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Cooler Master Aquagate Duo Viva review

First Looks: Cooler Master Aquagate Duo Viva

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Only Enthusiasts Need Apply

Only Enthusiasts Need Apply

You might remember Cooler Master's Aquagate Viva VGA cooler that made some waves a few months back for being an interesting universal watercooling solution for high-end GPUs that could also double as a CPU cooler as well if so desired. Now, the Aquagate Viva is back for its second outing with an updated version dubbed the Aquagate Duo Viva. Cooler Master drops CPU support in this version, but introduces a second water block into the system intended for enthusiast dual GPU setups. If you're running CrossFire or SLI and would like to do away with the default 'dust busters', Cooler Master's Aquagate Duo Viva liquid cooling system should be an interesting alternative.

Viva la Duo!

The Aquagate Duo Viva is the first ready to use liquid cooling solution we have seen for dual GPU systems. As mentioned before, the Duo Viva is more or less the original Aquagate Viva with an added water block and pipe. Comparing the two, radiator, pumps and fans look to have similar specifications as well. The aluminum radiator is cooled by two 70mm fans operating between 1000RPM to 4800RPM with its main water pump capable of putting out 40L/h.

Although Cooler Master has connected up all the tubes nicely with sufficient length, the system still tends to become rather unwieldy, especially when you need to attach two copper water blocks onto your graphics cards. According to Cooler Master though, practically any modern graphics card capable of SLI or CrossFire can be used with the cooler, as testified by the large number of screw holes on the water blocks to cater to various board layouts.

Mount Anywhere (Almost)

Our initial impression - based on the setup depicted on the product package - was that with the Duo Viva installed along with a pair of graphics cards, there probably wouldn't be any space left on a standard ATX motherboard for other devices such as a sound card.

Thankfully, Cooler Master recognized this potentially damaging issue and included a host of screws and brackets that allow the radiator module (and the bulk of the cooler) to be installed on either the PCI slots, the 3.5-inch or 5.25-inch drive bays or the casing side panels. This flexibility certainly surpasses many other liquid cooling solutions we have seen so far for graphics cards, like Thermaltake's TideWater series, which can only be installed on expansion slots.

Wake Me Up, Before It Blows

Probably the most important component of a liquid cooling system has to be its alarm and warning system. Analogous to our blood circulation system, liquid cooling depends on the constant circulation of coolant and a sudden drop in coolant levels is akin to a drop in blood pressure - the result could be catastrophic. Hence, the Duo Viva comes with an intelligent alarm system that warns users of such an impending scenario before it becomes critical. This device takes the form of a transparent gauge that shows the level of coolant, though users have to ensure that the alarm device is installed properly, with the arrows pointing up. If the coolant level is low, you can refill it using the plastic syringe provided, but refills are additional purchase. The initial coolant in the product should last for at least six months.

Our Thoughts

Despite the valiant attempt by Cooler Master to simplify the process, the truth remains that a liquid cooling system is still not meant for the casual user. Even if the advantages of lower overall noise and temperatures look attractive, installation and upkeep becomes a hassle for the less dedicated. Luckily, the installation process for the Aquagate Duo Viva is admirably streamlined, meaning there's more time for users to enjoy the fruits of their labor rather than the actual tedium. We haven't gotten a price for the Aquagate Duo Viva yet, seeing that it is still about a month away from retail, but one can expect it to be much more costly than typical coolers, leading us to believe that this liquid cooling system will remain a niche product for the serious enthusiast.