How Does a Liquid CPU Cooler Work?

How Does A Liquid CPU Cooler Work

Liquid CPU coolers work like a wonder for overclocking enthusiasts. For all PC users in general. There are various types of CPU coolers out there, but in this article, we will discuss the working of liquid CPU coolers in detail.

Different Parts Of A Liquid CPU Cooler

Before starting the discussion on how a liquid CPU cooler works, you will first have to understand the composition of different parts of a liquid CPU cooler.

So, let’s start with the basic parts which make a liquid CPU cooler.

Liquid Cooler Hoses or Pipes
Liquid Cooler Pipes

Hoses/Pipes: Hoses are an integral part of a liquid CPU cooler. These provide secure pathways for the coolant in the cooler to travel from one component to the other. Hoses are sealed properly with the components to avoid leakage.

Liquid Cooler Radiator

Radiator: The radiator is responsible for spreading the heat sucked from the heated CPU into the open air outside the cooling unit.

Liquid Cooler Reservoir

Reservoir: Reservoir is a little storage space that helps retain the coolant inside the liquid CPU cooler. You can see the level of liquid stored in the reservoir before starting the cooler to fill it sufficiently.


Fan(s): Liquid CPU coolers may have one or more fans depending on their size and functionality. Fans are primarily used to pass air through the radiator to help take the heat away from it.

Liquid Cooler Pump

Pump: The pump is probably the most important part of any liquid CPU cooler. It helps in pumping the liquid coolant throughout the CPU cooler to keep it working properly.

There are many different liquid CPU coolers available in the market with varying sizes and shapes, but they all have pretty much the same components discussed above. Moreover, some manufacturers try to distinguish themselves from the competition by adding proprietary components that aren’t present in their competitors’ products.

When you buy a new liquid CPU cooler, you can read the booklet which comes with it to understand the working of every single component included in the package.

Working Of A Liquid CPU Cooler

Since most of the parts commonly found in liquid CPU coolers are covered briefly now, we can continue our discussion on how a liquid CPU cooler actually works.

You can easily understand the working process of a liquid CPU cooler if you have some knowledge of the cooling systems installed in vehicles.

The CPU installed in your computer works like a brain to process all the information thrown at it, and in this process, it uses electricity. This process generates a lot of heat, which is usually proportional to the complexity of tasks being performed by the CPU, and its overall capacity.

The heat generated during the working process of a CPU needs to be carried away. That is because if you end up ignoring all the heat, it might degrade the internal components of your CPU. Additionally, CPUs are designed to slow down as their temperature keeps rising, and are able to stop working (your computer shuts down) if they reach a certain temperature, which, in most cases, is around 100 degrees Celsius.

This is where CPU coolers come into the equation. They are very important in their core function, which surely is driving the heat away from your CPU and out of your computer by using a sophisticated mechanism. Liquid CPU coolers are one of the many different types of CPU coolers available in the market.

Let’s discuss the whole cooling process a regular liquid CPU cooler goes through to keep your CPU cool.

It All Starts From The Heatsink

The liquid CPU cooler you have in your computer has a plate that sits directly on top of the heatsink of your CPU. That’s because the CPU heatsink collects all the heat being generated by the working of your CPU. This process is vital to keep the CPU under a tolerable temperature limit. However, the heatsink is not self-sufficient in driving away all, or even most of the heat generated by your CPU under a moderate to heavy workload.

Coolant Plays An Important Role

The liquid CPU cooler has a plate (Sink) that sits on top of the CPU’s heatsink. This sink is connected to the pump and reservoir through hoses. The pump directs the coolant towards the sink, and the coolant absorbs most of the heat accumulated in the sink. After absorbing heat, coolant is directed towards the radiator, from which it loses its heat, and the cycle continues.

Radiator Fans Provide Ambient Air

Radiators of liquid CPU coolers are fitted with fans, which help direct ambient air through the radiator. This way, the heated coolant present in the ducts of the radiator cools down and gets ready to be cycled through the whole system once again.

The heat exchange between sink and coolant, and between coolant and air happens almost immediately.

System Fan Directs The Hot Air Out

After all of this process, some of the heated air is left in the system, which increases the overall temperature of the system. This is where the system fan(s) come in. This fan helps direct the heated air out of the system to keep things cool.

The Cycle Continues

After going through the radiator, the cooled coolant gets ready to go into the sink once again through the hose which connects the lower part of the radiator with the sink.

When it comes to choosing the best coolant, it usually depends on the manufacturer of your liquid CPU cooler. While some liquid CPU coolers work at their best by using water, others need specially made liquid coolants to function properly. Special liquid coolants consist of water mixed with other specialized materials. Its specialty is that they have a higher boiling point than water and can therefore absorb more heat without boiling. Moreover, these coolants are custom-made to speed up the heat absorption process, which helps a lot in keeping your CPU cooler even under heavy workloads.

A high boiling point makes sure that none of the coolants vaporizes, as vaporization can result in mineral deposits within your liquid CPU cooler. Mineral deposits in liquid CPU coolers are known to decrease the overall cooling efficiency of the liquid cooler, and can also restrict the overall flow of coolant in the whole system.

One huge benefit of Liquid CPU coolers is that they can be attached to multiple components inside your computer, like the processor and GPU to cool them down efficiently. Moreover, these coolers are quieter as compared to their alternatives. This is the primary reason why many PC enthusiasts use liquid CPU coolers in their computer builds.

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