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Jun 20, 2001
Is water cooling really a safe and inenexpensive option? I am really afraid of drowning my computer and losing a few grand in hardware. What is the performance difference between water cooling and a descent air cooled system? Also are they hard to build and maintain? Any thoughts would be great, i have read several articles here on it, but few indulge in the users fear of a rain storm inside their case.
Thanks Guys
IMO, watercooling is very safe assuming you just think your system through and take some precautions. It is however, kinda pricy. However, with HSF prices on the rise, water-cooling is becoming more practical. With a little searching you can construct your own system at a really good price. Stay away from kits unless your not cooling a t-bird monster. I bought a kit the first time, just to see how it all works and for a little insurance, but now i wish i would have just saved my money as i have ended up with only extra parts.

If you choose your components wisely, you should see quite a difference in h20 cooling. I'm running a T-Bird at 1600 and peak at 44-45 (still a little high, i'm working on it) at full loads. Try that with air cooling on a t-bird. Basically, if you just think it out and check on your system regurlaly, and especially in the beginning, you should be completely fine.
A good watercooling apparatus requires a large investment. Whether it is time or money. Sometimes both.

However, you get out of your watercooler what you put into it.
Since, there is no clear cut, "This is the best way" when it comes to watercooling you really must do your homework. What I recommend is reading everything you possibly can on the subject. Read the forums. Look at pictures, shop around for waterblocks, look at who has the best results. In the end, you'll have a good idea of what works. I can tell you this, there are no short cuts. If you want a solid rig, you'll put some time and money into it. In my opinion, there's no one component of a watercooler that is most important. Everything is essential. The place you go cheap, is the place you'll have a problem.

You can build your own block, or you can buy one from a company like DangerDen that in all likelihood surpasses what most people could make themselves. (At a very nominal fee - considering time, tools required, labor)

Pump. The most hotly debated subject is whether the pump should be inline or submerged. High flow or low flow. Here's what I think. I prefer submerged. Why? I'm a paranoid. I've had inline pumps that slowly leak over time. (Danner Mag-drive.) Yes, it can be sealed up to prevent leakage, but it just doesn't inspire confidence. Another thing is that these pumps get *hot* when used inline. If the reservoir is in your case it will be putting out a significant amount of heat. Why not stick it in the reservoir and the allow the radiator to deal with it? Now high flow vs. low flow. I'd rather a pump that has a higher flow than a low flow. The idea is simple. More flow = more coolant. Water doesn't need time to "pick up" heat any more than air needs time to do the same on a heatsink. Of course, just as in the heatsink there's a point of diminishing returns. I'd say anything over 500 GPH and you've passed that point.

The radiator. If I had to pick the "most" crucial part of the watercooler it would be the radiator. The best waterblock will be ineffective if you have a crap radiator in the system. Just as in everything else there's no *one* right answer. The bong coolers appear to work great, but there's just something about them that makes me want to laugh. So what else works? Well, just about anything that is designed to "radiate" heat from a liquid. The transmission coolers seem to work well enough. There are a large number to choose from. Stacked plate vs. Tube and fin. The stacked plate is a more efficient desgin. For that reason I've shifted to that. Large, medium, or small? Size does matter. Even though any of them will "work." The size of the radiator is directly proportional to how much heat it can handle at any given time. People often find that the 4*4 radiators require a high speed (or two low speed) fans to keep the water at ambient. You're also not giving yourself any overhead in case you should want to add peltiers to the system.
If you can make room for a larger radiator. By all means, do so.


The benefit of a larger radiator is obvious. There's more surface area, allowing more water to be cooled at any given time. Put a couple of low speed panaflows (about an inch away from the radiator to eliminate dead spots) and you'll have max performance without all the noise. If you can place the radiator outside the case, you'll also elminate a large source of heat. Should the radiator be before the block or after the block? Conventional wisdom seems to be that before the block allows for the water to be coolest. If you used a submerged pump here's where you can eliminate that source of heat. If you're worried about the pump overheating due to the warm water coming off of the block I'd say don't worry. If the pump is of sufficient size, and you're pumping enough volume of water the water temp will remain rather stable. It will be warm, but it won't be *hot*.
As long as it's done right there is nothing to fear. I recently wrote an article that gave quite a few details. I was a little worried about water at first, but I'm very happy with the system. Water is MUCH better than air, and quieter to boot. I also used distilled water as it's supposed to be non conductive so if there is a leak it won't be a problem.

Mine's been running about 3 weeks 24x7 with no problems.

I'm going to do the voltage mod on my KT7AR tonight or tomorrow and push my Duron 650 into the 1000mhz range.
"Stacked plate vs. Tube and fin. The stacked plate is a more efficient desgin. " could you explain me in what stacked plates are better? Because I know that the radiator is a crucial part and they're usually pricey, so I'd like to buy a good one as an investment.
Are they made in copper? I'd like to avoid galvanic corrosion...
The tranny coolers and oil coolers are attempting to cool oil. Which has very poor thermal conductivity. Therefore, to rectify the issue, engineers designed the stacked plate cooler, because there is a much greater surface area being cooled at any given time. Space considerations being equal - the stacked plate coolers have far greater surface area. That is what makes them more efficient.

One problem with tranny coolers is that they're all made out of different things. I advise you to call the manufacturer and ask explicitly what the pathway is composed of. Aluminum? Aluminum Alloy? Copper? Nickel Alloy?

Of course the best way to prevent galvanic corrosion is to use metals that are similar. Aluminum, makes a rather ready anode when combined with copper.

Bacterial growth also can speed up corrosion. The products of bacterial growth are organic acids and salts. NOTE: Don't use bleach. Bleach, is a strong electrolyte.

Iodine is a non-electrolyte. For water purification purposes, it is a much better choice. It is a strong bacteriostat and fungistat.

Iodine capsules for water purification purposes are available online through many different stores. A product named, "polar pure" is a start. It is concentrated iodine; so be careful where you keep this stuff. *very poisonous*

Use of deionized water is another way to retard the effects of corrosion.

Yet another method is through use of additives like water wetter.

That's a good link outlining the beneficial properties of water wetter.

toutin (Jun 25, 2001 10:25 a.m.):
"Stacked plate vs. Tube and fin. The stacked plate is a more efficient desgin. " could you explain me in what stacked plates are better? Because I know that the radiator is a crucial part and they're usually pricey, so I'd like to buy a good one as an investment.
Are they made in copper? I'd like to avoid galvanic corrosion...