Water Cooling Part 2: The Parts

Today in part 2 of my water cooling guide we will discuss the parts you need to assemble your own water cooling loop.The focus will be on a simple loop with just a CPU block, but at the end of the article I will briefly talk about other parts you can add and some important points about expanding your loop.


CPU Block

The block used for reference is the Swiftech Apogee HD

A CPU block is pretty much the CPU heatsink of a water cooling loop. Water goes in the inlet port, around inside the block, and out the outlet port. The actual heatsink portion of the block is usually made of cooper or nickle. The tops are usually made of one of those two or a material called acetal. A lot of blocks these days come with mounting options for tons of sockets, but as with any heatsink make sure the one you are buying does come with the proper mounts. Instillation of the block will vary from block to block, but you will never have to worry about having to fight with a giant tower of aluminum.


The Radiator

The radiator used for reference is the Black Ice Stealth GT 360

I would hesitate to call any part of a loop as the most important, but the radiator is probably pretty close to being it. Although the pump and water block can have a big impact on your temps the radiator will have one of the biggest impacts. Radiators come in a lot of different sizes and what you need depends on what you are cooling. Radiator sizes are described based on the fan sizes and how many fans they hold. For example the image I used is a 360 radiator meaning it holds 3x120mm fans. Radiators are either labeled by number of fans multiplied by their size or by (number of fans)x(fan size).

Radiators also come in different thicknesses and this also has a big impact on cooling, but not always. Even though the Black Ice Stealth I have above is a thin radiator, the manufactures have worked some kind of voodoo magic to make it perform easily up there with much thicker units. One big thing you may have to research before buying a radiator is what kind of fans are recommended. Some radiators work better with high CFM (cubic feet or air moved per minute) while others are designed for low CFM fans.



The pump used for reference is the Swiftect MCP655

The water pump is the heart of any water cooling loop. It pushes the water all around the loop. Pumps are rated a few ways, but the most common in LPH or Liters Per Hour. The LPH rating talks about how much water the pump can push through the loop every hour. The MCP655 above for example pushes 1200 LPH. That is extreme overkill for a CPU only loop, but you should go for something that is better than just enough in case you decide to upgrade your loop in the future. The general rule of thumb for installing a pump is to put it towards the bottom of your system to allow gravity to do it’s thing. I mentioned this in part one and I will do it again here: Never under any circumstance let your pump run dry. It’s dangerous and at best you will ruin the pump.



The reservoir used for reference is the Swiftech MCRES

A reservoir is optional for a loop, but highly recommended. They serve a fairly simple purpose to hold extra water. Reservoirs make it easier to see your water level. They come in numerous shapes and sizes and the choice is really up to you on what you want.



The tubing used for reference is Tygon brand

Like with the reservoir there isn’t much to say here, tubing is what the water runs though. I covered most of the important information in Part 1.



The picture above is an example of a barb fitting

The above picture is an example of a compression fitting

Again I covered most of this in part 1, but I will mention here that compression fittings are a lot more expensive than barbs. It’s very easy to spend over $100 on compression fittings for an entire loop. Just make sure you buy enough fittings for your entire loop and if you uses barbs buy hose clamps.



Other Parts

If you want to go beyond just a CPU loop there are a number of other things you can cool with water including your graphics card, RAM, hard drive, and even your motherboard. The more parts you add to your loop the more radiator space and pump speed you will need. Sometimes it is better to create multiple loops as it will provide better cooling.