How Liquid-cooled PCs Work

PC Liquid Cooling Liquid

The final component of a liquid-cooling system is the liquid itself. Many people use distilled water, since tap water contains contaminants that can cloud the system or clog the channels in the water blocks and radiator. Specialized additives can add color to the fluid, making it more visually appealing when used in a clear case. They can also lower the freezing point or surface tension of the water, making it a more effective coolant. Finally, some additives have antimicrobial or anti-corrosion ingredients, which can increase the life of the system.

If you decide to install a liquid-cooling system in your computer, it's a good idea to let the pump circulate the fluid for a while so you can check for leaks. Keep your computer turned off during this test period so you'll be less likely to damage your hardware if a leak does occur.

Once you're sure that everything is watertight, boot up the computer. You can check the temperature of your components in your computer's BIOS menu or by using a third-party application that monitors temperature. If necessary, you can also apply smaller heat sinks to RAM chips and other higher-temperature components in your system.

If you like the idea of liquid cooling but don't want to research individual components, you can buy a ready-to-use unit or kit. Self-contained units can

plug directly into a computer's expansion slots or power supply and provide liquid cooling to one specific chip. Kits include all the parts you need and instructions for assembling them - just make sure the parts included are compatible with your computer's hardware. Some companies also sell high-end PCs with liquid cooling factory-installed.

Check out the links on the next page to learn more about PCs, thermodynamics, liquid-cooled computers and related topics.

When Water Just Isn't Cold Enough

If you want to cool your PC's parts even more than a liquid-cooling system will allow, you can use Peltier devices in place of standard water blocks. A Peltier device is a thermoelectric device. When you apply electricity to it, heat moves from one side to the other. In other words, one side of the Peltier device gets very cold while the other gets very hot. The cold side of the Peltier device can cool a microchip, while water from the liquid-cooling system draws the heat away from the hot side.

Some people prefer systems that use these devices because they cool a PC's components well below ambient temperature. However, they do require extra precautions. Since the cold side of a Peltier device is colder than the surrounding air, it's prone to accumulating condensation. Without ample protection against condensation, a Peltier system can lead to a short circuit.


Category: Hardware

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