Area-51 R1 240mm Liquid AIO Cooler Upgrade How-to

Cass-Olé

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Joined
Jan 9, 2013
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155
SS1300 PPL Install (60).JPG
Candidate 240mm coolers to consider (new-old-stock & open-box, no warranty, provide your own cooling fans, links below); on low-priced un-warrantied cooling I suggest buying two, use one & hold one back as a spare
Asetek 570LX 38mm wide: https://www.ebay.com/itm/1-NEW-ASETEK-EXTREME-LIQUID-CPU-COOLER-579LX-ACR2/382971245451
Asetek 670LS 27mm wide: https://www.ebay.com/itm/Asetek-670LS-water-Cooling-Unit/383010604086?hash=item592d360436:g:n0EAAOSwbTBdB4h3

I was contacted by a 51 R1 owner a while back & asked for advice installing a larger 240mm AIO liquid cooler to replace the 120mm (L) x 27mm (W) stock Alien Asetek cooler. I'd like to post the how-to (although this upgrade would've been better had it been created years ago & reached a larger audience). I upgraded three of my R1s to a 240 x 38mm Asetek 570LX (new-old-stock, $50 each/shipped). The details of this swap are easy to do but get 'involved' if asked to explain it all, so be patient as I go over the finer details I encountered along the way

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*** Cooler & Fan Sizes (this how-to explains the use of triple top cooling fans)
The basic 240mm cooler will be ~27mm wide, & you can use 120mm x 25mm, 32mm or 38mm wide fans with it

Wider 240mm coolers (like Asetek 570LX) are 38mm wide (= more metal & more liquid = better cooling). Due to the thicker radiator, 25mm wide fans are best

Note: 360mm radiators will not fit in the R1 unless you do some modding to both the case roof & to the top cooling caddy with a Dremel tool, a project I haven't done but wish to do someday

*** Hollow vs Solid Body Fans
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When attached to a radiator, solid-body fans (right) can only accept long screws; hollow-body fans can accept a long screw OR a pair of screws if needed (one to mount fan to the rad, one to mount fan to the case). The stock 38mm wide alien cooler fan is hollow-body: x4 short machine screws attach fan to rad while x4 coarse fan screws attach fan to top cooling caddy. The body-type of fan you use really doesn't matter, nor does it matter if you use short or long machine screws, what matters is that in order to describe how the original cooler-rad-fan mounts is through use of a hollow-body fan, short machine screws + coarse fan screws, & to duplicate that mounting method you can't use a solid-body fan, which will require x4 long screws instead (long screws will pierce through the top caddy, go through the fan then thread into the rad)

*** Cooling Motor Connector
The stock alien Asetek cooler has a 5pin Molex SL connector on it which plugs into the top left powerboard

Aftermarket coolers use a 3pin fan connector for power/ground, which is meant to plug into the motherboard CPU_FAN header #1 (or #2 when applicable)

You could of course give your motor constant 12volts/ground by using a simple (unshielded) Fan-to-Molex adaptor https://www.ebay.com/itm/3-Pin-Case-Fan-to-MOLEX-Power-Adapter-Cable/303102228695?hash=item46924cf8d7:g:SicAAOSwe9dZnH-G

For my project, I've removed the 3pin fan connector & terminals & applied the 5pin SL connector + SL terminals (+ the extra ground jumper directed to pin 5 like the stock cooler does it) & I'm plugged into the top left powerboard as normal: mine are 'wired back to stock'

Alternatively, you could use or hand-make 5pin SL-to-3pin adaptor like below which allows for plugging back into top left powerboard (for CmndCntr monitoring as normal) https://www.ebay.com/itm/163778849645?ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1555.l2649

*** Installation & Advice (cont. to bottom)
1| Remove your stock cooler
2| Unplug the harness pair from the top left powerboard
3| Eject the cooling caddy by pulling the white lever out & pulling the caddy down & out
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Your project may be easier if you install the fans & cooler into the caddy 1st, then place them inside when ready

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*** Radiator & Fan Mounting Screws
Your new cooler should come with a screw assortment. There are three basic screws I used: Coarse Thread Fan Screw, Fine Thread Short &
Long Machine Bolts

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*** Radiator 'Staggered' Mounting Into the Caddy
In the photos, I show that the left side of the radiator has a 'bump'; when placed inside the caddy, that bump will disrupt the intuitive harmony of the bolt-pattern & shifts (new unexpected mount holes) to the right by one hole (the caddy is machined & spaced to accept x3 120mm fans, but, the bump causes the radiator's mounting holes to have to 'stagger' over one bolt hole pattern, see above); the so-called work-around is to bolt the radiator to the caddy (or bolt rad to a fan if using short fine thread bolts + hollow-body fan) by shifting over 'one bolt hole pattern' --> x2 screws from Fan 2 + x2 screws from Fan 3

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Note: the correct mounting holes are 5,8 + 9,12
Note: this is why triple fans are best

Perfect mounting would be when all 8 of the bolts are used, but, only x4 bolts will be used to secure mount radiator to caddy: it's because of the 'bump' & the resulting 'staggered pattern' that all 8 bolts can't be used: rest assured that 4 bolts is enough for a secure safe permanent mount in the caddy

I can only attach 10 Pics per post, see my next post: How-To Continued
 
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Cass-Olé

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Joined
Jan 9, 2013
Messages
155
How-To Continued

Begin by placing x3 cooling fans into the caddy in a push or pull configuration

*** Push vs Pull Fans: when the raw blade side of the fan (that could cut you) is spinning, air pushes out the rear body of the fan (& u can see the back of the motor). If you mount your fans into your caddy such that the blades are visible, that means they'll PULL interior case air up through the radiator & exhaust out of the roof. If you mount your fans into your caddy such that the blades aren't visible, that means they will intake & PUSH cool exterior air down through the roof & down through radiator & exhaust directly into your case

Note: the use of a 92mm rear case fan as intake or exhaust, may help with case cooling & temperatures relative to how you have your top cooling fans oriented. Example: if your top cooling fans are intakes, pushing air down into your case, your rear 92mm fan can help exhaust that air directly out -or- if your top fans are exhausting out of the roof, your rear case fan can intake cool air & direct it at the radiator

Mount Fan #1 into place & secure it with 2 or 4 Coarse Fan Screws, next, mount Fans 2/3 but do not secure them yet

Note: be mindful of how & where you route your fan cables. Test-fitting several times in different ways etc may be necessary to produce a good pattern that helps tuck excess fan cable away but also allows your fan connectors the room they need to hook up to power later

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Place radiator on top of fans, next, find hole #5, take a bolt & slip it through the caddy down through your fan until you find your rad bolt-hole: when you do, tighten the bolt down part-way, next, repeat using hole #8, next, repeat with holes #9 & #12. When done, x4 bolts should be holding your rad in place
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Next, use Coarse Fan Screws to hold your fans down, place them in holes # 6, 7, 10 & 11, tighten all the way down. Last, tighten your rad-bolts down all the way. With everything tightened down all the way, your rad & fans should feel rock-solid in there. If so?, you can now begin your cooling caddy install

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*** Optional Hollow-Body Fan Mounting Using SHORT Fine-Thread Machine Screws + Coarse Fan Screws:
As you can or will see, your original stock alien cooler uses short machine screws to mount the hollow-body 38mm wide fan to the radiator using fan 'bottom holes'; from there, the 38mm fan mounts to the cooling caddy with x4 Coarse Fan Screws in the fan's 'top' fan holes

For that reason, you can duplicate the use of short machine screws to hold two hollow-body cooling fans to the 240mm radiator 1st (using bottom fan holes), then bolt the rad-fans to the cooling caddy by using coarse fan screws in the top holes. To do so, as before, secure Fan #1 into the cooling caddy (far-left) using x4 coarse screws. Next, attach fans 2 & 3 directly to your radiator (see my photo above) using x4 short machine screws in hole positions 5,8, 9 & 12

*Above Prior Photo: Bolt x2 fans to Rad with x4 1/4" Fine Screws
*Bottom Photo: Drop Rad into caddy & bolt down fans with x8 coarse screws
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Note: a 'skinny' screw driver (slim enough to push into your 'top' fan hole to tighten the 'bottom' bolt) may be needed for the next part: place your rad-fans into the caddy & try to align all of the fan holes relative to their corresponding caddy holes (if need be, unloosen the short machine screws a few turns using your skinny screw driver so the fans can 'move' a bit & align to the caddy holes better; later, when ok, secure machine screws, tighten fully etc). Finish by securing Fan 2 & 3 with x8 coarse fan screws. If you did it right, all three of your cooling fans will be held by x12 coarse fan screws & the radiator will be held by x4 short machine screws & be rock-solid secure

H105 240mm.jpg
*** Optional Install: Rad-to-Caddy + 'Bottom Mount Fans'
Above is a photo of someone using Corsair H105, where the bottom mount fans are in a PUSH config, pushing interior case air up through the rad & out of the roof (92mm rear case fan can help direct cool outside air directly to the bottom mount fans). In the mounting scenario seen above, the Rad drops into the caddy 1st (below) & mounts to caddy holes 5, 8, 9, 12 as normal; you will use x4 of the short fine thread machine screws; next, mount your dual bottom fans as normal, using the hardware provided in your cooling box per owner's manual

Note: consider installing a pair of protective fan grills up there
Capture43.JPG
Note: above u can see a 'plastic block-off plate' which covers two fan spots, simply remove yours & store it

Note: you can not use 'triple top fans' in the scenario above: the Rad is too long & prevents a fan from installing up there along with it. As seen above, when the Rad mounts in 1st, you can use dual-fans only

PTDC0026A.JPGPTDC0026B.JPGSS1300 PPL Install (39).JPG
***Optional Alienhead Beauty Ring Mod from Aurora R4 01YGW cooler
I have a few spare Aurora R4 coolers here, they & the Asetek 570LX both have Gen4 motor pumps which means their finish rings can interchange. I've robbed a few Alienhead caps off the R4 coolers & placed them onto the 570LX's (plain-cap) to help them look stock / original

Note: In the photo above, I've moved the black snap-lok cable organizer 'down' two inches to facilitate the cooling-tubes better. The snap-lok & the case wall have 'optional' extra pre-drilled holes which allows it to move down / over etc. Alternatively, in the photo of the Corsair H105 (bottom mount fans), when the Rad goes up top 1st the cooling tubes will gain a bit of extra clearance (no need to move snap-lok). I suppose it depends on which motherboard you have, relative to its 24pin ATX header & cable (original mthrbrd vs aftermarket mthrbrd, ATX vs E-ATX, which can all vary)

Note: In the build below I'm using x3 Corsair SP120 Prpl LED fans. Fan #1 (left) + Fan #2 (center) are hard-wired to constant 12volts-ground by a fan-to-Molex adaptor & they run full speed at all times. Fan #3 (right) is plugged into the top left powerboard, speed control is via CmndCntr (1600 RPM normally)

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See next post, How-to Continued
 
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Cass-Olé

Member
Joined
Jan 9, 2013
Messages
155
Due to the 10 pic limit, my 3rd post here = some 'final thoughts'

Below I'll lend some extra tips on using just two fans, since some of you will buy a cooler & receive just two fans in the box & you may not have or want a 3rd top fan. As we saw earlier, 'dual-fans' can easily be accomplished by 1st installing Rad then mounting 'bottom' fans to it; however, if you wish to install the fans up top 1st then mount your Rad to them you can of course. Note again that due to the 'left-side Rad Bump' all 240's will 'stagger' in your caddy relative to the caddy mounting holes & you'll need to adjust your holes for it. See pics below & be mindful of the caveats (call them 'more vs less >< secure mounting vs coverage'
1A.jpg
Above, although there's no fans, what remains true is that the Rad mounts through caddy holes 5, 8, 9, 12
2A.jpg
Above, at 1st glance you might be tempted to 'force' the 'intuitive' mounting position up in there - but - notice that if u do?, the left Fan 1 & center Fan 2 will only have x2 screws each securing them, which might make for an inferior install relative to the method seen later below (or, you may be happy with it). It's possible you might get lucky & zip ties could hold the fans (in holes 2/3 + 6/7 if using hollow-body fans). I'll admit that the plus-side of this method above is that all 240mm (120+120) of the radiator fins are covered by fans (100% coverage) ... which ... can't be accomplished by the more secure mounting method seen & discussed later below; almost as if a trade-off happens: most fan coverage but less secure mounting (vs less coverage but better secured as seen later below). If zipties can't be used then the fans may 'droop' in the method above, may or may not present a good 'seal' against the radiator (*shrug*). The x4 bolts that hold the Fan-Rad combo above are of course holes 5, 8, 9, 12, 1.25" long bolts recommended. Drop fans in 1st, drop in Rad, align holes & drop in bolts: tighten & you're finished
3A.jpg
Above, with this mounting method (the fans go in their normal spots but the Rad staggers) the Rad is secured by x4 bolts & both fans are secured by x8 = most secure mounting ... but ... part of FAN 1 will be obstructed by the far left Rad Bump while over on the right perhaps 10% of the RAD won't be covered by FAN 2 (10% of Rad has no fan over it: see area marked 9/12)

Install FAN 1 into the caddy 1st using x4 coarse fan screws. Next, install FAN 2 into caddy using x2 coarse fan screws, tightened partially (holes 6/7). Next, using x4 1.25" Long fine machine screws, begin to align the Rad-Fan-Caddy holes #'s 5 8 9 12 & tighten partially until all 4 bolts are threaded in good then tighten all 4 fully. Last, tighten fully your remaining coarse screws (6/7) from earlier

Tip: bottom mounted fans method won't have these 'secure vs coverage' issues
Pro Tip: To cover all bases I recommend eventually install triple fans up there for best cooling possible

Last notes: Gen4 Asetek 38mm wide 570LX available new here while they last https://www.ebay.com/itm/1-NEW-ASETEK-EXTREME-LIQUID-CPU-COOLER-579LX-ACR2/382971245451

When shopping for a 240mm cooler, note if it's 27mm wide, 38mm, & it's possible I've seen 49mm wide(?)

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Above (mentioned in my 1st post) my basic 3-wire pump motor cable has been converted over to a Molex SL 5pin so it can plug directly back into the top left powerboard & have CmndCntr pump status monitoring. An alternative (below) is my Mind-Meld Liquid Cooling Adaptor (sometimes) available --> see top post for eBay link or message me here for one ($14)
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Again, one alternative to feed your cooler pump motor the power it needs is an (unshielded) fan-to-molex adaptor as seen above; when plugged into molex power (12v constant) the motor runs at full speed at all times

Good luck w/ your cooling upgrade (=
 
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