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Questions about watercooling

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Water cooling has been interesting to me for a while, but I have a few questions about it.

How much cooler can a well designed WC loop make your cpu vs a decent air setup? To me it seems that they wouldn't be drastically different as they are essentially the same thing. With a air cooler mounted on top of your cpu heat would transfer from the chip to the base of the cooler, moves up the heatpipes, and is then dissipated by the heatsink into the air.

WC seems to do the same thing except the heat moves from the chip to the water in the cpu block, moves through the tubing to the radiator which dissipated it into the air in the same way that the heatsink on the air setup does. Is this incorrect or is a radiator just more efficient at dissipating the heat?

Also, how often does a leak occur in a well assembled loop? What happens if it does occur, does it basically destroy your whole system?

Lastly is it not recommended to transport WC cases frequently? I feel like this would increase the chances of a leak.
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post #2 of 9
Water can hold 4x the heat load of air...you can expect much better temps.

Case in point: my fully loaded gpus dropped in temps from about 75c on air to about 50-55c depending on the application.

Generally, unless you're mucking around with it, or something (like an oring) was slightly damaged during install, they do not leak. Indeed a leak may damage components.

You shouldnt transport a watercooled pc before you drain it first.
post #3 of 9
Water cooling provides lower idle temps (for gpus anyway, especially in sli setups) and it provides you with a lot more headroom for overclocking since temperatures don't fluctuate all that much. I have everything in my sig in one loop and I idle around 30c, load at around 55c.

CPU temp might be similar, but it's the GPU(s) where watercooling shines. I have three 470s and if they were air cooled they would bake. Instead, they run at a nice low temperature, even overclocked.

If you don't receive anything that is defective, you use 1/2 inch fittings with 5/8's tubing, and then you use clamps, you wont get leaks. And, even if you get a leak, it's not the end of your system. I've had water get all over my top 470 while running and it's still going strong. Can't speak for any other parts, though. If you use distilled it's not going to be conductive, so less danger there.

As long as you are careful moving it, there shouldnt be problems. Most wc cases are heavy as hell though.

WC provides a lot of benefits, if you can provide the green.
post #4 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Methos07 View Post
Water cooling provides lower idle temps (for gpus anyway, especially in sli setups) and it provides you with a lot more headroom for overclocking since temperatures don't fluctuate all that much. I have everything in my sig in one loop and I idle around 30c, load at around 55c.

CPU temp might be similar, but it's the GPU(s) where watercooling shines. I have three 470s and if they were air cooled they would bake. Instead, they run at a nice low temperature, even overclocked.

If you don't receive anything that is defective, you use 1/2 inch fittings with 5/8's tubing, and then you use clamps, you wont get leaks. And, even if you get a leak, it's not the end of your system. I've had water get all over my top 470 while running and it's still going strong. Can't speak for any other parts, though. If you use distilled it's not going to be conductive, so less danger there.

As long as you are careful moving it, there shouldnt be problems. Most wc cases are heavy as hell though.

WC provides a lot of benefits, if you can provide the green.
A few things:

A) Temps will be much better, or you can run FAR quieter...if not both. WC gear lasts forever too.

B) Distilled is non-conductive yes, but after 1 go around in your loop that water will pick up enough metal ions to become at least mildly conductive. Still Distilled is dirt cheap, easy to work with, does not stain, and has great thermal performance compared to just about anything else.

C) Mobility, depends on the case. My H2gO is as light as any computer case can be. It depends on the case. A 40lb full tower will be heavy and a PITA to move with or without WCing gear. For moving, it depends on how things are mounted and how secure/sturdy things are. For example: With the 4lb GPUs we have these days it HIGHLY recommended to transport a tower on it's side so that you don't risk snapping the PCIe connector with a bump.
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post #5 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xazen View Post
How much cooler can a well designed WC loop make your cpu vs a decent air setup? To me it seems that they wouldn't be drastically different as they are essentially the same thing. With a air cooler mounted on top of your cpu heat would transfer from the chip to the base of the cooler, moves up the heatpipes, and is then dissipated by the heatsink into the air.
Much cooler and a lot quieter. You are right in that the process is essentially the same, and water cooling actually involves one more heat transfer step than air cooling.

However, as has been stated, water carries a lot more heat than air (higher SHC) and is therefore more effective at taking the heat from the block. Then you get to that rad, again the same thing as a heat sink used for air cooling but much bigger. Imagine trying to strap a 240*120mm heat sink directly to your CPU...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Xazen View Post
Also, how often does a leak occur in a well assembled loop? What happens if it does occur, does it basically destroy your whole system?
In a well assembled loop with quality components? Never.

If it does, most of the time there will be no catastrophic damage, provided you miss the PSU. I have heard stories of people having water running down their motherboard and it being fine. I wouldn't try it though!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Xazen View Post
Lastly is it not recommended to transport WC cases frequently? I feel like this would increase the chances of a leak.
Yes and no. It is wise to check them for leaks after a big move (i.e. from one house to another, not one room to another) as there is a very small possibility that something will come loose.

Again though my current rig has moved house 4 times, crossed the Atlantic once and suffered the not so gentle attentions of UPS, all with no leaks.
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post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the info all.

One other thing... why is WC quieter than air? I assume its because the fans moving air through the radiator do not need as high of an rpm to be effective.
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post #7 of 9
WC will give you much cooler temps. But the real draw, besides aesthetics, and the challenge, is the noise levels. With air cooling, my two GTX 470s get really hot (85 for the air deprived card) and very loud (fan speeds like 85-90%, and with a 3000 RPM 80mm fan on these cards its REALLY loud). I would have 2 80mm GPU fans, a 120mm CPU fan on the heatsink, and like three case fans. With watercooling I just have three scythe gentle typhoons which are undetectable to me at 80% fan speed.

Hey GingerJohn-
In your watercooling tips, you recommend push vs pull based on fan speed. Are 1450/1850 RPM Scythe GTs high speed?
Edited by jadawgis732 - 3/25/11 at 8:11pm
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post #8 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xazen View Post
Thanks for the info all.

One other thing... why is WC quieter than air? I assume its because the fans moving air through the radiator do not need as high of an rpm to be effective.
You can use larger/slower fans, and with the massive heat capacity of water-even worst case with no fans running at full load it will take a long while for the coolant to raise high enough in temp to be enough of a worry that the CPU nears crit temp. How long depends on how much water you have in your loop, and what CPU you're running.

If you want dead silent, there are specialist passive radiators that are designed with minimal airflow in mind.
Edited by Skripka - 3/25/11 at 8:13pm
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post #9 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xazen View Post
One other thing... why is WC quieter than air? I assume its because the fans moving air through the radiator do not need as high of an rpm to be effective.
More fans, bigger fans (than some air coolers), lower RPM, larger surface area to dissipate heat.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jadawgis732 View Post
Hey GingerJohn-
In your watercooling tips, you recommend push vs pull based on fan speed. Are 1450/1850 RPM Scythe GTs high speed?
The crossover is probably about 1400-1700 RPM, so it isn't going to make a huge difference either way for the 1450's. The 1850's might start to show some advantage in push, but I would think it will be minimal.

That bit of advice comes from Martin's test on fan orientation and shrouds, well worth a read.
Edited by GingerJohn - 3/25/11 at 8:34pm
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