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Water vs air temperature comparisons question.

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July 12, 2011 5:06:27 PM

Hi all, I'd like to start by saying I am still new here, even if I have scoured these pages for days on end learning about building my new rig. If this the wrong place to ask this, please excuse me and point me in the right direction. (Gently please :D  )

I am going to be building a new rig in the next couple months, and have figured out most of the components I want to use. As this will undoubtedly help you answer my question, I'll take a minute to list what my current expected parts will be.

CPU: intel i5-2500k cpu
MB: ASRock z68 extreme4
Ram: G.Skill ripjaws 1600Mhz CAS 9 (read on here it could be safely timed to CAS 7 still at 1600)
Hard drives: Crucial M4 128Gb SSD and 1T Samsung spinpoint F3 (HD103SJ)
Video Cards: Radeon HD 6950s or 6970s eventually to be crossfired.
OS: Windows 7 Premium Home ed. 64-bit
Monitor: 23" most likely at 1920x1080 or 1920x1200 resolution

I have not decided on a case, PSU, or cooling system yet. I am in the process of choosing those 3 components, but first I need to decide what cooling option I am going to use so I can get the PSU and case that will allow me to use whatever cooling option I choose to go with. This brings me to my question. After days of scouring this site, other forums, and the internet in general, I cannot seem to find a comparison of temperature between Good water cooling and Good air cooling. I have no real idea what temperature differences I can expect to see between the two, and so no idea whether I should expand my budget to fit in a nice water cooling system. All I can seem to find is Big air vs small water and that ilk, and let's face it; small water is pointless. If I go the water route, I'm going to get a good system that will be reliable and last. So those comparisons were pointless to me. I don't want to end up getting a $100 air system to decide 2 months later I need water, or to spend $500 on water when I could have been fine on air. So my question is this: Does anyone have links, snapshots, graphs, or anything at all comparing these options? The more detailed the better.

Now I know you probably need a bit more info from me; namely that I plan on primarily gaming on this rig and playing it for several hours a day. Currently I play WoW and will be playing Guild wars 2 when they release it. I plan to OC the cpu to at least 4.3Ghz and no more than 4.8Ghz. I have read the video cards can also be OC'd a bit, so let's assume I plan on doing this, because I'd like to leave that option open. I will probably go for tighter timings on the ram rather than OC them. I don't know if it matters, but I will have the OS and games on the SSD and only use the HDD for misc files like pictures and music.

If, being a newbie to this, I have left out information you need to help me decide, please let me know what you need to know, and I will update you on the info. Thanks.
a b K Overclocking
July 12, 2011 7:32:13 PM

Ram: G.Skill ripjaws 1600Mhz CAS 9 (read on here it could be safely timed to CAS 7 still at 1600) said:
Ram: G.Skill ripjaws 1600Mhz CAS 9 (read on here it could be safely timed to CAS 7 still at 1600)

Negative. I have a 4GB kit and an 8GB kit, both of G.Skill 1600 CL9 1.5v RAM. Neither one will overclock at all, and neither one will allow timings to be reduced -- even at 1.65v RAM voltage.

You need to get the G.Skill 1600 CL8 kit, as it has better chips. It will overclock if you wish, or you could just reduce the timings. All of the reviews on various web sites that compare the overclock of DDR3-1600 kits have used the G.Skill CL8 kit.

As to your air versus water question:
I don't have charts or anything, but I do have real-world experience. I run a 2500K at 4.8GHz using 1.504v CPU voltage. On "big air" the peak Prime95 core temp was 75ºC. When I switched to water cooling (a $279 EK-KIT H3O - Supreme HF 360 kit), the peak Prime95 core temps went down to 61ºC. I would probably have gotten similar results from a $149 XSPC Rasa 750 RS360 kit, but I preferred the fittings and other components in the EK kit. I only do water cooling for the CPU, and that's all I plan to do -- at least until more graphics cards come from the factory with water blocks pre-installed.
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a c 324 K Overclocking
July 12, 2011 7:49:41 PM

I believe the term the OP should research here is 'delta' or 'delta T' for watercooling.

This is a calculation of ambient temps, flow rate and heat dissipation (potential vs. actual depending on fans). There is a link in the WC sticky (by Conumdrum) that walks through this.

A good watercooling loop will net you 10-12C delta in most cases...if you want something insane, you shoot for ~5C.

A LCS cooler...I can't even tell you what the delta would be for it, especially when it ranges around what a good air cooler does.

I CAN tell you this: my Q6600 @ 3.4ghz (1.2ghz OC) and SLI 260 GTX's run around 45C at sustained load. They usually idle in the mid 30's C. For reference, it's very common to see a GPU at load between 60-80C.
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a b K Overclocking
July 12, 2011 11:21:10 PM

Quote:
CPU: intel i5-2500k cpu
MB: ASRock z68 extreme4
Ram: G.Skill ripjaws 1600Mhz CAS 9 (read on here it could be safely timed to CAS 7 still at 1600)
Hard drives: Crucial M4 128Gb SSD and 1T Samsung spinpoint F3 (HD103SJ)
Video Cards: Radeon HD 6950s or 6970s eventually to be crossfired.
OS: Windows 7 Premium Home ed. 64-bit
Monitor: 23" most likely at 1920x1080 or 1920x1200 resolution


In practice, you should be fine with the CL9 1600MHz RAM, but if you're willing to spend the extra money for a lower CL in order to OC that's your call. My G.Skill Ripjaws X 1600MHz CL9 RAM (P67) hasn't proved to be any faster than my previous Patriot/Kingston 1600MHz CL8 RAM (X58), though I have never OCed the RAM and/or CPU.

I'd recommend an Intel 320/510 or OCZ Vertex/Agility 3. They tend to be much better (i.e. faster) drives, and Intel has some of the fastest. The Sandforce controller in the Intel/OCZ drives performs better in most tests than the Crucial's Micron controller.
More info here: http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/storage/2011/05/16/cru...

The power requirements will really depend on the GPUs and how many of them. 850W is on average what is recommended here to run an i5 + 2x6970s. OCing will push that requirement up a bit.

As for cooling, air cooling can be sufficient if the right case and number/type of fans are used. Just for reference, I have a Raven RV02 with the stock 180mm fans (not the AP181 fans) and my MSI Reference 6950 2GB hit 60-70C at 100% load with the stock cooler, whereas now it's hitting 42C max and holding 40C consistently under water. I also used to have 3x470s in the RV02, and they'd top out around the same as the stock 6950 but at a much higher fan speed (close to 50% if I remember correctly).
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July 12, 2011 11:59:22 PM

Check Bitfenix and Silverstone for a case, they are very well air cooled and have beautiful designs.

Regarding PSU, I like Cooler Master Silent Pro line

If you have the budget, liquid cooling is a nice add-on. Simply by just cooling the CPU, you already have one less component shooting hot air inside the case, and one less fan, and in addition, your other system fans wont have to run so loud. It gets specially better if you get a water-cooled videocard. In addition, it will allow you to silently overclock. Seems like you want to, I would go with liquid cooling.

But you have to do some research to find one thats your style. there are internal and external solutions.

I once used a Zalman external Reserator, and it did not fit my sytle, it was bigger than the PC case..lol Now Im using Swiftech H20, they are great.

Another great external solution are the koolance systems, they mount on top of the case. For me, that was a problem, I like putting stuff on top of my computer.

If you are comfortable with a internal liquid cooling, simply get a water cooled case, there are several out there from Thermaltake, Koolance and several other manufactures.
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a b K Overclocking
July 13, 2011 12:19:12 AM

Quote:
Regarding PSU, I like Cooler Master Silent Pro line

Depends on the model. Cooler Master isn't exactly a "brand name" in PSUs (yet). The Gold series gets pretty good reviews, but at it's prices a Corsair 950TX might be a better investment given all of the power you're going to be needing.

Quote:
If you have the budget, liquid cooling is a nice add-on. Simply by just cooling the CPU, you already have one less component shooting hot air inside the case, and one less fan, and in addition, your other system fans wont have to run so loud. It gets specially better if you get a water-cooled videocard. In addition, it will allow you to silently overclock. Seems like you want to, I would go with liquid cooling.

LCing isn't necessarily quiet, and more cooling require more airflow (and/or rads), which in turn will increase noise. My system cools very well (5C delta) but is decently loud (using 4x ~35-37 dBA fans).

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a c 324 K Overclocking
July 13, 2011 1:54:27 AM

Quote:
LCing isn't necessarily quiet, and more cooling require more airflow (and/or rads), which in turn will increase noise. My system cools very well (5C delta) but is decently loud (using 4x ~35-37 dBA fans).


Yep. I watercool my CPU and both GPUs. I have a total of 10x 120mm case fans. You can do quiet, but you have to work that into your planning. Also, common misconception- people assume that with WC'ing, you don't need case fans. Incorrect...you'll likely need more than what you currently have. Hot components still produce heat...MB being one of the biggest.
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a b K Overclocking
July 13, 2011 2:23:53 AM

RJR said:

Ram: G.Skill ripjaws 1600Mhz CAS 9 (read on here it could be safely timed to CAS 7 still at 1600)

http://www.overclockersclub.com/reviews/gskill_ddr3_160...


Too bad he didn't post a product or serial number for that kit. That would be the new hot seller if they consistently ran that fast.
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a b K Overclocking
July 13, 2011 2:39:45 AM

boiler1990 said:
Too bad he didn't post a product or serial number for that kit. That would be the new hot seller if they consistently ran that fast.


It's on the first page of the review and they are in the computer I'm using right now.

http://www.overclockersclub.com/reviews/gskill_ddr3_160...
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a b K Overclocking
July 13, 2011 3:38:55 AM

My kits certainly don't perform that way, and I bought them in January 2011. Though mine are Ripjaws X, not the original Ripjaws. I don't know if that makes any difference...

I'd still recommend getting the CL8 versions just to be safe, as those have proven to be better performers in both overclocking and lowering timings.
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July 13, 2011 4:10:42 AM

From the sound of it, I think WCing is looking like the better option, even if I really didn't want to have to come up with the extra money. Any suggestions on loops if I wanted to cool the CPU and a dual GPU setup? (would I want to add NB to the CPU loop as well?) Not sure how I could do this. Preferrably I'd only want to buy one pump and reservoir, and that would have to be a really good pump and radiator to run both loops with a split in the loop before going to either set of components. Can that be done without risking inadequate water flow? What would we be talking to pull it off, or what other setup would I have to consider?
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a c 324 K Overclocking
July 13, 2011 1:33:35 PM

Quote:
Any suggestions on loops if I wanted to cool the CPU and a dual GPU setup?

I run a CPU+2x SLI setup. It's very common.

Quote:
(would I want to add NB to the CPU loop as well?) Not sure how I could do this.

You don't need to WC the NB, but some people do it...it won't do a whole lot for you, but its fine...you DO NOT need to WC RAM, SB, HDD, MOSFETs, etc.

Quote:
Preferrably I'd only want to buy one pump and reservoir, and that would have to be a really good pump and radiator to run both loops with a split in the loop before going to either set of components. Can that be done without risking inadequate water flow?

You are meaning a single loop...this is your best bet. There is no reason to run dual loops unless you really want to buy an extra pump and res and the tubing for both. You DO NOT want to split a loop into parallel...there is a link in the WC sticky that defines why. Short story- it lowers your flow...you are better off keeping everything serial in your loop (one component in-out to the next).

Quote:
What would we be talking to pull it off, or what other setup would I have to consider?

What is your budget (total)? Upgrade plans? You are going to need to consider some good, decent sized rads to dissipate that heat...where will they be mounted? (this is where case considerations are important) What kind of delta are you looking for? How long before your next upgrade? Will you want to continue WC'ing that hardware?

Please give the WC sticky a very thorough read-through...it has a lot of info that might help you get started. It is linked below in my signature. It also includes the other links to other stickies as well as a ton of links for specific speaking points throughout the sticky page.
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July 13, 2011 5:07:52 PM

Quote:
What is your budget (total)? Upgrade plans? You are going to need to consider some good, decent sized rads to dissipate that heat...where will they be mounted? (this is where case considerations are important) What kind of delta are you looking for? How long before your next upgrade? Will you want to continue WC'ing that hardware?


My budget is a bit complicated. Overall, I would say I will spend no more than $2500 although I would really prefer to keep it under $2000. Unless I change one of the things I decide to get in the OP, I have about $1650 planned and that will include the keyboard I have decided to get. (steelseries merc stealth) The 4 components I still have to decide on are the mouse, case, PSU, and cooling system. I have read really good reviews about the Roccat Kone [+] gaming mouse, but at $120 it's a bit pricey, so it would have to be as good as they say it is. Have you heard anything about it?

For the case, I would prefer to spend no more than $150, but as this is also more or less going to be a one time investment, I would consider up to $200. I think I will try to go with a LC case, if only to leave that option open. Besides, I am thinking I will go with LC.

As for PSU, I realize this is probably the single most important piece of my equipment and will be treating it as such. Again, I do not want to spend more than about $150 on this piece, but ultimately I will spend what I need to spend in order to get the right part that I can count on.

And saving the best (or most complicated :kaola:  ) for last, cooling. If I go with air, I'll probably come just over my $2000 mark. If I go water I'll probably come right at the $2500 mark is my bet for good parts. You asked me for upgrade plans; I do not intend to need to upgrade this rig for several years. That's one reason I'm going for solid performance parts and not being cheap about it. Thrifty yes, cheap no. I do however, want parts such as the case, PSU, and cooling system to be re-used as I go on to replace parts like the cpu, gpu, ect as they get older and outdated. If I go with LCing, I will stay LCing for any upgrades. Delta-t is a bit more tricky. I keep ambient temp at around 30C (85F) in the summer as I find it lowers the electric bill and still keeps me comfortable. Ideally, I'd like a LC setup that would fit nicely into my case and be able to keep the delta-t under 15 (with a CPU and 2 GPUs, I think that a reasonable goal). For mounting location of the radiator I was thinking back of the case by the exit fans. This is a double-edged sword I know, because you blow case air over the water to try to cool it, which has been raised a bit before going through the radiator. My thinking is that by having the LCing, the air should not be too hot in the first place to still cool the water in the radiator in the first place(please do tell if this is faulty reasoning). I would consider mounting it on the side of the case, but only if I absolutely must.

Quote:
Please give the WC sticky a very thorough read-through...it has a lot of info that might help you get started. It is linked below in my signature. It also includes the other links to other stickies as well as a ton of links for specific speaking points throughout the sticky page.


Indeed. I have been and will continue to do so.

Quote:
You don't need to WC the NB, but some people do it...it won't do a whole lot for you, but its fine...you DO NOT need to WC RAM, SB, HDD, MOSFETs, etc.


Sounds good. I will try to find a setup that will allow me to at least blow air at the NB and other components that aren't LCed.

Quote:
You are meaning a single loop...this is your best bet. There is no reason to run dual loops unless you really want to buy an extra pump and res and the tubing for both. You DO NOT want to split a loop into parallel...there is a link in the WC sticky that defines why. Short story- it lowers your flow...you are better off keeping everything serial in your loop (one component in-out to the next).


I will remember that. Thanks for the info. I'll stick with a serial loop with the CPU as the first component coming out of the pump. Do you think this will allow me my 15 delta-t? Naturally I'd like to keep the CPU under a delta-t of 10, thus the CPU being first in the loop. Either way, it should be alot better than air.
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a c 324 K Overclocking
July 13, 2011 5:35:31 PM

The water temp will be within 3-5C within any single point of the loop at any given time...so loop order doesn't matter. Most people put the CPU first, but when you stop to think about it...it's a loop...nothing is first...nothing is last.

As for airflow within the case...just make sure you have a case with good airflow to begin with...you should be fine.

You mentioned thinking you'd hit $2000 on your build or $2500 with watercooling...so...$500 budget? Going to be cutting it close for a CPU + 2 GPU loop. It's very possible, but needs some planning and knowing how/where your loop components are going to go.
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July 13, 2011 6:05:43 PM

Quote:
...$500 budget? Going to be cutting it close for a CPU + 2 GPU loop. It's very possible, but needs some planning and knowing how/where your loop components are going to go.


Do you have any suggestions on parts, cases, or in-case configurations? I'd like an asthetically pleasing case with the acrylic see-through sides, but as long as it looks good, has enough room, and has good airflow, I think I'd be happy. Is the radiator mounting position I mentioned going to be a good location in your opinion?

Quote:
The water temp will be within 3-5C within any single point of the loop at any given time...so loop order doesn't matter. Most people put the CPU first, but when you stop to think about it...it's a loop...nothing is first...nothing is last.


True, true. Just meant that by putting the CPU as the first component after the water is cooled back down, I will be letting it run cooler than the GPUs, which as I understand it, is a better loop setup.
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July 15, 2011 2:55:51 PM

Sorry about the double post. Rubix, I was wondering if you have ever air-cooled with your SLI setup you said you had? If so, what were your temperature at idle and load? And what are they now with the LC setup?
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a c 100 K Overclocking
July 15, 2011 3:44:10 PM

Hi, just a few of my own thoughts.

Get better RAM, Gskill has some 1600mhz CL8 1.5V RAM which is awesome. I have no doubt you could push it to 1.65V and drop it to CL7.

PSU - you're going to want 850W+, I'd probably go with 950W. Corsair, Antec, Seasonic are all good, among others. Just don't cheap out on this.

Also you asked about the difference between WC and air. I got the feeling you mean, what's the difference in temp from a high end air cooler to a good WC loop? Well I was running a Zalman CNPS10X Extreme CPU cooler. Not the absolute best, but still very good. I used that for a while, but a few months ago I upgraded to the Swiftech 220 Edge kit. It's a CPU loop only, with a 2x120mm rad. My temps literally dropped as much as 10C under load at 4ghz. I made a thread about it a while back...

As for GPUs, I don't have experience there yet (planning on it with the next GPU upgrade) but I think the temp drop would be at least as good, if not better. But more importantly, way less noise!
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a c 324 K Overclocking
July 15, 2011 6:20:29 PM

Quote:
Sorry about the double post. Rubix, I was wondering if you have ever air-cooled with your SLI setup you said you had?


I've been watercooling for the past 9 years or so. The last PC I had that wasn't watercooled (outside of a laptop/network file server) was a Pentium 3 chip and a Voodoo 4 PCI card and 128mb of PC66.
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July 17, 2011 7:32:01 PM

Best answer selected by JRay.
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