Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question

Is it really worth it

Last response: in Overclocking
Share
May 10, 2010 5:41:49 PM

...to watercool a PC? I'm getting a new, "maxed out" build, which consists of an EVGA Classified 4 way SLI board, the i7 980x, and Crossfire 5970 and 5870. I want to overclock them, but at the same time, I don't want them to overheat and mess up. So I can either buy a really nice cpu cooler or a nice water cooler. Also, what kind of components do I need to watercool?

More about : worth

a c 86 K Overclocking
May 10, 2010 6:00:07 PM

Well. The 980 is hot but if OC are kept to a decent level, you have a great case with good fans, but a top air cooler for your CPU will be fine.

Lets talk GPUS. Your talking TWO xfire 5970 and a third card for more monitor usage? You talking about a LOT a LOT of heat.

Boy your room is gonna be warm. And if all air cooled you should think about a massive, the best there is air cooled case. And understand how to adjust fan speeds using the software tools availible. It ain't gonna be quiet.

If you decide to go WC, your gonna need a massive case like a Mountain Mods brand, custom at ohh $350.

The Watercooled CPU cooling with your massive CPU heatload will cost you $300 or so.

The Watercooled GPU cooling for all three cards will cost you upwards of $400 just for the blocks on the cards, and easily another $250 for the pump and radiators.

So if $1000 for watercooling doesn't burst your bubble, maybe you should (and done first) read the 'read me first' link above your post.

And then once you have digested that for a week or so with ohh 20+ hours of hard research and plain learning, then you can come back and maybe I'll help more.

Wow your moving from a basic 4 cylinder cheapo car right to top fuel racing class. I don't expect this to be easy for you at all.

And WC still makes rooms warm, it's just a better heat removal method at the chips. Might think of getting a window AC unit, LOL.
Related resources
May 10, 2010 6:57:21 PM

Conundrum has you on the right track. To emphasize what he has told you:

You are looking at roughly $3000 in hardware alone from what you have listed. That's a pretty hefty investment. No one in their right mind buys an i7 980x and runs it at stock. The unlocked multiplier is for overclocking. Consider that even with the best air cooling out there, you are going to be limited as to how high you can go due to the amount of heat you are able to draw off the CPU and into the air, and that limitation is the size of the space between your mainboard and the case wall. You will hit the wall, and while you might get a good overclock, you will be running high temperatures, and depending on your environment, you could very well overheat if you run for long periods of time.

So why watercool? Well, several thing are proven about watercooling:

1) Case space limitations: A watercooling loop is not limited to the size of the case you buy or build. You can go "outside the box", as it may be.

2) Thermal scalability: Active heatsink/fan combos can only get so big. More fans moving more air eventually will lead to something that sounds like a 747 taxiing down the tarmac. With a watercooling loop, if you need more cooling, you add more radiator. You can add a lot of radiator before you run out of head on your pump. And if you do, you just add another pump.

3) Reliability: contrary to popular belief, a good cooling loop built with quality parts (Conundrum's sticky at the top of this forum has a good intro to what is "quality") will last a long time. With regular maintenance, it could very well run indefinitely. Most pumps that we would recommend have a 50,000 hour MTBF, and if you build your loop with the accepted best practices, then your chances of developing a leak are next to nil. Even if you do experience a leak, if you are still using best practices, then your hardware is safe if you fix the leak, let it dry for a couple days (silicone gel packets are great for this too) and then boot up. Some of us don't even wait the recommended couple days even, as long as the leak is fixed and there aren't any visible traces of fluid.

Conundrum isn't kidding about the amount of reading/research involved, unless you are willing to hire the talent to help with your build. Forum hopping is still the best way to learn, as the best practices change from month to month as newer approaches are tested with better results.

Good luck, and if you decide to take the plunge, welcome to the club.
May 10, 2010 7:42:35 PM

What about this "Peltier CPU Cooling" stuff? I'm currently reading about it and this guy's CPU is 14 degrees celcius cooler than room temperature :o 

I'm still very squeamish about this water cooling business, the thought of it leaking and frying my computer makes me pee in my pants a little just thinking about it (Joke).

However, if I do go through with it, I think I will scrap the Cooler Master case and instead, invest in the Mountain Mods case, which do you recommend? My motherboard is the EVGA Classfied 4 Way SLI.

Also, exactly what do I need? From what I can gather, I'm gonna need a radiator, a reservoir, a pump, and cpu/gpu blocks.
May 10, 2010 8:44:44 PM

Thermoelectric cooling is pretty powerful stuff when you match it with a watercooling loop. You are using a peltier junction (also known as a thermocouple) to sit between the CPU and the water block. The thermocouple is made of two differing metals that when current is passed through its circuit, one side becomes hot and the other side become cold. The difference in temperature depends on the types of metals use, the purity of the metals, and the amount of current passed through the circuit. The amount of electrical energy used by the junction will always exceed the amount of heat energy removed.

Using thermoelectric cooling (and phase-change cooling as well), you have the potential of reaching sub-ambient temperatures, and if you cool to below the dew point of your environment, you will get condensation on all exposed uninsulated parts (think, glass of icewater on a muggy day). Hence, you need to insulate exposed metal parts, use silicone conformal coating on any exposed boards, and use dielectric grease for any parts you can't insulate (i.e., the space between the pins on your CPU). This adds a much higher degree of complexity to any build.

If you use just distilled water and biocide in your watercooling loop, the chances of you frying your computer if you develop a leak are very slim. Sure, it may short if it gets wet enough, but your computer should shut down. Once it is dry, your computer should boot right up, right as rain. The operative word there is "should." As with anything, you take certain risks, that things will not always happen as they should.

As for the recommended kit...I am so out of the loop on what is hot lately with the WCers. Last I checked, I was using Feser, Black Ice and Swiftech radiators. Go with a Liang D series for your pump (Swiftech uses rebranded Liang pumps, for instance). Some people like reservoirs, though you can run a loop without one if you use a T-line to bleed the air out of your loop. As far as CPU/GPU blocks, these change month to month depending on the socket type of your processor or make and model of your graphics card. For CPU, look for a water block that uses microjet-impingement that provides the best chance of tranferring heat from the metal of the block to the water. As for GPU cooling blocks...Conundrum has pointed out to me that memory has gotten so clocked lately that you HAVE to go with full coverage blocks to get any more out of it. As for mainboard/MOSFET cooling (even ram cooling), the generally held best practice as of right now is to put active cooling HSF on them and let them cool on air rather than try to add them to your loop, since you would only be adding more impingement to your loop without much gain.

Your research will entail as to what build is right for you, what order you want devices to sit in your loop for best effect. You will also need to research what is available to you within your budget. And finally, once you get all the parts gathered together, how to go about building your cooling loop.

Again, good luck!
a c 100 K Overclocking
May 10, 2010 9:01:03 PM

Just curious why you would want to try crossfire with a 5970 and 5870. I may be wrong, but from my understanding you generally want similar gpus, and a 5970 is not the same since it's got 2 gpus in it, while the 5870 has one. 5970 almost is a 2x 5870 on it's own. I could also see there being compatiblity issues limiting the 5970s raw power. And, I have heard it said that the 5970 doesn't scale well in Xfire with a 2nd 5970 although that could be because it's already so beefy nothing properly tests it. Regardless, you should probably do yourself a favour and just run 2x5870, or 1x5970... especially if this is only for gaming, either of those setups are as good as it gets.
May 10, 2010 9:03:33 PM

Since each GPU in the 5970's are just underclocked 5870's, I just need to OC the 5970's a little, and boom, Tri-crossfire.

EDIT: This setup is being used for gaming, video editing, and 3D graphics.

Setup as of right now:

Case: Mountain Mods UFO
PSU: Antec 1200 Watts, Modular
Motherboard: EVGA Classified X58 4-way SLI
CPU: Intel i7 980x
Watercooling: ?
GPU: (1) ATI Radeon 5970 and (1) ATI Radeon 5870 in Tri-Crossfire, (1) nVidia 9800 for PhysX
RAM: 24 GB OCZ Reaper Edition
Hard drives: (OS Drive) OCZ SSD 30 GB (Storage) (4) WD 1 TB Hard Drive, 64 MB Cache in RAID 10
May 10, 2010 10:16:17 PM

How many times can Conundrum and I say it? The H50 is good, but it does not even compare to a custom loop. At best, it is only marginally better than the best air cooling, and at twice the price. It has too little radiator, and the pump is underpowered, and since it is a closed loop, you have very little option to add more cooling to the loop. It is an easy way out, and in the end, while the product is (mostly) good, it is also very limited.

If you are serious about spending the time and money, look at a custom loop. The reward is high and you will be extremely satisfied with the results provided you do the research and follow best practices on your build.
May 10, 2010 10:29:39 PM

Last build I have under my belt is a Q6600 overclocked to 4.6 Ghz stable. It barely breaks 46 C at load, and sits mostly at around 28-29 C idle (roughly ambient). And this is with two ATI 4870 in crossfire on the same loop. You can't do this with an H50. You can only do this with a custom loop.

The next build sitting in the wings was a challenge from my brother. He wants a new build using an AMD 1055T Thuban that he picked up for a song. I plan to get the best OC that I can. We tested it already on air up to 4 Ghz and it is stable, but temps were spiking to over 62 C. I am hoping the custom loop we are building will bring this back down by around to 45-48 C and give us more overhead for higher clocks.

Back to your build, fonebone10. Do what you think is right. You have a lot of money invested in this build so far. I can understand wanting to get it up off the ground as soon as possible, and that adding a custom watercooling loop will add a significant amount of time and effort to your build, but the reward...while a machine that overclocks beautifully is one of the rewards you are looking for, the satisfaction of being able to do it is a reward in and of itself as well.
a c 86 K Overclocking
May 10, 2010 10:54:38 PM

Can you even xfire those two cards? I don't think so.

fonebone, please start at the 'read me first' link up top. You got a ton to learn.

May 11, 2010 2:11:40 AM

Alright, after looking at some other people's builds, I have concluded that EK makes pretty god damn awesome blocks, so my CPU block is the EK-Supreme HF - Full Nickel and my video blocks will be the EK-FC5970 Acetal+Nickel for the 5970 and the EK-FC5870 MSI Acetal+Nickel for the 5870. I mean, I'm already going full out with the 24 gigs, the 6 core processor, I mean, why not, amirite?

That leaves the radiator, the pumps, the tubing, and the reservoir, am I correct?
a b K Overclocking
May 11, 2010 2:17:02 AM

No, memory can be different in SLI.

I agree about the H50. Not sure why people think its so great. From what I've seen online, its no better then the best air coolers. If thats the case, why bother? Its just extra risk.

A custom loop is the way tot go. To cool your CPU and GPU(s) in a meaningful way its the best way. No way the H50 can do that. Read the stickies and do your home work. It is possible. I would never risk losing that gear to a water loop, but I'd never be able to afford it anyways.
a b K Overclocking
May 11, 2010 2:19:50 AM

You can SLI it with a 1GB 9800GTX+ however. I've heard you can't SLI those two cards, it makes no sense.
May 11, 2010 2:43:13 AM

Alright, how does this sound for a custom loop:
CPU: EK-Supreme HF - Full Nickel
GPU 1: EK-FC5970 Acetal+Nickel
GPU 2: EK-FC5870 MSI Acetal+Nickel
Radiator: EK-CoolStream RAD XT (360)
Fans: I have a couple Yate-Loons I got from frozencpu.com
Pump: Laing D5-Pump 12V (MCP 655)
Reservoir: EK-BAY SPIN Reservoir - Acetal

What else do I need?
a c 100 K Overclocking
May 11, 2010 2:44:28 AM

Some tubing and clamp rings ;) 
a c 100 K Overclocking
May 11, 2010 3:05:53 AM

Well yes fittings, but you can get clamp rings that go around the tubing and you tighten them with a screw. Just an added layer of protection. You can buy them at your local hardware store - but they're not necessarily pretty =P
May 11, 2010 3:14:40 AM

Oh, I could definitely go down to the local True Value this weekend and pick some up, or whenever I build it. I'm saving this project for the summer, I'm gonna need a lot of time to create this, especially since I don't want to screw up and lose so much money...
a c 86 K Overclocking
May 11, 2010 3:17:01 AM

Umm, you need more radiator. Guess you haven't done the math yet for your Heatload, DT temps, ambient temps, tolerance to noise etc.

Also, the EK rad is nothin special, read reviews and comparisons for a few other same type of rads in the links provided.

Your close, but you need more work. Some tidbit I wrote recently. It's not for your setup, but you can punch the numbers in. If you can build a WC loop, you can do this.

http://www.overclockers.com/forums/showpost.php?p=64804...

May 11, 2010 3:28:45 AM

I'm just gonna take a wild guess and say 2 of the aforementioned radiators. I'm pretty sure they're the biggest size EK makes. Pl0x tell me if I'm correct, lol :p  since I'm tired as hell, and I have a ton of coursework to do.
a c 86 K Overclocking
May 11, 2010 4:08:11 AM

When you get time. Like you said, you don't want to screw it up. It took me three months hanging out and learning before I made my first order.

July 11, 2010 10:35:12 PM

I just did a similar build to what you're talking about...except I used nVidia's newest cards instead of ATI's and I only went with the e760 EVGA Classified (3 way SLi). I dont know how much you're wanting to overclock your system bybut that is going to make a huge amount of difference in whether dropping a grand on water cooling is entirely neccesary or not. Right now I am running an intel i7 980x Extreme Edition CPU at 3.76Ghz per core on an EVGA X58 3 way SLi e760 LGA1366 motherboard with 12GB of Corsair Dominator DDR3 in triple channel and dual EVGA GTX 470's in SLi with an EVGA 8800GT Overclocked Edition as the dedicated PhysX card, this is all powered by a Corsair HX850W Professional Series PSU and the machine runs right in around the 47-50 degree celsius range. that's with the GPU's core clock increased by about 5% and all the BUS frequencies increased to maximum stable thresh hold. my case also has 4 western digital caviar black edition hard drives in a 2TB JRAID 0 setup without hard drive coolers. Those temperatures are of course at idle, the temperature raises to around 65-68 degrees celsius under load with smart fan control enabled (scales fan speed based on pre-determined temperature thresh holds). This whole system is build in a Cooler Master CM690 v1 which I picked up from tigerdirect.com for 69 dollars. If I were you I would personally try to save money on the cooling system and go with nVidia cards rather than ATI, while ATI performs fine at simply rendering graphics nVidia blows its doors off when you toss a lesser card into the system as a dedicated PhysX not to mention ATI is still a couple of generations away from offering really cool features like surround video and stereoscopic 3d. (not to mention ATI cards tend to play more nicely with AMD based system......probably because AMD owns ATI lol AND on the EVGA boards SLi is enabled with nVidia cards without using the SLi bridge)
!