Closed liquid-cooled systems, or "all in one" coolers, are the absolute best way regulate heat on your processor while gaming. If you're like me, building and maintaining your PC is a bit of a necessary evil. I love the incredible detail and crazy high frame rates I get from PC gaming, but troubleshooting, repairing, upgrading, and maintaining my computer is often a frustrating and overwhelming experience. Were I made of money, I'd be one of those people that buys brand new pre-built systems every couple of years.
One of the hardest things about managing a high-performance gaming computer is keeping it cool. Overheating can not only affect your performance, but it can also irrevocably damage your expensive hardware. The Cougar Aqua 240 CPU liquid cooler is the perfect solution. It's simple to install, durable, has great performance, and even offers a full RGB spectrum of customizable colors that really add some style to your case.
Keeping It Cool - How The Aqua 240 Works
Your processor is generating 80-90% of the heat in your computer depending on how much work it's doing. The average desktop PC will have a fan dedicated to cooling off the CPU, and one or two more that move heat out and away from the case.
For a gaming PC, fans alone simply aren't going to cut it. A liquid-cooled system uses a pump to move liquid (mostly water) through a tube to a plate that makes direct contact with your CPU. The pump then sends the liquid up another tube to a radiator where it is rapidly cooled. This is called a closed system because it's ready to use right out of the box without any need to fill it (or refill it) with water.
The benefits of an AIO system are many: they work as good as or better than fans/air systems, they're easy to install, they're safe, they're durable, and they have a nice, clean aesthetic. The downside is that, like any hardware, eventually either the pump will fail or the tubes will clog and it will need to be replaced. You also aren't going to get any style points for using an AIO system compared to the tech-heads that build their own liquid-cooled system, but we're here for results, not to stunt.
Installing And Operating
Out of the box, the Aqua 240 looks and feels solid and durable. I've always loved the look of Cougar stuff. I find it stylish without being too gamer-y and obnoxious. I use a variety of Cougar products on my desk, so the visual continuity gives me a lot of satisfaction.
Mounting the motor onto my CPU was a bit a challenge for me because I didn't thoroughly exam the instructions. I pulled an AIO cooler from a different brand off of my processor and assumed that the Aqua 240 would mount on the same way, but this wasn't the case. The Aqua comes with a variety of mounting options based on the type of board you have. Mine happens to be a bit of a counter-intuitive mounting process. Once I figured that part out though, attaching the radiator to the case was no sweat.
Once you've plugged the cooler into your power supply it's all ready to go. If you have a 5v connection on your motherboard, there are a variety of mobo synchronization options as well. Mine, sadly, does not, so I wasn't able to test that particular feature. However, the cooler does come with a remote so you can control the RGB lights on the pump.
How Does It Perform?
As expected, the Aqua 240 is able to keep my CPU cooled down and performing flawlessly. During a stress test, the temperature never even exceeded 84 degrees Celsius, idling at just over 40. The three fans on the radiator are surprisingly quiet despite their size and power. I can say, overall, I couldn't be happier with the performance of the Aqua cooler and, assuming it lasts as long as my other cougar products, I'm really impressed with the quality at the price point Cougar offers it for.
The RGB lights on the pump add just enough personality to the case. My tower has glass panes on either side and the pump light gives a nice ambient glow to the tower that spills under my desk. I like to set it on a strobing rainbow setting, but you can just as easily pick a solid color that fits your setup.
The Perfect Heat Management Solution For Any Gamer
I like simple setups that just work, and the Cougar Aqua 240 is exactly that. Opening up my tower to rotate hardware is pretty stressful for me, but the Aqua 240 comes out of the box ready to go. It feels sturdy and reliable, giving me confidence that I'm going to get many years of use out of it. Most importantly, it keeps my CPU cool, increasing the lifespan on all my hardware, and giving me the best performance possible.
I've grown to love RGB light customization and I think Cougar does an excellent job at giving their products lots of options while keeping it simple. Generally, I don't want another remote control in my life, but in this case, it's easy enough to stick on my tower with a little piece of Velcro so I can change the lights. It adds just a bit of a value to an already great product at a good price, and that's exactly what Cougar is best at.
A Cougar Aqua 240 CPU Cooler was provided to TheGamer for this review. You can find out more about the product on Cougar's website.
The student who acquired the drive has been given a life sentence and others who watched it will do five years hard labor.