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Components of a Liquid Cooling System - Tubing

written by: Jesma•edited by: J. F. Amprimoz•updated: 3/29/2009

After looking at the water block in a liquid cooling system, we transition to the next directly connected component: the tubing. Do you need special tubing from a liquid cooling supplier, or will the standard tubes from the hardware store do the trick?

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    Tubing Used in Liquid Cooling a PC

    Just what kind of tubing is best for liquid cooling? If you talk to a liquid cooling component manufacturer, they're going to make up all kinds of reasons why their tubing is superior, and that you should dish out a nice chunk of change to have the best of the best. In all reality however, seasoned liquid coolers know that you can get the same quality and functionality from hardware store tubing as you can from Thermaltake, or Danger Den, or any other major manufacturer.

    PC Liquid Cooling Controllers What we tend to use is nothing flashy or special - it's just standard clear vinyl tubing in either 1/4'', 3/8'', or 1/2''. Why the size variation? It really is merely a matter of preference which size tubing and fittings it is that you want to use.

    Regardless of which size you go with, you have to make sure that all components in the liquid cooling system are compatible. If your radiator has 1/2'' barbs and your tubing is 3/8'', then it isn't going to work. Similarly, if your water block has 1/4'' fittings and your reservoir has 1/2'' fittings, you're going to have to use two sizes of tubing and find another method to transition between the two. It is better to ensure all your components use the same size fittings, and then buy the appropriate tubing to go along with it.

    For a little bit more money it is possible to get tubing from liquid cooling suppliers in other colors, like UV reactive neon blue and green.

    Note: Your size selection may be limited if you go with neon tubing, so make sure you decide on a size standard before buying it. Liquid cooling suppliers also sell tube wraps, which are made of plastic and coil around the tubes, resembling an old-school telephone cord, only stiffer. These help to ensure that your tubes don't crimp, and can add an aesthetic appeal to the standard clear vinyl tubes. Don't feel like these are necessary, though. If you leave yourself enough extra length on the tubes and spiral it around, then crimping in the lines will never be an issue.

PC Liquid Cooling for Beginners

There are a lot of things that go into utilizing liquid cooling in your desktop PC. We break it down and make it possible for even a beginner to build their own liquid cooling solution that works perfectly for them.
  1. How to Liquid Cool a Desktop Computer - A General Overview
  2. Components of a Liquid Cooling System - Water Blocks
  3. Components of a Liquid Cooling System - Radiators
  4. Components of a Liquid Cooling System - Reservoirs
  5. Components of a Liquid Cooling System - Tubing