Question What are the biggest considerations when building a cooling water loop?

SHaines

Staff member
Apr 1, 2019
179
8
51
As technology evolves over time, things that were once only for the hardest of the hardcore can become commonplace. Something that's becoming at least a bit more common these days is a cooling system built into how computers. With games like Cyberpunk 2077 promising to push technology to the limit, more and more people are likely to get their first water cooling systems.

With that in mind, what are the biggest considerations when building a cooling water loop? If someone is looking to introduce cooling, what are the things everyone should know?
 
  • Like
Reactions: Garagedoorsparker

myocardia

Diamond Member
Jun 21, 2003
9,291
28
91
As technology evolves over time, things that were once only for the hardest of the hardcore can become commonplace. Something that's becoming at least a bit more common these days is a cooling system built into how computers. With games like Cyberpunk 2077 promising to push technology to the limit, more and more people are likely to get their first water cooling systems.

With that in mind, what are the biggest considerations when building a cooling water loop? If someone is looking to introduce cooling, what are the things everyone should know?

With the emboldened word, which word should that be? Maybe "our"? Also, the answer to your question would depend quite a bit upon which type of watercooling you are referencing. Do you mean a DIY setup, where you pick each and every component in the loop, or an all-included, one piece setup that we almost always call AIOs, short for All In Ones? Actually, with both types the larger the radiator happens to be, the more cooling will be able to happen, even while using identical fans and fan speeds. Most of the experts seem to recommend to people who have never used water to start out with a well-regarded AIO, since they are so much simpler.
 

VirtualLarry

Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
48,052
4,984
126
Most of the experts seem to recommend to people who have never used water to start out with a well-regarded AIO, since they are so much simpler.
This. WFM.

Yeah, people like JayzTwoCents, and PaulsHardware, and LinusTechTips, and maybe GamersNexus, also HardwareUnboxed, they all know how to do those fancy-schmancy custom water builds, with the colored liquid, and lights, and whatnot. Truely a work of art!

Me, I took the baby steps a couple of years ago, with a CoolerMaster MasterLiquid Lite AIO kit. (I've since owned both the 120mm as well as currently using a 240mm kit.) Works good with Ryzen, those were some of the first that came out-of-the-box with AM4 mounting hardware included, that's why I picked them up. Performance for my application is fine, and they were inexpensive enough.

They're often sold out when on sale, so people are def. buying those models. Now they have an ARGB model for around $150. Mine is the original model with the white LED on the main pump unit.
 

Aikouka

Lifer
Nov 27, 2001
29,270
399
126
If we're talking custom water cooling, I think it's safe to say that it can be surprisingly more involved than you think. I can't say how many cases I've heard were great for watercooling, but after I got them, I found glaring deficiencies. A great example of this is Corsair's Obsidian 900D. It was lauded for the ridiculous amount of radiator space, but it had no "floor" to which to mount the pump. (This was prior to fan mounts being as common as they are now.) I have a Lian Li O11 Dynamic XL right now, and given it's only available with a solid (tempered glass) front panel, it's arguably not tuned for the best airflow possible. It was also a bit of a chore to find a good spot to mount the pump in that case too. To be fair, it doesn't help that I insist on using dual pump tops.

Ultimately, the biggest thing to keep in mind is to do your research. Watercooling is an expensive addition to a PC, and I'd argue it's more valued toward those with the expendable cash flow. (Most users would benefit from a hardware upgrade instead.) But along that line, water cooling components -- outside of a GPU block -- are generally universal (outside of CPU blocks for AMD vs. Intel), which means that spending $80 on a radiator now can lead to it lasting for quite a while. That's what makes the research so important. You want a unit that will last for a while.
 
  • Like
Reactions: dlerious

dlerious

Senior member
Mar 4, 2004
814
164
116
The size and type of tubing (flexible/hard) will determine what size/type fittings you need. I have 12 three foot sections of 1/2" (13mm) hardline here with fittings and a bending kit. Haven't gotten around to trying it out yet - hands/eyes aren't what they used to be. Don't have to be as precise with soft tubing.
 

aigomorla

Cases and Cooling Mod PC Gaming Mod Elite Member
Super Moderator
Sep 28, 2005
18,043
850
126
With that in mind, what are the biggest considerations when building a cooling water loop? If someone is looking to introduce cooling, what are the things everyone should know?
Budget... then Budget again... and finally Budget.

If were not talking about AIO, i have yet to see someone or meet someone who has not gone over budget building a customized LCS.

Then its about efficiency.
How much wattage is the person attaining to cool.
A proper LCS has everything planned from FLOW, to proper amount of radiators paired with fans.
Just because the fan costed 29.99 does not mean it meets application.
Just because the Pump says eK does not mean its the proper pump for application.
Just because the radiator was showcased on LinusTech, or Jayz2cents or BitWit or even GamersNexus, again does not mean it maybe the Ideal Product for application.

But fore most i warn people when getting there so called feet wet. Its Budget.
Take whatever budget you want, and then Double it.... and still then expect to go over by about 50% after you double'd, unless u specify a no budget build from the getgo.

But there are too many things to point out and mention.
Its always best to ask, as things have changed drastically.
Parts are a lot more friendlier now, then they were 10yrs ago, but at the same time a lot more expensive.
eK used to be considered budget if you compared it with alphacool and dangerden.
Bitspower were also cheap but now are considered the rolls royce in fittings.
 

ASK THE COMMUNITY