How to Install a Sealed Liquid Cooler

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Case Study: Antec Kühler H2O 620 Installation

I installed the Antec Kühler H2O 620 into a system running an Intel Core i7-960 CPU on an X58-based motherboard. My system had previously sported the standard Intel heat sink, and the CPU constantly ran on the hot side. Though the processor never overheated, the fan would spin up quite noisily when the CPU was under load. Here are the steps:

1. Attach the bottom brace to the motherboard. The Kühler ships with different braces for AMD and Intel CPUs. The Intel brace has three slots for accommodating the actual mounting nuts. I slipped the nuts into the slots for socket 1366. Use two slivers of double-sided sticky tape to help the brace adhere to the bottom of the motherboard so that it won't drop out of reach when you install the circular mount. (I ended up using tape on one side, however, due to the presence of lots of solder points on the rear of the motherboard.)

The pieces you'll need.

An Intel brace; your components may look different from the ones pictured here.

2. Attach the radiator to the case. The mounting screws for the radiator will run through the fan, and then screw into the heat sink, sandwiching the fan between the radiator and the case. Be sure to align the fan so that the air travels from inside the case to outside. Arrows on the fan's sides indicate direction of air movement.

Attach the radiator to your case.

3. Screw the retention ring into the bottom brace, through the heat sink mounting holes surrounding the CPU socket. When you attach the retention ring initially, turn the screws only enough to make a firm connection; don't screw them down tightly yet.

Gently turn the screw on the retention ring far enough to make a secure connection.

4. Slip the Kühler H2O 620 heat-sink pod through the retention ring. Tabs on the heat sink will slip between retaining tabs on the ring. Rotate the heat sink slightly, until the heat sink tabs align with the retention ring taps. Then, while holding the heat sink firmly with one hand, gradually tighten the screws, alternating between them every few turns, until all four screws are firmly seated.

Alternate the screws you tighten as you seat your heatsink.

(If you plan to install the Intel version--the RTS2011LC--onto a socket 2011 motherboard, you may want to hold the heat sink in place, lower the detached retention ring over the heat sink so that the tabs align, and then screw it into place. Clearance between the retention ring and heat sink on the RTS2011LC is very tight.)

5. Once the heat sink and the radiator are attached, connect the radiator-fan power connector and the heat-sink pump connector via an adapter link. Then connect the single power connector to the heat-sink fan power header on the motherboard. The Kühler H2O 620 only uses the CPU power connector.

After hooking up the Kühler H2O 620 power, I fired up my system to test its performance. Previously, with the stock Intel cooler, idle CPU temperatures hovered at around 55 to 56 degrees Celsius. Now it runs at about 40 degrees Celsius, and the entire system is far less noisy.

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