There are three basic types of water-cooling systems, and the real differentiator is where the radiator, water pump, and reservoir – the main components of the system – are located. The three types are internal, external and integrated.
An integrated cooling system will, as the name implies, come included as part of a PC case. Since all of the liquid cooling equipment is housed within this case, this is probably the easiest option to work with, as it will afford you the most room inside the case without having any clunky external components to deal with. The downside, of course, is that if you upgrade to this type of system, any pre-existing PC case you have is useless.
Integrated water cooling system
If you’re quite fond of your PC case and don’t wish to see it go, the other two options might seem more to your liking: an internal or external water-cooling system. An internal system has the water-cooling components inside the PC case. Because most PC cases aren’t designed with this type of system in mind, things are a little cramped. However, this installation allows you to keep your favorite case as well as to move the finished product around with little hassle.
Internal water cooling system
The third option for those who wish to keep their existing PC case is an external liquid cooling system. In this type of system the radiator, reservoir and pump are housed externally in a separate unit. The liquid coolant is pumped into the PC case, and a return line pumps the heated coolant out of the case and into the reservoir. The benefit of the external system is that it affords the interior working space of an integrated system with the ability to adapt to use with any PC case. It also allows for a large radiator and more cooling power than the average integrated setup. The downside is that a PC with an external cooling system isn’t quite as mobile as integrated or internal systems, which are much easier to move around.
External water cooling system
In our application, mobility isn’t all that important, but we’d like to keep our stock PC case. In addition, the increased cooling efficiency of an external radiator appeals to us. We have therefore chosen an external cooling system for this guide, and Koolance was kind enough to supply us with a fine example, their EXOS-2 system.
Koolance’s EXOS-2 external water cooling system
The EXOS-2 is a powerful external cooling system with a cooling power of over 700 watts. That doesn’t mean it uses 700 watts of power – it uses a tiny fraction of that – but that it can effectively remove 700 watts of heat energy while maintaining a heat load at 55 degrees Celsius with 25 degrees Celsius ambient temperature.
The EXOS-2 comes with all of the hoses and attachments you need to get started, but it doesn’t come with the cooling blocks. The user must purchase the appropriate blocks to cool the components he or she desires.