How to place the liquid cooling system in the case

The popularity of liquid cooling in home computers is rapidly gaining momentum. If earlier it was the prerogative of inveterate enthusiasts, today everyone can install “water” in the system unit. No more maintenance, replacement of the coolant and wasted nerves due to a leaking fitting – smeared with thermal paste, screwed on the water block and forward, to new clock frequency records . The main thing is to correctly place the system in the PC case.

The computer market has reached a level where the quality bar is governed not only by the level of system performance, but also by design and compact size. Nevertheless, “small displacement” does not negate the ability of electronics to “think” quickly and at the same time noticeably heat up.

For example, flagship GPUs are capable of generating up to 350W of heat. At this moment, the processor becomes hotter than all, the radiator of which takes the blows from all fronts. This is not only the heat from the video card, but also the degrees from M.2 drives , the VRM power subsystem, the chipset, hard drives and everything that can generate thermal energy during operation. Hence throttling and performance degradation .

The problem with overheating of the processor due to the video card can be solved in two ways – transfer the video card using a riser or install a liquid cooling system. The second way is more efficient. Moreover, branded systems no longer leak, and the efficiency of mid-range and budget models already matches the performance level of the flagship “air”. In addition, liquid cooling is the ability to build a compact computer without sacrificing performance.

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Features of ventilation of the housing with LSS
Before installing a liquid cooling system, you need to understand the theory of case ventilation . Computers are often not cooled correctly – users install a large number of fans, but achieve the opposite effect. This is due to the incorrect ratio of the amount of intake and exhaust air. Without knowing this theory, you can spoil the impression of working even the most expensive and powerful “water”.


The fact is that a computer case is a conditionally sealed space in which the air pressure may slightly differ from the external (atmospheric) one. To do this, it is necessary to make sure that the intake fans work more efficiently than the exhaust fans, or vice versa. In the first case, the body pressure will be above atmospheric or excess, and in the second it will be lower (rarefied atmosphere).

For high-quality filling of the body with coolness, it is necessary to create excess pressure. In a rough form, it works like this : turn on the intake fans by 100%, and the exhaust fans by 50%. In this case, the chassis will receive more air than the exhaust fans can exhaust to the outside. In this case, the intake fans should be no less than the exhaust fans.

Fan Noctua NF-P12 redux -1300

PS Do not forget that the airflow force of fans with and without a heatsink will differ significantly. In other words, the radiator stifles the performance of the turntables, and this must be taken into account when constructing a system with overpressure in the enclosure. In this case, you have to play with quantity or increase the turnover.

Inlet or outlet
Looking ahead, let’s say that the radiator of the liquid cooling system can be installed in several parts of the case. Most often, it serves as an intake or outlet. The quality of cooling of individual components depends on the operating mode of the radiator.

For example, when installing a radiator on the intake, the user focuses on cooling the processor . The central chip is the first to receive a heap of freshness and gives off the exhaust air to the rest of the components in the case. If the processor has high power and generates a lot of heat, then the intake air will always be warm. This may not be enough to effectively cool an equally powerful and hot video card.

By installing the heatsink in release mode, we solve the problem with the coolness in the case and the breathing of the video card, but we reduce the cooling efficiency of the processor. The heat sink cannot be effectively cooled by the air heated by the GPU and other air components.Cooling system Fractal Design Celsius + S24 Prisma

Important! Before purchasing LSS, we study the technical characteristics of the case. Modern gaming models support all common radiator types – 120mm, 140mm, 240mm, 280mm and 360mm. However, not all chassis can accommodate larger radiators. We read, study and do not “get” to buy a new case .

After we figured out the organization of flows and cooling, we can proceed to studying the options for placing the radiator in the case. There are several of them, and not all are equally effective or convenient.

At the top
A popular method is to install a heatsink at the top of the case. This is one of the standard types of system installation, so the user will not have big problems with the cooling operation in this mode. Nevertheless, there are several nuances:

In this position, the radiator works for blowing, which means that it collects all the system air and heat that is given off by the components. We add to this the heating of a powerful processor and we get exorbitant temperatures. In this case, everything will be “good” except for the CPU – throttling and performance degradation are guaranteed.
When installing a heatsink in the top of the case, you have to take into account the height of the superstructure above the motherboard. Most mid-tower cases have a small headroom in this part, so a bulky radiator will no longer fit there.
The radiator and the entire volume of the coolant are located above the accessories. Although modern NWOs do not leak, users still believe in scary tales from a decade ago.

On the front
An equally popular type of radiator placement is on the front panel . As a rule, this method is used in compact cases due to problems with the space in the upper part of the system unit. Like the previous method, this one has several “buts”:

The radiator is installed at the inlet – the SVO fans pump air from the outside, so the processor gets cool first, and after it the rest of the components “breathe”. Cool to the stone, but hot to the video card.
In this position, the top of the radiator may be lower than the top of the pump. This can affect the cooling efficiency and even disable the water cooling system. To avoid this, it is necessary to properly install the system. Let’s talk about this further.

Cooling system be quiet! PURE LOOP 240

Custom water cooling systems have an expansion tank that contains a supply of coolant. This same reservoir serves as a place where the system can release air bubbles. In the closed circuit of the finished LSS, there is no expansion tank, and the system itself already contains a certain amount of air from the factory. Moreover, its volume gradually increases due to the fact that the coolant tends to evaporate.

Air reduces the efficiency of the air handling unit as soon as it enters the water block with the pump. To exclude this, the blank part of the radiator (without pipes) must be above the level of the water block. In this case, the gas will accumulate in this place and will not affect the quality of the flow (foaming of the coolant).

Thermaltake Pacific Gaming R240 D5 Water Cooling Kit [CL-W196-CU00RE-A]This is perhaps the best way to accommodate LSS in a modern assembly. The cooling system is installed as a separate unit on the side of the chassis chassis. At the same time, it is not an inlet or outlet element in the ventilation system of the case and works in isolation, like any other heating element in the assembly. In this form, the LSS radiator:

Does not affect the organization of air flows in the housing (positive pressure theory).
Uses body air, which means less clogging with dust .
It is located closer to the socket, therefore eliminates problems with insufficient tubing length when installing “upside down”.

Cooling system AeroCool Mirage L240

The only drawback of this method is limited support. Cases with such capabilities are still not widely used and belong to top-end solutions.

In the back
Some chassis support rear-mounted cooling. More precisely, they supported – the design features of tower-type cases do not allow placing radiators with a standard size of 140 mm and higher in the rear. Because of this, manufacturers have cut such an opportunity out of current models. Moreover, this method is more suitable for placing a custom system – to install a radiator in that part of the case, you need to break the circuit.

External radiator
Enthusiasts will take advantage of the coolness on the balcony to set another record for clock speed and performance. Yes, the radiator can be installed outside the case, but this method is not suitable for daily use, because:

During the operation of the system, there is a chance of damaging the radiator, fans or other components with the help of a cat, dog or parrot.
Ready-made systems cannot boast of long hoses. This means that it will be impossible to move the radiator out of the case – only a custom system with all the consequences can do this.
With a high temperature difference on the tubes and the base of the water block, condensation will form – water, the open presence of which in the system unit is strictly prohibited.

Cooling System Alphacool Eissturm Gaming Copper 30 2x140mm

The ready-made liquid cooling system is a good replacement for the bulky “air”, which no longer always cope with the heat dissipation of current flagship chips. At the same time, the air cooler receives additional heating from the surrounding elements and loses even more in efficiency.

In a system with LSS, everything is simple and native – the radiator does not interfere with the organization of space in the case, does not conflict with the height of the RAM slats and does not distort the motherboard textolite due to sagging under the weight of kilograms of copper and aluminum. Quiet, cool and fashionable – what a home system engineer with the makings of a powerful station needs.