How to Choose a Liquid Cooler

December 2, 2015 | By tuan.mai@nzxt.com | PCDIY

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For builders that are new to the world of liquid cooling, purchasing an all-in-one liquid cooler can be a daunting task. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that fluids and expensive electronics are a dangerous mix. Fortunately, liquid cooling technologies and manufacturer warranties have come a very long way. As unbelievable as it may seem, cooling your PC with a liquid cooling system is actually very safe.

It is also the best way to get the maximum bang for your buck when it comes to CPU / GPU cooling.

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What should you look for in a liquid cooler?

There are several things to consider when contemplating your first liquid cooler purchase. The most important of these considerations is of course, compatibility. What kind of radiator can your case support? There are various liquid cooler radiators ranging in sizes from 120mm to 280mm in length. The first thing to check is the maximum sized radiator your case can support. This can be found by taking a look at the specifications. Alternatively, you can use the NZXT Kraken compatibility checker to see if your case supports any of the NZXT Kraken liquid coolers. It is also important to keep in mind the thickness of the radiator and whether or not you want to use a push-pull configuration. This kind of configuration requires more space because it uses fans on both sides of the radiator to push air through one side and pull it through the other.

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Does a liquid cooler warranty really matter?

The second factor to consider is manufacturer warranty. There are quite a few companies making liquid coolers out there but only a few are offering lasting warranties with complete support for the rare leak incident. NZXT offers a leading six year warranty on its Kraken coolers while Corsair and Cooler Master follow close behind with a five year warranty. Other companies such as Thermaltake and Antec offer one to three year warranties depending on the product. If you follow the installation instructions properly, you won’t have to worry about a leak most of the time, but it is definitely nice to have the peace of mind that a good warranty offers. For maximum protection, be sure to take detailed photos throughout your installation and in the incident of any leaks or mechanical failures to provide to the manufacturer.

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What do you need the liquid cooler for?

Another important factor to keep in mind when making your first liquid cooling purchase is performance. Like all PC components, the higher performance coolers are going to cost you a pretty penny in comparison to the entry level coolers. If you care about features like built-in fan control, LED lighting and intelligent software, you’ll have to take a look at the higher end coolers on the market. Regardless, when you are upgrading from a stock air cooler even the cheapest liquid coolers can make a world of a difference in your CPU temperatures. To make your decision easier, we’d recommend taking a look at a few performance charts from your favorite PC hardware review websites. This will help you get a good idea of which cooler will suit your needs.

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Ask for help!

Now that you’ve figured out which liquid cooler you are going to purchase, it’s time to move on to the fun stuff: the installation. Be sure to follow the instructions on your cooler’s manual and don’t be afraid to consult our support staff for any questions or help you may need (even if you aren’t using an NZXT cooler or case). Liquid cooler purchase and installation may seem scary, but it can also be extremely rewarding. If you’re in the market for an upgrade and your CPU temperatures are high, an all-in-one liquid cooler is one of the smartest buys you can make.

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