Tubing and other accessories
To move water throughout the system, you’ll need tubes of course. These come in different qualities, sizes and prices to fit anyone’s needs. The best tubing is considered, and I agree, the Tygon tubing. Won’t brake, won’t kink, won’t slip and it’s perfectly clear. However it’s perfectly rare and expensive as well since it’s mostly used for medical/scientific applications. There are many alternatives like Clearflex tubing, which is good as well, for a lot less money and is more widely used.
The best tubing to use in watercooling systems in my opinion is clean silicon tubing. Some may say that it doesn’t look very nice since the tubes have a milky white color, but it’s nearly impossible to be damaged, it’s very flexible and won’t kink, it will last very long and won’t cost too much.
There are also other kind of tubings, like PVC, PUR and semi-silicon. PVC tubing is mere plastic tubes, which are the most widely used and by most ready kits as well since they are very easy to find and very cheap, however these tend to kink easily because they are hard and is highly recommended to be changed after 1 year of use at most because they degrade over time and might cause leaks or even brake. Semi-Silicon tubing shares the attributes of PVC and Silicon tubing, however it’s not as good as pure silicon because it’s harder (kinks) and not as reliable.
Other accessories include hose clamps and water additives, as well as water dyes.
Hose clamps are not exactly necessary, but I wouldn’t ever recommend anyone not to use them. These are ring type ties that will hold the tubing around the connectors tightly, to avoid any accident or leak. The best to use are flat ring (worm) type, which is meant for industrial use. They are pretty cheap and extremely sturdy. There are also plastic hose clamps, efficient and easy to use as well. Alternatively, a cable tie that is set tight on the hose around the fitting can hold it in place very well; however it surely isn’t as safe or aesthetic. Of course some systems won’t require them, because they have special fittings, like the Innovatek kits that use ‘screw lock’ fittings that keeps the tubing in place or the Aqua/Swiftech/Asetek kits that use ‘docking’ fittings where the tubing is getting inside them and gets stuck there.
There are also the tube elbows and Y splitters. Those are merely plastic/metallic connectors that help a tube overcome a difficult turn or split a tube to 2 (usually smaller) tubes.
Water additives are chemicals that will prevent damage to the watercooling system. I’ll analyze that a bit more thoroughly in the liquids section.
Water dyes are just what the name suggests. Dyes for the water, in many different colors, as well as UV reactive ones. They just make the water look nice through the tubing/reservoir or react with UV lights.
Another accessory can be a pump relay switch and the flow meter/thermometer. The pump relay switches are little electronic devices that will turn the pump on and off when the system powers on and off accordingly. However that requires cutting some wires and a bit of soldering, so a little knowledge of electronics is required. Most people just leave the pumps on all the time, it does no harm. The flow meter/thermometers are devices that as the name suggest can calculate the water flow and the water temperature. Some of those can even connect on the motherboard and translate the flow to rotations per minute, like a fan reading.
Reservoirs are just tanks that the liquid gathers at. Most usually they are connected on the pump, or even the pump is submerged in them. This way the pump won’t draw air in the system and will work much more efficiently. Also they make the change of the liquid much easier. There are many types or reservoirs.
There are reservoirs that will connect directly on the intake of certain pumps, like the Innovatek Tank-O-Matic tanks or the Aqua Inject tanks. These are very effective and I must admit that look very nice. However you can’t make one of this yourself, unless of course you have specialized equipment and skills, so you need to buy it specifically for the pump you’ll use.
Another kind of reservoir is an ‘external’ reservoir that is filled with water and has the pump intake connected to it through a tube connecting usually on reservoir’s base, while water comes to it, usually through its top or middle. This way the pump will not draw air inside. There are commercial reservoirs of that kind, but you can make one yourself, with proper skills always.
The other and most simple kind is a tank of liquid with the pump submerged into it. This can be very effective but bulky, nasty looking and dangerous to leaks. You can’t buy such a reservoir, most use kitchen equipment to make one.
Note: If you are using a relatively small reservoir connected to the pump, put a little sponge in it. Most times it’s provided with the reservoir or the pump, but if it’s not, get a sponge that is not too thick and put it in the reservoir. Most pumps are so strong that even if the reservoir is full, they’ll pull the liquid in with such strength that it will draw air inside as well, especially if it’s forming bubbles in the reservoir. The sponge reduces the strength that the water will go in the pump; hence air cannot go down to the intake neither the ability to form bubbles. That won’t affect the pump output at all or very little, so it doesn’t reduce performance in any way.
Alternatively, you may not use a reservoir at all and use only a ‘T’. A T is just what the name suggests, a little plastic T that the tubing connects on, making a 3rd exit upwards. When the liquid is moving through it, the air will go up towards the 3rd tube. This way air bleeds out of the system.
The T is only that simple thing:
When shopping for watercooling equipment, there are 4 basic rules you have to always check. First, what size fittings it has and for what processor the block is made. Not all components available use the same tubes, neither most of the blocks fit on more than one particular CPU socket. Second, the material the blocks are made of. If it’s copper or even better pure silver, everything is good. If it’s aluminum, you are wasting your time having the water coming in and out of it. Third, read its specifications and ask around for people that did use it or read a couple reviews if there are any available. Fourth, don’t ever get a block rated under 2.5 bar pressure limit, especially those with lucite tops. These might shatter when you least expect them to.