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Silent PC guide

Water Cooling


Water cooling can be quiet and efficient, but it also requires a lot more maintenance than regular fans. Here are some tips and tricks for dealing with problems and maintenance of your water cooling system.

Bacteria and Algae

The biggest problem with water cooling is that any untreated water will start to grow algae and/or bacteria. While this might be a good thing if you're conducting a science experiment, it does not help water flow in a water cooling setup. However, there are a few things you can do to curb this problem:
Chemicals
I'm still looking for the best chemicals to add to the water. I've noticed that chlorine is *not* a good idea, it can dissolve plastic, cause corrosion and generally smell bad... Right now I use an algae-killer intended for bubble baths, you can find it in the bath and spa section of your hardware store. Another good place to look is anywhere that has indoor fountains, they usually sell bromide or something that should have the desired effect. However, I have not have time to try this yet.
Closed System (Pressure, Darkness and no air)
This is somewhat difficult to achive, but if you build a closed system, which has at least the same water pressure as tap water. then algae and bacteria will not be able to grow. The system also needs to keep out sunlight and contain as little air as possible. This also solves the problem of evaporation, as discussed further down on this page. (Disclaimer: This is not easy to achive, and I have not tried this procedure myself.)
Water changes
Chaning the water twice a week will keep the bacteria and algae growth to a minimum, however, you still still need to clean out your water block(s), hoses, pumps and radiators once a month or so since algae buildup in the water block can reduce or even stop the water flow. I highly recommend getting a Senfu water block over an Aquastealth one, since the Senfu water blocks can be opened, cleaned and then closed again.
Use something other than water
Don't know exactly what though, flourinert perhaps?

Evaporation

Evaporation doesn't sound like a big problem, all you have to do is add more water, right? Well, this is not entirely true, because salt and other chemicals in your tap water does not evaporate. This means that if you keep adding water to your system, soon the water in there will be more salty than sea water, and when that happens, salt will start to deposit in big chunks. This can of course cause reduced water flow... Here's what you can do:
Water Changes
Of course, changing all the water regularly will keep the salt level down. It can be a bit of a hassle.
Use a lid
This might sound obvious, but if your water container does not have a lid, the evaporation will be more than ten times what it would be with a lid. If you can't find a lid that fits, you can always use plastic wrap.
Closed System
A closed system does not suffe from evaporation of course, but alas, closed systems are harder to build.
Use something other than water
Don't know exactly what though, flourinert perhaps?

Rust & Corrosion

Rust and corrosion can be a problem, especially if you use copper or steel parts in your system. I don't have a good solution for this really, so don't use copper or steel parts in your system. (And don't put chlorine in the water.)

Leaks

This is a problem I haven't had yet, but I definitely recommend testing your setup outside of your computer before you install it to make sure that it does not leak. If you do have a leak, don't freak out, turn off your computer and mop up the water. Let the computer dry out, fix the leak and start it up again, most of the time a little water will not cause a problem. If your computer seems flaky after a leak, you should try cleaning affected components/cards with non-acetone nailpolish remover or oil-free gasoline.

Noise

All pumps make some noise, some more than others. (And some a LOT more than others..) However, you can reduce the actual noise by isolating your pump from direct contact with anything that could convert the vibrations to sound. An easy way to do this is to simply use some rubber or silicone tubing and wrap it a twice around the pump. (Once around the front, and once around the back). There are probably better ways, but the tubing trick works very well for me.
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Last modified: April 6th, 2001 - Design by Monica & Fredrik Hübinette