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Watercooling Watercooling for Cheap
Date Posted: Aug 11 2000
Author: Unaclocker
Posting Type: Article
Category: H2O and Evap
Page: 1 of 1
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Note: This is a legacy article, imported from old code. Due to this some items on the page may not function as expected. Links, Colors, and some images may not be set correctly.
Watercooling for Cheap By: Unaclocker

Cheap Water Cooling?

By : UnaClocker
Date: 8/10/00

I see 2 main hurdles for most people when it comes to water-cooling their computers. The first one is Hydrophobia. Unfortunately, I am unable to help those people. Then there is the other crowd, who see water-cooling as the next step in keeping fast & overclocked CPU's cool, but don't want to leap into the huge investment involved. They see articles online where people have spend $120-$200 on their water-cooling setup, and they can't justify spending that much money on cooling. There is a third group, those who don't like the bulky nature of water-cooling, but I won't call them extreme overclockers, I'll call them weekend overclockers, people who want to overclock, but won't put their full effort into it. I'm only going to deal with the second group today, I'll get you into water-cooling for less than you thought possible, and I'll show you how the price compares to air-cooling. I may help this third group out sometime, but you can't combine the 2nd group with the 3rd group, people who want the whole setup inside their case, will just have to spend more. Sorry about that guys.


Now let's take a look at air-cooling, this is in no way a dis on this company, nor is it a promotion, they just get to be my example. If I can direct your attention to the Socket 7/370/A section on 3DFX Cool,
you will see some examples of heatsink/fan units typically used on socket CPU's. Here's a good example, the
AlphaC-MHO-Fan. That's one big powerful puppy, and a nice $35. Now of course, when
air-cooling, you can't just put a great fan on the CPU, and expect it to be ready to overclock over the 1GHz mark, you're going to also need
blowholes! Let's see, you'll need 2 80mm intake fans on the side
of your case, near the bottom, and 1 120mm fan at the top of the case, venting the hot air. (Remember, when you get a GHz TBird, or a GHz Pentium 3, they're putting out in excess of 50 watts worth of
heat) And let's not forget fan grills, you don't want your two year old walking up to your computer, and losing a finger, you'll be lucky to sleep with your wife in a month after that! So, now we go to
2CoolTek for fans and grills. Let's assume you don't care about dust, and we won't price filters, we'll just go for 2 80mm fan grills, and 1 120mm fan grills, 2 80mm fans, and 1 120mm fan, that'll be $44.
Oooh doggy! Now I won't mention that you better have some kind of tools or machinery to cut that hole into your case, you may have that lying around, or you may have a friend that will hook you up. So,
for air-cooling, we have a grand total of $79. Wow. Now that's more than the price of a cheap Duron! Hope you didn't spent $79 to overclock your $76 Duron.

2CoolTek 80mm Grills

Now, let's look at the essential parts needed for a watercooling setup:

  • Waterblock - essentially, a heatsink that uses water instead of air
  • Radiator - You've got to have something to pull the heat out of the water.
  • Water pump - Same thing used in aquariums to circulate water.
  • Reservoir - You won't be buying a fancy inline pump, you need something to keep your water and pump in.
  • Hoses - Why bother mentioning these, they're so darn cheap!
  • Fan(s) - Radiators work best with air flowing through them.

Now, for the uninitiated, I'll give a quick overview of how water-cooling works. First, imagine a bucket of water with a pump in it, the pump sucks some of that water in, and pumps it out of the bucket through a hose, the hose runs into the radiator, flows through the radiator, where fans blow air through the radiator, and do their best to try to bring the water down (or even up) to room temperature, the water exits the radiator and flows through the hose into an inlet on the waterblock, the block is placed on top of the CPU chip just like a heatsink, and the water flowing through the waterblock picks up the heat of the CPU, and carries it away, out the outlet. The water flows through one last length of hose and is deposited back into the bucket (reservoir). The most common question I get asked is "What about condensation?", you won't get condensation if the radiator is in the same room as your computer. The radiator will not cool the water below room temp, so your CPU will never go below room temp either.

Well, now that we have that covered, we can move on. Let's start with the reservoir, you may have caught my idea already. Yup, you've got it, a bucket. $1.99 at the hardware store. While your there, grabb yourself some clear vinyl hose, 1/2" outside diameter, 3/8" inside diameter, you'll want at least 10 feet, but since it's 30cents a foot, grab 15. That'll be $4.50. Now while your in town, go to an Auto Wrecking Yard (Junk-yard), ask for a heater core, tell them you don't care what it came out of, just as long as it's the cheapest one they have. If you found a good junk yard, that'll be $5, there's your radiator. It may be dirty, so make sure you flush it out really well, and clean the fins up so that air can flow through them well. How about a pump, let's see here, the pump I meant to get originally, but didn't want to wait for to show up in the mail. PetSmart has a nice 80gph magdrive (silent/long lasting/energy efficient) pump for $15.99. That is enough flow to do the job, you could get the 140gph if you plan to mount your radiator much above or below your CPU, only a $4 difference, but for the sake of being a CHEAP water-cooling setup, we'll go with the cheapest. Now we're down to the last two items, let's do the waterblock next. OverClock-Watercool has some budget waterblocks, the most noteworthy one would be here, at the bottom of the page. That block will cool your CPU great, and is made well so that it will not leak. That'll be $13 for the block. Last but now least, you'll need a fan, you can use a house fan, but that's tacky, loud, and not very energy efficient. So we'll call on a wholesaler of new & used surplus parts. They've always got some nice fans, going for less than you can find elsewhere, the only real problem is they don't measure in metric, so it's a pain to figure out which fan is which. Here's the page with the fans, you'll want the 4-11/16" most likely, that should be 120mm. As of the time of writing this article, there is an NMB model fan on there, for $7.95.

MagDrive Pump

Overclock-Watercool's lil "Water Sink", a cheap lil water block

Let's tally the totals!

     $ 2.00 - Bucket
     $ 4.50 - Hose
     $ 5.00 - Radiator
     $16.00 - Pump
     $13.00 - Waterblock
     $ 8.00 - Fan


NMB 4-11/16" Box Fan

Well there you have it, For under $50 you can have a complete working water-cooling system. Now if you already have a fan or two lying around, or any of the other components, you're doing even better. I did not factor in shipping charges on anything, shipping varies. Maybe at some point I'll buy the above parts, including the air cooling parts at the beginning of this article, and bench them against each other, to show that not only do you save $30, but water cools much better than the best air cooled heatsink can. Not to mention that it's a lot quieter. Hope this helps you decide what to purchase.

That about wraps this article up,  If you have Questions please post them on the ProCooling Forums (recommended), or Email UnaClocker directly.


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