Routing a pair of silicon tubes from the inside of your computer to the two connectors positioned on the back of the HydroCool unit is easy thanks to two rubberised holes on the daughterboard’s backing plate. Connecting the plastic self-sealing attachments to the end of the silicon tubing is easy and even without the clamps, removing them is virtually impossible with your bare hands. Once the clamps are attached you can rest assured that unless severe force is applied, the connections within the system will not be broken.
Mounting the water block over your processor varies slightly depending on whether it’s a Pentium 4 or an Athlon XP. The former requires a special mount (supplied), in order to position the water block over the processor. The aluminium mount has to be dragged through the length of silicon tubing so it’s important that this is done before you attach the plastic connectors. No such mount is required for installation on an Athlon XP processor as the retaining clip holds the water block in place.
Now all that’s left to connect are the three external cables, two of which are silicon tubes, from the computer to the HydroCool unit. The black D-SUB style cable relays all the information from the daughterboard to the HydroCool. Corsair supplies more than enough silicon tubing allowing for your PC to be some distance from the HydroCool base unit. Once all these connections are made and a final visual inspection is done you are ready to fill the reservoir.
A mixture of distilled water and green anti-corrosion liquid (supplied) is required. It’s vital that distilled water is used to avoid reaction with the metal piping within the radiator and water block. The anti-corrosion additive results in the water turning a dark shade of green. When flowing through the clear silicon tubing it does add a “wow” factor. After initial filling, the unit can be switched on for the first time, however the ‘fill alarm’ sounds to indicate that further water is required. After that no further action had to be taken on our part and installation was complete.
Corsair has done a lot to aid first time installers and although it’s still a long way from being as easy as a heatsink and fan setup, the whole process is much more user orientated than ever before. The self-sealing connectors work well resulting in only a few drops of liquid being released when transporting the HydroCool unit from one system to another. Corsair’s documentation is concise and provides ample help through text and diagrams.
Performance is good when compared with the results gained using expensive heatsinks, however where watercooling really excels is its ability to cope with heat when the processor is undergoing a heavy workout. A rise of only 2C was witnessed from typical idle temperatures to those when the CPU was performing intensive tasks. Initiating the ‘Turbo’ mode resulted in very little performance increase but produced more noise from the fan that blows air through the fins of the radiator. We recommend users leaving the HydroCool on standard mode as it provides the best mix of performance and noise.
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Corsair has made a good attempt to bring the world of watercooling to a wider and less technical market. Enthusiasts will probably go for more powerful units with further options to connect water blocks to other parts of their computer. For the first time user who has traditionally been put off by the idea of watercooling being a complicated and risky undertaking, Corsair’s HydroCool 200 is the perfect starting block.
A final word must also be given to the price of the system. At £175 the HydroCool can’t exactly be called cheap. That said, unlike the old Kryotech cooling systems, the HydroCool can easily be moved from one PC to another which adds a fair bit of value.
There’s no denying that the HydroCool 200 works even if it isn’t the most aggressive watercooler you can buy. If you’re looking for something more efficient than a heatsink and fan and don’t mind another large box under your desk, the HydroCool 200 is worth considering.