If you're a watercooling enthusiast eyeing Intel's upcoming Rocket Lake processors, you may be interested in the child prodigy that resulted from a collaboration between MSI and EK Waterblocks. It's called the MSI Z590 Carbon EK X, and it's a high-end motherboard that comes with a CPU and VRM waterblock from the factory styled to match and for a pretty modest price tag. At least for those looking to liquid cooling, this board could be a strong contender for our best motherboards page.
Of course, $499 isn't nothing -- that's still a ton of money for a motherboard, but if you consider that at the very high-end, some motherboards with waterblocks can easily command price tags well north of $1200, this may not be such a bad deal. It's the same recipe that the companies used for their Z490 series board, and apparently, it was a big enough success to go for round two.
More IO Than You'll Know What To Do With
The motherboard itself features a classic high-end MSI design with wildly over-specced VRM circuitry with a 16+1+1 Duet Rail power design around the LGA1200 socket. Four DDR4 memory slots are present, a multitude of expansion slots, two M.2 slots, PCIe 4.0 support, and, of course, tons of RGB.
Even the rear IO connectivity is to die for with more USB ports than you'll know what to do with (including 20 Gb/s USB 3.2 Gen2x2), 2.5 Gbe Ethernet, high-end 8-channel audio, and WiFi 6E. The rear IO shield comes pre-installed on the board for better shielding and installation convenience.
Topped with a Proper EKWB Waterblock
Meanwhile, the EKWB waterblock will take care of cooling, not just the CPU, but also that lavish VRM circuitry around the CPU. It comes with a milled copper block that has been nickel-plated for corrosion protection, sealed with an acrylic top. This acrylic will help the D-RGB effects shine through well, and it'll let you see the water channeling over the CPU and through the block. It even comes with a flow indicator built-in -- so you'll know: if it stops, you need to look at your pump real fast.
The board also comes with EKWB's leak tester and a coupon for $65 worth of credit in EKWB's webshop to get you started on the custom loop you'll need to complete the kit -- which, of course, is required to use this motherboard.
EKWB is taking pre-orders through its webshop starting February 22nd, with delivery in March -- and yes, we have a review of the board coming soon.
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Niels Broekhuijsen is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He reviews cases, water cooling and pc builds.