Custom water cooling is one of the ultimate bragging rights amongst PC builders. It can allow you to achieve higher levels of performance with the same hardware, and it looks awesome when done right. In this build guide, we’ll teach you how to make an awesome PC using EK water cooling parts.
First, we’ll look at the parts list, and tell you why we chose each part for this build from best cases to budget-friendly options. Then we’ll go over some tips to keep in mind when building your water cooled computer. Finally, we’ll take a close look at the advantages and the kinds of things you can do with your new computer.
The PC Parts
It looks awesome, has captivating RGB glowing lights on the front I/O, and will fit all the hardware we plan to use. This case is ideal for water cooling in general and can accommodate up to a 360mm radiator.
EVGA SuperNOVA 850 G2
This power supply provides 850 watts of power and has an 80+ Gold rating. This rating means the power supply is highly efficient, which helps to keep electric bills low and also improves the lifespan of the power supply itself.
Gigabyte Z390 UD
This motherboard is compatible with the CPU and it matches the white and black color scheme we were aiming for. It is designed to easily handle overclocking of up to 5GHz on all cores of our CPU.
Intel Core i5-9600K
Intel Core i5 processor has 6 cores that have a base clock speed of 3.7GHz.
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070
It is powered by the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 graphics processing unit (GPU).
Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB
A 16GB kit of Corsair Vengeance RAM comes with two 8GB stick of memory, which allows us to run our memory in dual channel.
Kingston Digital 240GB
A Kingston Digital NVMe drive boast solid-state storage that plugs directly into the motherboard.
The PC Parts Details
Case – InWin 303
The first thing to consider with almost any PC build is the case. This is especially important when making a custom water cooled computer since you have to make sure all of your cooling components will fit into the case.
In order to be used for our purpose, the case needs to fit the radiator, pump, reservoir, and any water blocks that are going to be used. The case also determines what kinds of motherboards and graphics cards you can use.
The case we chose is the In Win 303. It looks awesome, has captivating RGB glowing lights on the front I/O, and will fit all the hardware we plan to use. This case is ideal for liquid cooling in general and can accommodate up to a 360mm radiator.
The massive tempered glass side panel will show off your awesome work, while also being completely removable to make it easier to work in while building.
Power Supply – EVGA SuperNOVA 850 G2
To power all of our hardware, we’ll need a serious power supply. For this, we chose the EVGA SuperNOVA 850 G2. This power supply provides 850 watts of power and has an 80+ Gold rating.
This rating means the power supply is highly efficient, which helps to keep electric bills low and also improves the lifespan of the power supply itself.
While 850 watts is more than our chosen hardware would normally draw, there is a reason we chose to go a little overboard. For one thing, getting a stronger power supply only adds about 10$ to the build. More importantly, however, is the fact that we plan to overclock this build, which we’ll get into in more detail later on.
This power supply is also highly modular, meaning you can plug more or fewer cables into it as needed. This prevents your build from becoming unnecessarily cluttered with cables, making it look clean on the inside, which is especially important with a huge window and water flowing through the case.
Motherboard – Gigabyte Z390 UD
Now that we have a case to put your hardware in, and a supply of power, we need a motherboard to put all the important parts onto. For our build, we chose the Gigabyte Z390 UD.
This motherboard is compatible with the CPU we wanted to use, which we’ll look at next. Also, it matches the white and black color scheme we were aiming for. But most importantly, it supports overclocking.
The Gigabyte Z390 UD is designed to easily handle overclocking of up to 5GHz on all cores of our CPU. This is some serious overclocking and is probably more performance than you would need in the foreseeable future.
CPU – Intel Core i5-9600K
For our CPU, we chose the newest Intel Core i5 processor, the 9600K. Out of the box, this processor has 6 cores that have a base clock speed of 3.7GHz.
With this, however, you’ll be able to reach the boost clock speed of 4.6GHz at almost all times. While most people probably think that 6 cores running at 4.6GHz is enough processing power, we weren’t done there.
The “K” at the end of this processor’s name shows that it is an “unlocked” model. This means you can overclock it to even higher clock speeds. Whether you’re gaming, editing video, doing 3D rendering, or literally anything else, we plan on making a PC that can plow through the task easily with the help of our EK water cooling.
Graphics Card – Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 Founders Edition
Much like our CPU, the graphics card we chose may be something that many people see as “second best”. There is a reason for our methods, however.
The i5 we chose can be clocked to higher speeds than an i7 using our water cooling, meaning we can save money and get better performance if we use an i5. In the same way, we can get higher performance out of a 1070 than we would out of a standard 1080, while saving a couple hundred dollars.
This savings pays for our components and allows us to overclock our parts as much as we need to. This 1070 Founders Edition will handle almost any game out of the box on the highest settings with at least 60 frames per second.
For some people, however, 60FPS is simply not enough. Most people now have high refresh rate monitors that go as high as 144FPS. For this reason, we plan on cooling ourtooPU with our EK water cooling parts. This will let us overclock it too well above 1080 performance, and let us get over 100FPS in any game coming out within the next year on the highest settings.
RAM – Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB (2x8GB)
For memory, we chose a 16GB kit of Corsair Vengeance RAM. Corsair Vengeance memory is priced well and matches the color scheme of our build, which is great.
Also, it matches the DDR4 specifications of our motherboard and can be clocked up to 3000MHz. This 16GB kit comes with two 8GB stick of memory, which allows us to run our memory in dual channel which is faster than running in a single channel.
This means we can feed information to our CPU twice as fast. Corsair Vengeance RAM has a large heatsink on it, meaning it will easily be able to keep its cool while we overclock and water cool the rest of our components.
Storage – Kingston Digital 240GB PCIe NVMe M.2
Finally, for our storage, we chose a Kingston Digital NVMe drive. These types of drives boast solid-state storage that plugs directly into the motherboard.
This means that there is no SATA cable to restrict the amount of data that can be sent to and from the drive. The fact that data is being sent straight to and from the drive from the rest of the computer through PCIe lanes allows the drive to have an incredible 1500MB per second read speed and a 1000MB per second write speed.
With these insane read and write speeds your computer will boot faster, and the loading times in games will be significantly shorter. However, this drive only has 240GB of storage, which is enough for your operating system and a few games. To expand this we would recommend adding a more traditional hard drive, which we’ll discuss a little later.
The Water Cooling
Making a custom PC already requires a fair bit of planning. It is important to make sure that your chosen CPU will work with your motherboard. You also have to make sure that your graphics card will fit into your case.
Adding liquid cooling to the equation complicates things quite a bit more. There are a myriad of possibilities when it comes to this. In this section, we’ll start with the simplest and most basic part of task, which is cooling your CPU. Then we’ll look at something a little more advanced which is cooling your graphics card. Finally, we’ll discuss some options that surround both of these possibilities.
Basic Loop – EK L240 R2.0
To start off our EK water cooling loop we have the L240. This is a kit that includes everything you’ll need to make a basic loop for your CPU. A basic water cooling loop, like the one this kit makes, includes:
CPU Water Block
This is the part of the loop that the water runs through to actually provide cooling to the CPU. It does not come in direct contact with the processor, but simply runs through a series of tiny channels inside a metal block to draw heat away from the CPU.
The reservoir holds all the water that your loop needs. If any air gets into the loop it will cause drops in performance and can also damage the pump. To prevent this the reservoir keeps the loop supplied with a constant stream of liquid. This ensures consistent cool performance, and also makes it easy to refill the loop as some of it does evaporate over time.
The pump is what pushes it through the cooling loop. In this EK kit, the pump is built into the bottom of the reservoir.
The radiator is where the liquid goes to cool itself off before being sent back around to pick up heat from the computer. The radiator we picked out is a 240mm model. 240mm radiators come with two 120mm fans to push air through the fins of the radiator to quickly cool the liquid before it’s sent back into the blocks of the loop.
Tubing and Fittings
Finally, this kit includes the tubing and fittings necessary to build your loop. The included tubing is solid black, which matches the color scheme we were going for. The tubing connects all the various parts of the loop and is held in place by the fittings. This kit comes with six high-quality EK water cooling fittings. It is important to get good fittings like the ones in this kit, because lower quality fittings can lead to leaks.
Graphics Card Cooling – EK-FC RGB GPU Water Block
Although it is optional, we recommend cooling the graphics card of this build as well. To do so, you’ll need this GPU block.
To install a GPU water block, you’ll need to remove the existing shroud and fan first. Then, you’ll screw the new water cooling block onto the graphics card. Finally, you’ll need to add the GPU to your loop using some additional tubing and fittings, which we’ll discuss in the next section.
In order for you to actually use your new PC, you’ll need an operating system. Almost all computers nowadays run on Windows 10. Windows 10 is a good, reliable operating system with a proven track record.
If you already have a copy of Windows 10 or know how to get it online then you may not need this. If not, we recommend getting this easy to install USB drive version of Windows 10.
The solid state drive we used in this build only offers 240GB of storage. If you plan to have more than a few games or movies on your PC, we suggest getting some additional storage.
Hard drives come in a huge variety of speeds and sizes, so rather than recommending one here, I suggest you check out our article on choosing the best hard drive here.
If you plan to add graphics card cooling to your GPU, then you will need some additional tubing. Even if you don’t plan to use a GPU water block, it might be a good idea to get some different tubing.
The included tubing in the EK kit is opaque black, which doesn’t allow you to see the fluid inside. It is possible to dye your cooling fluid and we, in fact, recommend using an additive, which we’ll discuss next, but you won’t be able to fully appreciate the colored fluid unless you use clear tubing.
While standard water WOULD work in a cooling loop, it is less than ideal. Regular ones runs the risk of having things like algae grow inside your loop, and is also less than optimal for picking up the heat from your computer’s hardware.
Additives like this one include biocides which prevent any bacteria from growing in and clogging up your loop. The additive also improves the thermal properties of the liquid allowing the water to pick up more heat from your CPU and GPU while also getting rid of it more efficiently in the radiator.
Finally, these additives also come in tons of cool colors including red, blue, white, and even UV sensitive.
In addition to the tubing, you’ll also need 4 more fittings if you want to hook up your GPU to your cooling loop. Again, this is also an option for those who want to add more style to their custom PC as fittings come in a wide variety of colors and styles as well.
Finally, what PC build is complete in 2019 without RGB lights. The In Win 303 case we chose boasts a massive side panel window that lets you see into the case. Nothing shows off your custom EK water cooling and powerful hardware more than some sweet RGB goodness.
Why Water Cool?
For those who aren’t sure what the purpose of all this is, let me fill you in on the massive advantages of them.
For one thing, water cooling is superior to standard air cooling. A well-designed cooling loop can disperse much more heat than any heatsink or fans can. Cooler temperatures will result in a longer life for your hardware, but will also allow them to run significantly faster.
With the parts we chose for this build, the i5 in this PC will be able to be overclocked to 5GHz on all cores easily. This blows even an i7 out of the water. Likewise, the 1070 graphics card will be able to be clocked at over 2000MHz, which easily defeats the 1080.
On top of this, it is also much quieter. The pump in it’s loop is submerged, meaning it makes almost no noise. The fans that are used on the radiator also run at a lower RPM than heatsink fans, meaning they produce less noise as well.
If you want a better airflow to cool down your pc, you can check our list of Open Air PC Cases Finally, water cool is just plain awesome. Having a cool PC gives you major bragging rights over your friends and their inferior rigs.
If you’ve ever wanted to make a custom water cooled PC, we have laid out the plans here for you. We have done the work of ensuring the compatibility and performance of these parts. If followed exactly, this PC will look awesome, and serve you well for many years to come.
If you have any questions regarding changes you might want to make to this build or anything else, let us know in the comments below. We love hearing from you guys and will use our expertise to answer any questions you have.