The manual may be seriously lacking but thankfully there are only so many ways one can install an air cooler and so it is not the end of the world. Hopefully my guide will come in handy too. To install the fan on the heatsink, take two of the mounting clips and pass them through the corners of the fan as so:
This is assuming you have the fan pushing air through the heatsink behind it, if you wish to use it to pull air instead then reverse the fan and use the other side. Once done, place it over the tower as simply push the clips inwards and into the locking position:
Note that you might have to do this after the heatsink is installed first on the motherboard depending on the components around it, so practice it first before. Once you have confirmed how you want to have the fan and heatsink configured, use the provided rubber pad, cut it into small pieces and place then where the fan touches the heatsink for some vibration decoupling. It is large enough to use at the 4 corners and should suffice, although I preferred the soft rubber mounting solution with the AR02 myself.
Let’s now take a look at installation on an Intel socket LGA 115x motherboard:
Take the backplate and place it on the back such that the cooler mounting holes in the motherboard coincide with a set of holes on the backplate. The manual does help identify which ones although it is fairly straightforward to see which ones they would be in person:
Here is the tricky part- there is no way to keep this backplate in position while you secure it in place from the other side. As such, I strongly recommend doing this outside of the case. It is a weak point of the installation process for sure. You need to take the Intel mounting post for LGA 115x (not the ones with the thick, short M4 threaded end) and have a washer go through the shorter end as so:
Now screw these through the motherboard and into the backplate thus securing it in place. The washer is going to be between the post and the PCB thus preventing any shorting:
With all four posts screwed in, take out the two piece Intel mounting bracket and screw it onto the heatsink as so using the provided screws:
Note that you will need a Phillips head screw driver for this, and this the AR08 is not a tool-free installation cooler. Time now to remove the sticker from the cold plate and apply TIM on the CPU IHS. For this demo, I used a grain in the middle:
Lay the cooler down on the CPU IHS and around the mounting posts, you may choose the desired orientation (left-right or top-bottom) depending on RAM and PCI-E device compatibility. In my case, the RAM slots were further away enough even on this mITX motherboard so I went the more traditional route which also allowed for some airflow over the motherboard VRMs:
Use the locking nuts to secure the heatsink in place and clamp it down for uniform pressure. Easier said than done, however, as these are open ended nuts meaning you have to guess how much to turn them for best pressure. Ideally, you would want to screw them in a cross manner for uniform pressure upto a point then run your CPU on a stress test and monitor temperatures/frequency stablity while tightening/loosening the nuts to get the best fit for your case. In reality, no one will end up doing this with this cooler and will just tighten down as much as they can which may or may not be a good thing for your particular CPU depending on your torque strength. This is another weakness of the installation process, as the guess work inevitably results in uneven/poor TIM spread as was the case with this demo:
Part of this was the guesswork in the mounting involved, but there’s no hiding the part where the gaps in the cold plate around the heatpipes led to TIM simply following that route instead of going laterally outwards. This is why I generally prefer coolers with a flat base cold plate and heatpipes going through them. If you were to get a direct contact style cooler, pre-spread the TIM first for best results as I ended up doing for the thermal tests.
The cooler by itself does not occupy a lot of volume and will go well with small cases coming out more and more off late. Don’t forget to plug in the fan, and then you are done:
As far as LGA 2011(-3) goes, it is compatible with most even with RAM slots nearest to the CPU occupied:
The problem is, even with support out of the box, this really gets overpowered by anything past a stock hex core. My overclocked 5960x will probably not be a realistic application for this cooler- especially with the cold plate being smaller in area than the CPU IHS:
As such, I will not be testing this on the LGA 2011(-3) platform. This goes for any sub-90 W TDP cooler henceforth as well, and at my discretion. With this dealt with, let’s see how the cooler performs on the next page.