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Watercooling Guide

  Why choose watercooling?


Watercooling can be significantly quieter than air cooling, as a full system will only require a few fans.
Watercooling can help you to overclock to a much greater extent by increasing the maximum voltage increase you can safely put on your processor through reducing temperatures by tens of degrees over the best air coolers.
Watercooling can increase the lifespan of your components even if you are not overclocking by keeping them at a much lower temperature.
Watercooling can reduce the power requirements of a system slightly, as not only are there fewer fans, but a cooler processor uses less power.
Watercooling kit is some of the most durable and least depreciating part of any new build, as only waterblocks really need to be replaced in most upgrades, even then only if the socket type has changed
Watercooling makes your system much quieter than a normal heatsink and fan, usually the only thing you hear are the HDD's
Watercooling looks COOL! but then we're biased :)

 Why not choose watercooling?


It is possible if things go very wrong to damage other system components, and in some cases removing a stock cooler from say a Graphics card, this can Void your warranty.
It often requires a greater knowledge of DIY, somewhat akin to basic case modding (unless you buy a case designed to accommodate the radiators)

 What bits do I need?


The basics..

Firstly, you need to know what comprises a watercooling loop, and what purpose each of these serve..

Waterblocks:
These sit where your heatsink fan assemblies are at the moment.
Radiator:
This acts as the heat loss component, acting in a similar way as household or car radiators.
Pumps:
This moves the fluid around the system.
Reservoir or Fill Port:
These serve as points to fill your system from.
Tubing:
This carries the fluid about the place and stops everything getting very sticky / electrocuted.
Fluids:
This can be anything from distilled water mixtures or a pre-mixed coolant with additives

 Isn’t it dangerous?


As everyone knows, having a lot of fluid in a case is a bad idea, because if it leaks components will short circuit. This will usually render them inoperable. Wrong!

There are two possibilities:
You fill your loop with distilled water or another conductive fluid. Yes, you say, it is watercooling after all. No, The only benefit of using water is; it is chea…no, its not that. Once you have bought all the required additives its quite expensive. It must be a better heat transfer flui…no, its not that either, its actually only 0.2¬0C better than an alternative at full load. That settles, there is no logical reason to use water.

Therefore you do the intelligent thing and buy a different fluid, which is non-conductive, non-corrosive, prevents growth of algae, is brilliantly cheap and is very efficient at moving heat. I.e. you buy XSPC EC6. There are other fluids such as this that are also very good, but tend to be more expensive.

The DIY aspect of case modding is avoidable with the right case purchase, but often personal preference chooses the case and you have to figure something out specifically for it. Be warned, if not using pre-made fan holes, you will need a jig saw and drill to mount the radiator internally. It is sensible to wear goggles and gloves when cutting aluminium / steel. However, don’t be put off by the difficulty of the procedure as it is quite easy with a bit of care.

 OK you’ve convinced me, but how much does it cost?


The quick answer is; it can be expensive, much more so than a decent quality air cooler. But it doesn’t have to be over the top expensive. There are some options for a basic CPU cooling loop in the form of kits from companies like CoolerMaster and Corsair. These wont offer anywhere near the performance of a top class watercooling loop, but will still be a big jump in both performance and noise levels (down, that is, for noise). These kits that are worth having start at about £90-100

If you want to go for all out performance though, with multiple loops and the best equipment you can spend upwards of £450. This is usually excessive, and only required in hyper systems with multiple overclocked graphics cards.

A happy medium for the best quality kit in a single loop for just a CPU will come in at about £150-200. Add another £60-80 for cooling a graphics card as well.

 Alright, now I know a rough estimate of the cost, where are some example specs?


Well my demanding friend, I shall now lay out some of my personal ideas for a range of budgets. First though I must stress that it is very rare for a case with built in watercooling to be any good at all. They are a cheap price for a reason. Most will at best match a good air cooler, so you a really paying for the prestige of the type of cooling. Here are some better options:

Low end: £50-100~
For this, it is a good idea to go for a pre-assembled kit:

Corsair Hydro H60 Series Watercooler
Zalman Reserator 3 Max - Single Watercooler
Silverstone SST Tundra TD03 120mm Watercooler
Enermax ELC240-TB 240mm Complete Watercooler

Please bear in mind that the above few are only as good as the best Air Coolers, AIO Watercoolers are much quieter but with the drawback of not being expandable.

Middle range: £100-150~
There are a few options here, a self assembled kit or a pre-assembled one as before:

Silverstone SST Tundra TD02 240mm Watercooler
XSPC RayStorm 750 EX120 Starter WaterCooling Kit
XSPC RayStorm 750 EX240 WaterCooling Kit
Alphacool NexXxoS Cool Answer 360 LT/ST - Full Kit

For Silence:
Raijintek Triton 240mm Watercooling System

High end: £150-350~
Again there are a few options. Many kits fall in this price range, and nowadays you have a great selection to choose from.

XSPC RayStorm 750 AX240 WaterCooling Kit
EK Water Blocks EK-240 KIT H3O HFX
Alphacool NexXxoS Cool Answer 480 DDC/XT - Full Kit
XSPC RayStorm D5 Photon AX240 WaterCooling Kit
Alphacool NexXxoS Cool Answer 360 LT/ST - Full Kit
XSPC RayStorm D5 EX360 WaterCooling Kit
XSPC RayStorm Twin D5 AX360 WaterCooling Kit

For Ultra Performance:
XSPC RayStorm D5 EX360 WaterCooling Kit

Custom Setup: £450+

This depends very much on which graphics card you have, as the waterblocks are specific to the reference design of the individual card. Below details a setup made up of parts not available in kits and are well worth checking out, example setup uses an Intel Socket 2011 CPU and an Nvidia Titan 780Ti.

EK Water Blocks EK-Supremacy Elite - Intel 2011 - Current high performance CPU Waterblock
XSPC Full Cover Razor GTX 980 Waterblock - Best selling Full Cover VGA block of 2014
12V Alphacool Laing D5 Vario Pump VPP655 -T12 - Variable Laing/Xylem D5, current best pump
Bitspower Water Tank Z-Multi-250mm - Red Ice - Red theme Cylinder Reservoir
XSPC RX360 Triple Fan Radiator V3 - Black- Current best performance Radiator 2014
BitFenix Spectre PRO 120mm Red LED Fan - Black -
Red theme, quiet fans x3
Monsoon 16/11mm (ID 7/16 OD 5/8) Free Center Compression Fitting - Red -
Red theme custom fittings x8
Primochill PrimoFlex LRT Advanced hose 16/11 mm - Bloodshed Red, 1m

Phobya ZuperZero Clear 1000ml - Coolant with Anti Microbial solution pre-mixed

Total: £510~ including delivery
There are hundreds of combinations available, but the setup above shows an example of high performance Watercooling parts which are current best sellers and current best performers in recent reviews.

This concludes our basic overview of PC Watercooling for now, if you require any further information the best place to find this is on our Forums where there is a wealth of information available to you, don't forget you can always Contact Us as well if you need help choosing components or you simply aren't sure what fits your gear.

Credits: Indiana - buildyourown.org | Rob* - WatercoolingUK

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