Building a Liquid Cooling System

Well, I've finally realized that my fan setup still isn't doing the job. I have five 120mm fans in my Thermaltake Shark, but CPU temps on my e4400 overclocked to 3.0ghz are still idling at 40-45C and 65-70C load on a bolt modded Scythe Infinity.
It's not so much that the temps are worrying me, it's the noise that's really getting on my nerves now. So, I am eager to building a nice liquid cooling system for ~$200 or less.

Basically I'll be cooling my CPU and GPU (8800GTS), but probably not my hard drive.

I was wondering, could someone build me a wishlist of all the parts needed to build a ~$200 liquid cooling system? The only thing that I don't want is one of those huge external radiators; one 120mm radiator will have to do (if those apply).

Thanks a million for the help.
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  1. a single 120mm rad won't do for what you are wanting to achieve - especially since you o'clock - very minimum you'll need a dual 120mm rad.

    Also, finding good cooling parts for a loop that will include a cpu & gpu waterblock will be difficult for $200 - the pump alone will cost you upwards of $60 or more alone.
  2. What you will find is that phreejack is telling the truth if you are looking for ready-built parts and aren't looking at doing too much mod work on your own. If you do have some aptitude, you can use a car heater core instead of an optimized computer water cooling radiator, and set it up with push-pull fans (a fan on either side of the radiator, set up on a shroud, with one pushing air trough the radiator, while the other pulls). You should get very good cooling results from this setup, and you might even be able to keep it inside your case if there is enough room. Total cost, $20 US, with a few hours, some skinned knuckles and some mondo soldering and pipe sweating skills if you want to do your own fittings. Otherwise, plan on spending twice that if you are buying a core with fittings already in place

    Splurge on the pump. You will not regret it. Don't go cheap and buy an aquarium pump, unless you are planning on replacing it every year. Something like a Liang D5 (Swiftech MPC655) will do you nicely. This should be the most expensive part of your cooling loop. Expect to pay about $80 US.

    Water blocks are where the rubber meets the road. Splurge on your CPU cooler, as this will generate the most heat. A decent CPU block (like Swiftech Apogee or Storm) will run you $50-60 US. You don't have to buy full coverage GPU water blocks, as long as you use Ramsinks on the video memory and have some active cooling in your case. Spend about $30-40 US per GPU.

    That's the big stuff. You will have to get various sundries (tubing, clamps, a T-line junction instead of a reservoir, thread tape, barbs, etc), but these shouldn't run you more than an additional $30 US, and you can pick up a number of these parts at your local hardware store.

    The only other part you can splurge on is the cooling fluid. I myself have done it every way imaginable. Distilled water is the alltime standby, though even with antibiotic additives you will be changing at a minimum every six months. I have been running my main system now for over 18 months with Fluid XP+, and it is still as clean and clear as the day I first started to bleed the air out of my cooling loop. If you do decide to go this route, you will spend about $30 for enough fluid to fill you loop twice (necessary, since you will need to top off your loop on occasion).
  3. Well Houndsteeth, I'll agree with pretty much everything you've said EXCEPT relying on passive cooling for everything by the GPU on an 8800. Some people can get away with this if the airflow in their case is sufficient, but I've seen lots of stability problems too. The GRAM and Vregs on these cards are designed to be actively cooled, and not doing so is asking for problems down the road IMO. The problem is, good all-encompassing total coverage blocks for these cards are close to $100USD. If the OP can't afford one, I would recommend he stick to only cooling the CPU with his WC setup. This way he can get away with spending slightly less on a pump too. Take that saved money and invest it in some whisper quiet, high flow fans such as these:

    This way you'll have good airflow within the case, a cooler CPU, and the quiet you've been looking for. Just my 2 cents.
  4. If I may put in my 2 cents here. I have been sucsessfully WCing my PC for 4 years now, it runs 24/7, I have learned a few things along the way. I originally started off with a heatercore in a box with 4 quiet fans running, but I thought this was still too loud for me and the temp went too high under load so I decided to make my own radiator. I took 2 lengths of 15ft each flexible coppy tubing and wrapped it around a wooden frame I made. the more surface area you have the more you can cool. also my resouvoir is pretty big it can hold over 15 L in it I have 12L of Distilled water with waterbed conditioner to keep the nasties at bay along with a water pump designed for a pond, I think I paid about $80 for it and it's quiet as well.
    With this setup I run ~50c at rest and ~55c @ full load it works great! It may not be pretty but since it's out of the way and I don't even notice it and it does the job!

  5. Slinger, it's innovative...and you are right, it's not very pretty and actually quite bulky, though the most important part is that it works for you. 50° C? That's actually a bit hot for idle. Your idle temp should not be much more than a few degrees above room temp for your cooling loop (unless those temps are for your CPU core, not your loop).

    The problem is that darkspreader wants an internal water cooling setup without as many fans as he is currently using in his air-cooled setup (so it will be quieter), so your solution would not be one he is looking for. In his situation, the heater core would be the most economical cooling setup for the best performance. He could get a better radiator for three to four times the money, but it would only shave a few degrees off his cooling loop.

    cb62fcni, I can understand your point about the memory and the vreg MOSFETs. Maybe strategically locating a slow 120mm fan over the GPU card in addition to the GPU water block? I also use full coverage blocks, but only because I had the cash to burn at the time I built my last project. If I were more budget conscious, I probably wouldn't have bought them. Also, in my experience, most full coverage blocks only cover the GPU and memory, and either forget about the vreg MOSFETs or they are an optional purchase, so caveat emptor.

    I've often thought it would be fun to build a stationary water cooling center that would supplement an internal water cooling system. Maybe, set up the internal system to be efficient enough to work by itself, but set up the stationary system to take advantage of evaporative cooling (like a chilling tower/bong idea) or use a large heat sump, and design the two to hook up using quick connects. Sounds like a project in the wings.
  6. Actually I completely forgot that I'm running BOINC in the background so 50C is at CPU full load and 55C is at CPU and GPU full load. 42C is IDLE, this is the CPU temp not the loop temp, I've never actually tried to measure that temp.

    I'm buying another house next month and I have plans to build an inground radaiator. Two small holes through the basement walls to poly tubing running 3-4 feet underground (need to be below the frost line) this would give me an amazing way to get rid of the heat!.

    Don't know how it will work out but it's an idea!

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