As with any PC water-cooling system, I highly recommend leak testing the assembled system for at least 24-hours before powering up the computer. Depending on your level of confidence, you can install all of the components into the PC, connect the components together outside the PC, or use some combination of the two (i.e. reservoir and radiator assembly installed into case with the waterblock and pump temporarily set outside). You can use either a spare external power supply to deliver 12 VDC to the pump or jumper the PC’s power supply ATX connector (Pwr-On to Gnd) for testing.
The basic installation of the COOL water cooling kit involves installing: (1) the reservoir, (2) radiator/fan assembly, (3) pump, and (4) waterblock. Corsair provides a large, colorful Quickstart Guide as well as a detailed User’s Manual (in printable .pdf format) on CD-ROM. For the most part I found the detailed documentation to be easy to follow and clearly written but there were a few omissions.
The one-piece plastic reservoir is designed to slide into in a spare 5.25′ drive bay. Using drive rails to permit sliding the reservoir out for filling is very desirable.
Be sure to leave a little extra tubing length to allow the reservoir to slide in and out of the drive bay after installation.
Using the included RadBox makes installing the radiator and 120mm fan very simple. If desired, the radiator can be installed inside the case if a 120mm case fan opening is available. Using the RadBox to install the radiator/fan assembly on the outside of the case may offer slightly better performance as cool room air will be pushed thru the radiator instead of warm case air.
The first step in installing the radiator is to assemble the radiator-fan-RadBox frame- grill. The base plate of the RadBox then gets mounted onto the back of the case over an existing case fan opening. The RadBox uses a universal mounting arrangement that permits installation over a 80mm, 92mm or 120mm case fan opening.
Once the radiator/fan/RadBox assembly is mounted to the back of the case, tubing to and from the radiator can be routed thru a spare PCI slot using the provided bracket. This bracket also includes a connector for plugging the radiator fan into for power.
The COOL kit DDC pump can be positioned on the floor of the case or in a spare drive bay as desired. A double-sided adhesive pad is provided for mounting the pump.
Once the pump is positioned, the attached 4-pin Molex can be plugged into a spare drive connector for 12 VDC power and the 3-pin tach signal lead can be plugged into a spare motherboard fan header to allow monitoring pump speed.
For this review I am using an Athlon 64 CPU so I will be using the supplied K8 mounting hardware that attaches to a standard Athlon 64 steel backing plate.
After the CPU IHS and waterblock base are cleaned with isopropyl alcohol, apply a little thermal grease and position the waterblock and mounting bracket on top of the CPU. Carefully tighten the two mounting screws to compress the springs a little at a time until they bottom out on the internal spacers.
Once all the main COOL kit components are installed, various lengths of tubing can be cut to connect all the pieces together. The recommended order of flow is:
Reservoir > Pump > Radiator > Waterblock > Reservoir
Filling the system
Now that all the components are installed and the tubing is connected, its time to fill the system. Corsair recommends using distilled water (or DI water) with the Corsair COOL additive. Unfortunately they do not tell you in what proportions to mix the water and coolant. The label on the bottle says the COOL additive is 95% propylene glycol (environmentally friendly, pet safe antifreeze). I mixed the bottle of coolant (225 ml) with 750 ml of distilled water. This produces roughly 1 quart of coolant with a 23% concentration of antifreeze.
I filled the system by adding the mixture thru a small funnel into the reservoir fill port (it took about 700 ml) while temporarily disconnecting one of the tubes going to radiator to allow air to escape while water flowed down into the lower components and tubing.
It is VERY important that the pump be completely filled with water before turning it on. You may need to jog the pump briefly to begin recirculating water thru the system and then top off the reservoir as the radiator becomes filled and all the air bubbles are worked out of the system.