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Air Versus Water

The previous series hinted that the most dangerous thing to your system is water. Now we're going to flaunt that warning and pump a large volume of water directly through the heart of our case. What could possess us to do such a thing?

There are two primary advantages of water-cooling over air-cooling:

  • Water-cooling provides a lower CPU temperature. Using water to dissipate heat provides at least one order of magnitude more efficiency than using air.

  • Water-cooling is quieter. You have to spin your fans quite fast to provide adequate cooling on a P4 system, and at this speed the fans get noisy.

In addition, water-cooled cases look...cooler. You can even add ultraviolet dye to your water. When your UV lighting hits the clear plastic tubing, it gives the case an alien look. There's something visceral about glowing tubes pulsing life into the heart of your computer.

The main disadvantage to water-cooling is the price. Water-cooling kits can cost upwards of $400–500 for a combined system that cools the CPU, board chipset, and video card. Even a basic CPU water-cooling kit can cost $200 (with shipping) for the bare-bones system. But don't despair. Our editors have us on a very tight budget. Hopefully, this series will give you tips for building a complete system for not much more than the price of a high-end heat sink and fan. And we'll take some monstrous risks to make this a one-of-a-kind mod.

But it's not going to be easy. As our deadline looms, emotions rise to the boiling point. If only I could attach a water cooler to my editor's brain....

Editor's note:

I think this is an insult, but really it's not a bad idea...

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