Skip to main content

Water-cooling Your Graphics Card

One for show, but certainly not one for the faint-hearted

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

Water-cooling has become the 'in thing' for hardware overclockers in the last few months. With the release of the new Senfu water kits, which have introduced water-based cooling solutions to the mainstream cooling market, the uptake has predictably risen tenfold. While there are risks involved, many tweakers have decided to live dangerously, regarding the perils of water-cooling with the same contempt they have come to treat the dangers of overclocking with. Overclocking processors using water-cooling is no longer enough for some of the most prolific though, and the graphics card is the next port of call. Veteran overclocker "Hypothermia" is now offering a how-to on the procedure, to be found here. The process has more to do with cooling the memory of the graphics card than the GPU, and according to the author is for show more than for performance. Obviously though, the possibilities of increased performance through overclocking will draw people to it as much as the prospect of impressing friends with the natty internals of one's computer. Water-cooling is commonly misconceived as the literal application of water to components to cool them. In actuality, water never directly touches any part of the machine. The key components of water-cooling are a "water-block", lots of insulated tubing to pipe the water and a pump. Cold water is placed in a container, sometimes a bucket, and pumped through pipes into a water-block, which is physically attached to the processor or in this case graphics card. The water lowers the temperature of the water-block so much that it cools the component in question far more efficiently than a normal heatsink and fan combination. The water then circulates back out into the container, where it is cooled again. The obvious hazards of such a procedure are that the water has to be repeatedly cooled, the pump, water-block and pipes need to be checked for glogging regularly and that the water-cooling setup really needs to be set going a few seconds before the PC is turned on so as to ensure a good flow of cooling immediately. The usual problems of good thermal contact must be overcome too. Hypothermia's guide shows you how to perform the procedure on your graphics card, and uses another popular component, a Peltier. While Peltiers are not compulsory, they do help to cool even more efficiently, however in the event of a problem, they can be very dangerous to your processor or in this case graphics card. Although the author does insist that the procedure was not carried out just to improve his benchmark scores, his overclocking results seem remarkable post-installation. If you're looking for that extra boost and don't mind living on the edge, water-cooling your processor may be the answer.

Read this next