A few years ago, water cooling was considered on the fringe of system building; custom systems usually consisted of hand-made blocks pieced together with spare aquarium parts. Fast forward to 2005, and water cooling has become a very viable, albeit still exotic cooling technique. With the help of companies like Koolance, Danger Den, and Swiftech, the mass production of water cooling components has opened the door for even the most casual enthusiast to get their system wet (so to speak.)
There are two main applications for water cooling: quiet computing and extreme overclocking. For fans of silent PCs, using water cooling eliminates the need for noisy fans, while offering superior cooling performance. The loop effectively takes all the hot spots from the system (CPU, GPU) and moves the heat away to one location to be dispersed. This can lead to much lower temperatures for the components in the loop, while at the same time creating greater system overclocking potential.
Determining The General Layout Of Your System
Before you even begin to select individual components, it is important to determine the general layout of the system. The main factor that will determine how the loop will be organized is the size of your case.
Here's a list of what goes into a normal water cooling loop:
- Water block(s): transfer(s) heat from the systems components to the coolant
- Pump: moves the coolant through the loop
- Radiator: dispels heat from the loop into the air moving through it
- Fans and a shroud: move air through the radiator
- Reservoir or T-line: used to fill and bleed (remove air bubbles from) the system
- Tubing: carries the coolant through the loop
Whether it's a loop that's contained entirely within the case - mid-tower cases need not apply - or an external solution, knowing before you start how all the pieces will fit together is a must. Water cooling is a project that's nearly impossible to figure out as you go; if you try, it will consume a lot more of your time and money than it would otherwise.