ReviewsCoolersBest Water Cooling Kit: Custom, Closed, D5, & Budget

Best Water Cooling Kit: Custom, Closed, D5, & Budget [2024]

I have ranked the very best water cooling kits after careful testing of numerous custom liquid cooling loops, as well as a few recommended parts.

Expert Verified By

Custom loop liquid cooling is the pinnacle of DIY PC building, but it is also quite challenging to perfect, even for seasoned enthusiasts. This is where water cooling kits come into play, which are complete custom loop sets with all the components that you need. After carefully testing the performance and convenience of several water-cooling kits, I have curated a list of the best options on the market, along with some recommendations for individual components.

Here are my recommendations at a glance:

Best Overall Water Cooling Kit
Best Water Cooling Kits and More
Best Value Custom Water Cooling Kit
Best Closed Loop Water Cooling
Best Water Cooling Pump Reservoir Combo
Best D5 Pump
Best Fans for Water Cooling Radiator
Best RGB Fans for Water Cooling Radiator
Best Coolant for PC Water Cooling
Best Water Cooling Kits and More
Best Overall Water Cooling Kit
Best Value Custom Water Cooling Kit
Best Closed Loop Water Cooling
Best Water Cooling Pump Reservoir Combo
Best D5 Pump
Best Fans for Water Cooling Radiator
Best RGB Fans for Water Cooling Radiator
Best Coolant for PC Water Cooling

Going for a custom liquid cooling loop? Be sure to check out our expert recommendations:

Best Water Cooling Kits 

Having tested and used numerous water cooling kits, here are my top recommendations:

  1. Best Overall Water Cooling Kit: Corsair Hydro X Series iCUE Link XH405i RGB
  2. Best Value Custom Water Cooling Kit: Thermaltake Pacific C360 DDC
  3. Best Closed Loop Water Cooling: EK-Nucleus AiO CR360 LUX D-RGB
  4. Best Water Cooling Pump Reservoir Combo: Corsair Hydro X Series XD5 RGB
  5. Best D5 Pump: EKWB EK-Loop D5 G3
  6. Best Fans For Water Cooling Radiator: Noctua NF-A12x25 PWM Chromax.Black
  7. Best RGB Fans For Water Cooling Radiator: Corsair iCUE Link RX120 RGB
  8. Best Coolant For Water Cooling: EKWB EK-CryoFuel Premix PC Coolant

Best Overall Water Cooling Kit

Corsair Hydro X Series iCUE Link XH405i RGB - Best Overall Water Cooling Kit
Corsair Hydro X Series iCUE Link XH405i RGB

Type: Triple-Fan with 360mm Radiator | Radiator Dimensions: 396mm x 120mm x 30mm | Fans: 3x 120mm QX120 RGB Fans | RGB Lighting: Yes| Pump Type: Xylem D5 PWM | Socket Compatibility: Intel LGA1700, AMD AM5, AMD AM4

Pros

  • Incredible thermal performance
  • Beautiful aesthetics
  • Premium build quality
  • Easy to set up
  • Quiet D5 pump
  • Excellent compatibility
  • High-quality QX120 RGB fans
  • Premium hardline tubing

Cons

  • Very expensive
  • Potential case compatibility issues
  • Two controller hubs

The iCUE Link XH405i RGB is one of the premium water cooling kits available on the market as it targets enthusiasts who want an all-in-one kit that covers all bases. The heart of the cooling solution is the XR5 360mm radiator with 30mm thickness which does a fantastic job of heat dissipation according to my thermal tests.

Attached to the radiator, the XD5 EGB Elite D5 pump has an integrated 440m transparent nylon reservoir, while the XC7 CPU pump block provides a smooth and stylish look to your cooling setup along with wide compatibility for AM5 and LGA 1700 CPUs. The premium build quality is reflected in the three QX120 RGB fans along with the hardline tubing that looks graceful and practical.

Thermaltake Pacific C360 DDC

Best Value Custom Water Cooling Kit

Thermaltake Pacific C360 DDC - Best Value Custom Water Cooling Kit
Thermaltake Pacific C360 DDC

Type: Triple-Fan with 360mm Radiator | Fan: Thermaltake Pure 12 ARGB Sync Radiator Fan TT Premium Edition | Fan Speed: 500-1500 RPM | TDP: 320W+ | RGB: Yes | Radiator Dimensions: 399 x 119 x 29.5mm | Socket Support: Intel LGA 1700, 1200, 1156, 1155, 1151, 1150, 775, 1366, 2011, 2066 & AMD AM4, AM3+, AM3, AM2+, AM2, FM2, FM1 

Pros

  • Best bang for the buck 
  • Solid performance
  • Fully integrated RGB system
  • A-RGB controller included
  • 90-degree angled adaptors
  • User-friendly installation

Cons

  • Weak DDC pump
  • Low fan speeds
  • Noisier at high speeds

The Thermaltake Pacific C360 DDC offers an unbeatable price-to-performance ratio, packing in a 360mm radiator loop with 3x Pure 12 ARGB fans, 200cm of soft tubing, an ATX bridging plug, and 1L of readied coolant alongside universal compatibility with even the latest Intel and AMD processors. 

The Pacific W4 A-RGB Water Block sports a total of 12x addressable RGB LEDs that may be controlled via the included RGB controller. I really liked the copper construction and brass tank which translate to automatic corrosion resistance for improved durability and rigidity. The overall installation process is also quite convenient and user-friendly.

EK-Nucleus AiO CR360 LUX D-RGB

Best Closed Loop Water Cooling

EK-Nucleus AIO CR360 LUX D-RGB - Best Closed Loop Water Cooling
EK-Nucleus AIO CR360 LUX D-RGB

Type: Triple-Fan 360mm AiO | Fan: 3x EK-Loop FPT 120mm D-RGB Fans | Fan Speed: 550-2200 RPM | Pump Speed: 3100 RPM | Tube Length: 400mm | Dimensions: 400 x 124 x 27mm | RGB Lighting: Yes | Socket Support: Intel LGA 1700, 1200, 1156, 1155, 1151, 1150, 2011(-3), 2066, AMD AM4, AM5

Pros

  • Excellent thermal performance
  • Superb aesthetics
  • Wide compatibility
  • Silent fans
  • Neat cable management
  • Daisy-chain support
  • Well-diffused RGB lighting
  • Premium build quality

Cons

  • Slightly lower thermal performance
  • Not modular
  • Relatively expensive AiO cooler

The EK-Nucleus AiO CR360 Lux D-RGB is an elite 360mm all-in-one cooler that rivals the performance of most closed-loop liquid coolers for a fraction of the price. I was able to get a peak temperature of 88C on my AMD Ryzen 7 7700X under load, which is a fantastic result for an AM5 CPU. The 360mm radiator of the CR360 Lux is one of the best in the business.

Moreover, you don’t necessarily have to compromise on the aesthetics of your PC build either, since the CR360 provides extremely well-diffused RGB lighting in the CPU pump block as well as the three 120mm ARGB fans. On the subject of fans, I found the included EK-Loop FPT 120 D-RGB fans to be supremely quiet even under heavy loads, while moving a lot of air as well.

Editor`s Note
Image

Going for a closed-loop cooler like the EK-Nucleus AiO CR360 Lux D-RGB instead of an open-loop design is not a bad idea if you are relatively new to the process of liquid cooling. A custom loop requires constant maintenance and is at risk for leakage and failures, while a closed-loop cooler mitigates most of the drawbacks while providing excellent performance.

– Hayyan Serwer

Corsair Hydro X Series XD5 RGB

Best Water Cooling Pump Reservoir Combo

Corsair Hydro X Series XD5 RGB - Best Water Cooling Pump Reservoir Combo
Corsair Hydro X Series XD5 RGB

Pump Type: Xylem D5 PWM | Pump Voltage: 12V | Power Connector: 4-pin Molex | Port Thread: G1/4″ BSPP | Max Operating Temperature: 60C | RGB Lighting: Yes

Pros

  • Large 330ml reservoir
  • Addressable RGB lighting
  • Solid build quality
  • Convenient easy-fill port

Cons

  • Relatively high price

Corsair’s Hydro X series makes yet another appearance with the XD5 RGB Pump/Reservoir combo, which is a performance-focused Xylem D5 PWM pump along with a 330ml reservoir. I found the pump performance to be quite smooth and quiet during my testing, which can be attributed to its premium components and rubberized mounting system.

The pump combo also houses ten individually addressable RGB LEDs which can be configured using the Corsair iCUE software to give your custom loop a unique look. Corsair has also included an easy-fill port on the reservoir for convenient filling and flushing which is a nice touch. Although it is relatively pricey, the features and build quality certainly justify the initial investment. 

EKWB EK-Loop D5 G3

Best D5 Pump

EKWB EK-Loop D5 G3 - Best D5 Pump
EKWB EK-Loop D5 G3

Motor Type: Electronically commuted spherical motor | Rated Voltage: 12V DC | Power Consumption: 23W | Maximum Flow: 1500L/h | Maximum Liquid Temperature: 60C | Maximum Head Pressure: 3.9m

Pros

  • Upgraded PWM control driver
  • Very sensitive to temperature changes
  • High flow rate
  • Low noise levels

Cons

  • Slight vibration

One of the premium D5 pump options on the market, the EK-Loop D5 G3 PWM pump is a high-performance pump that acts as the beating heart of any high-end custom water cooling loop. The D5 G3 pump is an improved variant of the popular Xylem D5 PWM pump with an upgraded PWM control driver.

This pump is quite sensitive to changes in the CPU temperature and reliably adjusts the pump speed according to the data. This EK-Loop D5 G3 pump has a maximum flow rate of 1500L/h which is quite admirable compared to the industry standard. The use of SATA power and a 4-pin PWM fan connector is also great for compatibility and versatility.

WARNING: It is extremely important for the safety and lifespan of the D5 pump that it should never be operated dry.

Noctua NF-A12x25 PWM Chromax.Black

Best Fans for Water Cooling Radiator 

Noctua NF-A12x25 PWM Chromax Black - Best Fans For Water Cooling Radiator
Noctua NF-A12x25 PWM Chromax Black

Bearing: SSO2 | Fan Size: 120mm x 25mm | Noise Level: 22.6 dBA | Fan Speed: 2000 RPM | Fan Airflow: 102.1 m³/h | Voltage Range: 12V | RGB Lighting: No

Pros

  • All-black design
  • Superb airflow
  • Low noise levels
  • Low vibrations

Cons

  • High price
  • No RGB lighting

Staying true to Noctua’s reputation, the NF-A12x25 fans feature best-in-class cooling performance while sustaining inaudible acoustics and exhibiting an understated yet, sleek aesthetic. The Noctua NF-A12x25 PWM Chromax.Black features the tried-and-tested SSO2 bearing, which enables the 120mm fan to run at speeds ranging between 450-2000 RPM.

The Noctua NF-A12x25 PWM Chromax.Black is based on a 9x fan blade design with a proprietary Chromax black coating applied on every component of the fan, from the blades to the housing and fan screws and even the anti-vibration pads. Users may also choose to adopt any of the included NA-AVP1 Blue, Green, Red, White, Yellow, and Grey anti-vibration pads.

Best RGB Fans For Water Cooling Radiator

Corsair iCUE Link RX120 RGB - Best RGB Fans for Water Cooling Radiator
Corsair iCUE Link RX120 RGB

Flow Type: Static Pressure | Fan Size: 120mm x 25mm | Noise Level: 10-36 dBA | Fan Speed: 2100 RPM | Fan Airflow: 10.4 – 73.5 CFMStatic Pressure: 0.12 – 4.33 mm H20 | RGB Lighting: Yes

Pros

  • Magnetic Dome bearings
  • Fiberglass-reinforced LCP blade
  • Beautiful RGB lighting
  • Included iCUE Link system hub
  • Daisy-chain capability
  • High static pressure
  • Decent value for money
  • High airflow design

Cons

  • Slightly higher noise levels
  • Relies on iCUE software
  • Other components must be compatible with iCUE

If you are building a premium custom water cooling loop, then you can’t go wrong with the Corsair iCUE Link RX120 RGB fans. These fans use magnetic dome bearings for minimal noise and excellent reliability, and the high static pressure of the fans is crucial to move large amounts of air through the radiator in order to achieve optimal cooling.

The Link RX120 RGB fans also reduce cable clutter by using the same universal connector that plugs into each other as well as the iCUE Link system hub, which is included. The RGB lighting of the fans is quite well-diffused thanks to eight LEDs per fan, and they can be configured using the Corsair iCUE software for an additional layer of personalization.

PRO TIP: There is no PWM or 3-pin DC connector on these fans, so make sure that your entire PC is compatible with the iCUE Link system for RGB lighting control.

EKWB EK-CryoFuel Premix PC Coolant

Best Coolant For PC Water Cooling

EKWB EK-CryoFuel Premix PC Coolant - Best Coolant for PC Water Cooling
EKWB EK-CryoFuel Premix PC Coolant

Color: Clear | Content: 1000 mL | Electrical Conductivity: 1.04 mS/cm | pH: 6-8 | Shelf Life: 4 Years

Pros

  • Low electrical conductivity
  • Thermal efficient
  • Non-toxic
  • Eco-friendly
  • High shelf life
  • Low viscosity

Cons

  • Lack of color
  • High price tag

I always prefer clear coolants for my custom loop since they hold up so much better in the long run, and my coolant of choice is the EK-CryoFuel Premix PC coolant. The fluid offers low electrical conductivity and is compatible with acrylic, PETG, acetal, and rubber among many other materials. 

Thanks to its low viscosity and high purity, there is a very negligible change of clogging or sedimentation in the tubes or water blocks with the use of its fluid. It also uses very high-quality concentrated pigments for vivid and saturated colors should you choose to go down that route. The coolant is also eco-friendly in addition to having a reasonable shelf life of 4 years.

PRO TIP: If you plan to go with a colored coolant instead, be sure to use bactericidal and fungicidal agents to reduce the growth of micro-organisms.

Why We Didn’t Choose These Water Cooling Kits

In my search to find the very best water cooling kits, I tested a lot of custom loop setups that just fell a bit short. Here are a few examples that did not make the cut.

  • EK-Classic Kit P240 D-RGB: I really liked the build quality and aesthetics of this particular kit, but it is quite overpriced for a 240mm radiator loop and has a weaker SPC pump.
  • EK-Quantum Power Kit D-RGB P360: This water cooling loop offers excellent performance and great build quality, but it is astronomically expensive and provides worse value than our chosen option.
  • Thermaltake C240 Kit: Despite being a great value for money, the C240 kit just falls short in terms of performance due to its smaller radiator and weaker pump combo.
  • Raijintek SCYLLA Elite CA360 Kit: The relatively lower price point did intrigue me, but the inconvenient installation process did hurt my judgment and the build quality is not up to scratch either.

How I Tested & Picked The Best Water Cooling Kits 

Choosing a water-cooling kit can pose a challenge to even the most seasoned PC builder. Here’s how I tested and narrowed down my selection to the very best of the best. You can also consider these factors to make up your mind when you’re in the market for a new water cooling kit.

  • Performance: An essential aspect of any water cooling kit would be the comparative collective performance it offers. The fan’s specs, including the max RPMs alongside the amount of airflow it produces, are of utmost importance, not to mention the size of the radiator (usually 240mm-360mm) and its FPI (Fins Per Inch) count (the higher, the better).
  • Budget: It’s crucial to keep a specific budget in mind, so you’ll know whether it’s feasible for you to splurge on some of the fancier components or compromise on perhaps RGB lighting and colored coolant, in favor of a functionality-oriented high-performance cooler with a faster pump and versatile expandability for future-proofing.
  • Noise: Smaller fans have a tendency to be noisier, so if you choose a water cooling kit with a physically larger set of fans it’ll be able to spin at lower speeds but produce the same amount of airflow with far less noise. It’s also advisable to select a kit with anti-vibration paddings and quieter pumps, such as a D5 pump, compared to a DDC pump.
  • Efficiency: It’s imperative to choose a water cooling kit with the capacity (and some extra clearance) to capably cool down your CPU without thermal throttling to maintain satisfactory temperatures. If you happen to be running a CPU with a TDP of 105W, you should be searching for a kit rated at 160W+ to give you ample overclocking headroom as well.
  • Aesthetics and Build Quality: While aesthetics are subjective, it is important to consider the design and build quality of the cooling loops as they act as the centerpiece of your PC build. Some cooling kits offer premium construction and dazzling RGB capabilities, while others may favor a more practical approach in favor of a lower price tag.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is water cooling better than fan/air cooling?

Yes, water cooling will undoubtedly net you far greater yields in terms of heat dissipation corresponding to top-notch cooling performance. However, air cooling benefits from maintaining a superior price-to-performance ratio while running a lower risk of failure.

What liquid to use in a water-cooled PC?

Distilled water mixed with biocide will act as the perfect coolant for your PC’s water cooling setup.

Does water cooling extend PC life?

Water coolers will extend the lifespan of your gaming PC by ensuring it never overheats or throttles.

Does my PC need water cooling?

Custom water cooling setups are generally only required for workstation-class PCs using industry-leading CPUs, or enthusiast-grade gaming PCs. Unless you’re using the highest-end 14th Generation Intel Core i9-14900K or AMD Ryzen 9 7950x CPUs in airflow-restricted chassis, you probably won’t require a custom water cooling loop.

Is water cooling worth it?

Water coolers require a steep financial investment and expensive, time-consuming maintenance, which is never-ending due to the variable individual parts involved. However, many enthusiasts love the challenges and the satisfaction of having a water-cooled setup, and for them, it is worth it.

Recent Updates


  • March 27, 2024: I replaced the EK-Quantum Power Kit D-RGB P360 Kit with the Corsair iCUE Link XH405i RGB kit since the latter offers better performance, build quality, and aesthetics. I also made some text changes to improve readability.
  • March 21, 2024: After testing, I replaced the EK AiO Elite 360 D-RGB AiO with the EK Nucleus AiO CR360 LUX D-RGB thanks to the superior price-to-performance ratio of the latter.
  • March 14, 2024: I swapped the Thermaltake Pacific PR32-D5 Plus pump reservoir combo with the Corsair Hydro XD5 RGB pump since the latter offers much better build quality.
  • March 6, 2024: I changed the EK-Quantum Intertia D5 PWM D-RGB pump with the EKWB EK-Loop D5 G3 pump since it offers better value for money with comparable performance.
  • February 25, 2024: I replaced the Corsair iCUE QL120 RGB fans with the Corsair iCUE Link RX120 RGB fans due to the superior airflow performance and aesthetics of the latter.
  • February 18, 2024: After using both products, I decided to swap the EKWB EK-CryoFuel Clear coolant with the EKWB EK-CryoFuel Premix PC Coolant as it offers marginally better resistance to debris buildup.
  • June 9, 2023: Few text changes to improve readability. No products were changed.

 
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