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What advantages would water cooling really provide me?

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October 15, 2010 1:14:22 PM

I've posted a couple times about looking into water cooling, got some good suggestions, and have been reading through all the manuals and guides I could find... it's all very interesting, but some of it got me thinking...

1. I do minor overclocks, but nothing extreme, no competitive overclocks or anything

2. I live in south central florida, high humidity and fairly high ambient temps (house is usually 74-75F), I know these things affect cooling, but have yet to see anything regarding how much and whether I should realistically lean towards water cool vs air cooled because of my location.

3. I keep reading reviews like http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/cpu-cooler-charts-2... and find myself questioning whether or not water cooling will really have a significant benefit for me.

4. I planned on water cooling my current system first (because realistically I plan on buying a new one within a year or so anyways), so with that in mind, I figured I'd throw out some specs on what my planned new system will be so you have an idea of what my end goal of cooling is.

wanting to get a gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R revision 2, running an intel i7-950 w/ 8Gb RAM and a radeon 5970, with everything slightly overclocked, but nothing serious... now I will admit that fan noise has been an issue on my current system, but honestly I havent tried to fix this with any new air cooling solutions and I'm sure I could easily make this run quietly on air...

so... with all this in mind what are the realistic benefits (if any) of water cooling over air are for me... or if you feel like arguing the other side, what benefits (if any) does air cooling hold for me?

edit: just read through this article http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/cpu-cooler-charts-2... which bodes well for water cooling in general, but again, with my situation, my location, and my planned hardware, would really appreciate input.
a c 324 K Overclocking
October 15, 2010 4:50:47 PM

The biggest question for you is this:

If your ambient temps (75F/24C -we use Celsius in the WC community) those are fairly decent. Humidity only impacts living organisms with regards to making it 'seem warmer than it really is, but humidity is often confused with dewpoint). Anyways, if these are your normal room temps, you should be able to get good air coolers for your CPU to take advantage of this with decent fans. Your case airflow is the biggest help or hindrance in your current temps...what are you currently seeing temp-wise?

BTW...those 'watercoolers' they reviewed are not very good watercoolers. Please consider other options before this.
October 15, 2010 6:00:35 PM

oh yes, I realize the water coolers they test are the "kit" or premade systems which everyone says are not nearly as effective as building it up from the individual parts.

my temps right now are all fairly high, but I'm not that worried about it, like I said, I'm planning on getting this new machine hopefully around 6 months, if I was going water cooling I figured I'd go ahead and kind of practice run on my current system so I was comfortable with it before taking water to my brand new beefy system

I dont mind spending the money if the results are worth it, but with my goal specs being what they are it's looking like 2 loops one on cpu and chipset, the other on graphics, which turns into a pretty decent number of fans on the rad (or possibly 2 rads?) and since I'm not going for extreme overclocks I'm beginning to wonder how quiet could that possibly be compared to just focusing on really good air cooling solutions for a fraction of the price
Related resources
October 15, 2010 6:09:36 PM

I am
October 15, 2010 6:24:45 PM

read that on almost all the guides linked

I'm not so much looking for a guide or walkthrough so much as some advice from somebody who has done it and knows the difference

comparing the very best aircooling options to a really good water cooling system

what can I expect noise wise...

what can I expect heat wise...

and I already know about water needing maintenance and the obvious price difference, which is basically what I'm wanting to balance out... from somebody who has ran (newer) systems both ways... is it really worth the maintenance and increase price for water cooling if I'm not doing extreme overclocking...

I gather that water cooling is pretty much across the board "cooler" however, like I said if I'm not doing extreme overclocking as long as I'm stable and withing a good margin I dont need it supercooled

and noise wise, with the number of fans and the pump needed for 2 loops on an i7 + gpu am is it really going to be quieter or am I looking at about the same noise as just getting a really good thermalright air cooler for cpu and some other good air cooling options for a fraction of the price?
a c 324 K Overclocking
October 15, 2010 10:37:18 PM

If you get a good to great loop/components, you can expect some great temps, especially under load. You can expect to see your GPU temps at least half of what they run at load on air and your CPU should remain consistent at load (depending on your voltages, clocks, chip version, etc.)

I've been watercooling for over 7 years and I love it. As for fans, you'll actually have more since you are adding radiators. You will still need case fans to move air over components and your motherboard that would normally be moved by air coolers. I have 10 - 120mm fans in my system, and no, its not quiet. If you want quiet, look into the radiator and fan pairing benchmarks at http://skinneelabs.com/radiators.html. Each radiator is tested with different fans to determine the performance curves and graphed accordingly.

They also do similar tests with other watercooling components...a lot of great reading on that site.
a c 108 K Overclocking
October 15, 2010 11:50:28 PM

A good cpu air cooler will be just about as good as a water cooling sustem. They both transfer heat to the ambient air, just from different places.

Just how good does your cooling really NEED to be? The Intel cpu's should operate normally up to70c. or so.
A graphics card will operate up to 100c. or so. They are designed to do that.

If you have a case with decent airflow, the expense and risks of liquid cooling are, in my opinion, unnecessary.

If, however you want liquid cooling for show, or bragging points, then it is a great way to impress the uninformed. If you are trying for record level overclocks, then go for it.

Otherwise, spend the liquid cooling funds on a faster cpu or graphics card in the first place.
a b K Overclocking
October 16, 2010 12:32:30 AM

@makari-"what can I expect noise wise...",well executed WC setup " radiator and fan pairing" mention above can lower noise level drastically ,have 2 dual rads +8 fans (case total) and honestly the Zalman CNPS9700 NT that i have momentarily in my syst. was louder
"what can I expect heat wise..."-" Water has the ability to dissipate more heat from the parts being cooled than the various types of metals used in heatsinks, making it suitable for overclocking and high performance computer applications."
a b K Overclocking
October 16, 2010 12:44:23 AM

@geofelt-"If, however you want liquid cooling for show, or bragging points, then it is a great way to impress the uninformed. If you are trying for record level overclocks,"-this so typical for someone that have never been to the other side-it's a hobby dude
a b K Overclocking
October 16, 2010 1:19:37 AM

it's personal choice no one is trying to make you do anything,"and when it goes down and now your rig and you are dying of thirst, at least you can drink the fluids and live..."-you just made me think... next time i do the maintenance ,replace water with alcohol..:) 
ps. "legalize marijuana, join the "flight"...o..yeaaaeee
October 16, 2010 4:39:38 PM

ok, 2 questions now about how my loops would be setup if I went wc

first, I understand i7's pump out lots of heat, and since I want to wc gpu also, separate loops..

first just to make sure I'm thinking correctly...

loop1: cpu & chipset

loop2: gpu & graphic ram

if there's something else that would be worthwhile to throw into one of those loops, let me know

now... here's where I'm a little fuzzy... with 2 loops do I necessarily need 2 pumps? if my goal is a quiet system would running 2 pumps be quieter than a single larger one (if that kind of pump exists)

I know with this setup I'll probably want 120.3 rad for the cpu loop, any suggestions on the size of rad for radeon 5970 cooling? I'm thinking of doing a second 120.3 and hoping that leaves me enough cooling that if I wanted to make some changes down the road and add a second 5970 that would hopefully be enough.

and then a question about the rads themselves... I'm looking at the coolermaster haf case, I've seen some pics where a 120.3 is mounted internally on the top and it looks really nice, now if I need a second rad any suggestions on placement? would mounting it externally on top be an option or would that significantly affect their performance having them stacked like that? I suppose it not external on top then I would try external on rear, does that seem correct?

thanks again for all the help..
a b K Overclocking
October 16, 2010 5:29:02 PM

you could start with one 120.3 rad, CPU+GPU block(full cover) and one pump ,if you not planning to do some crazy OC that should be plenty and yes with 2 two loops you need two pumps (they are basically silent)
October 16, 2010 5:49:43 PM

thought about it, but after reading all the stuff about the heat from i7's was scared to, especially not being able to find any info on the heat put out by the 5970...


also, I've read pretty much everywhere that the gpu full blocks were either far less effective or prone to problems compared to doing gpu / ram separate... is that not entirely true?

and just for my own education on the subject, what about the 1v2 pumps for 2 loops and such, could you elaborate?
a b K Overclocking
October 16, 2010 5:59:18 PM

you can also ad another rad+pump to the loop
a b K Overclocking
October 16, 2010 9:03:13 PM

I have an i7 and a 5970 w/ EK waterblock in the same loop. Northbridge is also in there too.

Its a single loop with a 3x120mm Feser Xchanger. All 3 fans are running at a low 1000RPM but very quiet.

The temps are not great. CPU temps are around 40C idle 60C load.
Graphics card temps are around 35C idle and 50C load.

CPU is at 4Ghz and 5970 is at 950/1200

Still this setup is much much quieter than any air cooling solution with better performance too. Also more bling.

I am planning to upgrade my loop soon. I want to avoid dual loops because it can look like a tubing mess and external radiators are unsightly. Planning on getting the new Feser Admiral radiator and I already got a bottle of Zinc Oxide nano fluid.
a b K Overclocking
October 17, 2010 1:28:44 AM

Since your ambient temps are only 3-4 degrees above mine (or what's considered "normal"), that would add 3-4 degrees to your max cpu/gpu/case temps. No more no less.

After reading through the thread, the two benefits of water cooling are the ability to remove more heat from the chips cooled than air can, and the ability to relocate the exhaust heat.

Frankly, if you don't extreme overclock and choose the right case (eg, Silverstone Raven 1 or 2), air works just fine.

But the ability to relocate heat may be significant to you in Florida. For example, assume your "computer desk" is enclosed on the top (duh!) and on three sides, and your tower is underneath it. The only place the hot air will exhaust is past you. Uncomfortable.

With water, its entirely possible to place the radiator outside the case, cut holes in that desk wall, hang the radiator on it, and exhaust almost all the hot air outside your desk.
a b K Overclocking
October 17, 2010 3:29:06 AM

I personally think the best part of water cooling is low noise and looks awesome. I don't need sub zero temps, just need my processor to boot 4ghz and not be on fire doing so.
a b K Overclocking
October 17, 2010 4:13:16 AM

It's like..do i want to have a big,fat waffle hanging of my mobo , taking out 1/3 of the case or this sleek, sexy thing inside that comes with hefty price tag.I guess it's all about personal preference
October 18, 2010 12:42:50 PM

thanks a ton for the input guys,

especially your numbers waffle, helps to know what somebody else has done in my shoes and what they think of it...

I'm really leaning towards water, partially cause of general interest, and partially because I want a gaming machine that doesn't sound like a turbine engine

it's interesting to know that I can put i7 and 5970 into same loop safely... might even look to see if it's possible to put a larger 3fan system than 120 into the upper area of coolermaster haf case... just to keep sounds and temps down a bit more..

thanks a ton again for the info, I'll probably start a new thread in the next couple of weeks of my entire process for picking parts, planned setup and whatnot, to help me keep my thoughts straight and to get some input.
a b K Overclocking
October 18, 2010 12:59:56 PM

I like to keep my 3x120 form factor as it all fits in my PC. So if you want more performance like me, check out the Feser Admiral radiators comming late this month.
October 18, 2010 3:03:18 PM

orto did I read that post right? is he running 2 rads from a single pump?

is that possible? if so could you give me some guidelines / rules for it? do you need to avoid low flow blocks to do that, etc..?
a b K Overclocking
October 18, 2010 3:34:29 PM

^ Yes, you can have more than one rad on the same loop as long as your flow rates are up/good enough to deal with it. A good pump like a MCP655 should have no problem with multiple rads.

Quote:
A good cpu air cooler will be just about as good as a water cooling sustem. They both transfer heat to the ambient air, just from different places.

Not really. A top end WCing system will have a significant difference between temps (esp. load) on a highly OCed system. There are also case where WCing is really the best option, such as SLIed 480s,etc.
October 18, 2010 3:45:00 PM

ok so here's the big question I guess.

on this build would be an i7 and a 5970...


from all the info I've gathered... i7's put out terrible heat, you should use low flow blocks to cool them better

and also that you shouldn't put other blocks on a loop that includes a low flow block for obvious flow restriction issues...

so with this news of possibly 2 rads in a single loop I thinking of a possibility but I'm unsure how wise it is...

pump>really good i7 block (probably low flow from what I've read) > chipset > gpu block > rad 1 (120.3 top mount) > rad 2 (140.1 rear mount)

now obviously I'm relatively new to this so if there's an obvious flaw in that layout (like maybe low flow block should always be last or always first in loop, etc... something I may not know) then point it out to me...

but in theory, would that loop work well? I know the extra 140.1 isn't adding a tremendous amount of cooling, but I'm thinking 2 things... 1. my main goal is to have a very good running system that is very quiet... everything I've read says extra rad space means quieter... and 2. I want to leave myself the option to add a second 5970 down the road and I'm hoping this would be able to handle it heatwise

please let me know what you think.
a b K Overclocking
October 18, 2010 4:01:20 PM

^ Which i7 are you talking about? The LGA1366 or the LGA1156?

A few things:
1. There really is no point in OCing the chipset.

2. Budget?

Anyways,

I would personally do this:
res>pump> CPU> 360 > GPU > 360.
Or
res>pump>CPU>GPU>360>360.
or
Loop 1: res>pump>CPU>360
Loop 2: res> pump> GPU>GPU (assuming CrossFire) > 360/480.

If you plan to CrossFire, I HIGHLY recommend 2 loops.
You really won't benefit much from a single 140 rad. Get at least a 240.
October 18, 2010 4:11:27 PM

its a 1366 i7 prolly 950

ok that still leaves me with my core question tho

all the good blocks for i7's seem to be low flow and I thought you shouldnt have multiple blocks on a loop with a low flow...

so would putting the i7 and the 5970 on the same loop be a problem?

what say you waffle? is your i7 block low flow?
a b K Overclocking
October 18, 2010 5:06:50 PM

there is a lot you could do for good flow rate,head pressure.. basically-avoid restrictions (res,90deg. fittings,high restriction blocks,long tubing, unnecessary bands,etc) ;
http://www.overclockers.com/water-cooling-reservoir-the...
dual or single loop it's your call,bottom line is if you plan super oc your card or crossfire+ over-volt,yes dual loop is the way to go here is something that should help;
http://www.overclockers.com/forums/showthread.php?t=657...
a c 324 K Overclocking
October 18, 2010 5:56:07 PM

Apparently, I missed a significant portion of this thread...good lord you guys...

1.) You won't get sub-ambient temps from watercooling. It's physically impossible when you don't have a way to cool the water below ambient temp such as in a WC loop.

2.) 1 pump per loop. If you don't have the flow to use a single loop, either get a different pump, or run 2 loops.

I run an MCP655, D-tek CPU block, two Swiftech MCW60 GPU blocks, two Swiftech MCR320 radiators and dual custom made reservoirs.

It really makes very little difference where each component is in the loop...you will see between 5-8C difference at any single point in the entire loop...if you are even able to determine that. And if so, your GPUs will still be running 30-40C cooler at load, regardless.
a b K Overclocking
October 18, 2010 5:58:14 PM

^ Yup. +100.

But seriously, if you can get 5970s the chances are you can spend the extra bit for a dual loop. And imo, the way that nVidia is heading, chances are we'll be getting more hot running cards. You may as well spend the money now and go dual loop.
October 18, 2010 6:18:38 PM

I'm a little less worried about cost than I am about performance.

so if dual loop is the way to go for i7 + 5970 then so be it, my biggest concern with that actually is space and placement... I plan on using a coolermaster haf 932, which has an awesome top mount internal area for a 120.3 rad,

and back to a question I had before but never got answered I think... I'd imagine it's a bad idea but I figured I'd ask, would it get too hot or be a bad idea to "stack" rads... have the 120.3 internally mounted in the haf, and then mount another 120.3 externally over it?
October 18, 2010 7:40:40 PM

that is indeed pretty nifty,

do you use something like that? I'm curious how sturdy it is if i were to try to set a 75lb system on top of it I wouldn't want it wobbly
a c 324 K Overclocking
October 18, 2010 7:51:35 PM

You don't want to stack rads...you'd suffer from poor airflow between each rad/fans.
a b K Overclocking
October 18, 2010 7:58:05 PM

Quote:
I'm curious how sturdy it is if i were to try to set a 75lb system on top of it I wouldn't want it wobbly

I haven't used it but it is ~1/8" on the main supports. It's not some cheap Aluminium. If you DO like to mod, you can get some 80/20 and the needed brackets and make your self one.
See: http://www.amazon.com/b?ie=UTF8&marketplaceID=ATVPDKIKX...
With everything, it should only cost you about $50-80 to make a box like that MM Pedestal.
a b K Overclocking
October 18, 2010 7:58:44 PM

no i do not own this pedestal (you can have this on top of the case)but is made of thick aluminium
a b K Overclocking
October 19, 2010 12:03:03 AM

My i7 block is the Switchtech XT. I belive it is high flow.
The 5970 is using the EK full cover block.
MCP 655 pump and 3x120 Feser Xchanger with 3x Gentle Typhoons.

It really depends on what you want for an overclock. If a 4Ghz i7 is your wish then a single rad is enough.

I can overclock my i7 to 4.2Ghz @1.33v if I wanted but im happy with 4Ghz @ 1.26v. I didn't think the extra voltage was worth it. I like my computer cool (not the core temp but my overall room)

Crazy overclocks can get really hot in the summer. Im on the second floor of the house so AC doesn't blast up here as good. With high overclocks, the computer produces more heat than the AC can cool and it gets a sweaty 30C ambient. A couple months ago I was doing 3.6Ghz at 1.12v
a c 205 K Overclocking
October 19, 2010 6:24:54 PM

makari said:
I do minor overclocks, but nothing extreme, no competitive overclocks or anything.


Then there is absolutely no reason for you to water cool your system, with the high performance air coolers available today they will even be overkill for you.

Water Cooling is great as long as everything that's supposed to be running keeps running, like your water pump that circulates the water.

Even if both my fans die on my Cooler Master Hyper 212+, there's enough airflow through my case that the CPU will not burn up because of the heat pipe design, now how do I know that's the truth, because I just turned my fans off to type this to you.

What happens when your water pump fails, if you don't have a backup, you're dead in the water, and even if you have a backup how much time does changing it out take, have you investigated that?

I can change both my 120mm fans on my Cooler Master Hyper 212+ in about 15 minutes by the way the cooling fans are still turned off while I'm typing this the temp has only increased by 2c so far, that is even surprising me!

What turned me against water cooling, was 3 pump failures, and a leak, the leak got into my PCI-E slot and the coolant additive corroded the tiny contact fingers inside the slot, so just in case keep some CRC QD Electronic Cleaner on hand, you can get it from just about any Auto Parts store, it will clean that type corrosion off to factory shine, and its the only thing probably on this planet that can get down in that slot without damaging it.

Plus plan for pretty much an entire days work installing a seriously good water cooling system, well that's my 2 cents, and with my cooling fans off and only the case airflow I'm at 34c.

By the way my machine is overclocked to 4.2G, an AMD 965 BE CPU, ambient room temperature is 23c, well maybe this has given you something else to think about, I just turned my CPU cooling fans back on, try that with a dead water pump, have a good one! Ryan
a c 324 K Overclocking
October 19, 2010 7:19:51 PM

^I'd completely agree to the majority of your post. It isn't for most people, yet there seems to be this ambiguous market for 'beginner's watercooling kits' and 'self-contained' WC (see: H50/70).

What kind of pumps were you using that failed? I haven't had a pump fail in almost 8 years of watercooling, 5+ with the same MCP655. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, because it does...and with respectable components in some cases...if it works now, it can always stop later.

For someone not overclocking, not willing to maintain the hardware and someone not really a 'do-it-yourselfer', watercooling isn't something I'd recommend. If you aren't willing to accept the risks in addition to the rewards, its easier to stay safe and go with a good air cooler.

Good points, just curious on the pump failures...that really sucks.
a b K Overclocking
October 19, 2010 8:32:56 PM

^ Well said. As for the pump, I'm guessing this was back in the day? Probably before the MCP655/MCP355?
a c 205 K Overclocking
October 20, 2010 1:21:28 AM

They were Asetek pumps and at the time supposedly the best of the best, the entire system was around the $450.00 mark, triple radiator 6 120mm cooling fans, it was a sweet setup while it was working, if you guys haven't had any pump failures at all, I'd say you're extremely fortunate.

But nothing lasts forever.
a b K Overclocking
October 20, 2010 1:10:38 PM

^ When was this built? AFAIK, Asetek doesn't exactly have the best reputation in the WCing arena.
a c 324 K Overclocking
October 20, 2010 7:56:14 PM

^Agreed.

I started with an MCP350 about 7ish years ago, then switched to an MCP655 about 5 years ago or so. Back then, there weren't nearly as many brands in the watercooling market as there are today.
a c 205 K Overclocking
October 20, 2010 8:43:24 PM

It was about 6+ yrs ago maybe, I'm sure products have seriously improved in that time period, but for me the past damage is done, so you guys water cool on, I'm getting very satisfactory results on air cooling.

And as far as the OP is concerned if he isn't going to overclock anymore than he has said he was, why should he even be considering water cooling?
October 20, 2010 10:24:45 PM

I'm considering it partially out of interest and curiousity...

and partially because I hate hearing my fans wind up when a game kicks on a cinematic or when i get a ton of effects happen on screen... the quiet factor is pretty big for me...

I am reading better and better things about some interesting air cooling options I didn't know were available, I may try them first, still tossing around ideas..


btw... air cooling wise what all can be done to assist in cooling the gpu?
a b K Overclocking
October 20, 2010 10:50:39 PM

Quote:

and partially because I hate hearing my fans wind up when a game kicks on a cinematic or when i get a ton of effects happen on screen... the quiet factor is pretty big for me...

If that is the case, consider just swapping the fans. Grab some Yate Loons, Slipstreams, or Gentle Typhoons.
a c 205 K Overclocking
October 21, 2010 11:45:41 AM

^ Excellent advise, some of the 9 blade fans output as much air as the louder 7 bladed fans do and do it at lower RPMs and less noise.
!