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Una's Una's H2O buyers Guide
Date Posted: Apr 27 2002
Author: Unaclocker
Posting Type: Article
Category: H2O and Evap
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Una's H2O buyers Guide By: Unaclocker

Una's Cooling Buyers Guide 2 - 4/27/02

None of the below info is paid for or sponsored in any way, just a simple list of what I think will help you get on your way to water cooling quicker and safer.

This is an update to an earlier Buyers Guide I did. I originally wrote this to show that you could build a watercooled setup for just about the same price as an aircooled setup. I wanted to give suggestions on places to get the best deals for parts, since I had about a thousand bookmarks for watercooling related items. But times have changed, and some of those parts are no longer available. I also went ahead and made some suggestions for a top notch high priced cooling system. Again, times have changed, and there are now some nice choices out there. I fully admit, these suggestions are biased. I'm just recommending things that I trust myself.

Air Cooling

First, let's start with the cheapest setup. Alot of people are on a very tight budget, and want to be able to watercool for the price of aircooling. and I mean top of the line aircooling, which is an Alpha PAL8045. Which sells on KDComputers.com for $48, depending on which fan you buy for it.

H2O Cooling

So Let's start with the heart of a water cooler, the pump. Simple really, Rio 180, cheap, quiet, and very small. $12 here Mention ProCooling.com in the comments section when you purchase the pump, and he'll knock 10% off the price.

And now the other key component, the waterblock. I worked with BeCooling to develop a small, easy to manufacture budget waterblock just for this niche It's called The UnaBlock, it's only $15, and comes with a great hold down! I have one of these here, installed on an Athlon XP 1600+ and I can personally vouch that it works GREAT.

While your over at BeCooling, you'll need something in the water to prevent algae from growing, and prevent corrosion. Normally I'd recommend Water Wetter, but BeCooling sells small amounts of Royal Purple pretty cheap. $4 for that.

You'll need a radiator. Go to an auto parts store, and ask for a Heater core for a 1988 Ford Escort with air conditioning. You might want to call around and find the best price, it should be under $20. I'll call it an even $20. They come with 5/8" fittings, you'll need to make adapters. Necessity is the mother of invention, I'm sure you'll figure out how. Also, don't be too picky about which heater core you get, I recommend the Escort heater core only because it's the cheapest and smallest one I've found. If you can get a different one cheaper, or the Escort one is too expensive at your local store, get whatever is cheapest. More than $25 and your getting ripped, less than $20 and you've found the correct one.

While your out around town, stop at the hardware store and pick up 10 feet of 3/8" vinyl hose. That'll run you $2.50

Now you'll need a fan for that radiator, try this one it's only $6. Just slap that on your radiator and you'll be good to go. If that fan is sold out, just look through All Electronic's catalog, they've always got a couple well priced 120mm fans for sale.

Now you'll need a reservoir for that pump. Depends on your budget what you do. You can go to the hardware store and buy a sealed marine electrical junction box for $9, or you can grab a Tupperware container out of your mother's kitchen. Up to you. I'll assume your on a budget and go with Tupperware.

So that's everything, let's add up the numbers. Not counting shipping, that'll be $58.50. If you already own a fan, your ahead of the game, and can shave that $6.00 off of there. So, compared to the best closest performing air cooling heat sink, The Alpha 8045 at $48, that's only $10 extra for a setup that will run circles around it and be quieter (understatement of the year) at the same time. You may be looking at your $30 Duron, and wondering why you should spend $59 on cooling for it. Just keep in mind that this is really a one time investment, this cooling is ready to scale with you and will continue to be excellent cooling when you've moved up to bigger and better CPU's.

One word of caution, some blocks perform great with low flow rates, others are dreadful with low flow rates. The UnaBlock is one of the former, it performs great with a low flow rate, so it's well suited to the budget setup. This is not to say that it will perform badly with high flow rates. I'm only saying this because if you choose a different block for your setup, such as a Spiral, or a Maze, you will also need a MUCH stronger pump, because those are blocks that need a high flow rate to perform their best, and may even perform WORSE than the UnaBlock at low flow rates. But that's a whole 'another article, I just wanted to touch on it briefly so nobody goes and wastes money thinking they'll just replace one part out of many

Part 2.. The rich boyz. This is for people who don't really have spending limits. One thing to keep in mind, I do not like pelts at all. So I'm not including them in this buyers guide.

Let's start with the radiators. I've got two options for you. Heater Core, or Black Ice Extreme. The Black Ice Extreme really is just a heater core that has been sized to fit in the space allotted in the average PC case, which is usually 120mm in the bottom front or top rear of a case. The problem with heater cores is they are always just a hair to large to fit in either of those spaces. So, you can go buy yourself a monster Chevy Caprice heater core, that'll hold 2 120mm fans, I believe they cost $35 at the local auto parts store. Or, you can buy yourself a nice little Black Ice Extreme for $68.

And now we move on to the waterblock. This is one area that has recently had some impressive developments. Right now, I'd have to recommend the Maze3 from Danger Den at $42.

How about a pump. Well, your not on a budget, so let's go with an Eheim. Get the 1250, it's 317 GPH. With the 1/2" hose, that's all you'll need and then some. That'll be $68 If you think you need A LOT of flow, read this. More is not always better when it comes to water flow.

As for air, more IS better. So let's get the best fan we can, you don't mind the noise, right? Delta 120mm 151cfm fan. Even comes with RPM monitoring. These are $15. Now keep in mind, that's 53db.. From the company that brought you the "unbearable" 46db 38cfm 60mm "blacklabel" fan. If that's too much for you to bear, I understand. Maybe you want your water cooling to inspire awe because it's so quiet. If that's the case, the JMC 120mm at it's rated 61cfm it will only make 26db of noise. That's virtually silent. Those are $15 each. You might want one on each side of your radiator, because this is a weak fan.

Now, you'll need a reservoir. This is easy. Use the RC Airplane gas tank like I did in TheRock. It's $4, and you'll need to buy some fittings for it at the hardware store along with some plumbers goop to securely attach them with. You'll also need some Velcro so you can stick the reservoir to the side of your case. Call it $12 or so all together.

And you'll need hose. Nothing but the best for you, you'll want to order 1/2" thick wall Tygon hose from McMaster. The part number is 5894K21 That'll be $4.27 a foot, you need 10 feet or so. $42.70 One great reason to use a Black Ice Pro, rather than a heater core, if you have your radiator IN your case and not beside it, you use less tubing. If you've never heard of Tygon before, check out this review in our forums.

I haven't priced hose clamps, and I haven't seen any for sale online that I like. We'll budget $10 for them. You can pick those up at the auto parts store, while your buying a bottle of Water Wetter for $10. You'll need water wetter to prevent algae and corrosion from ruining your setup.

And that's everything.. Let's see.. If you go the Black Ice route & loud fan route, that'll be $258. Not too bad. You can shave some off if you buy less hose, I'd say 5 feet is more than enough for most people. And if that's not expensive enough for you, well, I don't know what to tell you. Go out and buy a faster CPU so you can over clock farther.

So as you can see. Water cooling can be as expensive or as cheap as you want it to be. What's craziest is that these two setups might just perform within a few degrees of each other. Just because one person went with cheaper parts doesn't mean that they are going to perform worse. The choice is yours to make, and maybe in a future revision of this article, I will have decent testing equipment, and will be able to purchase all the above parts to run them against each other so you can see the exact performance differences. For now, it's just a hunch that they will perform very similarly.

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