1. Would you recommend a water/liquid solution to a friend?
Yes, but the friends level of expertise, patience, and desires would inform my recommendation. How much do they really want and how hard are they willing to work for it? It's not about risks if parts are properly researched and procedures followed... but if the person doesn't have the patience for that they had better stay away.
2. Does this change whether the person is knowledgeable with computer hardware and/or watercooling or not?
Certainly, but ignorance in itself should not bar a person from achieving something they are sure they want.
3. What solutions would fit your recommendations, if any?Custom designed and separately ordered parts list.
This is for people with time, money, and a wish for excellent cooling of both CPU and GPU(s). Usually such people also want something that is aesthetically pleasing for them, but not always. Sometimes people with money and a desire want such a system, even though they are unlikely to build such themselves. There are shops that will do the job and guarantee their work, but at a premium.Unassembled kits
These are usually relatively inexpensive and lack features and/or expandability. If someone wants to watercool but has a limited budget these are sometimes a good choice.Pre-assembled kits or kits requiring very little assembly
People with an adequate budget that don't want to manage a complicated water loop can be quite happy with one of these. An example is the Swiftech H20-320 EDGE
, just two hoses to worry about. Obviously there is still some planning needed for radiator placement.Self-contained water coolers
Examples are the Antec KUHLER H2O 920
) and the Corsair H100
These rarely leak, provide performance as good or better than most air coolers, are easy to install, and do not put the stress on the motherboard that a very large air cooler will. Anyone building their own computer can consider these. They are no more dangerous than the assembly process itself.