Design and Installation
We'll begin with the water block/pump assembly, which the most distinctive aspect of this closed-loop system. It is taller than most, and this is due to the dual-chamber design employed by Cooler Master.
“We stacked an extra chamber on top and engineered it so that cold stuff can go in, but hot stuff can't go back up. The cooler upper chamber is where we store all of the vital components.”
There are two pairs of brackets which attach to the sides of the assembly, for compatibility with AMD and Intel (pictured) processors.
The base of the block is solid copper, polished to a mirror finish.
You'll be relegated to the upper fan mounts in any of the deeper full-tower cases I've reviewed recently, as these hoses probably won't reach the front of a large enclosure.
If you look carefully at the radiator you might notice a user-accesible liquid refill port (top right corner). This is not actually meant to be used, as the sticker warning against removal indicates. Still, it's an unsual addition for a closed-loop cooler which is sealed at the factory.
The fins are advertised as 'square', which Cooler Master says creates "larger fin-to-channel contact". This design should in theory allow for better airflow and potentially quieter operation, though its effect on performance will be determined on the next page.
The fans feature rubber corners over a floating frame around the blades, and each offers a 3-position speed switch. (I tested the cooler with the fans in each of these positions).
The hoses feel strong and are sufficiently flexible, with enough length for the typical mid-tower enclosure.
First we need to prepare the motherboard. If you're using an AMD system or any Intel socket other than LGA2011, you'll first need to attach the backplate.
This is pretty much identical to what you'll find in other Cooler Master designs such as the Hyper 212 EVO, and is easy to install. (The backplate is not used for LGA2011 installation, and four standoffs are included instead.)
With the correct brackets attached to the sides of the pump assembly (there are different ones for AMD and Intel) it's simply a matter of lowering the cooler onto the CPU – after applying the included thermal paste, of course – and then tightening down the assembly.
The package includes a rubber gasket, which acts as an insulator between the fans and radiator. Once in place the fans feel very secure, and this vector for vibration should be quashed thanks to this design.
The fans themselves have a bit of an unusual design, with the frame around the blades sitting below the surface of the rubbery corners, which explains why the gasket was needed. Without it, the fans sat with the frame touching the metal sides of the radiator, and there was vibration noise. Be sure to use the gasket!
With the cooler mounted it's time to see how it performed!