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Scared of Water Cooling...

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September 21, 2011 8:59:53 PM

So, I've been building my own systems since high school, and since I graduated college and began work as a software developer I've been able to invest considerably more into my system (as you might see in my sig), and all the parts have been installed by me. Problem is, although I have some serious heat-generating components, I've always been intimidated by water cooling.

Ideally, I'd just bring my case (Cooler Master Storm Sniper) somewhere and have them do it for me...but I don't think anyone does that, I'm certainly not going to buy a pre-built system and sell all my old components just for the cooling, and I've tried all-in-one solutions like the H70 but I always end up going back to my CNPS 9900 Max, because the performance just isn't up to snuff.

So what I'd like from Tom's users are tips on what sort of parts I need and where to get them. And I know Tom's wrote a DIY liquid cooling article, but it's like 3 years old now, so it's not super helpful. Also, if, on the off chance, people have other suggestions like a great water cooling service or something or an all-in-one that actually DOES cool as well as a custom water cooling setup, then please let me know. Also, I'm thinking I'd want to cool the CPU and both GTX 580s, but if someone think this is a terrible idea, let me know. Thanks in advance for your help!

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a c 324 K Overclocking
September 21, 2011 9:20:45 PM
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Do you have a link to the article you mentioned above? I'd like to read it...I'd probably actually remember reading it if I saw it.

Have you read through the WC sticky in the forum? I put it together earlier this spring/summer and almost all the info is still very relevant. Most of the concepts really don't change much...just the actual hardware being used...and it is all based on the same concepts as previous versions.

So, considering what you are saying, here are a couple ideas to have in mind as you are reading/planning/purchasing your components:

A single loop will be fine for CPU and 2 GPUs...I run a loop like this...so do many on the forum. So, don't be concerned that you can't run a single loop with this hardware...it's very possible and will work well as long as you realize what will be needed.

Get familiar with TDP for CPU and GPUs. Each of your 580's looks to be 244w...so 488w between the two (stock speeds). CPU is about 130w...so in total... almost 620 watts you'll need to consider cooling with radiators. Skinneelabs.com/radiator reviews will become your friend. This will help you determine delta-T for your loop for the fans you want to run.

There are also some e-tailer links in the sticky toward the bottom. FrozenCPU.com usually has some of the largest selection, but is often a little more pricey than other sites. If you can find some gear you like that matches your build and budget, we can help find other sites that might get you a better deal.
a b K Overclocking
September 21, 2011 9:34:31 PM

rubix_1011 said:
Get familiar with TDP for CPU and GPUs. Each of your 580's looks to be 244w...so 488w between the two (stock speeds). CPU is about 130w...so in total... almost 620 watts you'll need to consider cooling with radiators. Skinneelabs.com/radiator reviews will become your friend. This will help you determine delta-T for your loop for the fans you want to run..

Completely agree that the first step should be to determine the heat capacity the cooling system is required to handle. If you are overclocking (or ever plan on trying) you are looking at more like 750-800w total heat output from your components when overclocked. Just something to keep in mind when determining flow/rads/blocks/res/etc.

The first link in Rubix's signature gives lots of very informative links to start doing some research.

Last, once you make the move, it will be hard to go back to air once you see what custom water can do :D 
Related resources
a b K Overclocking
September 21, 2011 9:37:40 PM

Well it doesn't take much of an imagination to think up what can go wrong but getting passed that is always the first step. Research as always before you make any purchase as not all are even worth the box they are shipped in. Always as those who have been doing this for years or has built such setups as their primary or secondary profession.

a c 324 K Overclocking
September 21, 2011 9:43:59 PM

Quote:
If you are overclocking (or ever plan on trying) you are looking at more like 750-800w total heat output from your components when overclocked.


This is a good estimation...hard to put a firm number on actual TDP at stock, let alone overclocked. The numbers I dropped were from a couple quick Google searches on <hardware> and TDP.

I'll be the first to admit...watercooling went from an enthusiast concept with me long ago (9+ years or so) by overclocking and cooling P3 and P4's...until it became more of a hobbyist venture. Man, it sure is addictive once you get started.
September 22, 2011 4:22:36 AM

I consider myself alot closer to being a expert at the whole modern day desktop computer thing. Watercooling hum?...its tough ,unforgiving despite all my smart comments on everything else. I have a desktop with lights inside of it. I used to think o that looks so easy. HA!
Watercooling with components that are not kits the big thing is draining the system and refilling..Really refilling takes a long time so if you have free time on your hands to invest in building a watercooling system do it. By freetime I mean with todays waterblocks and secure water system with all the professional components..for what you want to do could take 24full hours strait through or spaced out over a week or how ever. When waterblocks are on check temps then drain system or detach components via D fitting which I get intimidated about using; so I don't. Then tighten the waterblocks up further fill system check temp this might go on for awhile.
I have some German components on my system one of which is feser fans there good airflow for one of my four rads. I also have heatkiller waterblocks for my gtx590 setup. And let me tell you I spent quite some time getting my temps down.
Finally I went to the hardware store and bought copper plates much like the kind they use on door kick panels only smaller and thinner(I took a chance!). So I put heatkiller blocks on gtx590's and sandwich with copper plates I cut the same size as the four gpu's. That procedure took with 3 hours not counting going to store from start to finish. Thats from taking the cards out of the system with them running at 43-61degrees C. To running at 30-31 flatline temp no fluxing,with software and everything else installed running 3Dmark Vantage. Is it worth it. I know its worth it to me because I won't be hanging around my computer reajusting setting every 2 to 3 hours because the computer is hot. And a week later my mind will be so far away from ever doing it to begin with. In fact I guess I take it for granted in a way or the novelty value wares off,but most important the speed don't because it's watercooled.
a b K Overclocking
September 22, 2011 5:11:02 AM

H2O cooling is really a waste of effort and money unless your goal is to try and squeeze the last Hz. out of your CPU via OC'ing. For water-cooling to be effective you need to spend $200+ and then you get a loud fan which is required to cool the radiator.

In addition to required maintenance and marginal gains over air-cooling you run the very real risk of water leaks and destroyed hardware. The only time water cooling is really effective is with ice water for short term OC'ing as ice water is impractical for daily use.

See the Corsair forums for the sad tales of woe when system leaks destroyed PC hardware.
a c 205 K Overclocking
September 22, 2011 11:27:48 AM

In the earlier days system leaks were a problem but not so much today, I recommend the barbs and hose clamps, they're not the prettiest solution but they do not leak.

You'll be pretesting for leaks anyway before actually powering the motherboard and other components so if you have a leak, fix it before powering the entire system.

You do need to ask yourself is water cooling really necessary for my situation and setup, am I having overheating issues causing crashes, that it would be viably necessary to go with a better cooling solution.

Or do you want a cooler operating level so you can overclock higher as you are in the overclocking section asking these questions.

My reason for returning to water cooling was overclocking headroom, and I am one using the ice water cooling as previously mentioned, (See: "My Sandy Bridge Water Cooling Project" thread in the water cooling section if curious), but it's very practical for daily use you don't have to take it to extremely low temps for daily use, however I have that option with that setup.

I also have a standard loop setup, that setup is also for overclocking headroom, but is on a platform that doesn't get as hot as the Sandy Bridge 2500K does, so it can handle the increased temps from overclocking with no problems.

As rubix_1011 already stated a single loop should do you just fine with your present setup, however will you be transferring the water cooling to a new build soon?, if so put that in your consideration for the components you choose.

I'm sure you'll get many suggestions but for the pump I'm going to suggest the Swiftech MCP655 Variable Speed Pump, Newegg doesn't carry much water cooling to even consider but their price for this pump is the best I could find, I use this pump on level 3 and it is a top performer, flow rate adjustable from level 1 to 5, so it will (no problem), handle your CPU and GPUs.

I'm also recommending the Rasa XSPC Water Block because it is a high performer and extremely easy to disassemble, clean, and reassemble.

The rest you have to decide do you want a complete internal setup, or internal/external setup, I recommend the reservoir/radiator outside the computer, but that's my choice, so that bit of info you have to decide.

Radiator wise is in direct relation to your goals and the sound level you are prepared to live with, for the loop you're considering, definitely a quad, but a quad what?, the 140mm fans are quieter than the 120mm fans, but the 120s have some serious CFM capability models available, so another decision you have to think about.

I hope this helps some. Ryan

a c 324 K Overclocking
September 22, 2011 1:29:57 PM

Quote:
H2O cooling is really a waste of effort and money unless your goal is to try and squeeze the last Hz. out of your CPU via OC'ing. For water-cooling to be effective you need to spend $200+ and then you get a loud fan which is required to cool the radiator.


Not entirely true. Many people just do it because its a load of fun, but yes, many watercool to overclock...but you don't need 'loud fans'...no louder than any of your normal case airflow fans, anyway...

Quote:
In addition to required maintenance and marginal gains over air-cooling you run the very real risk of water leaks and destroyed hardware. The only time water cooling is really effective is with ice water for short term OC'ing as ice water is impractical for daily use.


I've watercooled for 9+ years solid on my main PC...and I use it every day for 3-4 hours (at minimum). The risk of leaking is all on the installer...if you half-ass it and don't take your time...sure. Water is very practical for everyday use when installed correctly and the loop has been planned to meet the needs of the system it is cooling.

Quote:
See the Corsair forums for the sad tales of woe when system leaks destroyed PC hardware.


There's your problem. Most of us here don't consider 'Corsair products' actual watercooling. They are LCS coolers for the most part (except for a couple kits they developed a few years ago that were mediocre). Please do a little more research before posting information that is at most...40% valid.
a c 205 K Overclocking
September 22, 2011 2:12:52 PM

^ Ditto
September 22, 2011 3:21:53 PM

rubix_1011 said:
Do you have a link to the article you mentioned above? I'd like to read it...


I think this is the article I was referring to...even older than I thought...

As for concerns about leaking, it hasn't actually been my biggest worry. Obviously if you half-ass the job you can run into problems, but I really haven't heard of experienced builders getting system-destroying leaks.

As for the purpose of my water cooling, I'm looking for more overclocking headroom.

4Ryan6 said:
As rubix_1011 already stated a single loop should do you just fine with your present setup, however will you be transferring the water cooling to a new build soon?, if so put that in your consideration for the components you choose.


I do plan on upgrading to LGA 2011 from LGA 1366 when it comes out (who knows when that will be). As far as I know, that's still around a year away, but if anyone has heard that it will be before we reach 2012, I could easily hold off to save me the hassle of getting a 2nd CPU waterblock and needing to completely empty and refill the system again. Apart from a new CPU waterblock is there something else in a new build that would effect the water cooling solution? The 2 GTX 580s should hold me for a while and I doubt I'll be moving out of my current case anytime soon...

lukwen said:
By freetime I mean with todays waterblocks and secure water system with all the professional components..for what you want to do could take 24full hours strait through or spaced out over a week or how ever.


Can anyone verify this? I'll be honest, a full 24 hours for filling a water cooling system seems a bit ridiculous to me...have I just been extremely underestimating the time involved?

I'm aware that the process of setting up and installing a water cooling system is time-consuming, but I'm worried less about building the system and getting leaks than I am about picking the proper parts. There are just SO many components, that I want to make sure I'm buying the right kind of fittings, the right diameter tubing, the right size reservoir and radiator, and the right BRAND of components (I have brands I trust when buying graphics cards, motherboards, power supplies, etc... but I'm much less familiar with which brands I can trust for water cooling parts).
a c 324 K Overclocking
September 22, 2011 3:55:18 PM

Quote:
lukwen wrote :

By freetime I mean with todays waterblocks and secure water system with all the professional components..for what you want to do could take 24full hours strait through or spaced out over a week or how ever.


No, this is completely wrong. Even leak testing really shouldn't take more than 4 hours or so to verify if anything is leaking...you'll know within a few minutes (or seconds) if you have leaks. If you leak test outside the case, make sure you leak test once you have everything mounted inside...you never know when tubing or a fitting could come a bit loose.

However, installation varies depending on experience level. I can completely empty my case of watercooling gear and all hardware and rebuild in less than a few hours, including having the loop filled and running. A first time water loop builder should take more time to get the feel and understanding of what care needs to be taken, but in no way should it take the hours/days he mentioned.

Don't worry...we'll take care of you. These are good questions to be asking...and if you ever aren't sure, don't just take it for granted...get the info you need.

As for that article...yeah, I remember that one. Funny thing is, I've owned most of the components listed/pictured in that article at some point or another. :)  I think I actually still have the majority of them TBH. That being said, almost all of the general concepts still apply...they just should be updated for today's hardware and TDP. The basic idea still very much applies...the hardware has advanced, but the ideas remain the same.
September 23, 2011 4:16:22 PM

So I THINK I'm going with 3/8 ID, 1/2 OD for my case (my case is pretty full, so I'm not sure about using thicker 1/2 ID tubing), and compression fittings make me feel a bit better so I think I'll use those...but I'm having trouble figuring out the radiator mount. As I said I have a CM Storm Sniper Black Edition case, which does have a spot for a radiator, but while it would certainly fit a 120x240 radiator and I think it would fit a 120x360 radiator, I'm not sure about actually being able to mount 3 120mm fans and I'm having trouble finding specifics about what radiators people have installed in this case, and all the videos only show the internal tubing...not the radiator...

I'd also welcome suggestions on how to connect my two GTX 580s, since they are in SLI. I have heard that there are special SLI connectors, to avoid the need of cutting the tubing EXACTLY, but I'm not sure exactly how those work.

But @rubix_1011, BIG thanks for those articles, they are super helpful, and I will most DEFINITELY be going with colored rubing with un-dyed distilled water...
a b K Overclocking
September 23, 2011 5:38:34 PM

The 1/2 ID tubing is pretty thick. I use it in my Raven and it's hefty (build log is here on the forum a few posts down). You should be plenty fine with the 3/8.

While compression fittings are nice, barbs will work well too. I've had trouble pulling tubing off of the barbs I do have. I would recommend clamps obviously. I also tore up one compression fitting because it wouldn't unscrew and I had to use pliers...*sigh*

As for fitting the rad, take a look at the design specs of the ones you're interested in and measure out the spaces. Also take into account the logistics of where you place the rad - how tubing is going to work, etc. I had to change my loop setup when I added my new block and luckilymy rads were able to accommodate that.

The SLI connectors are essentially machined tubing that fit onto the existing waterblocks and they are generally brand specific (I.e. EK SLI connectors only work with EK blocks), and you have to get A) the right size depending how many slots apart the GPUs are, and B) the right adaptor to connect the GPU to the SLI fitting (at least for EK's). I found these to be too expensive so I just used a cut piece of tube and two fitting. It's not difficult to hold a tube up to the blocks and cut it in the right spot ;) 
September 23, 2011 5:53:46 PM

Looking at my case now...there is definitely room for a 240, but for a 360 I would have to cut a hole in the case...I'm seriously considering trading in my Sniper Storm for a Corsair Obsidian 800D...would certainly make installing the water cooling a lot easier...just wish it had been around when I bought my current case...

EDIT: Read a few reviews of the Obsidian 800D...and that case is amazing...definitely worth upgrading...
a b K Overclocking
September 23, 2011 8:19:41 PM

bikeracer4487 said:
Looking at my case now...there is definitely room for a 240, but for a 360 I would have to cut a hole in the case


Cut a hole or just do a little drilling to mount the rads?
September 23, 2011 9:23:06 PM

boiler1990 said:
Cut a hole or just do a little drilling to mount the rads?


Well I'd only need drilling to mount the rad, but I'd need to cut an actual hole if I wanted to use fans...which you kinda have to, or else what's the point of a triple radiator? But it's all moot anyway, because the 800D has enough advantages over the Storm Sniper to make it worth it.
a c 324 K Overclocking
September 23, 2011 9:23:58 PM

You'd want offsets or a rad box...wouldn't want to mount a rad directly against the side of your case.
a b K Overclocking
September 23, 2011 11:29:44 PM

rubix_1011 said:
You'd want offsets or a rad box...wouldn't want to mount a rad directly against the side of your case.


Yeah, I wouldn't recommend directly mounting the rad either. Silverstone's rad mounts are great; they're just awkwardly sized because they were made to mount onto the 180mm fans.

@OP: I guess the fans would be an issue. The 800D is nice, it's just a bit pricey personally ;) 
September 25, 2011 8:00:06 PM

So I've ordered all the parts, prolly be doing the build next weekend (so I can devote a whole weekend to it). Decided to just use tubing between the GPU blocks since the SLI connector seemed even MORE complicated...I'll just have to be careful with the tubing length. Since I now have an 800D case I went with 1/2 ID, 3/4 OD with UV-reactive tubes and non-dyed distilled water. Also ordered biocide AND a silver coil just to be safe. Also, I noticed Feser also sells a "corrosion blocker", but I also know that companies like to scare you into think if you don't buy their product your system will explode, so I was wondering if this was something I should really get, or if it's not really necessary. If it helps, the CPU block is a Swiftech Apogee XT Extreme and the 2 GPU blocks are EK-brand electroless nickel plated.
October 3, 2011 3:52:46 PM

Best answer selected by bikeracer4487.
October 3, 2011 9:13:51 PM

Nice man, I think you'll be pleased with your 800D. Just shout if you need any pointers on that bottom 240 mod.
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