The Cost


Two of the big­gest com­plaints you’ll hear when it comes to cus­tom loop liq­uid cool­ing are about the cost and com­plex­ity in­volved. The tech press doesn’t ex­actly help the mat­ter ei­ther— our­selves in­cluded.

You of­ten see mon­strous Dream Ma­chines and multi-GPU rigs, fit­ted out with the very best, com­plex liq­uid cool­ing set­ups, that come in at a price for which you could eas­ily build an en­tire de­cent sys­tem.

The re­al­ity is that th­ese liq­uid-cooled leviathans are fringe ex­per­i­ments. Anom­alies. And apart from the tub­ing, you’ll of­ten find you can re­use al­most all the com­po­nents over and over again. Ra­di­a­tors can be flushed, CPU blocks (if it’s not Threadripper) can be swapped over to new chips, fit­tings still operate fine (as long as you don’t lose the o-rings), and reser­voirs and pumps can func­tion per­fectly for years. For very lit­tle cost, just like an AIO, you can take a full liq­uid-cooled loop, and with a bit of tub­ing, mi­grate it to a new sys­tem, to a new CPU, or even ex­pand it.

The most dif­fi­cult cost to stom­ach, how­ever, is prob­a­bly that of the fit­tings. Although each block can come in at any­where from $60 to $120, each stan­dard fit­ting comes in at about $6, with spe­cial an­gled fit­tings and oth­ers cost­ing $10 or more. When the aver­age full loop can use close to 20 or 30 fit­tings, that soon starts to add up.

That said, it’s likely the com­plex­ity that puts off the ma­jor­ity of first-time liq­uid- cool­ers. Let’s say you want to cre­ate a sim­ple loop for your CPU. You need a ra­di­a­tor, a pump, a reser­voir (or res combi), a CPU block, some tub­ing and coolant, and a min­i­mum of two fit­tings per com­po­nent you use to cool the sys­tem. That’s a lot to con­sider.

The price of your liq­uid cool­ing com­po­nents can soon add up.

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