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war4peace

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About war4peace

  • Birthday 9/18/1979

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  1. The series of watercooling-related articles continues with one which is dedicated to pumps and reservoirs, the reason we are talking about both of them at the same time being that they go hand-in-hand. We'll see why. As mentioned before, the pump is the heart of a watercooling loop, the part that makes the liquid move theough all its parts, transporting heat to the radiators and supplying the waterblocks with cooled liquid. Just like all other parts involved, the pump comes in a variety of types and has certain parameters that need to be taken into consideration. We are going to talk about all these in this article. When looking to buy a pump for your watercooling loop, there are several things to look for. Two of them are important: head pressure and flow rate. Let's see what they mean and why are they important from a watercooling perspective. Head pressure (or, scientifically called, pressure head (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pressure_head)), in case of a watercooling pump, simply tells us how high can a pump push water inside of a vertical column under normal gravity. In practice, it's measured by attaching a vertical pipe to the pump's output and turning the pump on. The pump will push the liquid up the pipe until a certain point when liquid no longer rises in the pipe. Measuring the length of the water-filled pipe gives us the head pressure of the pump. This parameters is important because, if the maximum elevation of the watercooling loop is higher than the pump's maximum head pressure, liquid flow will not be established. As far as this value goes, bigger is better. Flow rate (or, scientifically called, volumetric flow rate(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volumetric_flow_rate)) tells us the maximum amount of liquid going through the pump during a specific period of time. In case of watercooling, it is usually measured using liters per minute (or gallons per minute if using Imperial measures). The bigger this parameter is, the better, because it means liquid would flow faster through the loop and will be able to carry more heat away. Another important, but not essential characteristic of a pump is whether it can be PWM-controlled. PWM (Pulse Width Modulation(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pulse-width_modulation)) is a method to control a pump's speed while making sure it would not completely stop, no matter the PWM value. This type of speed control is very useful because it allows for fine-tuning both the pump noise (we will talk about that later) and the liquid flow that goes through the loop. Some pumps are voltage-controlled, meaning that changing the voltage supplied to the pump will also change its speed, however there is certain risk in using this method, because if the pump is supplied a low enough voltage, it will stop spinning and the liquid flow will stop as well. As for how pumps actually manage to make liquid go, the principle is simple: the liquid enters the pump through the Inlet port (which is usually situated above the impeller), then the impeller pushes the liquid through the Outlet port. The inlet and outlet port locations can vary a bit, however the working principle is the same. Now that we've talked about pump parameters, let's talk about pump types. There are many of them, but two types in particular are the most widely used, and after describing both of them, we will also take a look at a non-comprehensive list of pump types. With that being said, the top two pump types are DDC pumps and D5 pumps. The DDC Pump is one of the oldest designs used for watercooling, and has suffered very little change throughout the years. Relatively small in size, it is an excellent choice for smaller case formats such as HTPC, mITX and mATX, but that doesn't mean it won't successfully support a larger loop as well. Its motor is sitting at the bottom of the pump and can get fairly hot, especially in cramped cases, which is the reason why many DDC pumps come fitted with a small heatsink-like enclosure around the motor. As for its shape, the pump is square, unlike its D5 counterpart. Inside, the only moving part of the pump is a semi-spherical magnetic impeller which sits on top of a ceramic bearing ball, but without touching it. The magnetic force holding it in place is quite strong, however if the pump runs dry (without liquid in it), the inherent unbalancing of the impeller, combined with the fast rotation (a DDC pump reaches around 4500 RPM at maximum speed) and lack of a dampening medium (in this case, the liquid itself) would cause the impeller to vibrate and grind against the center ceramic ball, quickly causing it to wear and break down. Pictured above: a 3D design of the EKWB DDC 3.2 pump with the transparent acrylic top. Note the small heatsink at the bottom. Pictured above: a DDC (top) and D5 (bottom) pump internal layout. The D5 pump has a similar design, however it's larger in size and has different parameters compared to the DDC pump, however, before we get to parameter comparison, we are going to talk about another thing both pump types have in common. The pumps themselves are "naked", so-to-speak, meaning they need to be covered with a pump top before they can be put to work. Simply put, the pump top is a cover which provides the inlet and outlet ports, and fits the pump type. As expected from a mature industry, each watercooling company offers a large variety of external pump designs and pump tops, made of different materials and colors. Popular choices are transparent or glazed tops made of Acrylic and Nylon respectively, or opaque tops generally made of Acetal. Another popular choice, picked by many users because it simplifies the loop and requires less case space is the pump/reservoir combo, which is a single piece containing a reservoir sitting directly above the pump and feeding it with liquid. It is one of the reasons we are discussing about both pumps and reservoirs in the same article. Suffice to say that no matter which combination of pump and reservoir you may choose (combo or standalone), they will work together flawlessly because the ports all follow the same standard size (G1/4"). Pictured above: Heatkiller D5 reservoir combo top (top), EKWB Quantum flat DDC pump/reservoir combos DDC pumps with Digital RGB, 120, 240 and 360mm sizes (bottom). Back to pump parameters topic, here's a table comparing the two main types of pumps, along with the cheaper, lower performance pump type called "SPC". Pump Type Head Pressure (m) Maximum flow rate (L/min) RPM PWM Supported D5 3.9 1500 4800 YES DDC 7 1000 4500 YES SPC 2.2 250 4000 YES As a general rule when choosing the right pump for your PC, no matter whether you choose a D5 or DDC pump, it will do the job exquisitely. The differences between pump types only start to show if you have a very complex loop, and we will talk about that in more detail in a future article. As for reservoirs, pick the one that fancies you most, as long as it is compatible with the pump type you have chosen. In our next article we will focus on CPU waterblocks. Until then, don't forget to read our introductory watercooling article as well as the piece on watercooling components!
  2. In our previous article we discussed how PC watercooling came into existence and became the full-fledged industry it is today. But what is a watercooling solution made of? Today we will talk about that. There are two main types of PC watercooling available on the market today and they overlap a little bit. The simpler variant is usually called All-In-One cooler (AIO) and is a Closed Liquid Cooling (CLC) solution. It generally is a monolithic piece of hardware built with a single purpose, that is cooling the CPU. Some variants allow for extending the loop to cool the GPU as well, with limited efficiency, but that's more of an afterthought rather than a real, efficient possibility. The big advantage of an AIO liquid cooler is that is requires next-to-no maintenance (although, in time, this becomes a bigger problem than advertised). The other variant, which is also the one we are going to focus on, is generally called a "custom loop" for obvious reasons. It is a more complex setup, allowing you to watercool virtually every component in your PC. Pictured above: The Corsair Hydro H100i PRO RGB With that being said, let's cut to the chase and dive deep into what makes a custom watercooling solution work. In order to keep this article simple enough and not digress too much, we will discuss about the main parts of the cooling loop, leaving optional components aside, but don't worry, they will make their appearance in their own dedicated articles later on. The essential components of a watercooling system are: Pump(s) Waterblock(s) Radiator(s) Fans Reservoir(s) Tubing Fittings Cooling Liquid Get all the above and you have all you need to build your own custom watercooling loop. Now, if you have never touched watercooling before and are considering it, the options available on the market can be daunting and confusing; so many options and information to consume! Luckily, we're here to clarify most of those aspects, so sit back, relax and enjoy reading about them! The Pump is the heart of the loop; it makes liquid flow and cool components. Without it, there is no cooling and without cooling there is no working PC. There are many types of pumps on the market, some are cheaper, some more expensive, more or less powerful and so on. Because of this variety, we will reserve a dedicated article about them, for now all we need to know is that it is an essential component of the loop. One mention though: the main features of a pump, which you need to look at when buying one, are maximum flow rate and head pressure. These parameters will be discussed in detail at a later date. Pictured: a D5 pump (on the left) and a DDC pump (on the right). Image provided by EKWB Waterblocks offer the same functionality air coolers' heatsinks do: to take the heat away from the component and make it available to the cooling agent (in our case, the liquid). They are optimized for liquid cooling, though, therefore you will not be able to mount a fan on one of those and call it a day. Today you can buy a waterblock for any component in your PC: CPU, GPU, Motherboard, RAM, HDDs, SSDs (if you fancy), even certain power supplies can be fitted with a waterblock, so sky's the limit. When considering to buy a waterblock, the most important characteristic is whether it will fit your hardware, much the same as for classic air coolers. Pictured: "Velocity" CPU waterblocks from EKWB Radiators have a single purpose: to take the heat away from the loop. They are essentially large heatsinks with fans mounted on them. The warm liquid enters one side and is cooled by the radiator, being fed back into the loop to start the process anew. Radiators come in all shapes and sizes, and their main characteristics are size, usually length (e.g. 360mm), thickness (30mm, 45mm, 60mm), and density (how many fins per inch they field). A basic principle applies to radiators: bigger is better, which means you always need to go for the largest radiators your case would fit. Rule of thumb: if you can also fit multiple radiators in your case, then do so. in the meantime, stay tuned for a future article discussing radiators alone. Pictured: a MoRa 420 radiator, one of the largest watercooling radiators on the market Fans are a necessary evil in all PC cooling, you can't do much without them. That's not entirely accurate, though, because if you have wads of cash and are willing to take the challenge, you can passively watercool even the most powerful PC, but for now we'll settle with having to choose and install fans. So which fans are best for your radiator? The answer is: it depends on the radiator size, thickness and density. We all know one of the basic characteristics of fans is RPM, that is, how fast a fan can run. While true that higher RPMs yield better performance (valid both for radiators as well as air cooling), one of the main goals of watercooling is to make your PC as quiet as possible, which means balancing noise and performance. Another factor is diminishing return as fan RPM increases: beyond a certain speed, the improvement in performance is negligible, therefore we need to look at another factor, which is static pressure. After you take all those factors into consideration, the rest is a matter of preference, and since the subject is a bit too complicated to talk about in this article, we reserve it to a future write-up. Pictured: the new Noctua NF-A20 PWM chromax.black.swap The Reservoir is the only essential-but-could-do-without component of watercooling. It is highly recommended to install one, but very skilled builders could ignore it if they wish. Its purpose is to feed the pump with liquid, because watercooling pumps, by design, should never run dry. Therefore, as a general rule, the reservoir should be placed immediately before the pump in a watercooling loop. Besides this function, a reservoir would make it easy for you to verify if the liquid level drops (spoiler: it always does, albeit very, very slowly) and check when it's time to top up the loop with fresh liquid. It's worth mentioning that, being one of the most visible parts of your watercooling loop, choosing a nice looking reservoir would make the PC more aesthetically pleasing. Much like all other watercooling parts, reservoirs come in many shapes and sizes, but unlike most, there is almost no performance drawback if you choose a reservoir over another (I say "almost" because there are always exceptions), so you can safely go ahead and pick the one that fancies you best. Pictured: a full set of EK-RES X3 Reservoirs from EKWB Tubing is the cirtculatory system of the watercooling loop. After all, the liquid must be able to flow through something, otherwise it would spill all over the PC, and that's totally not a good thing. But the industry has got you covered in this regard, offering a near-limitless variety of tubing, which comes in two types: soft tubing and hard tubing. Soft tubing means you can bend it however you like without the need of extra tools, and hard tubing means you can bend it however you like but need a set of tools to melt the tube, bend it and then let it cool in its new shape. As for the type of material, since we will have an article specifically related to tubing, it suffices to say that almost any material which can hold water is present in watercooling, from glass to norprene and from PVC to rubber and steel. Pictured, from left to right: PVC, carbon Fiber and PETG hard tubing Fittings are nothing else but connectors making sure tubing stays tightly linked with all the watercooling parts mentioned above, in such a way that liquid won't spill out at the seams, so-to-speak. If you thought that the choices of pumps or radiators are vertigo-inducing, you have seen nothing yet. There are literally thousands of combinations of fitting sizes, types and colors, making choice very difficult for beginners. However, there are some basic rules which greatly help in filtering out fittings we don't need, when choosing out watercooling parts. First, the fitting must match the tubing, e.g. soft tubing requires one type of fitting and hard tube requires another. Then there's the tubing diameter we need to consider, in such a way that the fitting diameter will match the tubing's. As for connecting the fitting directly to other watercooling parts (such as the waterblock), things are thankfully standardized, with the vast majority of makers using the BSP G1/4" size. Pictured: the layout of an EKWB compression fitting The Cooling Liquid is the last (but not least) watercooling part we are going to briefly talk about in this article. Originally known as "water" (because that's all that was used back in the day), coolants evolved and matured, the market being currently saturated with liquids of various types and colors, and while some conservative enthusiasts keep recommending distilled water as the go-to liquid for cooling your PC, there are risks involved and I personally choose premixed liquids over distilled water. We will talk more about cooling liquids in a future article, but for now we should mention that the coolant is responsible for carrying the heat from the waterblock to the radiator and coming back to the waterblock to close the cycle. Pictured: Mayhems Pastel liquids: Red, Black, White The above are the essential watercooling parts that make up a liquid cooling custom loop. Each of them will have their own article in which we would dive deep into details, break myths, talk about best practice and more. In our next article we will talk about pumps and reservoirs, so stay tuned and check back often for another cascade of information related to the fascinating world of watercooling!
  3. Ever since their earliest days, all PCs shared at least one major characteristic: they consume electricity. Physics tells us that some of that electricity, during use, transforms into heat, and that heat must be dissipated away from the electronic components, otherwise they would quickly become hotter and hotter until their early demise. Back in the day, meaning way back when a PC was just a little more than an abacus, the amount of heat produced by components was small enough to not need more than small passive heatsinks, however, as computing power rose tremendously, passive cooling was no longer sufficient. So started the race of heat dissipation, which continues to this day: on one hand there's electrical power going in and being converted to heat, on the other there's a cooling device taking it away. The obvious step back then was to help heatsinks by flowing air through them, increasing their capacity to radiate heat away and keep components cool enough. More heat meant more air needed to send through the heatsink, which meant more powerful fans and better airflow going through the limited space of the computer case. During late 1990s and early 2000s, a common PC enthusiast activity was "modding" a computer case by drilling holes and affixing extra fans to it to help cooling, and more fans meant more noise, to the point where owning a powerful PC was the same as owning a noisy metallic beast which all but required a pair of headphones and high sound volume while playing games, otherwise all was drowned in the loud hum of straining fans coming from the PC. . This is a picture of my PC from 2004. Notice the large 220V fan attached to the left side of the case, the air exit hole cut out on the top and the three knobs attached to the front used to manage internal fans. Luckily, the world continuously produces inquisitive minds, and the beginning of the 21st century was no different. It was high time for something to be done about noisy PCs, and extreme enthusiasts were the right people for the job. Say hello to the birth of PC watercooling! In fact, the principle had been known for more than a couple millennia, but it was used to produce steam power, rather than for cooling. Closed liquid loops were used to power steam engines through the ages, and steam was cooled and fed back to the loop as water using the same method. During the 20th century, automotive cooling advanced to the point where it became very efficient and that was the laying ground for PC cooling as well. As a matter of fact, the first PC watercooling systems used mostly automotive parts, with a mix of car radiators, household or car liquid pumps and adapted waterblocks which were attached to the CPU only. Such adapted closed liquid cooling (CLC) systems worked but were prone to quite a few problems, such as hoses breaking due to high pressure and leaking liquid (which mot likely meant your PC would go the way of the dodo), pumps failing and last but not least corrosion due to mixing metals, most notably copper/aluminium component mix (we will talk about all these in detail in future articles). Still, enthusiasts were not deterred and kept innovating and improving. Soon enough, certain companies caught wind of this trend and began to produce specialized components for water cooling, ushering the PC into a new era of cooling. We will now enumerate a non-comprehensive list of advantages and disadvantages of liquid cooling versus "classic" air cooling. Advantages: Cooler components: Same Thermal Design Power (also known as TDP) yields lower component temperature when watercooled compared to air cooling; Heat outsourcing: with heat being dissipated at a certain distance from the heat producing component, the heat stress on nearby components is reduced or completely eliminated; Quietness: A well designed watercooling system can be all but silent; Aesthetics: The most beautiful PCs are watercooled; Cleanliness: with airflow being mostly removed from the PC components area, the PC remains dust-free for longer periods of time. Disadvantages: Price: Watercooling systems are much more expensive than air cooling solutions, with bare minimum costs hovering around the 400 dollars mark; Complexity: assembling a watercooling loop is a complex task compared to air cooling, with some implementation requiring tens of hours of work to finalize; Maintenance: while air cooling only requires some dusting off every now and then, watercooling solutions require more maintenance such as topping off liquid every few months; Risk: a hose may break or become clogged, a pump might fail, the liquid might react with a certain component. While all these have a very low chance of happening nowadays, the risk exists and is worth mentioning. We will talk about each of the above and more in future articles, but for now we can say the following: the watercooling PC market left its niche a few years ago and has entered a golden age. With a huge range of professionally-produced watercooling components and prices being relatively affordable, the reasons to not switch to this method of cooling are dwindling. Let's embark together on an epic saga of watercooling articles covering everything you want to know about this fascinating world!
  4. Hello everyone, I'm war4peace. You're going to see me a lot in this area, because I'm a watercooling freak. Are you lost in the maze of watercooling options? Do you need to know if this product would work with that product? Are you looking for an answer about watercooling components, liquid flow and physics behind all of them? Feel free to ask watercooling-related questions in this topic and I'll do my best to answer them.
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