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Fun with Water Cooling. A discussion...

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    Fun with Water Cooling. A discussion...

    Not a request for anything - just a discussion for those interested...

    History:
    I've been water cooling my desktop PC since 2005ish. Basic water cooling requires a pump, a reservoir, water blocks for each component needing cooling, and some tubing to connect it all together. First go-round I only cooled the CPU with water.

    It started mostly to reduce the noise. I was running an Intel Q6600 "B0" (IIRC) model over-clocked by several MHz (from 3 stock to 4.7 !!! ) and on fans (several) it was rather loud. My computer desk was in a nook outside our bedroom in the hall and my wife complained about the noise on those nights I stayed up late to play Fighter Ace III. The old Q6600 worked well but over the years became less stable at high speeds so I had to keep reducing the CPU clock until I was finally back to stock. Still, I got my money's worth for sure.

    During the time I was running the Q6600 I upgraded my video to an nVidia video card that had built-in fans. They also were noisy when heavy loads - like gaming - were applied to the GPU so I eventually added a waterblock to the GPU as well.

    When I finally upgraded to an i7-6700K in 2014, I kept the same basic components (pump, radiator, fans) but I did upgrade the reservoir to a larger 5.25 double bay model that the pump installed into rather than standing alone. This reduce the amount of tubing required. Everything else was swapped out hardware-wise except the drives. They had been replaced or upgraded several times over the years and really don't factor in to the water cooling aspect anyway. I overclocked that CPU too, but not as high of a percentage. It was so much faster (more cores/threads, faster RAM, faster PCI channels, etc.) that I really didn't feel the need to overclock much. Still, the nearly silent running was very pleasant so I kept the water cooling, which meant new water blocks for the CPU and motherboard chipset. Eventually, new radiator fans were required due to age.

    By 2017 I needed a new case: The older one's plastic parts started to break here and there and space requirements changed - like going to SSDs instead of 4xHDs etc, and I was several generations behind on some things - no NVMe or even M.2 drives, no PCIe 3.0, etc. So I went to an open frame style case that is basically exposes all the parts to open air (thus no case fans at all), replaced the pump and reservoir with a more modern style and more suitable to the case design, and replaced the motherboard so I could get my first NVMe drive, but kept the CPU and RAM. During this "phase" the old nVIdia GT card had out-lived it's usefulness so I replaced it with an AMD RX 590 XXX overclocked video card. It's fans weren't excessively noisy and our living arrangements changed - I now have a dedicated home office - so I left it air cooled for the time being. Still, when Steam was running it got a little loud.

    The other change I made here was, for the first time, changed from flexible to rigid tubing. This is a pretty significant change. Flexible tubing, as you can imagine, is much easier to install. Simply "WAG" the amount needed, cut, and clamp it in place. The major downside is it allows water to evaporate through it. I had to add water fairly regularly - like every couple months. It also eventually stiffens a bit and discolors - not an issue outside the cosmetics of it. The rigid tubing requires much more precision to measure, heat and tools to bend and cut, and if you move or change something, the current tubing likely will need to be replaced. It took a couple tries, but eventually I got the tubing in place. From then on - no water evaporation so no topping off the reservoir. Also the tubing stays clear and pretty, lol.

    Today:
    Again by 2022,​ I was behind in tech. The CPU was nowhere near the currently available speeds, RAM was a generation behind, only a single NVMe slot meant I was still using SSDs, etc. My Xmas to myself was a new Ryzen 9 5950X, 64 GB RAM, and a water cooled motherboard - meaning the necessary CPU and system board water blocks came with the motherboard. This unit has 4 PCIe 4.0 NVMe slots and all the bells and whistles. I went all-in and bought 4 new 1TB PCIe 4.0 NVME drives and a water block for my AMD video card. The AMD cards are not all exactly alike and my model is several years old. I eventually found one that would work but had to slightly mod the acrylic water chamber to fit my card. Not a big deal in the end.

    This system is easily 10x faster in most things trans-coding a 2 hour movie went from 3-4 hours to 15-20 minutes. The CPU is 4x the cores/threads of my previous, the drives much faster, and 64GB RAM never hurts! I went though 3-4 tubes that I mis-made and had to remake. I also added a temp and flow sensor to the water lines to keep an eye on things - but also because it's kinda neato to look at lol.

    Then I learned just how much hotter this new CPU is than the old one. Apparently the AMD CPUs with this many cores/threads run really hot! The week I saw 90c CPU temps when trans-coding video! My research showed this was normal, but the BIOS and CPU would throttle to keep the temp at 90c. Even the water temps were hitting 65c which is incredibly hot for a water cooled system. I decided it was time to upgrade the old faithful radiator and fans and hope for a better outcome.

    The old radiator - circa 2004 - was a 2x size - meaning it was 120mm wide and 240mm long. This size radiator supports 2x 120mm fans - up to 4 if you put them on both sides. My mounting arrangement really only supports fans on the back side since my pump and reservoir are mounted on the front side of the radiator.

    This case has the room so I went looking for a high performance 120x360mm radiator and new fans designed especially designed for this purpose. I got lucky and found a "used" Corsair radiator for only $70 (it's not really used - just an open box item) and bought the "best" (and most expensive) fans available - about $85 for 3. That's 10x the price of standard type fans but they were the best rated for water cooling radiators so I went for it.

    These fans have speed range settings that are; Hybrid Mode (1200RPM "as quiet as possible"), Performance Mode (2000RPM "not really too quiet"), and Advanced Mode (3000RPM "like a helicopter taking off"). I opted for "not really too quiet" thinking I would need the extra cooling power. The results? The hottest I can get the CPU to now is 65-67c and the water flows nicely at 30c! CPU temps down by a third and water temp reduced by more than half! That's a massive reduction. The CPU idles now at 23c and the water the same. The fan noise is noticeable now so I have decided to reduce the fans down to the lower setting to see if the temps stay in the acceptable range. I have to pull the back off the case so I haven't tried that yet.

    I'll post some pics in a bit.

    Love to hear your comments or questions...
    Please Read Me
    Be not the first by whom the new are tried, Nor yet the last to lay the old aside. -
    Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism, 1711

    #2
    ​Pics with components labeled, taken while trans-coding videos form MKV to MP4. I still have some cable wranglin' to do...

    Click image for larger version  Name:	PXL_20221229_213233963-1.jpg Views:	0 Size:	56.1 KB ID:	667483 Click image for larger version  Name:	PXL_20221229_213557958-1.jpg Views:	0 Size:	52.1 KB ID:	667484
    Please Read Me
    Be not the first by whom the new are tried, Nor yet the last to lay the old aside. -
    Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism, 1711

    Comment


      #3
      Nice! I don't really use desktops anymore. Due to space. I've been using laptops for quite some time. I have this one but it is old. Nice case, just don't know if any motherboards would fit it.

      Comment


        #4
        I have a laptop when I travel, but when I'm home I want POWER and SPEED!

        I do some database processing for my work. On a company Dell cheapo laptop it may take an hour and a half. On my personal "loaded" Lenovo laptop, 20-30 minutes. On my home office desktop - as seen above - 6-7 minutes.
        Please Read Me
        Be not the first by whom the new are tried, Nor yet the last to lay the old aside. -
        Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism, 1711

        Comment

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