Basics of Watercooling

Discussion in 'Links' started by shadow42489, Jul 15, 2004.

  1. shadow42489

    shadow42489 Active Member

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    For a while now, there’s been a need for a water-cooling thread containing some general information, so I will do my best to cover that information. One of the most common questions is “what are the best parts for a setup? This is a very sad excuse for a question, because different users require different parts for their specific needs. In this post I will cover some of the basics of water-cooling, as well as some recommendations for parts.
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    Pre-built:
    There are a few different types of setups. First, there’s pre-made kits. These kits come with a pump, radiator, reservoir, and sometimes some blocks. They can be bought already installed in a case, uninstalled but with all parts, or some companies, such as Koolance, Swiftech, thermaltake Danger Den, Innovatek, and Asetek all make pre-furbished cooling systems, these systems require little/no modding to install, and are best for users looking for quiet cooling. They are not generally the best for overclockers, but are ideal for users who are not ready to take the plunge into custom building.

    Custom:
    Second, there are custom setups. In this scenario, a person buys each part of his/her setup separately and assembles it inside their case. In order to have a complete setup, a person must purchase the following items: Pump, radiator/heater core, and water-blocks. A reservoir is used in 99% of systems, but sometimes a person will choose to run a closed system and exclude this piece. It is generally better to include one if you have the space.
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    Purchasing:
    When purchasing, it is best to investigate all possible blocks, and be sure to decide on the best for your setup. You should be careful and make sure to get blocks that are all meant for the same size tubing...this will haunt you if you don’t. Read reviews, or follow my recommendations to find the best block for you.
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    Assembly:
    After purchasing your components, you will need to assemble them. If you were not careful during your purchasing, you may have gotten water-blocks with barbs that are not meant for the same size tubing, if you wish to still use those blocks, you will need an adapter, but be warned, this is a major flow killer. When building, be sure to clamp all tubing to its barb…even if it seems tight on its barb normally, the use of the system may cause it to loosen, and fry your pc, which will make you sad. After everything is assembled and clamped, proceed to filling.
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    Filling:
    First and most importantly, BE CAREFUL. Too many a computer have been fried by someone filling carelessly or not leak testing. To fill a system, remove the cap on a reservoir, and add coolant or water. Follow manufacturers instructions for liquid, most systems are meant for distilled water. Do not listen to rumors, distilled water will still fry your pc if it leaks…distilled water is used because it will not corrode or leave chemicals inside your system. When filling, it is necessary to use anti-growth chemicals if you are not using a premixed coolant made for your system. This will prevent algae from growing inside your system…believe me, you don’t want this. You may also include some dye for that extra glamour, but most dyes do not fully dissolve and may corrode your pump over time, so many manufacturers will void your warranty is you use dyes. Once the system has been filled, run it for 24-48 hours outside of your case to be sure there are no leaks.
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    Installing:
    There isn’t much to installing, the most important thing is to make sure you do not apply to much pressure. Some blocks have a safety, but most don’t. Applying too much pressure will crack your CPU, GPU, chipset, or whatever else you are trying to install the block on. This is a VERY bad thing, so be careful. Make sure everything has enough pressure though, or else it will not cool. Also, just as with an air heatsink or fan, be sure to use thermal grease, this will ensure you get full contact and best heat transfer.
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    2 types of systems:

    Quiet pc:
    If your goal for water-cooling is to maintain health temperatures at stock or mildly overclocked speeds, you do not need the top of the line merchandise. There is no reason for you to spend hundreds upon hundred of dollars on your components, if you do not plan on pushing them to their limit. Use a single radiator, a moderately strong pump, and a few water-blocks; these do not need to be the most expensive blocks. Midrange blocks will perform fine.

    Overclocking pc:
    If you are planning on trying to squeeze all you can out of your pc, then you will need to pump your system up. Generally, for people using this setup, it is best to use a radiator that has room for 2 120mm fans. This will allow for maximum heat removal. You will want to get a pump with high flow rate and high pressure, and you will also want to research the best block for your specific CPU, GPU, or Chipset, not all blocks will work on all parts.
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    Parts:

    Water-Blocks:
    Many companies make water-blocks. The best and most reliable companies being “Danger Den” “Swiftech” “Silverprop” and “Cascade” (but these are damn hard to get) do your research, and get a block that will fit your system and matches your tubing.

    Radiators:
    Many water-cooling radiators are overpriced. If you are not too pressed for space, do not buy one. Buy a heater core instead. Two good heater cores are from the ’87 Chevette and the ’77 Bonneville. If you do need to get a radiator meant for water-cooling (also a good option for those not ready to modd) then the Black Ice extreme 2 is the best you can get. It will fit in most mid-sized cases with little or no modding.

    Reservoirs:
    The reservoir is probably the least important piece when it comes to choosing your parts. As long as your tubing fits, it will work. Reservoirs can be mounted inside a case, outside a case, and some models can be mounted in a drive bay. Reservoirs will have a fill cap to let you fill your system.

    pumps:
    Pumps are very important. Even if you have the best of everything else, if your pump is lacking, your system will fail. The most important thing to look for (other than barb size of course) is pressure and flow rate. The higher these are, the more water your system will move and the more heat can be removed. Good pump manufacturers include “Swiftech” “Eheim” and the cream of the crop, “Iwaki” some pumps may be too big for your case, these can be mounted outside of the case should the situation arise.

    Tubing:
    As much as it is overlooked, tubing can be very important. If your tubing kinks, your doomed for high temperatures or even a burn out. The best tubing is Tygon anti-kink tubing.

    Shrouds:
    Shrouds are mounts on your radiator that raise the fans away from the surface. These will remove the dead spot, and provide air current to the entire radiator.
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    Component Notes:
    Despite popular myth, the order of your blocks will make little to no difference on your temperatures, so it is best to just put them in the order that is most convenient for you. The best system order is as follows: Pump-->Blocks-->Radiator-->Resevior(can be left out to increase flow)-->Pump. Having the radiator or res right after the pump, will kill your flow rate and pressure, so always put them at the end.

    When going for best cooling effects, it is best to have air blown from outside your case over the radiator, the cooler the air, the more efficient it will be at removing heat.

    That’s all for now, I’m rather tired of typing, I’ll add more later if needed.
    I hope this helps :D
    -Shadow

    (a sticky would be swell)
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2005
  2. G L

    G L Don Juan

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    Nice job... a few additions:

    On tube size... the two most popular tube sizes are 1/2" ID and 3/8" ID. ID stands for inner-diameter, and is opposed to OD or outer diameter, the intermediary of course being the tube walls. Often 1/2" ID tubing is 3/4" OD, and 3/8" ID is 1/2" OD. Parts are generally divided by ID, but occassioanlly OD will come into play as well, mostly with clamping. Some kits come with 1/4" ID, so be aware that is also out there.

    Generally wider tubing is beneficial, as more water is delivered to the waterblock and radiator. The only downside is that wider tubing bends less easily. The solution is to get high-quality tubing, such as tygon, or to get elbow joins to make right angles, or to just use narrower tubing. Items such as clamps and elbow joints can usually be found at hardware supply stores.

    Overclockers.com has a number of good reviews on watercooling equipment. Here's one comparing water pumps:

    http://www.overclockers.com/articles723/

    Additives. Generally at least 95% should simply be distilled water, available at grocery stores. In addition, additives are used to stop corrosion, improve cooling performance and stop biological growth. Here is an excellent roundup:

    http://www.overclockers.com/tips1153/index.asp

    Another way to stop corrosion from occuring is to make sure all components are the same composition. Mixing an aluminum radiator with a copper waterblock or vice-versa can cause corrosition, and though corrosion inhibitors exist as outlined in the previous link, it is probably best just to go all-copper anyway.

    Finally, here's a ranking of various kits they have tested:

    http://www.overclockers.com/articles373/waterkit.asp

    Results are in C/W. For an explanation of that, see the second post here:

    http://forums.guru3d.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=94726
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2004
  3. rsheppick

    rsheppick Guest

    I would not agree saying that prebuilt setups arent intended for extream overclocks. I hit 270x10 on my 3200+ with my koolance on fan speed 1. Thats cooling the mcp/gpu tool.
     
  4. PhonyEye

    PhonyEye Maha Guru

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    YEPPIE! my request has been fulfilled =)
    thanks for the sticky! great work!
     

  5. G L

    G L Don Juan

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    I agree for the most part... if you look at that kit review link you'll see the Corsair Hydrocool and Koolance Exos both beat the Swiftech Q-Power, which is just a barebones that Swiftech pre-installed one of their kits in.
     
  6. PhonyEye

    PhonyEye Maha Guru

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    i know it's not very important, but i understand better if i could see a nice diagram showing what connects to what... =)
     
  7. WildStyle

    WildStyle Ancient Guru

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    Good job. :thumbup: This has been needed.
     
  8. AJ²06

    AJ²06 Ancient Guru

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    Some pics would be nice to help the "visual" people.... (myself included. I learn things better when I see pics) :D
     
  9. rsheppick

    rsheppick Guest

    That explains the stacks of playboys by your computer desk :eek:
     
  10. PhonyEye

    PhonyEye Maha Guru

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    no really... can someone add a diagram? or pictures of a ready/working watercooling system and explain what do i see? and how the flow of the water goes?
     

  11. G L

    G L Don Juan

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    Well, no diagram I'm afraid, but what watercooling essentially consists of is just a big loop with a pump, water-blocks and a radiator, maybe a resevoir to make filling it easier, connected by tubing. The pump, waterblocks, radiator and resevoir have inlets and outlets made to fit the tubing over, and then you use metal or plastic hose clamps at the ends of the tubing to keep it from leaking. Plug it in and water start circulating around. Starts at the pump, goes to the waterblocks, which are just hollow pieces of metal attached to the hotter places in your system, picks up heat, goes to the radiator, which is essentially just a bunch of metal tubing with fins attached cooled by fans, gets rid of the heat, then back to the pump to start the cycle again. A resevior may also be in the loop somewhere, but all it is is a container of water, doesn't have anything to do with cooling. The resevoir is sometimes entirely freestanding (sits on the bottom of the case), sometimes screws into 3.5" or 5.25" drive slots.

    Here's my system:

    Radiator:
    http://www.hwlabs.com/products/blackicextreme2.htm
    Pump:
    http://www.hydor.it/inglese/seltz_l.htm
    Waterblock:
    http://www.dangerden.com/mall/blocks/maze4.asp
    Tubing:
    http://www.dangerden.com/images/misc_hardware/tygr3603.pdf
    Clamps (similar):
    http://www.homedepot.com/cmc_upload/HDUS/EN_US/asset/images/eplus/402687_3.jpg

    I also have two Sunon 120 mm fans attached to the radiator that blow air through the radiator and out the case. I have a Lian-Li PC60 case. The pump sits on the bottom, with the outlet (top) going straight up to the waterblock sitting on top of the CPU. The waterblock then goes to the radiator, which I cut a hole in the top of my case to mount. Then it goes from the radiator back to the pump inlet. The tubing (and thus all the outlets/inlets) are 1/2" ID. That's pretty much it...
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2004
  12. madagent

    madagent Maha Guru

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    I wrote a thesis paper for college on CPU cooling. Included is what causes the heat, history of CPUs, heatsink cooling, water cooling, phase change cooling, designs of heatsinks and why, etc. about 20 pages, with pics and custom made diagrams of how to setup water cooling and phase change cooling.

    ..but the paper is lost. I need to contact my prof to get it back. he has the only copy. expect this up on the internet in a month or so.

    edit: i wrote it so a non computer person could read it and understand how these things are applied to everyday things from toasters to refridgerators.
     
  13. G L

    G L Don Juan

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  14. Very interestig indeedy. I have been thiking about watercooling, but in Australia, the prices are still very high for the equipment.

    If, in fact, water cooling doesn't get the cpu/water circuit below ambient temperature, then is there really any point?

    Atm, my temps average about 37-45c(full load) for the cpu(3200+), using a Coolermaster Aero-7+ heatsink, with a Thermaltake Volcano-7+ fan (works way better than the standard Aero fan) and anywhere from 16-22c for the mainboard, and 45-50 for my fx6800nu gpu, which is oc'd to 365/730..

    I think that is acceptable in the tropics, though correct me if I am wrong.

    Now as that lad said in his article, the temps through standard temperature guages on motherboards/equipment is not exactly accurate, so I could be around 3 degrees out either way, but those temps are still, I think, quite good in a non-airconditioned room.

    My question, as I said, is this:

    "Is there any point for me to go liquid cooled, besides the fact that it looks cool?"

    I would verymuch consider lc'ing the gpu before the cpu, as I am more inclined to oc the gpu than the cpu, as I have a feeling my 3200 is locked, but I haven't yet had much success finding a block to fit..

    Help, please? lol
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 25, 2004
  15. G L

    G L Don Juan

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    Well, yes, the point is keeping it closer to ambient.... and watercooling can do a pretty good job of it. If you take the best heatsink around and put a tornado on it, watercooling can give you those same sorts of results without the noise level. Of course, it will cost several times more, but still substantially less then going out and getting a prometia or something.
     

  16. I use an Antec performance plus 1080amg, and noise doesn't seem to be ann issue, even with 2 smartfans and 4 standard fans.

    After going away and thinking about what I'd written, however, I couldn't help but think that there is a substantial difference between 40c and ambient temperature; ambient here beinng around 20-28c on average for most days.

    Now to have an Athlon 3200+ running at 20-28c would be most advantageous, methinks..

    Just out of curiosity, has anyone tried the Thermaltake Aquarius 2 kit? I think that with a decent sized radiator it might not be too shabby..Feedback anyone?

    [EDIT]Ok, I just replaced the volcano 7+ smartfan to a vantec tornado, and my cpu temp under load is now a rocketing 35c..

    Noise level is up a bit, as the smartfan regulated itself to around 3500 rpm most of the time, whereas the Tornado is a straight 5700rpm at all times.

    A 5c drop in cpu temp is cool, but to do it under load is pretty impressive!! Consider the difference between my old 45c loaded cpu temp and a 35c loaded temp, and then it becomes a 10c drop..

    Madness!!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 25, 2004
  17. G L

    G L Don Juan

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    This is interesting.... It shows what happens when you take a cheapie kit and start upgrading parts:

    http://www.overclockers.com/articles1092/

    Gives you some idea of the performance delta between $100ish kits and $200ish DIY watercoolers. The only real difference between what they end up with and your typical 120 mm radiator watercooling setup is the 1/4" ID tubing, which is narrower then your average 3/8" or 1/2" ID tubing.
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2004
  18. Phoenix_Inferno

    Phoenix_Inferno Master Guru

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    ill go draw up a diagram.. but it wont be inside a case, and it might be inaccurate since im buying watercooling, but havent had it yet.....

    oh and dont laugh at my horrible MS paint skills :(

    EDIT: ok, here we go.. this should help explain stuff.

    [​IMG]

    EDIT 2: ok i better add some more details... the reservoir will store the water, the arrows are the tubing, the pump will pull water from the reservoir thru the tubing. Then the pump will push the water out of the other tube into ur water block. and since the pump is constantly pushing water, the water will keep on moving and it will go from the block to ur radiator. that is where the heat is removed from the water, then the water will return to the reservoir and... start the whole thing over again.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2004
  19. EnemyOmen

    EnemyOmen Ancient Guru

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    I like the diagram but you said you were unsure. Can anyone verify that this diagram is the Correct way to set up water cooling... or did i just missread something :p
     
  20. Phoenix_Inferno

    Phoenix_Inferno Master Guru

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    im pretty positive about that diagram. ive read up alot on watercooling. so it should be correct.
     

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