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Cooler Master Aquagate Mini R80 Water Cooler
Author: Jason Kohrs
Manufacturer: Cooler Master
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Cooler Master Aquagate Mini R80 Water Cooler
December 06, 2005


Despite the extremely universal nature of the Cooler Master Aquagate Mini R80, the installation/testing will be conducted solely on a Socket 939 AMD Athlon-64 system.

The first steps need to be made in preparation of the installation. You have to remove the existing retention bracket on the motherboard, as the Mini R80 uses a custom mount that bolts through the motherboard. I am not really fond of taking my motherboard out of my case, so this was a bit of a disappointment to me. A device that seems to have made watercooling ultra-simple just complicated things by using this kind of mount. High end coolers generally use this type of design, but I was hoping for quick and easy.

The next step was to select the correct mounting bracket, attach two motherboard bolts, and to mount it to the base of the waterblock. The design of the interface allows the bracket to be attached in two basic orientations, 90 degrees apart from each other. Using four screws (included), I chose to mount the bracket as shown in the below left image. I then used some of the included thermal paste to give the surface a (relatively) thin coat. Once the block was prepared, I cleaned off the CPU and got ready to install.

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The two bolts on the waterblock pass through the motherboard and the universal bracket shown on the back of the motherboard (above right image). Some rather large nuts are used to secure everything, and I was initially concerned that they might be taller than the motherboard standoffs in the case. The motherboard was able to be re-installed, but I am still not convinced that these nuts aren't pressing against the case's steel plate.

The image below shows the cooler installed. As you can see, my selection of installation orientation has the tubes heading straight into the exhaust fan. A fan grill may solve interference issues, but it did seem better than sending the tubes against the PSU, DDR, or oversized VGA cooler I employ (Thermaltake Schooner). The bend radius and general design of the tubes seems like it may cause a bit of interference with a number of components in a variety of systems. Everything 'could' work out well here, but a better design for the tubing connection to the pump would make things way easier.

Click Image For Larger View

Another installation issue is related to the case on hand, and many others like it. Cooler Master offers an Aquagate Mini with either a 120mm or an 80mm fan. We happened to receive the 80mm version, although the 120mm version would have made installation a bit easier. Many cases now use 120mm fans for cooling, but the Mini R80 could still find a home in the variety of cases still using 80mm fans. I had hoped to use it on a mATX HTPC with 80mm fan mounts, but the pump assembly was just too tall to fit in the space available. The below left image shows the assemble fan/radiator combination positioned as tested... sitting on a box next to the case. In addition to having 120mm fan mounts available, the tubing was only long enough to reach the exhaust fan area.

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The above right image shows the fan controller dial installed in the expansion slot blank provided. Reaching around the case to adjust speed is easier than opening the case, but having something up front is always my preferred method.

After testing I removed the pump assembly to check on something I was concerned about as soon as I saw the size and shape of the waterblock. As you can see by the thermal paste residue in the image below, the waterblock does not cover the entire top surface of the processor. Every cooler I have used (that I can remember) had a base at least large enough to accommodate the entire surface of the CPU. I would assume thermal performance would be better, and it just seems to make sense.

Click Image For Larger View

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