As I have mentioned before, watercooling any PC is purely optional. In the early days watercooling it was used as a performance enhancer and allowed your CPU to scale better when overclocked. You could do the same with a quality aircooler but to get the same cooling performance the fans had to move more air and that made a lot of noise. Watercooling solved both of these problems and started an enthusiast movement to create the best watercooling loop.
If you take the same strategy and apply it to a modern PC using modern hardware the results are not so dramatic. For instance a Core i5 6600k is a overclockable 91w CPU that is already extremely fast and easily maxed out with a quality aircooler. Because of this you no longer need to watercool to get the same performance and can shift your focus from being the fastest to simply looking awesome.
Watercooling also has some practical drawbacks in terms of overall cost, increased maintenance and failure points. A simple coolant leak can damage PCBs or at best cause the system to run dry if not monitored. Dust bunnies can block airflow to the radiator lowering your cooling performance while a total pump failure can quickly overheat your system causing a meltdown that could tear a hole in the fabric of space and time.
Or, more realistically just cause the PC to crash and shut down.
Either way, watercooling is a risk and by risk I mean it is one of the coolest mods you can do to any computer.
In this article I’ll be going outline that major things to consider when planning your watercooling loop. You will find these divided into three major categories based on their importance and impact to your build.
As with any well vetted enthusiast activity there are often more opinions than right answers so keep that in mind when reading comments in forums or the wannabe zealots on social media (*cough* reddit */cough*) and take some time to evaluate things for yourself and be sure to cross check the answers you get.
With that out of the way, let’s get to building!