AMA Aragon 900 Water Cooling Kit ReviewZertz -
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Water cooling may not be for everyone, but the Aragon 900 from AMA surely gives anyone with little knowledge in the matter, the opportunity to take the plunge. All you need is offered in one package, from the pump, radiator, processor cooling block and reservoir to the small, but essential accessories. They also provide the liquid to fill the system, with all the relevant protection required for the fluid. Don't expect any extras though, as they supply just enough barbs and clamps to get up and running and the box will be empty once you're done building. I had some liquid left after the initial installation, but not nearly enough for a second refill. However, you can easily recuperate and reuse it. Fortunately, AMA includes plenty of tubing to get the job done. I installed the kit in two different full tower cases, which required changing two segments and there's still about three feet of untouched tubing left.
While the whole installation is certainly lengthier than traditional cooling, as long as the steps are correctly followed, it really isn't that complicated. It's just a matter of planning, measuring, measuring once more and then cutting. The manual does a pretty good job at explaining everything although some coloring would've been appreciated. The mounting system works well, as the use of a backplate along with spring loaded screws makes a solid mount. Also, since water blocks are small, they aren't nearly as awkward to install. Core i7's mounting kit is identical in functionality to Core 2, except that the 775 mounting plate comes in one piece, while the one for the larger 1366 socket is in two pieces. It saves them a couple inches worth of aluminum, but makes installation a bit harder for the user. Far from killing the deal, but a minor annoyance nonetheless. Something the kit lacks is some way to mount the radiator off the ground, which I found rather disappointing. The provided feet work, but they aren't nearly as convenient as other solutions.
Performance offered by this entry level kit is pretty decent, especially at stock settings where it manages to beat all the other coolers. The kit had a little trouble keeping up with the higher end water cooling under the load of an overclocked processor, although, as you would expect from water cooling, it stayed ahead of air cooled heatsinks. AMA has chosen components which are far from low end. In fact, the block is a rebranded D-TEK Fuzion with a different mounting kit. The pump is also a well known player, the Laing DDC also sold by Swiftech as the MCP350. The radiator is similar to others on the market, but there aren't that many ways to design one. Of course, it doesn't share everything with its competitors - the reservoir is unique to them and certainly looks better than most others. However, I'm not so keen on trading functionality for looks. The circular shape and its height makes it painful to find a good spot without sacrificing too much. It can be installed outside, but I don't think that's a practical configuration, especially with the radiator already sitting on the ground. I didn't want to have something else out there and a lot will most likely agree with me. Obviously, this is all takes a lot more space than a standard heatsink, so anything less than a full tower will have trouble fitting more than the block and pump inside the case.
Once all the bubbles have made their way out, all you can hear is the slight buzzing of the pump. The fans, equipped with shiny blue LEDs, are PWM controlled to keep the noise down and will automatically have their rotational speed adjusted assuming the BIOS is configured as such. At no time did the fans make enough noise to be noticeable. This is definitely an advantage compared to air cooling, where you often have to sacrifice noise for performance. The retail units will actually use a potentiometer instead of this PWM control so you will be able to set the fan's speed exactly like you wish. This will allow you to go for silence or crank the speed up for an overclocking session.
Overall, the Aragon 900 is a decent kit. It's perfect to get your feet wet, but this is not quite for those looking for top end performance. At a MSRP of $210, it really isn't overpriced considering the bundled components. Buying them online individually will end up costing about the same, if not more once you start adding up fans, tubing, barbs and clamps. Water cooling is definitely an interesting venture, so it all comes down whether you're willing to spend the money for this kit to shave off a few degrees or stick with a traditional heatsink.
Update: An issue has been found out with the PWM controller AMA is using for both of the radiator's fans causing them to ramp up speed at a much higher temperature then intended. This limited the kit's performance so the retail kit will use a potentiometer instead to control the fan's speed. Results in the review have been updated to reflect this design change. They should be considered as near maximum fan speed results which is clearly noisier then the minimum speed at which the original testing was done, although it is tolerable.
- No hassle - all components in one kit
- Quality parts
- Plenty of tubing