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First off, this FAQ is aimed at new comers looking to get their feet wet in the wide world of water cooling. This is designed to give enough information for first timers to make some informed choices about components and for them to feel comfortable with their purchase. As I very recently got into water cooling and finished my first loop not that long ago, I think I have a good idea of what kind of information a n00b is looking for. What I'm presenting here is what I have learned from experience with my first loop and I am just regurgitating a lot of what I've read here at overclock and whatever other reviews/FAQ's I have seen. SO THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO HAS HELPED ME OUT IN THE PAST, IT HAS BEEN MUCH APPRECIATED. My goal is to provide enough choices of recommended components and information without over whelming the n00b, enjoy.

THIS WILL BE A WORK IN PROGRESS, SO PLEASE, ANY AND ALL SUGGESTIONS, CORRECTIONS, OPINIONS ARE WELCOME AS I STILL CONSIDER MYSELF MUCH A N00B IN THIS AREA.

Version History:
1.0.0 12/12/09
1.0.1 12/13/09 Spelling errors, little changes
1.0.2 12/14/09 Added some stuff on fans
1.0.3 4/17/10 Blocks
1.0.4 8/18/10 Got rid of PerformancePC links

This FAQ will begin with suggested components, scroll down and you'll get my
on why I chose what.

Places to purchase water cooling supplies (USA):
PerformancePCs <-- Huge Selection, good prices, fans overpriced imo (I don't know what's up with their site lately, it never loads)
FrozenCPU <-- Again, huge selection
Sidewinder <-- very competitive prices, cheap shipping
Jab-tech <-- Competitive prices, bulk discounts
US Plastic <-- More tubing than you can shake a stick at

Jab-tech has to be my favorite place to buy stuff, if they have it, I get it from them. Sidewinders is a close second though. I would only go with PerformancePC's or FrozenCPU if absolutely necessary.

Now at bare minimum, you will need a CPU BLOCK, RADIATOR, PUMP, RESERVOIR OR T-LINE, TUBING, AND COOLANT.

Recommended Components:

CPU Blocks:
EK Supreme HF <--New big dick in town and comes in many flavors (BONUS: Comes with Arctic Cooling MX-2 TIM)
Swiftech Apogee XT <-- Mr. 2nd Place
Watercool Heatkiller 3.0 CU LT with Backplate <-- Recently dethroned, still a favorite
Enzotech Sapphire (1366 Retention Module)<-- Top performer for budget loop
EK Supreme LT <-- Another great budget performer

Radiators (54mm thick):
XSPC <-- Very popular around here
Black Ice 120 240 360 480 <-- Also very popular
Feser <-- Top performer but pricey

Radiators (29.6-35mm thick):
Black Ice Stealth <-- Available in black, blue, red
Black Ice Stealth XFlow: 120 240 360 <-- Available in black, blue, red
XSPC: RS120 RS240 RS360
Swiftech <-- Some have built in reservoir

Pumps:
Swiftech MCP350/Laing DDC 3.1
Swiftech MCP355/Laing DDC 3.2
Laing DDC 3.25
Swiftech MCP655/Laing D5 (without speed controller)

Reservoirs:
Swiftech MCRES Micro Rev2 Reservoir
T-Line

Reservoir/Top Combos:
XSPC Dual Bay Reservoir for DDC - Dual Loop Version
XSPC Reservoir for D5

Fittings:
Bitspower - Any kind of fitting you can imagine
Danger Den Fillports
Various Fittings: FrozenCPU, Sidewinders, Jab-Tech

Tubing:
Feser UV Active - 3/8" ID 1/2" OD and 1/2" ID 3/4" OD
Tygon - Wide Size Variety
Tygon Silver Antimicrobial - Worth checking out
Primochill

Coolant:
Distilled Water with PT Nuke -PHN
Distilled water with Silver Coil

Fans - All out performance:
Delta
Panaflo
San Ace
Scythe Ultra Kaze

Fans - Quieter system:
Gentle Typhoons <-- Super quiet
Yate Loon <-- Budget Favorite
Zalman ZM-F3

My
:

CPU Blocks:
Now when it comes to water blocks, I used HESmelaugh's Another round of water blocks on i7 review versus price to make my own decision. Now for a CPU only loop, his chart on flow isn't that important. If you plan on adding any other blocks to your loop though (i.e. VGA, NB/SB, Mosfets), you are going to want something with good flow. The Swiftech Apogee XT isn't in his review but supposedly is another degree or two better than the Heatkiller. Now for your decision realize that the difference in the 3 blocks i suggest is a matter of 3 or 4 degrees tops, so ask yourself "Is it worth paying double the price for that difference?" For some it is, others it isn't. So for the budget builder, I suggest the Enzotech Sapphire or Heatkiller 3.0 LC. If budget isn't any issue, the Swiftech Apogee XT, Heatkiller 3.0 Copper, and Heatkiller 3.0 LT are my choices. MAKE SURE YOU GET THE CORRECT BACKPLATE FOR WHATEVER BLOCK YOU CHOOSE, THIS APPLIES TO THE ENZOTECH AND HEATKILLER BLOCKS.

Radiators:
Radiator selection is going to depend on your case, your CPU, and what kind of overclock you wish to run. I only have experience with my i7 920 as far as CPU's go. Personally, I have a NZXT Tempest case so I had to go with a thin radiator as that's all that would fit inside the case. I use a Black Ice GT Stealth Xflow 240, and it keeps my i7 nice and cool clocked at 4.0 (68c max core on LinX 20 runs, 53c max while gaming). As this is my only experience on the matter, I suggest you look around the forum and ask questions about what radiator would be right for you. From what I've seen other people running in their loops though, any 240 radiator should be sufficient for a CPU only loop. If you are adding other blocks, at least a 360 would be required. Also, I would say only go stealth or Swiftech if space is an issue, as the XSPC radiators really aren't that expensive.

Pumps/Reservoirs/Tops:
As far as pumps go, I chose the Swiftech MCP355 and am 100% happy with it. It's inaudible over my fans. It also has great flow and more head than the MCP655.

SIDE NOTE ON HEAD (get ur mind outta the gutter): Everything you add to your loop adds restriction to the flow of water. That means your blocks, radiator, tubing, everything the water has to push through (check HESmelaugh's flow chart, less flow means higher restriction). So the more head a pump has, the better it's able to maintain its flow rate.

Now the MCP655 might have better flow, but in a highly restrictive loop, the MCP355 will perform better because of its extra head. This was my pump choice also based on how many options you have with aftermarket tops. And to me, if you are going to get an aftermarket top, you might as well get a top/reservoir combo. This not only will give you a cleaner build, but also make installing the loop simpler, especially if you go with a bay reservoir.

Fittings:
If you purchase from one of the sites I named, generally their will be a drop down menu to choose fittings when adding the component (block, rad, whatever) to cart. The free ones you get from PerformancePCs and Jab-tech will be nice and all you need. Just make sure to note that if a component doesn't come with barbs, you purchase some separately. I bought bitspower barbs for my setup and they're just as good as anything else. If you want to go compression fittings, it is going to cost a good deal more. If this is a first build, barbs will be just fine. If you take your time while building your loop, you shouldn't have any leaks. Just make sure to use zip ties or clamps to secure the tubing over the barbs.

Tubing:
For tubing, the most common sizes are 3/8" ID, 7/16" ID, and 1/2" ID. Performance wise, there is not much difference in the sizes, go with what looks good to you. Now with tubing you have an ID and OD (inner and outer diameter). Subtract these and you get how thick the tubing walls are. The thicker the tubing walls, the less prone it is to kink, but the harder it is to curve in tight areas, it's a trade off. Personally I use 1/2" ID 3/4" OD and have no problems or issues with it, but I also don't have any tight bends in the tubes either.

Coolant:
There isn't much to say about coolant. Commercial colored coolant (dyes) tends to fade after a few months and leaves gunk buildup in blocks. So to avoid that hassle, just use regular old distilled water from the grocery store, it's just as non-conductive as any commercial coolant. Water is only conductive once stuff gets dissolved in it, like dust or what not. Then just add some biocide (PT Nuke -PHN or silver coil) to kill any creatures that try to grow in your loop and your good to go. Tygon does have some silver tubing that is worth taking a look at. It's a little expensive, but if you're already spending a few hundred dollars on a loop, what's another few bucks.

For a 100% budget loop, you'd have to go with 3/8" ID tubing because of the barbs on the pump:

Enzotech Sapphire $38 for 775/AMD, $48 for 1366 OR EK Supreme LT $45
XSPC RS240 Radiator w/ Barbs $44
Swiftech MCRES-MICRO Res $25
Swiftech MCP350 Pump $50
Tygon 3/8" ID tubing $2/ft so about $10
Distilled Water and PT Nuke -PHN $4
Yate Loon fans 2x$4

And you have yourself a very nice i7 loop for $185 without shipping.

If cost isn't much of an issue, and you want a top performing loop without going overboard. You can go with something like this:

EK Supreme HF or Swiftech Apogee XT or Heatkiller Copper/LT w/ Backplate $74-$94
Black Ice GTX240 or GTX360 $90-$100
XSPC Dual Bay Reservoir $45
Swiftech MCP355 $65
Feser UV 1/2" Tubing $3/ft so about $15-$18
Distilled Water and PT Nuke -PHN $4
Panaflo Fans $14/e $28-$84

This comes to about $400 without shipping. Most people will be happy with something in between these 2 setups, enjoy.

I'm getting tired so that's it for now, I still plan on updating this with some more info (fans, TIM, getting it all together, and some other what nots), so stay tuned. Happy Cooling.

Click link in my sig to check out my water cooled build and see what kind of choices I made component wise.
 

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Nice guide
 

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Nice guide


Might wanna try to split some of the sections up some. Walls of text are hard for n00bses.

Maybe add a section on gpu blocks? It's quite possibly the hottest thing in a pc.
 

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Awesome guide. It would be nice to see a summary about different materials in the blocks. It seems there are so many to choose from.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
People didn't really seem that interested in it, so I never really finished. I'll work on it again sometime next week. I need to add info on TIMs and fans. I'll do a little about the different metals/plastics in blocks and the such too.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by xXLinkageXx View Post
People didn't really seem that interested in it, so I never really finished. I'll work on it again sometime next week. I need to add info on TIMs and fans. I'll do a little about the different metals/plastics in blocks and the such too.
I thought it was the most straightforward/simple guide for noobs like myself
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I wrote it right after I put my first loop together. So, I knew what someone that knows nothing about water cooling wanted to hear. Also, I'm just a real straightforward person, that carries over into most stuff I do
.
 

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Speaking as a WC noob, it would be great to have a guide that explained a bit about the difference between barbed & compression fittings and the benefits and drawbacks of each.
 

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This is an awesome guide
and i'm about to put up a new rig later next month with WC setup. After reading the guide I generally know what i need..but i do have one more question about fitting. Approximately how many of them i need to purchase if i decide to just WC my CPU only ?

Thanks
 

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Awesome thread, but I have one question. Is there a major difference in performance between a U-flow and X-flow radiator?
 

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Quote:


Originally Posted by OnetwoPi
View Post

Nice guide


Might wanna try to split some of the sections up some. Walls of text are hard for n00bses.

Maybe add a section on gpu blocks? It's quite possibly the hottest thing in a pc.

I Second this, please add wc single and dual gpus, which parts are needed, how many of each, and order of flow, thanks

Great, clear and informative guide
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by SyK0. View Post
Thanks, cool guide. Helped me understand a lot better.
For the love of God tell me where to get that avatar...*****
 
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