Water Cooling - Quick Install/Leak Testing guide
Published: 10th August 2006 | Source: Overclock3d |Introduction
Watercooling used to be something that a very select few indulged in. Expensive, hard to do and involving a lot of "self-modding" skills - skill with a dremel and various hand tools used to be a must. This tended to keep water-cooling out of reach of of those who wanted good cooling but didn't want a whole load of hassle.
Thankfully, watercooling has changed now to such an extent that you can go out and buy an of-the-shelf kit that is as easy to install as an air cooler. While these solutions are pretty good - the best way is still to build you own kit, albeit out of parts that make it fairly easy.
This guide is not intended as a complete guide by any means: but hopefully it will help those wanting to install their own watercooling, with a few of my own tips.
Skip this page if your parts are already sorted.
The parts to a kit put together by yourself now gives you a huge choice. I personally prefer 1/2" ID (internal diameter) tubing, but it is said that is the best 7/16" for flow rate and performance as well as "bendability".
Lots of people also use slower flow system with smaller ID tubing. This tends to be for quieter systems, although can be used for performance too.
I am not going to go over all of the parts available as I don't have a whole week to write this, but I will go over as much as I can.
There is a lot of different tubing you can buy, but generally Tygon is one of the preferred makes of tubing. I also use clearflex and I have heard that masterkleeter is good stuff too. The best thing to do is to check the reviews on the net if you are unsure of what to get or ask the experts in our Forums HERE. Remember tubing has to match the parts you pick so decide what kind of system you want first.
The pump is an important part of any watercooling system. I use the Laing D5 - or the Swiftech equivalent of it. The Laing DDC pump is also excellent for higher restriction systems. There are others and I will not go into those right now - I'll leave it for others to argue over!
The CPU block
Once again I will go on what I use. I use the Swiftech Apogee CPU block. This is an excellent performing block with universal fitments for AMD 939, Intel Socket 478 and 775. I am unsure if this fits AM2 at this time. Other good blocks are the Alphacool NexXxos CPU block and the AquaXtreme MP-05 Pro. The Swiftech Storm is also a great block.
There is a HUGE range of radiators. Generally you will want to make sure you pick a rad with enough cooling power to cool what you have. A dual core SLI system needs at least a double rad and more likely a triple rad for better performance. If you have a slightly smaller system you can get away with less.
Good solid rads include: XSPC, Black Ice Xtreme and Hardware Labs PA120.
The GPU Block
Obviously the GPU block you buy needs to be one that fits your GPU! You can get either full cover blocks that cool the memory as well, or blocks the just cover the GPU and you would need memory RAMsinks. Good solid makes of full cover blocks are Eddie EK, Danger Den Koosar and Alphacool NexXxos. GPU-only blocks are Swiftech MCW60-B and Danger Den Maze 4.
Make sure you have barbs that match your ID tubing size. I prefer metal ones but Nylon barbs are much the same. Try to avoid 90 degree bends if at all possible.
A reservoir needs to be easy to install into your system. There are again tonnes that you can buy. I prefer the clear acrylic 3.5" bay-res as this slots neatly into a HDD/floppy drive bay. Once again good makes are Danger Den, XSPC, Alphacool or Swiftech. You can also use something called a Fillport which allows you to directly fill the loop. These are pretty useful when you do not have room for a reservoir.
Again there are a lot of different coolants available, as well as complete solutions pre-mixed for your PC. I go for De-ionised water (you can buy this very cheaply at your local car-parts store) along with Zerex Racing coolant. You can also add a multitude of dye's to get your water looking colourful.
To get those pipes to stay on the barbs you need something that will keep them on. I prefer to use Jubilee clips as they are easy to tightened (flathead screwdriver), look pretty industrial and generally don't cut the tubing unless you go OTT. Some kits come with clips of their own and these are usually plastic. If you take a look at these and they look secure, then use them by all means. Another way to fit a water loop together is push-fit connecters. This method is prevelent in smaller-bore watercooling and looks pretty smart. Myself I prefer Jubilee clips for peace of mind.
That's enough on this. Once again: if you don't know what to get: ask in our Forums HERE