PC ComponentsCooling

How Does a Liquid CPU Cooler Work?

Liquid Cpu Cooler

Like air coolers, liquid coolers cool the computer’s internal components using the basic principle of thermodynamics – heat is transferred from a warmer object to a cooler object. Liquid cooling is a very common process, but the mode of operation is still confusing for many people who understand that water destroys electronics when they are in direct contact. 

Quick Answer

A liquid CPU cooler uses water blocks filled with hollow tubes through which the liquid coolant passes. The water block sits on top of the electrical components and absorbs their heat, which is transferred to the liquid coolant flowing through the tubes to the radiator. The coolant is cooled in the radiator and returns to the water block to start the cycle again.

In this article, we will discuss the principle of operation of a liquid CPU cooler, why liquid cooling is preferable to air cooling, and the components of a liquid CPU cooler.

How Does It Work?

You might wonder why liquid cooling is recommended when it is well-known that liquid must not come into direct contact with electronic components. The liquid cooling process does not require direct contact between the liquid and the electronic components

Liquid CPU coolers use a heat-conductive metal called water blocks filled with hollow tubes and channels through which the liquid coolant passes. The base of the water block is placed directly above the electronic components, and a thermal paste between the two surfaces guarantees an improved heat transfer

When the electronic components become hot due to heavy load, it heats the surface of the water block. As the liquid coolant flows through the channels and tubes in the water block, it absorbs the heat from the metallic base of the water block, which cools the metal and the electronic component. 

The liquid coolant continues to move through the channels and then moves up a tube until it reaches the radiator. The radiator exposes the liquid coolant to cool air, which cools the liquid coolant. The radiator fans then drive the heat away from the liquid cooler. The liquid coolant, which is now cool, re-enters the water block and begins the cooling cycle again.

Why Liquid Cooling Is Better Than Air Cooling

Here are the reasons you should consider liquid cooling over air cooling.

It’s A More Efficient Cooling Process

Too much heat in the internal components of a computer can overwhelm an air-cooling system, causing the fans to run at maximum speed. Liquid cooling uses water or other fluids as its coolant. Since water has a higher thermal conductivity than air, it can absorb more heat and cool the computer faster

Your computer may overheat if it produces more heat than the air absorbs. Liquid cooling is more efficient at cooling computer systems that generate a lot of internal heat.

It Reduces Noise

When you run power-intensive programs on your computer, it generates a lot of heat that requires a lot of cooling. If you’re using an air cooler, your fans will work at maximum speed to draw in enough air to cool the system. When your system runs powerful programs, the fans make a lot of noise. 

A liquid cooling system generates less noise because water is better at removing heat from the internal components of your computer than air.

It Reduces Electricity Consumption

Cooling a system is usually a chain reaction. Firstly, running power-intensive programs on your computer increases the heat in the internal components. Since too much heat can damage your computer, the cooling system is designed to remove the heat. 

More electricity is consumed as the fans run faster to cool the excess heat. Because it takes more effort for an air cooler to cool the computer, using a liquid cooler guarantees a reduction in electricity consumption.

No Dust Buildup

One of the cons of air cooling is that dust builds up in the air filter after a while. Air contains impurities that the air filter prevents from being absorbed into the components through the vent. After a while, dust builds up in the filter and blocks the air passage

Check and clean the air filter regularly if you’re using an air cooler. Since liquid cooling does not rely on airflow, it is not affected by dust buildup. 

Components of a Liquid CPU Cooler

Here are the parts of a liquid CPU cooler.


The pump is an essential part of the cooling process because it controls the speed at which the liquid coolant moves through the tubes and channels. 

When the pump draws the liquid coolant from the coolant reservoir, it ensures that the flow rate of the coolant is not so fast that the liquid coolant doesn’t have enough time to absorb the heat from the computer components. 

The pump also ensures that the coolant’s flow rate is not so slow that too much heat builds up on the internal components before it arrives and reaches the end of its cycle. The coolant cools the system when the flow rate is just right.


After the coolant cools the metallic base of the water block and the computer component, it moves up a tube into the radiator. At this point, the coolant is still hot. The radiator exposes the liquid coolant to cool air, removing the heat from the coolant. The coolant then returns to begin the cooling process again. 

Water Block

The water block is a barrier between the liquid coolant and the electronic components to avoid damaging the components. Its base is a heat-conductive metal, usually copper or aluminum, which absorbs the heat from the component and transfers it to the coolant.

Liquid Coolant

The coolant is usually distilled water. Distilled water is used because other types of water may contain impurities that can clog the tubes or channels, blocking the passage of the coolant.

Final Words

The liquid CPU cooler is a very common and effective tool for ensuring your computer’s internal components remain cool even when running power-intensive programs. If you were worried about the damage liquids can cause to electronic components, you have nothing to worry about here due to the use of water blocks in liquid CPU coolers.

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