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Thread: The Beginners Watercooling FAQ

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    Xtreme X.I.P. MaxxxRacer's Avatar
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    The Beginners Watercooling FAQ

    The Beginners Watercooling FAQ

    This FAQ was created for all begginers, and for those that are just too lazy to read the stickies or do some searching. It's a compilation of some of the most usual responses from experienced members, answering each question that keep showing up:

    01) There is just too much information to deal with on these guides!!! Blocks, pumps, rads, barbs, reservoirs...damn...this is no joke.. I am affraid I won't be able to build a decent kit on my own. And I keep hearing bad things from pre-built kits.. Is water cooling still possible for me? I just want a silent, yet properly cooled, xtremelly overclocked system!

    posted by seufar: I would definately suggest you try watercooling if you are interested...I would stay away from the prebuilt kits and go for a nice selection of parts from the recommendations of the forum members here... They should be able to hook you up with something.

    posted by Vandread: Read the faqs/guides etc!

    02) I just found the nicest water cooling kit, and best of all its manucfactured by ___________!! Not only that... It has 2 radiators, and its EXTERNAL...which means NO LEAKS!! And it costs only ______!!! Would it be a good place to start on water cooling?

    posted by mhorgel: The best waterblocks, radiators, and pumps are not made by the same company, so any kit you get sacrifices when it comes to at least 1 of the critical components. I have done the kit, and the custom route, and it is a lot more fun and rewarding to do a custom job. I understand that if you are new to watercooling that the myriad of waterblocks, radiators, tubing, barbs, pumps, reservoirs, and fittings can be intimidating. But just read the posts around here, don't be afraid to ask questions, don't be afraid to mess up (it's really hard to kill your CPU, believe me I tried!), and have fun.

    posted by SiGfever: A great deal of cost when watercooling is incurred when you realize that what you bought is either not right for your setup or does not give you the performance that you had hoped for causing you to have to buy new parts. Read the stickies, do the research and then come back. There are soooooo many talented people on this forum that will be glad to help you make an informed decision. I know that the desire sometimes overrides our better judgment causing us to jump into the game before we truly understand the rules.

    posted by Holst: Another point is that watercooling will last forever... You can buy this stuff now and still be using it in 5 years time. Considering that nothing else (bar case) is going to last that long its a good investment in your hobby.

    posted by thunderstruck!: Never rush with water! Please read the stickies before you invest money into watercooling. Most of the money spent on watercooling is due to upgrades after someone purchases a premade kit with little knowledge about it.

    posted by Alchemy1: If you are going to do it go all the way. Trust me you will only be on a constant road of upgrade after upgrade and in the end you will have spent more money. That is one thing I have learned about this hobby.

    03) What Type of Water Should I Use?

    posted by MaxxxRacer: The only coolant I reccomend is distilled water. It has the best cooling properties short of exotic fluids created by 3m (cost upwards of 1000 dollars to fill your system), has relatively low conductivity compared to regular tap water, and is cheap. There is NO need for all of those so-called non-conductive fluids as NONE of them actually are non-conductive. They have moderately higher resistance than distilled water, but will still dammage sensitive electronics.

    04) I was wondering what the experts thought would make the best coolant?

    posted by Marci: 1 drop of Spectrus (biocide) + 1 drop of Continuum (corrosion inhibitor) + 1.5oz glycerine (raises water's thermal conductivity co-efficient) to a litre of distilled water according to Hound53. If you can't get that, then Zerex at 5%.

    05) I have no skills with any tool other then a screwdriver, and I don't want to mod my case. Is water cooling still possible for people like me?

    Yes. Given a proper sized case, you can have your water cooler kit without any modifications made to the case. Have a look at the Water Cooled Case Galery for some inspiration!

    posted by MaxxxRacer: Yes, but depending on what you would like to do it might cost a bit more than if you were to modifiy your current case or a cheaper case on your own. There are really only two solutions that I would suggest for those who do not want to modify a case on their own. The first would be to order a case from a retailer that does case modifications. I use an Antec P-180 modified by Performance-PCS for watercooling and it works great. The second option is to buy a case designed for watercooling. Two such cases come to mind. The Mountain Mods U2-UFO and the Gigabyte Aurora.

    06) Is there a list of reccomended computer cases that are better suited for water cooling?

    posted by marauder16: the choice of a case very much depends on taste, and basically in any bigger case you can place a loop if modded properly, so it would be hard to make a list of cases like that so everybody finds something for them.

    posted by MaxxxRacer: There are a few cases such as the Mountain Mods U2-UFO which work with the thermochill PA/HE120.3 without modification or the Gigabyte Aurora, but in general any large case will work well. The main thing to consider is the radiator placement. If you can easily fit the radiator into the case then the rest should be relatively easy.

    07) I sometimes go to lan parties, or have to move my PC to other places. Can I move a water cooled PC without draining it?

    posted by Nicks: Watercooling & case transportation is fine as it is a 100% air tight loop. I've transported my case many times.

    posted by Iceman: Transporting PC's always has its dangers be it cooled with air/water or phase - aslong as your carefull and everything is tied down you should be ok. I wouldn't however plan on mounting anything externally as this will more than likely get damaged i.e no plexi reservoirs, external rads

    08) I live in _________ and I can't find water cooling parts in local stores. Can you reccomend any stores that will ship to my country?

    read here MaxxxRacers Guide to Online WaterCooling Stores

    09) What is the most popular tubbing on high performance systems?

    posted by thunderstruck!: Masterkleer PVC Tubing 7/16" Id, 5/8" Od, 3/32" Wall Thickness. Part No. 5233K44 at mcmaster-carr. Pretty much the standard now.

    posted by nikhsub1: People use Masterkleer, Clearflex, Tygon and Primoflex mostly.

    10) How loud is a triple radiator water cooling set up? What is the noise of an single DC pump? Would water cooling reduce the ambient temperature in my room?

    posted by creidiki: Its as quiet as the fans you put on the rad. Room still gets just as hot. Pump is dead silent if you decouple it properly - ie, sit it on some foam.

    posted by MaxxxRacer: Depending on the fans you put on the radiator a tripple radiator can be dead silent or mind blowingly loud. A single DC Pump can vary between near silent to relatively noisy depending on the model and how you mount it. Check out The Pumps Guide for more info on the pumps. Watercooling will NOT reduce the temperature of your room, but rather raise it very minutely. With a VERY large pump the temperature increase may become noticeable but in with a standard watercooling setup the ambient temperature will not noticeably change.

    11) How should the water flow in my loop? Pump -> Radiator -> Chipset 1 & 2 -> GPU 1 & 2 -> Reservoir? or _________________?????

    posted by Atomicpineapple: Loop order makes no difference as long as your resevoir/tline is before your pump. Overall water temp difference around a well balanced WC loop is less than 1 Deg C.

    posted by MaxxxRacer: Loop order is something that almost always confused people that are new to watercooling. So here is a general rule to follow. Pump>Radiator>CPU>GPU(if implemented)>NB(if implemented)>Reservoir. This is the most efficient way of setting up your system. But there are a few exceptions to this general rule. First, is that it is generally better to have the shortest amount of tubing with the least amount of bends in it. So that means if it takes a lot of tubing or some 90 degree bends to get the loop order that I just suggested, don’t do it. Figure out a way to have it where these bends and extra tubing are not need. But there is one rule of order that you must never break. That is to have the reservoir right before the pump. If you do not follow this rule it will guaranteed hurt the performance of the system and cause the pump to be starved for water. One more thing to keep in mind is to NEVER use 90 degree bent barbs in your system. They are absolute and total flow killers. Using them will most surely hurt your performance.

    12) I am on a limited budget. I was thinking of getting a really nice CPU block + the best GPU block I can find and maybe a _______ single radiator?

    posted by creidiki: Mmmm.. empyrical evidence would nod towards the idea that youre better off going for a cheaper block (MP-1 CPU, a nice AquaExtreme-built WhiteWater, heck, go apogee) and investing in rad/pump, if youre budget limited.

    posted by thunderstruck!: If money is an issue, you should invest it in the right things. Like crediki said, a cheap mp-05 (new or used) with a great pump and rad (let's face it, pumps and rads are around for longer, and now with petra's top, the pump is near perfect) would be a better investment. You should at least get an MCR220 radiator. But if you think about it, in the long road you will want a Thermochill PA120.2/3 and will toss out the $45 you spent on the MCR220. Petty upgrades will cost a lot more in the long run than buying a good performing part in the beginning. Most of the money spent on watercooling is wasted on upgrades. That's why you should save up and do it right the first go-around.

    13) Is it better to use the fans in pull or push mode? or both?

    posted by MaxxxRacer: This has been a hotly contested subject, but there are a few general rules that up to now have worked. With thinner radiators (such as the Black Ice Pro) pushing works better. With thicker radiators pulling works better. The performance differential is not great but there is some performance gain to be had. Running fans on both sides of the radiator will gain you an airflow increase equivalent to a single sided fan setup with fans rated at 50% higher airflow than your current fans. The realworld temperature gains are usually very low unless VERY low CFM fans are used, but the gains are there.

    14) In general how big is the risk of this thing leaking and killing my hardware?

    posted by MaxxxRacer:In a properly sealed system that is not moved around alot the risk is incredibly low. There is always a possibility of leaks (Murphy's Law) but if you take the proper precautions and follow the instructions I provide in the Guide To WaterCooling and Leak Testing the risk will be minimized. Futhermore if you use the coolant I suggest (Distilled water with a small amount of zerex or biocide), even if there is a leak the system will most likely not be permanently dammaged by the leak. I have personal experience with this, where my 939 Opterons Socket was soaked in water while running for atleast 30minutes.

    15) How often does it need maintenance? Do I just add more fluid?

    posted by MaxxxRacer: In a properly setup watercooling loop little to no maintenance is required. For example, in my nearly airtight sealed loop I have not touched it for over 6 months, not even to add water. There will always be some water evaporation through the plastics and metals of the system, but this is minimal. On the other hand if you are running an unsealed system, you will have to add water on a regular basis. Some uses have reported having to add water every week to keep the system filled. With regards to cleaning, as long as you clean the system properly the first time it should have little to no particulates in the water other than the common white haze that plagues all watercoolers. This means that you dont really ever need to clean it unless you start to see something unusual happen such as algae growth.

    16) What can I use to prevent tube kinks?

    posted by MaxxxRacer: First and foremost you should try to route your tubing in such a way that you will not need to use devices to stop kinking from happening. But there are situations in which this is not feasable. In that case there are a few methos we use to stop kinks. The first method i suggest is the Swiftech SmartCoils which wrap around the tubing to prevent kinks. They work well and do not restrict the flow of water like some other methods. If you want to save some money you can try putting zip ties around the kinks. This will work but its not a very attractive option and they may slip causing the kink to come back. Another method is to use 45 and 90 degree barbs. I recommend you try all other methods before resorting to these as they do restrict flow quite a bit. If you must use this method I suggest choosing oversized barbs to reduce the tube-to-fitting transition turbulence and the internal resistance of the actual fitting. For an extensive selection of barbs check out McMaster-Carr.

    17) Does it make sense to have the most important block right after the pump so that it gets higher pressure

    Simply put, NO. The reason for this is that the water pressure inside of the block does NOT matter. As the water passes through each item in the loop (after it leaves the pump) the water pressure drops but the flow remains the same, and it is the flow that matters. What should be considered in loop order is the temperature of the water. Idealy you want the coolest water going into the most important block (usually the CPU block.) To achieve this place the radiator right before the important block in the loop order. This rule can be ignored with pumps that have low enough heat outputs that the water temperature does not change noticeably as it passes through it.

    ================================================== ================================================== =============

    A VERY Special Thanks Goes Out To These Members for Their Contribution To This Guide: hoax, marauder16, and SiGfever as well as all of those quoted in the questions.

    If you would like to contribute to the FAQ or feel that any information in the FAQ is inaccurate please contact me (MaxxxRacer) via PM or email at maxxxracer at hotmail d0t com. Thankyou for taking the time to read this guide and Enjoy your time at XtremeSystems Inc.
    Last edited by MaxxxRacer; 10-16-2006 at 08:45 PM.

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