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Opinions on cooling on both liquid/air

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April 7, 2008 3:48:15 PM

I'm kind of new to the whole custom pc scene, with only 3 builds under my belt. with each build I'm finding myself getting into new things. I have a slightly older socket 939 build and will most likely upgrade towards the middle of summer when I can actually afford quality parts and I want to see where AMD ends up. For the sake of simplicity however, lets assume I'm making the switch to a 775 quad, as I most likely will. I have not yet decided if I want to air cool or venture into liquid cooling. I've read the differences in two and I guess I just want your guys' opinions. Would I be better off lapping my cpu and heatsink or look at installing liquid cooling. As this would be my first time with liquid cooling I would more that likely get an all in 1 kit as I dont know that much about it. I will most likely overclock, to what extent, I cant be sure. A rough idea of what Ill have in my next build consisting of some current parts and some that will be purchased follows:

OCZ GameXStream 700 watt PSU
Antec 900 Case (currently 5 fans running)
right now 8800 GT (unless a breakthrough in that price range emerges in 9 series)
4 or 8 GB RAM depending on budget
More than likely ASUS or gigabyte higher end mobo to go with intel 775 quad

so what advice do you all have? Obtain better air cooling with a good cooler and try lapping? Or Should I venture into the land of liquid cooling?
thanks all
April 7, 2008 7:22:38 PM

vote...Air
April 7, 2008 8:09:25 PM

Well, alot depends on exactly what you plan on doing with your rig as far as o'clocking is concerned (coupled with, say, certain enviromental conditions like if you run AC, how hot it gets where your rig is located, etc.)

Of course, another thing to consider is budget. Given that a standard cooling setup, for the sake of argument, is cooling a CPU and a single GPU then there are a number of things to further consider.

It really wouldn't benefit you to go "cheap" when getting into water cooling - that is, getting cheap parts. In this scenario, a top-of-the-line convection (air) cooling setup will perform as good as a low end water cooling setup with another advantage - it will be much cheaper. This would work provided you have good air ciculation in your case.

Now, if you plan on doing any o'clocking of your CPU and/or GPU in the moderate to aggressive stage than here is where water cooling has the advantage over air. But, the drawback, initially anyway, is expense. To do it right with "top-of-the-line" parts in cooling a CPU and GPU a proper watercooling setup is going to demand upwards of $300 or more as an initial investment.

Also, if you intend to aggressively o'clock then you will need to consider adding a NB waterblock (to your cooling loop) if you are going by way of an Intel setup as, in this case, the NB will generate alot of heat.
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April 7, 2008 10:12:35 PM

See....air :) 
April 7, 2008 11:59:30 PM

For the environment I'd say it always stays between 55F and 70F in the summer. I would imagine that if I went with watercooling I would OC a little more aggressively. I guess the problem is I wouldn't know where to start. What brands are good? What are good features to look for? I dont know what a good setup would consist of or cost really? Any guess on a price for a setup for cooling CPU, GPU and Northbridge?
April 8, 2008 1:07:32 AM

i will generally recommend air cooler like the Thermal Right Ultra 120 eXtreme(TRUE) to a low to mid watercooling.as all the one in one kits they cant perform as well as the TRUE.because the small size radiator they have with all the all in one low-mid watercooling kit.especially a lapped cooler and cpu which work much much more efficient on cooling then standard.

as watercooling is more dependant on your ambient temp then air cooling.as the radiator is seating outside the case using the air in the room directly to cool the hot water in the radiator.by no mean the air cooler doesnt suffer.also depend where you put your radiator as the higher it is(on top of the case) the hotter it wiould be as hot air rises cool air falls.

also one more benefit of a air cooler is that it will create a stronger air flow inside the case then just case fans.so your ram,NB gets cool as the same time.

but when go into the high end of watercooling no air cooler could possibly beat it as it has usually 2 or sometimes 3 120mm radiator to cool the water.and at the same time your graphics card and NB will be benefited because it can be cool using the same loop in the setup.and watercooling could be quieter then air cooler to achieve the same cooling level.but when on full blast any cooler either air or water will be noisy as all the fan is blowing at full blast!so its a good idea to balance noise/performance especially for everyday use(not benchmark session!:p )

also note that your case is not meant to work with watercooling by standard,what i mean is it doesnt have holes for tubes to go in and out like the Antec P182.which unless the watercooling kit comes with a pci bracket which allow the tubing go through the case or you can take off a pci bracket cover could also do the same trick.just a side note nothing to important as it can be overcome easily.
April 8, 2008 2:42:16 AM

Well, there are so many companies that deal with watercooling components that have solid reputations like DangerDen or Swiftech to name a few. However, if you hang around the forums enough you'll soon learn what the better components are like the Dtek Fuzion or Ek Supreme or Swiftech Apogee GTX for CPU block.

For a GPU waterblock there are so many different choices to choose. However, I do not advocate the fullbody waterblocks that have waterchannels that cover the videocard memory, mostfets and the GPU itself. The reason being here is that these type of waterblocks play havoc on flowrate due to the many bends and complex configurations that the water must travel through. I am bigger fans of the smaller blocks like the Swiftech Stealth or MCW60, DangerDen Maze5, Dtek GFX, Aquaextreme MP-1 or the Silverprop Cyclone.

Price for a GOOD watercooling setup - i.e. Dtek Fuzion CPU block, Swiftech MCW60 GPU block and a NB waterblock is going to run you at least $300 but closer to $350.
April 8, 2008 5:27:02 AM

I dont consider 350 too steep for a watercooling solution. I guess it's mostly that I dont know that much about the setup and fear I would totally mess something up. Also, in response to Iluvgillgill, I don't know why my case has them and others don't, but my case does accommodate for water cooling by default. I have two 1" openings in the back towards the bottom of my case. If you look the left side a few inches up from the bottom. http://img.supportkrvsproductions.com/antec900/thumbnai...

so phreejak, or anyone else for that matter, what would be a good water cooling setup? I'd like to keep the budget if possible under $400 due to the fact that I'll probably be buying a new mobo/ram/cpu/gpu at the same time.
April 8, 2008 6:28:47 AM

Well, answer a few questions first if you will.....

About o'clocking, just how aggressive do you think you might be and which components? (i.e. CPU and GPU? or just CPU?)

You see, here's the thing about Intel chipset boards and where the NB comes into play:

The Northbridge, typically, controls memory functions like – a memory controller (for Intel Chipsets), a level 2 cache communicator and it bridges the gap between the CPU and Ram – it also handles functions between the CPU and the graphics processor on the PCI, AGP and PCIe slots. Since thse particular parts are always busy it can generate quite a lot of heat. Now, if you aggressively o'clock either the CPU, GPU, RAM or any combinations of the three well, then, you get the picture...

Now, if you are just going to o'clock moderately then you can leave the NB to some half decent HSF combo and just have a CPU/GPU cooling loop.

Other things to consider: Do you mind having rad(s) on the outside of your rig? Do you want to stick to one rad or can your case accomodate two (as in two dual 120mm rads - this is dependent, of course, on your o'clocking desire)?

Putting together a top-of-the-line cooling loop for under $400 will be very easy...
April 8, 2008 7:46:27 AM

If you ever decide to start playing around with higher voltages, watercool it. If you're not going to overvolt anything, aircooling is safe.
April 8, 2008 12:56:55 PM

iluvgillgill said:

as watercooling is more dependant on your ambient temp then air cooling.as the radiator is seating outside the case using the air in the room directly to cool the hot water in the radiator.by no mean the air cooler doesnt suffer.also depend where you put your radiator as the higher it is(on top of the case) the hotter it wiould be as hot air rises cool air falls.

also one more benefit of a air cooler is that it will create a stronger air flow inside the case then just case fans.so your ram,NB gets cool as the same time.



BOTH air and water performance depend on the ambient air temp and for the same reasons. The absolute best that either can achieve is to bring and keep the component temp down to ambient temp. The second comment is definitely a consideration. Some HSFs even blow downward to assist in cooling the mobo and chipsets. Even in water cooling, you still need to maintain some air flow through your case. A negative pressure setup (where CFM out is greater than CFM in) helps keep a steady stream of ambient air flowing through the case

Here's a link to some "water Cooling Essential:"
http://www.overclock.net/water-cooling/226970-water-coo...

The first thing to do is to read up on it so you can at least understand the advice others may give to you. Then we'd need to know what your budget (you stated $350 is okay) and what you want to WC (cpu, Gpus, quite operation, noise not a problem, etc). From there, we could better help you put together a system.

If you have built your own system, you can water cool, IMO. Also, it's no more dangerous than most other activities that involve opening up the case. Static electricity is dangerous to your components. But not if you take the proper precautions. Same with water cooling.
April 8, 2008 6:36:16 PM

I think that I would want to OC my cpu pretty aggressively. As for my GPU, I've not yet OC'ed a GPU, however, if I'm moving to watercooling, I would feel a lot safer if I did OC. So for argument sake, let's say I'll be aggressively OCing my CPU and moderately OCing my GPU. I don't mind have two radiators on my case, but I do have one question. With my antec 900, the 200mm fan on top moves a lot of air up and out. I would imagine that with 2 120mm rads, one owuld be on the back and one of the top. Would this rad on top block the flow from the fan? or would the fan help cool the rad on top even more so? I've been reading up on watercooling for a while and it's not that I dont understand it, it's more that I don't really know where to begin or what is good. Kind of the same feeling I had before I started my first build. I would preferably want to look at a system that isnt terribly loud as well. When I turn up all my fans right now it can get annoying if I sit next to a small vacuum cleaner for a couple hours.
April 8, 2008 8:04:21 PM

Here, this might give you some idea. It's a rad setup that I have on my CM Stacker case. The two rads cool a Dtek Fuzion (CPU) and a Swiftech Stealth (GPU). Both rads use fans in a "push-pull" configuration. If you can notice, I have a single 120mm fan at the top of the case that draws air out but, I've avoided the top rad setup from interfering with the airflow by setting it back beyond the outtake fans path with the radbox assembly (the thing that holds the rad away from the case).

My setup is thus:

Reservoir - pump - CPU waterblock - rad - GPU waterblock - rad - back to reservoir

April 8, 2008 8:19:34 PM

Did your case require any modding? I haven't modded a case before and don't know how well that would go.How much of a difference will 2 rads make as oppossed to one. I mean, it sounds stupid, but is there that much of a gain with the each component having its own rad? also, do you have any bridge cooling or do you have a HSF? Also what kind of differnce can be made using a push-pull config?
April 8, 2008 9:35:38 PM

I like this two rad install, and may copy it soon:



I call it the "By-Tor Mount" after the screen name of the case owner.
April 8, 2008 10:52:08 PM

I suppose if it's you're hobby to WC it, go for it. What you like is the most important thing.

My opinion is air cooling though.
April 9, 2008 12:07:38 AM

nice pink colour!never seen that before mostly just blue or green stuff!

if each cooling block have there individual radiator then that means the cooling block ITSELF is getting all the "COLD" water and does not need to suffer from the draw back of a multi-loop.

as in a same loop(CPU-GPU-NB) the cooling after the one before the water is gonna get heated up as it is carrying the heat of the CPU.so further down the line the hotter the water is going to be.and at the end you might end up heating up the last component rather then cooling them.
April 9, 2008 1:01:41 AM

its hard not to say nice setup peps, very nice


the fan by the harddrives is now in a shroud
April 9, 2008 1:07:15 AM

NICE! Amazing!



The CRT monitor that is.
April 9, 2008 2:15:14 AM

jpmar, yes my case did need some modding. I installed a window with a blowhole in the top and I had to drill two holes for the tubing for each rad. There is an advantage to the two rad deal. I o'clock both my CPU and my GPU, both to a point where air cooling doesn't really work for me. Now, since I do o'clock aggressively, both of those major components generate alot of heat (a Q6600 and an 8800GTX). If I were to run them in a single loop with one rad then the heat from one of the components would hit the waterblock of the other along the way so that, instead of the block dealing with the heat of, say, JUST the CPU it has to deal with the heat of the GPU as well before it hits the rad. The way I have it, the heat from the o'clocked Q6600 hits a rad to cool down BEFORE the cooling loop gets to the GPU. The heat from the GPU is deal with by a rad that comes right after it so that by the time the loop makes its way around to the CPU, it is sufficiently cooled again iluvgillgill explained it very well above):

reservoir - pump - CPU waterblock - rad - GPU waterblock - rad - back to reservoir.

If you weren't going to aggressively o'clock than a single rad would probably do just fine.

I have a HSf combo on my NB that does just fine. Plus,

I pay close attention to my cabling and have various cables and such hidden behind the MB and some drives so that the interior of my rig is pretty unobstructed. I also set up various fans so that a good airsteam is flowing through my case.

"Push-pull" does give you more benefit than either just pushing or pulling air because two fans work in unison moving as much air through my rads fins - any air movement lost due to the fins is picked up by the fan pulling the air. Just trying to eak out as much potential as possible here.
April 9, 2008 5:31:59 AM

I'm seeing a few problems at the moment. Space. In your pictures above, you have space on top of your case. the top of my 900 consists of a tray and then the 200mm fan takes up the majority of the rest of the top. I'm also not seeing much option in terms of means to accommodate the tubes other than the two pre-made holes in back. so I guess, let's say I don't OC very aggressively. What kind of water/air setup would be effective? I move a pretty reasonable amount of air as it is. My system rarely moves above 37c as it is now. Would a CPU/GPU loop with a single 2 120mm rad, possibly with a 4 push-pull, along with a good nb hsf and the fans on my case be enough to keep things cool>? The reason I begin to reconsider is that I can't say I really feel up to completely modding my case and I don't think that this setup would be too much to be just getting into watercooling.
April 9, 2008 9:21:32 AM

Certainly....

In that scenario you wouldn't need to touch the NB, just make certain that you have good airflow really. At best, a good HSF combo would do fine though.

For a dual 120mm rad, in your case, we'd want to make it top-of-the-line - probably a Feser X-Changer Dual 120mm Xtreme Performance Radiator (extremely difficult to find as online stores are sold out of them often) or a ThermoChill PA120.2 Dual 120mm Radiator. You'd put shrouds on both sides as well. Get an Dtek Fuzion (with nozzle kit) OR an EK Supreme for the CPU and either a Swiftech Stealth or MCW60 (with ramsinks) for the GPU. Power the loop with an MCP655 pump.

You'd be set....

Your loop could be something like:

reservoir - pump - CPU Waterblock - GPU Waterblock - rad - back to reservoir
April 9, 2008 2:52:13 PM

While I understand the desire to use watercooling (See also: the desire to switch to whatever TIM is best this month), I still cannot see the benefit. While water undoubtedly has greater cooling capacity, it comes at a cost. Last I heard, a decent watercooling setup was about US$200 and I have trouble justifying that cost.

The time of the Prescott's is over. Penryns are even more efficient than the Conroes, needing less power and thus generating less heat. AMD's Phenom's follow the same trend. At stock settings, these barely generate enough heat to make it worth buying any aftermarket cooler. So long as you're not cooking your case or filling it with 10 Raptors in RAID0, there's simply no need to think about cooling. Your CPU doesn't run any better or faster at 32C than it does at 34C or even 44C.

The only time where cooling becomes a concern is when you're overclocking. If you plan on doing that, then conventional wisdom says you'll be doing it with one of the Yorkfields (since you want a quad) on a P35 or X38 board. For example, let's look at the Q9450 (333MHz x 8 = 2.66GHz). It's got a locked multiplier, so you overclock on the FSB. Reportedly, reaching FSB 400MHz (3.2GHz) is fairly easy and can be done with little to no voltage increase. Lots of people report doing this with the Freezer 7 Pro (~$30). Above that point, you're going to be overclocking your RAM. Assuming you get some DDR2 1066, you can theoretically reach 533MHz. Assuming you've got a good motherboard, this will give you an impressive 4.2GHz. However, at this point, you've reached the overclocking limit of current generation motherboards. A number of people have claimed to reach this with quads and they're still using air cooling, mostly TRUEs and Tuniqs (~$55).

Where is the place where water cooling shows its superiority? In that sweltering no-man's-land above FSB 533MHz. At this point, you're fighting the heat generated by the motherboards Northbridge (MCH) and the PWM circuitry. Water cooling blocks on them can give you some extra headroom, but the highest I've seen someone overclock a quad was FSB 560MHz (4.4GHz for a 9450). Most cannot make it that far. Few can even bring the FSB to 533MHz without sacrificing stability.

So, what does that $200 water cooler buy you? 20-50MHz on the FSB for an CPU speed increase of 160-400MHz. For the extra money, you could have bought a CPU with a slightly higher multiplier and got the same results (9450 @ 533MHZ = 4.2GHz, 9550 @ 533MHz = 4.5GHz) with less heat. Even overclocking past FSB 400MHz gives you diminishing returns. The bulk of the speed comes from CPU architecture and good RAM performance, not a few more MHz on the FSB and there's nothing about a Q9450 at 8 x 400MHz that can't be handled by a $40 Xigmatek.

I suppose it comes down to this: Is the increase from 50 fps to 52 fps in Crysis really worth $160 Are you willing to pay that much to be able to brag about benchmark scores which are imperceptibly higher than what you could have gotten with air cooling? Is it worth the regular maintenance of water coolers?

I suppose there is some "looks cool" factor to water cooling. If that's what you want, then there you are. Go for it. If you're actually looking into performance and efficiency, then I'd be skeptical about water. The time of struggling over keeping CPUs (and cases) cool is fading. If anything, the new struggle is keeping them cool while eliminating as much noise as possible. However, you're not going to find a lot of people concerned with that here.

(Sorry for the rant. It's been brewing for a while.)
a b K Overclocking
April 9, 2008 3:38:32 PM

Watching this thread with interest - Currently under good temp control on air (32 idle~58/60 full load) with a 400Mhz FSB, and very slightly bumped voltages. But where the computer needs to live gets warm in the summer. And I also bought a new surround sound system for the house, and the old one is now living in my office. It wasn't an issue when I used headphones 24/7. But now that I have good reason to not use them, the sound of the fans has become bothersome. Liquid cooling should be just the ticket needed to maintain the overclock and cut the noise.

Besides - I like having a project... ;) 
April 9, 2008 4:02:09 PM

Scotteq said:
But now that I have good reason to not use them, the sound of the fans has become bothersome. Liquid cooling should be just the ticket needed to maintain the overclock and cut the noise.

Why not consider a better case and fans? I'm always shocked how many people here use Sunons and Deltas. $30 for a new pair of 120mm Nexus fans will move quite a bit of air with very little noise. Especially considering that lots of people end up putting two noisy fans on their rads anyway.
April 9, 2008 4:36:55 PM

I don't think I would need too much better of a case. I mean my antec 900 has 4 120mm and 1 200mm top to go along with my zalman cnps 9700. Thing is I'm looking for a more efficient way to cool for when I overclock and so say I dropped the noisy zalman/ stock GPU hsf, I would imagine I would not only have a more effective cooling solution, but a much quieter comp as well. The noise of all my fans turned up is a small part of why I'm considering watercooling as well.
a b K Overclocking
April 9, 2008 5:06:42 PM

imaginary said:
Why not consider a better case and fans? I'm always shocked how many people here use Sunons and Deltas. $30 for a new pair of 120mm Nexus fans will move quite a bit of air with very little noise. Especially considering that lots of people end up putting two noisy fans on their rads anyway.



Thanks for the suggestion - I have a CoolerMaster Stacker 835, tho. So I consider myself well covered in the case department. I'll take your advice regarding fans under advisement tho.
April 9, 2008 5:16:57 PM

jpmar said:
I don't think I would need too much better of a case. I mean my antec 900 has 4 120mm and 1 200mm top to go along with my zalman cnps 9700.


The Antec 900 is not made to be a quiet case. It's meant to be a nifty-looking case. You could cut your noise significantly by moving to an Antec P180/P182/P190 with $30 worth of Scythe/Nexus fans, and it would probably be cooler as well. The Zalman isn't a champion either. The TRUE outperforms it and with another $10 fan, is drastically quieter.

jpmar said:
Thing is I'm looking for a more efficient way to cool for when I overclock and so say I dropped the noisy zalman/ stock GPU hsf, I would imagine I would not only have a more effective cooling solution, but a much quieter comp as well. The noise of all my fans turned up is a small part of why I'm considering watercooling as well.


As I said above, the only place where I've seen water cooling succeed where air has not is in getting a few percentage points of improvement at the extreme high end. What CPU and overclock are you hoping for? With a TRUE and a couple good case fans, you should be able to push current high-end Intels up to FSB 500MHz. How much higher would you like to go?
April 9, 2008 5:23:49 PM

jpmar said:
The noise of all my fans turned up is a small part of why I'm considering watercooling as well.


You need to choose your rad and fans with "quiet" in mind. You might consider a PA120,3 with 120mm x 38mm Scythe DFS123812L-1000 "Ultra Kaze" Case Fan (44.44 CFM/19.81 dBA). Low speed and very low noise. You could also get low speed Yate Loons for about half that price, but the 38mm fan depth will give you more static pressure.
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