Cooler Master Aquagate Max Liquid Cooling System Review


Test Rig:
Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 CPU
Asus Striker II NSE nForce 790i motherboard
OCZ SLI-Ready DDR3-1600 4GB kit
Asus EN9800GTX Top video card
Thermaltake Toughpower 850 Watt ESA PSU
Thermaltake Armor+ ESA full tower
Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit

The Cooler Master Aquagate Max is nVidia ESA compliant. When used in conjunction with an nForce motherboard, you can monitor temperatures, adjust fan speeds, and adjust pump flow via the nVidia Control Panel. Nearly all nForce motherboards now support ESA. Get the latest version of nVidia System Tools w/ESA at nVidia’s website. For more on ESA, see my ESA article.

If you haven’t installed watercooling before, you will find it to your advantage to do some pre-installation planning to determine the route and length of your coolant loop. My instructions are for the first-time watercooler, pros can disregard.

For example, if you are not installing the Aquagate Max on an nForce motherboard, I see no need to install the inlet and outlet temperature sensors. Your installation will be easier, cleaner, and provide less opportunity for leakage.

I decided to install the system into my Thermaltake Armor+ ESA case. The radiator is designed to be placed in the top of a Cooler Master Cosmos case, which has twin blowholes, but the two openings on the floor of the Tt case will accommodate airflow for the radiator just fine. I decided beforehand that I would just lay the radiator on the case floor, but I did check to see if the screw holes in the radiator would line up with my existing holes. They didn’t, but a couple of screws should be plenty to hold the radiator in place, and there were a few that did line up.

Cooler Master Aquagate Max Liquid Cooling System Cooler Master Aquagate Max Liquid Cooling System

I highly recommend that you install the components in your case and measure prior to cutting the tubing. Be sure to leave enough slack to prevent the tubing from buckling, as that are too sharp will greatly restrict your waterflow. The Aquagate Max comes with plenty of extra tubing in case you make a mistake. The PVC tubing included with the system is very stiff so double-check your bends prior to filling the system with coolant.

For Intel installation, secure the LGA 775 baseplate. I usually don’t like to remove the adhesive backing because in my case, no installation is permanent, but there is only a small amount of adhesive on the Aquagate Max’s baseplate. Using the adhesive makes installation much easier. Place the baseplate on the rear of the motherboard. Install the motherboard in the case.

Cooler Master Aquagate Max Liquid Cooling System Cooler Master Aquagate Max Liquid Cooling System

At this time I temporarily installed the waterblock to measure hose length. I HIGHLY recommend checking for leaks prior to permanent waterblock installation for obvious reasons.

To measure hose length, you need to install the reservoir in the ODD bay. Here I found a distinct difference between Thermaltake and Cooler Master cases. The “shelves” between the drive bays on a Thermaltake case are much longer than those on Cooler Master cases, so the reservoir unit wouldn’t fit in my case. After some head-scratching, I decided to take a hammer and tap the “shelves” down enough to allow the unit to fit, as I didn’t want to do any permanent modifications to this case.

Cooler Master Aquagate Max Liquid Cooling System Cooler Master Aquagate Max Liquid Cooling System

When cutting the tubing, make sure that your cuts are straight and not angled, to allow the tubing to be pressed tightly against the connector base! I find this best accomplished with a sharp pair of scissors.

Cooler Master Aquagate Max Liquid Cooling System Cooler Master Aquagate Max Liquid Cooling System

I measured a short length of hose to connect from the reservoir to the inlet temp sensor and temporarily connected it, then measured from the sensor to the waterblock inlet, which is the hose connector on the left side of the Cooler Master logo. Be sure to leave enough slack not to buckle the tubing! Next I did the same with the waterblock outlet, outlet temperature sensor, and radiator. Finally I measured a length of tubing from the radiator to the reservoir.