We recently reviewed an all-in-one package made by Alpacool
that also was aimed at newcomers to watercooling looking for a complete solution. The Nautilus 500 however, is different in so many ways. It's external, has integrated all the bits that do the work into one box and has only two user fitted connections. Let's take an individual look at what comes with it.
The Nautilus 500 unit is retail packaged with a computer store shelf in mind, with bright colours, specifications and manufacturer test results clearly displayed. The main unit and the rest of the contents are well protected to ensure no damage in transport. The main unit itself is matte black plastic, and looks smart enough to sit on top of any PC without looking entirely out of place.
There is a 120mm fan grille, a filling cap and fill lever/power indicator visible from the front. I like the sloped front of the Nautilus - entirely a design feature that improves on the look, easing the unit aesthetically into any system build. This is something that external watercooling systems have suffered from; subjective ugliness. With the Zalman Reserator
for example, there is no doubt to its prowess, but the huge tower is in fact an acquired taste and even the previous Corsair system didn't win any design awards.
The rear of the Nautilus is the functional side, containing a fan speed level switch and the power/water connectivity. The switch sets the onboard fan speed to either 1800RPM or 1200RPM, affecting both performance and noise levels as you would expect. The power connector is a bespoke four way clip in plug, similar to a 12v motherboard supplementary power connector but smaller. The water connectors are of the self-sealing push fit variety, ideal if you transport the unit to a LAN party or when moving your system.
The underside of the Nautilus is pretty bare, it has two screws that hold the reservoir in position, and a large rectangular hole that the exposed radiator pulls its cool air directly through. The rubber feet are thick and absorb vibration well, as we found out during testing.
Included in the package are the required fittings to get the Nautilus up and running on most of the recent mainstream CPU sockets (Intel's 478 and 775, AMD's 754, 939, and 940), so if your motherboard conforms to the specifications laid out for those CPUs you shouldn't have a problem fitting the waterblock. Also included are the self sealing tubing connectors, some heat transfer compound, a bottle of COOL Corsair water additive, the PCI power/tubing breakout panel, and the power cable to hook the main unit to it. The tubing comes attached to the waterblock and is 4ft long, allowing for an install on most sizes of PC cases.
The block itself is protected against oxidation from the elements and stray fingerprints by a sheet of sticky plastic. This must be removed before installation and when we removed it you can see it left no residue. The waterblock was finished well so no lapping should be required - long gone are the days where a block would turn up in our labs looking like it had been cut out of a block of copper with a hacksaw!
We have no idea how the waterflow is distributed inside the block as it is sealed shut. This is somewhat of a double edged sword: it removes an element of doubt for newbies to watercooling simply because there can't be any leaks from it, but it also removes any possibility of the block being opened for cleaning. Any watercooling fanatic will tell you how even totally "clean" loops will, after a long period of time, build up a residue in the waterblock that will need cleaning out to avoid reduced waterflow and subsequently cooling abilities.
The tubing is permanently fitted to the waterblock barbs - we think this could also create issues. For example, if the tubing were to get damaged, or it were to be cut to size for one system and moved to one requiring longer tubing there is no way of replacing the damaged/short lengths without some hacking.
Lets take a little look inside - where's my screwdriver?