Water Cooling 101: Everything You Need To Know
20 December 2016
Controlling the temperature of computer components with liquid has become a popular solution for many PC gamers and enthusiasts recently. As the speed of nowadays processors has risen significantly, the heat it generated has also been increased. If you are not able to handle the heat removal process appropriately, overheating components can slow down your PC or make it damaged.
Compared to fan coolers, water cooling system is the most optimal solution at the moment for heat removal and noise control while allowing great performance. Unfortunately, this liquid cooling method usually costs quite a lot. Before making any decision whether you buy it or not, this ultimate guide will walk you through what components inside the water cooling and how it works.
What is water cooling?
Water Cooling, or also Liquid Cooling, is a heat removal system that utilizes a coolant-filled loop to cool down temperatures of your PC, making it run in silence and supporting overclocking potential to increase performance. The main computer components that this system runs through to remove heat are processors, graphic cards, motherboards and sometimes memory and hard disk drives.
Key parts forming a custom PC water cooling loop
- Water blocks
- Radiator and Fans
- Fitting and Adapters
- Coolant (i.e. cooling liquid)
Why is water cooling?
Compared to traditional air coolers generated by fans, water cooling system offers three key benefits as following:
- Temperature Control: using water loop to dissipate heat from one component to another, and maintain the cool temperature throughout the loop to ensure no component is overheat. This is a really important point because every component generally has its own heat safety threshold; if your component, take CPU, exceeds this threshold, the CPU will automatically slow down its speed or trigger a failsafe to suddenly shut down your computer without noticing. By all means, we don’t say stock fans could not do that. However, you may end ups with a lot of fans for different components and even need high-performance fans to be able to handle the heat if you overclock your PC.
- Noise Reduction: as the temperature in the water cooling system is cool enough, the fan in the system does not have to spin that much, which relatively helps to reduce the noise it may generate. In other words, the lower RPM the component generates, the lower the noise output. Note that water cooling also has fans as well to support cooling process, but the only component it attached to is the radiator.
- Aesthetic Look: your computer will obviously stand out from the crowd with the cool design of the liquid cooler.
How does water cooling work?
Water cooling system basically applies the principle of thermodynamics – physics about transferring heat/energy from a warmer object to a cooler one, making the cooler one gets warmer, the warmer one gets cooler. The cooling system will transfer the heat from one particular component to the surrounding environment by dissipating the heat through the radiator.
Let break down what components building a CPU Water Cooling Loop and how it work altogether.
1. Water Blocks:
Water blocks are meant to transfer heat from one source into the liquid that flows around the water blocks.
There are three types of water blocks used commonly:
|Removing the heat from the processor into the liquid that runs through the water block|
Removing the heat from the graphic card into the liquid that runs through the water block.
There are two main types of GPU water blocks: full cover blocks and universal blocks for custom graphic cards. While the full-cover block only matches one particular graphic card, the universal GPU block can fit in almost cards.
Removing the heat from the motherboard into the liquid flowing through the water block.
Chipset blocks and monoblack are the two main versions of motherboard water blocks.
A reservoir acts as a water tank which contains coolant (i.e. the cooling liquid) in the loop to be circulated in the water cooling system. Basically, a reservoir holds extra water to allow for air bubbles to gradually be replaced by coolant as it circulates. A reservoir can be standalone or attached to a pump.
Pumps are meant to connect to the reservoir to pump the coolant throughout the water cooling system.
The pump can be built-in (attached to a reservoir) or standalone.
4. Radiator and Fans
The radiator has the main function to cool down the coolant (i.e. the cooling liquids) inside the liquid loop. When the coolant runs through the tubing, the radiator fins start to absorb the heat from the coolant, and then the fins get cooled by the fans which are attached to the radiator. Fans are really important part of the radiator, as they must produce high-static pressure as well as keep the PC quiet at the same time.
The radiator can be mounted internally or externally depending on the space of the case.
Tubing is what connect every component together in a liquid cooling system. It comes in different materials, colors and sizes. Soft tubing and Hard tubing are the most common types of tubes.
When buying tubing, it is important to ensure that the inner diameter (ID) of the tubing fits the outer diameter (OD) of the fitting.
Fitting is what connect one component to another: either tubing with tubing, or tubing with water blocks, radiators or reservoirs. It comes in different shapes, sizes as well as materials to pair off with soft and hard tubing. When buying the fitting, ensure that the outer diameter (OD) of the fitting matches with the inner diameter (ID) of the tubing. It always requires two fitting for every single component.
Coolant is the cooling liquid that circulates in the water loop to cool down the computer components. Coolant is a mix of distilled water and additives to prevent galvanic corrosion and kill living organisms. People can buy pre-mixed coolant or get the additives itself for DIY.
Coolant can be purchased separately or be available in a water cooling kit.
When come to buying decision, there are three options for you to choose.
- Custom Water Cooling: you can custom your own liquid loop with all the components mentioned above to maximize our PC performance
- Kits: a great kick-off if this is your first time to build water cooling. The kit is everything you need, so you don't have to worry whether you forget to buy something.
- All-In-One: pre-filled CPU cooling units for easy and fast installation.