Liquid Cooling Pump and Radiator: Easy Overview

A liquid cooling pump and radiator system can be used to make a PC run faster when the standard fan system can't do the job. Most PCs use one or more fans to cool electronic components. For PC applications that require faster cooling, such as high-end hardware, a fan cooling system may not be strong enough to cool the system causing the PC to run slow. In such cases an alternative is a liquid cooling system.

Principle of Liquid Cooling

The basic principle of thermodynamics applies to the liquid cooling system. The heat transfer and fluid flow states that liquid will move from warmer objects to cooler objects. The heat transfer causes the cooler object to get warmer and the warmer object to get cooler.  Using the heat transfer principle the objects cannot overheat.

System Components

A simple liquid cooling system includes a pump, radiator, fan, coolant reservoir, hoses and a water block. The pump’s job is to move water through the system and maintain a consistent flow. The radiator releases heat and a fan pushes air over the radiator. Not all systems use a fan. The coolant reservoir contains extra liquid and the hoses connect the system together. 

To avoid water from touching other PC components, a water block is used. A water block is usually made of copper because it is a heat conductive material. The water block is mounted on top of the CPU with a heat conductive adhesive that allows heat to move through the adhesive to the water block.

The liquid used is usually distilled water since it does not contain contaminants that may block the system. Other liquids are sometimes used for aesthetic reasons.

How It Works

The water block is mounted on the CPU. Tubes are used to connect the system; the water block to the radiator and the radiator to the pump. The cycle is simple: the liquid pulls heat from the CPU into the radiator to be cooled, and then the water flows to the reservoir where it is put back into the cycle.

The pump is the most important component of the cooling system because it controls the flow rate. The flow rate affects how quickly the water moves through the system. If the flow generated by the pump is too slow the components will overheat. If the flow is too fast the water will not have time to absorb and transfer the heat. In addition, the pump must have enough vertical strength to move water from the lowest point of the reservoir through the system. 

The second most important component is the radiator.  Heat moves from the water to the radiator, cooling the water.  The radiator disperses, or radiates heat from the system.  The heat is released from the radiator into the air.  While the radiator warms the air, it cools itself.  Without the radiator the heat would circulate through the system and the entire system would overheat.