In Pictures: 20 Clever Liquid-Cooled PC Setups

Castle Computer Systems

There isn't much known about this particular rig built by Castle Computer Systems in Redding, California. However, one common characteristic it shares with other water-cooled solutions is the clear acrylic chassis. Chosen for obvious aesthetic reasons, this type of case is relatively inexpensive, starting at around $70. Like some of the other custom builds we highlight in the pages to follow, this PC has a truly unique and artistic design.


Peter Dickison first began his how-to series back in 2003 with the goal to convert a C³ acrylic case into a tribute to vintage British science fiction.  Called Orac³, the main focus of the project during the build phase was to make everything on the inside look as good as the outside. It was finished a year later, and the resulting rig is nothing short of spectacular.

"Along the way, a use was found for unusual items, such as shower-hose and aquarium tubing, and the whole project had to follow a theme: chrome, neon-green Perspex, polished stainless steel, and clear acrylic," he said.


While we've covered steampunk mods in other articles, this particular rig is simply called Steampunk, and was created by korko czong over on Mod Planet.

According to a rough Google translation, the project originally began as a simple water-cooling implementation. However, the approaching holidays offered the modder a little free time that he eventually used to implement new ideas. Before long, the cooling project became a full-fledged modification. As seen above, the pipes aren't installed just for looks--they actually provide the rig's liquid-cooling system.

Liquid-Cooled PC

"The idea for this custom-PC build initially came about from working with thermo-electric, Peltier-based water cooling on a nano aquarium," Nano AIO wrote on his blog. "I was amazed at the selection of products and vendors in the water-cooling space. I needed a new computer for home use and my laptop was over 10 years old, so I thought I would build my own PC with liquid cooling." The design features a Danger Den Tower 26 acrylic case, rigid aluminum water tubing, and radiator intake manifolds. The construction process can be seen here.


This water-cooled system first appeared in an article on the New York Times' Web site back in 2008. The author refers to a brother named Misha, but specific hardware details are not disclosed.

However, according to Misha, liquid cooling dissipates heat more effectively, allowing a more aggressive overclock. Misha also says in the article that water cooling in PCs is still a niche market, adding that "only us geeks take the time to set it up." Still, as the article points out, the system could be ruined if a tube sprung a leak. For Misha, that would mean $1200 of his own money going down the drain.

Project Monolith

Located on the Overclockers Australia Forums, member "rainwulf" details Project Monolith, a water-cooled system inspired by 2001: A Space Odyssey and fictional technology called Jain imagined by English science fiction writer Neal Asher.

"It will be completely water-cooled, and I mean completely," rainwulf wrote when he first began the project. "If it produces heat, it will have a water block on it." Rainwulf wasn't kidding—the motherboard, the CPU, MOSFETs, DDR2, and the northbridge and southbridge components are all water-cooled. He even covered the PhysX card, the X-Fi card, power supply, and the hard drives.

Oil Spill

Dominoe Computers began work on Oil Spill back in April 2008 and finished the project a month later. According to the blog, the rig is made completely from scratch—starting with seven sheets of 5 mm Perspex cut to size and a special Perspex adhesive.

"This is harder than it looks," the group behind the mod admitted. "But, it's also a lot of fun trying to come up with solutions to a lot of problems." Oil Spill now features a cooling system that pumps 20 liters of white oil through its man-made veins.

Liquid-Cooled Computer Desk

You have to admit that this is a sexy beast. Popular Mechanics actually constructed this water-cooled mod in May 2009, which features a half-gallon of glycol flowing through 15 feet of Tygon tubing.

On a hardware level, the PC has a XFX nForce 790i Ultra motherboard, 4 GB of Kingston HyperX DDR3 RAM, a 3.0 GHz Intel Core 2 Quad processor, and a Palit GeForce GTX 280 graphics card cooled by Danger Den's Tieton water block. There's a good bet that this PC-in-a-desk could play Crysis and look good doing it, too.


Matt Slagle of AVADirect Custom Computers’ research and development department posted a description of this liquid-cooled PC on one of the company’s forums back in 2008 as an example of AVADirect's custom-built systems. While the specs of this particular rig aren't listed, Slagle writes that the company selects the best cooling system to match the demands of each custom PC it builds. For example, Swiftech Apogee GT and GTX water blocks are used for CPUs. For GPUs, AVADirect selects either a Alphacool NexXxoS VGA, a EK VGA, or a Danger Den IONE VGA water block.


This liquid-cooled system from BesTecH Computer Solutions uses coolant piped in through an actual freezer.

"BesTecH revolutionized the cooling system by using a chest freezer to further chill the liquid-cooled system they designed," the company said. "Our goal was to achieve the highest [3DMark03] score, but they also designed the computer to be used for everyday gaming." Hardware specs include the Asus Striker II Extreme motherboard, the Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9770 quad-core processor, dual BFG GeForce 9800 GX2 cards in Quad-SLI mode, and more.


Here's another desk with a built-in, water-cooled PC. Apparently, Case Mod Blog member and modder USFORCES wanted more space on his desktop. To accomplish this, he decided to remove his tweaked Q9650-based system from its previous Thermaltake tower enclosure and integrate it into the right side of his desk.

Ultimately, he built an entirely new desk from scratch using 3/4" oak plywood sheets. He mounted most of the hardware behind the desk door, while placing the two BFG GeForce GTX 280 H2OC graphics cards in an area just under the desktop, highlighted with UV and green LEDs. USFORCES also built a special dual-loop acrylic reservoir just for this particular setup.

  • phoenix777
    lol @ the background on #13
  • sprunth
    Last picture = Awesome.
  • anacandor
    ^ Agreed.
  • Snipergod87
    so for number 6 where he sais everything that makes heat is water cooled. What about the radiator? Woudlnt he need a seperate water cooling system to cool that.
  • dEAne
    Their should be a poll for these so we know who's picture makes lots of attention.
  • ragingmercenary
    is it just me, or do some of these builds just look like a mess of tubing?
  • GeoMan
    Snipergod87so for number 6 where he sais everything that makes heat is water cooled. What about the radiator? Woudlnt he need a seperate water cooling system to cool that.
    Because as everybody knows radiators CREATE heat and defiantly don’t DISSIPATE it. /Sarcasm
  • SirGCal
    ragingmercenaryis it just me, or do some of these builds just look like a mess of tubing?
    No, it's not just you. Most of them look horrible to me. Like a jumbled mess. I like the desktop one though.
  • karma831
    The ones built into the desks are cool. The foam one was pretty awesome too.
  • gti88
    The System-in-Table (by Popular Mechanics) and the Foam Thing are cool.