Modding the Corsair Nautilus – Perfecting Perfection?


The Corsair Nautilus 500 External Liquid Cooling system has received rave reviews from many, many reviewers, including myself. I’ve had the Nautilus installed in my system since I got it for review I liked it so much, it’s relatively quiet, and performs very well. I’ve built my own liquid cooling systems and have reviewed many others, but I have always come back to the Nautilus. I don’t like noise and I found that after a while having the Nautilus on high became annoying to me, so I felt that needed changed, and while I was at it I thought about switching the rad out as well. This isn’t quite the hardcore mod, but I did get to rip apart the Nautilus, and get to use my Dremel, drill and other tools while I was at it. So read on to see what I did and what I learned from this experience…


Modding the Corsair Nautilus Perfecting Perfection?

by: Kristofer Brozio AkA Dracos


As I mentioned I like my computer as quiet as possible, I hate noise, and the only drawback of the Nautilus is that after a while you start to notice the noise coming from it.

Being a reviewer I receive quite a few cool products and many of them are fans, recently I received the Noctua and Coolink fans for review, putting these in my system quieted everything down drastically to the point that I now really hear the Nautilus, I felt things had to change.

I’ve been meaning to do this mod for quite a while, but you know how it is I’m sure, keep putting things off till basically you never do it. I had gotten the Arctic Cooling Freezer 64 Pro for review and that was installed, so I figured it was about time to maybe work on the Nautilus while it was sitting out. I was looking around for prices on Black Ice radiators that would fit well into the Nautilus’s confined space, and decided that the thin form factor of the Black Ice Pro would work best, the cheapest I found was $40 for one of them. Well $40 is a lot of money when you have three kids, mortgage, car payment etc and I bookmarked the site meaning to go back to it. Well I visit Hard OCP Forums often and I often check the ‘For Sale and Trade’ section to get some good deals and to try and sell or trade things I have to get things I want, that’s how it works, we all do it from time to time. I ran across a guy who had two Black Ice Pro radiators for sale, $35 for two of them, I just could not pass the deal up, I pm’d him immediately and said ‘I want the rads!’ he said ‘ok’ and in a few days I had a pair of Black Ice Pro rads. Not that I needed two of them, but for the price it was a very good deal, so now I have a spare…

Anyway, that’s how this mod really got a kick start, continue on to check it out some more….

Find the Corsair Nautilus at ShopZilla!

The Modding:

I mentioned I received the Noctua fans for review, well I decided that the 1200 RPM fan would be a perfect replacement for the stock Corsair Nautilus fan, and you know about the Black Ice Pro rads already. Here’s some specs on the parts added or used:

Noctua NF-S12

1200RPM Fan

Self-stabilizing oil-pressure bearing (SSO bearing): The NF-S12 series are equipped with a magnetically centered, self lubricating oil-pressure bearing that provides a new level of quietness and long-term stability.

You can read my full review HERE of the Noctua fans, they are excellent fans, very quiet and well worth it.

and here’s some specs about the rad from the Danger Den website:

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Black Ice Pro Radiator


2-pass Radiator specifically developed for PC watercooling

Now with improved internal pressure drop for increased cooling efficiency.

New high-durability custom formulation acrylic paint finish

Rated for 378KCal per hour (1501 BTU per hour)

120 mm (4.72 inch) Copper core consisting of flat tubes for maximum heat conductivity

High-density louvered copper fin configuration for enhanced heat dissipation

Built-in plenum chamber for increased performance and noise reduction

Self-tapping 120mm fan and case mounting holes for ease of installation

Compatible with G 1/4 BSPP thread O-ring fittings.

Compact 157 x 133 x 25 mm (5.9 x 5 x 0.98 inch) dimensions allows it to fit inside most mid-tower cases

To start here’s a picture of the Corsair Nautilus right of of the box, all shiny and brand spanky new:

Here it is opened up, not too pretty of a picture, but it performed very well, and I was basically very happy with it.

Here’s the fan, all nice and dusty:


Find the Corsair Nautilus at ShopZilla!

The Modding Continued:

Everything was very dusty, so I decided to rip the entire thing apart and clean it up all nice and shiny again. In the process I found that the pump had a Corsair label on it, but under that label I found it was actually a Delphi pump. It’s a very common pump, very powerful, very popular, I was very happy to see such a great pump in the Nautilus actually.


Here’s my mess I have going with all the parts and pieces floating around.

The Black Ice Pro radiator needed 3/8 fittings so I ran to Lowes and picked up what I needed there. The following picture is before I cut the two rings from the barbs with my Dremel, of course after cutting I ground them down a bit to make them nice and smooth. I cut them because I found that they were just too tall to fit correctly into the Nautilus housing comfortably. Also you’ll see blue around the base of the fitting, that is blue Leak Lock, I use it for all my liquid cooling, and I can highly recommend it to anyone into liquid cooling.

I installed the rad the same way the Corsair did, with double sided tape, maybe not the best way to do it, but I felt it might actually cut down on vibrations this way. The little pad you see in the top left of the picture is actually where the Delphi pump rests, the pad, I assume prevents vibrations and also makes it the right height for the reservoir connections.

Of course I bought all new tubing and I like using worm drive clamps instead of the plastic or nylon types.


Find the Corsair Nautilus at ShopZilla!

The Modding Continued:

Next up was replacing the fan, I found that Corsair used these tiny little Torx screws to secure the fan, that was a real pain to get off. The fan actually sits on for posts, or the four posts go through the mounting holes on the fan actually. This I didn’t like, I had a better idea for this setup.

So off the posts go. I had to drill holes through the top of the case for the new fan to be installed the way I wanted it.


The fan as I mentioned is the Noctua NF-S12 or 1200RPM fan. Cool looking fan that is very quiet and moves quite a bit of air.

For my installation I wanted it to be as quiet as possible so I decided to use Coolink blue silicone grommets and a silicone fan spacer/vibrations dampener. The spacer server two purposes actually, to prevent vibrations and bring the fan a bit closer down to the radiator.

It’s a nice contrast with the black of the Nautilus and the off white and brown of the Noctua when installed.

Here’s a couple close up shots of the fan fully installed with the silicone grommets and the silicone spacer.


Find the Corsair Nautilus at ShopZilla!

The Modding Continued:

Here’s a few shots of the top of the Nautilus with the fan installed. I really like the blue and black combination.



Back to the inside and to get everything installed.

It took me a couple tries to get the hosing right without kinks, but I got it, the Nautilus is a very confined space to work in.

I went through quite a few zip ties with re-wiring everything to make sure no wires impeded airflow or possibly got caught in the fan.


All finished it essentially looks just like the original Nautilus except for the little blue dots on the top that I showed you before. One thing that I would change though is to get rid of the Corsair mesh fan grill and use a regular wire fan grill, it seems to restrict the airflow and I have personally never liked them, but that’s for when I get the urge to tear it apart again.

Well now I know you really want to know if it was all worth it right? Well it was, the first thing I noticed is the almost complete silence, even when turned on high. The only thing I can hear if I put my ear next to the Nautilus is the low hum of the pump, you cannot hear the fan at all. That alone would have been worth all the trouble of taking it apart, but replacing the rad did make a difference in the temperatures overall.

Ambient temp was about 22C

Idle Temp:

Stock Corsair Nautilus: 29.5C

Modded Corsair Nautilus: 26.5C

Load Temp:

Stock Corsair Nautilus: 38.5C

Modded Corsair Nautilus: 35.5C

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So I dropped an average of three degrees in idle and load temps, not bad, but really I was worried about the noise factor so I would have been happy with a one degree drop actually.

This mod only took a few hours really, and cost about $60 in parts. Not bad, I’m happy being quiet!

I know of one other person that did this mod, but the name and forum escapes me right now and while he used different parts than I did, he had similar results.

Also don’t forget to DIGG this! Click to DIGG!

Find the Corsair Nautilus at ShopZilla!