Introduction: How to Hardline Liquid Cool a Computer
Hello, welcome to my instructable. I am here to show you how to liquid cool your desktop with a hardline tubing which looks far more ascetically pleasing while having low temperatures. There is a lot of information on this subject but I am here to share all the research and work that I have done. There is a lot that you can customize with a computer like this and every build will be unique for what you need the computer to do and personal preference. This instructable will require having some background knowledge in creating computers and should not be your first build because of that I have decided not to include how to assemble a computer. If you have any problems I am happy to help.
Step 1: Find Your Parts
Finding your parts can be a very difficult challenge and is not something that you should take lightly, mostly because of compatibility issues. When liquid cooling you need to make sure that all of your diameters are the same. I used 3/8in tubing which means I needed 3/8in fittings. There are other options for this and you can change it to what you like but it is up to you. There are two different types of tubing you can use for hardline builds, PETG and acrylic. I choose to use PETG mainly because acrylic is a lot harder to work with and is easier to break. Here is a list of all the parts I feel that you need to water cool a computer:
Fittings: I used compression fittings and some 90° rotary fittings to make it easier on bending. You will need one fitting per connection.
Piping: PETG and I used 2 packs of 4 sticks. I ended up with 2 sticks left over but I think that this was a reasonable amount for my build but its better to be safe than sorry.
Radiators: I had 2 separate radiators but this depends on your case and how many you can fit.
Waterblock(CPU and perhaps GPU): My GPUs came with water blocks on them but if you don't get the blocks on them it is a very simple install to add them. CPU water blocks just need to match the type of socket your CPU is mine is a LGA 2011-V3 so I got a water block that worked with LGA 2011-V3
Reservoir/ pump: The one that I got was a little big and perhaps excessive but it does the job it all depends on how much space have in your case. Mine in particular was a combo one and I don't think that I recommend it only because if my pump dies I have to replace the whole unit rather that just the pump.
Power supply Jumper: It is cheap to get one of these and is very needed. The point of this is to jump the motherboard pinouts so you can start the pump with out starting the entire computer.
Heat gun: Definitely needed if you want to be able to bend your pipes but I suppose you could go with getting right angle fittings that would do the bends for you but that is no fun.
Bending rubber. Make sure that not only it says PETG but is the right size. I originally got the wrong size for my tubing and there was no way to fix it other than getting a new bending rubber.
Cutter: I used a pipe cutter rather than a saw which was 100% worth the extra money. I got perfect cuts every time from this and they were a lot more clean than when I cut with the saw.
Reamer: you could use a knife and do this your self but I think this is a good way to make sure your pipes come out clean and you don't loose a finger.
Fluid: I used some Primochill dark blue fluid and it seems to work quite well from what I have read this doesn't clog up the system like other fluids such as mayhem fluid. If you would rather you can get plain DI water and dye it yourself or leave it clear.
Step 2: Build the Computer in the Case
With me assuming that you know how to build a computer I would say that you should put the motherboard, CPU, and everything else you are planning on installing in your computer. The only thing that I would hold out on is installing the GPU and connecting the power supply up. But you should install the radiators, fans, water blocks, reservoir, and pump.
Step 3: Draw Out a Diagram of Your Piping
I suggest that you go ahead and draw out how you want your pipes to be before you start bending. This only takes a couple of minutes and is well worth your time. Issues that you could face by not doing this really outweigh the time it would take to fix your mistake.
Step 4: Start Bending the Pipes
Here is where it starts to get interesting. Before we get into bending, I recommend that you practice a few times to really get hang of it. First you need to make sure that you can get the bending rubber in the pipe past the part where you want to bend it. The best way I found to do it was with soap, water, and sheer force. Now you need to plan what pipe you are going to start with and figure out how much pipe you are going to need. When starting the pipe bend use the full pipe and trim it as you go. Next you should put the heat gun on low temperature and have it facing up towards you but it should not be able to move around on its own (Look at the picture for reference). To start to bend you need to take the part you are going to bend and put that under the heat and rotate it's kinda like a rotisserie. This is a part you don't want to rush because it will affect end results. Getting the pipe too hot will risk having it bubble and once that happens the pipe is useless and you will have to start over. If the pipe is too cold and you try to bend it it will not bend right. The first bend on the pipe is the least important and make sure you bend a little longer that what you need. Its easier to trim pipe than add extra pipe. I never measured my pipes when bending them. I did it all by eye and it turned out fine. If you want to measure it you can. To get a perfect 90° is not needed but if you are a perfectionist you can get a tool that will help you bend the tubes to the exact angle. It is called a "XSPC PETG easy bending tool" and you can get it on amazon. The pipes are not too hard to bend in the direction that you want but if you but pressure on the way that you want the pipe to bend as you are heating it, it makes it easier. This is the hardest part of the instructable and can get frustrating very easily when you can't get one bend. Take your time and don't rush it and everything should be fine.
Step 5: Fit the Piping in the Computer
Do a test fitting on the tubes and make sure that everything matches up. It should be a little tight and that is good because it means that it is less likely leak. After you test fit the pipes, take them apart and give it a good cleaning with some water. The cleaner the water you have the better. I have a reverse osmosis system at my house and that was good enough for cleaning.I let my tubing air dry and that didn't take to long and they looked quite nice. After you fit the tubing in the computer and clean it it is time to move on to the final install of the tubing. Put the tubing into the computer and make sure the fittings are very tight. They are compression fittings so the compression is what is needed. Make sure that they are on there very tight. The tubes might seem to be a little wobbly but that is okay.
Step 6: Filling the Computer
The best way to fill the reservoir is to get a hose that leads to the outside of the case and start to slowly pour your liquid in. Don go to fast because you need to let the air come out of the reservoir. Once you have your reservoir filled half way plug your motherboard jumper in and power up your pump.To power it us all you need to do is flip the switch on the back of the power supply. Make sure that you don't have any other component plugged in or there would be issues if you have a leak.
Step 7: Leak Testing
By far the easiest step. Just let your pump run for at a minimum of 12 hours. I would recommend 1-2 days. Place some paper towels around the computer. This will make it easier to find leaks. If you do find a leak you might have to remake the pipe but first check how tight the fittings around the leak is.
Step 8: Completion
Finish off your cable management. Plug in your drives and load your preferred OS. May your temperatures be low and your frame rates be high. Thank you for reading. If you have any questions please ask.