Water Cooling setups use a pair of tubing (usually made out of reinforced rubber) connected to a liquid pump/reservoir in conjunction with a high-profile radiator. The aim is to spread out the ‘loop’ or tubing over the CPU, but users may branch out the loop to cover neighbouring components such as GPUs, RAMs, and motherboard VRMs. Coolant is constantly run inside the tubing to cool down the entire gaming PC for optimal performance, with no threat of thermal throttling.
Let’s discuss how CPU water cooling Kit works, specifically speaking. The baseplate of the Water Cooler will be attached to the Integrated Heat Spreader (top layer) of the CPU with thermal paste bridging the gap in-between.
The baseplate is part of the waterblock or pump head, which will always remain filled with coolant. Speaking of the coolant, it’ll absorb the heat from the baseplate and transfer it to a radiator through one of the two attached tubes.
The radiator will expose the tubing to air by way of the paired fan, which helps to cool the fluid and returns to the waterblock as the last part of this endless cycle.
Best WaterCooling Kit
Choosing a water cooling solution might be difficult, which is where TechGamers can help. There are several manufacturers that provide water cooling kits, thus it is fair to assume that each brand’s kits differ from one another. A number of categories, including Budget Cooling Kits, Performance, Looks, and even Custom/Pre constructed Kits, may be used to categorize water cooling kits.
You must take your needs into account in order to decide what is best for you. Most users who choose a water cooling system for their PCs are likely power users who focus on intensive overclocking, gaming, or editing. On the other hand, casual users don’t need such solutions. Once you’ve decided whose side you belong to, you should think about your requirements and budget. Knowing your budget before you start is a great idea since only then will you be able to focus on fewer options. After deciding on a budget, you may next select the best option from the available ones.
Here at Tech4Gamers, we like to categorize our top selections so that readers can see which products are most suited for which users. As a result, you’ll discover a variety of WaterCooling options that may assist you in making an educated choice.
As for now, let’s have a look at the Best Water Cooling Kits, Radiators, and other essential components needed to successfully set up a complete Liquid Cooling System in 2023.
EK-Quantum Power Kit D-RGB P360
Best Overall Water Cooling Kit
Specifications: Type: Triple-fan with 360mm Radiator Fan: 3x EK-Vardar EVO 120ER D-RGB | Fan Speed: 500-2200 RPM | TDP: 380W+ | RGB: Yes | Radiator Dimensions: 400 x 130 x 38mm | Socket Support: Intel LGA 1700, 1200, 1156, 1155, 1151, 1150, 2011(-3), 2066 & AMD AM4
- Top-of-the-line performance
- Dual 90-degree angled adaptors and 6x compression fittings
- Quieter D5 Pump with higher flow rate
- Best-in-class D-RGB fans
- Bridging plug and foldable filling bottle included
- EK-CryoFuel Dye bundled for 3 different coolant dye combos
- Universal compatibility
- Detailed installation guide
- Potential fitting issues in space-constrained PC chassis
- Astronomically expensive
- Difficult to find
- LGA 1700 mounting bracket sold separately
- Not compatible with AMD Threadripper CPUs
- Only 2-year warranty
Edward König Water Blocks, better known as EKWB, is by far the most renowned and prominent brand in the realm of the Best PC Water Cooling Kits and other assorted PC Cooling components such as pumps/reservoirs, fans, tubings, and radiators amongst various other cooling peripherals. The EK-Quantum Power Kit D-RGB P360 represents EKWB’s attempt to cement itself as the optimal option for the Best Overall Water Cooling Kit in 2023, and thus, priced accordingly, to showcase the cooling prowess of the Slovenian tech giant for worthy companionship with the latest and greatest processors from Intel and AMD such as the all-new 12th Generation Intel Alder Lake CPUs and the soon to be succeeded, AMD Ryzen 9 5950X.
To begin with, the EK-Quantum Power Kit D-RGB P360 consists of an EK-CoolStream PE 360mm radiator with a thickness of 38mm, possessing double-stacked copper fins for maximal cooling surface area. The 360mm radiator is mated to a trio of EK-Vardar EVO 120ER D-RGB PWM (Pulse-Width Modulation) fans that comprise 7x white blades with diffusers underneath for even light dissipation. Resultantly, the EK-Vardar EVO 120ER D-RGB fans output a maximum airflow of 77 CFM while maintaining a sound profile of 33.5 dB(A), adjustable between 500-2200 RPM, and automatically controllable via your motherboard thanks to the 4-pin PWM connections.
Moving on, the EK-Quantum Power Kit D-RGB P360 is integrated with the EK-Quantum Kinetic TBE 200 D5 PWM D-RGB (Plexi) pump: EK’s choice of a water pump-reservoir combination, driven by a tried-and-tested Xylem D5 PWM Water Pump sporting a theoretically max flow rate of 1500L/hour with a maximum head pressure of 3.9m, operating at 12V DC (Direct Current) and sipping through 23W of power.
As for the reservoir, it has a diameter of 60mm, a volume of 205mL, and an overall height of 200mm, bearing 11x Digital RGB LEDs with an RGB cable length measuring 50cm, which unusually ends in a 3-pin connection, but still compatible with 5V D-RGB motherboard headers.
For a secure fit, the EK-Quantum Power Kit D-RGB P360 features soft-tube EK-ACF premium compression fittings with a locking ring that holds the tubing in place, coupled with a pair of 90-degree angled and revolvable EK-Torque Adaptors that sit flush with G1/4” threading, (which is used for a proper connection between numerous water-cooling components). These 90-degree adaptors are built using CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machined brass with a deluxe ‘Satin Black’ finish applied, rounded off by supreme rubber O-rings for a complete seal, simplifying your chassis’ tubing route.
Furthermore, the EK-Quantum Power Kit D-RGB P360 comes with 100mL of EK-CryoFuel Clear Concentrate, i.e., an industry-leading coolant that prevents sediment build-up in the tubing loop. The EK-CryoFuel Clear is supposed to be diluted with 900mL of distilled water (in a ratio of 1:9) to form 1L of ready-to-go coolant.
For this purpose, EKWB has packaged a foldable filling bottle within, which uses a telescopic tube to facilitate even the most congested and difficult-to-reach tubing areas. Not stopping here, an EK-CryoFuel Dye Pack is also bundled, which enables gamers to transform their dreary-looking coolant into three choices of custom colours: Red, Yellow, and Blue, or a combination of all three.
As for tubing, EKWB provides 200cm of EK-DuraClear transparent PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) tubing along with the EK-Loop Soft Tube Cutter so that users may customize and adjust their water-cooling loop’s tubing dimensions themselves to crossmatch their gaming system’s casing dimensions.
Moreover, the EK-Quantum Power Kit D-RGB P360 bears an EK-Quantum Velocity D-RGB – Nickel + Plexi CPU Water Block, which sports universal compatibility with the latest processors from Intel and AMD, including the newest Intel Alder Lake CPUs (LGA 1700) as well as AMD’s soon-to-be-succeeded AM4 processors. Additionally, the EK-Quantum Velocity D-RGB – Nickel + Plexi Water Block showcases a nickel-plated cold plate with CNC machined glass-like Acrylic top exterior, which, in turn, evinces a total of 20x LEDs, controllable like all the other RGB components of the EK-Quantum Power Kit D-RGB P360 (using the provided 300mm RGB 3-pin cable) via major motherboard RGB software, such as Asus Aura Sync, Gigabyte RGB Fusion 2.0, MSI Mystic Light, and ASRock Polychrome Sync, to name a few,
Also, EKWB provides the EK-Loop Multi Allen Key, designed to replace the individually separate 6mm, 8mm, and 9mm Allen Keys. For the uninformed, Allen Keys are generally used to tighten and establish snug connections between assorted components of your water-cooling loop.
The EK-Loop Multi Allen Key combines all three standard Allen Keys into one, having a 6mm, 8mm, and 9mm ending, as well as a line-style ending that’s primarily used to cater to acetal plugs. As a safety measure, the EK-Loop Multi Allen Key will snap if you accidentally over-tighten any fittings, reducing the chances of cracked Plexi parts and broken components.
Last but not least, EKWB wraps up the EK-Quantum Power Kit D-RGB P360 with an unimpressive 2-year warranty, especially when you consider the monetary capital EKWB is audaciously demanding. The EK-Quantum Power Kit D-RGB P360 generally ranges from $580-700 depending on where you source it from since it’s currently out of stock on EKWB’s website.
What We Like
First off, the EK-Quantum Power Kit D-RGB P360 boasts outstanding performance thanks to its EK-CoolStream PE 360mm radiator and triple EK-Vardar EVO 120ER fans, paired with the EK-Quantum Velocity D-RGB – Nickel + Plexi Water Block and a comparatively quieter EK-Quantum Kinetic TBE 200 D5 pump, all of which is interconnected via the 200mm of EK-DuraClear soft tubing, fortified with the EK-ACF compression fittings and dual 90-degree angled adaptors for convenient tubing routing.
EKWB goes above and beyond to bundle the EK-CryoFuel Dye Pack, which allows users to transform the coolant’s colour to match their personalized aesthetic theme. Adding on, EKWB provides a bridging plug out of the box, which will prove helpful to newbies and water-cooling veterans alike to test for fluid leakages and improper installations by routing their PSU’s power to only the EK-Quantum Power Kit D-RGB P360’s cooling system. EKWB also ensures a streamlined installation experience thanks to the Water Block’s PreciseMount CPU mounting mechanism and a comprehensive user manual.
What We Dislike
All praises kept aside; the EK-Quantum Power Kit D-RGB P360 has a few flaws worth highlighting, the main issues being its incredibly ludicrous pricing and seemingly global unavailability (to a certain extent). Gamers may also encounter potential fitment issues due to the relatively bulky dimensions. Users looking to cool their entire PC might also find the 200mm tubing slightly insufficient in terms of overall length. EKWB also disappoints us by just slapping on an insubstantial 2-year warranty, leaving a sour taste in our mouths if you keep in mind the money EKWB wants you to pay.
It’s pertinent to mention that while the EK-Quantum Power Kit D-RGB P360 is compatible with the LGA 1700 (Intel 12th Gen Alder Lake) CPU Socket, EKWB doesn’t provide you one out of the box, forcing you to purchase one separately if you plan to use the newer Intel processors unless you’re one of the lucky ones who manage to find the older limited-edition promotional units in which the LGA 1700 mounting bracket is included. Unfortunately, EKWB’s pricey water-cooling system doesn’t support AMD Threadripper CPUs, which might’ve been the only ones capable of utilizing the EK-Quantum Power Kit D-RGB P360’s behemoth cooling performance to its full extent.
What distinguishes the EK-Quantum Power Kit D-RGB P360 from its competitors
EKWB has unleashed what we believe is to be the Best Overall Water Cooling Kit in 2023. The EK-Quantum Power Kit D-RGB P360 uses state-of-the-art components, ranging from the fans, radiator, pump, and water block, right down to the tubing, fittings and 90-degree angled adaptors, and ingenious accessories such as the EK-CryoFuel Dye Pack, EK-Loop Multi Allen Key, ATX bridging plug and the foldable filling bottle, to name a few, for help with the initial setup and testing procedures. Altogether, it’s safe to say the EK-Quantum Power Kit D-RGB P360 is, at the time of writing, unbeatable in terms of overall performance and extensive creativity.
Maybe you’re an amateur looking to expand into the vastly intimidating Kingdom of PC Water Cooling. Perhaps you’re an experienced maestro aiming to upgrade their current water-cooling loop. Regardless, the EK-Quantum Power Kit D-RGB P360 was designed to be targeted toward users residing at both ends of the spectrum. Featuring best-in-class performance with durable parts and comprehensive customization thanks to a true D-RGB (Digital RGB) experience all around, EKWB’s latest innovation stands to attract gamers who wish to compete for glory (and headshots) in the PCMR (PC Master Race).
Nonetheless, potential buyers should be wary of the generally missing LGA 1700 mounting bracket if they plan to utilize Intel’s 12th Generation Processors. Gamers with Mini-ITX or SFF (Small Form Factor) PCs will most certainly be put off by the EK-Quantum Power Kit D-RGB P360’s somewhat oversized measurements. Let’s not forget the dissatisfactory 2-year warranty, asides from the fact that it’s almost impossible to find EKWB’s premium Water Cooling kit at its MSRP, with users having to settle for usually inflated prices from resellers such as Amazon.
That being said, if you’re okay with paying something between $580-700, the EK-Quantum Power Kit D-RGB P360 is a force to be reckoned with and is unparalleled (at the time of writing) as the Best Water Cooling Kit in 2023.
EK-Classic Kit P240 D-RGB – Black Nickel Edition
Best Custom Water Cooling Kit
Specifications: Type: Dual-fan with 240mm Radiator | Fan: 2x EK-Vardar EVO 120ER D-RGB | Fan Speed: 500-2200 RPM | TDP: 280W+ | RGB: Yes | Radiator Dimensions: 273 x 120 x 45mm | Socket Support: Intel LGA 1200, 1156, 1155, 1151, 1150, 2011(-3), 2066 & AMD AM4
- Terrific EK-Vardar S 120ER D-RGB fans
- Decent performance for a dual-fan 240mm radiator loop
- 90-degree angled adaptors
- Best-in-class EK CryoFuel coolant with foldable filling bottle
- ATX Bridging Plug included
- Relatively simplistic installation process with a Multi-Allen Key
- Premium soft tubing bundled with a tube cutter
- Integrated D-RGB aesthetic
- Overpriced for a 240mm radiator loop
- Comparatively inferior performance in its price range
- Weaker SPC pump
- Potential compatibility issues
- EK CryoFuel Dye Pack absent
EKWB wasn’t content with the EK-Quantum Power Kit D-RGB P360 taking home the award of the Best Overall Water Cooling Kit. That’s why they launched the EK-Classic Kit P240 D-RGB – Black Nickel Edition to claim another coveted spot on our list as the Custom Water Cooling Kit in 2023. However, it’s worth noting that the EK-Classic Kit P240 D-RGB – Black Nickel Edition was primarily manufactured in China as a way of cutting costs. Without any further ado, let’s head on into the details and see if the Chinese build quality affects EKWB’s Best Custom Water Cooling Kit from a performance and longevity standpoint.
For starters, EKWB is using the EK-Classic CPU Water Block D-RGB with a copper cold-plate and nickel-plating on the exterior, complemented by Digital RGB LEDs to illuminate your CPU Socket and the surrounding area. By default, EKWB ships the Water Block with an Intel mounting bracket pre-applied, but gamers may swap it out for the included AMD AM4 bracket as per requirements.
The top of the EK-Classic CPU Water Block D-RGB is constructed using CNC machined acrylic glass for soothing RGB dispersion, and connects to your motherboard via a 3-pin, 5V D-RGB header (with a 30cm cable), and is compatible with Aura Sync, RGB Fusion 2.0, Mystic Light, and Polychrome Sync RGB software, just like the EK-Quantum Power Kit D-RGB P360. The EK-Classic CPU Water Block D-RGB also comes with EK-TIM Ectotherm thermal compound pre-applied.
Secondly, the EK-Classic Kit P240 D-RGB consists of an EK-CoolStream Classic PE 240mm Radiator bearing a thickness of 45mm, mated to a pair of high-performance EK-Vardar S 120ER D-RGB fans. Thanks to the more extensive profile of the EK-CoolStream Classic PE 240mm Radiator, the EK-Classic Kit P240 D-RGB – Black Nickel Edition, as a whole, is able to obtain lower fin density which inherently reduces fan RPMs for a quieter sound profile while maintaining equivalent performance, thanks to the high-static pressure EK-Vardar S 120ER D-RGB fans which are adjustable between 500-2200 RPM and showcase addressable RGB LEDs, for colour matching between every component of the EK-Classic Kit P240 D-RGB – Black Nickel Edition.
Adding on, the EK-Classic Pump Reservoir 160 SPC (Statistical Process Control) PWM D-RGB is running at the heart of the EK-Classic Kit P240 D-RGB, EKWB’s choice of a pump/reservoir combo using a much weaker SPC pump (rated at a shallow flow rate of 250L/hour) to reduce overall unit pricing. The EK-Classic Pump Reservoir 160 SPC is also built using acrylic and features a 4-pin PWM connector for the EK-Vardar S 120ER fans. Despite being cost-efficient, the EK Pump 160 SPC is also integrated with RGB LEDs, customizable via the aforementioned RGB software.
As for transferring the coolant back and forth, the EK-Classic Kit P240 D-RGB uses the previously outlined EK-DuraClear (200cm) transparent tubing made from PVC, coupled with the EK-Loop Soft Tube Cutter for easy tube adjustments and resizing, further supplemented by 2x EK-AF Classic Angled 90 degree – Black Nickel adaptors for simplified tube routing procedures.
Since the EK-Classic Kit P240 D-RGB uses soft tubing, it’s only obvious that EKWB would go for Soft Tube Compression Fittings in the form of EK-STC Classic 10/13 – Black Nickel brass fittings, coated with the same deluxe black nickel finish as the name suggests with an unobtrusive aesthetic.
Furthermore, EK-CryoFuel Clear Concentrate (100ml) makes a return as EKWB’s choice of supreme coolant for the EK-Classic Kit P240 D-RGB. Again, users will be required to dilute the EK-CryoFuel with 900ml of distilled water for 1L of ready-to-use coolant with a foldable filling bottle bundled for filling even the most constrained and tightest spaces in the water loop.
EKWB also packages the previously highlighted EK-Loop Multi Allen Key for tightening your fittings but also protecting them from snapping or cracking. A 6-way D-RGB splitter cable is also connected, enabling gamers to connect up to 6x D-RGB peripherals via a single header on your motherboard or an external D-RGB controller. An ATX Bridging Plug is also included for safely testing the EK-Classic Kit P240 D-RGB for any potential fluid leakages or improper operation due to misfits or erroneous installations.
Last but not least, the EK-Classic Kit P240 D-RGB supports various Intel and AMD processors (including the latest AMD Ryzen 9 5950X). However, support for Intel’s recently unveiled Alder Lake (LGA 1700) CPUs hasn’t been mentioned, which is why we recommend reaching out to EKWB for clarification on this matter to see if they’ll provide the specific mounting bracket for Alder Lake processors. EKWB slaps on a standard 2-year warranty and prices the EK-Classic Kit P240 D-RGB – Black Nickel Edition around $290-295 and is currently available direct from EKWB’s website.
What We Like
EKWB manages to impress us again, with the EK-Classic Kit P240 D-RGB – Black Nickel Edition sporting what-would-be a monochromatic aesthetic to appeal to gamers with an undertone preference. However, EKWB has been kind enough to fully integrate Addressable RGB LEDs throughout the seemingly Best Custom Water Cooling Kit in 2023, attracting RGB enthusiasts.
Moreover, the EK-Classic Kit P240 D-RGB – Black Nickel Edition packs serious power for a 240mm radiator water loop, courtesy of the outstanding EK-Vardar S 120ER D-RGB fans, paired with EKWB’s EK-CryoFuel coolant that prevents sedimentation for lower fluid flow impedance contributing to the EK-Classic Kit P240 D-RGB’s overall heat dissipation. EKWB was also kind enough to include a foldable filling bottle, an ATX bridging plug, and 90-degree angled adaptors, combined with the EK-DuraClear soft tubing, all of which pave the way for an engaging, user-intuitive installation experience.
What We Dislike
Alas, the EK-Classic Kit P240 D-RGB – Black Nickel Edition isn’t perfect. EKWB naturally struggles to fairly price its products. The EK-Classic Kit P240 D-RGB is another example of this detrimental flaw, as EKWB commands almost a $300 price point for one of the Best Water Cooling Kits, which doesn’t sound too bad at first, but raises concerns when potential buyers are enlightened about the 240mm radiator since rival offerings manage to incorporate 360mm radiator loops with triple fans for about the same price, if not lower.
Therefore, the EK-Classic Kit P240 D-RGB – Black Nickel Edition struggles to outperform similarly priced 360mm radiator loops due in part to its weaker SPC pump, which has an underwhelming flow rate of 250L/hour. EKWB also doesn’t specify support for the newest Intel LGA 1700 CPU Socket, making the EK P240 D-RGB susceptible to possible compatibility issues. Lastly, the EK-Classic Kit P240 D-RGB – Black Nickel Edition signifies the absence of the EK-CryoFuel Dye Pack, an ingenious accessory that enables gamers to interchange the EK-CryoFuel Coolant’s colour for numerous colour theme matching scenarios.
What distinguishes the EK-Classic Kit P240 D-RGB – Black Nickel Edition from its competitors
EKWB has a knack for being a mainstay in the liquid cooling industry, with some regarding it as the original pioneer of the Water Cooling Kits, and for good reason. It’s safe to say that EKWB has done it again, with the EK-Classic Kit P240 D-RGB – Black Nickel Edition championing itself on our highly selective list as the Best Custom Water Cooling Kit in 2023, thanks to the top-of-the-line EK-Vardar S 120ER fans, accompanied by the unrivalled EK-CryoFuel coolant, rounded off by a joyous installation experience thanks to the 90-degree angled adaptors, the ATX bridging plug, the foldable filling bottle, the EK-Loop Soft Tube Cutter, and the Multi Allen Key, to name a few key factors, with addressable RGB lighting built-in throughout every component of the EK-Classic Kit P240 D-RGB – Black Nickel Edition for a unique aesthetic, reminiscent of EKWB’s design language.
The EK-Classic Kit P240 D-RGB – Black Nickel Edition is aimed at gaming enthusiasts who’re stepping into custom water cooling for the first time and don’t want to break into a bank in the process. Even though it features a relatively weaker SPC pump and a smaller 240mm radiator with dual fans only, the EK-Classic Kit P240 D-RGB manages to hold its own (somewhat) and is the perfect choice for users who want to keep their CPU clocks below 6 GHz, but enjoy an industry-leading liquid cooling experience that only EKWB can provide.
The soft tubing and aforementioned accessories make installation a walk in the park. However, potential buyers with Intel LGA 1700 processors would be well off contacting EKWB in advance to confirm compatibility via a separately provided mounting bracket. As such, if you’re okay with paying the premium for EKWB’s branding and build quality, you’ll agree with us to bestow the EK-Classic Kit P240 D-RGB – Black Nickel Edition with the award of being the Best Custom Water Cooling Kit in 2023, which also incorporates a fully customizable RGB system. Nonetheless, users would be well-advised to refrain from serious CPU overclocking past 6-6.5 GHz due to potential cooling constraints.
Thermaltake Pacific C360 DDC (Soft Tube)
Best Value Custom Water Cooling Kit
Specifications: 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
- Best bang for the buck
- Solid performance
- Fully integrated RGB system with A-RGB controller included
- 90-degree angled adaptors and bridging plug bundled
- Relatively user-friendly installation experience
- Universal compatibility
- Generally weak DDC pump
- Low fan speeds
- Noisier at high speeds
- Hard Tubing variant harder to install
Thermaltake is one of the few brands with a long-standing reputation in the entire cooling industry, be it individual fans, traditional air coolers, or AIOs, and is now unleashing its lineup of some of the Water Cooling Kits we’ve ever had the pleasure of analyzing. For now, we turn our attention toward the Thermaltake Pacific C360 DDC (Soft Tube Variant) as it aims to prove itself as the Best Value Custom Water Cooling Kit in 2023.
For starters, the Thermaltake Pacific C360 DDC uses the Thermaltake Pacific W4 A-RGB CPU Water Block for a direct and secure connection to your processor. The Pacific W4 A-RGB Water Block sports a total of 12x addressable RGB LEDs that may be controlled via the included RGB controller or with the help of a 5V A-RGB header on your motherboard since both the Water Block and the fans are compatible with major motherboard RGB software, namely Asus Aura Sync, MSI Mystic Light Sync, Gigabyte RGB Fusion 2.0, and ASRock Polychrome RGB.
As for the Pacific W4 A-RGB CPU Water Block, Thermaltake has used a specialized anti-corrosion design (nickel plating) with a machined copper baseplate, and a durable PMMA (Polymethyl methacrylate) cover that enhances the Thermaltake Pacific C360 DDC from a longevity aspect. Also, a high-fin density with 0.15mm micro-channel fin constructional architecture ensures optimal thermal dissipation.
For active cooling, the Thermaltake Pacific C360 DDC uses a trio of 120mm Pure 12 A-RGB Sync Radiator PWM Fans, which use 9x white fan blades with RGB diffusers underneath, coupled with a self-lubricating hydraulic bearing and further supplemented by anti-vibration rubber pads for optimal airflow generation (56.45 CFM) at minimal sound levels (maximum of 25.8 dBA). The Thermaltake Pure 12 A-RGB Sync Fans are adjustable between 500-1500 RPM and sports 7x different lighting modes using the proprietary RGB controller mentioned above. Additionally, Thermaltake rates the Pure 12 A-RGB fans at an MTTF (Mean Time To Failure) of 40,000 hours.
Moving onwards, the Pacific C360 DDC Liquid Cooling System uses a Thermaltake Pacific C360 Radiator, which replicates Thermaltake’s design language by using a high-density copper fin structure paired with stainless steel side panels and a thickness of just 27mm with an FPI (Fins Per Inch) count of 17. The copper construction and brass tank translate to automatic corrosion resistance for improved durability and rigidity.
The Thermaltake Pacific C360 Radiator goes hand in hand with the Pacific PR15 Pump/Reservoir Combo manufactured in Taiwan, featuring a maximum flow rate of 500L/hour thanks to the DDC pump. The Pacific PR15 also boasts premium POM (poly-oxy-methylene) and PMMA raw materials as far as the build quality of the heat-resistant Acrylic Tank (200ml reservoir) is concerned.
Furthermore, Thermaltake is utilizing 6x Soft Tube Compression Fittings (STC) with a high-quality O-ring. The STCs have an ID (Internal Diameter) of 1/2” and an OD (Outer Diameter) of 3/4”, but users may choose an alternative STC with an OD of 5/8”. The fittings have a black copper-plated finish, with the Tt (Thermaltake) logo printed on the side. It’s pertinent to mention the fittings, just like all other components of the Thermaltake Pacific C360 DDC carry the ‘Tt LCS’ certification, which Thermaltake applies only to its top-of-the-line Liquid Cooling Systems.
As we previously mentioned, the Thermaltake Pacific C360 DDC employs 200cm of soft tubing in the form of Thermaltake V-Tubler 4T transparent tubing built using PETG (Polyethylene terephthalate glycol) and 50% PVC, supplemented by 1L of Thermaltake’s T1000 Transparent Coolant – Pure Clear, the colours of which may be changed using Thermaltake’s TT Premium Concentrate (sold separately). Thermaltake also provides a pair of Pacific G1/4” 90-degree angled adaptors (coated in a chrome-plated copper texture) comprising two sealed O-rings for easier tubing adjustments since the adaptors allow a full 360-degree rotational movement.
Moreover, Thermaltake ships the Pacific C360 DDC with a tube of TT Thermal Paste and an ATX bridging plug for securely pre-testing your fittings, pump/reservoir combo, and Water Block for any possible liquid leakages. Finally, the Thermaltake Pacific C360 DDC ships with a 2-year warranty and a price tag varying around the $300 mark for the Soft Tube variant and about $320 for the Hard Tube variant.
What We Like
First off, the Thermaltake Pacific C360 DDC (Soft Tube) offers fantastic value for money, offering a 360mm radiator loop with triple fans for $300, thanks to which it’s able to surpass even the Best 240mm radiator Liquid Cooling Systems, and manages to go head-to-head with some of the more expensive Water Cooling Kits with high-performance fans and specialized radiators.
Thermaltake has also incorporated A-RGB capabilities into the pump/reservoir combo and the TT Pure 12 Radiator Fans of the Pacific C360 DDC alongside a dedicated A-RGB controller, offering users a choice between using the included controller or their motherboard’s proprietary software to adjust the lighting. Thermaltake was also kind enough to package 90-degree angled adaptors, an ATX Bridging Plug, and 1L of ready-to-use coolant (no dilution needed), which, combined with the soft PETG tubing, contributes to an effortless installation process, beneficial for newcomers in the Custom Water Cooling department.
What We Dislike
First of all, the Thermaltake Pacific C360 DDC uses a DDC pump, as the name suggests, which falters in comparison to D5 pumps, which are at least 2-3x more powerful in terms of overall flow rate. As such, the Pacific C360 DDC encounters slight trouble when it’s pitted against the Best Water Cooling Kits in 2023. The performance differential is further exacerbated when you take into account the low speed of the TT Pure 12 ARGB Sync Fans (maximum of 1500 RPM), because of which, all three fans need to work in tandem at higher speeds, detrimentally resulting in higher noise output.
We also feel mandated to highlight the somewhat complicated installation process of the Hard Tube variant of the Thermaltake Pacific C360 DDC, which may also require additional tools not included in the packaging, such as a heat gun for bending the tubes. Needless to say, while the Hard Tube variant may come off as more aesthetically pleasing, it’s not a feasible option for newbies.
What distinguishes the Thermaltake Pacific C360 DDC from its competitors
The Thermaltake Pacific C360 DDC offers an unbeatable price-to-performance ratio, packing in a 360mm radiator loop with 3x Pure 12 ARGB fans, accompanied by a proprietary ARGB controller for tweaking lighting effects, modes, and brightness, as well as 2x 90-degree angled adaptors, 200cm of soft tubing, an ATX bridging plug, and 1L of readied coolant alongside universal compatibility with even the latest Intel 12th Generation Alder Lake processors as well as a whole suite of AMD’s newest and oldest processors. All of these factors merge within to boast an unrivalled Liquid Cooling System experience, one ideal for gamers debuting their first Water Cooling System with the Best Value Custom Water Cooling Kit in the form of the Thermaltake Pacific C360 DDC (Soft Tube).
If you can make do with a relatively weaker DDC pump (in comparison to a D5 pump) and the slightly higher-than-average noise production (because of the higher fan load), the Thermaltake Pacific C360 DDC (Soft Tube) is undoubtedly the Best Value Custom Water Cooling Kit in 2023. The Hard Tube variant of the Pacific C360 DDC should only be chosen by veterans with ample Custom Water Cooling experience since it poses a comparably challenging installation procedure. Nevertheless, both the soft and hard tube variants exhibit the best value for your hard-earned money and are A-RGB capable as well with complete software and hardware (proprietary RGB controller) integration.
EK-AIO Elite 360 D-RGB
Best Closed Loop Water Cooling
Specifications: Type: Triple fan 360mm AIO | Fan: 6x EK-Vardar S 120ER D-RGB| Fan Speed: 550-2200 RPM | Pump Speed: 1000-3300 RPM | Tube Length: 400mm | TDP: 300W+ | RGB: Yes | Dimensions: 395 x 120 x 27mm | Socket Support: Intel LGA 1700, 1200, 1156, 1155, 1151, 1150, 2011(-3), 2066 & AMD AM4
- Elegant appearance
- Premium build quality
- Unmatched performance with 6x fans
- Ample overclocking headroom
- Dedicated Fan Hub bundled
- 400mm length of tubing provided
- Neat cable management
- Excellent compatibility
- 5-year warranty
- Comparatively overpriced
- Noisier at full fan speeds
- Potential clearance issues
- Low 50,000 hour fan MTTF
We’re sure you’re getting tired of seeing another EKWB product on our list of the Water Cooling Kits, as are we. Nonetheless, EKWB honourably receives another award for the Best Closed Loop Water Cooling in the form of the EK-AIO Elite 360 D-RGB. The EK-AIO Elite 360 presents a maintenance-free Closed Loop Water Cooling System in a push+pull configuration with pre-filled coolant for optimal thermal dissipation. Without wasting any more time, let’s microscopically inspect the EK-AIO Elite 360 D-RGB in complete depth.
Starting with the heart of the EK-AIO Elite 360 D-RGB, EKWB has evidently chosen to go with a 360mm aluminium radiator with a thickness of 27mm, 12x cooling channels, and a densely-packed fin arrangement. The radiator is connected to the Water Block, which features a graceful acrylic top cover for even RGB dispersion. The Water Block’s baseplate is built out of satin-milled copper, with the proprietary EK-TIM Ectotherm Thermal Compound pre-applied, even though EKWB goes above and beyond to include an additional syringe of the same thermal grease, which will come in handy for future reseating/reinstallations. The square CPU Water Block also conceals what EKWB claims is to be an improvised and more efficient PWM pump (bearing dimensions of 88 x 70 x 64mm), adjustable between 1000-3300 RPM with a minimum and maximum PWM (automatic control) range of 825-3300 RPM (25-100%).
The EK-AIO Elite 360 D-RGB’s main selling point is the 6x high-static pressure (1.9mm-H2O) EK-Vardar S 120ER D-RGB fans, with a trio of fans mated to either side of the radiator for a genuinely dynamic push+pull cooling setup, where 3x fans push the hot air to the outer atmosphere via the radiator like a typical AIO setup, but another 3x fans pull the hot air outside for faster and more efficient heat dissipation.
The EK-Vardar S 120ER D-RGB fans feature 7x white blades, which also act as RGB diffusers. The fans are adjustable between 550-2200 RPM and operate at a maximum sound output of 31.6 dB(A) while producing an airflow of 66.04 CFM. EKWB claims an MTTF of 50,000 hours thanks to a redesigned sleeve bearing with actively cooled motor windings for optimal cooling performance.
EKWB obviously knew that cable management was going to be a rather obnoxious issue on the EK-AIO Elite 360 D-RGB, which is why they bundled an EK-Hub which sports 7x sets of addressable RGB headers and 4-pin PWM fan headers for neat cable management of all the 6x EK-Vardar S 120ER D-RGB fans and RGB cables.
Another point worth mentioning is that both the CPU Water Block and the EK-Vardar fans are compatible with major motherboard RGB software such as Asus Aura Sync, MSI Mystic Light, Gigabyte RGB Fusion 2.0, and ASRock Polychrome Sync via a 3-pin 5V A-RGB connector for extensive lighting controls.
Furthermore, the EK-AIO Elite 360 D-RGB ships with 400mm of Ultra-Low Evaporation Rubber Tubing (Nylon Braided Sleeve), one end of which terminates directly into the radiator with the endpoints covered by diamond-cut rotary fittings for improved tubing flexibility and enhanced aesthetics. Resultantly, the installation procedure is significantly simplified, marred only by the potential clearance issues in some space-constrained PC chassis such as a Mini-ITX or Micro-ATX casing due to the Push+Pull fan configuration (3x fans on both sides).
Nearing the conclusion, EKWB rounds off the EK-AIO Elite 360 D-RGB with a reputable 5-year warranty while pricing is on the higher side, ranging around $210 due to double the number of fans (6x) than you’d usually see in a 360mm AIO (3x). Nonetheless, if pure performance, serious overclocking, and elegant visuals are your goal, the EK-AIO Elite 360 D-RGB is a simple no-brainer, being one of the best, if not the Best Closed Loop Water Cooling in 2023.
What We Like
To begin with, the EK-AIO Elite 360 D-RGB evinces a graceful approach to Closed Loop Water Cooling, with a Water Block made out of acrylic for even RGB diffusion. Moving on, EKWB graciously supplies 6x high-performance EK-Vardar S 120ER D-RGB fans for a unique Push+Pull cooling configuration and simultaneously unlocks vast overclocking potential. The EK-AIO Elite 360 D-RGB also comes bundled with the EK-Hub, useful for aesthetically and practically organizing the 4-pin PWM fan and 3-pin RGB cables for your EK-Vardar fans and RGB LEDs.
EKWB has been kind enough to provide a very generous 400mm of premium tubing with a pre-filled pump/reservoir (where the pump is said to be SPC style, which would be best-in-class for an AIO). The EK-AIO Elite 360 D-RGB also comes with an extra tube of EK-TIM Ectotherm Thermal Grease for future re-installations.
Let’s not forget the EK-AIO Elite 360’s outstanding compatibility since it supports the latest and greatest processors from Intel and AMD, including the newly released Intel LGA 1700 CPU platform as well as AMD AM4 socketed processors. Finally, EKWB rounds off the EK-AIO Elite 360 D-RGB with a 5-year warranty, making it very difficult for us to forgo it as the Best Closed Loop Water Cooling in 2022.
What We Dislike
Sadly, we do have a few qualms with the EK-AIO Elite 360 D-RGB, the first of which is its steep demand in terms of capital, with EKWB’s pricing varying around $210 and above. Although you still get a decent price-to-performance ratio, there’s no skipping past the fact your initial investment will be expensive, considering it is just an AIO after all.
Also, the EK-AIO Elite 360 D-RGB tends to maintain a relatively high sound profile when all 6x EK-Vardar fans are running at top speeds, which will only happen if gaming enthusiasts decide to step past the 6 GHz threshold on their expensive silicon (CPUs).
Due to the aforementioned 6x fans, installations in smaller PCs can be tricky due to the space clearance required on either side of the radiator, courtesy of the Push+Pull fan setup. We’d have also preferred a higher MTTF rating on the fan (currently 50,000 hours).
What distinguishes the EK-AIO Elite 360 D-RGB from its competitors
A unique 6x fan Push+Pull cooling configuration, coupled with an SPC-styled pump and pre-filled reservoir, supplemented by an acrylic CPU Water Block, a 360mm aluminium radiator with 12x cooling channels, and further complemented by 400mm worth of Ultra-Low Evaporation Rubber Tubing alongside a spare syringe of EK-TIM Ectotherm Thermal Compound, the bundled EK-Hub for organized cable management as well as compatibility with all recent Intel and AMD processors and a stellar 5-year warranty are just a few of the critical factors which impel us to announce the EK-AIO Elite 360 D-RGB as the Best Closed Loop Water Cooling in 2023. All in all, EKWB always has remained the champion in Liquid Water Cooling, and now you can see why.
Potential buyers would be well-advised to utilize the EK-AIO Elite 360 D-RGB in a spacious chassis due to the possible clearance issues. Nevertheless, if you can ignore the noise output (at max fan RPMs) and pay the premium for an EKWB-branded cooling product, the EK-AIO Elite 360 D-RGB should instantly win you over (as it’s definitely won our confidence) as the Best Closed Loop Water Cooling in 2023, courtesy of its one-of-a-kind stock Push+Pull configuration (with 6x EK-Vardar S 120ER D-RGB fans), 400mm long tubing, and handy accessories such as the EK-Hub for neatly tucking away all your cables out of sight.
Thermaltake Pacific PR32-D5 Plus 16.8M RGB Colour
Best Water Cooling Pump Reservoir Combo
Thermaltake reappears on our list of the Water Cooling Kits in 2023. However, for the purpose of this specific section, we’ll be turning our attention toward the Thermaltake Pacific PR32-D5 Plus RGB Pump/Reservoir Combo as we analyze it in complete detail to see if it lives up to the claim of being the Best Water Cooling Pump Reservoir Combo in 2023.
Starting with the reservoir, the Thermaltake Pacific PR32-D5 Plus comprises a 267mm tall reservoir with a maximum capacity of 400ml and a pressure tolerance of 50 PSI. The cap is rotatable through a full 360-degrees, allowing users to even change positions of your G1/4” threading ports after the Pump/Reservoir Combo has been fixated to the rest of your Liquid Cooling System and Water Cooling Case to deliver higher flexibility for easier installations. Speaking of the installation process, Thermaltake bundles a bracket that enables users to mount the Pacific PR32-D5 Plus (dimensions measured at 78.4 x 78.4 x 267mm) on a single fan, ideal for gamers who want to enjoy water cooling in space-restricted casings.
Secondly, Thermaltake has incorporated 12x addressable RGB LEDs, which shine through the reservoir’s top cover and are dispersed through the coolant, with 5 pre-set lighting modes available through Thermaltake’s TT RGB Plus software with complete 16.8 million colour control and user-specific customizations also possible. Not to forget, the reservoir is built using a mixture of aluminium, POM, and PMMA, for resistance to high coolant temperatures promoting increased longevity and durability.
Moving on, Thermaltake is using a D5 pump, capable of running between 1800-4800 RPM with a maximum pressure head of 4.5m and a high flow rate of 1135L/hour with input voltage rated at 12V. Manual 5-Level Speed Control has also been offered in the instance gamers want to set custom speed curves.
Last but not least, TT AI Voice Control is also supported for some fancy voice-activated controls over the Pacific PR32-D5 Plus. Thermaltake provides a 2-year warranty, which may detract potential buyers with future-proofing concerns, especially when you take into account Thermaltake’s comparably overpriced demand of $200 for the Pump/Reservoir Combo. Nevertheless, if you can cough up two hundred-dollar bills and don’t mind the short warranty period, the Thermaltake Pacific PR32-D5 Plus 16.8M RGB Colour earns our nod as the Water Cooling Pump Reservoir Combo in 2023.
EK-Quantum Inertia D5 PWM D-RGB
Best D5 Pump
EKWB appears in our article on the Best Water Cooling Kits in 2023 for what seems like the thousandth time. Notwithstanding, the EK-Quantum Inertia D5 PWM D-RGB is the Best D5 Pump in 2023, but you don’t need to take our word for it. Let the following details enchant you.
Starting with the housing of the EK-Quantum Inertia D5 PWM D-RGB, EKWB has gone with a top constructed from CNC-machined acrylic, supplemented by a black ring to prevent the Addressable RGB LEDs (pre-installed 3-pin 5V D-RGB LED strip) from ‘bleeding’ through, so as to maintain even light diffusion. In addition, the Inertia D5 Pump features a single inlet on the top with a solitary outlet port located toward the side of the housing for the 2x G1/4” fittings’ installation.
As for the mechanism of the EK-Quantum Inertia D5 PWM D-RGB, the pump is based on the peerless Xylem D5 pumps but with improved power management and speed controls. The Inertia D5 pump uses an electronically commutated spherical motor where the only moving part is a spherical rotor, which the Inertia D5 pump holds in place with an ultra-hard and water-resistant ceramic ball bearing, rated at an MTTF of 50,000 hours (under an ambient temperature of 25C).
The EK-Quantum Inertia D5 pump exhibits a circular design, allowing installation at a user-preferred angle within 360-degrees rotational movement, which extends the possibility of tube routing. With regards to the specifications, the EK-Quantum Inertia D5 PWM D-RGB is rated for an undefeated maximum flow rate of 1500L/hours at a pressure head of 3.9m while sipping through 23W of power at 12V of DC (Direct Current), connected via a 4-pin PWM 600mm cable and 500mm 3-pin 5V D-RGB cable where both cables are sleeved. EKWB specifies the maximum operating temperature of the EK-Quantum Inertia D5 at 60C. EKWB also uses a specially engineered rubber shock absorber to dampen the sound emitted from the main pump body for whisper-quiet operation.
EKWB has used top-of-the-line raw materials for the EK-Quantum Inertia D5 PWM D-RGB, including, but not limited to, stainless steel, EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer) O-Rings, aluminium oxide, and hard coal, to name a few, for heat and deformity resistance to high-coolant temperatures.
EKWB also includes the previously discussed EK-Loop Multi Allen Key for tightening and protecting your G1/4” fittings from snapping or cracking. Not to forget, the EK-Quantum Inertia D5 was manufactured in Slovenia except for the pump motor (made in Hungary). EKWB provides a 2-year warranty, which doesn’t meet our expectations, and the $160 price tag doesn’t do much to help that. Regardless, it is an EKWB product, so overpricing shouldn’t be surprising. Nevertheless, we hold the EK-Quantum Inertia D5 PWM D-RGB in the highest honour as the Best D5 Pump in 2023. There’s a reason EKWB can ask what they want (in terms of money), and get away with it.
EK-D5 Vario Motor
Best Budget Water Cooling Pump
EKWB, while notorious for overpricing its cooling products, hasn’t forgotten the special budget-conscious section of our audience. The EK-D5 Vario Motor steals the show as the Budget Water Cooling Pump in 2023 since it offers an EKWB-branded D5 pump for well under $100, which sounds unbelievable. Let’s see if the EK-D5 Vario Motor lives up to its name or not.
To begin with, EKWB uses a Lowara D5 pump for the EK-D5 Vario Motor as one of its way of cutting costs. Nonetheless, the EK-D5 Vario Motor mimics the more-than-twice-as-expensive EK-Quantum Inertia D5 Pump, as it sports an electronically communicated spherical motor with just a spherical rotor moving, which is also held in place by the ultra-durable, water-resistant ceramic ball bearing rated at an MTTF of 50,000 hours provided the ambient temperature is maintained at 25C.
Moving on, the EK-D5 Vario Motor is adjustable between a minimum and maximum speed of 1800-4800 RPM with 5-level manual speed control being offered (1800, 2550, 3300, 4050, and 4800 RPM).
The EK-D5 Vario Motor is rated at a maximum power consumption of 23W, accompanied by an operating voltage ranging between 8-24V DC, with the maximum head pressure and flow rate varying up to 3.9m and 1500L/hour, respectively, with the maximum coolant temperature being highlighted at 60C, before the liquid starts to vaporize and disintegrate into its constituent elements, forcing the pump to alter its chemical and physical properties as well.
The EK-D5 Vario Motor is blessed with EKWB’s premium build quality by way of the stainless steel, EPDM O-Rings, aluminium oxide, and hard coal used in the manufacturing of the D5 Vario Motor and its assorted components. Moreover, the EK-D5 Vario Motor takes a slightly unconventional approach by using a 4-pin Molex and 3-pin fan connector, forgoing the 4-pin PWM connector, and thus PWM functionality, meaning automatic speed regulation won’t be possible.
EKWB packages the EK-D5 Vario Motor with its standardized 2-year warranty, which we can forgive, considering the D5 pump barely costs $80 at most, which is one of the reasons we crown the EK-D5 Vario Motor as the Best Budget Water Cooling Pump in 2022, that is, assuming you can turn a blind eye towards the absence of PWM regulation.
Noctua NF-A12x25 PWM Chromax.Black
Best Fans for Water Cooling Radiator
Surprised? Well, you really shouldn’t be. An article on the Water Cooling Kits in 2023 wouldn’t be complete without a Noctua Cooling Product and the Noctua NF-A12x25 PWM Chromax.Black steps in as a saving grace for Noctua to glorify the world-renowned brand for manufacturing the Best Fans for Water Cooling Radiator in 2023.
For starters, the Noctua NF-A12x25 PWM Chromax.Black is based on a 9x fan blade design and 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. However, users may also choose to adopt any of the included NA-AVP1 Blue, Green, Red, White, Yellow, and Grey anti-vibration pads if not the stock black pads. Noctua has also used the ’Sterrox’ Liquid-Crystal polymer compound on the NF-A12x25’s impeller for increasing tensile strength and reducing the thermal expansion coefficient alongside anti-vibration and sound-dampening characteristics for optimally silent cooling performance.
Secondly, the Noctua NF-A12x25 PWM Chromax.Black features the tried-and-tested SSO2 (Self-Stabilizing Oil-Pressure) bearing, which enables the 120mm fan to run at speeds ranging between 450-2000 RPM, and can also go right down to 0 RPM if users set the PWM duty cycle to 0% for truly passive cooling if your gaming system doesn’t experience any thermal limitations. Even at maximum fan speed, the NF-A12x25 only goes up to a decibel count of 22.6, with high-static pressure maintained at 2.34mm-H2O while sipping through 1.68W, 0.14A, and 12V of power, current, and operating voltage, respectively. Noctua is also able to achieve an impressive 60.09 CFM of airflow circulation when the NF-A12x25 is spinning at 2000 RPMs.
Thirdly, Noctua rates the NF-A12x25 PWM Chromax.Black at an unbeatable MTTF of 150,000+ hours and even includes an NA-AVG1 Chromax.Black Anti-Vibration Silicone Gasket for the majority of enthusiasts in our audience who intend to use the NF-A12x25 with the Best Water Cooling Radiators. The gasket will form a tighter seal between the radiator and fan to ultimately dampen any vibrations while reducing air loss between the two components for maximal thermal dissipation.
Coming back to the fan design itself, the NF-A12x25 features several of Noctua’s revolutionary design tweaks, such as an AAO (Advanced Acoustic Optimization) frame, a Stepped Inlet Design, Inner Surface Microstructures, a CNC-machined metal bearing shell, a proprietary PWM IC (Integrated Circuit) with SCD2 (Smooth Commutation Drive), flow acceleration channels, and a metal-reinforced motor hub, amongst numerous other subtle, but effective cooling techniques and optimizations, which extend beyond the scope of this article on the Best Water Cooling Kits in 2023. Needless to say, the NF-A12x25 features best-in-class cooling performance while sustaining inaudible acoustics and exhibiting an understated yet, sleek aesthetic.
Noctua packages the NF-A12x25 PWM Chromax.Black with an unparalleled 6-year warranty, with extremely attractive pricing varying between $30-40, which gives us all the more reason to proclaim the Noctua NF-A12x25 PWM Chromax.Black as the Best Fans for Water Cooling Radiator in 2023. Nothing else comes even remotely close in the realm of Noctua supremacy.
Corsair iCUE QL Series QL120 RGB
Best RGB Fans for Water Cooling Radiator
Corsair returns to our list with a 120mm fan, specially engineered and curated to appeal to the RGB enthusiast portion of our audience, bearing a multitude of RGB LEDs on the front, back, inner, and outer loop of the fan. Without any further ado, let’s get straight into it.
To begin with, the Corsair iCUE QL Series QL120 RGB comes in a 120mm configuration, as the name suggests, with its main focus set on RGB lighting. Corsair has integrated a total of 34x individually addressable RGB LEDs on the QL120 RGB fan, where the inner loop has 4x and 6x RGB LEDs on the front and back, respectively and the outer loop comprises 12x RGB LEDs each on the front and back.
Moving on, the Corsair iCUE QL120 RGB PWM fan comes in a choice of either black or white colours, with Corsair using a Hydraulic Bearing to power the 120mm fan, rated at an operating voltage of 6V-13.2V depending on the fan’s speed. Users may adjust the fan speed manually or automatically (with PWM control) between 525-1500 RPM, where the Corsair iCUE QL120 RGB fan will output a maximum sound level of 26 dB(A) at the highest fan speeds while drawing 0.30A of current. Resultantly, the Corsair iCUE QL120 RGB sustains a high-static pressure of 1.55mm-H2O and produces a max airflow of 41.8 CFM, which, admittedly, is a lot lower than we expect from a high-performance fan, but then again, Corsair’s not aiming for performance with the iCUE QL120 RGB fan.
It’s worth noting that it’ll be pretty much useless to buy just a single Corsair iCUE QL120 RGB fan since you won’t be provided with the Lighting Node Core, which is needed to power on (and control) all the individual RGB LEDs on the fan. This accessory is only included with the triple-fan kit. However, you may purchase up to 6x Corsair iCUE QL120 RGB fans for a Push+Pull configuration, as the Lighting Node Core supports RGB control for a maximum of 6x fans.
Corsair prices the iCUE QL120 RGB 120mm PWM Triple Fan Kit with Lighting Node Core at $140, which is pretty steep for 3x fans with average cooling performance. If you intend to buy a single iCUE QL120 RGB fan (which is pretty pointless), Corsair will demand $45, though you may find discounts, cutting down the price to as low as $35.
Corsair slaps on a 2-year warranty for its innovative RGB fans, which we feel is highly lacking and doesn’t do justice to the price point of the fans, simultaneously raising longevity and durability concerns from a potential buyer or user’s perspective.
Nonetheless, paired with Corsair’s extremely easy-to-use iCUE RGB software, we feel confident when recommending the Corsair iCUE QL120 RGB 120mm PWM Triple Fan Kit with Lighting Node Core as the Best RGB Fans for Water Cooling Radiator in 2023. No one else does RGB like the Corsair iCUE QL120 RGB fans.
Corsair Hydro X Series Xt Hardline
Best Hard Tubing for Water Cooling
Choosing the Best Hard Tubing for Water Cooling isn’t an easy job since you need to scrutinize your options to crosscheck their maximum operating temperature and raw build materials, among other crucial factors. Nonetheless, we’ve taken that trouble upon ourselves, and thus, we present to you the Corsair Hydro X Series Xt Hardline as the Best Hard Tubing for Water Cooling in 2023.
Corsair has been known as a mainstay in Liquid Water Cooling for numerous years after garnering its reputation as the ultimate manufacturer of high-speed RAM modules. Getting straight to the point, the Corsair Hydro X Series Xt Hardline generally ships in a 14mm (diameter) configuration. Corsair has gone with PMMA tubing for complete transparency to enable gamers to showcase their coolant’s unique colours (if any).
Also, the Corsair Hydro X Series Xt Hardline is more resistant to higher coolant temperatures and does prevent breakage/cracking to a great extent, which is why it’s recommended to use a heat gun for an extended period of time if you plan on using a tubing route with multiple bends.
Failure to do so may result in your tubing breaking, which could possibly endanger your gaming system’s components and the neighbouring parts of your Custom Water Cooling Kit. Lastly, Corsair prices the Hydro X Series Xt Hardline at around $20, in-line with competitive pricing trends, which is one of the reasons we believe that the Corsair Hydro X Series Xt Hardline is the Best Hard Tubing for Water Cooling in 2023.
Best Soft Tubing for Water Cooling
EKWB loves making a multitude of appearances in our article on the Best Water Cooling Kits in 2023. However, on this occasion, we’re scrutinizing the EK-DuraClear Transparent Soft Tubing as what we believe is to be the Best Soft Tubing for Water Cooling for a number of reasons.
First and foremost, EKWB has spent over 2-years developing the EK-DuraClear tubing, which is built using PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) with smooth inner walls that prevent the growth of bacterial build-up and residue, an issue notorious for negatively impacting cooling performance by altering the chemical and physical properties of your Water Cooling Kit’s Coolant.
Secondly, the EK-DuraClear tubing is completely transparent, meaning gamers may use specialized dyes to tweak the colour of their coolant and have it shine right through the soft tubing for breath-taking visual effects. EKWB has taken a minimalistic approach, with the EK-DuraClear tubing bearing no visible branding at all to showcase an understated, stealthy aesthetic.
EK-DuraClear tubing is also UV (Ultraviolet Radiation) Resistant so that users don’t have to worry about their coolant or tubing being affected in terms of performance. Furthermore, EKWB rates the tubing at a maximum operating temperature of 80C to guarantee an extensive lifespan, componentially speaking. EKWB’s tubing design is such that it promotes comprehensive flexibility without incurring kinks, which is handy when navigating through complicated tubing setups.
EKWB ships 300cm of EK-DuraClear tubing by default, with the ID (Internal Diameter) and OD (Outer Diameter) being measured at 3/8” (9.5mm) and 5/8” (15.9mm), respectively. Of course, EKWB strongly recommends potential buyers to pair the EK-DuraClear tubing with their proprietary EK-CryoFuel coolant and EK-ACF 10/16mm Soft Tube Compression Fittings for complete harmony in terms of optimal cooling performance.
Last but not least, EKWB stands by the EK-DuraClear Transparent Tubing with a somewhat mediocre 2-year warranty in terms of the time period since the EK-DuraClear Soft Tubing does command a relatively higher price point in the whereabouts of $20.
EKWB EK-CryoFuel Clear
Best Coolant for PC Water Cooling
Once again, EKWB is back with another win, this time in the form of its EK-CryoFuel Clear Coolant, our unanimous choice in terms of the Best Coolant for PC Water Cooling. Before we closely inspect the EK-CryoFuel Coolant, it’s essential to remember that it was formulated and wholly manufactured in Slovenia, signifying EKWB’s lineup of premium cooling products and accessories.
To begin with, EKWB ships 1L of pre-mixed, ready-to-use EK-CryoFuel Clear Coolant, which, as the name suggests, is totally transparent and see-through so that users may inculcate mixtures such as the EK-CryoFuel Dye Pack as innovative methods to liven up their PC’s Water Cooling System and manually shift coolant colours.
Moving on, the EK-CryoFuel mixture comprises collaborative corrosion inhibitors to work in complete congruity with metallic elements commonly found in PC Liquid Cooling Systems such as copper, brass, aluminium, and stainless steel, as well as acrylic, acetal, rubber, PETG, and POM materials to name a few. EKWB also exceeds expectations by ensuring the EK-CryoFuel’s biodegradability in case it’s accidentally exposed to the outer atmosphere, with EKWB claiming 90% biological decomposition within 10 days for environmental protection. Not to forget, the EK-CryoFuel is also UV-resistant.
Adding on, the EK-CryoFuel coolant possesses a neutral pH (7.0), which may slightly vary between pH 6-8 due to recurring minor chemical reactions and alterations between the coolant and your specific tubing. EKWB rates the EK-CryoFuel at a maximum operating temperature of 60C, where the EK-CryoFuel will start decomposing into its constituent elements and compounds if a temperature of 65C is surpassed.
EKWB backs up the EK-CryoFuel with a 2-year warranty, which seems reasonable since the shelf life of the coolant after bottling is also 2-years. The 1L variant of the ready-to-go EK-CryoFuel Coolant Mixture is priced around $22, with EKWB’s foldable filling bottle and the EK-CryoFuel Dye Pack sold separately.
That being said, you can alternatively purchase the 100mL variant of EK-CryoFuel Clear (Concentrated) and then dilute it at home using distilled water in a 1:9 ratio (900mL of water) to form 1L of DIY EK-CryoFuel coolant. You may buy the 100mL concentrated version for about $13.5 if you’re looking to save some money. Nonetheless, it’s pretty clear to us (and we hope you) why the EKWB EK-CryoFuel Clear is the Best Coolant for PC Water Cooling, objectively speaking.
Best Custom Water Cooling Brands
These days, Custom Water Cooling is all the rage, which is precisely why numerous manufacturers and competitors, namely EKWB, Thermaltake, Corsair, NZXT, Arctic, CoolerMaster, Enermax, MSI, Alphacool, and many others, are vying for market domination, with each company trying their best to come up with the Best Water Cooling Kits.
If we talk about the forefront, EKWB is the undisputed reigning champion as far as Water Cooling of any sort goes, with Thermaltake, Arctic, and Corsair following right on its heels, in terms of pure brand reputation and value.
Water Cooling vs Air Cooling
Gaming enthusiasts often reach an impasse while debating between choosing a water cooler or an air cooler for maintaining sustainable ambient temperatures inside their gaming systems, including but not limited to their prized components such as the CPU, GPU, RAM, and even the VRMs (Voltage Regulator Modules) on their motherboards for high-performance overclocking scenarios.
Water Coolers boast enhanced cooling performance over even the Best Air Coolers, using liquid coolant paired with a full-sized radiator and pump/reservoir. If you implement decently sized tubing, you can customize your water cooling setup to cater to your entire PC at once, using a singular unit that courses coolant over every residing component to reduce temperatures of all the PC parts immediately without the need for separate casing coolers.
These advancements allow water coolers to offer exceptional overclocking headroom, allowing gamers to breeze past the 5 GHz threshold. If you’ve used an air cooler, you’ll know that’s easier said than done.
However, water coolers run a substantial risk of liquid leakages, promoting an event of electrical hazard that could potentially endanger your gaming PC’s electrical components to a level of impaired performance or permanent damage, destined to dampen the vibe (no pun intended).
Water coolers have the additional downside of being extremely pricey, with custom loops easily surpassing the $300-500 mark. Even plug-n-play Water Cooling Kits are at least double the price of a traditional air cooler or AIO solution, with maintenance costs adding up over time in the form of fluid refills and fixing any possible tubing kinks/leakages/radiators down the line.
Regardless of the most innovative Best Water Cooling Kits, pumps, and radiators; air coolers still evince the highest value for your money since they tend to use cheaper moving parts such as a traditional fan working in conjunction with a comparatively smaller radiator, which, obviously is unable to match the Top Water Cooling Kits in terms of real-world performance and overclocking potential.
Nonetheless, air coolers demonstrate the best price-to-performance ratios since you can typically source the Best Air Coolers from the likes of industry-leading manufacturers such as Noctua or BeQuiet! for $100-150 with the Best Budget CPU Coolers (including AIOs) falling between $30-100.
Unlike water coolers, air coolers primarily run on the basis of convectional current to maximize air circulation throughout your heatsink, the CPU Socket Area (VRMs), and your entire PC chassis, meaning the chances of fluid leakages are non-existent since there isn’t any liquid, to begin with. This drastically increases the longevity of air coolers without the need for regular maintenance to be carried out, asides from routinely cleaning the radiator and fan blades for top-notch cooling performance.
Best Tubing Size for Water Cooling
The G1/4” thread (12.9mm wide) is the industry standard for all brands manufacturing the Water Cooling Kits. There are, of course, other sizes, such as G1/8” (9mm) or G3/8” (16.5mm). Still, these relatively ancient tubings have gradually phased out over time, though you may encounter them in older water cooling loops.
Another common misconception is to use thicker tubes for a higher flow rate and, thus, enhanced cooling. As such, we feel compelled to debunk this myth. Since the cross-section of liquid flow is restricted by the outer dimensions (OD) of your fittings and because the inner dimension (ID) of a fitting with a G1/4” thread can’t exceed 9-10mm under normal circumstances, using thicker tubes won’t necessarily improve your flow rate. Additionally, water blocks and other components of your cooling loop, such as the pump, can also be limiting factors, so it’s best to go for an advanced water pump if you want to ramp up the flow rate.
As for the length of the tubing itself, it’s best to stick with anywhere between 200-300mm, depending on your casing’s chassis and the loop route you’re planning to undertake. If you go any shorter than 200mm, you may run short of tubing when setting up your loop, and using tubes longer than 300mm might result in kinking, twisting, and thus degradation of your tubing, and in turn, the entire water loop, therefore increasing the risk of fluid leakage and componential endangerment.
Regarding the multiple types of fittings out there, we’ll discuss the three most widely used fittings, the first of which is Soft Tubing Compression (STC). STC fittings bear two numbers that state the ID and OD of compatible tubings, which must be crossmatched to ensure complete affinity.
An STC fitting comprises two parts: the base being the main part, accompanied by a locking ring, which screws onto the fitting’s base and prevents your tubing from slipping off the barb (STC fittings somewhat resemble the retro standard barb fittings). The locking ring compresses and grips the tube with an airtight seal, thus contributing to the ‘Compression’ name in STC fittings.
Moving on, Hard Tubing Compression (HDC) fittings present themselves with a single figure, which correlates to the OD of the tubing it supports. An HDC fitting consists of additional constituents, but the previously discussed base and locking ring are the ones worth paying attention to. After the tubing’s installation, the locking ring presses down on an extra O-ring (HDC fittings generally have two supplementary O-rings, one nestled inside the fitting’s base, the other residing between the base and locking ring), which restricts the tubing from slipping out of its base while the locking ring compresses the O-ring holding the tube, and thus, formulating a hard compression fitting.
Another form of hard fittings is Hard Tubing Push-In (HDP) fittings, which only have two internally fixated O-rings, requiring the user to simply insert the tube into the fitting to obtain an airtight seal.
Sidenote: In case you’re wondering why the short forms of Hard Tubing Compression and Hard Tubing Push-In fittings are HDC and HDP instead of HTC and HTP; HTC is a mobile phone manufacturer, as we’re sure many are aware, so the short forms were changed accordingly to eliminate any potential confusion. As such, don’t worry if you come across HTC or HTP fittings; it’s essentially the same thing.
How We Tested
All of the spotlighted Water Cooling Kits undergo comprehensive research here at Tech4Gamers, after which we take into account our proficient analytics, combined with in-house reviewing and testing (if viable). We also compare real-world performance benchmarks under idle, typical, and heavy/gaming/overclocking workloads. Not to forget, we crossmatch relative performance, affordability, design, noise output, and customer support to present a completely objective and realistic perspective of each Liquid Cooling System from every aspect.
Our Selection Criteria
Choosing the Best Water Cooling Kits isn’t a job well-suited for the faint-hearted since you’ll need to take numerous factors into consideration. Nevertheless, you’re the one who has to make the decision ultimately. For your convenience, we’ve mentioned and explained a couple of crucial points to brood over while attempting to complete your quest for handpicking the optimal Custom Water Cooling Kit in accordance with your personalized workflows.
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).
Of course, the neighbouring components are equally vital to overall thermal dissipation, such as the Water Pump (in terms of fluid flow rate and Pump Speed) and the choice of liquid reservoir, as well as the tubing, coolant, and the type of fittings being used, to some extent.
Every Water Cooling Kit will introduce itself at a unique price point, determined by its relative cooling performance, build quality, general design, and aesthetics (including RGB capabilities, if any), not to forget manufacturer support and bundled accessories, which varies amongst even the Best Custom Cooling Kits.
Therefore, it’s essential to keep a specific budget in mind, so you’ll know whether it’s feasible for you to splurge on some of the fancier Water Coolers around or compromise on perhaps RGB lighting and coloured coolant, for example, going ahead with a functionality-oriented high-performance cooler instead with a faster pump and versatile expandability for future-proofing.
Smaller fans have a tendency to be noisier, so it’s for the best if you choose a Water Cooling Kit with a physically larger set of fans since it’ll be able to spin at lower speeds but produce the same amount of airflow, albeit with far less noise. It’s also advisable and rather obvious to select a Liquid Cooling System with anti-vibration paddings and quieter pumps, such as a D5 pump, compared to a DDC pump.
Even the Best Water Cooling Kits will differentiate from each other in terms of operational efficiency. That’s why it’s crucial to choose a Water Cooler with the capacity (and some extra clearance) to capably cool down your entire PC alongside the CPU without needing to induce thermal throttling to maintain satisfactory temperatures.
For example, if you happen to be running an AMD Ryzen 9 5950X, the TDP (Thermal Design Process) for that processor is rated at 105W, so you should be searching for a Custom Cooling Kit rated at 160W+ so as to give you ample overclocking clearance as well, should the day ever come for that.
Notwithstanding, we’d like to reassure mainstream gamers and even the moderate overclocking enthusiasts out there that all the Liquid Cooling Systems featured in our article will comfortably handle even the beastliest Core i9, Xeon, Threadripper, and even EPYC processors from the likes of Intel and AMD respectively with TDP ratings ranging up to and beyond 250W (although we don’t guarantee successful installations with AMD Threadripper and EPYC CPUs due to major differences in mounting sockets).
Aesthetics and Build Quality
Manufacturers tend to distinguish their respective offerings for the Custom Cooling Kits by offering their unique take on the cooler’s aesthetics and build quality. Some brands might opt for more premium construction and dazzling RGB capabilities as well as deluxe fittings, leading to a higher price tag. In contrast, others may favour a slightly unexotic or more practical approach, sacrificing their design flair for perhaps improvised cooling performance in the form of larger fans, more powerful water pumps, and, with luck, perhaps a lower cost price.
It’s no surprise that every Liquid Cooling Kit will not be compatible with your particular CPU since every Kit has a differing mounting procedure and installation process. Manufacturers may launch two variants of the same cooler, one for Intel and the other for the AMD guys and gals. That’s why it’s essential to cross-match your desired Water Cooling Kit’s support for the processor you’re planning to pair it with. As you must’ve already noticed, for your convenience, we’ve already highlighted all the CPU sockets that are supported by each of the Water Coolers.
(Sidenote: If you’re showing off the all-new Intel 12th Generation Alder Lake CPUs, you may reach out to the coolers’ manufacturers to see if they’ll provide you with an upgrade kit for the LGA 1700 socket, should you wish to utilize any of the Best Liquid Cooling Systems listed above, and of course, assuming the manufacturer hasn’t already included the kit in the packaging.
We make it a habit of closely scrutinizing each of the enlisted Best Water Cooling Systems in terms of after-sales customer service care provided by each manufacturer, keeping in mind past experiences and track records while also inspecting the MTTF of individual components such as the fans, pump/reservoir combo, tubing, coolant, and the entire unit itself. Of course, we don’t let warranty periods slide by, actively encouraging manufacturers to stand by their products for an extended period of time, often up to 6-years.
Why Should You Trust Our Judgement
With over twelve years of experience in the tech and gaming industry, our dedicated team has been refined consistently to produce a potent group of knowledgeable individuals who are known to relay the most accurate information to our valued consumers, thanks to the extensive research and reviewing we conduct before we publish every piece of journalism.
In addition to this, we have been explicitly featured on a majority of the top-notch gaming and tech brands, such as Gigabyte, MSI, Asus, DeepCool, just to name a few, as reliable and trusted sources for Hardware and Technology. These and other renowned manufacturers such as Noctua, Thermaltake, Xigmatek, and several others routinely send samples to us, based on which we formulate unbiased reviews to provide our readers with a genuine perspective of the particular product from an objective standpoint.
Subsequently, we instill confidence in our esteemed consumers, who may rely on us to give them the best advice for building, customizing, and modifying their personal gaming computers.
Frequently Asked Questions
As explained previously, 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, sharply contrasting water cooling setups where the chances of liquid leakage and pump failure are significant, comparatively speaking.
Distilled water mixed with biocide will act as the perfect coolant for your PC’s Water Cooling setup. That’s because the biocide will prevent any corrosion of metal parts coinciding with the tubing and will prevent bacterial growth as well for, to some extent, a maintenance-free operational routine. The distilled water won’t chemically react so as to sustain an optimal coefficient of thermal expansion.
Heat is a natural enemy as far as electrical components are concerned. The Best Water Cooling Kits will ensure that the CPU and GPU, amongst other essential components, remain comparably cool even when being pushed to the limit under the most extreme gaming or overclocking scenarios. As such, it can be said that water coolers will extend the lifespan of your gaming PC by ensuring it never overheats or throttles. Nevertheless, you need to take precautionary measures and remain on the lookout to ensure that a liquid leakage or pump failure doesn’t occur since both issues could potentially damage your PC and its vital components to a permanent extent.
If we’re being honest for the majority of our target audience, no. Water cooling setups are generally only required for workstation-class PCs using industry-leading CPUs such as the 64-core/128-thread AMD EPYC processor aimed at server workloads. These CPUs will have blisteringly high TDPs, which promote significant heat emission, requiring top-of-the-line water cooling setups to be implemented for keeping dangerously high temperatures at bay. Unless you’re using the highest-end 12th Generation Intel Core i9-12900KS or AMD Ryzen 9 5950x CPUs in airflow-restricted chassis, you probably won’t require any of the Best Water Cooling Kits.
Generally speaking, no. Water coolers require a steep financial investment and expensive, time-consuming maintenance, which is never-ending due to the variable individual parts involved. Coupled with the risk of leakages, water cooling generally isn’t worth the trade-off unless you’re putting a workstation-class PC through its paces or perhaps, plan to venture past the mighty 6 GHz barrier in terms of CPU clocks.
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