link from GN. I'm about 50% through that video. Super interesting content, could be a A&E special.

 

Next time on Slovenian Greed

Yeah, well I know I will be steering away from EK, not just from a concern on quality, but I cannot support a business that has a culture of treating people the way they have.  The same goes moving forward for any of our prizing and reviews, we will no longer be making contact with EK for either, unless they have seriously mended their ways and even then I am still unsure about it.

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38 minutes ago, iamjanco said:

The saga continues:

 

 

@26:10 "Is there a cultural issue between the Europeans and American's?" Edvard replies "Do you understand the cultural difference between Europe and America?" lol, Like it's a great divide that can only be conquered by a select few..... emoji_u1f644.png

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GN is one of the only tech channels that does actual journalism... as usual.  I haven't dedicated the time to watch any of these yet but I've kept up otherwise.  Aside from an AIO (yes, one) I've not been a watercooling guy but EK was always the "go to" brand a newbie to it like me heard so it's quite interesting to see how the mighty have fallen.

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