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Watercooling FAQ - Some Basic Q&A

This FAQ was written by both myself and Whaler.

If you have any suggestions/questions for the FAQ please message Ghost or Whaler.

This is a watercooling FAQ.

Myself, Whaler and others will be adding to this FAQ on a regular basis. Please do not reply to this thread. This will be a collection of information that we hope will be useful to new users looking at Water Cooling and will be expanded on over time. Most of the information will be generalized and we will try and keep personal opinion out and stick to the facts. Note, some users will have had different experiences and results then us and different opinions. We are just trying to cover the basics here.


Popular sections


1.2 Is a custom water cooling loop worth it?

2.8 Plan a loop for me. A basic loop plan you can add to.

3.1 How many radiators do I need?

4.8 Hardline/Acrylic Tubing Guide

6.6 List of water cooling retailers.

6.8 How to leak test a loop before adding water.

Before Water-Cooling

1.1 Should I make a custom loop or use an AIO cooler?
1.2 Is a custom water cooling loop worth it?
1.3 Is an AIO unit worth it?

Picking Parts

2.1 What parts do you need?
2.2 Picking a Pump
2.3 Picking a Radiator
2.4 Picking a Water block

2.5 Finding a GPU Block
2.6 Picking a Reservoir
2.7 Picking Fans
2.8 Basic CPU Loop Plan (This is a separate thread)

Radiators and Fans

3.1 How many Radiators do I need?
3.2 What does FPI mean and what difference does it make?
3.3 Thick or Slim radiators?
3.4 Will a radiator fit inside my case?
3.5 What is Static Pressure?
3.6 Push, Pull, Push/Pull
3.7 What is the minimum number of rads I need?

Tubing, Coolant and Fittings

4.1 What is the best coolant to use?
4.2 What is the best tubing?
4.3 Clear coolant or clear tubes?
4.4 What size tubing should I use?
4.5 Mayhems coolant warnings.
4.6 What are the fittings?
4.7 Leak Test

4.8 Amount of Coolant to use

4.9 Hard/Acrylic Tubing - Written by B NEGATIVE (This is a separate thread)

Pumps and Reservoirs

5.1 Which pump should I choose?
5.2 Which Reservoir should I choose?
5.3 Flow Rate and Restriction


6.1 Loop Order
6.2 Dual Loop
6.3 Fan Controller
6.4 More Reading
6.5 Linus's Test Results with various AiO's
6.6 Where to buy

6.7 Some links
6.8 How to leak test a loop before adding water - Written by B NEGATIVE (This is a separate thread)




7.1 Draining your loop

Feel free to PM for any water-cooling questions. Check out my profile for more ways to contact me.


Add me to your circles on Google+ here or you can follow me on twitter @deadfire19.

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Before Water Cooling

Q: Should I make a custom loop or use an AIO cooler?

A: Most people think water cooling is all about the temperatures you will get and overclocks you will achieve through it. Well they would mostly be right. But what you need to understand about water cooling is that it is more a hobby than a desire for performance. A good question to ask yourself before you start to water cool is; "Will I enjoy this?". If the answer is yes then go ahead. If you enjoy modding you case and making your computer look amazing then water cooling is the right thing for you. If this is not something you can picture yourself doing then go with an AIO unit. You have to remember that water cooling is a big investment of both time and money.  A basic CPU loop will cost you about $300 and to do anything more complicated it will cost a lot more. Especially when adding GPUs.

Another benefit of a custom loop over a AiO unit or air cooling is that in the right case, with enough radiator coverage, you can achieve near silent systems. This typically involves cooling your CPU, your GPU(s), having multiple radiators and a good quality (Laing) pump. With all this, you can run fans at very low (900 or less) RPM to get very quiet systems. Again though, it is not very cost effective. You are doing this for the silence and for the fun of doing it. You have to remember that in a water cooling system the pump always has to be on unlike passive systems so minimal amounts of noise will always be present even if all your fans are off.

Q: Is a custom water cooling loop worth it?

A: In short; no. If what you want is good temps then water cooling is certainly a way to get them but money wise it is most certainly not worth it. If you just want pure performance in games then you would be much better off upgrading one of your components, as oppose to cooling what you already have. Sure you will get to overclock it higher but you could get that extra performance by simply Cross-firing or SLI'ing your current GPU. For the cost of a basic loop to cool one GPU and CPU you could get a second high end GPU.


Q: Is an AIO unit worth it?

A: An AIO unit is the most cost effective way of watercooling and it requires the least hassle. If all you want is a cool CPU with moderate overclocking then this is for you. You have a big choice of coolers and the performance as well as the price covers a big range. You should note that cheaper AIO units perform worse than air cooling so sometimes it is worth considering air cooling over watercooling. You can end up with a much quieter system.


Q: AIO Fan Spacing


Just like standard water cooling radiators, you need to pay attention to the fan spacing on the 240/280 units. Most are using the "standard" 15mm, but not all.


NZXT: They have an excellent compatibility resource found here Clicky and Clicky. The fan spacing on the x60 is 15mm


Corsair:The H100, H100i are using 15mm fan spacing. The H110 though , uses a 20mm fan spacing.


Swiftech: H220 - uses 15mm fan spacing

Feel free to PM for any water-cooling questions. Check out my profile for more ways to contact me.


Add me to your circles on Google+ here or you can follow me on twitter @deadfire19.

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Picking Parts

Q: What parts do I need for my first Water Cooling system?

A: For a Basic Loop you will need a water block (typically a CPU block), a pump, a radiator and a reservoir. You will also need fittings and tubing.

Q: Picking a Pump

A: A pump is usually an important part of your water cooling system. You do not want to cheap out on a pump, it must be reliable. But besides that nothing else really matters. Some pumps have different characteristics but in the long term that will not help out much with your temperatures. The most common pump is a Laing DDC pump. It comes in many variants and is most affordable. If you wish to spend a bit more of a more powerful pump go for the Laing D5. Both of these pumps are excellent though.


Laing Pumps are recommended and used in most water cooling loops because of their massive 50,000 hour MTBF (Mean time between failure). This is equal to 5 years of non-stop usage. This means that if you buy a Laing pump the chance it will fail is minuscule, unless it is very old. Don't be tempted to buy a cheaper pump because of the price. You may end having worse performance and having to replace it after a year or two. Let me tell you; there's nothing worse then your pump dieing, having your computer out of action for a few days until the new pump arrives and having spend a couple of hours after work/school re-doing your whole loop.

Q: Picking a Radiator

A: There is not much to say about a radiator. It removes heat from your loop. The more radiators you have the more heat you can remove. A common abbreviation for radiator is rad. Radiators are often described by their size. A 240 radiator can fit two 120mm fans on it so its size is 120mm*240mm. Thickness can vary and is typically measured in mms. As radiators are such a big topic please refer to the Radiator Specific FAQ Section if you have more questions.

Q: Picking a water block

A: A Water Block is simply what takes heat away from your component. There are too many to put in a Q&A but any common water block questions will be put in a water block specific section. The main thing to watch out for is the socket compatibility, however, most blocks you can find today are compatible with every socket. You should generally go for trusted brands with them. If you are unsure about a brand feel free to make a thread about it. Its generally not recommended to go with a new brand because of the possibility of leaks, it's not worth the risk of having thousands of dollars of components get flooded and destroyed. You have to remember the company will replace your block if its leaks but the rest of your system is your own responsibility.


There are some small differences in performance in blocks but don't let that help you decide what block to go with. Pick whatever looks best. As I said above, water-cooling isn't about the performance, its about looks and its about the "fun" of it. If you go with what you want you will end up having a much better time water cooling.


Q: Finding a GPU Waterblock


A: Use Cooling Configurator . It's EK's water block compatibility tool. As EK are the main manufacturers of "special" water blocks for non-reference cards then if it isn't here you won't be able to find a water block. Watch out for the GPu model number of the water block recommended. Some GPU manufacturers use PCBs from other GPUs. If they do Cooling Configurator will recommend you the correct water block. If you have any doubts you should e-mail EK about it.


If you have a reference PCB you can use any water block made for your GPU. If you have a reference GPU then go for what you think looks best just like a CPU block. You may want to consider what the SLI/Crossfire connector looks like as well because in most systems that's what you will see.


Q: Picking a Reservoir

A: Reservoirs are generally picked for their looks. there are two main type of reservoir, a bay res and a tube res. A bay res will go in a drive bay and is convenient to mount, especially if you buy a pump/res combo bay res. Tube res's tend to be a center piece inside a PC as they are quite large. You can also buy pump/res combos for tube reservoirs.


Some people choose to not use a reservoir and a system will work perfectly fine without it. Although the filling process will be quite different and it's a lot more difficult and therefore not recommended.

Q: Picking Fans

A: Fans need to be mounted on your radiator to cool it down. For radiators you would want Pressure optimized fans. This value is usually labelled "Static pressure" and has a value in "mm H20". As a guideline anything above 2 is generally thought of as good for a radiator. Most people in the forums will talk about Noctua Fans as they are the quietest and most efficient fans at low RPMs but have a very unique color scheme and are very expensive which means a lot of people choose not to use them.


Some of the more popular fans are:

120mm Range


- Noctua NF-F12's - these are considered to be the best at Low RPMs
- Corsair SP120 Quiet Edition and High Performance Edition - These are considered to be the best looking and most customizable fans.
- SilverStone Air Penetrator AP121 and AP123
- CoolerMaster SickleFlow 120 (can be loud)
- Gentle Typhoons AP-xx (lower value mean lower SP but quieter) - These are known to be the best for mid to high RPMs
- The GELID fans are popular as well - well rounded fans with various UV options
- The BitFenix Spectre Pro series - well rounded and also have an excellent LED version as well


140mm Range:

- Noctua NF-A14 FLX
- SilverStone Air Penetrator AP141
- The BitFenix Spectre Pro series - well rounded and also have an excellent LED version as well

Feel free to PM for any water-cooling questions. Check out my profile for more ways to contact me.


Add me to your circles on Google+ here or you can follow me on twitter @deadfire19.

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Radiators and Fans

Q: How many Radiators do I need?

A: The more radiators you add the lower RPM your fans can run to achieve the same heat dissipation. This is also true the other way around. With sufficient airflow you could cool a whjole system with one 120mm radiator. The typical recommendation is 240mm of rad space per main component, however, after two components you can start adding 1 radiator per component. By main component I of course mean GPU or CPU, thing like RAM and motherboard cooling should not be considered in these calculations as they can withstand a lot of heat and don't produce much. Hence why they are normally cooled passively.


When adding rads after a certain point will you get to a point of diminished returns. Becase of the extra loop length your coolant will flow slower around your loop which may actually increase your temps. However, you should only worry about this if you are going overkill with your set-up. (Having more than 10 rad slots would be about that point). You could add another pump to counter this, however, once your coolant is a room temp it cant go lower so adding 100 rads would have the same effect as adding 10 if the coolant is a room temp with both solutions.


A bit of clarification on the "rule of thumb" statement. Please remember different components use different amounts of power. The power draw of a component is the value called TDP. This is proportional to the heat output of a component. A good rule of thumb for >this< is if you want a quiet system use 120*120mm of rad space per 50-100W. Why is the range so high? Because every rad is different in terms of thickness and cooling efficiency. To find the TDP of you component simply type ">General component name< TDP" into Google. For example: "7970 TDP" it will be within the first 6 results. If you really can't find it message me.


Q: What does FPI mean and what difference does it make?

A: FPI stands for Fins Per Inch. This is an industry standard of measuring how dense the fins in a radiator are. You will typically hear more popular radiators referred to as low FPI or high FPI units. Low FPI units are in the range of 7-11 while High FPI units are typically 20+. So, you have a trade off here. High FPI radiators can provide for better cooling, more fins equate to more area for getting rid of heat. But, you need higher RPM fans to push the air through this denser setup. A Low FPI radiator suffers from not having as good of heat dissipation as a high FPI unit, with the trade off being you can use much lower RPM fans to move the same volume of air over the find. In slim radiators this is how manufacturers aim at the performance. A high FPI slim rad is made for high fan RPMs and a low FPI slim rad is made for low RPMs.

Overall, this is a trade off off of temperature versus noise. In the same setup, you may need more radiators if they are all low FPI ones, whereas you would have probably a noisier setup using high FPI one.

Q: Thick or Slim radiators?

A: These terms refer to how wide/deep a radiator is. Typically a "thick" rad is anything over 50mm and "thin" rads are generally in the 35mm range or less. In between that would be considered your "average" thickness rad. Same as with a FPI, the thickness of the rad equates to how much surface area is available to dissipitate heat. Typically you need to move more air through a thin radiator to achieve the same cooling performance as a thick radiator. Same as with FPI, it can be a trade off of temps to RPM/noise of the fans.


Another thing to consider is that thick rads work will with a very wide range of RPMs whereas slim rads are made to be best at certain RPMs.

Q: Will a radiator fit inside my case?

A: Hard question to answer. "Typically" if you can mount a 120mm fan, you can mount a 120mm cooler. 2x120mm fans, then you can mount a 240mm radiator, etc. The issue though that you can run into is clearance for things like the tank that is typically at one end of the radiator. Another problem is clearances. If you have a 50mm radiator to mount in the roof, plus fans (normally 120mm fans are 25mm thick) then do you have enough room between the edge of your motherboard and the roof? Best bet, post in the forum your case info and what you are planning to mount and let people help you out. A lot of case manufacturers are now putting more and more info in the specifications on what AiO coolers they are compatible with. If they state a H100i (so 2x120mm) will fit in the roof, then you can normally fit a 240mm radiator without to much issue, taking into consideration, clearance to your motherboard, You mean need a thin rad and not a thick one.

The other point to be aware of when fitting a radiator to a case is fan spacing. More specifically, the spacing between the screw holes of one fan and the other. Now, there is no industry standard on this. However for a few years now, the "general" industry norm has been 15mm spacing for 120x120mm based radiators. The confusion is in some cases they use a 20mm spacing. This is rare though. The other issue is now 140x140mm based radiators are becoming a lot more popular and until recently most cases that did support this, used 20mm spacing for 140mm fans. Newer cases though, but not all, are now coming with 15mm spacing on the 140mm fans. So, if looking at 140mm based radiators or AiO units, check the case manufacturers specs and also ask on the forum for info.

Q: What is Static Pressure?

A: Static pressure refers to the amount of power, or force, a fan has when there's obstructions, such as a heatsink or radiator. When your fan is right up against it, heatsink or radiator, you want to look for higher static pressure based fans. Note - Higher CFM and/or RPM DO NOT mean better static pressure. The amount of static pressure a fan produces is based on the frame and blade design.

Q: Push, Pull, Push/Pull

A: There is always a LOT of debate about this. Is push better? Is pull better? Is push AND pull better? You can read lots of info - but I will post this link to a video Linus did.



Essentially... no. For most situations, it makes no difference. Now... for a few variables...

1 - Pull is "usually" deemed better in many setups, only because it is easier to clean the rad
2 - A good Static Pressure based fan works as well in Push OR Pull. It is based on fan design.
3 - a Push/Pull setup will normally give your rad ~130% performance compared to using one fan. At the cost of more fans, more wiring and power needed, more noise and a thicker setup.

When it CAN make a difference is when using the super thick rads, like an Alphacool Nexxos Monsta... these suckers are 80mm thick. Martin's did some testing and it turns out that when dealing with a 80mm thick rad, a push/pull setup can net you an extra 5 or 6 degrees, Very impressive. Again, same drawbacks as above still existing AND you are now dealing with a (80mm+25mm+25mm) 130mm thick solution. Not a lot of cases can even handle that.


Q: What is the minimum number of rads I need?


Bad question. The minimum number of rads needed is one in any circumstance. You could rig up a jet engine to push air through it and it would do an excellent job at cooling your computer.


You are looking for the question; How many rads do I need to maintain # temperature at # noise level/fan speed.

Feel free to PM for any water-cooling questions. Check out my profile for more ways to contact me.


Add me to your circles on Google+ here or you can follow me on twitter @deadfire19.

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Tubing, Coolant and Fittings

Q: What is the best coolant to use?

A: Always comes up - is a premix better the plain distilled water? No... There are additives to the premixes that will make them slightly less effective then plain distilled water. But on the whole, the performance is almost the same. Performance would be more impacted by any number of other variables (fans, rad, flow rate, etc.) then the coolant choice itself.

Distilled water works fine. Remember, you will need a biocide agent though. Some people use what is called a "kill coil". This is essentially a piece of silver put into the res itself, that is 99.99% pure. Others use additives. You can also add dye to distilled water to color it. You are also recommended to add a corrosion inhibitor to it as a precaution.

Premix coolant comes in all varieties. Typically these include a biocide and anti-corrosive additives already. They are also typically colored, so you can find a premix coolant to match your build, rather then adding a dye to distilled water. NOTE - read up on any warnings on your coolant in regards to your tubing. There have been some issues with the additive used in brands of coolant reacting to tubing from specific manufacturers. These warning will be on the manufacturers site.

There is some talk about deionized water. That using it will prevent parts from shorting out if there is a leak. This is a myth. As soon as you open a bottle of DI water, it starts attracting ions (Absorbing Carbon Dioxide form the air specifically). As is flows through the loop, the metal of the blocks and the pump, it picks up ions to eventually no longer have any DI properties. Distilled water is de-ionized but de-ionized water is not distilled.

Q: What is the best tubing?

A: This is an up in the air issue. "Most" tubing is fine. There have been some issues reported with some and platiscizer problems, clouding, etc. A lot of times it is a reaction between the tubing and the coolant, or more specifically, the biocide in the coolant. It's almost impossible to test all combos. On the whole though XSPC tubing is considered very good as is Masterkleer.


The new Primochill LRT advanced tubing is currently considered king and the "go to" tubing to use.

Q: Clear coolant or clear tubes?

At some point you will be faced with the decision between colored tubes or colored coolant. Both have their benefits. With colored coolant and clear tubes you will get better looks. You will also be able to bleed your loop more easily as you can actually see bubbles. From experience when using colored tubes, especially ones that aren't partially see-through you can never tell if your system has bled all the air because you cannot see the bubbles. This makes it very difficult if you don't have acrylic blocks. One thing that makes colored tubes better is staining. Dyes in your coolant will stain your whole loop. You will need to clean it thoroughly before the next use if you want to change the color. Therefore, if you want easy maintenance go with colored tubes. Some people say they have issues with dyes clogging up their system. That's just a myth and you shouldn't worry about it as it only occurs with bad coolants.

Q: What size tubing should I use?

A: There has been a lot of talk on what is the best size of tubing. While you would expect to see the smaller diameter be more restrictive and assume it would create a significant drop in flow, this isn't so, to a point. While there are some minor differences as flow are calculated, it is very small and has little impact on Delta and temps. Common size is 3/8" ID (9.5mm) and 1/2" ID (13mm). Going smaller then 3/8" ID does tend to cause more restriction then benefit and isn't seen very often in custom loops. Going larger then 1/2" ID also does not have much benefit either.


In general go for a tubing size that has a fitting size you like, however, be warned, once you choose a size you will most likely stick with it for the rest of your water cooling life.

Q: Mayhems coolant warnings

DO NOT USE Mayhems Aurora. This is a show coolant only and is not for 24/7 use. It looks great but it will eventually clog your blocks and pump to a point where everything will need to be torn completely apart to be cleaned or even just thrown out.

Also please go to Mayhems site and look at the compatibility if you are purchasing any of Mayhems coolant. If in doubt They have a Facebook page and when I asked a question about compatibility I got a reply within a few hours. There are some combos that will just not work. Do not complain if you had issues because you didn't read the site.

Q: What are the fittings?

A: The "fittings" are what your screw into the blocks, radiators, reservoirs etc. and what the tubes connect to. There is now a pretty common standard called G1/4 fitting - this is the portion that screws into the block, radiator, etc. It is always good to check, but most components now use this G1/4 standard. Buying older or used equipment may not have the same fitting type.

The two most popular types, are the Barb and the Compression Fitting. Compression fittings are typically recommended for beginners but the choice of fitting comes down to a personal choice. Using one over the other will not impact performance.

The Barb fitting is simply that, there is a barbed end that the tubing slides onto. Typically is is recommended to use host clamps when using barbs to help prevent against the tube slipping off and leaking. These will typically come in measurements to denote what size of tube they fit, a reference to the inner diameter only. So a 1/4" ID barb, will fit tubing with the 1/4" inner diameter. You can get 1/4", 3/8", 1/2", etc. barbs.

The Compression fitting is a bit different. These are a two piece fitting, one which screws into the block, and a second that slides onto the tube before securing it to the fitting. Unlike the Barb, a compression fitting uses just that, compression, to make a tight seal. A Compression fitting has two measurements to match, the Inner Diameter (ID) of your tubing and the Outer Diameter (OD). These must match the size of tubing you have for a proper fit and seal. When the tube is inserted into the fitting in the block, the second piece screws down onto the fitting, compressing the tube and making a tight fit. NOTE - Hand tighten these. Using a pair of pliers or such can over tighten and make it impossible to remove, and even damage the tube so it does leak. Some recommend once hand tight, adding an 1/8th of a turn with pliers ensures good fit. Again, do not overdo it.

Q: Leak Test

A: We cannot stress this enough. Once you have everything hooked up, spread out lots of paper towel (white is best, easy to see leak) everywhere you can and "prime" your system. This means you add water to the res and start the pump cycling fluid through your loop. NOTHING else should be on. To power only the pump, one trick is to disconnect all your power supply connections (to the board, drives, etc.) so the only thing plugged into the PSU is the pump. Now, taking the 24pin board connector, you can short the green wire (typically the fourth one) to any black one, which will then allow you to power up the PSU manually. Google this - there are lots of videos on it. Now, slowly fill your loop to capacity. At various points you may need to gently bump your system, shake, tilt, etc, to get all the air out.

Once you have your system primed, all the air out, the res nicely filled up... let it run... for 24 hours! No kidding. During this time various things will expand and contract a bit, settle, etc. You run it for this long to ensure everything is tight and secure. You may notice a slight leak on a fitting. No problem, give it a bit more of a turn and see if that does it. This is one of the most important steps of your build.


Q: Amount of Coolant to Use


A: This depends a lot on your loop. As a guideline, for a small CPU loop (240 radiator + CPU Block + Res) you will probably need 500-750ml. As you start to get into larger loops with multiple GPU blocks you will start approaching the 1500ml mark. The main contributor to amount of coolant you need is the reservoir, followed by amount of tubing. Typically for smaller loops the recommendation is 2L and for big loops it is 3L (The extra liter is in case you mess up and have a leak, to avoid having to pay for shipping again. You can use the remainder next time you re-fill the loop anyway.) .


You can calculate the coolant you need with some maths. Use the volume equation for a cylinder for the tubing and a cylinder res, remembering that 1cm3 of water is 1ml and the formula is Volume = pi * radius* length. The radius to use for the tubing with be the (smaller) inner diameter. It's simpler for bay reservoirs. Just take the dimensions and multiply them. Then add 50ml (100ml if you want to be conservative) per block and you should get something close to the amount you will need.

Edited by Ghost
Added "Amount of Coolant Required".

Feel free to PM for any water-cooling questions. Check out my profile for more ways to contact me.


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Pumps and Reservoir

Q: Which pump should I choose?

A: Well there are a bunch out there. The majority of the top pumps are a variant/OEM of the Laign pump - one of the most popular. These come in a few varites. The DDC and the D5. The D5 being the more powerful and popular one now. There is a D5 Variable pump solution, that allow manual adjustment of the pump speed. Most systems find little to no difference in temps when running at low versus high, but a more restrictive loop can benefit from the higher speed.

Some of the more well known pumps and OEM/manufacturers include Swiftech, XSPC, Alphacool, etc. You can also get into custom tops, etc., but that is a bit beyond a beginner/intro FAQ. Also popular are the RES/PUMP combos. This is typically a reservoir that fits in your 5.25 bay that incorporates the pump attached to the res.

A few notes.... (from Skinnee Labs)

Single block loop = Flow rate is of low importance, slight impact to radiator performance only

Multiple block loop = Flow rate of moderate importance. Impact to radiator performance as well as other blocks. In addition, water temperature gain across blocks increases as flow rate reduces further impacting blocks further down the same loop.

When go pump shopping, keep this in mind. If you’re just cooling a CPU, you can go with a low-to-medium flow pump 150 gallons per hour / 568 liters per hour, if you want to cool a GPU, chipset, and a hard drive or two; you’ll need a higher flow pump. You should look for 300Gph (1135Lph) plus pump.

Q: Which Reservoir should I choose?

A: There is no "set in stone" this is the best and this type is the best, etc. There are few more common types and each has some pros and cons. The main function of the reservoir is to be just that, a reservoir of liquid for your loop. Typically you can fill you loop via the res and many are designed to catch air bubbles and not circulate them back into the loop. Very handy when priming your loop for the first time. Some may have additional ports making draining your loop a bit easier as well.

This first model to talk about is what is referred to as a "bay res". This is essentially a reservoir that fits into one of your 5.25" drive bays. Typical they are 1 or 2 bays large. Many of these have windows or other thing in the front for view from the front of the case. A huge benefit of these is that they are easy to mount and do not take up any space in the "interior" of the case. Various models will have the pump directly attached to them, saving you from having to find a mounting spot for you pump (and sometimes a few fittings as well). Some have the pumps right in the res. Typically I don't recommend those as they are a LOT harder to change or upgrade. One problem with many bay res though is once installed in your rig and connected up, filling the res itself can be an issue as access to the fill port can limited or even blocked.

The second most popular model is what is referred to sometimes as a tube res. These are basically a tube of some sort mounted in the interior of your case. They do come in various shapes and capacities. As with bay res, many models incorporate a pump directly attached to them for ease of use. One issue common to these, is just how and where to mount them. Some do come with different types of mounting hardware, so check this when ordering. One main benefit though, is these one are typically easy to fill as access to them is pretty open.

When filling a res and priming the loop, you eventually want to fill the res a decent amount, but it doesn't need to be completely full. After 24-48 hours of running your system normally, mark the fluid level. This can be a good way to check if you have a hidden leak somewhere (yes, I have seen this) if you notice it going down.

Q: Flow Rate and Restriction

A: This can get into a very technical discussion and that is not the purpose here. We just want to give a general overview of things. Some people may have other opinions on this subject as well, and that is fine.

Flow rate is essentially how much liquid is flowing through your system. This typically depends on how powerful your pump is. Most pumps are rated for Gph (Gallons per hour) or Lph (Litters per hour) or a derivative of. The faster the flow rate, the better cooling performance you will get. What can affect your flow rate? The more components you have in your loop will to some extent, but also how "restrictive" they are.

Most blocks and such do not have a the same diameter throughout as your tubing to carry fluid and to allow for unrestricted flow. The liquid flows into the intake of the block and is restricted down to smaller channels that carries the fluid through the block, bleeding off the heat and then back out the outlet. Most blocks will talk about them being of a low restriction or high restriction, etc. Trying to calculate all this for a general build can get very complicated.

Safe to say that by today standards, most of the CPU and GPU blocks you will find today from most of the top manufactures are of the low restriction model and won't impact your flow overly. Things like RAM blocks, mossfet, chipset, etc., these can have some negative impacts on flow rate. But again, unless you are running multiples of these and a low end pump, it isn't an area of concern.

To sum it up from some information I got from SkinneeLabs, with a single block loop, flow rate is of low importance with a slight impact to radiator performance (remember, higher flow rate, better cooling.) For a multi-block loop, flow rate is of moderate importance, with impact to the radiator performance and other blocks. Water temperature gain across blocks increases as flow rate reduces, further impacting blocks down the same loop.

When you are looking at pumps, for a CPU only solution, you can go with a low to medium flow pump, range up to 550L/h. Cooling the CPU and single GPU. A medium flow pump will work well. This would range in the area of 500-1000L/h. If you are going for a multiple block solution, then go with a high flow pump which usually comes in at 1100L/h or greater.

Feel free to PM for any water-cooling questions. Check out my profile for more ways to contact me.


Add me to your circles on Google+ here or you can follow me on twitter @deadfire19.

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Q: Loop order

A: People often wonder if loop order is important in the design and layout. Not really is the simple answer. A water cooling loop is exactly that, a closed loop. Water is being pushed and pulled and once your system is up and running, the temperature difference at any one point may be only a degree or two. The only general recommendation is to mount things so the reservoir outlet feeds the inlet of the pump. This prevents the pump from running dry and also helps to collect air during the priming and stop it from being recirculated (just ensure the outlet is mounted higher the the pump inlet).

Q: Dual Loop?

A: In almost every case, no. Having two dedicated loops that are completely segregated not only requires a pump for each, they also lack the overall cooling potential of the total radiators being implemented. If you were to comprise two setups- one single loop, one dual loop, and use the exact same watercooling hardware, you'd find that the single loop (even if using both pumps) would cool better due to the combined dissipation potential of the radiators from the dual loop setup. You would be able to take advantage of the extra radiator space from the dual loop's CPU loop to help cool the GPUs when running a single, overall loop.

Q: Fan Controller

A: Lot of people plan to use fan controllers in their builds. The idea is to run fans at low speed when idling or not doing much and to ramp them up when load/temps require them.

I (Whaler_99) recommend against planning on this. Get good quality fans and set them and forget them. One of the issues that has come up is that a large number of fan controllers use a type of pulse modulation or on/off signalling for controlling the voltage. In other words, the voltage is not constant. This can introduce some horrible motor whine in some fan motors which can only be fixed by running the controller full out - 12v. If you are planning on using a set model of fans and a controller - test prior to buying a whole bunch of fans. I typically undervolt my fans off direct connection from the PSU. This gives me the most constant power to the fans.

Q: More Reading

A: Here are some site that can give you a lot more info.

http://skinneelabs.com - Skinnee Labs - one of the top sites on the web for info and test results.
http://martinsliquidlab.org - Updated new site - one of the main resources on the web.
http://martinsliquidlab.i4memory.com - Martin's Liquid Labs - no longer update since 08 - but a lot of good info there.
http://www.coolingconfigurator.com - The EK Cooling Config site. One of the best to see if your GPU has a compatible water block.

Q: Linus's Test Results with various AiO's

A: Linus and crew have recently been testing various AiO units with the standardized test bench. Here is the link to the spreadsheet that they update.



Q: Where to buy


Aquatuning sell in:



Please go to http://www.aquatuning.us/ and select the appropriate site.


Please bear in mind that most retailers will ship to nearby countries.


If you see a retailer missing please message/tweet "Ghost".


In Canada:




In US: 

Performance PC



AquaTuning US

Frozen CPU - Closed

Jab-Tech - Closed Down


In UK:




(Unfortunately Specialtech.co.uk has gone through voluntary liquidation)


In Germany:


In Denmark:


In Australia:



In Asia:




Some Extra Links


Thanks to @airdeano for this post, some intro to water cooling videos from Mod Zoo and MNPCTech



Edited by Whaler_99
Jab-Tech altered

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Follow me on Twitter for updates @Whaler_99





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7.1 Draining your loop


There are three main ways to "drain" the loop; get rid of the coolant.

  1. Get a manifold. This is a cube with G1/4 threads on all sides. It has 4 blanking plugs. While in use the water would flow directly through it. When you want to empty your loop just unscrew one of the sides. and water can pour out. You can attach a valve if you want a "cleaner" way to do it. This is the only method that will work with acrylic tubing.
  2. Get a no spill quick disconnect. These cost around £10-20 for the complete set and click into each other. You can cleanly separate the loop. You can split a tube in half with almost no water spillage. These add some restriction to the loop but now-a-days have been improved a lot so this restriction is minimized.
  3. The free solution. Most of the time when you change your coolant you need to change your tubing too. So just grab a scalpel or sharp knife and cut through the tube and put both ends in a basin. There will be some splash but if you are quick its a good way to drain your loop.

Timing - When to drain...


Depends a lot on your situation - coolant used, tubing, average heat of system, lots or no direct sunlight, etc. On "average" I would say once a year. If just using distilled water and a kill coil and system runs relatively cool - can probably easily go a year and a half. Running a heavy pre-mix coolant with UV addiitve? May want to clean things out every 6-9 months as you can get some buildup in your blocks from different UV additives. This is still highly subjective. But if you notice your system running warm, clouding of the coolant or other things in the liquid, it may be time to drain.




Very important step, esp if you are changing coolant colors. You need to make sure you clean your blocks properly. Most of the time blocks can be disassembled to get into them and clean them out. Pay attention though as most have rubber gasket/seals that need to go back on correctly in order to make a leak proof seal. Some blocks may have build up in them, a soft bristle tooth brush can be used. Some recommend a some amount of vinegar in the water, ketchup or other things to help. I just recommend distilled water. Anything else use to clean will in turn need to be thoroughly flushed out before filling your loop.

Also, make sure you flush those rads. Fill them up with some water and move the water all about, tipping and twisting the rad. A vigorous shake can help. You may need to do this many times until the water coming out is the same as the water that went in.


Another option if to have a pump and hook things up, say near the sink. Typically this has the pump pulling fluid from a bowl that easy to fill. You attach each component to the pump and use that to flush them. Very effective, but a bit of a pain to setup.


Tubing, should it be replaced?


In almost all cases I will say yes. The ends of the tubing get stretched after use in fittings or on barbs and if reconnected, won't be as tight, leading to possible seals. If you drained your loop due to things being cloudy, quite possibly this was because your tubing was starting to break down. General rule of thumb, after a drain, replace the old with the new. 


The only time I will re-use a piece of tubing is if I can really tell it is still in excellent shape and I can use it in a shorter run then before, allowing me to trim both ends off and get rid of the stretched sections from the previous hook up.

Forum Links - Community Standards, Privacy Policy, FAQ, Features Suggestions, Bug and Issues.

Folding/Boinc Info - Check out the Folding and Boinc Section, read the Folding Install thread and the Folding FAQ. Info on Boinc is here. Don't forget to join team 223518. Check out other users Folding Rigs for ideas. Don't forget to follow the @LTTCompute for updates and other random posts about the various teams.

Follow me on Twitter for updates @Whaler_99





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  • 1 month later...

Bunch of updates tonight - PM myself of Ghost if you think anything should be added.

Forum Links - Community Standards, Privacy Policy, FAQ, Features Suggestions, Bug and Issues.

Folding/Boinc Info - Check out the Folding and Boinc Section, read the Folding Install thread and the Folding FAQ. Info on Boinc is here. Don't forget to join team 223518. Check out other users Folding Rigs for ideas. Don't forget to follow the @LTTCompute for updates and other random posts about the various teams.

Follow me on Twitter for updates @Whaler_99





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  • 1 month later...

Some more updates and clean up.

Forum Links - Community Standards, Privacy Policy, FAQ, Features Suggestions, Bug and Issues.

Folding/Boinc Info - Check out the Folding and Boinc Section, read the Folding Install thread and the Folding FAQ. Info on Boinc is here. Don't forget to join team 223518. Check out other users Folding Rigs for ideas. Don't forget to follow the @LTTCompute for updates and other random posts about the various teams.

Follow me on Twitter for updates @Whaler_99





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  • 2 months later...

Added quite a bit to FAQ and proof read most of it.

Feel free to PM for any water-cooling questions. Check out my profile for more ways to contact me.


Add me to your circles on Google+ here or you can follow me on twitter @deadfire19.

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  • 1 month later...

FYI gang - please don't respond in this thread - we are trying to keep it neat. If you want to thank or congratulate us, please like the various or appropriate posts

Forum Links - Community Standards, Privacy Policy, FAQ, Features Suggestions, Bug and Issues.

Folding/Boinc Info - Check out the Folding and Boinc Section, read the Folding Install thread and the Folding FAQ. Info on Boinc is here. Don't forget to join team 223518. Check out other users Folding Rigs for ideas. Don't forget to follow the @LTTCompute for updates and other random posts about the various teams.

Follow me on Twitter for updates @Whaler_99





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