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Aquaero USB 4.0 controller review

This device lets you control fans in reference with temperatures in control points, as well as it can be used to create supervision and control complex for watercooling systems (WCS), that can eve shut down PC in case of a system crash


Setup and powering

My test bed included a 3-section radiator located on top of the case. Drawback of such rad placement is blocking of 3 top 5.25″ bays — part of their space was occupied by rad and tubing. The rest of that space was not enough to fit CD/DVD-drive. Without mounting rails, Aquaero is only 5 cm wide, thus, I could easily install Aquaero into the top bay.

5-pin internal USB cord, which connects Aquaero and PC together, doesn′t have any marks showing you the polarity. That is why I had to look through the Aquaero and motherboard manuals in search of soldering pattern of USB connector. Polarity mistake can lead to malfunction of Aquaero and motherboard. Colored wires of the cord can help you in polarity identification:

Pc conection USB-cable

There has been no problem connecting the flow sensor. The manufacturer does pay attention to its polarity. Flow sensor can be placed anywhere in the loop — the flow level in any point of closed loop system is the same.

Rad fan speed has a straight effect on heat carrier cooling efficiency and water-cooled component temperature as well. Aqua Computer In-line Temperature Sensor was installed just outside the rad output in the WC loop. In my opinion, it is the best place to put a sensor for better rad fan control. Temperature of rad itself is also transmitted through metal body of the temp sensor which has a direct contact with rad. Therefore, I recommend not to screw this temp sensor into metal components, such as radiator, but to screw it into plastic case of a flow meter. The second sensor was mounted near the rad to check the cooling air temp flowing into it; moreover, that air also cools the radiator. In addition, the second Aqua Computer In-line Temperature Sensor was installed before the rad input in the WC loop.

Problems occurred when connecting fans. Fan cables weren′t long enough to connect them. To connect fans to Aquaero one should additionally buy extension cords or make them yourself. So I made them myself.

The version of Aquaero that I received had no Powerbooster pre-installed so I could not connect my Laing DDC3.2 (1plus) pump with power consumption of 18 Watt and 1.5 Ampere to a channel limited to 10 Watt and 1 Ampere.

Today there are several ways to boost controller output:

  • Addition radiator for Powerbooster — that way the maximum load of the first channel is increased to 25 watts, the other channels can handle up-to 15 watts, but total power consumption shouldn′t exceed 45 watts. According to Aqua Computer, only adding the powerbooster radiator afterwards will NOT allow you to connect a Laing pump, two very small SMD resistors must be added. In case of Aquaero with a pre-installed Powerbooster all required modifications were already made by manufacture. For rest of you, Aqua Computer advises to send the controller back to them for modifications. The warranty won′t be void.
  • Poweramp — is an assembly based on L165. This device connects to one of the channels and provides device control with current consumption up-to 3.5 Ampere. The device′s maximum output voltage is down from 12 V to 10-10.5 V. For those of you who think silence is more important than system temperature, Poweramp can solve pump connection problems.

Aqua Computer PowerampAqua Computer PowerAmp

  • Custom made circuits (designs) based on op amps. This topic is described in details here in English and here in German. With proper skills one can make such a low-cost device in no time. There are also designs with no voltage drops.

In the end, I connected 3 temp sensors, one flow sensor and four fans to Aquaero. The controller was connected to PC via USB cable.

After system started, Aquaero “hung” for a moment while it was passing the initialization process which followed by temperature data and fan speed readings displayed on LCD. Connected fans worked at full power. You can make almost all adjustments using the front panel controls but I decided to do it using.

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