Budget Cpu Liquid Cooler





Introduction: Budget Cpu Liquid Cooler

My project started when I helped a friend build a high end liquid cooling system for his computer. I had thought that I could do the same thing for a fraction of the cost. This is how I made my budget cpu liquid cooler that is both functional and looks great.

Step 1: The Pump

My system is built around the Corsair H80i liquid cooling system. It was a closed loop system that works excellent on its own, but it just wasn't aesthetically pleasing. I bought the pump second hand off a friend for $80.

Step 2: The Components

Components needed for the build

-Corsair H80i liquid cooler
-Barbed hose fittings
-1/2" vinyl tubing
-Fluid reservoir

Step 3: Dissecting the H80i

First I cut the flexible black hoses off of the pump and radiator, then drained all the fluid from both and set them aside.

Step 4: Building the Reservoir

For the reservoir, I purchased a kids water bottle for $7. The plan was to cut the top and bottom off and create an all acrylic reservoir.

Step 5: Building the Reservoir Caps

The caps were built from 1/4" acrylic I had laying around the shop. I didn't think that 1/4" was thick enough so I tried laminating two pieces together with epoxy. All of the bubbles were squeezed out of the epoxy and dried perfectly clear. I then cut the acrylic pieces into the desired shape. It turned out looking really good.

Step 6: Back to the Drawing Board

The laminated acrylic looked great, but when I started drilling it for the fittings, it started to de-bond. I gave up on that idea and turned to some 0.125" aluminum I also had in the shop. I cut it in the same shape as before and drilled and tapped for the fittings. To fasten it together, I drilled and countersunk 3 holes around the outside perimeter of the reservoir tube. I then cut 3 aluminum tubes to the same length as the acrylic and tapped both ends for a 10-32 countersunk screw. Next, I sealed the ends of the acrylic with clear silicone and assembled it all together. Then, I set it off to the side to set up and dry.

Step 7: Case Modifications #1

The case I have doesn't leave much space for a bulky radiator with dual fans. Some planning went into this step to fit everything to be effective, yet aesthetically pleasing. I also wanted to do some better cable management to clean up the look.

Step 8: Case Modifications #2

After I removed every component out of the case I cleaned it out completely with compressed air. I then took the motherboard and installed the pump.

Step 9: Case Modifications #3

The location I found that would best suit the radiator was in the front case fan mount. The problem was the hard drive bays were in the way. Since I only have two hard drives I have them installed on the top 2 racks and there was plenty of room underneath. In order to fit everything, the front hard drive rack had to be trimmed. In order to keep the structural rigidity of the rack, I used the same technique using aluminum tubes and tapped the ends to screw everything together. Once it was installed, I started to put all the components back in and clean up the wiring.

Step 10: Bringing It All Together

The last installation was the reservoir. I installed it so the top level was slightly higher than the pump to ease in priming the pump. I then cut the tubing to length, installed it and fastened it with zip ties.

Step 11: Leak Testing

After everything was back together, I filled the reservoir with distiller water, primed the pump and powered the computer up. I had no leaks and everything ran flawlessly. The cpu baseline temperature was 10 degrees Celsius cooler than the old fan.

Step 12: Adding the Coolant

The last step was to drain the water out and add the coolant. I used 60/40 coolant I also had in the shop. There was no change in temperature between the coolant and water.

Step 13: Summary

In total the project took me two days and a grand total of $100. 1/10th of the cost of the high end custom cooling system. My system runs flawlessly and looks great!

3 People Made This Project!


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44 Discussions

I'm a newbie on that cooling projects.

But I wonder what should happen If I change the coolant with Liquid Nitrogen?


2 replies

actually it'll be too costly..... as you'll need a coolent freezer typo thing to keep liquid nitrogen in liquid state......

So you overclock the cpu??!?

the h110i has been a workhorse for almost 2 years running at about 3-5 days of combined hours per week. i live in Pittsburgh, PA where it is fairly normal to get 90% humidity at 90+ degrees in the summer and dry
indoor winter air.

**if it matters**

I'm not sure if anyone else
shares my problem but here it goes:

my hoses are beginning to
show signs of dry rot and i fear they might start leaking or evaporating
through the tiny perforations. the relocation of the radiator is a
great idea and intend to implement the same concept to mine. as you will
notice in my photo i mounted my fans on top of the case and the
radiator to the top inside because the fans didn't have proper clearance for my mobo heat sink thingy at the top.

thanks for the great simple mods that i kind of didn't know i wanted.

+++ it may take me a while but i will post the results when i make the mods... most likely after the unit fails. haha.

IMG_0020.JPGIMG_0019.JPGIMG_0017.JPGIMG_0021 (1).JPG
2 replies

Christ man, clean your PC once in a while. It may not be the cause of your dry rot problem but dust can be just as dangerous and your system is clogged with it.

For one, your radiator will not be working anywhere close to the degree it should be as that sever fouling practically makes it pointless, get a can of air and clear it out would be my first point of advice.

Second, get your case dusted out and make sure you dust your fans and blades. Dust resting on your fans will knock them out of balance and cause noise, knocking and general unnecessary wear that can be prevented from good maintenance. The levels of dust in your system will be severely damaging your components so perhaps think about where you are storing it when in use (i.e. not on carpets)

i know i know. i do clean blow off the rad/fans/graphics cards about once a week... you know... just the important stuff. hahaha

I've been trying to sell a graphics card liquid heatsink (The card is junk) But the heatsink looks fine. http://www.ebay.com/itm/Alpha-Cool-Copper-Liquid-Heatsink-for-Video-Graphics-Card-/231670838454

3 replies

You are aware GPU blocks such as the one you are selling are made for specific cards, right? The GPU block you are selling will only be of any use to someone who owns that model of card so sorry but it's unlikely you'll find a buyer.

hmm...I had no idea. might as well just bust it up and scrap that huge chunk of copper in there.

Hey, melt that copper down and make some use out of it! Plenty of ideas on here :)

Maybe I missed something. It was very cool that you made your own reservoir. But you already had a budget system when you bought an all in one H80. Did adding all the extra parts result in better performance?

1 reply

more liquid = more heat dispersion ?
just a thought, not sure how much extra liquid it takes for the results to be negligible or not.


2 years ago

This build was primarily for looks. It does work better than the old fan cooler though. I wanted the look of a high end custom system at a fraction of the cost.

Very cool. I have been considering doing something similar. My case will not fit a dual fan radiator inside so I need a way to put it on the outside. This seems like a good option. Though on my I'm going to use an already manufactured resistor. Nice write up!

Looks good but it seems all you've done is change a closed loop system to use a reservoir- I can't really see much advantage when you're using the same pump, radiator and fan for all of that work. Looks?

Have not water cooled since the days of the Pentium 4 Prescott cores but back then I used a automobile heater core and a small 120 v fountain pump.

BTW the main reason you use a auto coolent is not to get lower temps but because of the galvanic corrosion caused by the dissimilar metals. If you do not have a copper/aluminum mixture of components then all is necessary is a few drops of iodine to prevent biologic growth. We have pets in the house and the possibility of a leak and ethylene glycol poisoning

very nice! you did an excellent job! i am an mechanic and enjoy diy. just would like to add my two cents about cooling fluids for automobiles. there is a liquid antifreeze/coolant that is guaranteed to make your engine run 10 degrees F cooler, that is designed to help prevent the premature combustion of the fuel from heat and compression. when you are running a high performance diesel engine your exhaust gasses can get so high temperature that the pistons can actually melt and even 10 degrees can save you many thousands of dollars in parts alone. i have never used this fluid and not currently in my home country of USA , but most high performance diesel truck magazine will carry an advertisement for it! yes, it would add to the cost of the project, but because the fluid would come in 1 gallon quantities you could repackage it in smaller volumes and offer your limited quantity for sale at your actual cost including shipping and save a lot on the cost of buying 1 gallon. i say at your actual cost, because you might not wish to make a profit, but only to cut your cost to complete the project at least cost/ benefit ratio difference. it is the DIY ideas of people that make performance affordable to others and to bring new products to the world. i will use your instructable to provide additional cooling to a TEG project i have in mind! thank you so much for the attention and work you put into this instructable!!