Beginner’s Guide to Water Cooling Your PC

First and foremost, why on earth would someone put water in their computer?! Well, there are several very good reasons. It can result in better temperatures, higher overclocks, a quieter running system and it can just plain look good.

Whatever your motivation, water cooling can accomplish all of those and then some. Before you jump into this facet of our hobby,  it’s always best to plan your water loop from start to finish; from the ground up – starting with the most basic of components.

The Case

If you haven’t purchased your case, this is the best place to start your water loop. Cases can be modified to accept water cooling, but it’s much easier to have one that’s ready from the start. In very simplistic terms, there are two basic options available to you: mass produced cases and custom made-to-order cases.

Mass-Produced Cases

Mass-produced cases are what the vast majority of people will use for their setup. They can range from relatively cheap to quite expensive.

Common Properties

  • These cases are pretty standard cases, usually mid-tower ATX or larger.
  • They have generally two holes for up to 5/8″ OD (Outer Diameter) tubing (some accommodate up to 7/16″OD).
  • For most of them, entire water loop can usually be contained within the case except for the radiator. Some may require some inventive placement of the pump & reservoir, but as a rule all will fit inside except the radiator.
  • Full-tower ATX form factor cases can often fit a single radiator in addition to the tubing pass-throughs; installation is your option there.
  • Mid-tower ATX form factor cases can sometimes fit a radiator on the inside, but it has to be on the larger end of that spectrum. Many mid-tower cases require heavy modding to fit an internal radiator.
  • Mid-tower cases designed to fit radiators will usually offer one or even two spaces to mount 120.2 radiators. Full-tower cases often fit either 120.2 or 120.3, with some giving the option for 140mm radiators as well.
  • As water cooling has become more popular, so has the lineup of cases that will easily fit an internal loop. A few examples include:

Pros

  • Readily available
  • Broad range of brands.
  • Broad range of products.
  • Priced from relatively inexpensive to as high as you want.

Cons

  • A lot don’t fit an entire water loop inside (though they are becoming more and more readily available).
  • Many require modification to accommodate full loops (mostly for the radiator – again, this is changing).
  • No customization to order; what you see is what you get.

Mass-Produced Case Example by Ace.

Mass-Produced Case Example by Ace.

Custom / Made-to-Order Cases

Then we come to cases made specifically for water cooling enthusiasts. In this case, the common properties are equal to the Pros.

Pros

  • Made to order.
  • You decide what they look like.
  • You decide the amount of cooling they can accommodate (think multiple radiators).
  • To a degree, each one is “original”

Cons

  • Price, price, price. These have a very high upper limit to their cost and don’t start low.
  • Size starts big, can get REALLY big and continue going up from there.
  • Lack of choice. There are very few sellers of such cases.

The most popular place to get such things is Mountain Mods. There are other alternatives, such as design-to-order cases from Protocase. They even give you 3D CAD software to design your own case.

Mountain Mods Case Example by Shazza

Mountain Mods Case Example by Shazza

Alternatively, you can also have a known case builder design and build one for you. OCForums’ own Navig is a well known case designer and does excellent work. Here is one of my favorite of his creations: The Navig Exoframe, which is beautifully crafted and peerless. There are others like him (forum member Spotswood comes to mind), but these craftsmen are even more rare than actual businesses that do this.

Now that you have a home for it, we’ll move on to the water loop itself. First, we’ll go over the parts one by one and then move on to assembly, testing and use later.

Before going on, as you go through this guide there will be links to various products. We are by no means endorsing them, they are simply listed as examples.  There are a plethora of water cooling parts available out there; the ones listed are just a few of the more common choices. There are also small images of them to give you an idea what they look like.
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The Reservoir

Let’s start at the beginning – where you put the fluid into the loop. There are five basic options for a reservoir:

Separate Reservoir

Separate Reservoir

Reservoir Top

Reservoir Top

Built Into Rad

Built Into Rad

T-Insert for Tubing

T-Insert for Tubing

Fillport

Fillport

T-Line Reservoir

T-Line Reservoir

The types of reservoir listed are all available, but the examples listed are by no means exhaustive. There are many options available to you. These are just examples of popular products fitting the description. You can even crazy and go with something like one of  FrozenQ’s Liquid Fusion works of art.

The only “rule” for a reservoir is that it come before the pump so it will always be supplied with fluid. A dry pump is a dead pump. Another purpose reservoirs serve is to both fill and bleed the system. Bleeding a system removes the air bubbles that inevitably form as a result of filling the system.

Reservoir choice is completely personal and will depend on several factors, such as…

  • options for its location within your case.
  • whether or not you want the ease of a res built into the pump
  • whether you want a res at all (t-line).
  • (last but not least) purely aesthetic concerns.

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The Pump

Next in your loop is the pump. There are a decent amount of options out there, but for most there are six options to choose from (to keep from confusing people – Swiftech pumps are just re-branded Liang pumps):

MCP-350 / MCP-355

MCP-350 / MCP-355

MCP-655 / MCP-655B

MCP-655 / MCP-655B

Most that go with the MCP350 / 355  go with a modified pump top, primarily because the original pump top is molded plastic that has permanent barbs to accommodate 3/8″ ID (Inner Diameter) tubing. As a lot of people prefer 1/2″ or 7/16″ ID tubing, which you’d need an aftermarket top to use. Additionally, most tops will give you better gallons per hour (GPH) flow, as evidenced by this very excellent comparison.

There are several other options out there, but these are the de facto standard. In the spirit of being comprehensive and for those on a very tight budget, one inexpensive alternative is the D-Tek DB-1. Not to leave anything out, there are also pumps available that will plug straight into a wall socket; however, the good ones tend to be prohibitively expensive except for the most ardent water cooling enthusiasts.

One of the simplest combo of both of the above (and what’s in my system) is the Laing DDC3.2 / MCP355 combined with the XSPC Res top. Per that roundup, the res top gives you a pressure increase and serves your reservoir needs, all in one fell swoop. You also can’t get the liquid any closer to the pump than having the res mounted on top of it.

Three DDCs With XSPC Res Tops

Three DDCs With XSPC Res Tops

Truth be told, any of these pumps will serve most water loops with a block or three in it. If running a high restriction loop, counterintuitively, the MCP355 would be the way to go as long as you go with a quality aftermarket top. See this graph on the D5 vs this one for the DDC. You’ll notice that per-GPH, the DDC with a good aftermarket top gives more PSI than the D5.  Now, if your loop is not restrictive and you want to move mass amounts of water, the D5 is the choice for you.

Moving along…
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Water Blocks

Water blocks. There are a lot of these out there. I’ll round up a few CPU blocks, mention a couple blocks for other stuff and move on. For specific recommendations, just ask away in the water cooling section.

CPU Blocks

High Flow Blocks
(These do not restrict flow as much as the alternatives. High Flow is best when planning on a multiple-block loop.)

High flow / low restriction blocks tend to be better for multiple block loops.

Low Flow Blocks
(These are a somewhat more restrictive, meaning it takes more pressure to push the water through them.)

  • Swiftech Apogee XT – While this is more of a restrictive block, per Vapor at Skinnee Labs, “While this block performs amazingly at ‘normal’ pumping power settings (single/dual DDC3.2/D5), it also has very little performance degradation from reduced flow.” and “For a low-flow system (one with a weak pump and/or a lot of other secondary components and/or 1/4″ tubing), this block really distances itself from its predecessors–its performance is easily the best in the business.”
  • Swiftech Apogee GTZ – While listed as a low flow block, this one is the least restrictive of the low flow blocks.  It’s approximately 17% more restrictive than the Fuzion v.2 (source), which is why it made this chart.  Of the low flows, this is the one that has potential in a multiple block system.
  • Koolance CPU-370
  • EK Supreme

As they tend to be more restrictive, these blocks may be best used in their own loop without other blocks taking pressure away. In theory, what you get out of that is better temps, of course in exchange for a CPU only loop, or a multiple loop system if you want to cool more than just the CPU with water (leading to increased cost).

HeatKiller 3.0

HeatKiller 3.0

D-Tek Fuzion v.2

D-Tek Fuzion v.2

Swiftech Apogee XTZ

Swiftech Apogee XTZ

Koolance CPU-370

Koolance CPU-370

EK Supreme

EK Supreme

Vapor has done a remarkable job on testing a lot of water blocks on an Intel Core i7 platform. Here is the overall comparison. For much more detailed information, check out the individual block reviews.

That’s a basic overview of popular CPU blocks. But why stop there? There are water blocks for almost everything. While being completely and utterly pointless (at least IMHO), there are even water blocks for RAM and HDDs (don’t waste your money).

Chipset / MOSFET Blocks

For chipset cooling, you have the option of a universal block or a block specially made for your board. Not all boards have that option. Here is a universal Danger Den NB/SB block, pulled out of the hat. There are several universal options available to you; choose whichever you like. Any of them from a known manufacturer will do better than the usually passive air cooling on most boards.

Here is an example of one of the blocks specially made for an EVGA X58 Classified. There are a couple manufacturers that produce these for various boards. They are by no means exhaustive and the recent generation seems to be mostly for ASUS and for EVGA boards. If you change motherboards often, universal will be the way to go if you wish to cool your chipset(s).

Most southbridges do not get hot enough to warrant water cooling, so there really isn’t any need to add an additional block if there isn’t a specialty block available for your particular board. X58 SBs do get a bit warm but if yours does, adding a 40mm fan should fix that problem without having to go to the expense of a water block addition.

On new platforms with a PCH (Platform Controller Hub; i.e. P67), these become even less relevant; you just don’t need to water cool a PCH under most circumstances.

There is a rather substantial drawback to using a chipset block. Most MB manufacturers these days use a heatpipe solution on at least the NB & MOSFETs. This means the stock air cooling solution are linked and inseparable. Unfortunately, if you put a water block on your chipset, it will leave the power section bare with nothing to dissipate the heat! Thankfully, they make these little copper one-per-MOSFET heat sinks to help with that problem. As long as you have good case airflow in the area, these should be plenty to dissipate the heat put out by your MOSFETs.

There are also universal MOSFET blocks that will work on a good number of boards, such as this one from Koolance. You may need to buy a heat plate to mount on its base for proper contact on all the MOSFETs.

Bear in mind, this is nowhere near as “universal” as the NB/SB blocks referenced above. There are quite a few MOSFET configurations on various manufacturer’s boards, some of which will not be able to work with a universal block. For instance, my old Biostar TPower I45′s power section is too wide for any MOSFET block out there. Just measure your MOSFET configuration carefully and order appropriately.

Just like NB/SB blocks, there are tailor-made MOSFET blocks available as well. Here is one for an EVGA X58 board.

EK Universal Chipset

EK Universal Chipset

Rampage NB/SB

Rampage NB/SB

Enzotech MOSFET Sinks

Enzotech MOSFET Sinks

Koolance MOSFET Block

Koolance MOSFET Block

EVGA Combo Kit

EVGA Combo Kit

One last note – just remember that chipset blocks and MOSFET blocks especially will increase the overall temperature in your water loop. You can compensate for this with a larger radiator, but the more components you have to cool, the warmer your water will get. With most setups, unless you are pushing very high clocks for long periods, the stock air solution is more than adequate and the addition of these blocks is purely for the ‘bling’ factor.

That said, their addition will definitely improve your temperatures and arguably the longevity of your equipment. If you want to use them, those are your options.

GPU Blocks

This is the last category of water block we’ll go into. Like chipset & MOSFET blocks, there are two options: the universal block and the full coverage block, customized for your specific GPU.

A common GPU block is the Swiftech MCW82. It will fit on a variety of GPUs on the market. If it doesn’t fit, there is always the possibility of an adapter kit to make it fit. Barring that, one can always get inventive with their mounting, though that will take a bit more work. The benefit to a universal GPU block is that it will probably work on other cards when you upgrade. This is great, but as usual, there is a drawback.

GPUs are basically little computers, complete with their own processor, RAM, power section & chipset. These other items also need to be cooled. This can be accomplished in a couple of ways, depending on your card. The easiest is to purchase a heat sink for your specific card if there is one, such as this heatsink for ATI 5870 cards. If there is no tailor-made heatsink available, there is always the option of buying the parts separately, using items such as the Swiftech VGA RAMsinks (also used on the chipset and applied via thermal tape) and MOSFET-sinks. If those MOSFET sinks don’t work for your card, you can use the same little individual MOSFET sinks listed previously.

Also like motherboard MOSFET cooling, using any of these will require good airflow through your case to keep the rest of the card cool. Since you’ll be air-cooling your RAM, southbridge, board MOSFETs and HDDs anyway, good airflow is already a must and having these air cooled shouldn’t present much additional heat into the case.

The other option for GPU water cooling are full coverage water blocks. These blocks look great and cool the entire card, not just the GPU. There are several manufacturers of these types of blocks and several GPU options to choose from; here’s a GTX580 block by EK.

The problem with full coverage blocks is that they are not made for all GPUs and even if they are made for your GPU, it generally must be the reference design for it to mount properly. As there are GPU distributors that make their own PCBs, this can be an issue. Always verify the PCB is compatible with the specialized GPU block prior to purchase. This applies to the universal blocks as well; always verify the block will fit before purchasing to save yourself a headache and potentially lost money.

Swiftech MCW-60

Swiftech MCW-60

Swiftech 8800 Sink Kit

Swiftech 8800 Sink Kit

Individual RAM-sink

Individual RAM-sink

Enzotech MOSFET Sinks

Enzotech MOSFET Sinks

EK GTX280 Block

EK GTX280 Block

When considering a GPU block, also remember that GPUs run pretty hot. Adding one to a single loop will certainly increase the temperature within the loop. To compensate, you’ll either need more radiator (or additional radiators) to dissipate the added heat or you could run multiple loops. The drawback to that of course is you’ll need two of everything.

It is certainly feasible to run a CPU, single GPU and chipset in one loop (I’ve done it myself). Just understand your temperatures won’t be as good as if they were completely separate. Provided you get a radiator sufficient to dissipate the heat properly, the temperatures will still be better than air cooling, sometimes significantly.

If you want to add multiple GPUs in SLI or Crossfire configurations, MOSFET cooling and/or potentially a SB block to the loop, I’d strongly suggest using multiple loops.

Three GPU Blocks in Series

Three GPU Blocks in Series

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Radiators

There is definitely no shortage of radiators on the market. They are as small as a single 120mm radiator (made to accommodate one 120mm fan, often notated 120.1 or simply 120) or as big as a quadruple 140mm radiator (yes, that’s four 140mm fans!, which would be 140.4 or 560 with alternative notations). Opinions on radiators are as numerous as there are radiator choices. Rather than say what brand is better than another, I’m simply going to layout some facts that are basically indisputable:

  • Thermochill makes great radiators. They were sold to Watercooling.uk, but from all reports the quality has been maintained. If they continue to retain or improve upon current production techniques, they will continue to be great radiators.
  • XSPC is also an excellent choice.
  • Swiftech radiators are one of the most popular options. Their prices are generally lower than other alternatives. From a price-to-performance standpoint, these are one of the best options.
  • Hardware Labs Black Ice radiators are excellent (their GTX series is the best with very strong fans as a matter of fact), but with the high fin count on most of their radiators, they need more air pressure than most other brands. This means you’ll need higher CFM fans than you otherwise would, which leads to more noise. They have also captured the best-of-the-best silent radiator crown with their SR-1 series.
  • Don’t take my word for any of this. Skinnee of Skinnee Labs has completed a roundup of 120.3 radiators and his testing is second to none.

Thermochill 120.1 Rad

Thermochill 120.1

Black Ice GTX560 Rad

Black Ice GTX560

So, how much radiator do you need? Well, that depends on what you’re running. If an AMD or P67-based i7 CPU only loop, you could probably get away with a quality 120.1. If you plan on running an Intel i7 CPU on either the X58 or P55 platforms in its own loop, a 120.2 could probably take care of that heatload. Add anything else to either of those setups, and you’ll need more radiator. You may even want more radiator to begin with; these are bare minimums.

My personal quick and dirty rule of thumb (and this will probably be disputed) when using high quality radiators (that is important) is to use a 120.1-per-block within reason. So, if you’re running say an AMD 1090T, a chipset block and a single GPU, a quality 120.3 would give you decent temps.

Change that to an i7 (non-Sandy Bridge) and you add a significant amount of heat, as they run very hot. I’d give it its own 120.2, so if running an i7, NB block and single GPU, use at least a 120.4. Of course, there is nothing to say you have to use only one radiator. Instead of that 120.4, you could use two 120.2′s or even two 120.3′s. That’s the beauty of water cooling; it’s infinitely customizable!

Now, with that said, when it comes to radiators more is always better within reason. To give you better temps with some more breathing room, give yourself an extra 120.1 in addition to that rule. The more the merrier! Just keep in mind that, as with all components, radiators can be restrictive and lessen the flow of water through your system. Most pumps DDC3.2 and better can handle at least two radiators. Any more and you should strongly consider the restrictive properties of your radiator choice. Per this excellent comparison, there can be a large discrepancy in the amount of flow restricted. I won’t delve into the numbers here (this is a beginner’s guide after all), it’s just something to keep in the back of your mind when choosing your radiator(s).

I had mentioned silent running before. If you plan on water cooling in order to quiet down your computer (a common reason people switch to water, usually second only to temps), you’ll need more radiator. Fans dissipate the heat by blowing cool air across the radiator fins. Generally, the more cool air, the cooler the fins. To maintain relative quiet, fans must run slower, meaning less air is blowing across the fins. To maintain the same cooling capability, you need more fins, which means you need more radiator. What that does NOT mean is that you need more fins per inch. More fin density restricts air flow. To run high fin density radiators, you need strong fans, which are generally louder.

To get even BETTER temps, you can run more than one water loop. If running SLI/Crossfire setups, multiple loops are strongly recommended. As long as the GPU(s) is(are) on one loop and the CPU is on another, the rest of the blocks can be dispersed at will. IMHO, the MOSFETs should be on the same loop as the GPUs and the NB/SB should be on that of the CPU. If opting not to run MOSFET blocks and still going with multiple loops, I’d isolate the CPU in its own loop and put the GPU(s) and NB/SB on their own loop. Like I said, infinitely customizable!

Dual Radiators on a Danger Den Torture Rack

Dual Radiators on a Danger Den Torture Rack

To make matters even more complicated, you don’t absolutely have to use a radiator designed specifically for water cooling PCs. You can also use heater cores from cars or, if you’re really ambitious, the actual engine radiator from a car. We won’t go into much detail on that here. There are a lot of resources to modify those or even purchase them pre-modded around the ‘net. If you’re interested, just do some searching or ask here in our forums.

I’ll only touch on fans, as there are a LOT of them. There are fans for almost every taste. There are high-, medium- and low-speed fans. There are loud and quiet fans. There are expensive and cheap fans. There are fans that combine any number of those qualities with each other. A common fan choice in water cooling are Yate Loon fans,-for their quality relative to their price. There are many fans more expensive that aren’t as good as a Yate Loon.

Alternatively, on the other end of the spectrum, you have extremely high quality fans. These tend to cost at least 3x what a comparable Yate Loon does. The generally accepted “best” fans for quality and longevity are Panaflo and Delta. Personally, I use Ultra High Speed Panaflo fans – 114CFM, 2700RPM beasts. It’s overkill and I rarely turn them up, but they are there on my fan controller when I bench and really need them. Do your research on fans, it will serve you well. If you want recommendations, don’t hesitate to ask in our forums.
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Tubing and Fittings

Tubing

Tubing is a very personal choice for several reasons, not the least of which is that it’s available in several colors. There are also a few sizes available, all rated by the ID (Inner Diameter) of the tubing. These are:

  • 1/4″ / 6.35mm
  • 5/16″ / 8.0mm
  • 3/8″ / 9.6mm
  • 7/16″ / 11.1mm
  • 1/2″ / 12.7mm

1/4″ & 5/16″ are all but extinct at this point. There is still equipment available that uses them, but it’s mostly to fix old loops or for the aforementioned and rather pointless RAM blocks. The vast majority of water loops in use on recent systems use 3/8″ or larger tubing.

The good part is that your choice of 3/8″, 7/16″ or 1/2″ is not too hard…choose whichever you like! There is very little difference in flow rates, even though there is a relatively large difference in size. An excellent comparison of the difference between the three (and the older two as well) is available here at OCF, if you’re interested.

Now that diameter is out of the way, let’s talk quality. Tubing is generally sold by the foot in the US or by the meter outside the US. You can get cheap tubing from your local hardware store for pennies (around $.33/ft for 1/2″ ID) up to the top dollar laboratory-grade Tygon tubing (about $3.99/ft for 1/2″ ID).

The difference in tubing quality will be borne out in its routing. The cheap tubing will easily kink when routing it between various components. If there is a lot of room between components for gradual curves, then it will do ok for you. If you are tightly constrained, as most computer cases are, you’re going to want to go with a better selection. Good tubing is very flexible and does not easily kink.

If you still have a problem with kinking or anticipate one, you can get anti-kink coils to go around your tubing and assist with that problem.

Honestly, I cannot fathom why it is necessary to spend $4/ft on any piece of plastic tubing. Middle-of-the-line but still excellent 7/16″ Primochill Pro LRT tubing is fine with me; here’s a nice example for $2.00/ft. For a cheap but still decent option, I tend to go with Masterkleer 7/16″ tubing. It is not as good as Primochill, but is superb relative to its price at only $.59/ft.

Fittings

There are lots of fittings out there to choose from for almost any application you could think of. Before getting into that though, let’s talk about what fittings screw into. The industry standard threading is BSPP G1/4″ thread, also denoted “G1/4″ (BSPP stands for British Standard Parallel Pipe). This is referring to the threaded inputs/outputs of your block(s), radiator(s) and reservoir(s). Almost everything uses G1/4 at this point.

The only thing you need to be worried about is if something does NOT use G1/4. In that case, you’ll need to investigate what it does use and try to find barbs that accommodate the specific threading. One of the most notable exceptions to the rule are Thermochill radiators, which use BSPP G3/8″ threads. There is also threading denoted BSPT (British Standard Parallel Taper; these use the letter R, i.e. BSPT R1/4″) and NPT (National Pipe Thread Tapered; generally denoted 1/4 NPT). This is just something to keep a watchful eye on; simply peruse specs before purchases and make sure your fittings match the threading on your equipment.

At the most basic level, there are two types of fittings:

  • Straight Barbs. These are just what they sound like. Straight tubes screwed into your equipment with a barb on the end. You simply push the tubing over the end to install it. Most people use a type of clamp on the end unless they’re very daring. Options include metal worm drive clampsnylon hose clamps (sometimes called “Herbie clips”) up to Lamptron’s fancy hose clamps. The use of clamps is very highly recommended when using straight barbs. Do not trust that the tubing is tight enough. It will leak eventually.
Straight Barbs With Worm-Drive Clamps

Straight Barbs With Worm-Drive Clamps

  • Compression Fittings. These need no clamps because they come with their own. While more expensive, they tend to look a bit nicer and could be considered “easier” due to their install. You slide the screw portion over the tubing, push the tubing onto the fitting and then screw the clamp down straight to the fitting. The drawback is they can be twice as expensive as the standard barbs (and then some).

Straight Barb

Straight Barb

Compression

Compression

Angled Rotary

Angled Rotary

Generally, the majority of users go with barbs because of their reduced cost. If you really want cheap, you can even get molded plastic fittings, but I’d strongly recommend sticking with metal.

The drawback to barbs is that most come straight off the water cooling equipment (though there are a few 90 degree barb options out there). Sometimes an angled approach is necessary due to space constraints or to get the look you’re trying to achieve. This can be accomplished by an angled fitting. Here’s an example of the best of both worlds – angled rotary compression fitting (the tubing connection is at an angle and the fitting rotates to the direction you need). Here’s a whole page of rotary & compression fittings to give you an idea of just some of the options available to you.

Compression Fittings

Compression Fittings / Rotary on the GPU Inlet

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Fluid

Water. It has a higher specific heat capacity than any other common substance (source). That’s why we use it; it’s the best…plus it’s cheap! There are only a couple hard and fast rules that must be followed though.

  • Use distilled water or deionized water; nothing else.
    • Tap water would breed algae and the junk in it would aid in gunking up your parts.
    • I’ve seen it reported that deionized water would pick up stray ions from your parts and lead to corrosion. This is questionable however, considering IBM uses it. A lot of places outside the US have deionized as a cheaper solution than distilled. If it’s what is available, by all means use it without worry.
    • A big difference between deionized and distilled is that deionization only removes the minerals; distilling removes minerals and biological components.
    • I personally use distilled only, but it’s up to you.  There is no dispute however that you should never, ever use tap water.
  • Use some type of biocide.

There are other things you can put in / combine with distilled water. Ethylene glycol (antifreeze) is a common one. I’ve also seen diluted methanol used (windshield washer fluid), though that one is slightly flammable and I’d not use it personally.

Ethylene Glycol / Antifreeze is really only necessary in two situations.  The first is if you plan on cooling your loop below freezing temperature (i.e. submersing your radiator in cold water and/or putting it outside a window in winter.)  The second is for mixed-metal loops. The only mixed-metal loop I ran was with an aluminum-topped GPU block. Due to that, it needed some antifreeze additive. The block was given to me, otherwise I wouldn’t have tried it. Turned out ok though until the 8800GTX was replaced.

Running an Aluminum-Topped GPU Block

Running an Aluminum-Topped GPU Block

Quick note on loop components since we’re talking about fuid compensating for it – Don’t use mixed metals in your loop if at all possible as it will lead to corrosion inside your loop.  The most common mixture is aluminum with copper.  Most blocks are copper but some in the past had aluminum tops.  There are also aluminium radiators.  The best thing you can do is just stay away from mixing metals, specifically Aluminum. You can mix copper, nickel, brass, silver and gold without issue.

What NOT to use, at least in the opinion of most water cooling enthusiasts at Overclockers: dye. Sure, it looks good and can make your liquid glow with a black light. Just look at the gorgeous loops by shazza throughout this guide. Unfortunately, the drawback I’ve seen multiple times is that it will eventually clog up your blocks, causing your temps to go up and causing you to tear your loop down, drain it and clean the inside of your blocks regularly.

If you want your loop to glow without hassle, get UV-reactive tubing. Stay away from the dye; it does not help temps and will eventually lead to a headache down the road. Same goes with pre-mixed, dyed fluid. That said, if you do decide to use dye for looks, it’s a valid choice; just be prepared for increased maintenance frequency.

One last thing and we’re done with fluid.  Don’t be fooled by pre-made fluids claiming to be non-conductive.  Even if their claim is true, that property will wear off over time and it will become just as conductive as the next fluid. Water, by its very nature, is non-conductive; only when minerals are added does it become conductive, just like “non-conductive” pre-made fluid will.
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Assembly and Testing

Planning

Like I mentioned long ago in the Cases section, planning is essential. Before cutting up your (potentially expensive) tubing, plan how you want to run your loop from start to finish. Within reason, tubing length itself will not adversely affect the overall flow of the system. It does affect it though and every little bit counts. Basically, you want the shortest length of tubing from beginning to end for your particular application. If you don’t use any extraneous tubing, you’ll also save money and have some for use later.

What is the shortest length? That depends on your setup and what components you’re cooling. Plan, cut and install just enough tubing to get from fitting A to fitting B without any kinking. The only extremely important, non-negotiable rule is to have the reservoir before the pump as stated previously. You must always keep the pump supplied with fluid. Remember: a dry pump is a dead pump.

Aside from that, for all intents and purposes, the order of components in a water loop does not matter. When running a water loop, temperatures will equalize throughout the loop with the water temperature determined mostly by the warmest component in your loop. This is perfectly logical. The water will eventually heat up to a certain point due to the warmest component. Once it heats up to that point, it will continue transferring that temperature water indefinitely.

The benefit to this is that there are much smaller temperature deltas (the difference between idle and loaded temperatures) with a water loop, barring very high chip voltages. Even with very high chip voltages, the delta will remain smaller than air cooling. So while your idle temperature may be a bit higher if, say, you put a GPU in the same loop as a CPU, the loaded temperatures will be better – and loaded temperatures are the ones that count.

Preparation

Before jumping in with installation, you have some preparation to do. In order to get comfortable with their installation, cut a 3″ piece of tubing and learn how to put it on a barb and clamp it. Better now than when it’s in the PC. Exercise the clamps; open, close them a few times to make them smoother. For barbs, tighten down to finger tight and then use a wrench/pliers to give it 1/4- to 1/2-turn more. Do not over tighten with your wrench; the o-ring can bulge and cause a leak.

Radiator preparation is one oft-missed item. Boil sink water and let it cool 5 min. Pour into the radiator, filling it up and let it sit 10 minutes. Drain half of the water or so and shake it till your arms hurt, shaking 3-4 minutes, like a crazy person. Drain into a clear container. Do the “radiator dance” again and again till the water coming out is clear and there is no gunk once the water settles. Then do it two more times. Finally, fill the rad with distilled (or deionized) water and do the rad dance one last time. NOW and only now is your radiator 90% clean. No worries, the last 10% will come out in the next year or two when you redo your loop for maintenance.

Inspect your parts. Open the pump and look for gunk / packing material. Run sink water through the blocks, pump and hose. It would probably be a good idea to run distilled/deionized through these as well. Drain as well as you can, but don’t go crazy on draining every last drop. Inspect bottom of block. Don’t forget to remove the plastic cover! Inspect screws and holes, checking to ensure they go together well first. DON’T put a screw through the radiator; I’ve seen this done more times than you’d think.

Installation and Filling the Loop

Install the blocks on the parts. Take it slow, even removing them to check TIM contact if you want. Install the tubing. Measure twice, cut once; make it a bit longer if you’re worried, you can always cut it shorter. Dry mount everything, and inspect all clamps etc. Step away for a bit and then inspect it again.

Loop Installed and Empty

Loop Installed and Empty

After that is done, it’s time to fill the system and test for leaks. DO NOT fill the system and turn the PC on. You want to make darn sure there aren’t any leaks before putting electricity through the parts on which the water loop is mounted.

Before proceeding, put paper towels (or the absorbent material of your choice) underneath / around every potential leak point in the loop installed in/onto/near electrical components. This includes not only the tubing and barbs, but the blocks themselves.

Leak Testing With Two Blocks

Leak Testing With Two Blocks

Leak Testing With Three Blocks

Leak Testing With Three Blocks

In order to fill the system and test for leaks, you’ll need to either disconnect your power supply from the system or use another PSU to power the pump. I have an older spare PSU that isn’t viable for any modern system but will still put out plenty of power to spin the pump up. To turn a power supply on without having it connected to a PC, simply install a jumper (piece of wire, paperclip; anything that will conduct) between the green and black wires on the 20/24-pin main harness. Here is a pictorial example of how to do it. This may sound intimidating, but it’s really not. The only thing you’ll notice is the PSU fan turning on when you power it on via the main switch on its casing.

Now that you have power, turn the PSU off and plug it into your pump. Put fluid into the reservoir / t-line and let it reach the pump. Once you do that, power on the PSU. The pump will begin to push the fluid through the loop. When the fluid before the pump is exhausted, turn it off. DO NOT RUN THE PUMP DRY! Fill the res/t-line up again and repeat. Do this until the amount of fluid before the pump remains constant. That indicates the loop is filled.

If you get water/liquid all over the place, the parts need to be taken out (meaning Mobo, GPU etc), rinsed in alcohol, lightly scrubbed with a toothbrush, compressed air and if possible blow dried very, very well on LOW heat, then left to dry for at least 24 hours. Pay close attention to the PCI slots, checking to see if they get full of liquid. Compressed air helps a lot to blow them out.

Bleeding the Loop

As you will surely notice, filling the loop generates a significant amount of bubbles within the loop. These are easily dissipated. Simply let the loop run. The bubbles will be expelled from the liquid when it gets back to your res / t-line. Keep an eye on it for the first little bit as expelling the bubbles will lower the fluid reserve (replacing it with air). You’ll need to top off the fluid at least once, potentially more if you’re using a t-line setup and then once again when all bubbles have been purged.

Bleeding

Bleeding the Loop

Bleeding the Loop

Bleeding the Loop

Eventually the liquid will be bubble-free. Generally this occurs sometime within 24 hours. Most bubbles will come out relatively quickly, but there will be stragglers that will work their way out of the loop eventually. Once the vast majority (99.9%) of the bubbles are gone, you’re fine to go ahead and run the loop on the system while the remainder work their way out.

Finish Leak Testing

For testing purposes, it is necessary to run the filled loop for enough time to satisfy you there will be no leaks. This varies from person to person. If you’ve made it this far, you’re smart enough to know what is reasonable for you. I’ve heard anywhere from one hour to 24 hours.

The way I do it on a fresh system is to install all components the loop attaches to and the loop itself, then fill and run the loop while installing the remainder of the system. Since I’m a wire management freak, this can take a couple hours before the system is ready to power up. If you’re not as thorough or on an existing system, I would run it at least two to three hours before being confident the system is leak-free.

Alternatively, you can install the loop at night and run it overnight. In the morning, if there are no wet paper towels, you should be ok to give power to the system and turn it on. Bottom line – be reasonable. Your PC has a lot of expensive electronics in it and water + electricity is not a good combination. Test it for however long you need to feel certain there will be no leaks.

When you reach that certainty, congratulations, you now have a water cooled PC!

Silverstone Build by Ace.

Ace.’s Silverstone Build

Shazza's Torture Rack

Shazza’s Torture Rack

Shazza's Mountain Mods Build

Shazza’s Mountain Mods Build

Lian Li Buttoned Up

Lian Li Buttoned Up

Shazza's Mountain Mods Build

Shazza’s Mountain Mods Build

(Back to the Top)

Additional Resources

Now that you have a beginning knowledge base, feel free to check out some other resources available here and throughout the web.

Overclockers Resources

Other Review & Information Sites

Places to Purchase Equipment
There are lots of places to find water cooling equipment, so we’ll stick to a few that are just here in the US. In addition, most manufacturers allow you to buy directly from their web sites.

Sidewinder, Jab-Tech and Petra’s are generally the less-expensive of those five. Every one of them has top notch customer service. Gary from Sidewinder (now also presiding over Petra’s) and John from Jab-Tech are fine gentlemen and treat their customers well.

Both Performance-PCs and FrozenCPU trend on the more expensive side, but you also pay for them to have by far the largest inventories of specialized cooling bar none. Both also have good customer service. Truth be told, you can’t go wrong buying from any of these five, it just comes down to personal preference and frugality.

Credits – and Your Feedback

Well, that does it. You now should have at least a basic grasp of the components for water cooling a PC and how they should be installed and operated. If you have any questions or suggestions for additions to this guide, feel free to share in the comments!

Giving credit where it is due, this guide stems from an earlier version I wrote about two years ago for Overclockers Tech. It has been updated and cleaned up quite a bit for our readers, but that’s where it started.

Big thanks to shazza (who is also a moderator at Xtreme Systems) and Ace. for allowing the use of their system photos.

Quite a few people gave valuable input to get this thing where it should be. Special thanks to Dostov from The Raptor Pit, Spawn-Inc and Conundrum from OCF, alacheesu, faster3200, W1zzard, Waterlogged and MpG, all from XS and Gilgamesh from Overclockers Tech for their valuable input.

Tags: , ,

182 Comments:

deadlysyn's Avatar
Great write up, hokie.

You forgot the LED stop fitting in the res trick to make them glow all nice and pretty too.
QuietIce's Avatar
Excellent article!
m0r7if3r's Avatar
long read, but a good one. Nice writeup.
hokiealumnus's Avatar
Thanks a lot guys!

To anyone that reads - I was serious about feedback too. If there are items of concern I'm happy to reexamine sections / add if necessary.

If you're a new builder an have questions, we're here for you too! You can post quick questions here or start your own thread in the water cooling section. Just always remember - you never stop learning about this hobby. This covers most of the basics, but each build is unique to the builder and you need to research what works best for what you want out of water cooling.
m0r7if3r's Avatar
Only thing that really stuck out in my mind was that you mentioned swiftech a lot when referencing products an had one dead link (the apogee XT testing). You also didn't mention the jingway pump series or talk about the benefits of single vs dual loops (though it was already a PRETTY long guide, so I'm not sure how much you could add)...but that's just me being overly critical.
hokiealumnus's Avatar
Thank you kindly for the feedback. Fixed the broken link.

Re: Swiftech - It just happened to be the easiest place to grab product links when getting examples. That's about it.

Re: Jingway - You're right, it didn't make the list. They seemed to be low cost alternatives to the superior DDC/D5 options (just looked at skinnee's testing from last year). There was mention of one of them as just that (low cost alternative) though - the D-Tek DB-1 is a Jingway rebrand AFAIK.

Re: Single vs. dual - you're right, it's already pretty long. Heh, hopefully it's not a combination of long and boring.

Being a basic guide, in most cases people will that go by it will want to start out on one loop. I did mention it, but only in passing because it seems that's more advanced than should be addressed in a beginner guide.

Thank you again for the feedback!
saint19's Avatar
Excellent article dude with, all basic things that people need know for switch to WC.

1- Can I suggest add some recommended fans that works in all radiators?, that can help a lot too.
2- What about the maintenance period?

As personal question, can you suggest me a good reservoir? MCP-655D, MCR-480, EK Supreme HF Full Nickel, Compression fittings 1/2" ID x 3/4" OD. Thanks

p.d. Now is official, my MCR-480 for only CPU is "overkill"
hokiealumnus's Avatar
Thanks!!

1) I considered it, but there are SO many options out there it would have made an already lengthy guide even longer. Fans are almost the most personal choice and should be chosen to fit a particular person's noise tastes, performance needs and radiator choice. As those are variables that change so much from person to person, I couldn't do the topic justice without going into a lengthy treatise on fans.

2) Excellent point, I'll work on a mention of that when I have time. Quick answer for you - If you have and use dye, no less than every six months. Without it you could go up to a year. IMHO, of course.

What style of res are you looking for? Do you prefer the tube-style (if so, vertical or horizontal)? Square? Bay res? Bling? There are quite a few options. A res is a res; as long as it serves its purpose, pick whichever one fits your style, budget and space.
saint19's Avatar
I only use distiller water with Silver KillCoil in "reservoir", so, I think that one year is fine right?

Regarding the reservoir, a good one, not very big, not very expensive and that fit in a HAF X LoL. I think that tube-style vertical is the best option for me.
MattNo5ss's Avatar
Is there something like the XSPC Res Top for a MCP655, a res that improves your pump?

The only reason I got a res was b/c the XSPC Res Top improves my MCP355.
hokiealumnus's Avatar
Yes, I think you'd be ok for a teardown/rebuild at the one year mark.

As far as a reservoir, check out the res page at Sidewinder. Pretty much take your pick out of the stealth res or ek multioption reservoirs. I'm not familiar enough with them to know which has a better anti-cyclone insert though; sorry.

That improves the pump? I have no data. But there does exist one at this point for the 655. Found it at Sidewinder last night.
m0r7if3r's Avatar
the stock top for the d5 is already really good, there are some improvements to be seen with aftermarket tops, but not like with a ddc.

@saint - koolance has some nice new tube reses you might wanna check out, EK's are pretty standard, though some have had leaking issues.
Owenator's Avatar
Awesome write up Hokie!
saint19's Avatar
Thanks guys, I will created a thread for not do this a "personal" thread.
deeppow's Avatar
Very nice job hokiealumnus! Some great pictures too, I'm jealous of such clean setups.

I got started water cooling back in the days Bill Adams was around and he got me interested. After various stepping stones, I've ended up with an alternate water cooling setup that works very well but really isn't economical so I wouldn't seriously suggest it to others.

I progressed from radiators to a chiller. The chiller of course isn't an economical approach but hanging around eBay for weeks finally yielded one at a "reasonable" price. I can run a higher overclock and still keep the CPU very cool. At this point, I've ended up with an external enclosure for the pump etc. Makes work in the computer easier but gota admit my setup is Rube-goldberg.
hokiealumnus's Avatar
Thanks! I'm jealous too. Only the messy example photos were mine (they were older systems before I got 'clean' with the single Lian Li photo at the end), so I'm just as jealous! Shazza and Ace. excel at making beautiful, clean loops. They have great company, mind you; they were just the two that sprang to mind to ask permission for including them at the time.

Me? Well, I succumbed to the benching gods and my loop has since devolved into this for ease of transfer/portability. The Lian Li now houses an air cooled system.
deeppow's Avatar
Ahhh, a setup only a mother could love.
Conumdrum's Avatar
I was really hoping this link Hokie just wrote would stay at the TOP of the current posts, in BIG BIG red BLING letters, and not buried in the sticky link. We know how little peeps start there. They spend 20 min typing the first question that are so easily answered by spending 20 minutes reading. Saves ALL of us time and effort..

So, can it become the first post forever in the posts? And not lost somewhere?
Ace.'s Avatar
Good Work Buddy
hokiealumnus's Avatar
I sticked it, put some capital letter text with asterisks and made it the only yellow-text thread (frontpage), but you know how stickies are. I fear it will receive less exposure than a random thread. Unfortunately you can't format subject lines with color/bold. Hope this helps a little at least.

Thank you very much!
robertcutshall's Avatar
[IMG][IMG][/IMG][/IMG]
hokiealumnus's Avatar
Is that a flow meter between your CPU & NB blocks?
robertcutshall's Avatar
yes i thought that was the best place for it..lol
still waiting on do cooling on video cards and mem..
hokiealumnus's Avatar
Honestly, next time you do a tear down, take the thing out. It's not going to do you a bit of good. If you have enough flow, your temps will be fine. If you don't, they'll be too high. If your pump stops, you'll know when your CPU throttles. All they do for you is restrict flow IMHO.

Also, don't bother with memory unless you just want it for looks. Modern memory doesn't get hot enough to justify the restriction you'd put in your loop. At least IMHO.
robertcutshall's Avatar
ok thanks for the info
MIAHALLEN's Avatar
Dude Jeremy...you've totally outdone yourself with this one

Everytime I read something I wanted to criticize, I'd continue on, and you'd address my concern in the next paragraph. Very well written, and exceptionally thorough.

The only criticisms fall on your editors; the titles/headings/sub-headings could be improved a little IMO.

Great work
hokiealumnus's Avatar
Thank you very much! I'm as much to blame for those items as any. We're somewhat limited with our heading options and some look too similar to others. Now, if you were referring to their wording, I'm happy to entertain changes. Let me know what you had in mind.
MIAHALLEN's Avatar
Ah, a couple more things.

Mention running multiple pumps in series.

When talking about tubing, I would mention the difference between 1/16" walls and 1/8" walls, the advantages/disadvantages of each size....and you might also mention that (contrary to popular belief) the most kink resistant size is 3/8" ID 5/8" OD
m0r7if3r's Avatar
I've heard the best is 1/2"x5/8" with antikink coils
MIAHALLEN's Avatar
I'm talking about bare tube (no coils)....bringing coils into the discussion might change things a bit

....or are you just being a PITA?
m0r7if3r's Avatar
I'm appalled, I would never...

But no, I'm actually genuinely interested in what tubing combination gives you the best turn radius...haven't seen much on it since the testing over at XS, which didn't include any kink coil testing
hokiealumnus's Avatar
Thanks for the input miah! Will work on getting that in as time allows.
MattNo5ss's Avatar
The thicker the walls, the less likely to kink.

3/8" ID 5/8" OD has 2/8" 1/8" thick walls. 1/2" (4/8") ID 5/8" OD has 1/8" 1/16" thick walls.
QuietIce's Avatar
Actually, it's only half those numbers, 1/8" and 1/16" thick, because there are two walls per diameter.

Adding coils to the outside changes that, though, so 1/16" thick tubing with coils, like 1/2-5/8", won't kink as easily as tubing with 1/8" walls but no coils.
MattNo5ss's Avatar
Oops, edited

But, yeah, 3/8"x5/8" has twice wall thickness.
m0r7if3r's Avatar
I think the reasoning is that the tubing itself will only bend so much, thinner tubing will bend more, so if you force it to not kink, you can get a tighter turn...
robertcutshall's Avatar
i use the 3/8 tubing on my system...
Spotswood's Avatar
Thanks for the mention.
hokiealumnus's Avatar
You deserve it; your cases are fantastic!
MIAHALLEN's Avatar
+1...Definitely deserved Rich
Loo's Avatar
This is one good article.

Congrats.
Dooms101's Avatar
Wow this was an awesome read and a great guide for beginners. Even though I've read all the stickies a thousand times and have set up a few loops, I still learned a few things. I might just start directing people to this article specifically instead of just saying "go read the stickies".

Awesome write up hokie!
Cantebuss's Avatar
First time poster and actually joined as a result of this post. These forums have been a great resource to me in the past few months. I have a single 120 loop for cpu only and am looking to expand it in the coming year. Thanks a bunch for this.
hokiealumnus's Avatar
Thanks for the kind words, it's great to have you. Welcome to OCF!
rired48's Avatar
Considering going water-cooling just for cpu...
Current system:
Corsair 600T case
Asus P8P67-D MB
i7-2600k
Corsair Vengeance mem
Sapphire 5870 (will not OC)
Corsair HX850 PS

Son and I are gamers and want a big OC if the cpu cooperates.... @ 4.6-5.0ghz.

Will this case fit the water-cooling components easily?
What am I looking at approximately, cost-wise, for best H20 components setup?

Thanks for any help/suggestions...
m0r7if3r's Avatar
Should start your own thread. WHat are you looking to cool? CPU only? GPU only? Both? Case is OK, would do fine for a CPU only loop, you'd have to do a bit of cutting (I think) for a dual loop. You're lookin ~$300 for a new CPU loop, but you can easily cut that in half by going used. $500 or so is about where cpu+gpu loops start. It's not cheap. It's a hobby, not a next step from air. There's maintenance, there's setup, there's a lot of stuff that you've gotta do that you don't have to with air.
rired48's Avatar
m0r7if3r...you state...
"WHat are you looking to cool? CPU only? GPU only?"...

My post states "...water-cooling just for cpu..."

So, around @ $300 for a cpu loop with best components?
Adragontattoo's Avatar
You should really start your own thread for this, but price is relative TBH. I built one system for ~$600 and another for half again as much...
Adragontattoo's Avatar
Honestly most people will NEVER run a dual loop. Heck most of the Dual loops that I do see are absolute overkill and/or set up solely as a bragging item (for lack of a better term).

Great guide! Hopefully it answers many of the common questions or gives a starting point to work from.
m0r7if3r's Avatar
Where are you getting your data?
Vengance_01's Avatar
I just wanted to post my thanks. I had a few questions about tubing and ID/OD stuff as its been 7-8 years since I ran any water cooling gear.
mgsickler's Avatar
Good read. A lot of valuable info in there. But I am still debating whether or not to water cool.
hokiealumnus's Avatar
It's worth it if you're ready to enter the obsession. Looks, silence, performance...it's all there. You just need to be ready to take the plunge.
SuperDave1685's Avatar
Wow. Really, really sweet article. Probably the best how-to Watercooling article I've ever read. Seriously. Covers just about every little thing from components to planning,corrosion, and radiators. My hat's off to you good sir.
mgsickler's Avatar
Yea, thats what I am most concerned about. The maintenence, and the time. I am not sure I f am ready to commit to that yet.

I mean, the payout definitely seems worth it. But it is a bit frightening. Also a little expensive.
Pc Peformance's Avatar
Long read, but really great and detailed post !
hokiealumnus's Avatar
Thanks for the kind words guys!
DirkBalloon's Avatar
I have just recently started reading and learning about water cooling and I have a question about the guide. Why do you have to rinse out the radiator multiple times? What is there to be cleaned out of a new part / old part? What would happen if it was not rinsed out?
Conumdrum's Avatar
Ahh, the crux of being thorough and treating watercooling like a hobby. Cherish each moment as you play with the parts.

Radiators can have gunk in them, not as bad as the old days. The blocks have very small channels that can get clogged.

My first pump had bits of packing foam in it. Nuff said.

If new at watercooling your totally lost when your loop is clooged after 2 weeks. Dunno why your tubing is already cloudy. No clue why. Etc Etc Etc.

Thats why you take it ohh so slow and have fun with it. Not for everyone............Even your research is a slow, plodding fun time. Maybe this post, made long ago, and updtaed will help.

http://www.overclockers.com/forums/s...96&postcount=3
KyoKris's Avatar
Totally new to water cooling and this forum. This is exactly what i was looking for.
thanks
Comedie's Avatar
sorta skips over the possibility to buy an already assembled and ready to plug in system like the Corsair H series coolers. Surely something labeled 'Beginner's Guide' should at least mention that!
hokiealumnus's Avatar
Most of those are pretty on-par with top air coolers, plus it takes none of the skills or knowledge outlined to use one, hence they weren't mentioned.
m0r7if3r's Avatar
Quit trollin.
Comedie's Avatar
So not really "Beginners" but "Intermediates".
I was sorta poking at the Corsair H100, and considering adding a reservoir and some tube length to it with a slight mod. At the minimum, at least adding a T to a dead-end high pipe with cap.
hokiealumnus's Avatar
So, at that point it becomes a full water loop. Your pump & block are just one unit. Everything else is the same and the principles and lessons taught in the guide would apply perfectly. Thus, if you're considering modding an all-in-one unit it ceases to be that and becomes discrete components just like are outlined throughout the guide, no?
Comedie's Avatar
Maybe. I was just surprised that it was titled a beginners guide and didn't mention the most simple solution to putting in watercooling.
The upper T as my minimum mod I didn't notice in the article. That was just a thought I had based on general plumbing and irrigation, when I noticed some H100 reviews saying they seemed to have some air bubbles in the loop and what sounded like impeller cavitation/deprivation.
If I was really going to mod, I would probably be thinking peltier refrigeration thoughts, or maybe evaporative cooling. But I doubt I bother. Mostly I'm just looking to build a reliable system that does what I and the family need with the fewest headaches and fuss. From the design and components I've been penciling in, water cooling seemed to be a nice thought,,, and so the article title caught my attention.
m0r7if3r's Avatar
as far as most people here are concerned, all LCLC units are not watercooling, plain and simple. They are watercooling only in the most technical sense. They cost more than high end air coolers that outperform them and are really only useful for people who want to say their computer is watercooled but don't have the ability/desire to learn the stuff that is contained in this guide. There is no reason to mention them in this guide as they are on a completely different performance level and price range from real watercoolling...it'd be like mentioning you could use the stock cooler in a writeup about high end air coolers. Yea, the option is there, but it's not what you're looking for if you're reading that guide.
evangs's Avatar
I've been reading about water cooling and researching for the last 5 years and finally pulled the trigger and am oh so happy. I remember when those prebuilt water cooling systems started coming out. I never once thought of buying one. Like m0r7if3r said, it ain't water cooling. It's not hard to build a custom loop if you do your research and learn everything you possibly can before even touching a part. then when you start building you go ahhhhh that's why they said to do it this way. ohhhh this makes sense. so yeah. don't buy prebuilt its lame and doesn't preform well. those things only have like a 120 rad on them anyway.....can barely handle cpu let alone adding in anything else.
m0r7if3r's Avatar
Glad we could help, and well put
Crimson's Avatar
Very interesting!

Thanks!
RobsterCraw's Avatar
Very helpful primer and instructions.

I found this article to be about as comprehensive as a novice like myself might judge it. Having read it several times and having performed a broader lit review, I think the one area where I still feel a little ignorant is in the combination/mounting of radiators and fans to cases. How important is it to leave X volume of airflow into/out of the case unobstructed by radiators? What types of case modifications/butchering is necessary to mount external radiators or accommodate more than a stock case can handle? stuff like that.

This is my first post. Haven't had a gaming PC since I was 21 playing BF2. The release of BF3 has inspired me to look into a nice quiet WC build, but that is for another thread.
onetootreefor's Avatar
thanks for the write-up...Even on my 3rd loop build I read and learned some new things
derek1387's Avatar
Thanks for the awesome How-To. I am working on doing my first WC custom loop in an NZXT Phantom, and this has proved invaluable! Thanksagain!
hokiealumnus's Avatar
You're quite welcome, glad you guys found it useful!
RobsterCraw's Avatar
on what must be my 6th read of it, I have some more thoughts.

It seems that despite the wealth of information, the stickies are not doing a great job of getting newbies to understand the basics of planning their loop. Since most newbies come with the intention of building a loop, then the crucial missing section or companion document that would be good to have in your guide is step-by-step guide to planning a loop. A lot of newbies might get done reading that and think, "ok, what do I do now?"

As a newbie I found the stickies helpful, but definitely didn't know how to go about figuring out what components to use and why. It took me a while to find the "how to figure out your delta T" guide with the formula for calculating heat load of OC'd CPUs. I think if you want newbies to get a grasp on the important concepts of WCing, then perhaps the first thing they need to know is that they need to plan their loop starting from the load.

Since I am a newbie this is only a suggested order:
Step 1: calculate your heat load
Step 2: ??
Step 3:etc

I know that in reality there is a lot of balancing of things like fan power and rad FPI, stuff like that, but I bet that if some of you experts gave it a little thought, you could come up with an optimum order of steps for planning a loop. I know that I'm not really qualified to do it.
130rne's Avatar
Here's a question: I have a fountain pump from Lowe's and had thought of the heater core idea for a cheap water setup. I'm sure the pc water pumps are better quality, but the fountain pumps can run 24/7 and have similar flowrate for around half the cost. Do you know anyone who's used these cheaper pumps or what the specific differences are and if there's any reason not to use them? You mentioned the plug in pumps but didn't elaborate, and I'm thinking about this for my next mod.

Edit-btw, I'm a cheap b*s*a*d
hokiealumnus's Avatar
Sure, that should be fine but I would check the head pressure ratings to be sure. They may have plenty high GPM ratings, but potentially very little head pressure. As long as that rating is good enough that you'll get at least 1LPM through the loop with the added restriction of the blocks you're fine.

With that caveat in place, the only advantage to actual water cooling pumps is the ability to easily secure fittings.

As far as plug-in pumps, fish tank / fountain pumps aren't what that refers to. There are Eheim pumps adapted for water cooling use such as this one. They're expensive and used rather rarely, which is why they received small billing.
130rne's Avatar
Ahh, that's it. The pump head on my cheapo is about half that of the pc pumps. Mine's just above 4ft, 100-150gph. It should be enough for just a cpu loop though. Pump head is what I was worried about. For anyone trying this, DO NOT buy the cheapest pump, most small fountain pumps have less than 3ft of head. Mine is the cheapest I'd go-http://www.lowes.com/pd_58695-60084-...ump&facetInfo=

Something like this is what I'd recommend-http://www.lowes.com/ProductDisplay?...llow&cId=PDIO1-92" pump head and still cheaper than pc pumps.

That Eheim looks impressive, I figured you were talking about high end pumps, I wonder what the MTBF on that is?

Great article btw, I think I'm ready to take the plunge!
m0r7if3r's Avatar
MTBF on the ddc and d5 is 50000hrs, Eheim and Iwakis all have higher MTBFs than that...it's pretty impressive to say the least.
Jason_23's Avatar
Great read..

I just build a new rig on air, but entertained building it as WC unit. This is exactly what I needed to get started into my research. I am only going to WC 2 @ EVGA GTX 570HD's. After seeing some images and reading I now have an idea of what to look for and start my list.

I will start my own thread once I get closer to the parts list. Questions and comments will be appreciated.

Thanks again for the Write-Up
hokiealumnus's Avatar
Thanks for the kind words Jason_23, glad you found it useful!
GDESMO's Avatar
New member, that thread on watercooling was fantastic !
gabloo's Avatar
Wow! very nice wright up. This is going to be my first time doing liquid cooling and guide explained all the question that I was having. Thanks a lot.
hokiealumnus's Avatar
Thanks! Feel free to post up a thread if you have questions not answered in there, or if you just want to show your new loop.
Pvt.Dancer's Avatar
Does any one know if the Black Ice GTX Gen Two Xtreme 360 rads are copper or if there another metal? i just ordered mine and am already at the point of no return. the block I got for my CPU is the HK supreme HF all copper block and i forgot to make sure the metals were the same.
I.M.O.G.'s Avatar
Dancer, start your own thread and put the radiator name in the title. That will get you a better answer faster.
hokiealumnus's Avatar
It is (well, copper and brass IIRC). You've got nothing to worry about.
Pvt.Dancer's Avatar
sorry I.M.O.G probably should have but just though it would be such a short simple answer it would be easier. Thanks Hookie that's all i wanted to know.
I.M.O.G.'s Avatar
Hokiealumnus could answer you in your own thread as well, and others would find the answer easier while searching.

No need to apologize though, just helps everyone if questions are organized by topic as often as possible. Glad you got what you needed.
Pvt.Dancer's Avatar
I always do that's why I'm here! and have been for so long. Ill start my own thread because ill have pics to post being that this is my first WC build. Thanks again
Bojan2801's Avatar
I'm new to this forum and this is very good guide for beginner's (me)
txus.palacios's Avatar
This should be added here somewhere.

If you're going to watercool a SLi rig, and going to use EK blocks, if you need the 3-Slot separation, buy the triple card one and a blank bridge thingy.

If not, when you upgrade your rig to another motherboard with a different PCIe layout, you'll have a beautiful useless EK bridge and will have to buy another.

My two cents!
I.M.O.G.'s Avatar
That is a bit too specific of a problem to fit a sticky well, in my opinion. Insightful tho.
ooostephen's Avatar
Maybe one of the best once-overs I've read. Not too technical for an introduction, but with resources once your interest has been piqued. One thing, I didn't see any mention of plumbers tape, and thought it would be critical to ensure no leakage occurs. Is there any info on this?
hokiealumnus's Avatar
Thanks for the kind words. You don't need plumbers' tape at all really. The vast majority of fittings you can buy have o-rings, which make plumbers' tape pointless.
saint19's Avatar
My radiator is built with Brass body and tubes, louvered copper fins, my CPU block is a full nickel EK waterblock and my compression fittings are bitspower. The tube that I use is primochill black, my simple question is (since I read the guide again), Do I have to use any other liquid like antifreezer or similar?
hokiealumnus's Avatar
Nope. Pretty much, no aluminum = no antifreeze. What you DO need -and all loops need- is a biocide like PT Nuke or a silver kill coil.
saint19's Avatar
Yeh, I forgot mention that. I have one on the reservoir. Thanks for the answer
Izzie's Avatar
Super guide hokiealumnus thanks for taking the time to write it was very useful to know the true dealings with what you have to do to maintain a W/C loop.
oli4ei162's Avatar
i want to make a new gaming rig and i'm planning to watercool my cpu and my 2 gtx 670's. I'm planning to use 1 360 rad. My question is that en off and does it make a diffrent when im using fan with more rpm?
MattNo5ss's Avatar
Static pressure is an important spec when talking about fans in a situation where their airflow is restricted (radiators and heatsinks). It's not all about the RPMs, because some lower RPM, high static pressure fan could perform better fan a higher RPM, low static pressure fan in these situations. Whether you need high RPM/static pressure will depend on the fin density of the radiator, meaning if it's more dense (more restrictive) you'll want higher RPM/static pressure.
oli4ei162's Avatar
but is a 360 rad en off or do i need a extra 240 rad
MattNo5ss's Avatar
What CPU do you have? What radiators?
oli4ei162's Avatar
I7 3,6 ghz ek 360 radiator (kit)
xander89's Avatar
the make of cpu ie i7 920? 2600k? 3770k? etc
oli4ei162's Avatar
Intel Core i7-3820, 3.60GHz, 10MB, S2011
xander89's Avatar
yes you will need another 240 in there
oli4ei162's Avatar
do you think the cooler master cosmos 2 will be a good case?
do you have other suggestions for a good case for watercooling?
skorpien's Avatar
You really should start your own thread for questions. This is a beginners guide and we should keep it focused on that. If you have a question about the guide and need clarification then by all means ask away, otherwise you'd be better served by searching our forums for builds with that particular case or by starting a parts/build thread.
CyberianIce's Avatar
Can anyone please explain what is wrong with this loop (waterflow direction? airflow direction? both?)
xander89's Avatar
nothing wrong with flow, thats fine, but I am a little confused why the pump rez combo is at the bottom? surely it would be in the bays at the front of the case? Also assuming that the rad is going to be at the top of the case you will want the fans at the bottom blowing the air out of the case. Or if you defo want them on the top have them pulling
kira801's Avatar
yohh folkz...

if i had installed cooling on my pc....then 1 of my components broke what should i do first?
if 1 wrong move then my board would be a wash out right?....
how to disassemble the cooling if i somewhat change components on my board


feel free to inbox me on my email iansombito@yahoo.com

newbie ^^
planning to install water cool pc in the future
briansun1's Avatar
2 qusetions what is the difrence between the 2 swiftech kits?
and If I were to use the liquied included when whould I have to change it out/is it even worth opening and useing?

( I am a compleat noob at this)
I.M.O.G.'s Avatar
Which Swiftech kits are you looking at?

They currently have the Elite, the Edge, and the Ultima HD water cooling kits on their site. They also have the new Swiftech 220 All In One.

If you get the 220 All In One, I think their documentation states one year without having to fill or anything, but they said thats on the safe side, and you could probably get by for 3 years without having issues. If you watch temps however, you will know when it needs a refill.
briansun1's Avatar
what are the difrence between the current kits?
briansun1's Avatar
that and is ther fluid any good?
I.M.O.G.'s Avatar
I'd check the link in my last post for differences, they use different pumps, radiators, resevoirs, and fans. Pretty much each kit has a variation in each component.

Distilled + biocide is the ideal coolant. Biocide keeps junk from growing in the water. Therefore, any coolants that are sold are generally regarded by those "in the know" as unnecessary - you'll pay more for no tangible benefits. They don't improve cooling capabilities, but they may help prevent corrosion if you are mixing metals, or help stop algae if you aren't using a biocide in your distilled water.
briansun1's Avatar
ok which biocide should I use?
I.M.O.G.'s Avatar
The article in the first post of this thread, answers that specific question exactly. Please refer to the section titled "fluids".
briansun1's Avatar
which kit do you think I should get?
I.M.O.G.'s Avatar
Can you start a thread dedicated to figuring this out? Just start a thread in the watercooling section, list which components are in your computer, and say something about what your goals are (temps, quietness, looks, etc), and what your budget is. Without knowing what you want, I can't tell you what to get.

There is no perfect kit for every person. Most people who aren't sure what they want to do get an all in one kit, because it is an easy way to get into water cooling without having to put things together themselves or select components.
Lyian's Avatar
Not to be a sticker, but i noticed an error.

In the Pumps section i noticed this.

Just thought i would point that out to be fixed. Also, is this article updated at any time for changing hardware?
hokiealumnus's Avatar
There hasn't been a ton of change really. There are newer individual items out, but the basic principles outlined remain the same. Thanks for pointing out the error, I'll take care of it.
I.M.O.G.'s Avatar
I think the article content stands on its own very well still - focusing on the principles has kept it relevant despite changing parts.

A buyer's guide could be a good compliment, and we could link that from the article - as new WC buyer's guides are released, we could just keep updating the link. Buyers guide would just need to cover a few price ranges for high end, entry level, and AIO if anyone wants to work on an article like that we could help!
Lyian's Avatar
Well the main change that ive noticed, and ive asked in another thread, is about the RAD's. I was looking into using 200mm Rads, but im not sure how i can scale that to fit with how many i need for the loop vs the 120's you outline in the article. Like, how large of a 120mm rad (.1, .2, .3) equals a 200mm? I would guess about 2?
skorpien's Avatar
Hopefully I have my information correct. If not, hopefully somebody will correct me

*ahem*

You would need to use the surface area of the radiator to make a comparison. For example, a 200.1 radiator would be 200mm x 200mm, whereas a 120.2 (240) rad would be 120mm x 240mm.

That said, this is a relative approximation, as fin density and rad thickness also factor into the equation. Not to mention the types of fans you'll be using.

Which brings me to my last point, static pressure. 200mm fans are designed to move air quietly, but they're not designed to have a high static pressure for the most part. For example, when an obstacle to the airflow is introduced (the radiator), a 120mm fan with high static pressure is able to overcome that obstacle and blow the air through the fins of the radiator. A fan with lower static pressure will not be able to push as much through and would be less effective at cooling using a radiator.

My suggestion, if your case has the holes for mounting 120mm or 140mm fans instead of the 200mm fan up top, is to use a 240 or a 280 radiator instead. You're not going to find many fans capable of the static pressure needed for a 200mm radiator IMO.
hokiealumnus's Avatar
Well, you can use the area as a rough calculation to translate from how many 120's do I need to how many 200's do I need. A triple 120mm radiator has roughly 43,200 mm of area. (120 x 360). A single 200mm rad (where are you seeing these? I'm unfamiliar with them...) is 40,000 mm of area.

Remember though, 180mm fans aren't necessarily going to be as strong as 120mm fans. Don't confuse CFM (airflow) with static pressure. As an example, This Silverstone fan is rated at 100CFM, but only 0.98mmH2O. Where this Bitfenix fan is rated at 56CFM, but 1.24mmH2O. Thus a 200mm radiator won't necessarily cool as well as a 120 x 3 radiator.

EDIT - ....and I was ninja'ed.
Lyian's Avatar
Here is one i was looking at for the top of my Haf-x

Dual 200mm (or 200.2)
Phobya Xtreme 400mm Radiator

And a single
Phobya Xtreme 200mm Radiator

as far as the pressure, it looks like they took the current fan market into consideration

Conumdrum's Avatar
The radiator is optimized in many ways depending how the marketing department wants to sell the rad. We never trust marketing gobbly-gook words.

What have you found with your Google skills that back up the marketing claim?
Lyian's Avatar
Only thing ive found so far, is this youtube video of the unboxing. According to him (which im not sure how much weight we can put into his experience) the fin spacing is greater than that of a smaller rad like of a 120, which would indicate it is better for slower/lower pressure fans.

There is also the reviews on the site i linked, which, again isnt much. Basiclly, i dont think many people have the space for a 200mm (or dont trust the fans to cool them) and just stick with 120 size rads.
GEAR's Avatar
Superb guide to help out the first timers, of which I count myself. Six months ago I took an interest in watercooling my 9 month old system. It was guides such as yours that helped me out big time. Bought an XSPC Beginners kit and haven't stopped upgrading since. Personally I think my HAF 932 would look a little crowded with a tube rez and pump on the floor which is why I've stayed with a bay rez. Thinkin' of goin' with a CaseLabs or XSPC Tower case for the room and maybe another rad. You can never have enough room, right? Anyway thanx for the great guide!
I.M.O.G.'s Avatar
Great looking rig. The lighting is outstanding.
hokiealumnus's Avatar
Thanks for the kind words GEAR. Sure looks like you made the most of your new knowledge, well done on your system!
Lyian's Avatar
That.. is reeeally blue... lol! nice. Could we see the setup under normal lighting for more detail?
GEAR's Avatar
Thank you for the kind words, it's certainly a work in progress for sure. A bigger case would be nice for a little more bling but for this loop (3 Blocks) my temps are great (26-28c at idle) the HAF works great for a beginner. Changing out the black PSU cables for a blue set this week as I just built a system on air for my son using the HAF X case and he'll use the black set (same PSU). I'll have to re-sleeve a few light cables etc. by hand. thanks again and I hope the pic will give more detail.
xander89's Avatar
i almost prefer it under normal lighting! i love the sabretooth boards! I have been planning on making a custom Mobo cover for yonks but never got around to it.
GEAR's Avatar
I guess an update is due, I opted for the Caselabs SM8 which arrived last Tuesday. Moved hardware over to see what kind of room, routing, wiring etc I would have and need. Ordered these parts to trick it up a bit and get rid of the Dual Bay res.

G1/4" Matt Black Aqua-Pipe I Fitting
Water Tank Z-CAP - Three Port End Cap
XSPC RX 480 Rad
Bitspower S/Dual D5 Top Upgrade Kit 250
Bitspower Dual D5 Mod Top
Bitspower D5 Pump Mod Kit
Bitspower 480 Rad Gasket
Razor SLI Flow Bridge - 3-slot

Hopefully will arrive next week and I can get started. Pic of the SM8 with Dual Bay res set up but not for long!
sproggit's Avatar
Firstly, I'd like to offer my thanks for a very helpful write-up. I am in the process of purchasing my second water-cooled PC, but I want to build the next myself, so finding this article was very helpful.

There are a couple of points I thought might be worth clarifying in your article, however... [ Maybe this is nonsense - I am sure you'll correct me if I am wrong].

First, in your explanation of components, you include details of things like different types of VGA water blocks that can be fitted to existing graphics cards. Absolutely true, but I wonder if it's wise to suggest to a water-cooling beginner that it might be a good idea to get a pre-water-cooled card for a first build? I wonder if it might help to keep a first build down to assembly only?

Next, a question. In the build that I'm currently waiting for [which is nearly complete] I notice that my friendly engineer has used exclusively "perpendicular" barbs - which is to say that all the tubing connects "straight on" to components. I have seen that many providers offer barbs that include either 45 or 90 degree turns, which can be employed to help make tube routing easier. My question is: does the use of "engineered bends" hamper water flow? Will this reduce flow rates or cause other problems?

Another question: in the system I'm currently commissioning, I have 2 completely discrete loops (a CPU loop with a dual radiator and a GPU loop to a triple rad). Neither of these loops have fill/drain ports. Chatting with my engineer, he explained that to fill the GPU loop he actually laid my tower case down on it's side, removed one of the port plugs on the GPU (a GTX680 that was supplied with a waterblock) and used this to fill the loop. This seems a bit "extreme" to me, and I wondered if it's easier to actually have a "fill point" with some hose routed to near the top of my case into which the coolant can be introduced? Are there specific guides for this?

Related question: when contemplating draining a loop, is there any reason why I can't fit a "T" piece near the "bottom" of a loop, with say an 18" length of "drain pipe" so that I can just set up a gravity-fed drain if required?

New topic question: Does the coolant in a system have an "effective life"? Is this something that needs to be changed like car oil, or can I keep fluid indefinitely? If it needs to be changed, how do I know when to do so?

Related question: if I am going to leave my PC switched off for a period of time - let's say a month or so, when I'm travelling - do I need to worry? Should I drain it before I go and re-fill on my return?

Final question: [ sorry, just feels like I'm asking lots and lots here, so better stop ]. The reason I am building a new machine is because my existing system has recently become BSoD-unreliable during CPU-intensive tasks - in other words, I think the entire machine is "on the way out". However, I am aware that BSoDs are happening only when the machine gets particularly warm - i.e. during a pretty intensive gaming session, or if I'm trying to convert a movie file from one format to another, say for editing home movies taken with a 1080p camera. So... I have done this sort of thing with my PC for the last 4-5 years without issues, with no mods or config changes. It feels as though the system has recently started to run warmer than expected. I wonder if some or part of my water cooling could be losing efficiency? I have used cans of compressed air to clear dust from radiators, checked cooling fans for reasonable air pressure, etc, but still have problems. I am wondering if my pump might be "slowing down"? Is this possible? If so, is there any way I can find out without stripping the entire WC circuit and starting over?

Sorry to ask so many questions...

Thanks in advance for any guidance!
Conumdrum's Avatar
This is just a 'Beginners Guide'. 7th grade info, lots of great ideas. We have probably 100 hours more, 200 hours if you dig in and become 'one' with watercooling.

So start your journey and begin to read and learn. Over the next few MONTHS, reading the stickies like research for a paper, and reading posts in this forum on a regular basis then all your questions will be answered. We don't want to spoon feed you but we will no matter what help you build a wonderful rig if you also work hard at it.

And if you have had a PC with watercooling for 4-5 years and have NOT done the annual 100% full tear-down of every bit then I can see why your having issues. Surprised it took that long.

Lastly, an engineer built your PC? Well just ask him to build another? Never knew an engineer was needed to build a PC. Nice, but not needed.

And no, I'm not answering any of your questions, give it a few weeks as you learn.
sproggit's Avatar
Thanks Conundrum... I appreciate you taking the time to reply.

Annual tear-down? Oops...

I've built more than my fair share of air-cooled systems over the years, but was nervous about a water-cooled system, asked for help, and the engineer of my local PC shop was kind enough to offer to assemble the bits if I bought them:-

Xigmatek Elysium (non-windowed) Case
Gigabyte X79S-UP5-Wifi Mobo (Socket 2011)
Intel Core i7-3820, 3.6GHz Quad Core (which apparently is sweet and stable @ 4.2GHz)
32Gb of Kingston X Hyper-Beast 2400MHz RAM (4x8Gb)
EVGA GTX-680 GPU with supplier-fitted XSPC waterblock
XSPC Processor waterblock
1 x 360mm XSPC Triple Radiator (GPU Loop)
1 x 240mm XSPC Double Radiator (CPU Loop)
5 x Noctua NF-S12B ULN 120mm Fans
2 x Laing DDC Pumps with Integral XSPC Reservoirs
Pioneer BR-ROM and DVD-RW Drives
Zalman ZM1250 Platinum PSU
4-Slot Akasa "Drive Bay" Housing, to take up to 4 x 2.5" SSD/HDD Drives in a single 5.25" slot housing (4 direct SATA connectors to 6GB/s motherboard ports...)
Destructor's Avatar
this intro guide was great... it took me a long time to read it, but it was great... good helpfull knowledge base for any one getting into custom water loop. I do have one question I can't seem to find any thing on.... Now that I have my first water loop running, been running for about 2 weeks now; flawlessly might I add.. what I like to know is, I know I have to empty, and re-fill my loop once every 6 months or so... but is there any thing else I need to maintain on a regular basis... I'm using distilled water with a silver coil in it... I'm just wondering about pressure build up, etc... do I have to worry about that, or just keep an eye on the water level, and flush the systeme every 6 months...

Thanks a bunch...
hokiealumnus's Avatar
Thanks!

No, there's nothing else to do really. Once a year you might want to take your blocks apart just to make sure there isn't any build up (plasticizer, for instance), but running distilled plus silver, there probably won't be much/any. Sounds like you did it right.
Destructor's Avatar
whoo hoo... Great... now, I want to start making this thing alot more cool... what are some cool things I can do to this loop to just simply make it look nicer. I've got this setup sitting inside my new NZXT Phantom 820 color white...
skorpien's Avatar
Post a pic of your rig and maybe we can make some suggestions

If you haven't already, coloured tubing with some LED lighting looks great. And depending on your reservoir, some places sell acrylic G1/4" plugs with LEDs built in to illuminate the water in the res.
GEAR's Avatar
Hi all, wanted to share the updates on the SM8. Still a few things to do, but isn't there always?...lol. I set up the tubing wrong the first time, but realized there was a much better way.
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Destructor's Avatar
Wow! That's a pretty sweet looking rig... I don't have a good enough camera at my disposal at the moment, but I will come back in here, and post pics withiin a day or so...
Destructor's Avatar
ok, and here I am, with a cheap A** webcam, sorry for the bad pictures, but this will give you good idea what my rig looks like now...

and I know it's nothing fancy to look at but, it will be when I get more mods done to this puppy.... and that's a NZXT phantom 820 for the tower.
GEAR's Avatar
Thanks Destructor, as skorpien(who happens to be in my home province...lol) mentioned the G1/4 plugs that are set up for 5mm lights work great. I have one installed in the top res cap but you can also put a 3 or 4 port cap on the bottom of the res to shine light up into the res as well. I used 2 NZXT 2m LED sleeved strips around the outside edge of the case but you can string 'em anywhere. LED fans, cold cathodes and UV products are all a great way to dress up you're rig. You may have to get creative in wiring and placement of light switches, this is why I'm putting a 20 LED Station and power terminals on the backside to make the cable management cleaner. Good luck sir!!
Destructor's Avatar
yippers... I'm on it..
skorpien's Avatar
Great to see a fellow Canadian on these forums

Seeing as everything's up and running, you may want to wait till the annual teardown and possibly replace those tubes with some coloured ones. Primochill has some great colours, and they've recently released some pearl UV variants (where were these when I was buying parts? *grumble grumble*).

Coupled with some UV lighting (either LED or cold cathode tubes) and those would look stellar.
Destructor's Avatar
yes, I agree with adding the extras your talking about... I just can't seem to find any where here in Canada to purchase any colored tubing... I'm hoping for UV Red, but now I have to go check out that "pearl UV variants" as I know nothing about what that thing is.. but you make it sound pretty cool.. My current 5 1/4 single bay reservoir really bites the big one too.. I need to replace that.... my tubing is the first thing I want to change though. and I've got all kinds of lights I can add all over the place... need the tubing to look nice first..

PS. Where about in Canada are you located... I'm in eastern ontario... 1 hour South East of Ottawa.. nice storm brewing up around here.. lol
Destructor's Avatar
I forgot to mention one big thing that's been bugging me since I have this water system installed in my RIG Is it normal to be hearing like a cracking sound from my tower almost once every hour or so.... sounds like metal expanding and stuff...

Any one got any thing on this one for me?

Thanks.
skorpien's Avatar
Don't really know about the cracking sound, but it does sound like it could be metal expanding. If you can, I would disconnect everything but the pump from the PSU, jump the PSU, and leave the pump running for a few hours and listen for the sound. If it doesn't happen then it's the case, but if it does it may be the pump...

The Primochill pearl tubing I'm talking about are these here at Performance-PCs. They don't have UV red in the pearl unfortunately, though they do have a "bloodshed red" colour (though I don't think it's UV reactive, not sure).

I know PPCs is not located in Canada, but I've ordered many things from them and the import duties/fees aren't that bad if you select USPS shipping.

Dazmode and NCIX are both Canadian and also carry tubing, though Dazmode doesn't carry Primochill and NCIX doesn't have the pearl.

I'm in Southern Alberta. We are on the tail end of a major flood actually. Our city declared a state of emergency and any low-lying areas near the river had to be evacuated. Thankfully I wasn't affected but I think the estimates were ~100,000 displaced due to the flood, though the water's now receding and everyone is helping to rebuild.
GEAR's Avatar
I'm in BC(Edmonton born) myself Destructor and I usually deal with Dazmode for my W/C supplies...like you he's in Ont. As far as the sound you are hearing, can you pinpoint the sound? I'm not familiar with using the type of pump you have as I use dual D5s.
Destructor's Avatar
ah cool thanks for the heads up on canadian locations... and yes, I've been seeing alot of news from Alberta... you guys are in a real nasty situation out there...
GEAR's Avatar
Heh heh....Daz's is a great place to shop for sure skorpien and I hear ya on the flooding. A good bud of mine is with Burnco in Cowtown and sent me some pics of the flooding. Terrible just terrible, and I'm glad to hear you made out ok. I missed out on the pearl stuff too...lol, I replaced my Feser UV blue with Primochill Advanced UV blue and compared to the Feser it is WAY more stiff, but a nicer more transparent blue. I too have ordered many parts from PPCs and FrozenCPU and both are ok in my book. Didn't have to pay any duty on the SM8 either as its covered under NAFTA. Certainly a top notch selection from both.
GEAR's Avatar
I recently got a custom power cable and custom case feet(which I'm still waiting on, got the cable) which add sweet finishing touches to a build. I've got a line on the feet if anyone is interested but I'm not sure if my bud(gdesmo) is still making the cables available.
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Destructor's Avatar
that's a pretty sweet power cord..
rustyfender's Avatar
oh hey there are more canadians! hello!
txus.palacios's Avatar
How much did you pay for that cable?

That looks like one of those "audiophile" cables that "magically filter all noise and make things sound better". Even though there are a lot of basic copper / aluminum wires running through the wall.
skorpien's Avatar
Those feet... are absolutely gorgeous!

Wow... Us Canadians have a larger presence on here than I first thought...
txus.palacios's Avatar
Well, today I met a Canadian couple asking for directions here in Cdiz. So yeah, you Canadians are everywhere!
rustyfender's Avatar
those feet are prety nice looking i think some time with alum. round stock and my metal lathe is in order...

ya with Dazmode becoming more well known canadian watercooling enthusiasts are becoming much more common
GTXJackBauer's Avatar
Dam Canadians everywhere!!!!!!!

Nice update Gear and thanks for the pics. Unfortunately you guys have to pay duty/fees. Sucks as that can cost a lot. Hopefully watercooling becomes more popular in Canada and Dazmode adds more components in his inventory.

On a side note, my favorite LED lite reservoir is the Monsoon Series 2. This res just came out not too long ago from a well respected designer in the water cooling world. It looks really nice with the LEDs.
GEAR's Avatar
Thanks, he was makin' em up in diff ends and sleeving.

PG!! Right on bro..looks like the westerners are outnumberin' the easterners so far...lol.

Hi ya txus., paid $70CDN for it shipped from TO area to BC.

The guys makes 'em in a few diff styles too.
129398

Get that lathe spun up there rusty!!

Thanks Jack, for sure we're always buggin' Daz on stuff we want brought in but with import fees and whenever the CDN craps out a lot of stuff just isn't worth stockin' for him. Oh well, I've always had good luck with PPCs and Frozen and as skorpien said I've yet to pay duty on anything shipped USPS. The courier outfits on the other hand are a diff story...lol.
txus.palacios's Avatar
Wow. $70 for an AC cable. Wow.
wonko's Avatar
The first computer I ever took apart was an IBM PC (yeah... I'm that old). I've been in IT for 20 years and I'm building my first WC rig. This article was spot-on exactly what I was looking for.

I've got a lot more research to do and a ton of questions, but I'll start perusing the stickies.

Being new to the forum, would it be beneficial for me to start a thread getting feedback on my build as I go? (I'm buying components as I can afford them.)

Thanks!
hokiealumnus's Avatar
Absolutely. I'd start in general hardware, there are plenty of build threads in there.

Welcome to OCF!
GEAR's Avatar
Finally got the feet I ordered and I'm very happy with how they look, they give me more clearance under the case as well.
hokiealumnus's Avatar
That, sir, is a gorgeous build. I would be extremely pleased if that were my machine!
GEAR's Avatar
Thanks a heckuva lot hokie...its been a real experience doing this build as its my first. I've been extremely lucky in having people on forums helpin' me out with ideas and what will and will not work. W/Cing is a great community and I'm glad to be part of it. Just got an email from Frozen sayin' the blue Primochill 4 pack of rigid fittings are in so its time to order some blue rigid tubing and fittings! Thanks again!!
Qasimja's Avatar
wow that looks real nice
GEAR's Avatar
Thanks Qasimja, it will be time to do a total rebuild in 2014 when the X99 chipset shows up! Would really like to change the color scheme, ( I hope Asus comes out with a Sabertooth version as the "Armour" is easy to paint ) CPU, chipset, ram and GPU watercooling. ( only one card this time around as I personally think SLI is not necessary with the tech they're throwin' at the newer GPUs ) I also hope to add another thick 480 rad into the pedestal I'll need to get from from Caselabs. Should be even more fun this time around! Cheers!!
kcabrams's Avatar
GREAT read. 100% what I have been looking for. Finally deciding to make the switch and i'm pretty excited about it. 6 core AMD runs a tad hot with the factory heatsink/fan.

Thanks!
hokiealumnus's Avatar
Thanks!

...and wow, first post since signing up in 2010. Master lurker!
kochumvk's Avatar
This piece was so much informative and helpful as I am preparing to build my first water cooled machine.

And this article is the reason why I joined this forum.
It will be nice to add power supply requirements as well. Which will help choosing right PSU.

I am now worried about few things. Block on a maximum vi formula must be aluminium.so using it with other copper blocks will be bad idea? for a water cooled 770 GTX IS there any card that comes with block?
GTXJackBauer's Avatar
Glad this helped! Make your own post in our watercooling thread as we'll be there in no time to assist you.
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