The Dan­ger?


Let’s not beat around the bush: As with any­thing PC-re­lated, there’s al­ways go­ing to be some risk in­volved, es­pe­cially when work­ing with liq­uid. Whether that’s not in­stalling a fit­ting cor­rectly, not us­ing the cor­rect length of tube, or for­get­ting to plug a hole, the risk is there. You’re al­ways go­ing to hear hor­ror sto­ries of liq­uid cool­ing go­ing wrong, or loops suf­fer­ing leaks after pro­longed pe­ri­ods of use. The re­al­ity is, th­ese events are quite rare. As long as you take your time, fol­low the in­struc­tions, and do things cor­rectly, it’s un­likely you’ll ever en­counter th­ese is­sues, any more than you would en­counter a dead AIO.

And, of course, there are pre­cau­tions you can take to re­duce the chance of a mishap. Things such as mak­ing sure your power sup­ply fan is fac­ing down, prim­ing your loop with every­thing bar the pumps dis­con­nected, mak­ing sure that each fit­ting is se­cure us­ing the in­cluded Allen wrench, us­ing the cor­rect length of tub­ing, and not cut­ting cor­ners are im­per­a­tive. It’s also ad­vis­able that after you’ve first built and primed your loop, you run the loop for a full day, with every­thing dis­con­nected, to check if there are any leaks, us­ing pa­per tow­els as in­di­ca­tors.

Even we’ve had our fair share of liq­uid cool­ing mishaps and leaks in the past, yet not one cru­cial piece of hard­ware has died be­cause of it. Our ITX liq­uid­cooled build back in July 2016 suf­fered a failed o-ring on one of the an­gled fit­tings atop the Fury X GPU, leak­ing down off the block and on to the PSU (which, for­tu­nately, had the fan fac­ing down), likely due to too much pres­sure and not enough tube. And even in our lat­est build, we had to drain the loop and re­seat the mem­ory.

One of the big­gest con­cerns we hear is the fear of mount­ing the blocks in­cor­rectly. Iron­i­cally, this is the safest part of the whole job. The blocks them­selves are com­pletely sealed units—sim­ply put, no coolant ever touches the com­po­nent. Take a graph­ics card block, for in­stance. The block makes con­tact with the GPU, the mem­ory, and the VRMs (usu­ally with ther­mal paste for the GPU, and ther­mal pads for every­thing else). Coolant then flows around the block, draw­ing heat out from the nickel, cop­per, or, in this case, alu­minum, through pre-milled chan­nels, and out to­ward the ra­di­a­tors, where it’s cooled.

The big­gest risk comes from re­mov­ing the stock cooler from the card; most liq­uid cool­ing man­u­fac­tur­ers in­clude in­struc­tions on how to re­move the stock cool­ers. Take your time, use the cor­rect tools, and you’ll be fine.

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