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Finally the head unit and motherboard are fastened together. To do this, nuts need to be fitted from below the board meaning that you’ll need to remove it again to tighten them, should they work loose. A slotted socket suitable for use with a screwdriver is supplied, which is a thoughtful touch.
Positioning the radiator may or may not be a simple task depending on your case. The tube length isn’t great at 300mm and as a result case compatibility may be an issue. Also remember that the pre-assembled nature of the Aquagate Mini means the radiator has to be sited internally which again may limit suitable locations, or even suitable cases.
The fan speed controller needs assembling next. It’s optional, so you can just leave the fan running flat out and not use it if you’d prefer. The bracket is situated in an available expansion slot on the rear.
With everything in place, the final step is to connect the three-pin connectors, either directly to the motherboard or to the power supply through the supplied three-pin to four-pin Molex adaptor. The pump and fan each have their own individual connector and both most be powered. Bear in mind that the CPU and/or System Fan header on the motherboard may use smart (thermal) fan control, and this may artificially limit the speed of the Aquagate’s fan unless you disable it in the BIOS.
As you can see from the results on the next page, the Aquagate Mini performs reasonably well. Unfortunately, with cooling performance that's merely on a par with that of a good quality air cooler offering near indentical noise levels, the fiddly installation takes away much of its appeal.
The so-so manual doesn’t do Cooler Master’s reputation any great favours either, with some vague information and less than impressive illustrations.
The Aquagate Mini ought to be the ultimate fool-proof entry into the world of water cooling. However, for a product aimed at the novice or less demanding user, the difficult installation, lack of flow meters or pump-failure alarms and the absence of any temperature monitoring is a real turn-off,
On balance, the Aquagate Mini is a decent alternative to air cooling so long as you don’t mind the installation woes. The low price might just ease some of those concerns but it still offers nothing that a good 120mm based air cooler can’t.