How to Watercool a PC





Introduction: How to Watercool a PC

About: I'm interested in CNC, laser cutting, 3D printing and blow glass in my spare time.

Why would you want to water cool a PC? First of all it can much more quiet and it drops the temperature of your computer greatly. My quad core went from 50C under load to 28C Idle and under load! It is also good for overclocking. When you overclock the components of a PC get hot. The more you do it the hotter they get. It gets to a point were air cooling just won't cut it.

I really enjoy water cooling and it recently became one of my new hobbies. A water cooling rig requires maintenance. You need to know your way around a computer pretty well to be able to do this. I've been building computer since I was 10 and this really pushes you to the limit. I want to go even farther and try vapor phase change cooling. It's pretty much building a refrigerator inside of your computer. Drops things to around -20C

The image shows my build before I cleaned up the wiring.

Some more pics of my computer here

Step 1: Finding Your Way Around.

First know your way around a computer. Refer to the pictures.

Step 2: Picking Out the Parts.

Deciding on the parts depends on how much you want to spend. I spent about $275 on my current setup. Its going to be about $375 once I watercool my GPU. A good kit I would recommend is this oneone from petra's tech shop for $250. It has pretty much every single part my kit has. I didn't even know there was this kit before I bought from them. The people there are really nice. ThisThis kit is better for a cheaper build or a smaller system that doesn't throw off as much heat. These kits aren't like ones you will see on newegg or other computer stores. They have a good combination of parts from different company's. The best watercooling rig has parts for all different companies.

You will also need about 10-15 gallons of distilled water. You can pick this up at your local grocery store. You also need tubing. You need to buy the right size tubing according to the type of pump, radiator, waterblock, and reservoir have. They are called barbs. I prefer 1/2 barbs. Make sure all your barbs are the same size. I recommend you use Tygon tubing. You can also use deionized water. I finally figured out the differences, I was pretty confused. Deionized water is less pure then distilled and still has some minerals and things like that in it. Both are still a bit conductive.

You also need some thermal paste. It helps create a strong bond between the CPU and water block so the heat can transfer. You can get a tube of it for about $5

Some places to buy watercooling parts
Petra's Tech Shop (My favorite)
Danger Den
Frozen Cpu

Step 3: Preparing to Install.

Once you get all your parts I would read through all the manuals. I never read manuals, but for watercooling I would. They have warnings that could really mess up your rig if you didn't pay attention to that. After you do that you need to do what is called flushing. When the parts are manufactured they have oils and grime and other things from them being made. If you just run your rig like that you will have dirt and grime flowing through all your parts and it will start to clog. Get some of your tubing cut it short and hook it up to one end of your radiator. Get a funnel and run about a gallon of distilled water through it. It helps to shake it up and around the radiator. Also heating the water helps it too. Next take apart your water block which should be pretty simple just unscrew a few screws. Get some rubbing alcohol and rub it through all the groves in your block.

Step 4: Installing

Take out all the parts of your computer you won't be using. Such as your ram HDD's and GPU if you aren't water cooling it. Your going to need to pretty much have to take apart your computer anyways to install the water block.

Take the motherboard out of your case and put it in a safe place to work on it where static won't get to it. Put a dot sized dab of the thermal paste I mentioned before only a dot or 2. Get your screws that came with the waterblock and stick them up through the bottom of where your heatsink would screw in. Put the heatsink on and secure it.

It is hard to explain since all blocks mount a bit different. Your block should come with some kind of diagram. Think through where you are going to be installing you radiator and water pump. You might have to drill some holes into your case if you are mounting your radiator outside of your case. Once you found the places mount and screw them into place. Put your computer back together with only the essentials as you won't be needing to be able to boot just turn it on.

Plan out how you are going to do the tubing and connect them all on the valves. Get some hoseclamps and tightly secure them on. You might need to use kind of lubricant to get them to slide on. Make sure have things how you want them because it is extremely hard to get the hoses back off.

Step 5: Leak Testing.

This step is crucial because if you have everything in your rig and it does happen to have a major leak it could ruining your computer. This is why you took out everything you don't need. Stuff your case with paper towels and power it on. Watch it for about 10 minutes and go do something for 30 minutes or an hour. Check on it everyonce and a while. You should leave it on for 12-24 hours. 12 is fine but more if you are really concerned. You leave it on so long because small leaks may take time to emerge. The paper towels can also help you find where the leak is. If everything is good and your computer didn't short itself out your good!

Another thing of I just thought of for leak testing is that if your pump doesn't use your PSU for power and the wall you can just plug that in. Another thing you can do is get an extra PSU and just hook the pump up to that. Then you can jump start it. Find a green and black wire on the Motherboard power connector and get a paper clip and bridge the connections. Make sure your PSU isn't plugged in when you do this.

Step 6: Putting Everthing Back In.

Put all the things you took out and put them back in. If you did everything right your computer should turn on and be fine. Monitor temperatures for a bit to see if everything is going right.

Hope this guide helped you and got you into the fun hobby of watercooling!

If you have any problems with building or watercooling feel free to contact me through instructables, IM, or email. Just don't bug me with virus and software questions. If you see something I missed please do tell me I made this thing at 3 am.

Xfire: CowGuy
AIM: Getacow123

Also a great community to participate in is Xtremesystems. They are very helpful and just a great group of people.

Step 7: Additives

There are quite a few things you can add to your loop.

A few I recommend are:
PT nuke - It kills all kinds of bacteria and helps keep your loop from becoming dirty as fast.

Anti Freeze - There seems to be a big debate about this going on in the comment section. I use it and it does seem to help. I mix it in a 1:9 ratio to your water.

Liquid Coolants- There are a whole bunch of these, these are most of the time full water replacements. I have not had any experience with these, but I have mostly heard good things about them. Frozen Cpu stocks a whole bunch of different kinds.

Things to STAY away from:

UV dyes - Not all are bad, but some after a while will soon break down and become thick and murky and can damage pumps and reduce water flow. Make sure to look around and see if any of the reviewers of the product have been using it for a couple months before you buy it.

Step 8: Some Extra Tips.

If your wiring is a mess you can drill some holes where you motherboard rests and feed the cables behind where you motherboard sits and stick them through the hole. It really makes things look a whole lot better.

Get all the bubbles out of your reservoir. It increasing water flow.

Check your water frequently, It might start to grow some things in it or get some dirt in it if you didn't get all the crap out of it when you flushed out the parts.

Put some anti freeze in your water. Put a little in it helps with the heat transfer.

Never use Aluminum and copper or any other different kind of material on the water blocks. It can cause bad reactions. There are some chemicals you can add to protect them but I still don't recommend it.

Keep some extra tubing and distilled water around. If you don't have you reservoir sealed right or just from time the water will evaporate.

If you use black tubing it keeps things from growing in your loop.

KEEP EVERYTHING. Keep all the extra screws you have an old parts. Stuff like that. I don't know how many times all my old stuff I kept has helped me out.



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    To use such refrigerants would actually largely decompose the effect of such devices, because internal combustion DOES have a need to retain particular temperatures for the most efficient combustion. This is why your car engine runs most efficiently when "warm" than "cold". For internal combustion, there is a limit to how well you want a coolant to actually cool.....what you really want is a "regulation" of temperature instead of an ultimate cooling. Water is used in nuclear fusion reactors for the purpose of cooling as a result of maintaining a specific heat capacity, not because water does better work than antifreeze. The water coolant in such a reactor is more a ballasting heatsink than an active coolant, so that situation is not of comparison in this project. An antifreeze mixture does a better job of heat-transfer than water alone, no matter what it's state, distilled or not, which is why it's used for internal combustion applications than otherwise.Increasing the boiling point and lowering the freezing point makes plain water a more efficient coolant, but this is not to say that the water does the work. The reason that the properties are changed is because "the work" is being diverted to the ethylene-glycol", with the H2O as a ballast ingredient in the mix, not the other-way around. Water is only doing it's job in it'[;s best capacity, as a ballast for other chemicals.....Water is nothing more, and has no reactivity to anything else known to man. Water only does part of the work to an extent. Addition of ethylene glycol increases it's ability to do the work of a better coolant because it transfers heat better than water alone. Water in a cooling system is not serving the purpose of a coolant so much as it serves as a "temperate regulator". The addition of ethylene glycol simply improves it's performance in heat-transfer. The most common misnomer is to call water a "coolant", when actually it is a "highly-stable temperate medium". A similar argument is made for aluminum skillets vs cast-iron skillets in terms of cooking ability.

    16 replies

    Emphatically NO! Water has by far a higher specific heat capacity, it can absorb and carry more heat energy without raising it's temperature as much. The work is NOT diverted to the ethylene glycol. And rather than water being the regulator, that is what the ethylene glycol is, it's sole purpose in the mix is NOT because it conducts heat better, it is because of the colligative properties of solutions that make it so that the mix has a higher boiling point and lower freezing point than water alone. Antifreeze is just there to make it harder to boil off or freeze the REAL coolant k? BTW Cooler is actually bad for the speed at which an electronic pulse (signal) can be carried at a certain point as well, getting to -20 C as someone said earlier, may actually slow you down, although it may make it so that you need less power to run your processor (superconduction) it will start to be bad to make it colder at a certain point.


    The reason the colligative properties change for a solution is not because the work is being diverted to the additive, it is (in simple terms) because the additive makes for less surface area of the coolant and makes it harder for the coolant molecules to bond together into solid structures (freezing). This means that with less surface area, coolant vapor particles are more likely to be reabsorbed into solution, but because of less coolant (not counting additive) surface area less particles are likely to break free. Thus the boiling point and the energy needed to make the coolant evaporate are increased while more energy must be lost in order to transform the coolant to it's solid state.

    So, if the work is not in any way diverted or taken by EG, then why would it have a higher boiling point in the first place? The water would simply boil off and leave the EG behind. And just how do you reduce the surface area of a liquid, per se? The only way to change the surface area of the coolant is to change the physical structure by which it is contained, unless I am not aware of some new wormhole technology in coolants that alters the water-jacket of any engine for a specific heat-transfer property.

    Did you ever wonder why Icebergs are the freshest water on earth, even though they are formed from seawater? Why doesn't the salt freeze in with it? Perhaps it is the effect of basic chemistry that makes a different liquid with different properties, but somehow EG is exempt from this and I didn't know because somehow EG is not water-soluble.

    Also, if it is to prevent boil-off of the water, then why do they both fume equally when the mixture does hit it's boiling point?

    Try holding a brick of solid sodium and go jump in a lake. Chemistry will have a lesson for you too.

    FYI, the pressurized system is to prevent boil-off. The EG resists surface-boiling on contact with the water-jacket walls around the combustion chambers. You should review the temperatures in the water-jacket near the combustion chambers, or at least combustion-chamber temperatures in general.

    BTW....Water = water, EG = EG, water + EG = coolant. Go ahead and test your theory by running your car on water alone then. Obviously, in a tropical environment, EG serves no purpose, right?.

    EG reduces the corrosive effects of water. EG lubricates the water-pump and seals. EG improves the heat-transfer of water because the solution has a better ability to move heat than water alone. Accept and move on.


    Prometheus, half of what you said is exactly what I said and the other half is just stupid. The EG added to water decreases it's surface area by taking up some of that surface area! leaving a smaller ration of surface area to the water component by ratio with what it had before, this is one of the colligative properties of solutions, if you don't believe me, go read your chemistry book again, water does the work, EG keeps it from freezing or BOILING off. Icebergs are fresh because when salt water freezes the salt is collected into small pockets, the salt does freeze in with it, but in small pockets of sometimes unfrozen extremely salty water instead of evenly disbursed throughout. They both "fume" (read vaporize) equally because of the ratios of solution compounds that also cause the water to have less surface area (lost to the EG) when the EG is added. As for your tropical jab, you would do well to reread and see that I said freezing AND BOILING!!! Do you know what vapor pressure is? It is present even when a liquid/solution is not a vapor for the most part, the higher the vapor pressure, the closer it is to the point of vaporization, the EG lowers the vapor pressure by, as I said several times before, taking up more surface area in ratio when combined with the water, thus giving itself an equal vaporization energy while in solution, the lesser surface area causes water vapor particles to be absorbed back into the solution more readily than they "leap" out of the solution. Similarly, the solution has a lower freezing point because the EG molecules are interposed between the water molecules and cause the need for a larger loss of energy to force the water molecules together into freezing while forcing the EG into pockets of unfrozen water/EG. EG may reduce the corrosive "effects" of water a very insubstantial amount in cars, but not chemically, it would have to be because of some minor side effect, it probably does help lubricate however. Certainly, some of the workload is taken by the EG, but more is taken by the water per mass unit and per volume unit. Sodium huh? You like acid/base burns along with other assorted unpleasant effects? I don't. FYI, the pressurized system ASSISTS in preventing boil-off as you call it (vaporization). The solution has a lesser ability to transfer heat than water by itself, however the solution is less likely to "boil-off" or freeze up. End of story, look in you chemistry book, try reading it, you might learn something very basic.

    I don't know why I am validating this with a response......

    Where you get this anecdotal-science of "surface area" is beyond me. Furthermore, you are getting a little too hyper without actually getting into chemistry yourself. Water does not react with anything, however, other things react with water. FYI, pure sodium explodes on contact with water Mr. Bill Nye. Your reference to "acid/base burns" clearly shows you don't know where sodium fits in on the scale. Try looking at a basic pH scale for a little help.

    "the higher the vapor pressure, the closer it is to the point of vaporization"

    Me thinks you have your science backwards, and EG has no noteable effect on the vapor-pressure of water or a mixture therein. What you are referring to is "evaporative pressure" BTW, which is again unchanged. Maybe you should consult the Clausius-Clapeyron relation and do your math again. As such an esteemed physicist as you are, you should already be familiar with it.

    Salt does not freeze with icebergs because the freezing point for sodium is so much lower than water. Any potentially-trapped sodium would literally melt it's way down through the ice to be reclaimed by seawater, if it could be trapped at all in the freezing process. Why do you think salt melts ice on contact? Ever heard of the "ice-and-table-salt deep-freezer"? Apparently not.....but I suppose pouring salt on ice cubes increases their surface area, as opposed to the accepted science that the salt is soluable in water and changing it's properties such as it's freezing point....

    I will continue this fruitless debate no further, as there is no proving fact or fiction to you. Go tell a particle-physicist about your "surface-area" theory, I'm sure they'll need a good laugh. Maybe you could revolutionize hydraulic mechanics with this new theory too. Why waste time here, you have an entirely-new scientific frontier to explore, and prove wrong hundreds of years of scientific study!


    Ahahaha, ok well first I should tell you that I'm 18 and JUST FINISHED the section on these things in my chemistry 2 weeks ago. I passed with flying colors. Second of all, both things going into a reaction are REACTANTS, I can't say I know precisely how pure sodium and water react, the water may serve to start a multi stage reaction that is continued with the sodium then oxidizing rapidly (exploding), but the water DOES react with the sodium at the beginning. Water reacts, as I said before, with many things. Both water and the other compound are REACTANTS, the other side of the equation is PRODUCTS, don't try to sustain your ridiculous statement that water reacts with nothing while some things react with water, they both react TOGETHER. Any solute in solution, according to the colligative properties of solutions (google it and don't even bother to reply until you do.) lowers the ratio of surface area of the pure solute. Do you even know what the Clausius-Clapeyron equation is? Apparently you don't. The "Freezing" point of Sodium Chloride (and of sodium as it is in solution) is/are well above room temperature. That was retarded of you to say the freezing point of sodium is lower than water... Again, the reason it makes it harder for the water to freeze is because it has to be "pushed" out of solution with the water and into pockets of Salt, slightly in solution with water. Yes, I know how to make homemade Ice Cream. I disprove no scientific ideology. On the contrary I concur with it, while you, apparently are #1: Slightly "Special". #2: Aroused at the thought that you have been proven wrong and refusing to admit it by backing it up with utterly foolish claims. #3: 14 years old and don't know what on earth you are talking about. By the way you write I will assume it is neither #1 or #3, so it must, logically be #2 (although some of your spelling sucks. So maybe #3 after all...) Also you are constantly insulting me to try and prove you nonvalid point, this is a sign of immaturity, or foolishness, or both (even without the nonvalid point). You decide.

    It's rather amusing that you are talking about maturity, because your response is as immature as they come. By attempting to attack my character, you are clearly on the defensive. Furthermore, you are only 18, and no viable judge of character. When you look back 10 years you will see what I mean. I never insulted you, and if you find my comment offensive, the only one insulting you is in the mirror. You mention the freezing point of sodium chloride. You better work on your basic observational skills because I said sodium, not sodium chloride. If you think the freezing point of sodium is higher than room temperature in a solution, I invite you to go to the beach sometime. Or put sodium-chloride in a glass of water to peak dissolution and not very clearly that it will not freeze at room temperature. You are clearly mistaking the difference between a solid-to-liquid state and a melting point. My spelling sucks? Maybe as you are making your salt-water solution, take time to peruse a dictionary as well. Enough with you and your ridiculous attempt to incense me. Your grasp of science is weak and so is your grasp of social behavior, and I will have no part of it any further. Get your last word (because you must), and don't expect me to play this game with you because I know better. Come to a debate when you have gained ten years of maturity (which doesn't necessarily mean ten years of age). When you can see my response as anything other than a personal attack, your suggestions will be noted....until then, grow up little boy, the world's much bigger than you are. -Fin


    Hmnn, maturity. Ok, I stated what was logical to assume from your extremely sarcastic last paragraph. Admittedly, after that in the parentheses I did get a bit sarcastic myself, but nowhere near the level you seemed to be at. Furthermore, you continually make threats of ceased communication, and neither follow through, nor apologize. Also, as I said, instead of stating facts to prove your points (You said a few things that were untrue, and concurred with a few of the things I said while trying to make it look like I said the opposite, and then a few accurate statements, which were obvious.) you resort to finding fault with me, my attempting to debate this logically with you, and the fact that you are seriously confused as to what is happening here chemically and physically. Try entering any of the issues we are debating on into Google, etc. and see what you get. You certainly won't get anything along the lines of "Water has no reactivity with anything else known to man."

    You are completely accurate in stating that maturity has nothing to do with age. It is easy to find a particular 5 year old child that is more mature than some octogenarians. If that is what you were stating. Experience comes with age. Maturity is entirely unrelated. Explain, please, in what way my reply was immature, or in what way it attacked you character. I merely set up the three likely possibilities as to why you would be responding the way you began to, and ordered them from most to least likely. You on the other hand, in reply, essentially pulled an adult version of the child's "Bounces off me and sticks to you!" without any explanation of why, or any facts. I am not saying that you are immature, but you certainly are acting like it. True it could be that you are just having a bad day, but that's psychology, and still no excuse.

    I mentioned both sodium and sodium chloride, because I realize that they dissociate into separate ions in solution, and you seemed to be implying that because an ionic compound was dissolved, that it was melted. This is incorrect. An ionic compound in solution, is, as I said, dissociated, not melted. As for the sodium which I DID mention (I have been using caps because you seem to be skimming my replies and skipping things...) you will find by looking it up that the melting point of PURE sodium is very close to the vaporization point of pure water. Not even remotely near or below the freezing point of water.

    You also tried to imply that I was saying that the solution of sodium chloride and water has a freezing point lower than pure water not because this salt influences the properties of the solution, while I stated that it did, and a SIMPLIFIED VERSION of WHY it did. I did so by referring you to the colligative properties of solutions, which you apparently still haven't looked up. Also you state that I am mistaking the difference between an ionic solid dissociated in solution, and a melting/freezing point, which, from what I have been reading, is either exactly what YOU did in the

    ***"Salt does not freeze with icebergs because the freezing point for sodium is so much lower than water. Any potentially-trapped sodium would literally melt it's way down through the ice to be reclaimed by seawater, if it could be trapped at all in the freezing process."***

    or else you have horrible grammar, which does not seem to be the case.

    You resort to calling me a little boy, and then imply that you are far wiser than I am, me being obviously practically and infant... you that I have a weak grasp of science and social behavior, but provide no logic to back up your claims, you insult me again, by calling what is considered a man, in both this society, and long before in many other societies, a "little boy", and call my response to you a personal attack. Again you take exactly what I said,

    ***"Also you are constantly insulting me to try and prove your nonvalid point, this is a sign of immaturity, or foolishness, or both (even without the nonvalid point). You decide."*** (I took your earlier incredible sarcasm and implication of how completely moronic I was as an insult, if i should not have, please explain why. It seems insulting to me and would as well to most logical people.)

    and attempt to turn it around and say that I am the guilty party, while at the same time making immature attacks on me and using a stereotype fallacy. It has been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but I don't think this is what was meant. How have I attacked you personally or otherwise? I merely requested that you stop attacking me and pondered why you would feel the need to do so.

    You're clearly both immature, and Prometheus, if you were really that mature to point out those flaws he has and not ending the argument sooner, that just proves you aren't as mature as you say you are. Cyto, you are the most immature having to retaliate at everything he says and say hes stupid, not right, or anything like that.

    I ended this discussion quite some time ago. I am stating fact while dissenters choose to deny it. Maturity has little to do with it. I've let this go, it is up to you to decide when they have let this go sooner. Just because some people can't concede a wrongful point is no fault of mine. I state what I know and defend my experience. I will not have some half-witted neo-scientist go off on me with facts they drew up on a napkin in the middle-school cafeteria. Maturity is subjective, and as I have pointed out, I have no further interest in butting heads with such a thick skull. You seem to mistake my repeated attempts to end this so-called argument as a continuance of such. I will exert no further effort into this thread regarding this particular subject. I have better teachings to spread than proving an obvious scientific fact here. This matter IS CLOSED. If this were my board, this topic would be locked and closed, forbidding any further postings. This is where it should stay, and will from today forward. This thread is ended here and now, do not reply. No interest is placed regarding this subject any further except by the extraordinarily-immature who need the last word.

    omg, it's like a marathon word war :D no offence. keep going.

    All right, I was fine reading these insane comments until now. I was a reactor mechanic for the Navy. I work on reactors. First, fusion reactors don't use water, because FUSION REACTORS AREN'T USED. The water used as coolant in a fission reactor however is very good at what it does. The only things added to the coolant are there to reduce oxygen content and to maintain a slightly basic pH. If it's good enough for a multi-megawatt reactor, it's good enough for your rinky-dink pc.

    Out of curiosity, why is a basic pH beneficial? Is this for inhibiting corrosion or biological growth or some other reason? I'm not trying to be a smart ass, just legitimate curiosity that google hasn't been able to answer :p

    You got it, it's all about reducing corrosion.

    Yeah, I realized that fusion is beyond current political agendas for now about after I posted, but I forgot to come back and change that. My bad for drive-by posting ;P


    Water has no reactivity to anything else known to man?!?!?!!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! Stupidest thing I have ever seen said... almost. Water reacts with most things, it reacts with both acids and bases, it reacts with ionic compounds, it reacts with metallic compounds. Don't say obviously incorrect things like that. (OMG how can you say that...)

    Another pre-built water cooler ! I had hoped to see "home made" water blocks instead of store bought ones. Anyone with $$$ can build this. Had you made a vid with water blocks made from scrap around your home Now that would have been a video !

    very nice idea.....but if any pin hole leak happens...........omg

    No, your all wrong, nvidia may have been the best before, but now its ATI, much better than nvidia, ppl just stuck on it cuz no one wants to change and try something new. :P