Ease of Installation

As I mentioned in the introduction, despite having six new closed-loop liquid coolers to test, there are only two actual procedures as far as installing the waterblocks; the rest comes from the variations in mounting the fans to the radiators and in turn to the case itself.

NZXT and Corsair both provide detailed, fairly easy to follow instructions for assembly, and they both make the same suggestion that's great for them but potentially impractical for end users: they suggest mounting the fan as an intake in the back of your case, bringing cool outside air directly into the radiator. This is a wonderful idea in theory, but in practice something I've rarely seen implemented. With rare exception, cases are designed to bring cool air in through the bottom and front and exhaust it out of the top and back (where the radiator will go). Assuming you don't have a dedicated video card in your system, this is a great idea, but the instant you start putting components into your case you run the risk of severely mucking up the intended airflow design of the case. For what it's worth, I don't think I've seen any boutique systems in for review that have actually oriented their closed-loop coolers (or even any of their radiators) in this fashion.

As for the installation order, it's going to depend on how roomy your case is: if you're working in cramped quarters, you may want to install the waterblock first and then mount the radiator. If you have room, doing it the other way couldn't hurt. I typically mount the fan to the radiator before installing the radiator itself whenever possible.

Seen above is the Intel mounting system for the Asetek coolers. They employ a backplate that fits smartly around the socket's backplate, and from there installation is handled in one of two ways: the NZXT way, and the right way. NZXT includes a retention ring that plugs into the bottom of the waterblock to keep the piece on the left in place, but this isn't actually how the Asetek waterblocks are designed to be installed. The piece on the left screws into the mounting backplate, but you keep it loose. From there, you insert the waterblock between the notches, then twist it so the block is held in place by the notches. Then you tighten the screws, and it's held securely and evenly into place. Do not use an electric screwdriver; the plastic holding the mounting posts inside the backplate isn't the most durable, and it's very easy to strip it.

You can see how the block mounts into place in this installation of the NZXT Kraken X60.

Seen above two parts of the mounting system for the CoolIT/Corsair blocks. The piece on the left is a backplate that mounts behind the motherboard, but you have to slide the posts into position and unfortunately you can get an uneven installation due to the backplate potentially pressing against the socket's backplate (and the screws therein). From there, you install retention screws from above the motherboard into the posts. The bracket on the right then goes over the waterblock, and four screw caps then twist onto the retention screws.

You can get an idea of how it comes together from the image above.

Neither one of these mounting systems are perfect, but I can tell you personally that I do prefer Asetek's solution. The CoolIT one is a bit more prone to an uneven fit, which resulted in my actually doing some retests while testing these systems. Asetek's mount is ultimately simpler, easier to work with, and more likely to evenly press the waterblock against the heatspreader. At least as long as you follow the instructions Corsair/Asetek provide, and not the ones NZXT provides, which include a superfluous retention ring that has the open round piece attach to the waterblock instead of the backplate.

Introducing the 2013 Closed-Loop Cooler Line-Up Software: Corsair Link and NZXT Kraken Control
POST A COMMENT

68 Comments

View All Comments

  • CaptainDoug - Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - link

    Very true. Unbiased with lots of data. Great stuff. Reply
  • Novuake - Thursday, December 27, 2012 - link

    Very technical? You mad? They did not go into ANYTHING technical on these coolers. All of this I can do in a 2 hours. Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - link

    Thank you.

    This review was actually my baby for a while, I'm glad it was helpful. :)
    Reply
  • mavere - Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - link

    Great review. However, I do wish you included a low anchor (like maybe the stock Intel heatsink) to help visualize the performance numbers. Reply
  • MrSpadge - Saturday, December 29, 2012 - link

    Anyone beats the stock HSF. A much more useful baseline (from my point of view) would have been a high end air cooler. Reply
  • DesktopMan - Sunday, December 30, 2012 - link

    Agreed. Throwing in a couple high end air coolers for comparison would be very useful. Reply
  • geniekid - Monday, December 31, 2012 - link

    Agreed. Reply
  • jospoortvliet - Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - link

    It was surely useful, thanks for that. The one thing I miss is a bit about the pumps. For example, the H60 is in some places said to have a better (more quiet) pump than the H50. If one wants to replace the fans anyway (for example because your case already has real quiet fans and you just want to mount the rad on there), this is a very important point of consideration.

    So, I'd love to hear exp between the X40, H55 and H60 - how do the radiators and pumps stack up against each other? You've played with them for a while, so I'm sure you have your thoughts on them...
    Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - link

    Honestly I continue to be on the fence about Corsair's pumps. The original H80 needed a refresh to get rid of pump rattle, and the H80i and H100i both needed firmware updates. Even then there's a hint of rattle in the H80i. The H55 and H60's pumps don't have any issues.

    The pumps in the X40 and X60 need to "air out" a little on their initial startup, but after that they're dead quiet.
    Reply
  • jospoortvliet - Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - link

    Thanks, really appreciate the feedback! I'll buy either the X40 (if it fits) or the H55/H60 and if the pumps and radiators are all similar I'll just go for the cheapest (H55).

    Cheers,
    J
    Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now