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Cooler Master Aquagate Mini R120 - Cooler Master Aquagate Mini R120
Cooler Master claims that “special opaque and heat-resistant elements in the pipe” drastically reduce evaporation and enables them to guarantee two years without the need for refilling.
There’s a certain element of faith involved in running the Aquagate Mini as its design allows for no visual confirmation that the pump is turning or that the coolant is flowing. The opaque pipes and enclosed head unit mean you never even get to glimpse the coolant let alone see it in action. There may be an element of “out of sight, out of mind” behind this design approach, but personally I like to know things are working at a basic level .
The radiator is cooled by a rather boring (at least by today’s LED festooned standards) 120mm fan, which pushes out an impressive 106.9 CFM at a flat-out 2,800RPM. If that’s a little too loud at 35.3dBA, then you’ll be pleased to know that you also get a variable rotary speed controller mounted on an expansion slot bracket with which you can rein the fan back to a minimum of 800RPM; in exchange for which you get a much more reasonable 21.3dBA of noise.
Installation alas, is where the carefully crafted illusion of simplicity and ease of use comes tumbling down. Selling a product on the merits of its user-friendliness, then dropping the bombshell that you’ll need to remove your motherboard in order to install the thing is a bit like buying ready-pasted wallpaper and discovering you have to draw your own designs on it.
That’s not a dig at Cooler Master specifically: it seems the majority of air and water cooler manufacturers offering products suitable for the latest crop of processors are not even attempting to utilise the existing mounting hardware, preferring instead to design solutions where a plate of some kind needs to be positioned behind the motherboard. There’s no doubting the effectiveness of such solutions, but there’s clearly a discrepancy between the type of user the product is designed to appeal to and the type of user with the experience needed to remove and replace a motherboard.
With the universal plate positioned behind the motherboard, you next choose the appropriate plate to pair it with and, using the four supplied screws, attach this to the copper base beneath the head unit, which incidentally was machined very flat and smooth, though not mirror smooth.