August 29th, 2019 by Mike Fulton
Categories: System Bulding

On my last PC I had problems with it overheating on hot days. It wasn’t in an air-conditioned environment and when you combined a heavy processing load with a hot day, it would sometimes shut down. Then I’d have to wait an hour for it to cool off before restarting it.

I’d never really had any similar issues before, with any previous machines, so I wasn’t sure what to do. The machine had a fairly beefy CPU fan, which I would have thought was sufficient since I wasn’t doing any overclocking .

I bought a liquid cooling system to put into the machine, a Corsair h110i GTX. It was fairly basic with a 240mm radiator and I got a good deal on a refurbished unit. However, before I got around to installing it, I discovered that if I took the side cover of the case off, and aimed a fan into the machine, the overheating problem went away. I was a bit relieved. It was not really an ideal solution, but it was the path of least resistance at the time.

Earlier this yar, I decided to build a new machine and this time I wanted to go with liquid cooling from the start. I selected the Enermax LIQTECH II 360 kit because it had pretty much the most hefty cooling capacity of any ready to install kit I could find, and I didn’t think I was quite ready to design and assemble a completely custom system. Plus, it had RGB lighting compatible with other components I’d selected.

The Basics Of Liquid Cooling

All liquid cooling systems share a certain anatomical layout. There is a heatsink that attaches to your CPU instead of a cooling fan. This heat sink will have places to connect an output hose and an intake hose. There will be a pump that keeps the liquid circulating. Often the heat sink and pump will be a single combined unit. And t here will be a radiator designed to dissipate the heat of the circulated liquid. The radiator will usually have one or more fans.

Custom or Pre-Configured?

When creating a liquid-cooled system, the first choice you have to make is if you want to do something custom, or if you want to buy a pre-configured ready to install model. If you’ve ever see a fancy liquid-cooled system that caught your eye, chances are good it was a custom job, but recently there are more and more ready-to-install kits that are fairly cool looking as well.

One big advantage of ready-to-install kits is that they are usually a closed system with the hoses and coolant liquid already in places .

If you go custom, you’ll probably want to start by familiarizing yourself with all the various components out there and figuring out how they’ll go together piece by piece to create a complete system. You may want to include custom lighting or not. And keep in mind it’s also possible to take ready to install kit and add or replace parts to customize it.

Another thing you’ll have to decide early-on is what case you’re going to use. Are you using an existineg one or buying something new? Many new PC cases these days are designed with liquid cooling in mind, and have specific places to mount a radiator setup. However, some will take a 120mm radiator, others take 240 or 280mm, and the big ones can fit a 360mm radiator.

And of course, some cases aren’t really designed for a specific size radiator, but they are big and have enough room inside to do whatever you want.

Should You Go Liquid?

Many people associate liquid cooling with high-end gaming machines with multiple video cards and extremely overlocked CPUs. And there’s certainly a good reason for that. If you put together a high-powered rig like that and don’t go with liquid cooling, then it’s time to start examining your life choices.

However, there benefits to liquid cooling that even non-gamers might enjoy. For one thing, liquid-cooled PCs are generally extremely quiet, even under a full load. You might occasionally hear the fans turn on, but with my system, I’ve noticed that happen only rarely, on hot days. And t here’s another thing, liquid cooling can keep your PC cool under conditions where fan-based systems will not. If you computer isn’t in a nice, air-conditioned environment, a fan-based cooling system simply won’t get it done on a really hot day.

But I Heard About What Happened With This One Guy’s PC…

There certainly isn’t any shortage of horror stories about things going wrong with liquid cooling systems, s you might be excused about being nervous about the idea.

Most of the worst stories I’ve heard tend to be from the early days of liquid cooling being a thing. Back before there were ready to install kits and every installation was a custom job probably being done by someone without much experience. The most common kind of problem in these stories was the system leaking and the coolant getting everywhere. I have no doubt that sort of thing happens sometimes, but I think it’s a lot less common than it once was. Be careful, methodical, and realistic about your system building skill level. Consult with experts as needed. If in doubt, buy a new PC that includes liquid cooling right off the bat.