Overclocking and water cooling questions

Dec 27, 2018
PC Setup:
OS - Windows 10 Home x64
CPU - i7 8700k @ 5.0GHz / Kraken x62
RAM - 32GB @ 3200MHZ
Motherboard - ASUS ROG Maximus Code X
GPU - EVGA GTX 1070 Ti / Hybrid Cooler
Monitor - 1920x1080 @ 60Hz, 2560x1440 @ 60Hz
Case - Lian Li 011 Dynamic in Black

PC Part Picker List: https://pcpartpicker.com/user/Baseik/saved/yqN7WZ

My PC has some overkill for what I like. But it's nowhere near what I want, and I've surprisingly struggled to find some content or just general answers to these questions I have. I'd really appreciate it if someone or some people could help me out. I'm just a gamer looking to play in 1440p at the highest settings in my two favorite games right now which is Star Citizen and Black Desert Online, but I still love other games like Civilization and World of Warcraft. I want to be able to game and just have zero issues for years to come and this whole PC I have no has been in the making for some pitiful time (in my opinion) and now the final upgrades are almost here.

First up would be the upgrades I'm tempted into investing with and just how to go about them. These would be the upgrades I'm looking at:

i9 9900k
Open loop watercooling / 360 CPU AIO
RTX 2080 Ti open loop (either from Gigabyte, EVGA or something like EKWB) / AIO
z390 Motherboards (gigabyte aorus extreme water force currently has my eyes)

I've seen a lot of info and benchmarks for the i7 8700k and the i9 9900k and my biggest concern really is cooling them. I mainly want to the difference in an AIO like the one I have, NZXT's Kraken x62 vs a 360 radiator and specifically with an open loop vs an AIO. Gamers Nexus is great but not entirely perfect and their flaw is mainly date. I would really love to get into an open loop with 2 radiators in my Lian Li 011 Dynamic case, though I'm not sure how far to go about it. I have no idea how to "lap"? a CPU or IHS. But I know a flat surface means better contact. So how do I go about doing that? How long does liquid metal last till it starts to create problems? Say if I were to use liquid metal on my CPU i7 8700k would it last for the next 5 years without any problems? I also want my system to be deathly quiet and under 120F / 50C. Would 2 360 radiators make that a reality or just 1? What sort of fans should I look at, cooling liquid options, is EKWB really so amazing or are there better options? Should I go monoblock or CPU block? Are the waterblocks from Gigabyte and EVGA better for GPUs than the ones from somewhere like EKWB?

Bullet Points:
- Is EKWB the best for CPU/GPU waterblocks?
- Does liquid metal degrade over time, if so how long would an overclocked i9 9900k or i7 8700k last for?
- Is a 360 AIO for a CPU better or equal to an open loop?
- How can I keep my CPU temps below 120F / 50C and keep my system deathly quiet?
- Monoblock or CPU block?
- GPU Manufacturer AIO / Waterblock or something like EKWB?
- Does Radiator thickness matter or how many or the fans?
- Software matters, what would be easier to use and monitor but still allow detailed adjustments from RGB to speed, silence and performance on radiators.
- Pumps?
- Reservoirs, can you find them in more elaborate designs? I'm not a fan of just some tube of box.. I'd rather have something on the bottom of the case or on the side that just says "display and function" something like the block you see in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zs51JtTxiY0

Thank you all for your time.

The Original Ralph

i've spent well in excess of 40+ hours reading every post on the bullet points you've asked

You stated an "AIO" but ask about the waterblock - personally i'd stay away from AIOs - keep in mind they are built and assembled to compete on price point , ie how much is the competition charging, which means they're not offering their best equipment.

- Is EKWB the best for CPU/GPU waterblocks?
that's an interesting question and folks will line up defending EKwb and attacking them. I just finished ordering my custom set up- two rads, one up top and one in the front of the case and i suggest you consider the same, as it gives you some room to grow your cooling needs ie if you decide to liquid cool your GPU. I went with an XSPC waterblock, but only because i liked some other points about it that were subjective, not points i can defend my position on.

Is a 360 AIO for a CPU better or equal to an open loop?
Not sure what you mean by "open loop"

Back to AIOs - I haven't looked at EWKB's but most use aluminum radiators, which are cheaper - and copper/brass are better but more expensive. If you'll post a link to your particular AIO, i'll take a look at it and give you an opinion specific to it. One issue with AIOs in general is, most folks don't realize the radiators need servicing or cleaning - some folks say every 9-12 months, some say every year or two, but still you need a way to drain the system and service the radiator - ie run one of the various cleaning solutions thru it to remove the scale build up, and whatever microbacterial growth decided to colonize your system and that's difficult to do with most AIOs, 2nd point on AIOs, back to price point, they use the most economical (ie cheapest) pump in their kits, i don't care who the mfgr is. And one point about a radiator system, flow rate is critical - having a pump that can flow the crap out of the coolant thru the system is going to give you more cooling ability, plus a cheap pump isn't going to last. THe D5 pumps from all the mfgrs are the same, and are the best in terms of adjustable flow rate and durability

If you do go with a single radiator, put it up top of the case, that is the best location.

Just as a general response, i thought i'd be able to keep my system near $500 - i'm at $707 and just realized i need 4 more compression fittings, but part of the spike over $500 was ordering 5 Noctua industrial fans (2000 rpm) approx $140, plus $30 for a temp monitoring sensor & LCD display.

How can I keep my CPU temps below 120F / 50C and keep my system deathly quiet?
Not sure you're going to be able to achieve that, especially with the 9900k if you decide to OC, but if you are, you're going to need to loop two radiators into your setup. The second radiator should be blowing out, not in - and if you have 4 radiator fans exhausting outward, you should have 4 fans blowng air into the case, to maintain positive air pressure.

Monoblock or CPU block?

I'd suggest starting with a CPU block first, and once you've learned what your needs are, then going monoblock if you can find one for your board - i'd suggest you look at other boards than gigabyte or asrock

Does Radiator thickness matter or how many or the fans?
It does but the law of diminishing returns sets in, ie the thicker the radiator, the less bang you get for your buck. If you're trying to shoot for 5.8 OC then you have no choice but go for the thickest radiator, but the most critical element is radiator surface area in terms of size, ie 280 vs 360 etc. The thicker a radiator is, keep in mind 2 things, 1st as the air from the fan reaches the far side of the thick radiator, it's been warmed some, so less able to acquire heat or BTUs from the radiator fins, and 2nd, because that air has been pushed thru a thicker radiator it's now traveling slower because of the greater friction in moving thru a thicker radiator. Keep in mind, and i worked as a mechanic for the first few years of my life, car rads are usually no more than 2" thick (50mm) even though it might be a high horsepower engine which means huge amount of BTU - they cool by increasing the air flow, ie stronger fan(s) and by increased water flow (ie stronger water pump pushing water thru the radiator faster).
EKWB has a pretty good explaination on radiator thickness on their web - it's a 3 part blog but worth going thru
- here's a link to the 3rd blog, you can go back to the first two from the links in it

I went with a 20mm thick radiator (240) in the roof of the computer to allow more room at the top of the motherboard - take a look at videos on youtube re whatever case you settle on and watercooling, and look carefully at how much room is left at the top of the motherboard - here's an example of a slim radiator (28mm) in my case - notice the top 1/4" of the ram is covered by the fans - if i ever need to get to the CPU power plugs i'll have to remove the radiator

One thing to check, you haven't stated what case you're using, but just because the case sez it's good to go for a 360mm radiator, check if the case mfgr indicates a limit on radiator actual physical size, and what the actual size of the 360mm radiator you're planning to install. Example, my case has a limit of 147mm in "width", what i'd ordinarily call the height when the long edge is sitting on a table. I must have spent 1.5 hours looking for a 280mm radiator that didn't exceed that 147mm width, and only found one (Alphacool Nexxxos ST30)

Reservoirs, can you find them in more elaborate designs? I'm not a fan of just some tube of box.. I'd rather have something on the bottom of the case or on the side that just says "display and function"
If you like that PC011 Dynamic, take a look at the Lian Li PC011 AIR - it has mounting points for 12 120mm fans and two 80mm fans, and a dual chamber setup that makes cable management super easy

Keep in mind elevation in terms of the reservoir and the pump - the higher the pump has to push the water, the harder it is or the pump, and that means decreased water flow rate which you don't want to decrease - so basically you'd like to keep the pump, reservoir and radiators on the same elevation if possible.

Again, the D5 has a 1500L/hr rating, and it's hard to find one that exceeds that and has the rep for durability

hope that helps some

Dec 27, 2018
I actually have a PC Partpicker link there that genuinely shows everything from keyboard and mouse to monitors, my external harddrive, case and all.

CPU Cooler - https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIA0Z...
Case - https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16...
GPU - https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16...

I fully intend to cool my CPU and GPU possibly even expand for a second 2080 ti. Whole reason why I want to know if grinding, sanding, lapping, liquid metal and so on are all worth it to drop temperatures and such.

What do you mean by "higher the pump has to push the water, the harder it is or the pump.." As in don't mount it to the top of the case? So keep it on the bottom? What about in the middle like the guy in the video in the link on my original post shows? As for open loop, I mean custom loop. Seems the trend for terms is open for custom, and closed for AIOs.

As for overclocking I've got no real interest in massive overclocks, just minor performance boosts.

The Original Ralph

sorry, i was 2 scotches into the wind last night, and didn't see the parts picker link - i just tried the links to the cpu cooler and case, but newegg's server must be down - i'll go take a look at the case & cooler on the mfgr's website after i answer about the elevation

by the " higher the pump has to push (or lift) the water, the harder it is for the pump"- i'm talking elevation. Notice that all the pump mfgrs, in their specs, list how high the pump will lift the water, ie 3M, 5M (meters) etc. If lifting, like when a pump is pulling water up out of well, it's pulling the weight of all the water in the tube - pushing water vertically to a higher elevation. it's fighting gravity in the same way, ie it has to push the weight of the water in the tube. So if your pump is down at the bottom of the case and the radiator is in the roof, or the front of the case (it doesn't matter whether the front radiator, which is standing vertically, whether it's ports are at the bottom or the top, the pump has to push that water to the top of the case. It helps to keep the load on the pump down, so it can pump the water thru the loop with a faster flow. Same would be true if the pump were at the top, and the radiators were in the floor of the case ....well, you should get the idea. Keep in mind these pumps don't have 1/4 HP motors, hell the D5, iirc, is a 23 watt draw - the avg case fan is something like .6 amp or 6 to 8 watts, so you're talking the power of 3 to 3.5 fans, which isn't a lot when you're talking about pumping water.

Let me take a look at your case and cooling kit and i'll be back

In my layout, i'm trying to put the pump outlet / inlet as close to the average height of the two radiators

Just took a look at the AIO - that Kraken AIO is probably the best of the AIOs out there, and i don't recall even seeing any folks complaining of serious failures with it. That being said, it might bust your budget, but i'd consider going to a custom loop, mainly because you're going to be asking a lot of that unit's pump handling both the CPU and GPU's cooling needs. Pulling water thru all the passages on a GPU is work for that pump, moreso than pulling water thru the CPU's waterblock. And in that AIO's case, at least the pump is right there on top of the CPU's block.

Another negative to an AIO setup - all the AIO mfgrs are competing on price point, ie trying to offer the best price, Its a given they all use aluminum radiators, which isn't bad, but copper/brass is better (copper and brass have a higher rate of thermal conductivity) but copper/brass are more expensive. So that Kraken radiator isn't going to be as efficient in shedding heat

The above is just my opinion, but if you can push your budget up, i'd go with a custom loop.

On the case - that is one helluva nice case, and the fact that der8auer had a hand in makes it complete. I actually looked at the PC011-AIR, basically the same case with more air flow - if it would have had capability for more HDDs, i'd have gone with it. And it looks like Lian Li gave you a lot of head room up above the motherboard, which is a good thing, any more and you'd need a stepladder to get to your CPU power plugs

That case though brings one thought to mind, and it's back to "lifting" the water. Keep in mind, when the radiator is up in the roof of the case, the pump is pushing heated water up to it, heated water is less dense and therefore lighter than colder water. After that water is cooled, and heavier, gravity helps bring it down to the pump. With those vertical mount points, whether in the side of the case or the front, remember the water is going from one inlet port, down thru the radiator on one side, then back up the other side - as it gets colder, it gets heavier and the pump is going to work harder lifting it to the top of the radiator to the outlet port.

hope that helps some

The Original Ralph

in another thread, someone posted a link to a youtube vid re liquid cooling that is interesting

There's been a debate raging about whether front mounted radiators should be directed to blowing into the computer's case, which means pushing heated air into the case, or exhausting outward. THe vid above compares a top mounted radiator exhausting outward, and a front mounted radiator blowing in. I would have loved to have seen the reviewer sample with the front mounted radiator exhausting air out of the case.

But the part that caught my attention, was with an 'open" style GPU, CPU temps were higher with the radiator up top and exhausting outward, and lower with the front mounted radiator blowing heated air in.

But with a "blower" style GPU, CPU temps were basically identical (1 degree differenve)

An open style GPU, when it's not hot, the fans will drop to 0 RPM, while the blower style GPU, the fan never stops blowing. Considering the fact that the GPU is right in front of the front mounted rad blowing in, the blower style GPU is most likely exhausting more of the incoming heated air.

I've got a few other questions about the vid but will leave them out of this conversation
Dec 27, 2018
The Kraken series was dead due to software issues but it could just be compatability with Windows 7 because going SSD and Windows 10 now it actually works. Pretty much only owners of them understand that. It's genuinely okay, the RGB customization is lacking something like a breathing visual mode is legit just the color changing without a dimming and brightening effect.

Yeah I do love my case but I find myself for once regretting the old Halo 2 choice... "You can have any color you want so long as it's black" The white one just looks slick.

My whole plan was to have a 360 rad PE from EKWB at the top all fans intake, 360 XE rad to the right of the mobo as exhaust. Maybe 1 or 2 fans on the bottom and the pump at the bottom.

I still though am having trouble at least with your response of the worth. I get where you're coming from in terms of price and all that, but in the case for this between these two radiators idea I have going vs just saying "Kraken x72 upgrade" and AIO 2080 ti and if the AIO get heated I can buy a new Kraken and RMA the 2080 ti and call it a day vs grunt work every six months cleaning it all. And this is all mostly coming from, would it be better to have separate loops for the GPU and CPU or have both running the PE and XE 360s from EKWB?

Current idea towards water cooling:
EK-CoolStream XE 360 x1
EK-CoolStream PE 360 x1
EK-Vardar EVO 120ER RGB (500-2200 rpm) x6
EK-CryoFuel Solid Cloud White (Conc. 250mL)
EK-DuraClear 11,1/15,9mm 3M RETAIL
EK-Velocity D-RGB - Nickel + Acetal
EK-DBAY D5 PWM (incl. pump)
EK-ACF Fitting 12/16mm - Black Nickel x10

Pump/Res to CPU, CPU to Rad PE, Rad PE to GPU, GPU to Rad XE, XE to Pump/Res
PE at the top of case, XE to right of mobo (basically the front) PE fans as intake, XE to exhaust

The Original Ralph

especially with the radiator up top, fans should be exhausting out - warm air wants to naturally rise, so blowing inward is kind of like swimming against the current - and the more i look at the video i posted a link to the more i find wrong with it

there's a lot of un-answered questions but personally i just don't believe in capturing heat only to feed it back into the computer case. BUt try and see what works for you - one thing for sure, make sure you've got more fans blowing air than out, and a GPU exhausts air as well.

My case is a Fractal R6, and has 9 mounting points for 120mm fans.or 7 for 140mm fans. I'll have 4 fans on the rads blowing out, plus 4 fans blowing in - one is what was the normal exhaust fan, i'm reversing it, then making an acrylic shroud to direct air down onto the motherboard and especially the VRM

Keep in mind, when you pull out the air cooler, you've got no fans moving air around or on the motherboard


Contributing Writer
Staff member
As long as you have good case airflow, you can run your radiators in any fan direction you wish. The key to this being 'good case airflow' - don't just assume you case has this unless you've validated that your load temperatures are not changed if you remove the side panel and use a large house fan to blow air into the case.

EK is a very good vendor, most of my watercooling build is EK parts, but I have used Swiftech, Koolance, Magicool, Aquatuning and several other components. If they use G1/4 fittings, they will all work together. I would avoid using any component that is aluminium, including the EK aluminum series, UNLESS you plan to build the entire loop with these components. Do not mix aluminum with brass, copper, nickel, etc.

Loop order does not matter. There is negligible difference in a good cooling loop with loop order as long as the pump never draws air into the pump inlet.

The Original Ralph


rubix_1011 - I learned the benefits of good airflow and positive air pressure on my first build (used a SFF case), but curious what you feel about any radiator, top mounted, front mounted or bottom mounted blowing heated air INTO the case? It seems so counterproductive to extract heat from the CPU only to feed some of it back into the case


Contributing Writer
Staff member
Interestingly enough, a good custom watercooling loop isn't going to discharge as much hot air at all, if it is designed well enough. If there is enough radiator area and good enough airflow, then there should not be a lot of thermal energy build up that would cause the coolant to be more than lukewarm. If it is, then your coolant delta is much higher than it should be, and would be suffering from not enough radiator space, too low of coolant flow rate or fans that are not effective enough.

Each of these is also assuming that the chassis used as the case is able to either bring in sufficient cool air to feed these radiators or sufficient enough to remove air once expelled from the radiators. So, in my experience, a good cooling loop is kind of an item 1A and good flowing case is 1B. Without each, you are going to suffer some thermal issues, regardless.

The Original Ralph

i follow what you're saying, but what's odd, i;ve had the side cover off my computer the past 10 days or so while i'm cleaning up / re-arranging video files. While i was rendering some video files, i always keep RealTemp'ls reduced window reporting core temps. When the house is at 72F, cpu was running 97-100% load and core temps were ranging 73 to 78 with occasional spikes up to 80

This is with a noctua D15S air cooler. The wife bumped the house thermostat up to 74F, and within 5 minutes, RealTemp's alarm was sounding, which mean it had hit 85C on a spike that lasted whatever length of time to trigger..
So that was a 2F increase in room temp, resulting in a nearly 5C increase in spike temps, about 3C on average core temps

Earlier today, i was curious so i set the house thermostat down to 70F, and damn if the core temps didn't go down a similiar amount, actually a little more, ranging 67/68c up to 74, with a few spikes up to 77/78C

My computer (Aerocool DS200) has a built in temp sensor / display, and when the house is at 72F, it shows 22C, and when the house is 70F, it shows 20C. THe sensor is hanging in the computer case about 5 inches from the air cooler, back toward the front of the case

Point is, though, it sure seems that a slight increase in room ambient temp has a "magnified" effect on cpu temp, which would make sense as warmer air wouldn't or can't cool as well as cooler air.

And when i put the case side cover back on, i can only assume the interior temp will be even higher

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