|by AkG | July 9, 2009|
Unless you have a case with an aftermarket backplate cut-out in the motherboard area (HAF 932, ATCS 840, etc.) you will have to yank the motherboard before you can install the Cooler Master 212 PLUS. Since this cooler can accommodate such a wide range of systems (everything from AM2 to i7 to i5) it does not come set up from any one of these and as such you have to a bit of work ahead of you before you can mount the 212 PLUS.
Let's start with the motherboard removed from your case and continue through to the full installation.
The very first thing you have to do is dig out the four short standoff bolts, thread them through their proper holes in the motherboard, through the back plate and finally attach small nuts to them. This may sound complicated but it is actually very easy.
Making this task even easier is the fact that the threads on these bolts are removed on one side for quick insertion through the backplate. However, there is more than enough threading left to securely fasten the nuts.
When this task is complete you have four standoff bolts in place which have threads cut deeply into their heads. These bolts are the basis for holding the mounting bracket in place. What is very interesting about this setup is that this does not require you to balance the cooler in place and flip the works over and feed its bracket screws through the holes like the Cooler Master’s V-series (or even the previous Hyper model we recently tested). When the bolts are firmly screwed down all you have to do is take your time, apply TIM to the based of the cooler, gently place the 212 PLUS in position and then put the bracket in place and screw it down. The bracket has ball indent locking positions for the various CPU socket styles which allows it to become narrow for easy threading through the gap between the bottom of the fin assembly and the top of the base.
The top of the cooler's base has a single hole in which a screw/pin in the center of the bracket engages. This keeps the bracket in place and ensures the cooler cannot slide out of place.
Unfortunately, with only one center pressure point the cooler can spin around this central axis. We prefer a two pin setup to this style since it does not provide an even enough pressure over the entire surface of the CPU. Rather, it radiates out from the center with the four corners having (theoretically) less pressure than the center. On the positive side this central pin is adjustable for depth so you can leave it loose to easily set the four corners and then tighten it down.
To be fair, the four corner bolts of the bracket do tighten down to help keep the pressure even across the entire CPU. If only Cooler Master's great engineers could have figured out how to add a second stabilizing pin in the center area of the cooler, we would be even happier with this setup.
When the cooler itself is installed, you can then proceed to mount your fan(s). This is simplicity itself as this HDT cooler DOES NOT use those god awful rubber mounts which Xigmatek (and thus by association OCZ) use. In the 212's case, the ends of the wire stick in to the holes of the fan and hold it in place via tension. Unlike many similar setups, there are two areas bent out to allow easy removal but other than this minor (yet very nice) tweak darn near any fan wires will probably work perfectly fine on this cooler.
All in all, this is a very well engineered installation process but we do believe Cooler Master had to make compromises to get this bracket to be compatible with 775, i3/i5 AND i7 systems….as well as an AMD. Please don’t get us wrong, this installation may not be as good as some but it is still a huge leap in the right direction AND eons better than the older balancing act we had to do when installing past Cooler Master units. The only issue we really have with it is the fact that it allows a bit too much movement of the heatsink. We just hope that future revisions will surprise us and they will not only improve upon this admittedly very good setup but actually meet or exceed the ProlimaTech mounting system as that is our Gold Standard.
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