How Does Liquid Cooling Work

Many gamers and enthusiasts ask, how does liquid cooling work? Although to many the fact that it DOES work is sufficient, some have are bit a more curious.

A liquid-cooling system for a PC is a lot like a cooling system for a car. Coolant flows through channels in a car’s engine block to absorb heat.

Many electronic components do not tolerate direct contact with the liquid. So instead of using channels to pump liquid directly through microchips as in a car engine, a liquid-cooled PC uses water blocks.

A water block is a piece of heat-conductive metal, like copper or aluminum, that is filled with hollow tubes and channels. The water block sits directly on top of the chip being cooled.

Thermal paste between the chip and the block improves the heat transfer between the two surfaces. The chip heats the block, and the water absorbs the heat as it flows through all the channels.

In a lot of computers, fans alone do a great job at dissipating heat, especially if intakes and exhausts are well placed. However, for individuals who want to use ultra-high-end hardware, a fan configuration might not be able to provide sufficient airflow for the task. If a computer gives off excessive heat, liquid cooling is the best possible solution. It might look like a slight foolish idea to set liquids near delicate electronic parts, but chilling with liquid is extremely more effective than cooling with air.

How Does Liquid Cooling Work?

How Does Liquid Cooling Work 2

A liquid-cooling arrangement for a PC performs much like the Cooling System of an engine of an automobile. They yield benefit of an elementary principle of thermodynamics – that energy transfers from hot stuff to cool matters. As the cool thing becomes warm, the hot object grows cool.

The Good Old Heat Exchange Principle

You can familiarize yourself with this principle immediately by placing your hand even on an unruffled position on any object for more than a few seconds. When you take your hand off, your palm will be slightly cold, and the position where you placed your hand will become a little heated.

The General Process – A Relatable Example

Liquid cooling is a very simple process to understand. Let us have a look at a more relatable example that is the car engine. A car’s cooling system flows water, frequently mixed with antifreeze liquid, from the sides of the engine. The cold water flows through the channel chilling the engine off in the course. The water, however, gets hot in the process as it absorbs the heat.

The heated liquid then runs from the machine to the radiator. A radiator is an organization of flippers and ducts with a lot of external surface area for air to cool. Heat is transferred from the hot water to the radiator. The air, along with a blowing fan cools the liquid in the radiator down.

The cool liquid is again pumped back to the engine. On the equal period, a fan transports air above the external side of the warmer.

An automobile engine creates heat as a consequence of burning petroleum. Computer, on the other hand, produces heat due to electrical conduction. A PC’s microchips are packed with electrical transistors, which are essentially electrical controls that are either on and off. As transistors change their statuses between on and off, electricity is conducted.

Just like the car engine, if the microprocessor heats up too much, it will get permanently damaged.

Air Coolers vs Liquid Coolers

Main Parts of Cooling System

How Does Liquid Cooling Work

In order to answer how does liquid cooling work, you first need to know the components. A liquid-cooling system for a computer is identical to a cooling system for an automobile. Coolant streams through waterways in a car’s drivetrain block. Main parts of the cooling system are:

Water Blocks

These are the individual components that sit directly on GPU, CPU or other microchips.


The liquid in the water cooling system does not transport itself. There needs to a pump that not only pushes the water, but also regulates the flow. Too slow, and it might heat up the components, too fast and it may never give the liquid enough time to absorb the heat.


Although every single component of a water cooling system is essential, this is the particular component that is responsible for dissipating heat from the entire system. This is the center of contact between the inside and outside of the computer.


A single or a series of fans are mounted on top of the radiators to cool the heated liquid passing through the radiator.

Coolant Reservoir

A simple tank that holds the coolant.

How Coolant Performs Cooling?

How Does Liquid Cooling Work

Electronic components are not designed for being in direct contact with the liquid. This should be quite obvious. So as a substitute for the channels to drive liquid right through microchips, a liquid-cooled computer uses water blocks.

A water block is a part of the heat-conductive metallic part, like copper or aluminum, that’s full of hollow conduits. The water flows to the water block. The bottom part of the water block is a metallic plate. This is the part that is in direct contact with the microchip, not the water itself. However, between the water block and the microchip, thermal paste is used.

Thermal paste between the chip and the chunk advances the heat transmission among the two surfaces. The chip warms the block, and the water engrosses the heat as it streams through the water block. The heated liquid is then sent to the radiator. The radiators of computer liquid cooling have series of fans sitting on channels of coils through which hot liquid passes. The liquid does not flow on its own, there needs to be a pump.

The pump is typically a centrifugal pump. Some liquid-cooling pumps can be submerged in coolant, and you can put them straight inside the coolant reservoir. Others need to be dry.

The pump is unique to all system. Its stream rate regulates how rapidly the coolant travels through the pipes and chunks. If the liquid travels excessively fast, it doesn’t have time to absorb temperature before moving on. If it moves too sluggishly, too much warmth can damage the delicate components. Therefore, there needs to be a strong balance.

The last constituent of a liquid-cooling system is the liquid itself. It is always recommended to use dedicated coolants for the water cooling system.


Although to most enthusiasts the question how does liquid cooling work does not matter much, it is good to have the knowledge. The principle of liquid cooling is quite simple. If you are well versed with a car engine and its cooling, you would have no issue understanding the operations of computer liquid cooling.

Does it work? Of course, it does. Some of the high-end components have a requirement nowadays to be only cooled by water. Conventional fan cooling is just not enough. Furthermore, liquid cooling gives you the option to overclock your hardware. This way you can bring out the true potential of your rigs.