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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  • A5 - Thursday, December 27, 2012 - link

    If you care about that stuff, you aren't going to buy a closed loop system. Reply
  • Novuake - Thursday, December 27, 2012 - link

    That is why I would like REAL data to compare with other cooling solutions... Otherwise whats the point of a comparison if I do not know how CLCs compare to a custom loop. Reply
  • jabber - Thursday, December 27, 2012 - link

    ....I installed it as Corsair directed as an intake and it's still installed that way. However, I was concerned that as the PSU (Corsair HX750) was sat above it and blowing out warm air that we would end up with a cycling of warm air back into the case which wouldn't help.

    I noticed that as my PC desk had a closed back that the air space behind the PC got warm. Warm air from the PSU was being drawn down so cool air wouldnt be going into the H50.

    So I devised a simple solution of sticking a simple air dam about 3 inches deep along the full width and back of the case just below the PSU. The dam was angled at 45 degrees therefore, 'pushing' the warm air up and over and closing the space between the back of the desk and the PC.

    This kept the air space below the PSU and right where the H50 intake was nice and cool.
    Reply
  • Treckin - Thursday, December 27, 2012 - link

    Would be nice if you at least mentioned the Antec pieces which were even a little ahead of the Corsair pieces (Until the recent "i" series) .

    Kulher 920?
    Reply
  • A5 - Thursday, December 27, 2012 - link

    Not a 2013 model. The H80 is only here to provide reference to the most popular 2012 model, the rest is new for 2013. Reply
  • monsooni - Thursday, December 27, 2012 - link

    I have been thinking about my case layout and air flow. I am using a Corsair 650D with the original H50 cooler. Since most "gamer" class video cards come close to closing off the air flow between the bottom of the case and the upper areas, it is possible that rotating the rear exhaust fan to become an intake, and using the top fan as the exhaust for the upper area, makes sense if you have a setup that closes off the bottom.
    That type of setup would give the case "zones" that could be managed for noise and temp separately of each other, similar to rack mount servers.
    Reply
  • Shiitaki - Thursday, December 27, 2012 - link

    In reading some of the comments, I had some thoughts on water cooling. This review is a comparative review, useful if you are deciding between the reviewed units. It also indicates trends, and gives an idea of the benefit to the big radiators. With enough are flow, you won't need a big radiator, using a big radiator really lowers the required fan noise, not just cooling. Indeed, a modern processor doesn't NEED a big radiator. Water is good for cooling, you may have noticed that even Porsche uses water now. Water carries ten times the heat. I switched from air to water and lowered the temp by 8c not because the water cooler was getting rid of more heat, but because the heat was being carried away faster with water running through the water block than being carried up copper pipes. When it comes to cases, who cares? Unless the testing happens to be done in the case you have or will have, does it really matter? I agree with the critique that some details about the pumps would have been good. Water cooling can make for a very quite computer, unless there is pump noise and gurgling going on. The inability of the sound pressure meter to go below 30 db is also not great. I can assure you that Apple's sound meter goes lower, having spent some considerable time trying to match the silence of an iMac. A great review to see, I went with Zalman just prior to the review though. It has what I think is a goofy Asetek mounting and has some pump rattle. The rattle is quietter after a couple of days. When it comes to cases, their is little novelty or innovation. The Raven series is the rare diversion in the industry.

    When I did a full fledged water cooling setup, cooling the video card was a huge difference, much more so than the cpu. Water cooling is what Nvidia should be using for their high end cards. There's an idea for Zalman, a closed loop system with a universal mounting for video cards.
    Reply
  • dusk007 - Thursday, December 27, 2012 - link

    Why a water cooling solution just for the CPU. They are big and expensive and CPUs are in almost any case (that you can fit one of these) easy to cool. The only point I see for water cooling is when one has a workstation with two sockets or some GPUs to cool but such a single CPU closed All-In-One solution is useless there.
    Is there really a market for nerds who only want an overclocked CPU and don't care about nothing else. A Gamer would want to cool the GPUs more as they matter and somebody that needs number crunching power will get more out of a two socket workstation than overclocking.

    Why aren't there any decent tests of Sets for actual water cooling that can incorporate 1-2 GPUs and not only the CPU which has more than enough space for a huge tower cooler anyway (and those work fine)?
    Reply
  • Treckin - Thursday, December 27, 2012 - link

    The Antec closed loop systems had the integrated USB interface far before Corsair, Im not sure why they arn't mentioned here. Also, I believe they are made by Asetek and judging by the look of the software in the NZXT, it looks like a bad reskin
    Not very thourough if you ask me
    Reply
  • darkfalz - Thursday, December 27, 2012 - link

    Would have been a good inclusion for comparison... Reply

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