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Is It Worth Water Cooling Your GPUs?

Top of the range GPUs are one of the most sought after pieces of equipment for any gamer and miner, and they’re also one of the hottest and most delicate pieces of equipment. GPU fans are efficient in most cases, but if you’re serious about graphics and gameplay, you have to ask if it's worth water cooling your GPUs?

In short, GPU liquid cooling depends on your needs. It’s definitely an efficient way to cool down your graphics cards, and your computer will be cooler than standard rotary blade fans.

The Case For Water Cooling GPUs

GPUs generate a large amount of heat from the electricity used and if it isn’t looked after it can damage your cards.

The standard cooling mechanism is fans, which distribute air through your set up. The GPUs emanate hot air and the cooler air from the fans sends the hotter air packing. But there are problems with GPU fans.

The air moving through your system doesn’t adequately disperse the heat from your GPU. Water cooling solves this because water has a higher thermal conductivity than air, meaning it can move heat at a much better rate than air.

We all know how loud fans can be, especially miners who run multiple GPUs. Fans are of course electric motors with rotary blades, and of course they’re going to make a noise. The need for fans is eradicated with liquid cooling, where the only noise comes from a small pump.

How Water Cooling Works

Water-cooling is pretty complex, but basically it’s made up of a pump, reservoir, a radiator, water blocks, and hoses.

Basically, the liquid flows from the reservoir through the pump and is sent to the water blocks. The liquid then travels through the blocks, which absorb the heat from the GPUs. The liquid then travels to the radiator, which removes the heat from the liquid. The liquid then ends up back in the reservoir ready to go on its perennial cycle.

What Benefits Do I get From Water Cooling?

This might not bother some, but you can actually make your liquid cooled rigs look amazingly colourful. Add a few oils to it, and you can get something that will add to the ambience and experience.

GPUs have an inbuilt thermal limiter, which manufacturers put in place to stop GPUs from overheating. Once a GPU has triggered its thermal limiter, it will start to run slower, which means your GPU won’t be capable of processing high-performance graphics.

This is known as thermal throttling and the only way to stop it is by keeping your GPUs at a heat that won’t overburden them. You can always buy more fans, but that means more noise, and it doesn’t really do the job sufficiently.

Water-cooling is made for this exact conundrum. Because it’s a constant cycle of cooled liquid surrounding your GPUs, it ensures your GPUs are maintained at your desired temperature, allowing you to overclock your GPUs.

Overclocking Your GPU for Better Performance

The thermal limiter in your GPU limits the quality of your graphics processor. Of course this is done to protect your GPU, but if you remove the limiter you can up the clock speed, which means better graphics. This is known as overclocking.

Depending on the GPU and water-cooling system you invest in, you can achieve higher clock speeds of up to 20%. And with no limiter, the GPU can then render much better graphics, meaning your gaming experience will be of the highest quality, and if mining cryptocurrencies is your thing, it ultimately means more block reward. For an in-depth look at whether liquid cooled GPU mining rigs maximize profits, click here.

That said, even if you can achieve 20% higher clock speeds, it’s advised to not overcook it, especially if you’re using them a lot. For miners, who run it continuously, 15% should be fine for a water-cooling system to look after your rig.

Recommended Water Cooling Systems

Bykski GPU Water Block

The Bykski GPU Water Block Full-Cover Computer Water Liquid Cooling Graphic Card RBW LED Block is designed especially for Gigabyte AORUS RTX 2080Ti 2080 2070 2060.

The water block is ideal for DIY and will save you money if you can't afford or don't want to buy the lot. It's pretty easy to install, and with the inbuilt LED it looks really cool.

*Getting a high quality thermal paste is a must with this.

EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti FTW3 Hydro Copper Gaming

This is the water block variant of EVGA’s GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, and it comes with a custom solid copper water block for cooling the GPU, Memory, and VRM.

It is arguably the most advanced gaming GPU ever created, and is powered by NVIDIA Pascal architecture. It comes with ultra-fast FinFET and high-bandwidth GDDR5X technologies, plus support for DirectX 12 features to deliver the fastest, smoothest, most power-efficient gaming experiences.

The card comes already overclocked by the manufacturer, and can be used with any high-end gaming PC. It also comes with 10+2 power phases, meaning it will remain very stable if you overclock it to even higher frequencies.

The water block is a full-cover block with nickel-plated copper, and a 6 port connection hub on the top providing a wide array of possible connection options. Combined with iCX's improved monitoring from a customer PCB with 9 additional thermal sensors, it will keep all your components are running with EVGA Precision XOC.

As well as this, the EVGA Hydro Copper water block will keep your card quieter than ever and with far better thermals than the best heatsink and fans could provide.

EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti SC2 Hybrid Gaming

The EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti SC2 Hybrid Gaming is a high-end graphics card based on the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti GPU from Nvidia. It’s built on the latest Pascal GPU architecture and comes with 3584 CUDA Cores and 11GB GDDR5X video memory, and is definitely the fastest water-cooled graphics card.

The water-cooling system is slightly different. The GPU and VRAM are cooled by the water-cooling system, whereas the VRMs are cooled down by a dedicated heatsink and fan unit.

It also comes with the EVGA’s latest iCX technology, meaning 9 thermal sensors and multiple MCUs are installed on the card. These sensors are there to detect the temperature of any individual component, and if any one of them gets hotter than the other then the fan speed will increase and the hotter component will be cooled down.

Is It Worth Investing in Water Cooled GPU?

Water cooling is definitely the best way to cool your computer down. Fans do the job to a certain degree but if you want to take your gaming experience to the next level, overclocking your system is the only way to enjoy that.

Water cooling systems don’t come cheap, however, so you have to way up the pros and cons. The decision is yours, but for a miner, have a read of this article, but you probably won’t recoup your investment, so your only reason to invest in a liquid cooled GPU is to keep the noise down.

For any avid gamer, or video editor, it really depends how much you want to improve your experience. If your budget allows, then the difference is well worth it, but if it’s stretching the budget, then it’s a difficult one, but as you can see they do look pretty cool.

How about you: Have you tried water-cooling? If so, what’s your experience? Please comment below…

Author: GenZ Gamer