Things Required to Build a Custom CPU Water-Cooling Loop

The CPU, like any other powerful part of computer systems, produces heat when in use and must be adequately cooled to attain maximum productivity.

But what’s the most effective approach to sustain your CPU at the correct temperature? A CPU can be cooled in a variety of methods, but most desktops and laptops employ air or liquid-based coolers.

Air and liquid CPU coolers work on the same theory and accomplish the same thing: they absorb energy from the CPU and disperse it from the hardware.

The Integrated Heat Spreader distributes the waste heat by the CPU to the hinged lid of the CPU. The temperature is then transported to the CPU cooler’s bottom plate. That heat energy is transferred to a fan, blown away from the cooler and ultimately out from the PC, either via liquid or heat tube. Despite having identical fundamental mechanics, the two approaches accomplish heat dispersion in totally different ways.

Liquid Cooling

The method begins with a bottom plate attached to the CPU’s IHS using a sheet of thermal paste, same as air cooling. As a result, the temperature distribution between the contacting surfaces is improved. The water block, which is supposed to be supplied with antifreeze, is made up of the base metal of the bottom plate.

As it passes through the water block, the antifreeze absorbs the heat from the bottom plate. It then travels through the circuit and into one of two pipes to a radiator. The radiator allows the fluid to be exposed to air, which makes it chill, and the radiator’s blowers subsequently transport the heat away from the cooler. The refrigerant is subsequently re-introduced into the water block, and the process repeats all over again.

Water-Cooled PCs

Water-cooled PCs are not only pleasant to look at, but they also provide several advantages over standard air-cooled systems that rely solely on heat spreaders and blowers. The first is loudness. A water-cooling circle needs only a few blowers rather than more than eight fans blowing air in various directions within your system, particularly when both the CPU and GPU are connected to the cycle.

This reduces the amount of sound emitted by the PC casing as a whole. Water-cooling enables more heat to be transported to the circuit, and if you have a big radiator, you can fit a lot of high-end hardware into a small form factor. If you can’t afford to provide a water block for both your CPU and GPU, don’t worry: water-cooling loops are adaptable and can be added afterward.

You’ll need a few materials to build a customized water-cooling loop for your CPU. Here is a list of essentials-

Water cooling cases

There are literally thousands of PC cases out there, but not all are a good choice for designing and building a custom water cooling loop inside. Something like the NZXT H210i can look great with an all-in-one liquid cooler, but you’ll be hard pressed to create a loop on your own considering the pump, reservoir, tube, etc. It is possible but not ideal if you are a beginner.

The choice of water cooling pc case depends entirely on your personal preferences. Consider whether you want a minimalist monochrome design or a case with LED fans. Most cases come with a tempered glass plate that allows you to showcase the interior aesthetics.

Types of Cases:

  • Full tower enclosures provide the most internal space for multi-GPU versions.
  • Mid-tower enclosures are the most common for water-cooled constructions and come in all shapes and sizes.
  • Small Form Factor (or ITX) enclosures are generally too compact for water-cooled setups, but some allow for a custom loop.

Water Blocks

One of the most crucial components of the circuit is the water block. It’s the part that connects to your GPU or CPU, and heat is transferred from the device to the water. It works similarly to an air cooler; however, we’re leveraging liquid instead of direct-to-air. 

It’s just as crucial to choose a water block that’s suitable with your chipset CPU socket and GPU as it is with a CPU cooler. For example, a water block built for an RTX 3080 GPU might not be effective with a GTX 1080 Ti. Furthermore, some replacement GPUs have their made-to-order PCBs that can cause difficulties when attempting to connect a water block, so verify with the supplier first.

Radiators

The radiator is in charge of extracting all of the convective heat by your CPU and GPU from the water and transferring it to the air via fans. Similar to how ac system and your internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle’s radiator and compressor work. The bigger the radiator, the greater the contact angle available for thermal transfer and the greater the thermodynamic overhead available in your water-cooling loop. To be secure, a minimum of 240mm of loop cooling each part is recommended. A separate 240mm radiator would be sufficient for a CPU.

Because you’ll need a frame that can support the minimum radiator measurements, picking one of the finest PC chassis for water cooling is crucial. Fit your radiator seamlessly to the various fan installations. Radiators come in a variety of thicknesses in addition to length. The higher the temperature efficiency of the radiator, the thicker it is. Remember that some chassis, particularly up top between the roof of the chassis and the motherboard pan, may not accommodate super-thick radiators.

Pump and Reservoir

The pump is in charge of moving the liquid around the loop. That’s what will permit water to travel from the CPU and GPU to the radiator, transferring heat. The water-cooling loop wouldn’t work without this, so be sure you get one that’s regulated to pump sufficient fluid through your system.

It’s simpler to go with a tank and motor combo device, particularly if you’re new to water cooling. These gadgets are fantastic because they include a robust, dependable pump and a tall reservoir that is prepared and ready to accept water and transfer it through the system using only gravitation.

A reservoir and pump combination device often only needs a single 120mm fan attachment, which can help you conserve room if you’re working on a smaller frame. When switching liquids, make sure the intake and exhaust valves are near the top of the loop, and another valve is towards the bottom to drain the loop.

Tubing

Tubing is where the real fun starts. If you can’t transport water from one part to the other, you may not have much of a water-cooling cycle; that’s where pipelines kick in. For PC water cooling, there are numerous sorts and variances between hard and delicate pipes.

  • Soft– Soft piping is typically constructed of elastic, silicone, PVC, neoprene, or other materials that are stretchy and simple to handle for narrower water-cooling circuits. Soft piping also requires far less effort to construct than hard tubing, so if you want a simpler solution, soft tubing is a wonderful choice.
  • Hard– Acrylic, glass, carbon, and PETG tubing, which are tougher and more flexible, can be used to produce some pretty spectacular PC setups. These tubes are not as bendable as softer tubing. To trim and twist the tube, you’ll have to have a heat gun and specific cutting equipment. On the other hand, you won’t have to bother with imperfections and will be eligible to function with a neater layout.

Fittings

The length of tubing determines the kind of connections it can accommodate. There is no correct or incorrect answer here; it merely indicates the thickness of the pipe. All you have to do now is connect the tube to the screw size and type of your connection.

Coolant

Everything you need to operate a water-cooling circuit is plain water and a disinfectant to protect your equipment from rust and microbial development. This method will also produce a clear finish, which will serve as a foundation for adding color dye if desired.

You should get a single server solution from firms like PromoChill and Mayhems if you want to carry water cooling to another level. These products are normally ready-to-use and do not require the development of any extra biocide. Just keep in mind that many of these working fluids won’t last as lengthy and may create water block fin obstruction and tube staining. You must keep an eye on your cycle from time to time to see if any problems occur.