Step 1: Gather Materials and Plan!

First, a short disclaimer. I am not responsible for any damage you do to yourself, others, or your computer or other property if you choose to attempt this project. If you are unsure about building your own system there are plenty of kits and all-in-one closed loop coolers out there that may be more suited to you. If you have some level of DIY experience, are comfortable with taking the life of your computer into your own hands, and want a liquid cooling system that stands out, this is the project for you.

To build a liquid cooling system you will need:

*A radiator of some sort. I used a heater core. specifically, one meant for a 1977 Bonneville with A/C. You can use pretty much any other type of radiator or heater core, but my recomendation is to stay away from the aluminum ones. copper or brass only is the way to go. having mixed metals in the loop can cause galvanic corrosion. the purpose built radiators commonly available at stores like frozencpu or xoxide are great too but expensive. heater cores are able to work as well or better and only cost 25 dollars or so. 

* A pump. I used the danger den 800L/hr model.  other pumps will work but keepin mind flow rates and noise. This pump pushes a lot of water almost silently, so its worth the money that I paid for it.

* wood. I used 1/2" birch plywood. this is great if you are going to stain or paint it black like I did, but solid wood would also be nice. 

*fans. I used 4 cooler master r4 120mm fans. they probably are not near the 90cfm they are rated for, but they still push a good amount of air, and are relatively quiet. I used 4 so pricey fans will definitely add up. these are available for about 7 bucks each if you shop wisely. 120mm fans push the best air vs noise ratio, plus they are ideally suited for the size of my heater core. 

* A reservoir. Mine is made out of a piece of clear PVC. Use your imagination, I am sure there are lots of other things that could be used as a reservoir, I just can't justify spending 40 bucks on a plastic container.

*hose barbs, vinyl tubing. I used 3/8" ID tubing, but half inch works well too and increases flow rate.

*assorted screws, bolts, scrap aluminum pieces, switches, connectors, leds, etc. you can personalize your system any way you like. I will probably be adding some UV leds to make the coolant reservoir glow, but the sky is the limit here.  

Once you have gathered your Materials, its time to plan out the dimensions and structure of your enclosure. I decided four fans in a Push/pull configuration would afford the maximum airflow through my radiator. a separator divides the box into the "wind tunnel" section and the pump/ power section. a slight groove in the box retains the radiator. If you decide on only two fans, they seem to be more effective at pulling air through the radiator than pushing it. perhaps placing the radiator near a large vent and four fans pulling air through the radiator and out of the box would be more effective, or two smaller radiators mounted in the ends of the box with four fans exhausting air out of the box. The advantage of my setup is I can selectively turn off a pair of my fans. Once all of the details have been ironed out, begin cutting the wood according to your plans. 
<p>Hello, i really like this refrigeration system and i wont to build one, but first i have to ask you, what do you use as a power supply, a normal pc power supply?</p>
<p>I think I would use some antifreeze that is safe for pets in any of the CPU cooling kits instead of dye and that way if it does leak your pets are OK. You might also use a piece of anode rod material from an old water heater in the water to stop corrosion. Clean and sand it so the material surface is better exposed. If there are any chemists out there that know if this might not be a good idea please comment. I know some of the hot water heaters suggest that anode rods can be too active or deactivate over time but I would think this would be mostly on the outside of the anode rod. And they are FREE on thrown out water heaters or at the salvage yard. Also a small piece of silver to stop bacteria I've heard helps.</p><p>Nice build.</p>
I hope in the future you intend to cool your hole pc with this system because that is a bit overkill for just the cpu
<p>could you explain me how you had connected the cooling system with your CPU ? </p>
<p>Would you be interested in selling one of these?</p>
The reservoir reminds me of the things the Green Goblin had in the Spider-Man movies. lol
realy nice work dude!!!!!!!!!!!!! <br>
actually on the galvanic corrosion thing its easy to stop usually just place a piece of solid zinc rod in the system somewhere with coolant flowing over it. <br><br> it makes a sacrificial anode and eats the zinc instead of anything important that and one of those water additives like reline, royal purple work awesome on cars and bikes so i see no issue it could cause with pc's myself <br><br> aside from that you could also swap the heater core for a Oil cooler available from summit jegs or other sources for maybe about 30-40$(or scour some junkyards, or e-bay ) and also get a slimmer package with many sizes available up-to something like 10-12&quot;X 20-24&quot; they also come with usually 3/8 <br> i would probably take off the fittings for the inlet side off offering full 1/2 flow and 3/8 outlet.<br>http://www.summitracing.com/parts/FLX-4110<br>http://www.summitracing.com/parts/DER-13212/?rtype=10<br>http://www.summitracing.com/parts/FLX-3812/?rtype=10<br>http://www.summitracing.com/parts/FLX-3826/<br><br> i would use one like above, i would use a multi pass tube fin type as opposed to the wide open ones that have 1 pass with many rows.connected parallel<br><br> tubing To make it easier to interface with pumps and hardware <br> honestly probably build one with all 1/2 tube with the radiator being the only restriction given the choice.
i think you might also want to use some rubber/plastic firewall grommets to prevent tubing tubing from getting rubbed through, worn or cut by the sheet metal
This one is Soooo Cool.
What are your parts(The aesthetic ones-Case, PSU, other things that light up)? I really like the way they look, and would like to implement some of them into my build.
The Case is a Thermaltake Element S which is a pretty great case for the money even if its not too flashy. The fans on the radiator box are cooler master R4 which I chose mainly for the price. They also come in red and blue but are a little bright if you are going to put the setup in a room which you also sleep in. I had originally planned to go for red fans and coolant to match the red and black theme of the case but they were out of stock at the time. I'm also considering upgrading them to PWM 4-pin fans that can be smoothly controlled instead of just low -hi-off like these. The psu pictured here is a OCZ gamexstream which I actually don't recommend because the first one was DOA and its replacement failed within three months. OCZ does have great customer support though and replaced it with an upgrade to a Z-series supply. the waterblock is an Enzotech sapphire block which performed well in reviews and was much cheaper than the competition. I've been very happy with my setup thus far, its probably past time for a system drain and cleaning so i'll probably update this instructable with how its held up after I've done that.
Do you happen to know if anti-freeze damages acrylic? I'm making a DIY water cooler right now and made an acrylic reservoir (IMO I made it about 4X the size i needed) but i don't know if anti freeze will damage it as alcohol and a few other substances can damage and crack it.
not really. I have a swiftech kit liquid cooling system and thier res. is acrylic. Had it since 2006. Used 50/50 (highlighter yellow) car coolant. The res. is in perfect condition still.
Also, im getting a 120mm radiator made for watercooling, its a DD black ice xtreme to be specific, but I've been wondering if it would work worse or better than a heater core.
OMG i have those same speakers on my PC desk, perma-hooked to my 32&quot;hdtv/monitor. BOSE rocks.
i think that i have seen this table before
I've read a few of your guys comments on here ... one in particular asks about why not antifreeze???&nbsp;then others stated it wont be any good.....And you should use water.... Well why not antifreeze????&nbsp;I think antifreeze used diluted down to where its really not useful for automotive use would be perfect...&nbsp; then you don't have to worry about stale water... or bacteria growing as one person put it... THEN what about just using oil?????&nbsp; like a synthetic brand&nbsp; or my favorite tranny oil.... (a complicated mineral oil)&nbsp;One thing I'm sure that &nbsp;is taken into account but not mentioned in the instructable &nbsp;is room for expansion of what ever liquid you use or is that an issue???
&nbsp;I actually in the end did use a dilute solution of antifreeze in the loop in the last pictures. distilled water, a bit of antifreeze and a little UV dye. I don't know if its really helping or hurting my performance, but it should at least keep the bacteria from growing inside the loop. &nbsp;<br /> Water is superior to oil for liquid cooling loops because water is both a better heat conductor and has a substantially higher specific heat. &nbsp;water is 4.19 Kj/Kg*k while most oils are only about 1.8 Kj/Kg*K. This means that it takes more than twice the energy to raise a mass of water one degree as it does to raise the same mass of oil one degree. This is good in a liquid cooling system because the water can transfer more heat at once, and will not approach its maximum heat carrying capacity quickly even if you run it through several water blocks. &nbsp;interestingly, both propylene glycol and ethylene glycol (components of antifreeze) have a substantially lower specific heat than water as well, around 2.5 Kj/Kg*K, but I don't think its hurt my system any.<br /> As for expansion of the liquid, I never really thought about it when I was building it, but now I'm thinking I probably should have because when I turned off the fans to see how quickly the coolant would heat up I saw that once it was pretty warm there was about a drop of coolant that had leaked out of the threads where the barbs screw into the reservoir... I guess I need to tighten them and leave a small bubble of air in the reservoir for some expansion room.&nbsp;
Okay, first off: Yes, I know this is a year after, but I just want to say it anyways.<br><br>Oil would in fact, based on your numbers, be better for cooling. Think about it, it takes 2x as much energy to raise xL of water 1F than oil, meaning that water's an INSULATOR. The same concept can be said about metal heat sinks; it takes much more energy to raise the temperature of steel compared to aluminum, aluminum's a conductor, you want it to PULL heat away from your processor :)
heat conductance and specific heat are actually two different properties of a substance. one is how much thermal energy a material can absorb before changing temperature, the other how easily thermal energy moves through it. high specific heat means nothing about its thermal conductance, only that it requires more energy to increase in temperature. higher specific heat is advantageous since heat transfer is dependent on the thermal gradient, so that a material that maintains a lower temperature longer will create a higher heat flux. according to http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/thermal-conductivity-d_429.html , water has a coefficient of thermal conductivity of .58 while all oils on the chart are below .2. this coupled with the fact that specific heat of water is higher means that water is far better for running in cooling loops in the temperature range this is likely to reach. This is because water will both pull heat away from a hot component faster for the same temperature gradient, and also it will also carry with it more watts of thermal energy per unit mass. another factor is that water is denser than oil so even if the specific heat were equal to oil, water would still be better since the same volume of water has more mass. in the case of steel V. aluminum aluminum has a vastly better thermal conductivity and a better specific heat, so its better than steel for heat transfer purposes for much the same reason water is better than oil.
Ohhhhhkay, my mistake :) Thanks for teaching me something though :)
being nice here but should have spent money that was being spent on cooler to a new video card or a i7 or sompthing...............................................................
It actually does have an i7 cpu, which is the main reason I wanted a low cost liquid cooler. It overclocks to 4.2GHz and runs cool with this system. Still working on getting a better video card but the cooler should have enough cooling capacity for the video card too.
This is Cool awesome.:)
How do you fill your reservoir? I don't see a way to fill it without taking it apart, and that would be counter productive. CAn we hava an actual guide on how to make your reservoir? And what were your temp changes after installing this in your PC?
Temps before and after are in step 7. I'm still thinking about the best way to implement some kind of temperature monitoring system to keep tabs on the incoming and outgoing coolant temps as well as ambient air temperature. arduino might be an easy way to go with some of those cheap little lm75 temperature sensor chips, plus some kind of display, or send the info back to the computer to be logged maybe? I'm not really sure yet. I would love to have temperature data displayed on like a vfd display or something, have to keep an eye on ebay.
The reservoir has a threaded hole in the top that allows it to be filled. the hole is plugged with a matching brass stopper. making the reservoir is pretty simple, just throw some end caps on a pipe and then drill and tap an entry and exit hole for the coolant. the holes should be through both the end cap and the pipe for extra thread depth. screw some hose barbs into the holes using some teflon tape and its pretty much done! It's attached to the cooler using some electrical conduit clamp things I found at home cheapo, and the hose barbs extend partially down into the inside of the box through some holes I made for them.
venting this to the outside of your residence, with proper air&nbsp;filtration, would also help regulate the noise as well as the radiant dissipation. Also, I can imagine hooking this into a solar&nbsp;cell&nbsp;array to save on energy costs.
I'd love to be able to bring in cool air from outside and then vent it back outside, this thing is like a space heater sometimes. wouldn't work so well in the summer though, coolant temperature seems to be heavily dependent on the temperature of the incoming air.
that is my plan for cooling, though south florida gets way to hot during the summer for that, so it would pull air in from the room and out to the out side<br />
Lov the idea man loks cool 2!!!
excellent, however, what if the pipe melts/breaks/shrinks and explodes? that would mess up your computer big time as shown here:<br /> &quot;cmon! cmon! I've been waiting for this Itunes update for...&quot;<br /> #phssssss#<br /> 'What was that?...&quot;<br /> #crackle hiss fizz#<br /> &quot;Oh no.&quot;<br /> #WOOMPH#<br /> &quot;0.o my PC is on fire&quot;<br /> <br /> Nice idea though
<p>nice cooler dude<br /> &nbsp;</p>
I'm considering using this type of setup to cool my file server, is ridiculously loud now and would really chill the drives, just need to build and encloser for the drives.<br />
Outstanding. I am not a gamer, hence I don't overclock but heat in my house in the summer can get things warm for just your run of the mill stock system. I think your system will do a lot to relieve worries I have had about heat. I like your design. Very good instructable. I have subscribed. Looking forward to more.<br /> <br /> Keep them coming.<br />
Awesome! At first I thought you were using radiator fluid, and now I'm thinking, why not? Won't it carry heat a bit better?
&nbsp;Yeah I'm planning to use regular automotive coolant. The stuff thats specially formulated for PCs is ethylene glycol based as well, anyway. Its not currently hooked up to my computer yet because I need to buy the waterblocks still, but when I do I'll probably use radiator fluid cut with some distilled water.
the only thing I can say about the coolant is antifreeze is a poison should you have pets and a leak you may not have pets.. You SHOULD dispose of it properly. Water can be dumped in the drain and can is natural.<br />
&nbsp;Well if you go to watercooling forums everyone fights about this. First of all, any anti-freeze is a bad idea, as it's designed (as you may have guessed) to not freeze so it can give up a bit of it's heat carrying capacity.<br /> <br /> Now, straight distilled water works great, no need to really add anything to it for heat transfer properties but you will need something to stop bacteria growth that will reduce it's heat&nbsp;transferring&nbsp;ability and clog up and slow down water movement.<br /> <br /> However there are the performance coolants for cars, some people argue that they are only designed to boil at a higher temp, so the temperatures your computer will reach the system will suffer from usage of such chemicals, other people claim to have gotten good results.<br /> <br /> So long story short, I have seen all kinds of math, science, and experience thrown around to say yes and no to the question. I usually just stick with distilled or better yet de-ionized water (as it doesn't transfer electricity, at first, but eventually picks up ions and becomes conductive) with something to stop growth in the water, and usually for fun some sort of dye. What I currently have looks almost clear normally, but under a black light glows blue.<br /> <br /> So my recommendation is go with whatever sounds best to you, just make sure crap won't grow in your system.<br />
May I suggest this :&nbsp; Redline Water Wetter<br /> <a href="http://www.redlineoil.com.au/product-information.asp#waterwetter" rel="nofollow">http://www.redlineoil.com.au/product-information.asp#waterwetter</a><br /> <br /> It is great stuff. Makes the system run cooler. I use it in my BMW.<br /> It protects against corrosion of every metal bar Magnesium.<br /> <br /> Conventional coolants as stated do NOT help heat transfer. They are added for their&nbsp; antifreeze and anti corrosion properties.<br /> <br /> Cost is about US$22 or here in Australia about AU$45<br /> <br /> Thanks for a great project instructable !<br />
&nbsp;Yeah, I've done a little research myself and have found that theres no real consensus, and that differences in coolant mixtures dont seem to have much of a distinct effect. &nbsp;That is, temperature differences are minimal. So I mixed up a gallon of distilled water with a small amount of automotive coolant, and will probably get a biocide and a dye of some sort.
&nbsp;One neat note is anti-freeze glows under UV light, so if you like green it's cheaper than green UV dye.
&nbsp;Oh yeah, and as the poster said, anti-corrosive is a good idea, although if you stick with all copper parts not really essential (if I am remembering right), but still a good idea, but it is usually combined with anything else you put in there so not hard to find.
&nbsp;perhaps some MDF construction or cork backing would help a bit with sound issues. personally tho at the moment my PC sound slike a leer jet when i start it up do to all the fans so i dont think it could get any louder lol
&nbsp;my pc so old it runs of diesel...lol im thinkin on going hamster power... i bet i can find a how to here...(well its true theres got to be a hamster power instructable...)
lol. my computer sounds loud too. it sounds almost like a car revving its engine right outside.
&nbsp;I used some double sided foam tape on the inside to hold down the core and the divider inside, which helped the pump noise a lot. I also used six of those little rubber stick on feet on the bottom of the case. now you can't hear the pump at all when its running, and the fans are almost silent too when in 7volt mode.
Excellent 'ible.<br /> <br /> Here's what I do when my computer needs water cooling:<br /> 1. Unplug it. (This is key.)<br /> 2. Fill up the bathtub with cold water. &nbsp;(The coldest water is best.)<br /> 3. Dunk that sucker right in the tub. &nbsp;(Several dunkings is better than one.)<br /> <br /> This procedure cools it right down, especially on a hot summer day. I'm thinking I&nbsp;should expand this approach into an &nbsp;'ible.<br /> <br /> Note: Always allow at least 24 hours and possibly a week of dry time before restarting.

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