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.