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WaterCooling Guide For Beginner

91971 Views 14 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  thanos999
I know there are many guide for water cooling, since I wrote one up might as well shared with everyone.

The guide breaks down to 3 different building components: budget, mainstream and extreme.

Common Watercooling Questions:

1. How much does it cost?
This answer will depend on which PC components you want to be water cooled, and which parts you choose to water cool them.

2. Is it worth the risk over air cooling?
If you are looking for a quieter solution and better overclocking headroom, then Yes. If you just want to keep your components cool and within factory maximum thermal specifications, then No.

3. How often do I need to perform maintenance to clean out the loop?
I would suggest a quick few minutes to check on your setup every 2 weeks, to see if you can find any leaks or algae growing inside. Clean out and refill the loop roughly every 6-12 months, but definitely not more than 12 months. I will post some pictures on what can happen if you never clean the loop.

4. What benefit does water cooling offer over air cooling?
More overclocking headroom, a quieter solution (if you picked the right components), a more suitable solution for a high-ambient-room-temperature situation, to save space (in the CPU area) so you don't have to worry about tall memory heatspreaders or northbridge heatsinks, less stress on the motherboard due to the CPU block weight being lighter than most air cooling heatsinks.

Some of the recommended online retailers for buying water cooling:


The Basic Watercooling Components:

CPU Block: this is what cools the CPU, which is one of the hottest components when overclocked. Beware when choosing your CPU block and make sure you buy the right model; some CPU blocks also come with a backplate. Backplates just add pressure to give slight performance gain. All the blocks & pricing are used for reference from Frozencpu.com

Budget (30-50):

EK Supreme LT AMD CPU Liquid Cooling Block - Acetal (Sockets 754 / 940 / AM2 / AM2+ / AM3) EK Supreme LT

Enzotech Sapphire Series SCW-Rev.A Extreme Performance CPU Liquid Cooling Block - 1/2" ID Native Enzotech Sapphire Series

Danger Den MPC

Mainstream (50-60):


D-TEK FuZion v2 Intel i7 CPU Water Block - (Socket LGA 1366 / LGA 775**) D-TEK FuZion v2

Danger Den MC-TDX Liquid Cooling Block - Socket LGA 1156 / 1366 ( i3 / i5 / i7) Danger Den MC

Koolance CPU-340 Liquid Cooling CPU Block (No Fittings) Koolance CPU-340

Swiftech Apogee GTZ i7 CPU Waterblock - Socket LGA 1366 Swiftech Apogee GTZ

Extreme (70+):

Koolance CPU-370 Liquid Cooling Extreme CPU Block

Heatkiller Rev 3.0

EK Supreme HF Universal CPU Liquid Cooling Block - Full Copper (Sockets 775 / 1156 / 1366 / 939 / 940 / 771 / 754 / AM2 / AM2+ / AM3) EK Supreme HF

Swiftech Apogee XT Extreme "Flagship" Performance CPU Waterblock (Sockets 775 / 1156 / 1366) Swiftech Apogee XT

Koolance CPU-360 Liquid Cooling Extreme CPU Block - Rev. 1.1 (No Fittings) Koolance CPU-360

Here is some comparison data: http://skinneelabs.com/i7-blocks-1.html and http://skinneelabs.com/i7-blocks-2.html.

Pumps: this component will move the fluid through the loop; a stronger pump will able to push the water around more quickly. If your loop has very restrictive components, a stronger pump will improve the overall temperature.
Note: never let the pump run dry (meaning without water), it will fry the pump in a matter of seconds.

Budget (30-50):

OCZ Hydro Pulse Water Pump 800 - 800 L/hr. OCZ Hydro Pulse

Danger Den DD-CPX1 12V 3-Pin Powered Pump - (DD-CPX1) Danger Den DD-CPX1

Koolance G1/4" Threaded Acetal Pump Base for PMP-450 / MCP650/655 / Laing D5 (COV-RP450) Koolance G1/4" Threaded Acetal Pump

Mainstream (50-70):

Swiftech MCP655-B 12v DC Pump

Swiftech MCP355 12v DC Pump

Extreme (70+):

Innovatek Eheim HPPS Plus 12V Water Pump (132.1 GPH) (500733-01) Innovatek Eheim HPPS

Eheim 1260

Iwaki RD-30

Swiftech MCP35X 12v PWM Controlled Water Pump

Optional tools that help pumps work better are called "Top", and usually improve the water flow and are quite expensive (ranging from 25-70 dollars). I will post some pictures in the Optional Components section.

: this component is where the heat dissipates; the larger it is in size, the more surface area will be available to dissipate heat. For radiators I won't recommend specific models, since it is based on how much cooling performance you want. In theory, a single 120mm radiator can dissipate 150Watts, so 2 X 120mm radiator should handle 300Watts etc. Most radiators from reviews are pretty much neck-and-neck, with little variation in performance.

Budget: Instead of recommending a model I will recommend a brand.

Swiftech Swiftech MCR220-QP is usually very thin compared to other brands and quality wise you get what you pay for. However, it has great performance and is probably the best bang for the buck.

Black Ice GT Stealth 360 Radiator - Blue Black Ice GT
Great price, but requires a high cfm or high static pressure fan to work well.

Magicool Extreme


XSPC RX240 Dual 120mm Radiator XSPC RX240


Black Ice SR1 Low Air Flow Optimized - 480 Radiator - Black Black Ice SR1

Feser XChanger Quad

Thermochill Brand http://www.sidewindercomputers.com/thpa4xhipera.html

Watercool MO-RA 2 PRO <<-- largest radiator can mount up to 9 fans.

Reviews on radiators:

Tubing: it is very important to pick the right size tubing that can match up to your barbs or compression fittings. The larger the diameter of your tubing, the higher the flow rate will be and the less likely that the tubing can become kinked (bent/knotted, impairing the water flow). UV or color tubing is aesthetic and usually costs more, but if you like showing off your internals then go for it.

Budget (0.25-0.99 per foot):
Durelene PVC tubing
Maskerkleer tubing - http://www.jab-tech.com/Masterkleer-...D-pr-3079.html
Clearflex tubing - http://www.jab-tech.com/ClearFLEX-60...D-pr-2433.html

Mainstream (1.00-2.00 per foot):
Primochill tubing http://www.jab-tech.com/PrimoFlex-Pr...D-pr-4425.html I find these to be the best tubing.

Extreme (2.00+ per foot):
Tygon tubing Tygon R-3400 1/2" ID (3/4" OD) - Laboratory Tubing - Black Tygon

The length needed will depend on how many components your water cooling setup will handle; sometimes you need more just in case you mess up the first time cutting.

Fittings: It is very important to choose the right size to match your tubing so leaks don't happen within your water cooling setup. Barb fittings only need to match the ID (which means Inner Diameter). Compression fittings on the other hand must have a perfect match of both ID and OD (which means Outer Diameter).

Budget (2-3):
barbs http://www.sidewindercomputers.com/ekhiflfig14t1.html

Mainstream (3-6):
compression fitting http://www.sidewindercomputers.com/ekfi12g1bl.html

Extreme (6+):
Rotary and/or angle fitting: http://www.sidewindercomputers.com/bimabl3id1od3.html

There is no performance variation here, just a matter of you want your system to look like. Barbs need zip-ties or clamps to be safe.

: the fluid that will be moving through the setup, which helps to absorb most of the heat. I personally recommend a cheap solution which works very well (at least for me).

Distilled water + Pt Nuke or Silver Coil:
http://www.petrastechshop.com/sikibyia.html http://www.petrastechshop.com/pepcobi1.html, the purpose of pt nuke/silver coil is to prevent algae growing inside the water cooling setup.
Here's an image of what algae looks like as I mentioned above, which can happen if you don't clean the loop every 6-12 months.

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This part will be continued with components are not necessary for a water cooling loop, but are highly recommended for maximizing performance.

Reservoir: The job of this component is for bleeding (the process for getting rid of the air bubble), with air bubble inside the loop you are not getting the best temperature as possible. Bleeding a lot easier than T-line and much quicker.

Budget (5-15): Notice that reservoir isn't budget at all, so an alternate choice would be a T-line http://www.performance-pcs.com/catal...oducts_id=3723, not to mention that the quality is just plastic. Not recommended if budget is low just skip the t-line.

Mainstream (15-30):

Swiftech MCRES Micro Revision 2

Extreme (30+):

EK-Multioption RES X2

iandh SteathRes 225 Multi-Option

XSPC Acrylic Dual 5.25in. Reservoir for Two Laing DDC's

When buying reservoir make sure you got enough space to fit. Some reservoir are design for certain pump only, so make sure you read everything through before making a purchase. Note: any acrylic product do not put alcohol inside or in contact with or else the acrylic product became dry and cracks. Here is an image with alcohol on acrylic product

Hose Clamps
: the job is to tighten up the tubing, reducing the chance of a leak occurring and those are cheap.

For this component it is only budget not high quality stuff except plastic verus metal.

Plastic http://www.sidewindercomputers.com/heclnyhocl0t.html

Metal http://www.sidewindercomputers.com/brmihocl7int.html

Tops: improve water flow

I already mention in the post above, so just going to show you how they looks like and the price on those.

Budget (20-30):

EK Waterblocks EK-DDC X-Top Rev 2 - Acetal

XSPC Laing DDC Acetal Top

Mainstream (30-40):

EK Waterblocks EK-D5 X-TOP Rev 2 for Laing D5 / Swiftech MCP655 Pumps

Bitspower D5 MOD TOP V2

Bitspower D5/MCP655 Pump Replacement Top

Extreme (40+):

EK Waterblocks EK-DDC Dual TOP V.2

EK Waterblocks EK-D5 Dual TOP

The tops are design for certain pump make sure you got the right model to match your pump.

GPU blocks: it is optional to cool the video card, but most people who wants to overclock their video card should consider water cooling it does make a big different in temperature and noise. To cool video card it is very expensive, so don't go cheap. There is a full cover water block and there is just the GPU alone.

Budget (40-50): Swiftech http://www.sidewindercomputers.com/swmcungpuwa.html

Mainstream (50-100): XSPC and Bitspower http://www.sidewindercomputers.com/bimablblfrvg.html http://www.sidewindercomputers.com/xsra59fucogp.html

Extreme (100+): EK and Water Cool http://www.sidewindercomputers.com/waehegp59for.html http://www.sidewindercomputers.com/ekniacwafora.html

Chipset blocks
: cooling the northbridge and southbridge enhance better stability for overclocking and much lower temperature. It also comes in full block or the mofset version. Is not that common for chipset cooling, nevertheless still is an optional cooling components. I will briefly touch upon this component, since it not common and the cost is high.

http://www.sidewindercomputers.com/ekwaek6ac.html <<-- Budget

http://www.sidewindercomputers.com/ekwaekasx58a.html <<-- Extreme

HDD blocks
: cooling the HDD, least common cooling you will come across and it is hard to find in most online retailers.

Bitspower HDD Acetal Liquid Cooling Block - Black (BP-HDS350P-BK) Bitspower HDD

Ram blocks: cooling the ram, also one of the rare cooling solution that many people won't use.

Koolance RAM-33 Ram Liquid Block - (Single DDR/DDR2/DDR3/SD) [no nozzles] Koolance RAM

Fans: for removing heat quicker and more efficient. Highly recommended for radiators optimize performance. Most common fans are 25mm thick, but for most radiators 38mm fans are recommend due to higher static pressure. Since, there are many fans selections I just choose the one I like the most in each price range.

Budget (3-6):

Yates Loons 120mm Yate Loon D12SH-12

Mainstream (6-15):

Scythe Gentle Typhoon

Extreme (15+):

San Ace 9G1212H1011

Fans are the very important in term of noise level and cooling potential.

: help to reduce air in dead zone increase air flow/static pressure, is optional but it does help improve overall temperature.

ThermoChill PS120.2

Installation of the water cooling setup:

Leak test is highly recommend and if doing it the first time allow 24 hours before turning on your pc. Leak test (bleeding) is to remove air bubbles from the water cooling setup to the reservoir that why reservoir is recommended. To start a leak test is better to set it up outside the case the first time, since you don't have prior experience even if you didn't do it right you won't damage your hardwares. On the 3D man youtube video you see how he setup the whole loop outside the case and already planned how long the tubes to be. Note: To start the leak test outside the system nothing should connect to the power supply except the molex connector from the pump. To start the power supply without powering up the system, you need to jump start the power supply. Here is an image:

I have done this many time so it is safe to touch the paper clip, while the power supply is on. As long as the paper clip is wiring against black and green doesn't matter which black color wire.

I am no expert at this, but the orientation goes like reservoir>>> pump>> radiator >> cpu block >> reservoir. I will post some picture of my setup, afterall a picture is worth a thousand words. Apologize for the bad quality on my webcam. http://img8.imageshack.us/img8/3159/picture17p.jpg

Here are the professional setup: http://www.million-dollar-pc.com/

I will put up some youtube video for reference:
As someone comment about the noise level I will included a review regard on the sound level of the fan source: martinm210 http://www.xtremesystems.org/forums/...d.php?t=223391.

If anyone got suggestions or comments or questions feel free to do so, I will end it here.

I already post this on Eggxpert source: http://www.eggxpert.com/forums/thread/636453.aspx
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Bold the titles and subtitles. Much easier to read.

Originally Posted by Dar_T View Post
Bold the titles and subtitles. Much easier to read.


But by the rest, awesome guide :)!!
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Sorry guys I copy over from the other forum, if you look at the link the pictures I need to recopy all over again and the Bold text need to be redo, so I am in the process of fixing it up now. Once again, sorry for the un-convenient.
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You have a pump top included in your budget pump section and you say that the larger the diameter hose the harder it is to kink. I though it was just the opposite. Good guide!
here is some testing on water hoses. The conclusion is in quotes. Hope this helps.

Overall, the best tubing for kink resistance is one which has the thickest walls in proportion to it's diameter with the highest durometer being a second consideration. Thus the Tygon R-3603 7/16" ID with 11/16" OD (1/8" wall thickness) provides the best kink resistance of the tubing suitable for 1/2" barbs. For 3/8" tubing, the Primoflex 3/8" ID - 5/8" OD (1/8" wall) is by far the best choice for kink resistance on tight bends.
thanks prtuc2; i have followed your work on EggXspert in the cooling section for some time; nice job
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Originally Posted by musicfan View Post
here is some testing on water hoses. The conclusion is in quotes. Hope this helps.

thanks prtuc2; i have followed your work on EggXspert in the cooling section for some time; nice job
this is correct
this is what I use:
For 3/8" tubing, the Primoflex 3/8" ID - 5/8" OD (1/8" wall) is by far the best choice for kink resistance on tight bends

only notable change i seen in there is the eheim pump is labeled extreme when the flow rate and head is exactly the same as a swiftech mcp655. i now because I owned both.
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looking to get into water cooling, send pm and/or post here. I am open for suggestion as I want to do this right.
For the pump do you have to get a specific size for the size of tubing?
Originally Posted by Sidney View Post

For the pump do you have to get a specific size for the size of tubing?
Generally do you don't. However I some pumps do come with factory tops that have barbs on them. For these pumps you will need to get tubing that fits the barbs - Actually I would probably say it is more dependent on the pump top that you buy, if you get one. the D5 and DDC pumps, usually come with them pre-installed however if you are going to mount it to a reservoir or get a custom pump top you can usually choose your fittings and therefor have any size tubing
This article gives me some basic understanding of what's out there in water cooling and some setup tips, but I really would like to have more information on how to balance water cooling system.
I.e. really how big of a radiator do I need for which CPU\GPU. I.e. with some standard other stuff (probably the most high end - water blocks on 1 CPU 1 GPU, some high end pump) - comparison of different rad sizes (i.e. 240+120 vs 360 - will that really have the same performance as one would expect; and test some common configuration to see at which size increasing radiator size will no longer give advantage). I never used custom water cooling and thinking of making one for myself (actually I plan buying a L240 kit from EK water blocks, and some time later when I get more spare money upgrading it with a GPU block and maybe another rad).

Another more specific question I have - do pumps have some performance numbers I should be looking at. I.e. fans have airflow and static pressure, pumps should have something like this too, aren't they? It would really help if they do, then you could say something "If you plan 240 rad and CPU water block, go with pump with X performance, any more throughput won't help or will harm", "For every extra 120 rad size you need Y more pump performance", "For every extra water block you need Z more pump performance".
Also I wonder what is maximum suggested loop size (i.e. if one would make 4 GPU + CPU + motherboard loop with 2x480+360 rad, won't that be better to split this system in two, i.e. 1 GPU + CPU + motherboard with 480 rad and 3xGPU with 480+360 rads).
I know I'm showing some extreme scenario here that an average overclocker wouldn't want, but in this extreme scenario the difference should be seen the best
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im already watercooling the chip but i would like to cool my gpu as well is there any waterblocks for the evga gtx 760 acx graphics card
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