How to mount liquid cooler

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Lluís Enric Mayans
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Fundamental requirements

Before proceeding with the installation of the new liquid cooling system, I suggest you check that you have all the fondamentali requisiti in order not to disassemble the computer in vain, risk damaging components or run into nasty surprises during the assembly phases.

Well, if you bought a all-in-one liquid cooling system, that is already assembled and loaded with coolant, you just have to make sure that the socket of the heatsink is compatible with the CPU socket of the motherboard: otherwise you would not have the right holes and threaded supports to be able to mount the heatsink.



Next, check that the case frame has one perforated section adequate measures for fixing the radiator and that there is sufficient depth so that the fans do not collide with other PC components, such as the video card or any cabling. Finally, check that you have the connectors o adapters suitable for powering the pump and managing it from the manufacturer's software (if present).

If you have one custom liquid cooling kit, in addition to the valid assessments I wrote in the previous paragraph, I recommend that you make sure you have all the components required to properly mount the system. Generally these kits are sold complete with everything you need, but if instead of a kit you have opted to buy the components individually to make a real custom liquid dissipation system then it is always better to do a checklist before proceeding.

  • At least one liter of coolant.
  • Un tank (coolant container).
  • At least 1,5 meters of hose o drive to create the cooling circuit.
  • A pump to run the coolant in the circuit (often, but not always, integrated under the tank).
  • Threaded adapters to tighten the pipes to the appropriate connectors
  • Un heat sink from compatible dimensions to those you can find in the fixing section of the case.
  • One or more fans to cool the radiator, if the radiator is 24cm you can install 2 12cm fans. If the radiator is 36cm you can install 3 12cm fans and so on.
  • Supports e viti for assembly.

If you are sure that you have everything you need and that the specifications of your liquid cooling system are compatible with your case and motherboard, then you are ready to begin this wonderful experience. You will find details on the assembly process from the next chapter.



Where to mount liquid sink

Good! You have everything you need and now that you are one step away from proceeding the question spontaneously arises: where to mount liquid sink? Well, it might seem obvious but in reality it is not and the question is absolutely pertinent. The liquid heatsink cannot be mounted at will anywhere in the case, as the latter has been designed to contain a limited and precise number of components, based on well-defined size, position and volume. Each component will have its own space and a well-designated location that you can identify from the technical data sheet of the case or by examining the position of the fixing holes in it. In this chapter I will explain how to locate the mounting location of a liquid cooler.

The first thing you will have to do after disconnecting your PC from the power supply, in complete safety and having it laid out on a comfortable and spacious surface, is to open it and identify the fixing holes of the heat sink (which is one of the bulkier elements of a cooling kit). Generally the space for the radiator can be placed in the top of the case, in the frontal or, rarely in the rear. You will notice a series of holes in line, approximately 12/14 cm apart for fixing the screws that will match precisely with the length of your radiator, if you notice that the currently installed fans are partially or totally fixed on the aforementioned section, not worry, remove them by unscrewing the 4 screws that you find in the corners in order to leave space for mounting the radiator.


The second thing you will need to take care of is the mounting position of the liquid heatsink which will replace the current air cooler. The heatsink, in a liquid kit, is the terminal part made up of a copper, steel or nickel pad and two tubes that snap together (one for the inlet chilled liquid and one for the outgoing heated liquid). The latter has only one location, precise and unmistakable, that is, in direct contact with the processor.


Around the CPU “socket” of the motherboard, you will notice the presence of 4 holes which are the same on which the stock cooler is currently fixed. In short, the liquid heatsink must be fixed in contact with the processor by means of the 4 supports that engage in the 4 holes adjacent to its "socket".

Before proceeding, however, I recommend that you be very careful not to leave any nylon films on the heatsink pad. After removing the liquid cooling kit from the purchase box, you may find one protective film or information sticker under the heatsink, which is not always easily noticed.

Make sure, therefore, that the heatsink pad is clean and free in order to allow the right thermal transmittance between its metal base and the processor. I will explain the details for the application in the chapter below.

How to mount liquid cooler

One of the strengths of a ready-made liquid cooler is that you just have to mount it as it is without having to adjust the amount of coolant, without having to mount the fans individually and without having to cut and connect the pipes appropriately to the internal volumes of the case. So, if you are ready, let's start the interesting part of the tutorial and see together how to mount liquid cooler.


Disconnect your PC fromsupply wall and data cables, such as the USB cable of the keyboard and mouse or the video cable rather than the network cable. Then I suggest you place the PC vertically on a comfortable and spacious surface, in order to work without the risk of dropping any components. Now remove the side doors of the case so that you can access both sides of the motherboard (front and back).


Next, unplug the power cord a 3 o 4 pin of the current heatsink stock from the motherboard, then with a suitable screwdriver (usually Phillips) remove the 4 screws that hold the heatsink attached to the base of the motherboard, if you don't see 4 screws you may have 4 zippers, then rotate the upper tabs clockwise counterclockwise to unlock them and then gently lift the heatsink to remove it.

With a dry cloth, gently wipe the processor top case to remove residual thermal paste. Now identify the holes for mounting the radiator including fans. If the holes for preparing the radiator are already occupied by one or more stock fans, remove them by unscrewing the 4 screws located at each corner then try to position the radiator to check the encumbrances. If placing the radiator it seems to you that there is enough free space around it and that its fans do not go in conflitto with other components, such as the video card or any wiring, you can fix it with the supplied screws. If your radiator is not equipped with fans, take a look in the next chapter to understand how to mount them.

At this point, check that on the metal base of the heatsink there is a layer of thermal paste (generally all-in-one kits are already equipped with it), otherwise apply a quantity of thermal paste equal to the size of a grain of rice on the processor cap, in the center, I suggest below some versions of thermal paste all excellent and easily available online at competitive costs.

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After applying the thermal paste to the processor, place the liquid cooler on top of it while gradually exerting gentle pressure. Finally, enter i 4 supports supplied for anchoring the heatsink to the motherboard. All you have to do is connect the pump to the power supply using the supplied 3-pin cable and, if present, you can connect the data cable to an internal USB terminal (used for diagnostics and for monitoring software if provided).

The assembly is done, before closing the case I suggest you connect the power cable behind the PC, the video cable and the data cables necessary to start the PC at least once and validate the operation of the pump, you can confirm its operation from the light hum it emits or from the slight vibration that you can feel by touching it.

If the tubes of the cooling kit are transparent you will be able to see the liquid moving further and if everything seems to be working correctly, you can also close the case and reposition the PC in your station, congratulations on the great success.

How to mount custom liquid cooler kit

If you are a lover of do-it-yourself and have preferred to purchase all the components of the liquid cooling system individually to assemble them with your bare hands, then in this chapter you will find all the useful information to assemble them correctly. This procedure is very delicate, as it requires a lot of attention and care on your part in the watertight closure of the circuits in order not to run into sudden leaks of coolant, but we will see it in detail in the next paragraphs. So, legs on the shoulder and let's see immediately how to mount custom liquid cooler kit.

As anticipated in the previous chapter, the preliminary disassembly phases remain valid also in your case. Gently disconnect the cables connected to the PC and place it vertically on a comfortable and spacious surface, then remove the side doors to access the motherboard from both sides. Now disconnect the cable a 3 o 4 pin of the stock heatsink that connects it to the motherboard and disassembles the heatsink by removing the 4 screws anchoring or by unscrewing the tabs of the 4 zippers in the sense counterclockwise. Using a dry cloth, gently clean the surface of the processor from residues of thermal paste.

Now I'll explain how to take the measurements for cutting the pipes and then give shape to the the circuit (also called loop). Lay down the case horizontally, then place the radiator near the anchor holes but do not fix it with screws, then place the heatsink over the processor and finally place the tank where it suits you, try to place it in line with the mounting holes that you can see on the case and that is not in contact with other components of the PC.

At this point, you can take the tube purchased (rigid or flexible) and place it over the "parked" components to simulate the track that will connect them, when you have identified the approximate measurements for the various tracks you can cut it with a nippers (if rigid) or of the scissors (if flexible). After cutting, how many tubes will you have to find yourself in all?

  • 1 pipe must connect the tank outlet to the pump inlet (if the pump is not integrated under the tank, in this case ignore this layout and go to the next one below).
  • 1 tube that carries the liquid from the pump outlet to the heat sink inlet.
  • 1 tube that carries the liquid from the outlet of the heatsink to the inlet of the radiator.
  • 1 pipe that carries the liquid from the radiator outlet to the tank inlet (or to the pump inlet if the pump is integrated in the tank).

Good! After you have cut the tubes according to the circuit you have planned, take the threaded adapters us gasket and screw them to the components, screw them 2 on the heatsink, 2 on the tank, 2 on the radiator e 2 on the pump (unless this is integrated under the tank and therefore the adapters must be screwed into the 2 appropriate threaded holes). After screwing in all the adapters, remove the upper threaded part (anello) and in each of these insert a tube until it reaches the end of its stroke, then screw the upper ring until it is tightened firmly (without exaggerating or the bottleneck could tear the tube).

We are almost there: now that the circuit (or loop) is ready, you have to fix the components, then screw the radiator with the supplied screws and immediately below you can screw the fan or fans, in case it was a +12 cm radiator or +14 cm (to learn more about the fan mounting method, take a look in the next chapter).

Next, secure the heatsink to the motherboard with i 4 supports supplied (usually composed of 4 spacers e 4 screws or 4 zippers) and screw the tank mounts to the case. At this point, lift the case up to place it vertically: it will be essential to fill the tank with coolant, then fill without fear the whole tank without exceeding the upper limit line, then close it.

Now it is necessary to proceed with the systematic start-up in order to allow the pump to suck the sufficient quantity of liquid from the tank and channel it into the circuit (or loop), then connect the PC to the power supply and turn it on, turn it off afterwards 3 o 5 seconds to maximum or turn it off when you see that the coolant in the reservoir has almost reached lower threshold. After turning it off, top up the tank again with coolant until it is halfway through the tank, this time you do not need to fill it up to the upper threshold. Turn on the PC again and observe that the liquid level in the tank is stabilize until it doesn't go down anymore.

If the liquid level in the tank continues to gradually decrease, immediately shut down the PC and disconnect it from the power supply, it means that you have a leak somewhere, in any case you would easily notice it due to possible splashes or drips of the coolant. If you can't see the cause of the leak with the naked eye, run a dry paper towel around each threaded adapter to figure out which one is faulty. If you find the adapter with the leak, before unscrewing it to reset the tube and tighten the upper ring more strongly I strongly advise you to empty the tank and disassemble the components of the whole kit by taking them on a waterproof surface or on a sink, in order to avoid accidental spillage of the liquid on the PC components.

When the operation is successful you can turn off the PC from the rear switch, close the case with the side doors, place the PC in your workstation and take a few seconds to check and reconnect all the cables you initially removed (video cable, power cable, cables USB data etc.) to start it as usual. Mission accomplished, congratulations for the excellent result!

How to mount liquid heatsink fans

If you are facing the taboo of radiator fans, you were right to get to this chapter of the guide, because there are several ways to do it and each of them can be more or less effective. The purpose of the presence of the fans on the radiator is precisely to contribute to the dissipation of heat and cool the liquid that passes inside, so as to send it back into the loop at a lower temperature. So come on, let's see how to mount liquid heatsink fans in the way that best suits your needs.

Fans supplied or purchased separately must be the same width radiator fan sizes for liquid cooling radiators are typically large 12 × 12 cm o 14 × 14 cm and depending on the length of the radiator, 1 to 4 consecutive fans can be positioned. To mount them, you will notice that at the ends of the 4 corners there are holes in which you can insert the supplied screws. But where should I screw them? you may be wondering. Well, the radiator has 4 fillets for each location, so you will have to screw the fans directly onto the radiator.

But the real question is not where to mount them, rather it is how to mount them. This is at your discretion, or rather according to the configuration of the case: you can install the fans so that push fresh air out of the radiator, then out of the case (mode push), you can install the fans between the radiator and the case with the airflow facing outwards so that straggane the hot air from the radiator expelling it to the outside (mode pull) or, if space allows it, you can install the fans both on one side and on the other side of the radiator and all oriented in one direction, in this regard you will have both an air push and an extraction (mode push pull, very effective).

How to mount liquid cooler

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