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Is Water cooling worth the trouble?

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October 20, 2012 3:38:30 AM

When I mean water cooling, I mean 2 types : a) The custom loop, b) closed loops like H100 or Thermalright water 2.0 Extreme.

I am building a brand new 3930K system and I'm a bit puzzled as to what I should do. I am reading the reviews of these air heatsink coolers like Thermalright silver arrow extreme and I'm amazed that they can come to 2-3C of water cooling systems. The problem with the water cooled systems, especially the closed loop ones like H100 are:

* Reliability : I am reading way too many posts about these failing. Imagine $2,500 worth of hardware being ruined. I currently have a Thermalright Ultra Extreme - 120 heatsink that I have been using for 6 years on a Q6600 CPU that's running at 50% overclock, since the day I bought it. It's extremely quiet and efficient. Will I be able to use H100 for my 3930K overclocking it to 4.6 Ghz for the next 5 years? It sounds really unreliable if you think about it.

* So much work : The custom loops are ridiculous, they are so ridiculous that only a person who does this as a hobby and have a lot of free time on their hand should deal with this.

* The temperature difference : The new heatsinks are so efficient that is it really worth doing all of this for 2-3C? I also see that H100 and Thermalright Water 2.0 Extreme have much worse noise levels than Silver Arrow Extreme when they cool at maximum levels (which is how they get that 2-3C margin).

Thanks for the comments!
a b K Overclocking
October 20, 2012 3:55:59 AM

so much work? you have to change the water every month or so, and you could use a killcoil which could go a long time without having to be changed

one member on here (amuffin) is running 5.1GHz on his sandy bridge CPU (on a custom loop) which would be far too much for an air cooler/prebuilt watercooler
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October 20, 2012 4:10:56 AM

nna2 said:
so much work? you have to change the water every month or so, and you could use a killcoil which could go a long time without having to be changed

one member on here (amuffin) is running 5.1GHz on his sandy bridge CPU (on a custom loop) which would be far too much for an air cooler/prebuilt watercooler


Can you tell me what kind of a water loop and system he has and if it is something reasonable, I will just eat what I said.

Changing water once a month is ridiculous, I honestly was thinking once a year is way too much work, once a month is just insane. The air setups have 0 maintenance. You buy the heatsink and fan, you install them, and you are done.
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Related resources
October 20, 2012 4:30:04 AM

If you want to push a 3930K to 4.6ghz it will bring the cpu upto nearly 200w TDP

Custom water cooling really starts to shine at high overclocks
Right now I have my 3930k @ 5.0ghz on custom water, that's the CPU, Motherboard VRM , PCH and my 2 GPU's cooled by water through 2x 120mm Rads and 1x 360mm Rad (with push-pull fan config on it)

I only change my water maybe once every 3 months if that, I have a kill coil, and my water is always been clean.

IF you want a system you can just ignore without any worries, get a Air cooler, Water cooling does require maintenance and monitoring.
But even the biggest Air coolers are going to limit your overclock
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October 20, 2012 4:54:21 AM

kitsunestarwind said:
If you want to push a 3930K to 4.6ghz it will bring the cpu upto nearly 200w TDP

Custom water cooling really starts to shine at high overclocks
Right now I have my 3930k @ 5.0ghz on custom water, that's the CPU, Motherboard VRM , PCH and my 2 GPU's cooled by water through 2x 120mm Rads and 1x 360mm Rad (with push-pull fan config on it)

I only change my water maybe once every 3 months if that, I have a kill coil, and my water is always been clean.

IF you want a system you can just ignore without any worries, get a Air cooler, Water cooling does require maintenance and monitoring.
But even the biggest Air coolers are going to limit your overclock


How much did your setup cost you?

I also don't understand how WC is quiter. You still have to have a lot of fans. You probably have 5 fans on your radiators. Thats for 1 CPU and 2 GPUs. If you had air cooling, you'd have 4. They also say you save space with WC, but your setup must be massive, the radiators and the pump take up a lot of space. I think you'd need one of those massive cases. I have no problem doing maintenance once in a while, but I saw a fee videos of WC cleaning, my god waa that dirty.
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a b K Overclocking
October 20, 2012 4:56:26 AM

Custom watercooling is nice, but you need to maintain it. Its also very expensive. I have successfully watercooled several PCs and its fun, but its a lot of work for not much trade off other than a better OC and it just looks cool. Now I strictly use air cooling (I must be getting old). Sure you can't overclock a cpu to an inch of its life, but then most cpus go pretty fast on aircooling. For the 2011 series though, I would get at least a closed loop, ready filled watercooling set up. The Thermaltake 2.0 pro is a good one and if you can fit it, the extreme version is even better.
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October 20, 2012 10:11:32 AM

How much are we talking about here for a great custom loop? I might just give it a try if it will let me run my 3930K at 5.1 Ghz all the time. I play FSX, and that's a game where CPU speed makes all the difference.
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a c 78 K Overclocking
October 20, 2012 12:17:35 PM

almost everyone here has tried to offer some constructive advice - however has the OP thought of heading down to the watercooling sticky - located just at the top most level of this section?

If not, then please visit the watercooling sticky located in my sig. Really full of wonderful info and answers to your subliminal questions.

Might also want to check out the build logs and the member water cooling gallery threads for some inspiration and a feel of how things work.

my 2 cents :) 
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October 20, 2012 1:09:05 PM

Thanks, I appreciate all the responses. I will read the stickies and ask my questions later on.
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October 20, 2012 6:10:25 PM

I have done some reading and I have a question which I believe is not addressed in any of the sticky threads or other threads that I searched in the forum. It's about the quietness of water cooling.

I see that this is one of the selling points for water cooling, but I fail to understand how it actually can be true. Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't you need radiators with fans on them so that you can cool the water? From what I can tell, any serious loop for a LGA 2011 card is going to require a 240mm radiator, that means 2x120mm fans. Isn't that same as having thermalright silver arrow extreme with its 2 fans? Same argument can be said the video cards. The GTX 680 has 1 small fan. If I need to water cool it and get the hydro copper version, I am going to need a 120mm radiator with 1x120mm fan. So yes, maybe you are not having a fan on top of a particular hardware part, but you have to have it somewhere.

I also noticed that (purely from reviews), the water cooling setups for some reason have louder fans (Thermalright water 2.0 extreme or Corsair H100) than a heatsink setup. Every review site I have been to indicates this. Yes, you can run H100 in low setting and it will be extremely quiet. But then you won't be able to see those temperatures at 5.0 Ghz.

I'm just trying to understand this that's all. I am also trying to understand how much this would cost me, and based on my rough estimates, it will cost me somewhere around $500-750 extra ($200 for hydro copper GPU, $300 for CPU block + radiators + pump + res, and another $200 for the other hydro copper GPU), that's nearly the price of a 30" panel, or 2 SLC SSDs. I just don't know if paying that much money so that my colorful tubing looks nice and my PC is 2C cooler is worth it. Any 5.0 Ghz > overclock that I have seen that involves water cooling is either extreme (requires a ton of radiators and very expensive parts) or it is not stable (I don't call anything over 65C stable).

Lastly, I need to run this rig 24/7. This is my media center as well and my file server. This PC will always be on, day and night, with no exceptions. This is another reason why I'm a bit hesitant and careful about water cooling. I cannot afford any of these parts to go wrong on me and I also don't have time to do maintenance once a month (once a year is completely fine).
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a c 150 K Overclocking
October 20, 2012 6:35:54 PM

derstig said:
If this is the guy you are talking about, his profile says he has 4.5 Ghz. http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/configuration.php?con...

Did I forget to change that!? :heink: 

I found 5ghz to be the "most" stable setup.

http://valid.canardpc.com/show_oc.php?id=2435301



To answer some of your questions....

Just because you have 2 fans running off of a heatsink, doesn't mean you have 240mm of space to dissipate heat.

The reason why the CLC's have louder fans is specifically static pressure, they really need louder fans to push the air through the radiator.
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a c 78 K Overclocking
October 20, 2012 6:42:09 PM

:)  those were answered in the sticky - You just skimmed through it :p 
quickly answering - hopefully this will be my last spoonfeeding :D 

1|
Quote:
It's about the quietness of water cooling.
sound/noise and quietness of a setup is subjective
2|
Quote:
Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't you need radiators with fans on them so that you can cool the water?
go to the fin spacing area of the sticky - tightly spaced fins mean faster-louder fans.
3|
Quote:
I am going to need a 120mm radiator with 1x120mm fan.
according to the TDP calc of components you'll understand one isn't enough.
4|
Quote:
the water cooling setups for some reason have louder fans (Thermalright water 2.0 extreme or Corsair H100)
the stock fans are always crappy - If you've continued to read the CLC section of the sticky - I addressed getting after market fans.
5|
Quote:
Yes, you can run H100 in low setting and it will be extremely quiet. But then you won't be able to see those temperatures at 5.0 Ghz.
there are always trade off's
6| you haven't dug /read anything - the Hydrocoppers are all that you've been going on about. Do a lil more Googling - will tell you they are overpriced for their performance. Your budget should flux after the find.

7| Nothing wrong with the pump running 24/7 provided you choose a reliable pump - though don't you think it should be on air? Since putting one machine to do everything will make it pop w/o bidding farewell :p 

*Isolate the server duty on another case and have it running off air.
my next 2 cents.
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October 20, 2012 6:46:28 PM

Lutfij said:

*Isolate the server duty on another case and have it running off air.
my next 2 cents.


You have a very good point here. My current PC can actually stay as is (though its massive - Antec 1200) and I'll build this second PC as purely for gaming and enjoyment and run water cooling on it.

Thanks for the rest of your responses by the way, I appreciate it. I will do more reading.
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a c 78 K Overclocking
October 20, 2012 6:52:54 PM

Your welcome, just helping mate :) 
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a c 327 K Overclocking
October 21, 2012 3:02:59 AM

The idea that watercooling is silent or quieter than air cooling isn't always the case- it really depends on your radiator and fan decisions. Just remember that when you add radiators, you need to add fans, which means more fans than you'd normally run. Fans generate noise, which means...potentially more noise depending on fans being used.

Also- you do not need to change the water every month. I've gone more than 2 years without changing the water in my loop, but its suggested every 6-12 months if you aren't running just plain distilled in your loop.

Good air cooling does come close to closed loop coolers, but cannot keep up with a good loop, especially under loads or overclocking setups. Watercooling also makes a big impact on GPU cooling and you can often expect to see temperature drops of 20 to 40C at load, depending on ambient temp and GPU used.

There is a lot of misguided information being suggested here, so please read the sticky and do follow the guidance of lutfij and amuffin (above)- they've been around the forum a while and are great resources for our newcomers, but there are also several excellent veterans here in the forums that can offer solid advice as well.
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a c 78 K Overclocking
October 21, 2012 3:25:15 AM

thanks mate but I can say for sure You+Ryan are our watercooling veterans! :) 
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a c 327 K Overclocking
October 21, 2012 3:35:45 AM

Don't forget Moto and Boiler, too! But you guys have been around the block with the rest of us here, so we all kind of know how things should be. There are more people out there with more knowledge than any of us, but collectively, we have the bases all covered.
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a c 78 K Overclocking
October 21, 2012 3:46:55 AM

oh yeah - crap I'm getting rusty by not seeing them around much :/ 
Quote:
collectively, we have the bases all covered.
seems we're prepared for a zombie apocalypse :D 

weird where are they anyway? even -Jackson's missing.
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a c 150 K Overclocking
October 21, 2012 4:29:14 AM

rubix_1011 said:
Don't forget Moto and Boiler, too! But you guys have been around the block with the rest of us here, so we all kind of know how things should be. There are more people out there with more knowledge than any of us, but collectively, we have the bases all covered.

I learned from all of you guys. ;) 
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a c 190 K Overclocking
October 22, 2012 6:48:07 AM

Did someone mention the Zombie apocalypse? :-)
@Op ,you gain a quieter W/c loop by over radding and running your thirty fans all on the lowest speed possible, this. Gives you great temps and low noise but is a costly exercise, most folks settle for 'quiet enough' and turn the speakers up :p 
You will find though when you ask a question here you will sometimes get conflicting advice due to personal views, experiences etc, thats the time for you to get your google on and dig a little deeper, and whoever said to change water once a month must sell the stuff :-)
I have a large loop and I'm just over a year now on the original water, silver killcoil and UV cathodes, no algae despite the Pc being in direct sunlight....
Sticky is awesome, but feel free to ask us to clarify anything, we're more than happy to help, but will rarely draw a shopping list for you, after all, it is you who needs to know your loop and how it behaves, not us :-)
Moto
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a c 78 K Overclocking
October 22, 2012 9:14:45 AM

hehe, the zombie man has just arrived!

yeap, my H50 mod has been going over 11 months without change in liquid and teardown. Need to blow some air through he rads and get my temps back to normal. Not gaming these days - but you know us watercoolers, even a slight temp bump makes us break a sweat :D 

turn speakers up... :lol:  nice one there!
good to have you back matey!
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a c 235 K Overclocking
October 22, 2012 10:20:38 AM

amuffin said:
Did I forget to change that!? :heink: 

I found 5ghz to be the "most" stable setup.

http://valid.canardpc.com/show_oc.php?id=2435301



To answer some of your questions....

Just because you have 2 fans running off of a heatsink, doesn't mean you have 240mm of space to dissipate heat.

The reason why the CLC's have louder fans is specifically static pressure, they really need louder fans to push the air through the radiator.


Temperatures Please?
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a c 235 K Overclocking
October 22, 2012 11:00:26 AM

derstig said:
When I mean water cooling, I mean 2 types : a) The custom loop, b) closed loops like H100 or Thermalright water 2.0 Extreme.

I am building a brand new 3930K system and I'm a bit puzzled as to what I should do. I am reading the reviews of these air heatsink coolers like Thermalright silver arrow extreme and I'm amazed that they can come to 2-3C of water cooling systems. The problem with the water cooled systems, especially the closed loop ones like H100 are:

* Reliability : I am reading way too many posts about these failing. Imagine $2,500 worth of hardware being ruined. I currently have a Thermalright Ultra Extreme - 120 heatsink that I have been using for 6 years on a Q6600 CPU that's running at 50% overclock, since the day I bought it. It's extremely quiet and efficient. Will I be able to use H100 for my 3930K overclocking it to 4.6 Ghz for the next 5 years? It sounds really unreliable if you think about it.

* So much work : The custom loops are ridiculous, they are so ridiculous that only a person who does this as a hobby and have a lot of free time on their hand should deal with this.

* The temperature difference : The new heatsinks are so efficient that is it really worth doing all of this for 2-3C? I also see that H100 and Thermalright Water 2.0 Extreme have much worse noise levels than Silver Arrow Extreme when they cool at maximum levels (which is how they get that 2-3C margin).

Thanks for the comments!


Quote:
Will I be able to use H100 for my 3930K overclocking it to 4.6 Ghz for the next 5 years?


That's the most important question as the rest are myths and supposition!

The fear of a total system loss from water cooling could happen but is as rare as a Velociraptor dinosaur popping up in your back yard!

The new hardware today just doesn't leak unless you have not done your part in making sure all fittings are properly tightened.

That tubing twists and turns cannot exert counter clockwise back pressure and loosen the fitting from heat and cold expansion.

Making sure all leaks were resolved and thoroughly leak testing the loop or loops before powering the system.

Fears of leaks destroying hardware are really just that fear unrealized, we always tend to fear the unknown, but I have had leaks myself that did not destroy my hardware, and it was my fault for not checking the tightness of the fitting going into the water block and it came loose just enough to leak when I was running the Thermal Roundup testing but did not destroy my hardware.

If your pump fails, and your CPU heads toward overheating it will auto shutdown the system, so the CPU will protect itself to keep it from going up in smoke, so one fear gone.

But you are the one to make the final decision as to what cooling route you'll be taking.

If I had your intentions of being comfortable with a 4.6ghz OC for 5 years, who really expects their system to be viable in 5 years?

With technology changing so fast today it will be a museum piece in 5 years FYI.

But lets say your 5 year goal is viable, then you want the best cooling you can get and my suggestion is spending more money for a custom water cooling loop, taking into consideration you will have a certain level of maintenance you'll have to be prepared to undertake.

Now if you're not prepared to take on that responsibility then I suggest a Noctua NH-D14 because it will still cool your CPU when the fans fail!

The sticky covers the water cooling route if you take that route, and for myself I would not spend my money on one of those sealed systems, because they're no better performance wise than a high end air cooler.

There's great advice here but each of us have their own goals along with what we're prepared to do.

Ryan
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