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Hey Guys -

I have a decent build which I use for pretty much everything you can think of - including gaming - sometimes with Oculus Rift. I recently looked at upgrading my hardware, but quickly realized that to get anything worthwhile, I'd have to replace the motherboard, CPU, RAM plus GPU eventually. The thing is, the speeds of newest CPUs don't seem to be that much of a leap except for the fact that there are more cores.

As an alternative, I'm considering looking into water cooling my CPU and GPU then overclocking for an upgrade of sorts. The thing is, I already have a Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO for my CPU which is overclocked to 4.0Ghz - GPU is on stock fan. My question is if any additional speed gain I could potentially get by adding water would be worth the cost. I'm not trying to break any records. Obviously every system is different, but any suggestions as to the approach? To note, my system runs hot inside anyways as its also a media server which has x11 platter drives in it which give off plenty of heat :) I have many fans on it, but still...

Thanks!

System Specs
- QuadCore Intel Core i7-3770K, 4000 MHz (40 x 100) (Software OC to 4Ghz)
- CPU Fan: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO
- 32gb RAM (G Skill RipjawsX F3-1600C9-8GXM x 4)
- Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD5H
- EVGA e-GeForce GTX 970 (Slightly software Overclocked)
- Storage
- C:\ - 256bg SSD - OS
- D:\ - 42tb Disk Pool - Storage / Media
- E:\ 1tb Hybrid - Plex & Game Installed
- G:\ 256gb SSD - Oculus Game/App Installs
- NZXT H630 Ultra Tower
- Oculus Rift CV1 / 3 Sensors (Room Scale) / Touch Controllers
 

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Water won't get you any farther on the CPU than a good air cooler will.
Delidding and a real BIOS overclock will pretty much let you max it out.
Same for the GPU. Replacing the TIM and a good BIOS overclock plus a better fam profile will take you about as far as the card can go.

After you've done the TIM and a BIOS OC you can easily gain 10% or more with $20 with of stuff if you stick with the EVO.
A custom loop will cost about as much as a new GPU or you can get one of the $250 kits from EK but even if you did that you likely wouldn't stabilize an OC higher than what you could for $20 plus real BIOS overclock.

In my case I made my GPU (voltage locked 980 FTW) run about 150mhz faster and 500 Hz on the VRAM on a voltage locked card. Also it went from 80c stock to 65 to 70c overclocked.
My CPU (i5 4960k) went from 4.5Ghz at 80c to around 70c during stress tests.
Gaming at 4.7ghz (impossible before the delid) runs around 65 to 70c under gaming loads.
I even stabilized 5ghz with my 212 but it's too much voltage for me.

Spending more on cooling in my case would gain me nothing because temps aren't my limiting factors.

Also if you used software to overclock a K chip your memory is likely running at 1333mhz.

To recap:
Delid and repaste CPU and GPU
Use manual BIOS overclocking to find your max OC on your desired voltage (4ghz is just barely over boost BTW)
If you still want more you'll need a better GPU.
Spending the money on a new equivalent machine would barely improve your gaming experience unless you're going for really high frame rates like 144hz where a 5ghz CPU and DDR4 might really improve your minimums but I would get a GPU first for sure.
 

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But....
most of the WC kit you buy you can keep when upgrading
and a secondhand block for a 970 is probably easy enough to find if you keep your eyes on ebay
 

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But....
most of the WC kit you buy you can keep when upgrading
and a secondhand block for a 970 is probably easy enough to find if you keep your eyes on ebay
Water is something I'd only do when I've hit my thermal wall on the fastest 4 to 6 core chip and on the fastest GPU and after I have the fastest ram.

Water is only going to help if you're hitting your thermal limits.
On most CPUs you might get an extra 200mhz from water. With Pascal GPUs the BIOS can't be edited so more cooling may allow it to boost higher and longer. In both cases if you can simply buy a faster GPU or CPU or if you haven't even tried to hit your thermal limits after a repasting, you're spending money on something that might not help at all.

Water is expensive and has maintenance so as long as you can go faster for cheaper, I would recommend it.
Compare a water cooled 970 to an air cooled 1070 or 980 ti. Do the same for a water cooled i5 to an air cooled i7.

Keep in mind I'm mostly talking gaming.
There are many reasons you should water cool but if you build 2 identical gaming rigs; one with great air cooling and repasting and one with great water cooling and repasting, the performance you could gain with water might be 10% or likely less if both were overclocked as far as they reasonably can.
For gaming the PPD just isn't there.
 

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no, true
the cost is very high to get your feet wet as it were
and yes, in a blind test having an air and watercooled machine tested side by side, with headphones on, you would not identify which was which
right now, with the price of GPU's... and if the OP was considering always upgrading in the future, would not a step into WC make sense? at least hold out until ampere/turing hits the market.. which should refresh the pricing a little more favorably?

if you have allocated say $500 for upgrades this year.. then yer wait for the new GPU's and pick one up
if you want something now, and are prepared to spend again later for the bigger step? then water maybe worth considering, IF.. you want to more headroom, potentially less noise, but are prepared for an expensive little step in preparation for an expensive big step a little later

that being said also, the 10 series will be back on the market too as people jump on the next gen very soon
 

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Well my point isn't so much "don't water cool" it's more like why bother if you haven't already seen what you can do on air.
The repasting the GPU was going to need to be done with a block so try that first.
My 900 required an edited BIOS to OC with. The lower temps didn't help till I did that.

And water plus a software OC is seriously janky.

I highly advise reading these threds:

http://www.overclock.net/forum/5-intel-cpus/1247413-ivy-bridge-overclocking-guide-ln2-guide-end.html

http://www.overclock.net/forum/5-intel-cpus/1313179-official-delidded-club-guide.html

http://www.overclock.net/forum/246-air-cooling/1394467-ocn-dave-s-air-cooling-guide.html

http://www.overclock.net/forum/69-nvidia/1523391-easy-nvflash-guide-pictures-gtx-970-980-a.html
 

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with the prices of GPU's right now, i'd wait till prices come back down and during that time save up for a custom loop. only reason i bought my GTX 1080 this past december was becuase my 780ti died.
 

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As someone who does water cooling... People should only ever water cool if they want to do it as a project and think it will be fun, expect almost no benefit.

Upgrade your GPU, do a bios OC for your 3770k its still a capable chip.
 

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Thats me, first time using water cooling, I've built a new PC with hard tube water cooling running on AMD, temp is about the same, air cooling with stock fan is much quieter, for me water cooling only looks better. Just done it for the fun and the looks, and it does seem pretty expensive.
 

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I'm pleasantly surprised to see the replies here. You guys are keeping it real.

I'll add that watercooling is really only for those who are OK with PC tinkering being their hobby. If you would rather spend your extra time on a car, watching tv, or actually playing games, then don't bother with watercooling. Yes, you can put together a loop of quality components and only run silver, biocide and water. Guess what? You'll still have maintenance. Not to mention leak chasing and "normal" part failure, which is QUITE high in this industry of low production parts.
And eventually you will get tired of your loop and make plans to switch to hard lines, upgrade rad, whatever. Then you can start that process all over again.

Basically I would take a long look at if you consider yourself a gamer *or* a PC enthusiast or something else entirely and use that to set your priorities with watercooling.
 

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As far as clock speed ceiling goes, think of water as a way to get (at most) 5 percent more than high end air with less noise but much higher cost. This is true for gpus for cpus. You can get a healthy 10-15 percent if you're on a power hungry HEDT platform (which you aren't). GPUs under water last a heck of a lot longer than you'll wasn't to keep them though, so that's neat.

Water is a bad upgrade part unless it's simply something you want to have. It's only saving grace is that if you don't upgrade too frequently, it only costs you a GPU block at each upgrade cycle to keep re using any existing gear you've got.

I don't ever want to go back to an air cooled machine, but I enjoy the lower noise and the experience of getting every last ounce of performance out of my gear. I also wouldn't wan't to advise someone to go with water cooling expecting performance improvements.
 

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Water is not worth the cost!
In your opinion, everyone will have different ones

As far as clock speed ceiling goes, think of water as a way to get (at most) 5 percent more than high end air with less noise but much higher cost. This is true for gpus for cpus. You can get a healthy 10-15 percent if you're on a power hungry HEDT platform (which you aren't). GPUs under water last a heck of a lot longer than you'll wasn't to keep them though, so that's neat.

Water is a bad upgrade part unless it's simply something you want to have. It's only saving grace is that if you don't upgrade too frequently, it only costs you a GPU block at each upgrade cycle to keep re using any existing gear you've got.

I don't ever want to go back to an air cooled machine, but I enjoy the lower noise and the experience of getting every last ounce of performance out of my gear. I also wouldn't wan't to advise someone to go with water cooling expecting performance improvements.
Whilst I agree for the most part, there is one factor that people seem to not think about with water:

1) often the part the gains the most benefit from water is the GPU, especially ram/VRM's. It isn't quite so prevalent on older GPU's, but with Pascal basing boost on temp, it is worth it, mine sits 2100Mhz boost without any overclocking or bios modding (not possible on pascal anyway)

To the OP, if you are thinking about doing it, chances are you will do it at some point, this sort of puts you in the enthusiast bracket. And when you do do it, go rigid/hard line from the off, cause after a few months maybe a year, you will think "Oh man I wish I had gone rigid" and you will have to buy all new fittings again.

CPU won't gain much, my Ryzen sits at 3.95ghz (can do over 4ghz but needs high voltage) and never goes over 55C - speed for me is an architecture limit not temp (as others have said), my GPU is hotter than other peoples 1080 on water (something I'm looking at, suspect case or pump) but it still maintains over 2050mhz due to the Pascal temp/core speed boost.

Lastly as said above, the majority of the components can be reused, so whilst the outlay is a lot, the pump, res, tubes, CPU block (most of the time), radiators and fans can all be used on your upgraded hardware, just be aware that when you change your GPU, you're looking at +$120 for a new block and back plate.

Oh and for me, water is quieter and cooler than my previous air cooled rigs and it looks a tonne better (IMO)



Downsides:

GPU blocks, maintenance (but air rigs need heatsinks and fans cleaning), potential for leaks to trash your rig, and replacing the coolant
 

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I once tried to cost out watercooling my 7700k and GTX 1070.... I ended up deciding it was better off selling it and getting an 8700k and 1080

Its mostly a hobby really and the price to performance is not worth it. The maintenance is also another factor as well.
 

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I once tried to cost out watercooling my 7700k and GTX 1070.... I ended up deciding it was better off selling it and getting an 8700k and 1080

Its mostly a hobby really and the price to performance is not worth it. The maintenance is also another factor as well.
Maintenance isn't a big deal. Unless you use crazy coolants a once a year drain and fill is all that's required.

However, even in the pascal example proves the point as far as performance. 2.1 vs 2.0ghz is 5 percent. I would go for that 5 percent, but everyone's situation is different.

Sent from my ZTE Axon 7 Resurrection Remix.
 

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I upgraded from my 3570k @ 4.4ghz and it wasn't because I needed to, it was because I wanted to. In all honesty a lot of games out there are more GPU constrained. The best way to figure it out is take a look at bench marks. IIRC Gamers Nexus showed benchmarks that compared an OC'ed sandy or ivy bridge to a 7700k or a 6700k with different games as well as video cards. In a game like Overwatch the older CPUs were able to get up with the newer CPUS even with a 1070. Only when the 1080 was used did the newer CPUs show an advantage. I only was looking at OW benchmarks as that is what I primarily play.

In regards to water cooling. A good tower cooler can keep up with a lot of AIO. Though one commonly overlooked advantage of water cooling is you can control where the heat goes. If you set an AIO to exhaust outside of the case, it allows your GPU to run cooler and achieve boost modes. As most often the weakest link is the GPU, this can help. In the situation you are water cooling both your GPU and CPU, then it is better to have the radiator as intake. The VRMs can take higher temps and normally passively cooled.

I did a custom loop as a fun project. You can get some good stuff for cheap if you want to water cool and you can most likely use it with your next system, with the exception of a GPU block. I got all of my stuff pretty cheap, then I decided to add RGB fans and now planning on a larger radiator and running rigid tubing. It is really addictive
 
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