Cooling Upgrade, Phase 4: Liquid Cooling (ATCS 840) (Part 1)
I think it’s true to say that many performance computing enthusiasts find the prospect of installing a custom water cooling system into a computer to be an intimidating prospect. Novices, of course, would understandably question the sanity of bringing water so close to electronics, but even people who have been involved in this hobby for years feel this trepidation. However, by following the correct installation instructions as specified by your hardware manufacturers, it’s really a very easy process. Moreover, minimizing the risk factors is very straightforward.
There are basically three elements we need to install: The CPU water block, the water pump + reservoir, and the radiator. The CPU water block installation process, of course, is entirely dependent on your specific hardware combination (motherboard, socket type, CPU water block), so please apply the recommended installation procedures for your hardware as specified by your water block manufacturer. The water block + reservoir combo unit we will be using and the radiator installations, on the other hand, are installed onto our Cooler Master case, so we’ll focus on these more.
Water Pump + Reservoir Combo Unit Installation
Installing the water pump + reservoir combo unit is very easy.
- Since this is a dual 5.25″ bay unit, we’ll need two vacant 5.25″ bays. Our ATCS 840 has five (or six, depending on what you decide to do with the bottom bay which has a 3.5″ drive adapter installed) 5.25″ bays, so you have more than enough bays to install a dual bay reservoir/pump+reservoir unit, optical drives, and a fan controller, if you wish. Pop out the drive bay covers of the bays you want to use.
- Install your barbs/fittings in the inlet and outlet ports.
- Slide the dual bay water pump + reservoir combo unit into place.
- At this point, DO NOT complete the installation by hard-mounting the water pump + reservoir unit yet. The reason will be abundantly clear later. But this part of the installation is now complete.
The ATCS 840 can accommodate a 3 x 120mm radiator at the top of the case interior. But before we do that, we first need to
- Uninstall the two 230mm fans installed by default at the top of the ATCS 840.
- Mount the radiator to the adapter brackets supplied in the ATCS 840.
- Install the fans onto the radiator.
- Install your barbs/fittings onto the radiator.
- Finally, install the radiator assembly onto the top of the ATCS 840.
Installing the tubing is straightforward and requires no real elaboration. However, I can offer you some helpful hints:
- Route your tubing so that you don’t kink the tubes. Kinks kill flow (and are just an eyesore). Go for gentle radius curves.
- Make sure you allow for some slack in your tubing, particularly where your loop connects with the dual bay water pump + reservoir combo unit. The reason for this is to have enough tubing to be able to pull the pump + reservoir unit out for filling with ease.
- If you’re using barbs, ALWAYS use some kind of clamping on the tubes where they connect to the barbs. This reduces the chances of the tube coming off the barb and causing a catastrophic leak. In contrast, compression fittings have a built-in tube clamping mechanism, so no additional clamping is necessary for this type of fitting. You can use plastic herbie clips, metal spring clamps, worm-drive clamps, or even just cheap and simple nylon zip-ties to secure the tubes on the barbs.