Corsair Nautilus 500: Water Cooling Goes Mainstream
Installing the Nautilus 500
Corsair put a lot of thought into the Nautilus 500 kit in an effort to make the system as easy to install as possible. In fact, they made the Nautilus 500 so easy to install that it is the first complete water cooling kit we've seen that does not require the removal of the motherboard to mount the CPU water block. Many other kits require users to install a special bracket underneath the CPU socket to mount their water blocks, but the Nautilus 500 does not.
Before completely installing the Nautilus 500, we inspected, assembled, and built-up the kit to ensure that everything was functioning properly and that there were no leaks. Consider this step a necessity with any water cooling kit. The last thing you want to do is fully assemble and install a water cooling kit, only to find that the pump is dead or that it has a leak and is dripping water onto the components in your rig.
The radiator on the main unit's underside was in perfect shape, and because it is recessed slightly, it should be well protected from accidental dents or dings. The water block was in good shape as well. After removing a protective film, we found the water block to be very well polished. Upon close inspection, there were some minuscule swirl marks visible on the water block, but they are very minor. I ran the back of my fingernail over the water block a few times and can say that it is as smooth as glass.
The entire Nautilus 500 installation, not including the "leak test", took no more than 15 minutes. After inserting the quick connect fittings into the tubing and locking them into place with the included clamps, all that was left to do was connect the power cables, fill the reservoir, and mount the water block. We did not completely install the system into our test system's case, as you can see, but if we did, the only other additional step would be mounting the pass-through slot plate cover. To fill the system, we poured the included bottle of "COOL" additive into the reservoir, and then filled it the rest of the way up with distilled water. Then we powered-up the Nautilus 500 and as water began to travel though the tubing, we continually poured distilled water into the reservoir until the entire loop was completely filled. We then let the unit run for a while until all of the bubbles worked their way from the system. During this step, we found the included tubing to be somewhat rigid, but it softened up a bit once heated liquid circulated through the system for a while.
With the assembly and leak test complete, we then mounted the water block to our CPU. As we mentioned earlier, the Nautilus 500 can be installed on Socket 939 / 940 / 754, Socket 478, and LGA775 based systems without having to remove the motherboard from the case (Note: Uninstalling the kit requires the removal of the motherboard on LGA775 based systems).
For a Socket 939 system like the one pictured here, after applying a layer of thermal paste to the CPU, an "H" shaped piece of foam is slid over the water block between the tubes. Then, a similar shaped piece of metal gets placed over the foam, and the whole assembly gets mounted to the "stock" plastic Socket 939 cooler mounts by a single bar that runs down the center. A screw at one end of the bar gets tightened to lock everything tightly into place. The compression of the foam under the bracket is what forces the water block down onto the CPU.
On LGA775 systems, there are four plastic stand-offs that need to be inserted into the four "stock" mounting holes on those motherboards. Then, the shaped piece of foam is slid over the water block and after that, an "X" shaped bracket gets slid over the foam / water block, and the whole assembly is pressed down onto the four stand-offs until it is locked in place. The process is similar for Socket 478 based systems, but a larger metal plate, which looks like a larger "H" in the picture above, is used. That plate also locks into place on the stock plastic Socket 478 mounts.
The one thing common to all of the installation methods is the "H" shaped piece of foam that gets fitted between the mounting plates and water block. This single piece of foam is a key component to the kit. Should it lose its elasticity, or get ripped or damaged in any way, the water block will not sit correctly which will hinder the Nautilus 500's performance. Corsair claims the foam should last for quite a while, but should it need replacing for whatever reason, Corsair plans to keep them in-stock, and will replace them for users who send the company a request.