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Thread: 3/8 or 1/2 inch tubing, which is better?

  1. #1

    3/8 or 1/2 inch tubing, which is better?

    Hi, something I was just thinking about is which one is better 3/8 or 1/2 inch tubing for liquid cooling, I have seen many reviews for both which of coarse each says theirs is better than the other but what I want to hear is from people here that have used both on the same components. Is one better than the other and by how much? let me know your experiences. And no this has nothing to do with my new snake mod, just curious.

  2. #2

    3/8 or 1/2 inch tubing, which is better?

    Never did water cooling but assuming everything is the same except for tubing diameter...3/8 in would move the water quicker then 1/2 would but 1/2 would have more water then the 3/8 would. The 3/8 would push the water to the radiator faster and keep it cool but the the 1/2 would have more water in it, making it harder for the temperature of water to raise much. But it's all 1/8 (.125) of an inch of a difference so it's not going to be drastically noticeable...well, probably won't be noticeable at all, really.

  3. #3

    3/8 or 1/2 inch tubing, which is better?

    Hi there, I use 3/8 inch tubing as it looks better than the 1/2 inch tubing, and has a better flow rate at a lower pressure....


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  4. #4
    The Main Man Dewayne's Avatar
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    3/8 or 1/2 inch tubing, which is better?

    OK here are my thoughts and if any on disagrees tell me why.

    1) GPM (Gallons Per Minute) is what really matters when you talk water flow. If you can move 10 GPM with either a 3/8, 1/2, or 3 inch hose you are still only moving 10 GPM. The only thing that changes is the volume of water moved. And this is not always a good thing.

    2) Moving as much water as possible is good IF you can COOL that given amount.

    3) Heat transfer from the water in the radiator is what you want to focus on the most. The water needs to stay and pass through the radiator for a given amount time to allow as much heat to be removed from the water before going back out to cool the hardware. If the water passes through the radiator too fast the cooling action does not have sufficient time to remove the unwanted heat. If the water takes to long to flow then the hardware will overheat. Allowing the water to stay in the radiator longer (but not too long) can mean better cooling.

    4) You can only get the water as cool as the ambient temperature -if you are lucky. If you have everything spec'ed out right and have the perfect setup you will end up being a few degrees above the surrounding air temp. If you cool the air before it passes through the radiator and the air is below the ambient temp then you are of course going to get much lower water temps.

    5) What is needed is a thermostat to control the water flow which is controlled by the CPU temp range that you want to will keep it within that range. Just like a car, the thermostat helps keep the engine cool and at the optimal temperature. If the engine gets to hot then it opens and allows more cool water to pass.

    Just my two cent on the subject :-)

  5. #5

    3/8 or 1/2 inch tubing, which is better?

    ^^^^ Exactly correct

    Well explained.

    As a side note - this is why you NEVER take the thermostat out of your engine of your car. It will let the coolant run faster and actually make it hotter. So many people think that it helps cool it better. You need something to control the flow based on the temp.

  6. #6

    3/8 or 1/2 inch tubing, which is better?

    OK here are my thoughts and if any on disagrees tell me why.

    1) GPM (Gallons Per Minute) is what really matters when you talk water flow. If you can move 10 GPM with either a 3/8, 1/2, or 3 inch hose you are still only moving 10 GPM. The only thing that changes is the volume of water moved. And this is not always a good thing.

    2) Moving as much water as possible is good IF you can COOL that given amount.

    3) Heat transfer from the water in the radiator is what you want to focus on the most. The water needs to stay and pass through the radiator for a given amount time to allow as much heat to be removed from the water before going back out to cool the hardware. If the water passes through the radiator too fast the cooling action does not have sufficient time to remove the unwanted heat. If the water takes to long to flow then the hardware will overheat. Allowing the water to stay in the radiator longer (but not too long) can mean better cooling.

    4) You can only get the water as cool as the ambient temperature -if you are lucky. If you have everything spec'ed out right and have the perfect setup you will end up being a few degrees above the surrounding air temp. If you cool the air before it passes through the radiator and the air is below the ambient temp then you are of course going to get much lower water temps.

    5) What is needed is a thermostat to control the water flow which is controlled by the CPU temp range that you want to will keep it within that range. Just like a car, the thermostat helps keep the engine cool and at the optimal temperature. If the engine gets to hot then it opens and allows more cool water to pass.

    Just my two cent on the subject :-)
    Thanks Americanfreak for that very detailed explanation. I had the same question and was going to start a new thread, when I came across this one. All the info I need is right here. This forum is awesome!!

  7. #7

    3/8 or 1/2 inch tubing, which is better?

    The difference here is the temperature range we're talking about. No matter what, water boils at 212F, in a car or any vehicle your talking about super heated water. In a computer your not very likely to ever see that temperature with todays technology. However, it is important to keep the temperature within an operable range and cooler is better for a general statement about the CPU, GPU, and PSU which we're all aware of.
    The variable of course being glycol or some other type of coolant.
    More important than the size of the tubing is the size of the radiator as AF said. The radiator is what will actually be doing the cooling. How fast or how much gets there is a consideration but IMO is not the deciding factor nearly as much as the capacity of actual coolant versus cooling area. Yes, you have to have a certain flow to achieve cooling in a proper amount of time or the thermal coefficient skyrockets but with a larger cooling vessel (radiator) it is possible to achieve cooler temps in a shorter period of time than it would be to say use a smaller radiator with faster flow, which can negate cooling altogether.
    A good example is what I discoverd with the Corsair H50 and H70 sealed coolers. The pumps on both models actually put out about the same flow rate but the difference being the larger radiator for the H70 allows for better cooling as well as controlling the amount of air that travels over the fins on the radiator by using 2 fans in a push/pull method.
    AF is also absolutely correct about the flow rate and cooling time. If it flows too fast, it doesn't have time to cool, period. So essentially what you're really looking at then is pressure differences (related to flow rate) to time and cooling area. Most all of the current water-cooling setups are factoring in things such as capacity, flow, density, thermal mechanics and what not, so there's a lot of science that goes into every model. Is 1/2" or 3/8" tubing really going to make much if any difference? Someone mentioned the difference being .125" which is correct, minimal to no difference because of the size. We're also talking very low pressure here so the flowrate difference is almost negligable in relation to the difference in tube sizes.

    My personal choice was to go with the sealed cooling method because of maintenance and investment. I also perhaps sacrificed some in cooling in that I won't be able to get probably as cold a temp as an open water cooling unit because I have limitations built in to the Corsair unit. And admittedly open water cooling does have that totally "WOW" factor that the Corsair definitely doesn't have. Practicality wise though....

    My "old reliable" has been to do plenty of research beforehand and see what others are using and doing. I tend to be a little more cautious in my purchases because failure is not an option when you go over the $2,000 mark lol.

  8. #8

    3/8 or 1/2 inch tubing, which is better?

    In lieu of a thermostat you can control the flow by throttling it with a valve. Realistically though, I don't think a thermostat is necessary in this case unless you've got a monolithic type build.

  9. #9

    3/8 or 1/2 inch tubing, which is better?

    I have a question that relates to this: for my up coming mod, I plan on water cooling. This will be the first custom H2O setup I've done. I had one of those Koolance cases with built-in water cooling, so I have some experience with it, but not much.

    For space reasons, I'm planning on using two 1X120mm rads instead of one 2X120mm rad. In my research, I've discovered that the 2X120mm rad that I'm looking at is rated 700W of heat dissipation and the 1X120mm rad is rated 400W. So, if my math is correct, two smaller rads will do a slightly better job cooling than one bigger rad.

    Would this be the case? How much does that "W" rating matter and how accurate is it? FYI I plan on only cooling my CPU (AMD PhenomII X4 940 @3.5Ghz) with this setup.

  10. #10

    3/8 or 1/2 inch tubing, which is better?

    Sorry I have no experience on that end but I will say don't be fooled that because 2x400=800 isn't always true.
    If all you're cooling is your CPU then why all the fuss? If the 700W is more than adequate I would go with that to keep things simple unless you're planning on some serious OC'ing?

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