Should I liquid cool?

I will be building a new Core2Duo-based rig in the beginning of November when nVidia 590 (or whatever they're calling it now) and G80 are released.

I have been interested in building a liquid cooled solution for some time now. While I am not at all new to building PC's (my first was a 386 DX...), I am, admittedly, quite noob at liquid cooling. My questions goes to those who have had some experience with this.

1. What would be a good all-included starter kit and case? (I know a lot will say DIY, but I want to start off easy)
2. How much of a temp difference will I see over good air cooling?
3. Is the possible pain in the a$$/benefit ratio worth it?

21 answers Last reply
More about should liquid cool
  1. I have had the Bigwater SE, and now have the ThermalTake's BigWater 745 system, around $150 give or take...
    It comes with a dual radiator plus another single radiator, and all other hardware needed...

    I am running mine with just the dual radiator installed and idle temps are around 30C, and using Johnnie Lee's Orthos dual core torture test of my Opteron 175 at 2.64GHz max temp hits 39C to 41C tops...

    I highly recomend the TT BW 745 as an excellent quality starter cooling setup, irregardless of the low price...
  2. Quote:
    I have had the Bigwater SE, and now have the ThermalTake's BigWater 745 system, around $150 give or take...
    It comes with a dual radiator plus another single radiator, and all other hardware needed...

    And would you say it's high-maintenance?

    Also, does the power hook up to your PSU or is it external?
  3. I think that, just based on the initial reports of the G80 (Nvidia) and the 600 series (ATI) GPUs, that it would benefit an enthusiast more to water cool than to rely on air cooling. That being said, I think that cooling the GPU is going to be every bit as important as cooling the CPU for someone who wants to maintain an overall cool system because GPUs may surpass CPUs as the greatest source of heat in a system, based on stock specifications.

    Water is a much better medium for heat transfer than air. In even a cooling solution, you should see a marked improvement over any air cooling. Now, I realize that I am a proponent of DIY. Quite simply, it does offer the best results. However, I'd be remiss if I said I started out that way. In fact, my first kits were the Aquagate mini r80 and r120s. I graduated to the Corsair Cool. In that vein, I think that what RichPLS recommended makes sense as a way to introduce yourself to water cooling. It gives you a much more guided approach as far as "getting your feet wet" as a beginner, while also benefitting you in that the BigWater 745 will provide you with good results. This way, you can gain useful experience in water cooling and graduate to higher water cooling forms in the future.

    Water cooling in of itself, is a labor of love. Initially, it is a bit more troublesome than simply slapping on a HSF combo. However, once you've gotten over the initial scare of "Hey, I've got water running all through a highly complex electrically charged gadget" - you'll love what it can do for you. It is definitely worth it. I've been into the DIY scene for water cooling for almost 2 1/2 years now and I have loved every minute of it.

    Once you've got a cooling loop created and properly running, it will take care of itself. Any maintenance need will be minimal - such as adding of more coolant after a few months due to evaporation. Once you've got the kit running, everything else is ...painless.
  4. Whatever you decide, it is a good idea to also purchase and additional bottle of coolant, since what they include is just enough for one filling.
  5. Thanks for the advice - I'm definitely leaning towards liquid now. One more question (requirement really) I should have mentioned in the beginning:

    I am planning on running two 8800 GTS's in SLI. Now, I know Nvidia has hinted at an 800W psu for SLI. I'm betting this is overkill since 1. Nvidia usually overestimates requirements and 2. "800W" is probably the recommendation for 2 8800 GTX's (not GTS). I will have an OCZ GameXtream 700W in my new rig.

    Question is, how much power draw should I expect from the Bigwater (I can't find these specs ANYWHERE)? Also, would there be an alternative liquid cooler that has an external feed?

    Thanks again
  6. Its a PAIN and a time consuming..... leak tests, bacterial growth in the water etc etc.

    It IS worth it if you can OC your rig like a crazy mad man....

    But in general the total amout of money you spend on water cooling will be more than the best conroe chip money can buy.

    I would recomend you look at a swiftec kit. Everythink is included rad res tubes, water block etc etc. its got instructions its semi do it your self style and gives decent preformance.

    If you go for cheap and nasty kits.... the preformance gains are not worth your time and in some cases the best air cooling HSFs will beat your crappy water cooling setup.
  7. It all depends on which system you get. My first was a cooler master aquamate which was a nightmare to install as well as it leaked...however I mounted it internally. If you do buy one I would highly recommend an external one. The zalmans get really bad reviews however I have never owned one. My favorite one that I have used is the corsair nautilus 500. It was $150 on newegg. It literaly took less than twenty minutes to install it on a socket 939. Before I used it my idle was about 54c and load was 60c. Now my idle is 38c and load is 44c. I could not be happier with it. Also I would buy some non conductive cooling solution as apposed to distilled water. There is no sense in taking that chace should it ever leak. Also buy it from a local retailer if you can so that you can take it back easier should you decide you dont like it. But I would definately give it a shot.
  8. I am in the same situation, I've got my C2D OC'ed but its really hot that I can't OC it more...I've never liquid cooled before and am getting ready to take the leap. I read so-so reviews on the Nautilus in that its kind of loud, and the cooling is 'egh'. The Corsair Coolwater go great reviews and its only $160 from ZipZoomFly. Its internal, but also easy to install. I heard mixed things on the Thermaltake sets.
  9. Another issue I have been considering is power. I am pretty set on the Bigwater 745 now, but am worried that it may push me over the power limit for my PSU. How much power does a kit like this suck?

    I will have the following specs in my new rig:

    C2D 6600 (lightly OC'd)
    2gb Corsair PC6400
    2x 250 HD SATA RAID 0
    2x 8800 GTS SLI

    700W OCZ GameXstream PSU

    I know... I'm guesstimating on the power req's for the 8800 GTS. nVidia has already leaked that there is a recommended 800W for 8800, but I'm betting this is generous and for 2 GTX's (not 2 GTS's).

    I really don't want to have to buy a new PSU if possible (I already have the OCZ). Are there other liquid coolers that take external power?
  10. 700W?!?!?! That'll power like 5 pumps. Don't worry, you've got plenty o' damn power.
  11. I am not sure exactly, but would guess not more than 10 or 15 watts... including the 120mm fans included with kit...
  12. You should be good with your psu in handling the pump for the water cooling system. I have 600watts psu and handled SLI rig with 3 drives and a powerful pump. The Big Water is a good kit from what I heard. But it's always good to go DIY setup if you want a bit more performance and willing to spend more money for it.
  13. if you guys dont mind me jumping in...

    i plan a C2D 6800 and an 8800. i dont plan to overclock anything (yet)

    will air cooling (with a better heatsink and quiet fans like silenx) or water cooling be quieter in:

    1. idle
    2. full


    i want to go a quieter route, at least when under small loads
  14. There's no doubt that the air cooling solutions that exist now are a vast improvement over what was available in the past, and I believe that in most circumstances water cooling doesn't make sense given both the extra cost and (more importantly) the potential complications.

    I have a core 2 duo E6600 overclocked to 3.4 Ghz using a Scythe Ninja Plus in an Antec P180 case, and the computer is so quiet you really can't hear it. Further, the processor temperature is always low, around 40 degrees.

    I haven't tried overclocking it more, but I think that the limiting factor will be FSB speed, and it is questionable whether better cooling will have any effect on this.

    The only caveat to this is that water cooling might become desirable with the top of the line DX10 cards when they come out.
  15. Ive got a Thermal Take Big Water SE, the smaller one with the single rad and i really like it. it was my first liquid cooling setup and i recomend it to people because of its simplicity. although i have heard the pumps are weak, i havent had any problems with mine. but the spill proof connectors are really nice and easy to hook up. i think its a really good kit for people to start out on because it does not leak easy, and install is very easy.
  16. While I am a proponent of water cooling, I would only recommend it for people who had a specific need or desire in which water cooling would provide a substantial advantage. With the proper equipment, there is no way that air cooling could be water cooling in temps or quietness -

    I said proper, not cheap.....

    That being said, if you don't plan on overclocking and are only concerned with temps at minimal load, I am certain that there are air cooling solutions that could provide you with what you want. I say this because water cooling would require a substantial investment (anywhere from $150 - $400) depending on your goals and if you were to go with a kit or Do-It-Yourself.

    Until you are ready for an investment of that range, you could do well enough with air cooling.
  17. I had water, and just switched to air. its quieter and unless your overvolting like mad, good heatpipe air cooler(like si-128 ), will cool almost as good. Plus the 120mm fan is sucking in out-of-case air and blowing straight down on the motherboard vrm,chipset,mem... that's worth something.

    I put an hr-03 on the video card (x1900xt 512), it is silent and cools the mem and vrm as well.

    I went from 32/36 to 32/42 on my e6400@3.2Ghz, a few degrees warmer but running pc6400 1:1 was the target I was going for. I lost the pump noise, all the hoses+radiator+resevoir+case fan.

    Water is something fun to experiment with, and its required if you are going to put 1.5+v to your c2d, or a pelt... but at 1/5-2x the price of high end air, it really isnt worth it. Because remember your radiator and the heatpipe cooler probably are going to use the same 120mm fan :)
  18. yep I agree with wimcle, the BEST air cooling setup will still beat the worst water cooling set up.

    To get the BEST water cooling your talking about a lot of $$ and after buyin all that stuff and goin to that much trouble you may just decide to go vapor chill instead...
  19. I've been eyeing water cooling for a while now, but I wont do it for some time, since I'm quite happy with 2.61 with my zalman, but the temps are at 51 at load, so I won't be going any farther anytime soon.

    There have been a few things about water cooling which I have concerns about though (the putting together part isn't a concern).

    1. Portability.

    This is a big one for me, since I like to go to lans. Seeing as I just went to a lan a few days ago, the first one for this rig, I must say that this thing is freaking heavy already. Also, since I don't have a car, I had to rely on other people and pubic transportaion, and it was not fun (the lan was but the travelling wasn't) I'm not sure if I want to add an extra a lot of pounds onto that load.

    2. expensivity, or however you say it.

    Soon my job will be out for the season so I'll have to scrape my 17 year old highschooler arse for money just to do stuff, I won't be able to buy stuff for a while now unless I really feel like taking that job.

    I do have some knowlege that others may not have, and know a few people who are a bit more than adept at water cooling, like the fact that it is so much cheaper and more effective to go down to the hardware store and buy a 6 inch heatercore, and a 140mm fan, build yourself a simple shroud and something to hold it, than it is to do a triple 120mm rad thingy. One of my friends has said thing, and he's got his 3700+ to 3.1GHz at 33C load temps.

    Another thing that would save a few dollars is a custom reservoir, made out of a square nalgene bottle. It's cheap, it's effective, and you can run it over with your car and it will not break!

    3. Inside-my-case-ility

    I do not want some big monstrosity hanging out of my case to ugly things up. I'd like things to be all internal, but I'm not sure if it is feasible (I do know it's possible). I have an Antec P180B, and if I take out my lower HD cage, then I can fit in a 6 inch rad quite nicely, but to fit the pump and reservoir I'm going to have to take out my upper hd cage, which isn't too big of a deal since I only have one hard drive, but I'd like to still keep it in there. There are a few limitations which I'm going to have to iron out, as well as ask you guys for some help, but I do want to build this one day.

    I'm also gonna have to look at what kind of pump I'm going to want to get IE: a pump that plugs into psu, a 12v pump that plugs into wall that is/isn't connected to psu for when to turn on, a 120v external pump w/ w/o psu mod. I'm looking into which will offer the greatest benefits, compared to the expensivity and the amount of modding of my case, my powersupply and the actual pump will be.

    I dunno, it was just kind of a really big ramble.
  20. You can do water cooling on the cheap

    Fish tank pumps, a million miles of copper tubes for a rad, coke bottles as a res etc etc.

    If your are scratching to find funds dont go down the water cooling path
  21. I completely understand where you are comming from. I have owned at 5 starter kits, corsair natilus 500, coolermaster aquamate mini, coolermaster aquagate all in one, etc. They all work too a degree. But I will say that in retrospect they were a waste of money. I eventually found myself upgrading parts until it was almost a brand new system. But should you decide to go with a pre built system that is still way better than air cooling.

    I would check out and read the stickies by maxxxracer before you buy anything, he definately knows what he is talking about. I cant empathize with you enough about the DIY, it will seem very overwhelming and way too confusing. But once you build one there is a sense of pride and acomplishment that comes with building it and it was not a hard as I thought it would be. It was very enjoyable actually.

    I would call petra's tech shop in california. They have great pricing, customer service, and FAST shipping. Just tell them what you are trying to acomplish and they will be more than happy to help you. Their website is

    I have ordered all of my components from them and could not be happier. They have all in ones as well as DIY systems.

    No matter what though do not order from they easily have the highest prices around. But they do have great customer service.
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