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
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  • buhusky - Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - link

    i'm interested to see the comparison of these vs. the stock air cooler included with the processor. sure, i could go find it somewhere else, but it'd help make this a more complete review if it was all just here, imo Reply
  • Beenthere - Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - link

    Unless you have some space limitation preventing you from using a quality HSF, a Closed Loop Cooler is a poor choice and has the very real liability of a water leak damaging your hardware, data loss, RMAs, etc.

    When you can buy a highend HSF for ~$60. that cools better, is quieter and never leaks water to damage your PC hardware, you'd be ignorant to buy a CLC which is inferior in every way as independent testing has confirmed.

    The Xigmatek Aegir SD128264 double heat-pipe HSF is a perfect example of a very quiet, cost effective, HSF fully capable of cooling an AMD FX CPU OC'd to 4.8 GHz. without issue. There are other HSFs with dual fans that cost more but few perform better than the Aegir. Note that the Xigmatek Aegie and other HSFs cool better than the Corsair H100 and AMD CLC cooler both of which are inferior and can leak water.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...

    http://www.frostytech.com/articleview.cfm?articlei...
    Reply
  • FriendlyUser - Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - link

    Thanks for the review. It would be great to include the stock cooler and a good air cooler (Noctua, Thermalright or even the cheap CoolerMaster 212 EVO).

    I'm tempted by closed-loop coolers, but I'm not sure the technology is yet mature. I think it's the future...
    Reply
  • etamin - Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - link

    I'd like to see a CM Hyper 212 thrown into the charts for some kind of air cooler reference. That would be a big help to determining value. Reply
  • cmdrdredd - Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - link

    As was said it would be nice to have a really high end air cooler from Noctua like the NH-D14 in the charts for reference. I mean, the noctua can be found for around $80 and the mounting is solid (no plastic to strip although it is heavier so...). Is a $140 closed water system worth an extra $60? Reply
  • rrohbeck - Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - link

    The NH-D14 is on sale for $69.99 AR today at Newegg. Reply
  • Spacecomber - Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - link

    Are these kits strictly designed to be CPU coolers, or are they expandable to include GPU and maybe even MB chipset cooling, too?

    Sorry if I missed the answer to this in quickly reading through the article. It seems like if you are going to switch over to a liquid cooling system, you'd also want it to include the GPU (at least this would be true for enthusiasts who also enjoy computer gaming).

    If these are CPU only kits, I suppose they might find a place in a media player computer.
    Reply
  • A5 - Thursday, December 27, 2012 - link

    These kits are CPU only. You could probably hack a GPU block into one of the dual-length systems, but at that point you should just go full custom and get better performance. Reply
  • Foeketijn - Friday, December 28, 2012 - link

    There are simple mounting frames to screw the 2012 Antec and corsair blocks on any recent GPU. But from what I see in reality, most people use tie wraps ; ). IMHO these closed loop cooler are more suitable for GPU's since the radiator conducting properties (relatively thin and aluminum) are often the limiting factor (considering the results according to the tweakers who changed the radiator of these things). The efficiency goes up when you
    1. Get more air in contact with the radiator (bigger radiator, better fan, a bit of spacing between the fan and the radiator to avoid airflowing "dead spots")
    2. Get more heat from the water to the actual air (copper radiator, more fins etc.)
    3. Get the temp delta bigger. (colder air or warmer water)

    Cooling the GPU does number 3. Since modern GPU's can draw a lot more power than a CPU especially @stock and they function without a problem at much higher temps.
    Reply
  • Novuake - Thursday, December 27, 2012 - link

    No Static Pressure readings? Nothing about the pumps on these thinks? Thermal paste that come with them? Really... What is going on with Anandtech? MORE DATA! More effort into this PLEASE... Reply

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