Why water cooling?
Typically air is the medium through which heat is dissipated in the common computer. This works for most computer users however air is a horrible conductor of heat. When performing resource intensive tasks the advantage of water cooling is apparent. The temperature of your components drop to such an extent that you are able to overclock comfortably. Though the benefits are not limited to just performance. Water cooled systems are far more quiet than their fan based counterparts.
How does water cooling work?
A watercooling system is comprised of four main components linked together via tubing in a loop. These components are the reservoir, pump, radiator, and block. The reservoir bleeds air from liquid and stores excess liquid. The block transfers heat generated from the component into the liquid. The pump then draws hot liquid through the system and into the radiator. Lastly, the radiator acts as a heat exchanger and is responsible for moving heat from liquid into the air. The combination of these components in a loop allows the liquid to be cooled at a much faster rate than air alone in a conventional fan/heatsink based system.
Does water cooling pose a risk to my components?
You are dealing with modifications so yes, there is a risk however they are minimal. Keep in mind you are dealing with liquid and in all cases, liquid and electronics don't play well together. The only concern you should have is of a leak which will affect your components. As frightening as that may be it is not common and is almost always a result of improper installation and user error rather than a manufacturer defect. As with any water cooling project it is good practice to perform a leak test for the first 24 hours of system uptime.
What is the average cost expense?
Depending on the type of loop you will be running. Typically you can expect closed loop coolers and all in one systems to range in the mid 100 dollar range. Things start to get more expensive when you build a custom loop however this is largely dependent on how large or elaborate the build will be. For a basic custom CPU loop you can expect a price of $300.
How much will liquid cooling lower my temps?
This largely depends on how your system is built. In general you can expect to see temperature drops ranging from 5-20+ degrees lower than stock temperatures. We cannot stress enough that this is only for stock coolers. There may be aftermarket air coolers that come close to watercooling temps however noise levels will be much higher. The larger the radiator the lower the temperatures your build will yield.
What are the pros and cons of water cooling versus air cooling?
I will first start off by saying the pros will outweight the cons. Water cooling not only yield performance gains but can also double as an opportunity to improve your rigs aesthetic appeal. Heat is the main killer for components and watercooling will dissipate that heat much faster than a tradional air cooler. There are two main cons to watercooling. The first is the expense, builds can be just as expensive as they are satisfying (refer to question #4). There is always the potential for a leak to damage your system however this is mostly due to user error rather than part failure.
How did water cooling start?
Water cooling started out mainly for cooling large mainframe computers and servers where traditional air cooling couldn't provide sufficient cooling to the core components. Since that time, however, water cooling has taken off in desktop computers as a way to cool your processor enough to be able to push your overclocking further.
How much does it cost to build a water cooling loop?
Custom built Water cooling loops can range anywhere from $200 - $1000 on average depending on who is choosing the
parts and how high-end you want to go. There are so many configuration options to choose from because the options
are limitless as far as what parts you want to use, colors, brand names, quality, etc.
Why should I build my own watercooling loop vs. purchasing a kit?
The main reason to build your own loop is that you can fully customize and future-proof your loop to match all your
hardware & specifications. With a custom loop you have all the flexibility to add or subtract parts that you won't
get in a sealed closed loop cooler. If you want options in the expansion of your loop such as tying in your
graphics card(s), a custom loop is the way to go. Custom loops give you the power to expand / upgrade your setup as
you change parts in your system.