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CPU block or GPU block? Only $ for one of them (for now)

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
What should I build a loop for first? CPU or GPU? I have read a lot about cooling the CPU first as it "is the heart of the system" or "it holds your GPU back" or "it will get you higher overclocks", but nothing about cooling a GPU first.

This really confused me, because from what I've seen, bucking up from a 3570K to a 3770K gets you far less gaming performance increase than bumping from a 660 Ti to a 670...

It just doesn't seem right after all of the benchmarking people do that a CPU can bottleneck a GPU. I would think that it would be the other way around. Can anybody explain this to me?

I only have the funds for a CPU block or a GPU block right now, and I want to maximize the gains I get from water cooling. I don't want my "gut feeling" to get in the way of real world performance though. But as it stands, I'm about ready to buy a GPU block, but I'm holding off until I fully understand what the situation is.

EDIT: for relevant info

I currently have an H100i on my CPU and the EVGA ACX style cooler on my GTX 770.
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post #2 of 7
Since you already have the H100i for your CPU, I'd just get a waterblock for the GPU. Basically, the point of watercooling a component is to decrease your temps for better overclocking and/or achieve a more silent system. Just ask yourself the question 'do I want to overclock my CPU or GPU to the max first?'
post #3 of 7
What GPU and CPU are you using now?

Generally speaking, you will get better gaming performance by cooling and overclocking the GPU than you would the CPU. Most games these days are GPU bound, not CPU bound. There are exceptions, of course, and if you list the specific titles you play - someone here will probably chime in and let you know what's more important for those tittles.

FWIW, I wouldn't bother water cooling a GPU unless it's at least a 660+ or 7950+. There IS some room for growth in the lower end GPUs, but generally the cost vs. performance of a faster, better GPU in the first place isn't cost effective. You might be better off selling the slow GPU and buying a faster one second hand (especially now that the GTX 700 series is out, GTX 600-series are starting to sell for bargain prices).

Greg
post #4 of 7
GPU loop is a better investment when it comes to gaming.
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post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 
Thanks guys. I knew I wasn't crazy laughingsmiley.gif
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post #6 of 7
GPU block and delid the CPU thumb.gif
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post #7 of 7
There isn't just one answer here if you are coming from air cooling. Since you're coming from already having a semi-water cooled CPU and air cooled GPU, then the choice is obviously GPU, but I'll drop a bit more info in case you wondered about air vs water.

Firstly, there are a number of reasons to water cool, but mainly:
- Divert heat to a different location where there is more room for cooling (radiators) and where you can cool more efficiently (using out-of-case air).
- Spread out heat dissipation across more surface area so you can run fans slower and thus more silently.
- Aesthetics.

The first allows you to overclock beyond the thermal limits of most air coolers. This is because you are quickly moving the heat away from the chip to be dissipated elsewhere. In your case, the H100i is already doing this, albeit not as well as a more robust custom loop. In terms of overclocking, you will always yield more overall system performance by overclocking your CPU than your GPU because GPUs almost always hit their current limits long before they reach the thermal limits in a water-cooled system: generally, a GPU caps out in the upper 30s or lower 40s Celsius with a max-current overclock. A CPU, on the other hand, is almost always thermal limited as to how far you can overclock it: there are some rare bad chips that crap out very early, but that is the exception. So in this case, water-cooling your CPU first makes more sense.

The second part is the main reason that I personally decided to get into water cooling: a silent computer. Noise is not linear when adding multiple sources, it is logarithmic, and so by running many fans at very slow speeds you are able to drastically reduce the amount of noise a computer makes versus a few fans at higher speeds. The noisiest fan in a computer is usually the GPU fan when it kicks in high gear after playing taxing 3D games for some time (or using GPGPU features). By water cooling your GPU, you eliminate this problem as the heat is moved and spread out across a much larger radiator with fresh air coming from outside the case. So in this case, water-cooling your GPU first makes more sense.

As for aesthetics, it could really go either way for whether the CPU or GPU ought to be water cooled first.
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