Zalman Watercooling part 3

First of all, everyone who’s thinking about installing watercooling of your own now, it isn’t as easy as it looks, but it is worth it!!!

So, after the leak yesterday and fastening the base of the storage tank. I let it run for a complete night and day. Not a single drop left the tank or tubes, so it’s safe to put into production.

The bolts from zalman allow you to use a PCI slot at the back of your PC to function as a in and out for the tubes. This is the easy way, but you’re left with a half an empty and open PCI slot. So my choice went for drilling holes in the case. Those holes had to be 16mm ones, which is not a common size (as in what you normally had lying arround at home) for an iron bore (which maxes at 10mm). Drilling holes in a computer case looks easy, but actually isn’t.

16mm iron bore
The 16mm iron bore

Second thing I did, after drilling the holes, was removing the VGA heatsink and fan, cleaning the memory chips with alcohol, installing the waterblock and applying the new Zalman memory heatsinks. They should stick to the chips with addesive thermal compound. I say should stick because with the slightest bump to them, they fall right off.

The old VGA cooler. Dirty, noisy but did its job well.

The rest was quite easy, adding the CPU block, connecting the tubes (Don’t cut the tubes the length you “think” it will be ;)), and installing all the hardware back into the case.

Zalman CPU waterblock in case
A shot from inside the crowded case.

Zalman watercooling tubes into case
Nice and clean entry for the water tubes.

First of all, before turning on the PC, turn on the watercooling pump. There are modules that detect power from your power supply and switch on automatically, if you want to install that. Otherwise, this is an important item not to forget.

When turning on the PC, you immediately notice that hard drives make a lot of noise :p. It also seemed like it took more time to boot, but I guess that’s the time it took for the CPU fan to boot up. It is still a lot more quiet than before. Not completely quite, though, since I still have a few fans to cool the case itself and the hard disks (which can become quite hot when using for a whole day).

New temperatures:

  Idle / Normal use Full load
CPU 23-31°C 32°-36°C
Mainboard 27-33°C 32-34°C

I do have to say, that these temperatures are with heavy CPU load, not GPU load. When gaming, this will propably increase, since the GPU is also cooled with the water.


If you don’t mind a little noise when using the PC (or just have a basic PC without high end hardware), you might not want to spend € 255 for this watercooling system. If you like quiteness but still want to have a power-machine, you might want to consider this. Also when you’re thinking of setting up a media center in your living room, the Zalman is should be your cooling system. It’s not only quite but it is nice to look at too.

For some minor points:
The worst part of it are probably the VGA heatsinks. They kept falling of the memory chips. Getting the water tubes in and out of the case is 1) done using the PCI slot, but this leaves more than half of the slot open, or 2) done by drilling holes in your case, which isn’t as easy as it sounds.

One final thing, which is also the reason why there probably aren’t that much PCs cooled like this. We are talking about water, yes H2O, which doesn’t play nice with electricity, so be carefull of leaks!!

3 Responses to “Zalman Watercooling part 3”.

  1. If you use distilled water (like the site suggest you do) you won’t have to worry about leaks since distilled water doesn’t conduct electricity…but you’ll need perfectly distilled water.
    Also, isomo is called styrofoam in english 😉

  2. Thx for the isomo thingy 😉

    I’m using distilled water, but from the moment it touches dirty hardware convered with dust, it stops being mineral-free.

  3. Like Benjamin said, distilled water is not completely safe, as the hardware isn’t completely clean of dust and other particles that could make water conductable.

    For example, putting your fingers in a cup of distilled water is enough to make it conduct electricity.

    So, to be safe, make sure there are no leaks 🙂

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