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Trying to understand Liquid Cooling Loops

By ikesmasher
Jul 17, 2013
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  1. Basically im asking for confirmation for what I think I know and asking a few questions.
    The way I get it, the reservoir goes out to the pump, the pump goes out to the first block, the first block goes out to a second block if there is one (and so forth) the final block goes out to the radiator, and the radiator goes out to the reservoir. Is that correct?

    Im assuming since air is all things bad, does the resovoir need to be completely filled? as in there can be no empty space in the loop at all (the pipies and resovoir must both be completely filled at all times)? so if I ran out of coolant before the resovoir was filled id have to go get more? If this was the case, is there a way to tell when the system is %100 full? without flooding over the edge of the resovoir, lol

    Also, what is the most common ID and OD of tubing? also what is the official term for the things tubes are connected to?

    Can someone explain how the tubing fastened? I read initially that some tubing just stayed on via being stretched over the things they are connected to-which doesnt seem very safe. I see these metal "rings" everwhere but am confused as to how those are fastened.

    Finally, the PSU setup I find confusing. Why must you short the PSU when testing a loop? why is that any different than just turning the PC on via button? I guess you have no power supplied to you rmotherboard, but am I supposed to assume that when people short their PSUs that their graphics cards and hard drives are also unplugged?
    Basically, what does shorting the PSU do differently? just unplug the PSU from everything except the pump then shorting it starts the pump? is that it?

    Another thing, it would appear the best way to make liquid cooling systems light up is via UV, but in alot of cases ive seen UV doesnt seem to have a strong enough effect on sleeving and cables and such-is there a way to make the loops light up nicely without abusing UV cathodes? I can do one cathode, but I dont want to have to use 3 to make them look nice. Im thinking light blue UV tubing/coolant when I ask this question, by the way.

    Does using a block in custom loop void the warranties of any hardware under a block? like a CPU? it might be the same thing for using any other cooling system, but im not particiuarly familiar with how warranties work as far as hardware (every pc ive ever had is pretty much families old hardware that I refurbished myself, lol)



    Ive got a hypothetical build floating around in my head which I wont probably be able to afford very soon, but I want to understand liquid cooling completely just in case. I dont even trust myself enough to do it if I DID do this rig, but if I trusted myself enough in the future I would like to know about it.



    I think thats about it. thanks for your patience.
  2. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TechSpot Paladin Posts: 5,980   +1,488

    The only two guys I know for sure, that would have answers for you are dividebyzero and red1776. Hopefully they won't mind me tagging them. :)
  3. Blkfx1

    Blkfx1 TS Addict Posts: 889   +171

    While you're waiting for a response from one of the two liquid cooling guru's of TS. I would recommend reading DBZ's (DividebyZero) guide to water cooling. It can be found HERE.
  4. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,848   +679

    Pretty much. The only real cardinal rule is that the pump follows the reservoir, and this is generally for pump safety when filling/refilling the system since a running dry pump's lifespan is measured in seconds.
    No, although the more full the reservoir the less turbulence and sound.
    It's always a good idea to have extra coolant available since you lose a fraction of the capacity over time. The O-Rings in fittings and the tubing itself have a certain porosity, and you'll lose coolant via evaporation- not much- but depending on how much capacity the reservoir holds, you will need to top up occasionally.
    To completely fill the system, the usual method is to connect power ONLY to the pump ( I use a spare PSU), fill the reservoir, screw down the stop fitting, and then gently rotate the chassis to allow the fluid to run to the radiator(s), repeat until the loop won't take any more fluid without some serious acrobatics.
    At this point, top up the reservoir, seal it, and run the pump for a few seconds until the reservoir level drops (which can be fast so be ready to switch off the PSU quickly), top up the reservoir again and repeat the steps as necessary.
    Before you start note the amount of fluid you are starting with. When you've filled the loop you'll have a good idea of the loops capacity for future refills. Also, if the loop capacity is known, you can attach a hose (and small funnel) to the fillport on the radiator and continuously fill the loop whilst the pump is running.
    3/8" ID with 1/2" or 5/8" OD (depending on tube wall thickness)
    1/2" ID with 5/8" or 3/4" OD ( ditto)
    Fittings
    Barbs and hose clamps. No different in practice to the way a cars cooling system/AC is connected up.
    Compression rings. They do the same job as a hose clamp, except that the barb end of a compression fitting has an external thread near the base of the fitting. The hose is stretched over the barb as per the barb/hose clamp arrangement, but instead of a hose clamp uses a threaded compression ring which screws into the barb base to secure the hose
    That's it. Running the whole system isn't ideal because 1. the number of start/stop cycles you'll need to effect to fill the loop, and 2. possible leaks. Unplug everything except the pump, or (the easy way) leave the system in place and just connect the pump to a cheapo/spare PSU - even an old OEM 200-250W unit would suffice- and use a jumper to bridge the 20/24 pin plug.
    A good quality UV tubing (I prefer Feser) and coolant or dye ( Mayhems has good longevity).
    CPU? No. Standard OC overvolting rules apply. Stay within manufacturers specification and you won't void the warranty unless you physically damage the processor. Graphics card warranty is vendor specific - some vendors have tamperproof seals on their products to ensure that any DIY'ing voids the warranty. Some other vendors (notably EVGA) have no issue with adding waterblocks
    There's nothing mystical about watercooling- just observe some basic rules (most should be in the watercooling guide I wrote) regarding pre-planning, budget, and getting familiar with equipment. In practice, putting together a loop is relatively straightforward and a lot of fun if you like the idea of modding.
  5. Blkfx1

    Blkfx1 TS Addict Posts: 889   +171

    I don't always read walls of text. But, when I do it's because dividebyzero wrote it.
    St1ckM4n, JC713 and cliffordcooley like this.
  6. ikesmasher

    ikesmasher TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 1,913   +362

    That was indescribably helpful. thanks a bunch DBZ.


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