The biggest reason water cooling can be so daunting is the hands on nature of the the installation. You must personally fit all components into your case, cut tubing to custom lengths, attach the tubing in a way it won’t leak or kink, and prime/fill the loop with water.
The Water2.0 Extreme is literally at the other end of the spectrum and couldn’t be easier. It was so easy in fact, I could recommend this to a novice installer. With ability to follow directions, anyone could install this cooler.
Getting started, I strongly suggest you do this installation with the motherboard installed. If your case does not have a CPU cut-out on the the motherboard tray, you will want to install the backplate on the motherboard, then install your motherboard into the case.
The first step is to simply install the screw posts into the correct hole on the back plate for your socket. They are clearly labelled and easy to find. One tip for you here though is to make sure the straight side of the post is lined up with the sides of the slot before you push it in. It will be too tight to turn without a tool once pushed in. Get it lined up straight the first time and save yourself a headache.
Next take the double sided tape, peel off one side, and stick them to the flat space in the side/middle of the backplate on both sides. Once that is done line the posts up with the holes in your motherboard, be careful not to touch the tape to it until you are lined up, and push them through. The tape will both hold the backplate to the motherboard and provide a cushion between the two.
Now lets take the locking ring for your socket and install the screw mechanism into it. The is a simple process. Follow the photos above to get everything turned the right way (for socket 1150/1155). First put the plastic retention piece into the hole in one of the corners. Next take one of the screws (make sure you’re not grabbing the ones for socket 2011) and push it through the top all the way until the ribbed thumb portion is touching the retention piece. Next from the bottom snap the locking portion into the top, this locks the screw in the correct location for your socket. Notice how your socket type is visible from the end. This is how you know you’ve got it oriented correctly. Repeat for the other three holes.
This is the point where I installed my fans. You too can install them now, however if you need to use them to hold the rad in place you will want to save this for last.
When installing fans on a rad for the first time always take a few seconds to screw just one screw into the radiator through the fan first. Make sure when it gets nearly all the way in that it isn’t going to make contact with the fins below. There are thin channels in the fins of the radiator that the liquid flows through. If the screws are too long they can puncture them and the radiator will be ruined. This is not normally something covered by warranty. With the screw depth tested I went ahead and installed the fans. It is recommended that if you are only installing fans on one side of a radiator that you orient them to be pulling air through the rad as opposed to pushing it through.
Installing fans is as simple as lining up the holes and turning the screws into them. One thing I noticed with these fans, was a gap between the radiator and the fan. This gap will allow air leak outside the rad instead of blowing through. This isn’t a good sign. Hopefully it doesn’t affect the way the radiator cools.
With everything else set you can now remove the plastic cover over the pre installed thermal grease. Take the top portion of the mounting bracket and slide it over the pump/base. Align the notches so that it passes right through. Now turn it so that the notches are lined up and pull up so that the tabs insert into the holes on the pump housing. With that in place take the handy locking ring, putting it on the same way press it into the top piece until it clicks into place. Now you’ve got your brackets installed and the only thing left to do is install the loop into your case!
What I found to be easiest, was to set the radiator on the drive bay cage off to one side while I aligned and attached the pump/block. This is as simple as lining up the screws with the holes in your motherboard and pressing it down on the CPU. You can start the screws by hand once you’ve got them lined up, but I would suggest using a screw driver to get them tight.
With the pump installed the next thing I did was attach the USB header cable to an open slot. Then I plugged the fan cable into the CPU_FAN header. After that I attached the fans to the 4 pin PWM extensions. Be careful when attaching the fans. I had one of the pins push out when I connected a fan, this resulted in one of the fans not working when I started it up. This is simple enough to fix but being careful in the first place can help you to avoid the trouble.
With the pump installed and all the wiring connected, the only thing left was to stick the radiator into the empty drive bay space. For me all I had to do was to set it in place against the front fans. The tension from the tubing kept it from moving and I was done. I would suggest however that you attach the radiator with either the provided screws, other fans, or if your case came with them, brackets for mounting radiators.
Although I managed to get the wiring cleared away nicely without them, some zip ties or cable holds would have been convenient to clean up all the wires.