First off, Mountain Mods designs their cases with water cooling in mind. Sure you can slap a regular old heatsink and fan in here but the dual 120mm fan holes on either end of the top chamber are cut specifically to fit Thermochill radiators. That's great if you currently use that particular brand, or Mountain Mods can even sell you a nice Thermochill setup with the case, but what I have to install here today is a Swiftech Apogee kit leftover from a previous review.
Unfortunately Swiftech spaces their fan positions a little differently, so the threaded screw holes were not lining up with the openings in the case. Obviously this would not be a problem with a single position radiator and it really wasn't a big deal for me either. I simply mounted one of the fans directly to the case, and used longer screws to mount the other fan through the case into the radiator. One set of four screws is plenty to hold the rad in place. I opted to mount the fans outside of the case and pull air through the radiator in an exhaust configuration. There's a couple other layouts you might go with, such as having both fans and rad mounted inside, at the other end of the H2gO in either an intake or exhaust setup. I did not want warm air from the rad blown through the interior, and I also preferred to keep all the water cooling components inside so that I could pull them back out in the future without disassembling the loop in order to get the tubes through the openings in the case.
With the cooling solution figured out, the next step is to get all the components installed in the lower chamber of the case. The reason being that the motherboard tray must be removed in order to install the 5¼" bay devices and the power supply. The next revision of the H2gO will have a notch in the bottom flange on the side to allow these to be slid in and out with the tray in place. It is kind of disheartening knowing that once assembled, in order to change out anything in the bottom half, both side panels and the motherboard tray will first need removed. But at least Mountain Mods has addressed this problem for future owners.
The 5¼" drives are assembled first, using these clear side brackets to hold them all together. Since there are no blank bay covers that come with the H2gO I wanted to fill up each position, so I'm using a 3½" floppy and a fan controller along with the optical drive, which must be mounted in the lowermost position. The reason for this is because the drive cluster is then attached to the case by way of screws through holes in the bottom. A thick piece of clear acrylic is used as a spacer between the panel and drive, in the second revision of the H2gO this spacer comes attached to the case so you don't have the hassle of trying to hold it, your drives and put the screws in all at the same time. I don't have a 3½" to 5¼" adapter plate for the floppy drive unfortunately, so I'll have to leave a gap around the front of it for now.
The power supply installs fairly painlessly, although it would be nice to have another spacer below it as well. The screws holding the acrylic feet on the bottom of the case can scratch up the side of the power supply as you're trying to position it for mounting. The hard drives install similar to the 5¼" devices. There are side brackets that must be attached to all the drives first, then the whole cluster can be mounted behind one of the fans. In retrospect, it probably would have been easier to mount the drives opposite the 5¼" bays, rather than across from the power supply, since there is a bit more room available there.
Once all the lower components are in place, the motherboard tray can be reinstalled and the rest of the system can be assembled. There are several openings in the tray on three sides to allow cables to be run between the two chambers. You don't have to worry too much about cable management in the bottom half because there are no windows down there, although you will see some of it through the motherboard tray. The rear side panel must be installed in order to attach any add-in cards, and I found it is very important to remember the three screws that connect the panel to the motherboard tray. This prevents the tray from sagging, since otherwise it is only supported in the corners, and cards will not seat completely in their slots if the center is not held firmly in place.
That pretty much wraps up installation; the only thing left to do is reattach the front side and top panels. There are a lot of screws holding the panels in place, which makes removing and replacing them a big PITA. I later decided to use just four thumbscrews on the front side panel because I found that was the one I was accessing the most.
On to final thoughts and conclusion.