I have seen a few threads recently, asking for suggestions and advice on what water cooling components they should buy, so I thought that I would make a general guide for anyone who needs idea on what they should/should not buy...I would also like to point out that all of what I know has come from gurus on these pages so thanks to them, and also that I have a limited knowledge of h20 cooling, so feel free to correct, criticize or ignore anything I say that you don't agree with. First off I think I should explain a bit about different water cooling philosophies. There are basically two schools of thought on how water cooling systems should be set up, those that focus on high flow and those that focus on low flow. High flow systems have powerful pumps and wide tubing, whilst low flow has small tubing and weak pumps. The advantages of low flow are that you won't need expensive pumps, and the tubing is easier to deal with. However high flow systems provide better cooling so long as your pump can deal, so in this guide I’ll focus on set ups that use 1/2" ID tubing, as I feel it's the way most of you gurus should be aiming to go. So you've decided to water cool to pc. You now need to decide whether to get a pre configured kit, or a custom selection of kits from different manufacturers. The main advantage of pre configured kits is added confidence that all of what you've bought will work together, and it also sometimes proves cheaper than buying everything separately. In this little guide I’ll first look a few decent pre selected kits, and then move on to custom parts to choose from... Pre selected kit... I have decided to reorganize this section into 3 categories. They are to be based on price and I’ll try to highlight a few good kits within each price range. As always there’s room for suggestions here, and if you know of any exact kits (please don’t just suggest a manufacturer as it’s taking hours searching up the performance of every kit from a certain manufacturer) that will perform well within a certain group please inform me and I’ll add them. Can I also say right from the offset that as I explained before I reorganized this section, I do not consider low end water cooling kits a good idea for 99% of the users that buy them, as the cooling they offer is only similar to high end air coolers, and often worse whilst costing 3 to 4 times more than them. This is due mostly to the fact that a huge proportion of cooling performance depends on the heat dissipation that is possible. This is where the advantage of h20 comes in, as the water acts a fantastic conductor to transfer the heat to radiators which have a great surface area for heat dissipation. However if the radiator only includes a 120mm or smaller radiator the surface area for thermal dissipation will be no bigger than the larger hsf’s thus the reason performance is similar. (I hope I explained that ok.) For those considering the kit’s I’m about to post in the £60-£110 section may I suggest that you strongly consider high end air cooling, such as the Tuniq Tower (£40) or the Arctic Cooler Freezer Pro (£15), as it may well perform just as well without the hassles of water, and also that you consider your reasoning for going on water. In the words of XS MaxxxRacer "Crappy water will just leave you unsatisfied and angry, kind of like a cheap hooker." Having said all that there are a few where one of these kits is a decent idea. Ok so on with the guide… £0 - £110 1. Gigabyte 3d Galaxy - £70 A great looking, relatively easy to assemble kit from Gigabyte. It features all you’ll need to cool your CPU, including a 120mm fan radiator and a CPU block with added fan for mosfet cooling. Ok so this is a £70 kit, and we all know it isn’t going to perform that well. However it does succeed in cooling down your CPUs as well if not better than high end air cooling, and it looks very nice if you’re into the colour blue. One thing I don’t like about this is that all of the parts are of the same quality, making future improvements harder to decide upon. These also a Galaxy 2 out btw, which is slightly better performing, however considering it costs £40 more I don’t believe it to be worth the extra. Please correct me if I’m wrong. Oh and one last thing i'd like to mention yet again is that if you're considering buying this please look at your motives for doing so, as it won't cool better than hsfs like the Tuniq tower, but costs much more. 2. Swiftech H20-80 Micro CPU - £100 This kit was suggested to me in this thread by Copey, and I can honestly say it’s worth a mention. The kit includes Apogee Waterblock, MCP350 12Volts DC pump, MCR80-QP radiator with 80x80x25mm fan (28dBA), MCRES Micro reservoir. Ok, as you’ll later see, if you don’t already know, there are many fantastic components in there, components so good I recommend them for top of the line kits in the “custom section.” The 80mm radiator is it’s obvious weak point, and although it cools excellently with low load, when your overclocked p4s and c2ds come out it’s not going to be able to handle the heat as well as very high end air. What I really like about this kit, is that if you replace that radiator with, or just add a new radiator such as a Thermochill PA to the loop, you suddenly have a high end water cooling kit right there. So in theory the reason this kit is recommended above other kits like the Corsair COOL which perform similiarly, is because of it's nice and simple upgrade path to a mid/high end kit. However if you don't plan on upgrading your kit ever, then you might as well go with a good HSF. £110 - £160 1.Swiftech H20-220 Apex Ultra - £150 One of the best kits around for cooling your cpu, and is a decent price as well. This kit includes the Apogee GT CPU Water-block, MCR220 Radiator with fans and MCB-120 R2 "Radbox", MCP655 pump, MCRES Micro Reservoir, tubing’s, Smartcoils, Hydrx coolant, and various noise reduction accessories. These are all fantastic products recommended in the custom section. This will pretty much cool down any cpu that you can throw at it. A great overall kit for cpu cooling. 2. Reserator 1 - £123 or £170 for version 2. The Reserator is aimed at those wanting absolute silence, and should therefore not be considered a competitor with the others in this section. It’s simply not fair to compete a passive kit to an active one. This kit contains ZM-WB2 Gold cpu block, Reserator V1 radiator + pump + reservoir combo, Clip Support (ZM-CS2), Flow Indicator, and can have a VGA Water Block ZM-GWB1 as an added extra. This kit can cool pretty much any user CPU, without too much trouble. It may not be able to cool a Kentsfield or overclocked c2ds but if you wanted to cool them down you’d go for a different kit. If you’re after silence consider. I wouldn’t recommend the added vga cooler though, as I believe it will struggle to dissipate all the heat effectively enough to handle a cpu and a VGA card. 3. Petra'sTech CoolKit Elite – $250 (about £140 roughly) Now I don’t know about the availability of these kits in Europe or places other than America but WOWZERS what a kit. I mean this is a custom kit picked out by the experts at PetraTech and features D-TEK FuZion cpu block, Laing DDC-2 Pump w/Petra'sTech DDCT-01, Swiftech MCR220-QP Dual 120mm Radiator amongst other very high end components. These are amazing specs and this kit will just about outperform the Swiftech kit, whilst costing less. This is just one of many custom kits found here… http://www.petrastechshop.com/wacoki.html (Thanks for the link Wombat778) We may be returning with 1 or 2 more kits from there later… 4. Coolit Freezone - $320 (??) This is an all in one, cpu cooling kit from the experts at Coolit. It does not work in a way normal kits work, in that it has no radiator but features 6 TECs in the reservoir. This means in theory sub ambient temperatures. From the reviews i've read it looks like this kit cools the cooler running chips (single core athlons ect...) exceptionally, but struggles when running hot chips. Added to the fact that it'd be damn near impossible for most people to upgrade it's performance it's not a great idea for those considering quad cores, or highly overclocked cpus. But for those who have cool running cpus this will give you fantastic temperatures. £160+ These are the ultimate performance water cooling kits. Really at this price they should cool more than just the CPU block, and should offer nice performance even when cooling multiple components. 1. Alphacool Xtreme Pro 360 - £190 This nice kit features... Copper NexXxoS XP CPU waterblock, Laing DDC pump with Alphacool Attachment and Tank mod, 360mm NexXxoS Xtreme II Radiator with triple 120x25mm, includes Tec-Protect-Plus 500ml water additive. Looking initially it looks good. It features a triple 120mm radiator, and a highly powerful DDC pump with modded top. (You'll see that's good later if you don't already know.) The cpu block isn't as good as the Apogee gt, and it comes without gpu or chipset blocks, so factor in the added cost of these. Added to the fact that it's harder to install (larger ect...) I would have to recommend that unless you already have good blocks lying around there are other slightly better choices for the cash... 2. Swiftech H20-220 Apex Ultra+ - £210 Basically the same as the Ultra kit but with the added MCW60 gpu block and all the ram cooling you’ll need (except for the g80 series, see below) and also the MCW30 Chipset water-block. The same things apply for this kit as for the Ultra, great performance, great cooling, and very nice for the price. There’s little bad I can say about this kit. Btw if you have a g80 card you'll need to get the "g80 adaptor kit", along with a set heatsinks for the ram, as seen here... http://www.sidewindercomputers.com/mcg80adkitfo.html http://www.petrastechshop.com/swmcsmccokit.html For more info on the Swiftech H20-220 Apex Ultra+ please look here... http://www.swiftnets.com/products/H20-220-APEX-plus.asp 3. Petra'sTech CoolKit SLI Elite - $379.99 (about £210) Now this is what I’m talking about, and damn are you Americans lucky to have kits like these lying around. (Do PetraTech ship overseas?) Anyways this amazing kit features… D-TEK FuZion Universal CPU Waterblock, Swiftech MCW60 GPU Water blocks (w/Swiftech MC14 BGA RAM-sinks,) Laing DDC-2 Pump w/Petra'sTech DDCT-01 Delrin Top, Swiftech MCR320-QP Triple 120mm Radiator and other very high quality components. I mean performance really doesn’t come much better than this and this monster kit is about the same price as the Swiftech kit! My advice is that if you can actually get hold of one these kits, and can fit a triple radiator in your case, then this will cool anything you can throw at it. 4. Asetek WaterChill Xternal Water Cooling - £250 This is an all external, completely preassembled watercooling kit. It comes with very nice looking blocks for the cpu, gpu and chipset, and an all in one pump, 2x120mm radiator and reservoir (look it up if you want the names ) It's pretty much a plug and play watercooling system, requiring you only to mount it, mount blocks, and connect the hosing. It performs well, but not in the same league as the Swiftech or Petra kits we've just seen, and the price is completely ott imo. I personally don't like this kit, but if you're after good results for the minimum amount of labour then you should look this up. A few more kits will be added after I’ve had more time for research. I know the lists a little small atm and I’m missing the best kits from guys like Danger Den, Asetek and others, but more will be added soon.. The kits I’ve mentioned are good choices for a target buyer so please don’t hesitate to buy one if you’re interested. The custom Kit Some of this may be pretty much cut and pasted from other threads I’ve posted, so bear with me on it... Pump 1. Laing D5 (e.g. Swiftech MCP655 12 VDC Pump) This is a great quiet pump, with a power adjuster. 2. Laing DDC (e.g. MCP355) - A great performing, very small pump. It performs even better with a custom top, and when fitted with one, outperforms the D5. There's more info on that here... http://www.xtremesystems.org/forums/showthread.php?t=118650 This offers better performance that the D5, but after factoring in extra costs is more expensive. For the top performance it still beats the D5. 3. Iwaki MD-20 Aquarium Water pump - Based off of the certain calculations this pump offers better performance than any pump in the world. It is designed for fish tanks but has been widely adopted by the pc community due to its low heat output of 14.5-20 watts, whilst still being more powerful than 2 Laing D5s put together. The ultimate pump for the experts. Radiator 1. Thermocill PA - It's the best radiator out atm. It cools very well and isn't too restrictive. Get the largest one you can fit in you case, with suitable fans to accompany it. It works amazingly with high cfm fans, but even with quiet fans it's still the best radiator out. 2. Swiftech MCR220-QP - These position themselves directly in the middle in terms of performance between the Thermochill and the HWLABS rads. A nice looking radiator that offers a good balance between price and performance. 3. Black Ice Xtreme - Very good performance with high-power axial fan. Trouble is the Thermochill and MCR are still better. Slightly cheaper now though which is a plus. Still hard to recommend a suitable time to buy one. 4. Black Ice Pro 2/3 - For those that cannot afford the Thermochill. Performs far worse that the PAs but is much cheaper. Works decently with low cfm fans. 5. Black Ice GT Stealth - Good performance with high or low cfm fans. Decent price but there's still better vfm out there. Also the fins are very thin and easy to break or bend. 6. Heatercore - These are generally not designed for pcs, but offer many advantages that pc radiators do not. For a start they are incredibly dense giving them a larger surface area than most pc radiators, and they are also far cheaper. A shroud + high cfm fans are recommended when using heatercores. Two popular cores that are used are... 1. 86 Chevette Heater Core - This is about 6x6" cooling area, and 2inches thick. The cost is around $18.95 to $28.95 i believe. 2. 89 Camaro Heater Core is another commonly used one. It cools better but is larger with a 7x7" cooling area, and 2inches of thickness. It costs around $18.95. Of course the possible choices are almost endless. Using heatercores requires certain knowledge of modding greater than that required to use pc radiators, but using them it's entirely possible to get the maximum performance for the minimum amount of money. If you have no idea how you're going to externally mount your radiator, i suggest you consider buying a Swiftech Radbox, which allows you to mount any radiator to a 120mm fan mount. Shrouds are also a great idea. These raise the fans about an inch above the radiator and eliminate the "dead spot" found where the fans motor is. They should nock a few degrees off of anyone’s Lupe. CPU block There are two main types of cpu blocks atm. Those that are very restrictive on the water, and use technologies such as "jets" which offer great cooling when used with a powerful pump, but will lower the flow rate for other components, lowering there cooling performance, a good example of this type of block is the Swiftech Storm. There are also very unrestrictive blocks such as the Swiftech Apogee which cool very well, but don't restrict so much water. Anyways you have four main choices... 1. Swiftech Apogee / Apogee gt - Offers very good cooling performance with v low water resistance. The gt is similar to the Apogee, but designed specially for quad cores. They will be a great choice for multi block systems as they're low in resistance and are cheap. 2. Swiftech Storm - Offers better cooling for dual or single cored processors, but is slightly worse for quad/octo cores than the Apogee. Also is much more restrictive on water flow, and is more expensive. It will require a more powerful pump to be effective. For those considering a multiblock system there are better buys. 3. AquaXtreme MP-05 Pro CPU - V good but also expensive and hard to find. Offers a compromise in terms of water restiction between the Apogee and Storm. 4. D-Tek Fuzion - A very well constructed block designed for quad core Kentsfield. It’s generally considered to be a a bit better than the Apogee gt when cooling quad cores, and similiar when cooling dual cores as well. Is a great choice for those cooling quad cores, and it has a low water resistance as well. A great block for the price and probably the best option for a proportion of buyers. 5. Apogee GTX - The latest offering from Swiftech, it is a great block that matches almost exactly the Fuzion in terms of cooling on both quad and dual cores. It isn't v restrictive and looks fantastic. 6. Swiftech MCW6500-T - A brand new TEC block that's just been released. If you aren't a bit hardcore then I wouldn't bother with this block. It combines a built in 226Watt pelt, which should cool to below 0C with few problems. This block really means business! It's an all in one solution which means it won't have to assemble too much. TECs are advanced products and if you're new to them, and considering them may I suggest you read the following guides as a starting point... http://www.xtremesystems.org/forums/showthread.php?t=38367 http://forums.guru3d.com/showthread.php?t=175948 GPU block I strongly believe that people shouldn't bother with blocks that cool both the ram and gpu. They are usually 2.5x times the cost and cool less effectively, as the water is dissipated about more. They are also more restrictive. For this reason I’m going to recommend... 1. Swiftech MCW 60 - V Good cooling, relatively low restriction. (Remember if you have a g80 you'll need an adaptor kit. See what i said earlier.) 2. D-Tek FuZion GFX GPU Waterblock - Very nice block that pretty much gives the best performance for cooling your nvidia 6,7 or 8 series card, or pretty much any ati x1xxx cards. A nice block with performance which is better than that of the Swiftech or DD. 3. Danger Den Maze 4 block - Good overall block. Just below performance to the Swiftech MCW 60 and MP-1. It comes with a choice of Chrome or acetal/delrin tops. 4. EK 8800GTX/gts GPU Water cooling Block - For cooling the 8800 using a gpu only block becomes more difficult due to the extra heat output from mosfets and 12 rams ect... For this reason i'm going to recommend this lovely full block (don't comment) from EK. It won't cool as well as the other three, but after reading a few things (such as the EKs relatively cheap price)i feel it offers a more neat solution for those so inclined. They make blocks for the 8800gts and gtx but these will not work with any other card. It should also be mentioned that these are about 40% cheaper than similarly performing danger den blocks. nb For those who want to cool their g80s ram when not using a full cover block, this just became available and it looks like a nice solution... http://www.petrastechshop.com/dgfxun88e5.html I hear it'll be available at chilled PC UK soon for all those from the UK. Chipset blocks 1. Swiftech MCW30 universal chipset block - Good block, easy to fit. Has very little water resistance. 2. Silverprop Nexus SX/LX - Has better cooling than the MCW30, but is almost 2x the price, and is much more restrictive. Still a nice block if you've got plenty of spare pump power. Reservoir &/Or T line The purpose of a radiator/t line is to remove air bubbles from the piping, and also ease the process of adding the fluid to the system in the first place. I like a reservoir, but for high performance a T line is better. Anyways here are a few good rerservoirs recommended by fellow gurus... I suggest that in general people go for reservoirs that fit in nicely in there case. Got a free cd drive? Feel free to buy a cd drive reservoir. That flexibility is one of the advantages of a custom kit. Here are a few good choices... 1. EK MultiOption Tube reservoir - A very aesthetically pleasing, tube style reservoir. 2. Swiftech micro res - Great small reservoir. Suitable for those in need of space. 3. XSPC Passive Aluminium Reservoir - Good tube style reservoir that acts as a passive radiator. Tubing There are a few good main types of tubing around atm. The first, and generally considered to be the best is Tygon r3603 tubing. This is completely unreactive, bends easy and avoids kinking. The second is Clearflex tubing which is much cheaper, is harder to bend but is still good enough for most peoples use. Masterkleer tubing is also great tubing that's available for a lower price than tygon, however it should be noted it's not really very clear, and for aesthetics the Tygon rules. Fluids I generally don't like the use of "non conductive" coolants, as they're never non conductive and have worse cooling performance than plain old distilled water. So in general I'd recommend... 92-95% Distilled Water mixed with 5-8% Zerex/Valvoline Racing super coolant. Or if you can't find that Swiftech Hydrix is also a great alternative additive. Fittings You'll need jubilee clips and barbs. The barbs should convert to 1/2" ID tubing if you're following my example, and i like the nickel danger den barbs. WHAT NOT TO BUY OK, so i've now seen about 10 threads in recent weeks with "problems" that would be easily prevented if they had read what i'm about to write. OK, there are many watercooling kits that perform ****E. Anything with a single radiator you should be concerned about as it will cool no better than a cpu block that fits 120mm fans. But in general the biggest problem i've seen is caused by... 1. Thermaltake all in one kits (TT BigWater SE, TT BigWater 735ect..) - I mean I have seen literally dozens of people buy these kits, hook up their c2ds and gpus and be like "why are my temps at 50/60/90 degrees. Is my pump broken?" And i'm like "no! You just bought a f'ing bad kit. IT CAN'T HANDLE THE HEAT." (Then i feel bad) Besides the fact that it uses a pointlessly small and bad 120mm radiator, they are of bad quality and i've seen many posts in which they leak. Even the ones that use 3x120mm fans perform worse than the kit's i've already mentioned. So to summarise in general avoid Thermaltake water cooling as it's BAD. (There may be one or two exceptions but overall it's pretty shoddy. I don't mean to upset or be unpleasant to the people who have TT kit's but I’m just trying to save people buying from problems. ) 2. (Accurately Suggested by Morbias) - XSPC Pumps - These are very bad pumps. They do not offer good performance and as Morbias says "The impeller shaft is made from a poor quality plastic which wears down and will see your pump start eating itself within 4 months of use." Avoid at your own peril gurus. 3. Fluid XP - I need to do more research into this, but the dangers of fluid xp seem more evident every time i research it. It is said to leave green residue in the block lowering performance, and is ridiculously expensive. Added to the fact that it's not non conductive means i'd have to recommend people stay away from it. Other Sources I suggest if you're new to h20 cooling you read these guides... http://www.xtremesystems.org/forums/showthread.php?t=54331 http://www.xtremesystems.org/forums/showthread.php?t=119699 http://forums.guru3d.com/showthread.php?t=96668 Reputable h20 dealers UK www.specialtech.co.uk - Good selection, great service. www.vadim.co.uk - Good website, nice goods, nothing bad to say. www.scan.co.uk - Limited selection, great service. www.tekheads.co.uk - Huge selection of certain items. Fairly reputable. http://www.coolercases.co.uk/ http://www.chillblast.com/ http://www.watercoolingshop.com/ http://www.thecoolingshop.com/ http://www.candccentral.co.uk/ http://www.overclock.co.uk/ http://www.watercoolinguk.co.uk/ http://store.over-clock.com/ http://www.leftclicks.co.uk/ http://www.rigbits.co.uk/ US http://www.petrastechshop.com/ http://www.jab-tech.com/ http://www.performance-pcs.com/catal...ca8818c485c226 http://www.svc.com/ http://www.sidewindercomputers.com/ Worldwide www.frozencpu.com www.chillblast.com (Thanks gurus for the additions) I will add more dealers from the UK and other places when people recommend them to me. I think that's everything. I hope this guide helps someone. So long as 1 person learns one thing i'll be more than happy. Please feel free to post opinions (positive or negative) on what you've read and correct me on any mistakes. Apologies for any spelling errors.