General Question

Lovelocke's avatar

Pros and Cons - What are your thoughts on Water Cooling Systems for PCs?

Asked by Lovelocke (1609points) August 25th, 2008

Just as the question says. Right now my PC has 6 fans… SIX FANS on it and they manage to keep the machine “cool”, or internal case temp below 98 degrees under stress.

A lot of people have ginormous heatsinks and fans over their processors, heatsinks on each stick of memory, on their video cards, on their video card’s memory, heat sinks and fan combos for their hard drives… etc

But I was wondering, would water-cooled PCs yield an even greater temperature benefit over traditional heatsinks and fans?

My PC is being used “harder” than most people’s PCs: 3d rendering and animation (as in, not games) as well as HD Video Editing over timelines of many hours.

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14 Answers

eambos's avatar

Pro: Energy saving effective cooling system.

Con: If it leaks at all, your computer is ruined.

I believe the cons outweigh the pros.

loser's avatar

Um, yeah. I really wouldn’t to there.

crunchaweezy's avatar

This is why I use a Mac Pro for video editing and rendering, none of that silly cooling stuff.

Lightlyseared's avatar

Best way is oil cooled.

Connect the CD and HDD to the mother board by long wires. Mount large heat sink on CPU (also on GPU’s if you can). Put mother board in large plastic tank (leaving the CD and the hard disk out as well as anything else with moving parts). Fill tank with oil. Overclock.

Cheaper, easier and more effective.

Lightlyseared's avatar

Also leave PSU out of the oil obviously (sorry forgot to mention that bit).

benseven's avatar

Crunchy my dear, I believe he’s trying to find a solution to cool his existing machine, rather than blow two grand on a new one…

drhat77's avatar

would a power supply not work in oil?

Skyrail's avatar

None of this silly cooling stuff? Apple Mac’s are exactly the same internally components wise and won’t run any cooler then a PC with the exact same parts. Mac’s are built specially and specifically by Apple themselves and will have the ‘silly cooling stuff’ already implemented, but you won’t know in great detail because you didn’t build it yourself. The wikipedia article on the Mac Pro states that it supposedly runs cooler then the Mac G5 because of the Xeon processors that it uses, which would be the thumbs up on behalf of Intel. Not Apple. In which the Xeons can be installed in a ‘normal’ PC. So please, none of this ‘Mac’s are better because they’re cooler’. It just won’t cut it. Apple build their machines to be cool, but so can any PC builder if they want. Apple just have millions of dollars to spend on research and manufacturing.

As to answer you question, water cooling does provide a very efficient way to cool your computer. I hear a bit about how ‘if it leaks then it’ll break your PC’, yeh well…these systems aren’t designed to leak, things do go wrong, but these systems are tested, they don’t release dodgy products on the market, why would they? Yes it may increase the chance of causing damage, but who says that the chance is 100% chance of it going wrong?

However, I would say this, with 6 fans maybe you should check that air flow is correct, as in, you’re not getting pockets of heat, and that you’re bringing in air as well as expelling it (take air in low, take air out high, because heat rises you want to remove warm air).

I think once you optimise your case with air fans, I think it will be okay, water is for enthusiasts who want to squeeze every last drop of power out of their computer by overclocking and want it to be very quiet (these pumps aren’t silent). It’s a matter of whether you have the money and the time to mess around with installing a water based cooling system really, if you are actually having problems with your cooling you may want to do a bit more research into comparisons of air to water.

crunchaweezy's avatar

Here we go again.

I wasn’t talking about the MAC BEING SOOO COOL and all. OS X just handles it’s processes much more efficiently than Windows does. Combine that with good hardware and you’ve got a great machine.

And if you’re doing some heavy duty work, you should be getting paid well for it. There is no reason to be cheap about it if it does the work.

Lovelocke's avatar

the air flow’s just fine, or at least, according to fan set up. Problem? Front intake fans have a “dotted” grill obstructing it. Case fault.

The way the fans are now is the coolest it will get (and probably the noisiest)

Lightlyseared's avatar

@drhat If you use vegetable oil instead of the more mineral oil the PSU will cook it and your house will smell like a fast food joint.

benseven's avatar

Crunch, if you’re really such a Mac guru, you’ll know that before the G5 towers were introduced, Apple machines suffered the exact same problems with heat that every other machine does. We’re not here to discuss the efficient handling of processes under the OS, because it’s a question about hardware cooling an existing machine.

If you’d asked how to get the engine in your car to run cooler, we wouldn’t have recommended you buy a Porsche instead, because that doesn’t answer the question.

Paying closer attention to Skyrail’s response, you’ll also discover it has little to do with the OS, and more to do with the processor’s heat generation, and the fact that these processors are available for Windows machines too means your point is null and void. And incidentally, on the topic of getting paid, you can build the equivalent of a top end mac pro for half the price yourself, if like Lovelocke you know what you’re doing – so don’t act the smartass when you just got bumped for nearly 2k.

Skyrail's avatar

As a side note every mention of ‘cool’ in my paragraphs above was in reference to temperature, nothing else.

What benseven said I guess. Heh. However, don’t anyone dare start a Mac vs PC. If anyone manages to turn a question like that into a Mac vs PC, god help us all.

Also remember Lovelocke that you’ll have to ensure that the water cooling system is kept clean (that’s if ‘impure’ water is used, and if any deposists form, you have to be careful) and another thing I forgot to mention, if the water in the tubes is too cool in comparison with the ambient temperature then you may end up with condensation on the pipes and other water cooling parts, which inside a computer is not ideal (although after a bit of reading this may only happen if you really cool it down a lot, using special coolers as opposed to the standard heat dissipators).

You have to weigh up the pros and cons (which is why you came here eh?) and the main one I’m trying to help find now is the pros/cons of water over air, and whether using water will actually produce a noticeable difference. I found a few links by googling, but I didn’t really read them, I would like to put more time into researching this but I’ve been sat here for 45 minutes now getting distrcted by water/air/oil cooling hehe, I really need to wash and clean up ready for the day. So here’s a few links:

CPU Water Cooling Lab Test
A water cooling dedicated site
If you fancy the oil cooling

Sorry I couldn’t help anymore, trying to search for water cooling information is difficult as all you get is sites selling the equipment, which is no use as obviously they will try and sell the product.

I hope you find the right information soon and make a well informed choice.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@Eambos thats not entirely true about if it leaks, everythings fucked. I had a friend who used to build computers for a local company, and instead of filling the water cooling units with water, they would use this its non conductive so even if it does leak, your fine.

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