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Guide to Building a Water Cooled PC?

Poll Results: Will it be helpful If I write a simple yet exhaustive-ish guided to building a water cooled computer

 
  • 50% (2)
    Yes I would like to see this
  • 50% (2)
    Don't waste your time
4 Total Votes  
post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 
I have had the Idea for a long time to write what I would call "The Ultimate Guide to Building a Water Cooled PC" but I am not sure if it is a waste of my time. I would like to help people out with their water cooling builds and understand the hardship of being new to the hobby. My question is, would it helpful to anyone. I have written an introduction and the first chapter to give a sort of glimpse into what I have in mind. PLEASE remember that this is a first draft and I am by no means a professional writer. Any thoughts and concerns would be helpful.

Introduction
Building a computer seems, to many people, to be the one of the hardest things on the earth. If you were to crack open your old Dell computer, and don’t quite know what you are looking at, it can seem like magic that all these boards, chips, and wires fit together and actually work. Then throwing water into the mix you enter into the realm demigods and IT professionals. Your inner child jumps for joy at the sight of these beautiful creations and says “I WANT ONE!!!!!!” but in that moment, your brain kicks in and says “There is no way. I don’t have time to go back to college and learn how to build a computer”. But your inner child is stubborn and in order to appease the beast, you check the internet for a good how to guide only to find that it is exactly as you feared. You read page and pages of boring guides written in technical language with numbers and letters strung together like GTX 780, CPU, PSU, and 3.5GHz. Turning to your inner child with tears in your eyes, you say “I told you so” and buy a new Dell.
I am not a computer expert, I do not spend days and days lurking around on the forums, and I don’t spend my lunch break trying to keep up with the latest technology and terminology but I am here to tell you that building the ultimate water cooled computer is easy and anyone can do it. There are some pitfalls that you have to watch out for and some little tricks to make your life a bit easier along the way but a little knowledge and some experience go a long way. In this discussion, I would like to explain in the most simple, exhaustive way that my current knowledge and experience will allow, how to build a water cooled computer.

Chapter 1 - Getting a Handle on Things
“Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance” — British Army adage

1. What is Your Purpose of Use?

a. Gaming - Requires the best of everything

b. Work Station/Word Processing - Even the most basic computer will do. You may want to invest in a high quality screen to reduce eye fatigue.


c. Web surfing - Requirements are similar to a work station. An optimal experience is often dependent on your Internet service Provider.

d. Watching Movies/ Home Theater PC (HTPC) - Highest possible quality screen. Computer components will not need to be very advanced. Large amount of data storage for holding all your Blu-Rays and HD video content. Special software to rip and render movies (note this may be considered illegal if you do not own the rights to the video)


2. What is Your Budget?

a. Minimal Budget - The minimal budget that I recommend would be around $400-500 US dollars. Parts may be obtained through online retailers/actions, from a friend, or salvaged from an older computer. This budget would be the place to start for building a word processing/web surfing computer and if you can get your hands on some decent parts you could also build a passable HTPC. WARNING! Do not attempt to build a gaming computer on this budget. Unless you are the luckiest man alive and all the stars are aligned (or if you have infinite patients/time to stalk eBay for mega deals) you will not be happy with the results.

b. Middle of the road budget - In my opinion, a budget for a middle of the road computer would be between $500 and $1,500 US dollars. I know what you’re thinking, “Wait a minute $500 sounds reasonable but $1,500 is a little high for a middle of the road computer don’t you think?” and under normal circumstances I would agree but if you will just bear with me, I will explain. In this category, most or all of your components will be new. If you have a generous friend or are lucky on eBay, you can get some pretty good second hand parts for free or very cheap. A great example of this would be that my brother recently upgraded his computer. He had no use for his used parts and so he gave them to me. These parts cost nearly $2000 when they were new and even at the time he gave them to me they were worth almost $500 on eBay. I used these parts to build a computer for my wife. Even though these were once very high end parts, they are now 4 years old. They are still very good and can run almost any game out there on max settings without a problem. If purchasing all new parts I would say that $1000 would be the max you would need to spend but it is at this point that you we can start to get into the really cool stuff, water cooling. This is where that extra $500 comes in and pushes the budget up to $1,500. Water cooling kits can be had as cheap as $100 and you can go as expensive as you want from there but for the purpose of the medium budget build, I would not recommend spending much more than $500. I recommend this category for the first time computer builder. You can get a very useable product that will do almost anything you throw at it and gain some confidence along the way knowing that if you mess up, you are not going to destroy a part that cost $500+

c. High budget - In this category, the Sky is the limit. I know people who have spent over $10,000 trying to build the ultimate computer. That said, there are numerous reasons that I believe that this is the best category, some more objective than others, but the main 3 reasons are 1. You get what you pay for, 2. Future proofing (or rather future resistant), and 3. The “Cool Factor”. This category is best suited for gaming and, well, everything. Even though some people spend thousands and thousands of dollars on their computer doesn't mean you have to go broke trying build the perfect gaming rig, though I know a couple of people who have done that too. With about $3,000 in your pocket (it isn't $10,000 but yes, $3,000 is a lot of money) you can build a computer that will blow away the competition in just about every way that you can imagine.

For reasons of simplicity, most of what we will be discussing will fall under the High Budget category. The same ideas and principals will apply in the lower budget range however; the names and designations of parts may differ. For example a CPU found in the High budget area may be designated as a Core i7 where a CPU in the middle budget area may be designated Core i5. Do not try to understand what Core i7 and i5 means at this time, it will make more sense when you read our discussion on CPUs in Chapter 2 - Computer Components.
My System
(13 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i7-920 EVGA X58 SLI LE GTX 285 3x2 Corsair Dominator DDR3 
Hard DriveOptical DriveOSMonitor
Western Digital Caviar Green 1T Pioneer BD-RW Windows 7 Samsung SyncMaster T260HD 
PowerCase
Thermaltake TR2 RX-850 CM Stacker 
  hide details  
Reply
My System
(13 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i7-920 EVGA X58 SLI LE GTX 285 3x2 Corsair Dominator DDR3 
Hard DriveOptical DriveOSMonitor
Western Digital Caviar Green 1T Pioneer BD-RW Windows 7 Samsung SyncMaster T260HD 
PowerCase
Thermaltake TR2 RX-850 CM Stacker 
  hide details  
Reply
post #2 of 2
There's never too many guides. It's only a waste of time if you won't enjoy writing it. If it's good, people will use it.

I read through your intro and have a couple thoughts:
  • Is this a PC-building guide in addition to a water cooling guide? You may want to separate them into separate guides. People are usually looking for one or the other, not both.
  • Try not to get too wordy in your paragraphs. I know this is just the intro, but a guide should not read like prose. Phrases where you talk to the reader like "bear with me, I will explain", and the personal stories can be easily left out for brevity. Keep things short and sweet, be clear, use lots of bullet points. Thick paragraphs will scare away a large portion of your audience. Most people don't read guides from beginning to end; they want to be able to easily scan the guide and find what they are looking for. The 1-2-3 a-b-c format is a good start.
  • I like the British army quote, keep those in there. smile.gif

I think your guide has potential, and would be interested in seeing what you come up with. smile.gif
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