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Water Cooling vs Air Cooling

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July 9, 2010 5:04:06 PM

Currently I'm using a Scythe Mugen II on a i7-920 build. I was wondering the maintenance requirements involved in a water cooling system. I've been modding computers for the past 15 years and have yet to even touch a water cooling system. I'm not one for super high maintenance as I dust out my computer once every 3 months or so. I have seen that just to get going I'm going to have to drop $300 on an water setup. I assume that if the pump goes your system is going to overheat quick and if you are lucky just shutdown.

Really what I want to know is how often are you guys having to do the following:

Clear out radiator of dust?
Refill Coolant?
Replace The Pump?

Are the fittings tight enough not to worry about moving the computer to say a LAN party and have to worry about checking for leaks.

Am I going to notice that much of a difference in temperature drop from a high end cooler upgrade, are we talking 12-15 degrees or only 5-6 degrees?

Just trying to spend my money wisely to get the best bang for the buck without making my life a maintenance hassle.
a b K Overclocking
July 9, 2010 5:44:05 PM

Quote:

Clear out radiator of dust?
Refill Coolant?
Replace The Pump?

1. Clear out dust about every month or so cause I have carpet.

2. Re-fill and clean every 6 months.

3. Replace pump? Never have I had to replace a pump yet (even after 2 years of running the same pump)...

Quote:

Am I going to notice that much of a difference in temperature drop from a high end cooler upgrade, are we talking 12-15 degrees or only 5-6 degrees?

Depends on your ambient temps,OC,etc.
July 9, 2010 6:25:03 PM

Thanks for the information. Doesn't sound super painful maintenance wise. How sensitive are the tubes to coming loose/leaking during moves to and from LANs?
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a b K Overclocking
July 10, 2010 2:48:46 AM

That depends on how you set up your loop,etc. I personally don't take my WCed PC to LANs because I have the rad mounted outside and I have a pretty big case. Head over to OC Forums WCing section. There are more folks who know WCIng there.
July 10, 2010 8:14:14 AM

If the system is solidly put together, all of the connections are using hose clamps or compression barb fittings, and the pipes, pump, res, and rad are firmly secured to the chassis, you should have no problems moving the system to/from LANs.

What I generally do during a WC assembly is to pull on a pipe after fitting it, to make sure the thing is not going to detach itself. Pressure testing the system also helps to identify potential leaks or poor fittings - put compressed air into the loop, close it, and listen for any hissing. (EDIT: you might want to do this with the loop outside the case, as if a fitting is poorly tightened it can come off explosively. Also, do NOT use pressurised lighter gas.)

I have been watercooling now for about six years and have never had a system come apart while at a LAN or after a move... like most things, build quality is the key to reliability.

Another bonus to watercooling is that it tends to be far quieter than air, particularly if you are using one of those cases that only fits 120mm or larger fans and your radiator(s) are 120mm or larger as well.

One problem I have encountered so far is using clear plastic (or whatever material they use) pipes, which tend to discolour over time. Another problem is that a decent watercooling setup can add a large amount of weight to the system, so a cheap, flimsy, or lightweight case is out. This is also something that needs to be taken into account if you intend on taking this machine to LANs.

Apropos of that, the last LAN I was at, I saw a Cooler Master Cosmos that the owner had fitted castors (little wheels) to - the total weight of that system (according to the owner) was on the order of 43KG...
a b K Overclocking
July 10, 2010 7:38:22 PM

Huh... pressure testing eh? I should try that some time.
July 11, 2010 3:24:07 AM

ive never taken my computer anywhere except for a few feet left and right for cleaning and general maintenance. steel case so it weighs about 24lb without anything in it. throw in a 1/2 gal radiator, 2x120mm radiator, mobo, drives, and a big ass card and not it sits at around 40-50lb. the lan parties can come to me >.>
a b K Overclocking
July 11, 2010 1:27:40 PM

Just introduce some air pressure in the loop and then spray a film of water over fittings and potentially leaky spots. You can instantly see the water bubbling if there is a leak.

Also I find those koolance metal clamps to be better than those crappy plastic clamps and better than worm drive clamps because their sizes are more specific. Compression fittings are probable the best choice for security but they are expensive so those koolance clips are definitely a very good and cheaper option.
July 19, 2010 10:02:22 AM

Am I going to notice that much of a difference in temperature drop from a high end cooler upgrade, are we talking 12-15 degrees or only 5-6 degrees?
>> per my previous test result, 5~6 degree temperature difference is reasonable, 12~15 degree difference that should be a special case.
July 20, 2010 1:32:49 PM

Okay, my idea of pressure testing is a bit pyrotechnic, since I ram liquid butane gas into the system and then move a lighter along the tubing and connections...

Kidding. Compressed air, close off system, listen for hissing, or wet the thing.

Now I am wondering what effect it would have if one ran the system pressurised... pray excuse me, I am going to go and do some maths...
a c 324 K Overclocking
July 20, 2010 3:05:45 PM

You might want to be careful with how much air pressure you introduce into a WC loop. Most of those components aren't rated to contain pressures introduced by a pump and flow restrictions introduced by water. Remember, water (or fluids in general) don't compress under pressure like air does, and therefore wouldn't stress a system like pressurized air and potentially creating a single (or even multiple) points of failure at seals or o-rings.
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