Corsair Nautilus 500: Water Cooling Goes Mainstream
Using water to cool the components in a PC was once considered and outlandish idea, and maybe even a little crazy. We all know what happens when water gets spilled onto something electronic, so why intentionally pump it into a system? Well, the short answer to that question is that water is far more effective at absorbing and removing heat than air. But the problem with using water is that it must be confined in a closed loop, like it is in most automobiles, and it cannot make direct contact with any exposed circuitry that has an electric current running through it.
This wasn't an insurmountable problem by any means, though. Once the idea of using water to cool a desktop PC caught on, hardcore modders went to work building custom water blocks and amassing the parts necessary to assemble water-cooled systems. In the early days, this was fairly difficult and pulling together all of the parts sometimes meant hitting up the local hardware store, auto parts dealer, and aquarium specialists. Not exactly the stores where you'd expect to purchase parts for a custom PC. But times have changed. There are now a myriad of reliable, high quality water cooling kits available from a number of well-known companies. Even Apple Computer has begun using a water cooling system on some of their top-of-the-line dual processor G5 Macs.
Generally speaking, water cooling a PC has quite a few advantages over air cooling, including lower noise levels and higher performance. However, there are some caveats to water cooling, like increased cost and the potential for leaks which could damage a system. Corsair, well known for their high-quality system memory, aims to tackled these problems, and play up the advantages of water cooling with the product we'll be looking at today, the Nautilus 500. The Nautilus 500 is a complete water cooling kit, compatible with the Intel and AMD platforms, that's affordable and easy to install. Take a look...
Corsair bundles just about everything you'd need to install the Nautilus 500 into any Socket 478, LGA775, or Socket 939 / 940 / 754 based system, the only "accessory" you'll need to purchase separately is a jug of distilled water. Included in the box, we found one "COOL" water-block with 10' feet of food-grade clear tubing already attached to each of its barbs (inlet and outlet), retention brackets for all of the socket types we just mentioned, a small tube of thermal grease, two quick-connecting self-sealing connectors and two hose clamps. Noticably absent was an in-line flow indicator, but a quick glance at the back of the until will tell you if water is flowing out-of and in-to the unit properly.
Along with these items, Corsair also included a bottle of their "COOL" branded anti-corrosion / anti-algae water additive, a special power cable, a slot pass-through bracket, a fitted foam pad, and of course an installation manual that tells you what to do with all of these parts. Looking at the pictures above, it may seem like there are a lot of small parts to deal with when installing the Nautilus 500, but keep in mind that you'll only need to use one set of retention brackets depending on the type of socket in your system, and the self-sealing connectors and clamps only need to be installed once. The Nautilus 500 is actually incredibly easy to install; more on that a little later.