Every computer, from the smallest home theater PCs or laptops to the gigantic gaming rigs, generates heat during operation and if this heat is not allowed to move away to outside at the environment, it may damage your computer permanently. In the rescue, here come the cooling systems. You may wonder in your mind, “Man, I have heard about air cooling and fans. What is liquid cooling? What do they do? “Like air cooling, liquid cooling is also a system used to reduce the temperature of its hardware. You will know everything about the liquid cooling system in the following.
What is a Liquid Cooling System?
In a computer, liquid cooling is the reduction of heat and temperature of the inner environment through exploiting the properties of liquids.
Over the years, the CPU and GPU speeds have increased at a considerable rate. In order to cope up with the new world tasks and speeds, the CPUs are made with more transistors, consequently, are drawing more power and have higher clock rates than before. As a result of the fact, this leads to greater heat produced by the computer. To save the computer from heat damage, heat sinks have been added to all modern PC processors to mitigate some of the heat by moving it to the surrounding environment. But when the fans get louder and larger, it has become necessary to look into new solutions, which ended in liquid cooling.
As liquid is more efficient than gas in the respect of conducting thermal energy, therefore normally liquid cooled machines maintain desired operating temperatures environments better than their air-cooled ones.
Types of the Liquid Cooling System
There are mainly three types of water-cooling systems on the basis of where the radiator, water pump, and reservoir etc. the main components of the system are located. The three types are-
- Integrated cooling system: An integrated cooling system, like its name, come included as part of a PC case. As all of the liquid cooling equipment is grouped within the case, probably this is the easiest option to work with. For, it will naturally give you the most room available inside the case without having any external components to deal with.
- Internal cooling system: An internal cooling system has the water-cooling components set inside the PC case. As most PC cases aren’t designed with this type of system usually, things might be a little congested. As an advantage, this installation allows you to keep your favorite case and also to move the finished product around with less trouble.
- External cooling system: In the external cooling system the radiator, reservoir, and pump are grouped externally in a separate unit. As a working procedure, the liquid coolant is pumped into the computer case, and a return part, a return line pumps the heated coolant that was sent cold out of the case and into the reservoir.
The advantage of the external cooling system is that it affords the interior working space of an integrated system as well as has the ability to adapt to use with any normal PC case. It allows for a large radiator also and has more cooling power than any other integrated setup. The downside is that an external cooling system isn’t as mobile as integrated or internal systems.
Self-contained liquid coolers: The Self-contained liquid cooling system is usually preassembled and sealed and allows you having the benefits of a simple water-cooling setup without any deal with any kind of messy particulars. A water block is needed to be attached to your CPU and also a radiator or maybe a fan combination to your case. And then you don’t have to worry about any coolant or other stuff.
You won’t have most of the headaches typically associated with doing it by yourself type liquid cooling. In this system, leakage is highly unlikely as long as you don’t bend or twist the tubing in a bad way at sharp or at weird angles.
How Liquid Cooling works
The generalized procedure begins with a pump which sends water into a water block. The water absorbs thermal energy from the hot area and it is passed to a heat-exchange where a radiator or fan blows the heat out of the computer then, and the cycle starts repeats again.
In the process of computer cooling, the most common form of liquid cooling has a closed system of tubes which carries the liquid from one component used in cooling to another. These systems are known as loops generally. In fact, there are some parts which are common to all liquid cooling loops:
- Water blocks
- Radiators etc.
The pump starts the process by pushing the liquid through a loop and has to be primed to start circulating the liquid. Remember that pumps burn out when spinning empty as they rely on the fluid they circulate for cooling too.
The tubing is usually flexible plastic, sometimes colored. The tubing carries the liquid to the radiator where it is cooled of the pumps heat load. Then the liquid moves to those components which need cooling.
The liquid runs through water blocks. You can assume that a water block is similar in function to a heat sink but unlike it, the cooled surface area is enclosed within the block. Thermal contact with components is increased by thermal compound usually. Due to the liquid’s thermal capacity, the surface area inside is much smaller than today’s typically large air cooling heat sinks. Water blocks also exist for many other computer components besides the CPU and the GPU. There are blocks also for motherboards, Graphics chips, and power uptake circuitry etc.
The hot liquid radiates and become cold again through a radiator-like fan and again become useful for re-use.
Besides, there may be some other optional parts as well. A loop may have a reservoir and may have water blocks for hard drives and ram as well.
Pros of the Liquid Cooling System
- Liquid cooling is an efficient system for mitigating heat away from the processor and outside of the system. Consequently, this allows for higher speeds in the processor. For, the ambient temperatures remain still within the manufacturer’s specifications eventually. By using very complex liquid cooling solutions, even some people have been able to almost double the processor speed.
- Another advantage of liquid cooling is the reduction of noise in the computer. Most of the combinations of the heat sink and fan generate a lot of noise because the fans usually have to circulate a large volume of air over the processors at a high speed and through the system. A liquid cooling solution does not usually require high-speed fans and the noise is less or there is no noise.
- There’s also a matter of space. Normally a huge heat, fan combination may perform well, but these coolers eat up a good amount of space inside your case. Liquid cooling eventually requires much less space and also gives a good performance as well.
Cons of the Liquid Cooling System
- The liquid cooling system has specific size requirements in order to fit into a desktop computer case for the different components. Specifically, they may need enough clearance to replace one of the internal case fans by the radiator.
- A closed-loop system in a liquid cooling will cool a single component only. That means that if you want to cool a CPU and a video card, you will need space for two systems individually counted.
- Liquid cooling built in custom usually requires a significant level of technical knowledge to install. And if the system is not properly installed, there might be some leakage which could cause severe damage to the system.
- The liquid cooling may be expensive if you don’t want b-grade items.
The main concern or risk in using liquid cooling system is that the leakage of liquid or water.
Take your time and double check everything of the system. You must realize that it’s important. You have to make your fittings secured by tightening it but also make sure that it’s not over tightened. You also make sure that any unused ports are secured with stop fittings.
I hope you know it by now that liquid cooling is more efficient than air cooling system. But like other things in the world, it also has some disadvantages. Now if I ask you- What is liquid cooling? I hope you know the answer. If you are using it to cool your PC, do remember the safety tips.
That will be all for now. Best of luck.