Watercooling Survey

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Reader responses to watercooling experiences – Joe

I’ve been watercooling my PCs for five years and have been very pleased – my experience has been trouble free. However, a recent survey by another website indicated a problem rate that floored me. I’d like to survey our watercooling readers to shed some more light on this issue.

Below are a series of questions – respondents can cut and paste into an email. I will post aggregate results only. For responding, I will pick one email at random and send a White Water waterblock. Thanks!

Watercooling Survey

1. How long have you been watercooling?
(   ) Less than 3 months
(   ) Up to one year
(   ) More than one year

2. What was the primary motivation for your move into watercooling?
(   ) Best possible CPU cooling
(   ) Noise reduction
(   ) Love to tinker with leading edge technologies
(   ) Concerned with high system temps
(   ) Best way to overclock PC
(   ) Bragging rights
(   ) Other as noted:

3. How would you rate your mechanical abilities?
(   ) Very skilled – able to build/fix almost anything (within reason)
(   ) Skilled – able to build/fix things around the house
(   ) Average skills – have the tools to fix things but don’t build much from scratch
(   ) Low skills – I’ll hang a picture, but not much more than that

4. How would you characterize your system?
(   ) Complete DIY – hand picked/built components and assembled myself
(   ) Some DIY – started with a kit and modified/changed parts
(   ) High end kit – spent $200+ for a packaged solution
(   ) Low end kit – spent about $100 total
(   ) Complete kit with case (eg, Koolance)

5. How would you rate your experience with watercooling?
(   ) Trouble free – no problems of consequence
(   ) Moderately trouble free – minor problems now and then
(   ) Some troubles – more than I would have expected, but still worth it
(   ) Lots of problems – have serious doubts that the effort was worth it
(   ) Disaster – severe problems; watercooling not worth it

6. How would you rate your components as to reliability within your system (1 – 5, 5 being trouble free, 1 being total failure)?
(   ) CPU waterblock
(   ) GPU waterblock
(   ) Mounting hardware
(   ) Waterpump
(   ) Reservoir
(   ) Tubing
(   ) Clamps
(   ) Other as noted:

7. If you had a component problem, indicate which one and was it due to:

Component:

(   ) A manufacturing defect
(   ) Part failure
(   ) Something you did inadvertently
(   ) Other as noted:

8. If you replaced a part of your system, indicate what you replaced (brand, model, cost), what you replaced it with (brand, model, cost), reason for replacing and was it covered by a warranty:

9. Considering your watercooling experience and starting over again, would you instead use an aircooled heatsink with comparable performance and low fan noise:
(   ) Yes, without hesitation
(   ) Maybe, but I’d miss the tinkering
(   ) Unsure
(   ) No, aircooling is not an option for me

10. Additional Comments:

{mospagebreak}

Watercooling Survey Responses

1. How long have you been watercooling?

5.9% Less than 3 months
14.0% Up to one year
80.1% More than one year

This is a very experienced group!

2. What was the primary motivation for your move into watercooling?

17.9% Best possible CPU cooling
25.7% Noise reduction
15.6% Love to tinker with leading edge technologies
4.3% Concerned with high system temps
26.8% Best way to overclock PC
5.4% Bragging rights
4.3% Other as noted:

Overclocking and Noise Reduction lead the responses (some multiple answers) – I can certainly relate to both – also note the high percentage of “bleeding edge” respondents.

3. How would you rate your mechanical abilities?

47.6% Very skilled – able to build/fix almost anything (within reason)
34.8% Skilled – able to build/fix things around the house
16.0% Average skills – have the tools to fix things but don’t build much from scratch
1.6% Low skills – I’ll hang a picture, but not much more than that

Overwhelmingly a skilled group of users!

4. How would you characterize your system?

75.3% Complete DIY – hand picked/built components and assembled myself
15.9% Some DIY – started with a kit and modified/changed parts
5.0% High end kit – spent $200+ for a packaged solution
2.2% Low end kit – spent about $100 total
1.6% Complete kit with case (eg, Koolance)

I think the high DIY ratios reflect the skill levels and leading edge motivations of many users.

5. How would you rate your experience with watercooling?

52.0% Trouble free – no problems of consequence
39.0% Moderately trouble free – minor problems now and then
7.3% Some troubles – more than I would have expected, but still worth it
0.6% Lots of problems – have serious doubts that the effort was worth it
1.1% Disaster – severe problems; watercooling not worth it

Overall users are fairly content with how their systems have performed – less than 10% have experienced significant problems.

6. How would you rate your components as to reliability within your system (1 – 5, 5 being trouble free, 1 being total failure)?

4.8 CPU waterblock
4.8 GPU waterblock
4.5 Mounting hardware
4.4 Waterpump
4.3 Reservoir
4.5 Tubing
4.4 Clamps
4.1 Other as noted:

Although some categories rank in the low 4’s, overall it appears that most components are fairly reliable – once the kinks are ironed out.

{mospagebreak}

7. If you had a component problem, indicate which one and was it due to:

78% of all respondents indicated some type of component problem, but certainly not all major ones. Of the components identified as having a problem not due to “Something you did inadvertently”, the waterpump took the lead, accounting for 24.7% of identified problems. Radiators accounting for 17.6%, followed by waterblocks at 14.1% (leaks and cracked Lexan); various items such as tubing, algae, chemical problems and mounting hardware accounted for the rest.

20.6% A manufacturing defect
27.1% Part failure
38.7% Something you did inadvertently
13.6% Other as noted:

Note that almost 40% of the problems are “self-inflicted” – not really that surprising considering the fully 75% of the systems are DIY “tinkerers”; these were problems such as over-tightening clamps, etc.

8. If you replaced a part of your system, indicate what you replaced (brand, model, cost), what you replaced it with (brand, model, cost), reason for replacing and was it covered by a warranty:

Not enough responses here to discern a trend.

9. Considering your watercooling experience and starting over again, would you instead use an aircooled heatsink with comparable performance and low fan noise:

12.8% Yes, without hesitation
39.2% Maybe, but I’d miss the tinkering
11.7% Unsure
36.3% No, aircooling is not an option for me

This frankly surprised me – the majority of experienced watercooling users would seriously consider an aircooling solution, although over 1/3 are totally committed to watercooling.

10. Additional Comments:

I’ve included a few comments that typify user experiences:

“I am pleased with the watercooling system that I have put together and the experience has taught me some important things to consider when dealing with a water cooling setup:

  • Know what you want to accomplish before you put together the system. This might involve drawing a diagram of the system or looking at a lot of other setups to see what others have done and their results.
  • Price all system parts (for a DIY) system before buying any one part. I spend money on parts that I ended up not using simply because I didn’t think long enough about the specific components and how they would fit together.
  • Stay away from kits. They are simple, but you will find that most times, a good air cooling solution can come very close in performance to moderately priced kits. To upgrade a kit, you will usually spend what you could have spend on a DIY setup in the first place.
  • TAKE YOUR TIME!!! This cannot be stressed enough and is probably the most overlooked aspect of putting together a system. The effort you put into initial setup will pay off in the time you don’t have to spend sealing leaks, fixing kinks, etc.”


“Only problems I’ve ever had have involved me forgetting to plug in the pump. Got up one morning, turned on the computer, went to shower… forgot to plug in the pump. Turns out the tubing melted and the inside of my computer took a shower as well. Tripped the circuit breaker, but thankfully the computer killed itself with the autokill feature.

The water sprayed all over the inside of the case and pooled on the video card. I took it apart right then and there, put the pieces in a big pile and put a fan on them. Came back from school, put it all back together with new tubing, no problems at all. Amazing…I seem to have this problem with water in electronics–you were nice enough to post my comments a while back about running my Sandisk 512MB flash drive through the washer!”


“Watercooling does not have to be extreme to be beneficial, although there’s nothing wrong going for bragging rights if you’re so inclined. For most people who are hesitant to make the jump because of the uncertainty that they might encounter problems, it’s really no big deal as long as a) they do their homework before taking the plunge, b) they take their time, and c) double and triple check their work. The benefits of reduced noise and better overclocking temps will outweigh the increased cost and complexity of their builds.”


“I’ve had a few troubles with my watercooling setups, but I still think they are great and will continue to keep using them. The benefits (cooling, noise, custom installation fun) outweigh the problems I’ve had (broken/leaking components, fitment issues).”


“Given the advancement in aircooling technology/performance, I would not hesitate to use it over watercooling if I made a new computer. I will miss having the watercooling, but I will not miss the cost associated with it.”


“My DIY system (Cascade, self-modded Chevette HC, homemade shrouds, homemade res, etc) is so care-free that I have been running sys for 2 years on Reverse Osmosis pure water only – no additives- with no worries except vaccuming out HC and shroud fans periodically. I have since built a portable, mini-Shuttle for my 16 year old daughter (stock) and got my wife a gaming-quality laptop:(, But my 14 year old son will soon have the joy of building his own DIY WC sys, as overclocking his components has quickly become a sad, sad, sickness with him. Who would’a thunk it?”


“I have been water cooling for about 4 years and i have only had 2 problems. One was pump failure, the other was a very minor leak in my radiator. I made it from a vega heater core and i didn’t seal one of the barbs well enough.”


“Water-cooling is just too much fun to give up now. I thought about going air a little while ago when building my new system, but not because of the hassle, it was the cost. I think I spent $350 or so on core parts for the water system (plus all the little things). I could have upped my CPU or bought better RAM instead, but the challenge, complexity, and tinkering factors are just too great!

Each time I build a system it gets larger and more complex and I love IT!! I have never had any problems (at least problems that were not fixed during the long setup/testing phases). I think many people ‘may’ have problems with crappy kits, cheap components, and not reading enough from the great people at overclockers.com and the forums!”


Thanks to the 250+ readers who took the time to respond! And the winner of the White Water waterblock is:

Michael Tsigonis – Greece

Email Joe

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