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Assembling your Custom Watercooling Setup

post #1 of 43
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Assembling Your Watercooling System
Burn
12/10/2005

So, you’ve just bought your entire custom watercooling setup at the suggestion of Overclock.net members, but you have no idea where to start. This guide has several goals:
  • Teach you a little bit about thermodynamics (the way heat moves)
  • Teach you about the right order of components
  • Teach you why leak testing is important
  • Making sure you double-check everything before firing your system up
So, you’ve bought all your parts at the suggestions of Overclock.net members. You should have at least one of all these parts:
  • Pump (Can be AC [Wall] or DC [PSU])
  • CPU waterblock
  • Some sort of radiator/heater core
  • Tubing (At least 12 feet)
  • GPU waterblock (Optional)
  • Chipset waterblock (Not recommended, but optional)
  • Clamps (Worm-drive or Zip ties work well)
  • 2 120mm fans if using a heater core, or a dual 120mm radiator
  • A T-fitting if using a T-line, or a 3.5 or 5.25 bay reservoir
  • Anti-fungal, bacterial, corrosive- I use Anti-freeze
So, you’re certain you have all that stuff? Great! Now, we can begin to assemble your watercooling setup. First, take a picture of your case if you are able to. If not, go to newegg.com and find your case, then save a copy. Next, using paint, plan out where you’re going to be having all your components sit. I say this because it is easy to erase and start new rather than having to take all the stuff out of your case and map it out there. Some recommendations as to the more common places people place their watercooling components:
  • Place your pump on the case floor if it is small and able to sit there.
  • Some people mount their radiator on the top of their case, with some standoffs so air can get through; others let it sit outside the case to get the maximum airflow possible.
  • Mount your bay reservoir in the top-most bay. This allows the reservoir to sit at the highest place in the loop possible, necessary for filling and bleeding.
Using my recommended method, you will get the most effective temps possible. I’ll provide you with several scenarios, so match your setup to the scenario I list.
Pump > Radiator > CPU Block > T-line/Reservoir > Pump
Pump > Radiator > CPU Block > GPU Block > T-line/Reservoir > Pump
Pump > Radiator > CPU Block > Chipset Block > T-line/Reservoir > Pump
Pump > Radiator > CPU Block > Chipset Block > GPU Block > T-line/Reservoir > Pump

Those are the combinations I can think of right now; let me know if there are any other combinations you need help on.

Measuring and Cutting Tubing

Next, try to use a cloth measuring tape; this one will let you take into account turns and bends that a straight tape can’t do. Measure each segment where your tubing is going to go, and write them down on a piece of scratch paper, marking what the segment is going to connect, i.e. Pump to Reservoir, etc. Add about 3 inches to each measurement to account for movement and/or improper measurement. You can always cut off more tube if need be. Cut your tube with an Exact-O knife or use a sharp pair of scissors. Once you have all your segments, begin to dry fit them. What I mean by this is fit each segment to the components, and see how they fit together. If need be, re-cut any segments that don’t work. Do this now, not when you’re filling and bleeding your system.

Using Clamps and Zip-ties

So, you’ve got all your tubing cut to the exact length you want it to be, now it’s time to clamp it down! As to clamping your tubing down, I can suggest some different approaches.
  • http://www.frozencpu.com/ex-tub-23.html?id=8HvmYmH4
    • Those are reusable clamps, and supposedly work decently.
  • http://www.buycableties.com/catalog/?pid=32
    • Those are Zip ties; you can get them in either white or black. They hold very well once you cinch them down. They look cleaner than the other clamps, too.
  • Go to your local Home Depot, Lowes, Canada Tire, etc. and ask for #5 Hose Clamps. These are also known by “Worm-drive clamps”.
    • These are the grand-daddy of them all. These will hold forever. One note of caution, I have these, and these bite into my tubing awfully. Not aesthetically pleasing.
These are the ones that work best, so suit your decision to what you want your setup to look like.

Next, on to fitting whatever clamp you got.
If you have worm-drive or hose clamps, take one end of the tube off, slide a hose clamp over the tube, then re-attach. Slide the hose clamp over the fitting and tighten down.
If you have reusable clamps, take one end off, slide it onto the tube, then re-attach. Slide the clamp up and over the fitting, and then squeeze the ends together to clamp it down.
If you have Zip-ties, keep the tubes on, just start “zipping” it down, then once it gets about 2” of space left, slide it into its final position, and then zip it all the way down tight. I would suggest you use 2 per fitting.

Look at the one that shows all the connections to the heatercore and pump, that will give you a good idea as to what to use and where.


On to filling and bleeding
For a T-line:
Start by getting a funnel, and begin to fill it until it fills up the T line. Turn your pump on, and let some of the coolant be sucked into the pump and out. *Make sure your pump is primed, i.e. has fluid in it, and has a fresh supply of fluid.* Once there’s about 1 foot left until it’s empty, turn your pump off. Repeat the filling procedure, and turn the pump on. Repeat until the whole loop is flooded with about 6 inches to go in the T line. Take out your anti-fungal/bacterial/rust/corrosion, and add until the T is filled up Leave enough space for the cap. Take the funnel out, and cap it with something air/watertight, I use the cap off of an air soft BB canister. You can use a AA battery as well.
For a Reservoir:
Get your funnel, and repeat the procedure for the T-line in regards to filling and bleeding. This time, when there’s an inch left in the reservoir, use that space for the anti-freeze. When you’re done, cap it off, and let it run to get the air out.

This is a shot of my RAMsinks and MAZE4 mounted. The sinks underneath the fittings are from an Iceberg 4 kit.


When you start filling and bleeding, you should look something like this:



Leak Testing
This is the most important part of this thread, hands down. You want to have several towels handy (within 2 feet of you/case). Turn on your pump, and, using a flashlight, check for pinhole leaks around the barbs of all the connections. You should have tightened down all your clamps by now, so it shouldn’t be a problem. If you find leaks, diagnose the issue, and fix it, taking off the clamp if need be. Should you decide to take a clamp off, use a towel underneath it to catch any water falling. Once 12 hours have passed leak-free, you should be good to go.

Firing your system up
So, the time we all have been waiting for. Time to fire up the system! Nab a towel for emergency leaks, etc. Make sure all your fans have been plugged in, your pump is plugged in, and all connections are firm. Fire it up and check in BIOS that you have normal temps, from 28C to 40C, depending on your area.
Burning Phoenix
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Burning Phoenix
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post #2 of 43
very very nice guide burn! good job
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post #3 of 43
Thread Starter 
Thanks I hope you all use it to help out those first-timers.
Burning Phoenix
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post #4 of 43
Ya it helped me out alot. It work so well i put the link in my sigature for ya!

Great job
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post #5 of 43
Thread Starter 
Nice. Take some pictures for us and post in the "show your watercooling setup" sticky!
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post #6 of 43
Great guide, Just put it into my sig for you too!
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post #7 of 43
Thread Starter 
Wow, this is getting a lot more cover than I expected it to. Thanks for putting it into your sigs guys!
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post #8 of 43
Weeelll... I got by with 6' of tubing, and I still have a foot and a half of tubing left. But my case IS pretty small, how about you guys?
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post #9 of 43
Thread Starter 
I like 13 to be safe, plus if I screw up, I have some backup tubing.
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post #10 of 43
I used 13' with very little to spare.

Happy Holidays all of ya
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