FAQ & Section InfoDo I need to add liquid to my kit?
It depends on which kit you're going with. On a closed loop cooler (CLC kits) the complete loop is sealed off from you with water/liquid coolant already provided. You won't have to do anything with those. If you're building a custom loop or using a custom loop kit you will have to purchase liquid for your kit. What liquid you go with will depend on the specifications of the cooler but we usually recommend distilled or dead water with an additive as a good way to go.
What's the difference between a liquid and water cooler?
Oftentimes these are simply just two different words for the same thing. Water is just a form of liquid, so any "water cooling system" that uses it is a liquid cooled system. The main reason to use the term liquid cooled to refer to a system that isn't using water would be cases of using a non-water based fluid to flow through your loop (such as oils or synthetics). In general, when someone refers to a PC as having a liquid cooler in it, they're implying that the liquid is water with a possible additive.
Do you recommend one of these pre-configured water cooling systems or should I build my own?Building your own custom water cooling system can be difficult. You'll need the tools, fittings, tubing, components, etc. and you'll have to design the loop such that everything flows properly and nothing leaks. Buying an all-in-one pc water cooling kit is just a really easy way to do this. Some of the kits are closed loop - which means you cannot easily mess up the installation. The fittings & connector points are usually sealed off and the fluid is already contained inside the cooler so you don't have to do anything more than mounting and connecting to your devices. Other kits in this section are more traditional custom loops where the design and part picking has been done for you. For these you know what you're getting is compatible with each other and you'll know ahead of time if your mountings will work for AMD or Intel based CPUs. This takes a lot of the headache out of building & configuring your loop but gives you the flexibility to make some changes should you wish to and to still get the experience of building your own loop.
Do liquid cooling kits come with the water?Closed loop kits do come with the liquid (this liquid is sealed off in the loop and you won't need to do anything to it). As far as the custom build kits you'll have to check the product descriptions to see whether or not any fluid comes as part of the package. Most people installing a water cooling system for their PC go down to the grocery store or hardware shop and pickup standard distilled water as their fluid. This, combined with special additives can be used to fill up your loop.
When is water cooling recommended over standard air cooling?
This is a great question that gets asked a lot. Processors released by AMD and Intel are rated and intended to be fully functional under traditional air cooling out of the box and when run at standard specifications. When water cooling becomes practical is if you're pushing your chip past the factory specifications (overclocking) to take your gaming system or performance PC to a whole new level. Because liquid coolers are generally much more efficient at directing heat away from the processor and ejecting it out of your system, this type of cooler usually lets you drop your temperature more significantly and get better stability on an overclocked CPU. And it's not just your CPU that is the only deciding factor to go water cooled - you could be building a crossfire or SLI setup and want a water cooling kit that will piggy back those in as well into your loop.
A second major reason to go water cooled is noise. Air coolers spin a fan at very high RPMs and that generates a lot of noise and vibration. If you want your cooling setup to be virtually silent, a water cooled loop is a great way to do that.
The other major reason people choose liquid coolers over air is because they look cool! If you're building a custom case mod and want to take it to the next level - nothing beats a water cooler. You can do great things with your tubing to make it glow (Ultraviolet) and route your tubing in such a way that you add a whole new element of design to your PC. If you've ever seen pictures of a water cooled system, you'll know right away why they look so much cooler.