How does water cooling work?

Just like the car industry, water cooling represents a technological step forward in comparison to traditional air cooling, meaning your computer is able to function at an optimum level as the working temperature of the various parts cooled by this system is reduced (CPU, GPU, Northbridge and Southbridge). Its capacity to absorb heat from the water is significantly greater than that of air, which is why greater performance is achieved in the heat sinking process.

The system has a pump which drives the coolant, one or various water blocks which are the parts which dissipate the heat generated by the integrated circuits (CPU, GPU, etc.), a radiator which evacuates heat absorbed by the liquid and a reservoir which contains a reserve of coolant.

Basic System

At Ibercool you will find a whole range of products for the most ambitious cooling configurations with various types of pumps, radiators and reservoirs perfectly suited to your computer’s cooling needs.

Advanced System

Distilled or demineralized water is normally used as the coolant. We recommend the use of additives in order to keep the risk of corrosion and the growth of microorganisms to a minimum and to facilitate the detection of possible leaks.

What benefits does water cooling bring with it?

The future of cooling systems in the world of electronics will involve, without a doubt, the implementation of water cooling systems. Moore's Law states that in integrated digital circuits, the number of transistors per surface area doubles over approximately one and a half years. This fact, together with the constant increase in switching speed, inevitably causes an increase in the use of power and, therefore the generation of a greater and greater excess of thermal energy.

Forced ventilation cooling systems which are mostly used are, and will become, more and more inefficient to maintain these circuits at their optimum working temperatures, especially when in already warm environments.

The main advantages of installing a water cooling system on your computer over a conventional air cooling system are the following:

  • It keeps your computer functioning at a significantly lower working temperature.
  • t allows you to carry out overclocking with incomparable results over air cooling, and to get the best performance possible out of your computer.
  • It significantly reduces noise from your computer by getting rid of the noisy fans of conventional air heat sinks.
  • It increases the lifespan of the components which make up your computer, not only of those which use water cooling, but also of the rest of the components inside your computer. It achieves this as, by expelling the greatest sources of heat from the tower, the average inside temperature of the tower is significantly reduced. Conventional cooling which uses air expels hot air from the heat sinks inside the tower, unlike radiators which expel all heat generated to the outside.
  • It allows your tower's air inlet holes to be sealed, if the radiator is installed on the outside, this configuration being particularly useful if the environment where your computer is contains a high level of dust or dirt in the air.
  • For those who are truly passionate about computers and modding, water cooling systems provide an enormous range of possibilities in terms of configurations and designs.

 

How do I install a water cooling system?

Recommendations for installation

ICE CPU In actionWhen installing your water cooling system, you may find yourself faced with various alternatives for arranging the parts of the system and connecting the pipes.

In order to help you choose the configuration which best suits your computer, you may follow one of your recommendations below.

  • Whenever possible, place the reservoir at the same height as the pump or at the highest point of the circuit. If you place the pump above the water level of the reservoir, the pump may pump air from the reservoir, thus causing it to make more noise and create bubbles, this reducing the exchange of heat on the water blocks and resulting in reduced performance.
  • As you may see in the diagrams above, if various blocks are going to be installed, we recommend that you use a powerful pump (i.e. a D5 pump) and a double radiator, in order to increase the area of exchange between the water and air, thus allowing the heat absorbed by the blocks to be expelled more efficiently.
  • As far as possible, you should avoid pipes from forming very tight angles which may cause them to fold or become obstructed.
  • You should never configure the radiator fans in a way so that they expel the heat into the inside of the computer. The appropriate configuration, whether in settings involving air being blown or drawn in, is for them to extract the heat from the radiator to the outside of the computer.
  • The most common order in which the various parts of the hydraulic circuit are installed is the following: connect the radiator outlet to the reservoir inlet, and the outlet of this to the inlet of the pump. Once the liquid has been driven into the pump, in the event of more than one block being installed, you must decide which the first water block to be connected is.
  • The order in which the water blocks are arranged must be chosen in order of the heat generated by each part to be cooled (the greatest, usually the CPU, going first). The order of the following blocks may be altered according to the ease with which they may be connected. Bear in mind that the temperature of the liquid at the outlet of each block will increase, reducing the exchange of heat and therefore the cooling of the following blocks it circulates through.

 

Initial start-up

First, assemble the water cooling system paying attention to the specific instructions for each part of the cooling system, without plugging in the computer at any time. Check that no pipe is blocked and that all fittings have been tightened. Once correctly installed, you may fill the reservoir with coolant (mix the distilled or demineralised water with the additives before putting it into the circuit). Now you must prime the circuit. To do this, you must only turn on the recirculation pump as indicated by the manufacturer and fill the reservoir with coolant until it settles at its full mark. Once the circuit has been filled, you must check that no coolant is leaking in the system. Check, in the instructions manuals for the water blocks and the rest of the parts which make up the cooling system, the recommended time during which the circuit primed with coolant should be left with the recirculation pump turned on, in order to make sure there are no leaks.

One the water tightness of the circuit has been checked and the rest of the various parts of the computer assembled, it may be turned on. Check that both the recirculation pump and the radiator fans are working correctly. After they have been working for a while, the reservoir may need refilling with coolant, this being normal, due to the system having finished expelling all the residual air from the cooling circuit.