Updated Oct 11, 2021
So you’ve finally taken the plunge and replaced your air cooler with a liquid CPU cooler. Congratulations! It’s a brand new world for you out there, especially when it comes to cooler maintenance.
In fact, liquid CPU coolers tend to be harder to maintain than a standard fan-cooled CPU. Sure, they’ve got the regular risks you have to watch out for– failing memory sticks, video cards, that kind of thing– but you also have to add a whole ‘nother lot to the mix. We’re talking about pumps, hoses, radiators– things you normally wouldn’t see in your regular fan-cooled machine. Things that you wouldn’t normally have to worry about, but since you now have a liquid CPU cooler, you pretty much have no choice.
Regardless of how good your liquid cooler is, if you don’t take care of it well, you’ll be sure to experience its downsides much more than its upsides. In this short article, we’ll show you how to take care of your liquid CPU cooler in order to ensure maximum performance and stability.
How To Take Care Of Your Liquid CPU Cooler
(Take note, there are two kinds of CPU coolers: closed loop and open loop. Closed loop CPUs don’t normally need a lot of maintenance; at most, all you need to do is to clean the radiator every few months or so. Open loops need a lot more maintenance, so they’re the ones we’re going to talk about in this article.)
#1 Start with a good quality system
‘Taking care’ of your liquid CPU cooler starts from the very moment you install it. This means that right from the start, you should have already picked good quality items to go along with your system. Remember, your liquid CPU cooler will be your daily companion while using your PC. It’s going to work hard to keep up with you even when you overclock and overuse your PC. Stay away from low-quality materials, even if they’re cheap.
A liquid cooler is usually made up of the following components: water blocks, pump, tubes, reservoir, radiator and fans, fitting and adapters, and the cooling liquid. These can set you back a good few dollars, though they don’t have to be expensive for them to be good quality. If your budget is tight, make sure to check reviews first to see if you’re really getting the best liquid CPU cooler for the price. A little research goes a long way!
#2 Prepare to give it more attention
Now that you’ve finally chosen the perfect liquid cooler for you, you now have to prepare yourself mentally and physically to give it more attention than your old cooler. Unlike air coolers, which only need some attention every now and then, liquid CPU coolers need to be maintained much more, and on a regular basis. Can you imagine what happens to water when it’s left inside a container for months at a time? Yes, exactly! If you don’t give your liquid cooler enough attention, you might be faced with the problem of blocked pumps, stale, disgusting water, and a hoard of other problems that can decrease your CPU’s performance.
#3 Check your reservoir level every now and then
Liquid CPU coolers are good at dissipating the heat since water cools a lot better and faster than air, but it does come with a downside. Do you know what happens to water when it encounters a lot of heat? That’s right, it evaporates. This is why you should check your reservoir level every time you get the chance, just to ensure that you’re not losing too much water. Generally, though, you should also drain everything and replace it with a whole batch of clean water at least twice a year for optimum results. Unless you’re using distilled water, then you can check just once a year.
#4 Dust out the radiator occasionally
For both open and closed loop systems, checking the radiator for dust is something that should be done periodically. Radiator fans can get very dusty over time, and this can actually somewhat affect your system’s performance.
You have three options for cleaning them. One, you can buy a can of compressed air. This is actually the most recommended method for dusting them off. Two, you can get a soft brush and manually brush the fins (and then use compressed air, for best results). Your third and riskiest option is to run them through water to get the fins squeaky clean, but remember to dry them off completely and thoroughly before reinstalling them.
#5 Make sure there are no leaks anywhere
Checking for leaks is very, very important when you’re using a liquid CPU cooler. Although the use of water to cool your CPU is already proven to be safe, mixing water with electric components can still be rather risky. You wouldn’t want to ruin your perfectly good components because of a water leak, would you? In case a leak does happen though, there’s no need to panic. Plug off your system (yes, remove the actual cable if you can), drain the water, and make sure everything is dry before putting anything back in. Rushing is your enemy here, so take all your time to reassemble all the pipes and seal any and all leaks.
Liquid CPU coolers may seem like a lot of work, but all it really takes is some diligence. With advantages such as less noisy systems, better heat management, and sexier looking shell, all this maintenance is worth it if you want that liquid CPU cooler of yours to last as long as possible.