If two water cooling kit reviews in as many weeks isn’t testament to the increasing popularity of water as a viable alternative to air for CPU cooling, then the ever swelling list of products available to choose from surely is.
As sales in these water cooling kits have grown, we’ve seen more companies taking much more care with the design of the components. This has led to more compact designs and consistent use of the correct size of connectors instead on the not uncommon sight of reducers, spacers, adaptors and general ‘dohickeys’ all cobbled together just to get the unmatched components working together on the same circuit.
The kit I’m looking this time comes from Cooler Master and is called the Aquagate Mini. Though the company is better known for its case and air cooling products it seems willing and able to use its resources to tackle just about any cooling solution.
The Aquagate Mini is available in two versions. There’s the R80 which comes with an 80 x 120 x 45 mm radiator and an 80mm fan, and there’s the R120 which features a 120 x 160 x 35 mm radiator and a 120mm fan. Other than the fan and radiator specifications, both kits are otherwise identical.
The Aquagate Mini boasts a rare, though not unique, quality, in that it comes pre-assembled and pre-filled ready for immediate installation. In an attempt to make the Aquagate as unintimidating as possible, Cooler Master boasts that installation is a simple, two step process. This is slightly deceptive, but more on that in a moment.
At the heart of the Aquagate Mini and the secret to its compact design, is the combined pump, reservoir and water block head unit. Though bulky in comparison to traditional water blocks, at 70 x 85 x 23 mm the dimensions are actually impressively small, for something that combines three major water cooling components in one unit.
Details on pump throughput are hard to find, but what is known is that it uses Nano-millimeter Ceramic sleeve Bearings (NCB), a term Cooler Master appears to have invented but which I assume means that they’re made from, or either lined with, ceramic. It’s a myth that ball bearings last longer under normal temperatures, but the use of ceramics in sleeve bearings lowers friction and thus increases the life expectancy anyway, probably to beyond that of a steel ball bearing in actual fact.
The radiator is a good quality aluminium alloy unit, using a high surface area matrix. As it’s aluminium, it’s critical that a good corrosion inhibitor is used in the coolant water to stop it reacting with the copper in the water block and causing metal corrosion, or to use its more technical term, galvanic corrosion. As it’s pre-filled it means you only need to bear this in mind should you decide to try and perform your own topping up.