What you need to build a custom water-cooling loop for your PC. How to make a water cooled gaming pc

Tulie Finley-Moise is a contributor to the HP® Tech Takes program. Tulie is a digital content creation specialist based in San Diego, California, passionate about the latest tech news and digital media.

Custom Loop

When you choose a custom loop, you choose each component yourself. You get unlimited customization options and the best performance.

The first step is deciding which components you want to liquid cool, we usually start with and continue with the CPU. CPU and GPU loops are a step further, but you can always add more components to the loop.

Components Needed To Build Your Own Custom CPU Loop Solution

Water block

Water blocks are used to transfer heat from the source to the liquid flowing through the water block. The micro-ribs increasing the cooling surface and channel design make the water lock a key part of the loop for ultimate overclocks!

Tank

The reservoir is designed to hold the extra water in the loop to allow the water to slowly replace the air bubbles during circulation. It also serves as a fill point for liquid coolant. The tanks can be standalone units or a pump / tank combination.

Pump

The pump is the heart of any liquid cooling loop. Pumps circulate the coolant in the loop, pushing the liquid through the other components. A stand-alone pump is usually made of a pump motor and a pump with inlet and outlet ports.

Heaters and fans

The main function of the heater is to cool the liquid flowing in the loop. As liquid flows through the copper tubing, the radiator fins absorb heat from the water, and then the fins are cooled by fans attached to the radiator. Fans are also very important as they have to provide high static pressure and be silent at the same time!

Keeping your system running at the right cool temperature is imperative and our Liquid Series® range offers the best solution. We make sure each system adheres to our strict and rigorous testing procedure to ensure unmatched performance and stability!

Water blocks

Thermaltake Core P5

source: Rich Edmonds / Windows Headquarters

The water block is one of the most important parts of the loop. It is what connects to your GPU or CPU and handles heat transfer from component to liquid. It works almost identically to an air cooler, except we use liquid, not air directly. There are many water block suppliers and while I prefer to use EKWB, you can use whatever look you like.

As with CPU cooling, it’s important to choose a waterblock compatible with the CPU and GPU socket on your motherboard. A water block designed for the RTX 3080 GPU may not be compatible with the GTX 1080 Ti, for example. Additionally, aftermarket GPUs come with their own specially designed PCBs which may cause problems when trying to connect a water block, so be sure to double check with the manufacturer.

EKWB is quite good at making sure it is clear with what products its Water Blocks are compatible. The company even has a configurator to help you choose the right waterblock for your computer. We’ve also rounded off the best CPU blocks for water cooling PCs. When choosing a metal, choose copper or aluminum for all parts, otherwise you risk galvanic corrosion.

Heat dissipation

Radiators

EKWB heater

source: Rich Edmonds / Windows Headquarters

The radiator is designed to take all the heat generated by the processor and graphics card from the liquid and transfer it to the air using the fans. Like the radiator and fan, they work in conjunction with the air conditioning and the vehicle with an internal combustion engine (ICE). The larger the radiator, the greater the surface area that can cope with heat dissipation and the greater the heat reserve the water cooling loop has.

To be on the safe side, I always recommend at least 240mm for a loop cooled component. In the case of a processor, a single 240 mm heat sink would suffice. If you want to add a GPU to the loop I would add a second 240mm radiator or replace the existing 480mm radiator.

Choosing one of the best computer cases for water cooling is important as you will need a case that can accommodate the required radiator dimensions. Just match the available fan mounts to the radiator. In most cases, three 120mm front fan holders will be able to accommodate a 360mm radiator. The same goes for the two 120mm fan mounts on the top which will support a radiator up to 240mm.

In addition to the length, the radiators can also vary in thickness. The thicker the radiator, the higher the thermal efficiency will be. Please note that the cases may not support super thick heaters, especially at the top between the top of the case and the motherboard tray. For the type of metal, again try not to mix copper and aluminum.

Liquid movement

Rest assured that your next Liquid Series® gaming PC will perform uniquely with the EK® Water Blocks range of components; providing top-class performance, quiet operation and stunning aesthetics.

Choosing a Radiator

radiator

Heat exchanger size and air flow are critical to the performance of a PC’s water cooling system – more than liquid flow rate. For this reason, it is advisable to use the largest radiator that can be comfortably fitted to the workplace, computer case, etc. Larger heaters are beneficial as they lower the temperature of the liquid and allow the fan to rotate more quietly.

What is the minimum radiator size required for limited space? Our suggested minimum sizes are based on the number of “high temperature” devices (CPU or GPU) that will be liquid cooling:

  • 1 device = 1 fan heater
  • 2 devices = 2 fan heaters
  • 3 devices = 3 fan heaters
  • 4 devices = 4 fan heaters
  • more than 5 units = more than 4 fans or use multiple heaters

These are just recommendations. The “correct” option is based on the desired temperature and noise range. Some customers accept cooling 4 graphics cards with a 3 fan cooler, accepting a slightly higher temperature range and / or starting the fans faster. However, avoid shrinking the size too much, as it is entirely possible to choose a heater that is too small to withstand the heat load.

Koolance lists “FPI” (fins per inch) for its heat exchangers, which stands for fin density. This may be important for users who decide to do one of the following:

  1. Put the emphasis on cooling capacity and choose the largest radiator with the highest allowable fin density. Combine it with high CFM / pressure fans. Overall, 120mm fans push more air out than 140mm fans.
  2. Emphasize lower noise levels by choosing a radiator with a lower fin density. Use mid-range fans and / or throttle them with voltage. Overall, 140mm fans are quieter than 120mm fans.

Low fin density heaters will continue to improve with more airflow, and high fin density heaters can be muted by reducing fan speed, leaving plenty of room for tweaks. Either of these decisions should result in much lower chip temperatures than air cooling (see recommended radiator sizes above).

Selecting Water Blocks

Koolance has a number of individual water blocks broken down into categories. A convenient product selector is also offered for cooling PCs. After entering the basic hardware criteria, this page will generate a list of potential water blocks for use in a future cooling system. Also see our waterblock help pages in the “About-> Product Help” section above. If you need any help, please let us know.

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Liquid Series ® Kits

We want you to be free to choose the look of your new Liquid Series® system! Choose the kit that suits you, with options for looping GPU, braided cable color, coolant, and lighting!

Choose from our Liquid Series® kits, including the Lian Li and Corsair Hydro X kits, to configure the ultimate water-cooled PC for hardcore gamers, working professionals, or tech enthusiasts.

Entry kit

EKWB Liquid cooling

The Entry Kit combines high-performance, custom water-cooling and radiator technologies to create the first in the Liquid Series® line. The input kit includes EK’s classic RGB pump reservoir and a Quantum Velocity RGB processor block to provide optimal liquid cooling for the main computer component. Configure your new PCSpecialist Liquid Series® PC according to your own requirements.

EK-CoolStream SE 240

EK-Classic 160 SPC PWM D-RGB pump tank

EK-Quantum Velocity D-RGB – nickel + plexiglass

GPU block (optional)

Last Updated 1/25/2022 We partner with Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.in and earn from qualifying purchases through our links at no extra cost.

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By ensuring that the fluid flowing through the system is sufficiently cooled, custom heaters located at the top of each system help keep the temperature of the fluid cool with each cycle.

Is Liquid Cooling Worth It?

If money wasn’t an object, liquid cooling is absolutely worth it. Keeping components cool is a great way to keep them working efficiently and can extend their life.

  • Better thermal performance
  • Amazing aesthetics
  • Less bulk problems for RAM
  • I can see more of your motherboard
  • The best way to really customize your PC
  • Could be louder
  • Very expensive
  • Requires additional tools to complete
  • New skill required
  • Risky (leaks)

Is it Worth Liquid Cooling A CPU

CPU cooling with liquid is really only worth it when dealing with high-end desktop processors. The latest flagship processors from Intel and AMD can run at impressive speeds that can generate a lot of heat, so liquid cooling the CPU makes sense.

However, if you’re building a budget PC or PC without one of the top-tier CPUs, liquid cooling becomes a more aesthetic luxury.

There are air and liquid cooling options that can provide excellent cooling performance, so it’s down to your preferences and budget in the first place. Liquid cooling is easily superior to air in most cases, however, if your custom loop is small, you may find that cooling capacity is lacking.

In addition to the length, the radiators can also vary in thickness. The thicker the radiator, the higher the thermal efficiency will be. Please note that the cases may not support super thick heaters, especially at the top between the top of the case and the motherboard tray. For the type of metal, again try not to mix copper and aluminum.

Thermaltake Glacier 300 – Best Gaming PC under $1500 for Beginners and Pros

Thermaltake LCGS Glacier 300 AIO liquid-cooled processor.

  • Top-quality liquid cooling
  • Tempered glass with air filtration works great
  • High-quality, solid construction
  • Ideal processor and graphics card for gaming
  • Quite heavy and taking up a lot of space
  • The maximum expansion capacity is 32 GB thanks to two DIMM slots

Outstanding graphics, high speed, power and energy efficiency. These and many other words can be used to describe the next of our best water-cooled gaming PCs and arguably the best budget gaming PC we’re going to talk about today.

The first thing many users notice about this computer, or actually the first thing we noticed after taking it out of the box, was its solid, high-quality design and its weight. We also liked the ease of setup, and for a gaming PC in this price range, we believe the Glacier 300 deserves to be added to this list.

Out of the box, the Glacier 300 comes with a water-cooled AMD RYZEN 5 3600 6-core processor that delivered some of the fastest performance we’ve seen, from booting up to opening games and software to increase productivity and multitasking for over a day. Thanks to this processor, you can run two games or two creativity programs at the same time and you will not feel that you are poisoning your computer. The arrival with the AMD RYZEN 5 is a clear indication that this is a gaming machine, and we saw it in our testing.

Glacier 3 also comes with an 8GB Nvidia RTX 2060 Super graphics card, which translates into one of the best and smoothest performance you can expect in a game. You also get 16GB of RGB Snow with sync control and 1TB of SATA III storage.

So you can be sure that you will get a smooth desktop computer, super-fast gameplay without lags, and a desktop computer that is sure to cope with gameplay and other tasks that require a large amount of memory. The memory can be expanded to approximately 32 GB. At least we noticed that we needed to improve it as the requirements of our operations became too demanding for this machine.

The Glacier 300 comes with premium cable management so you can be sure you get secure connections and better airflow. On the front of connectivity, the Glacier 300 is equipped with headphone and microphone ports, USB ports, DisplayPort, HDMI, and support for Wi-Fi connections.

Overall, for its features, ease of setup, price, and high performance, the Thermaltake Glacier 300 easily ranks as one of the best liquid-cooled streaming and gaming PCs, especially for beginners.

John keeps track of everything that happens in the tech industry, from the latest gadgets to some famous moves in the industry. He gives opinions and writes about the biggest names in the industry. John is also a freelance writer so from time to time he shares articles about freelancers via email: [email protected]

Last Updated 1/25/2022 We partner with Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.in and earn from qualifying purchases through our links at no extra cost.

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