Before we start, this is a pop the kettle on and have a read article, if you want the short TLDR version then click here.
Without blowing our trumpet *too* much, we are famed for our water cooled PC’s. We, as enthusiasts, have been building PCs and putting them under water ever since the concept came about and have gone on to be one of the most reputable water cooling system builders in the world. We are one of the few system builders in the country to even offer open loop water cooling, let alone hard tubing loops, custom projects, R&D of new products and actively taking part in the enthusiast community. In short we completely and utterly love water cooled builds and take great pride in what we provide to our customers to ensure is of the upmost quality and performance we as a system builder can provide, we hope much of this comes across to you via our gallery and of course wonderful feedback from our past customers however not everyone has the time or inclination to look around to find out what sets us apart from everyone else so we have popped together this little info guide to help elaborate on why choosing UK Gaming Computers to build your watery beast is a smart choice.
Quality of components
We talk about the quality of all of our PCs quite a lot and it is simply because customers do not understand why one of our systems is more expensive than something you find on eBay or another website and is a common concern many customers have. This focus is just as true for our liquid cooled PCs as corner cutting does have serious consequences when mixing water and computers! Every single loop we design and build is done on the result of many years experience and research in this niche area of system building. We work very closely with water cooling component companies such as EK-Waterblocks, Corsair, Alphacool, Watercool, Phanteks, Barrow, XSPC, Hardware Labs, Mayhems, Liquid.Cool, Bykski, Phobya, Alphacool and Thermaltake to ensure we try and test as many products on the markets as possible so we know what works or doesn’t work. This, is as you can imagine quite a timely task and quite often we will still be in the office many hours after closing playing with new kit for no more reason other than it being fun. We are often thanked for our feedback to the manufacturers which we pass on in the hope that they listen so that they can improve their products moving forward and the result is 100% own knowledge that what we are using is the best product in its price bracket a customer can invest in.
We only use branded parts – we do not hide behind “house brands”/unbranded parts that like above are well tested and researched before they make the cut. Every single part of a loop has a highly reputable manufacturer behind it, no compromise……ever! You can see exactly what CPU block, GPU block, radiator, pump, reservoir, tubing, fittings and coolant you are getting in the spec list of every system you are ordering. Elsewhere you may find something like “Radiator: 240mm” with us you will find “Radiator: Hardwarlabs Black Ice Nemesis LS240 240mm”.
We cannot stress how important a pump in a custom open or closed loop is. Granted if a pump fails it usually “only” results in a system shutdown due to overheating rather than a leak which could potentially have a more serious effect on other bits of hardware, but it’s the only mechanical part of a loop and is therefore the most common part of a loop that can fail. UK Gaming Computers only use genuine Laing/Xylem D5 pumps in our builds. We have been there with trying to use cheaper or even other more expensive pumps/pump res combos and the failure rate of these units is the difference between night and day. As of September 2019 only 2 Laing/Xylem D5 pumps have ever failed in the field – One was because a fluid had strangely degraded and clogged the impeller which we actually fixed by stripping it down, cleaning out the gunk and putting it back together and the other was because of a power surge which took out multiple other components in the build which would have probably ended any pump. Both of these cases were under warranty and we swiftly resolved. To put that in context, we have sold nearly 1000 Laing/Xylem D5’s which equates to a failure rate of just a fraction over 0.2%! For all the other options and bear in mind we had tried quite a few prior to introduce them to our range all from reputable brands including the likes of XSPC, Liquid.Cool, EK-Waterblocks, Alphacool like mentioned above the percentage of pumps that did not survive the test of time was 5.7% which makes the Laing/Xylem offering 28.5 times more reliable than anything else we have ever sold.
To avoid any confusion, which is a common question we get, is to state that the reputable pump manufacturers also work with Laing/Xylem too to incorporate genuine Laing/Xylem pumps into their product line up and as a result you will get manufacturers that make their own D5 pumps or use a proper Laing/Xylem in their products and will often make variations with exactly the same pump tops/pump res combos which confuses things further.
Take a XSPC Photon D5 170 pictured above for example, a popular pump top and reservoir combo we use in our builds, well XSPC actually do 2 versions. The 1st seen on the right utilises a in-house XSPC made X4 pump and the one on the left, which we use, uses a genuine Laing/Xylem pump – notice the slight variation in shape of the pump located at the bottom of the unit? Annoyingly XSPC and others help confuse things more by calling their Laing/Xylem version simply “XSPC D5” and often you will find they neglect to state they are indeed Laing/Xylem versions with their badge on. Laing and Xylem themselves also compound matter further as they no longer sell these pumps themselves, they are parted out to the likes of XSPC, EK and Corsair as a OEM who then brand them as “insertbrandname here D5”.
A good example is the Alphacool VPP655 D5 and the newer Alphacool VPP755 D5 – both are “D5” pumps yet the VPP655 is a Laing/Xylem pump and the VPP655 is a pump solely made by Alphacool. D5 means type or series of pump rather than model or brand – it is a common misconception that D5 means that it’s a Laing or Xylem, which was once true when only Laing/Xylem made them, but in a similar way to the way people talk about Hoovers/Vacuum cleaners they are indeed different products and now D5 basically means it will fit a “D5” pump top or bracket. The later VPP755 brags about its slightly lower power use, reduced vibration and stronger head pressure than the older VPP655 and on paper it is a superior product. When the reviews initially came out reviewers were singing the VPP755 praises and how it was going to knock the trusty Laing/Xylem D5 off the top spot and that Alphacool have reinvented the wheel so to speak. 6 months later then came the problems, you only have to have a Google to easily find the 70+ page overclock.net post about how they have fared over time. It’s the same with any other brand/model, they fail far more commonly than a genuine Laing/Xylem and are more often plagued with problems which is almost another separate article in itself. Laing/Xylem pumps have always been the best and we suspect given their reign for the last 10+ years are not going to give that up any time soon.
Unlike pumps used in a custom loop radiators are a little less of a concern, over the years they have been refined well and probably 50% of them on the market are what we would consider pretty good. We use Hardware Labs who are regarded as one of the best, they are the OEM for the likes of Corsair for example and the models we use are not only regarded as excellent performers but are also well priced. They are better than a lot on the market yet are cheaper than other products! Corsair Hydro X XR5 360mm radiator - £69.99 Hardware Labs LS360 360mm radiator - £52.25 – EXACTLY the same radiator. You can pick up 360mm unbranded radiators for as little as £25 which are complete garbage so make sure you look at what you are getting into when picking out a radiator.
Not only do we do good radiators we also ensure they are installed properly. Before any radiator is used in a build we pressure test them to highlight any design faults, micro leaks or any sealing issues. This pressure testing far exceeds the pressure the loop will be under in the real world but doing so ensures we find anything that may not be iffy now but will highlight any possible future defects.
Flushing a radiator is a big part of building a custom loop and we know full well other system builders don’t do this properly, if at all! If it’s not done correctly you end up with a contaminated loop which will cause unwelcome growth or fluid discolouration. Before we install every radiator to a loop it is treated to a vinegar and distilled water solution flush 4 times followed by 4 distilled water flushes. Anything less is not good enough, so be sure to find out how that other builder flushes their radiators. Using tap or deionised water is not sufficient despite what other builders may say/think.
The largest fear that comes from any potential water cooled PC customer when shopping about is the reliability of water cooling. Done right, it’s almost as reliable as an air cooled system and arguably more reliable due to keeping components cooler but we state "almost as reliable" because ultimately there are more parts involved and therefore more chance of something going wrong but ultimately as a direct result your expensive CPU and Graphics card are kept cooler and thus more reliable.
A large part of the reliability side of things comes from the pump choice and quality of components we do which we have previous covered. In addition we also keep test loops running here 24/7/365 at the office which contain all the parts we are using or have use in the past to monitor how well they do over time. If there is an issue with something we can proactively flag it and issue a recall if there is anything of concern to us. As we build systems right 1st time we put our money where our mouth is and apply the same 6 year warranty on our air cooled systems to our water cooled range too.
Much to the initial disappointment of our customers our water cooled systems take longer to build and test than an air cooled system and that is because they take longer to test. Before any complete loop is put to work cooling components we run a minimum of 24 hours “leak test”. In short this means we switch on the pump to its highest setting and run the complete loop whilst the PC and all components are off to highlight any leaks or issues with any of the other parts. Only then do we switch on the PC and continue testing with extra thermal tests and checks carried out.
A big part of owning a custom watercooled computer is aesthetics and we ensure and design systems so they look their absolute best;
All our tubing is cut to exact lengths to ensure each run is smooth and free flowing. If we find its short a mm or 2 then we cut another bit rather than taking the approach of “that will do”.
Each loop is bespoke and built to your exact specification enabling flexible component choice and configuration to ensure you can have exactly what you want and not some generic bulk built box that the same 50 people have.
We tend to install fittings and hard tubing at 90° points to give the “clean” and “uncluttered” look. We avoid strange angles, unnecessary bends and very rarely utilise 45° angles unless we have to. Below is a photo we have wanted to publish for ages, it’s quite a few years old and a slight difference in graphics card config but ultimately it is the same loop and case – 360mm radiator, res pump combo, CPU block, GPU block, hard tubing and a Corsair 570X case. The system on the left is ours and the system on the right was made by the infamous Eclipse computers who popped on their cowboy hat on and rode off in to the distance after they folded back in late 2017 early 2018. The photo was sent in from a past Eclipse Computers disgruntled customer who wanted our opinion on their build as they were not happy.
We utilised 4 x 90° and 1 x 45° bend. The Eclipse build, 6 x 90°, 1 x 105ish(!)° 1 x 45 and 2 x 180°! We actually went on to "fix" the customers system to make it right and were greeted with the likes of threaded G1/4 ports on the GPU block, spoiled fluid which was practically black by the time it reached us, warped and crumpled hard tube bends, the infamous "105° bend and of course a leak.
If a little extra lighting is needed for say an internal lighting kit, instead of installing a standard 2 x 30cm strip we will make it bigger so that the lighting has a big as possible impact on highlighting the loop. UV coolant with UV lighting? No problem, let us add a little extra lighting behind the reservoir to get the fluid inside to glow more. If you look closely, all our water cooled systems come with a lighting kit as standard as we feel a little low cost lighting goes a long way in something that has a strong aesthetic presence.
Advanced cable management comes as standard on all of our systems and our liquid cooled systems are no exception however you will also find that some systems come with a PSU braid kit as standard to give it that finishing touch.
Hard Tube Bend cheaters
Nothing says we can’t bend hard tubing properly by other builders building systems without or with as little bends in as possible and substituting that sweet 90° swooping bend with an angle connector halfway through a tube fun. We don’t shy away from difficult hard tube bends to ensure each loop as free flowing and aesthetically pleasing as possible.
We clean every system we produce with extra effort going into cleaning the loop itself. It doesn’t take a couple of minutes to wipe down all those surfaces so we make sure it done. Imagine having a big fat finger print on your nice new shiny glass reservoir!
As you can see much of what we do goes on behind the scenes but hopefully this has given you an insight to what that en tales and you know know more about what to look for when finding your system builder to assemble the holy grail of computer cooling!
Short TLDR version
We do not use “house brands” or unbranded components, only quality well tested branded components go into our loops.
You will only find genuine Laing/Xylem pumps in our loops.
All radiators are pressure tested prior to installation.
We flush radiators 4 times with Vinegar solution and 4 times with distilled water prior to installation.
We only use distilled water when flushing and not tap or deionised water.
We run test systems here 24/7/365 to spot future issues to proactively act upon them.
Each system is subject to a 24 hour minimum “leak test”.
Water cooled systems are subject to additional thermal tests and checks.
Extra time is taking to ensure tubing runs are the right size and angles are as accurate and minimal as possible.
If extra lighting is needed then we add it at no extra cost.
We avoid using angle connectors.
Each system is treated to a full clean to make everything sparkle prior to it leaving our workshop.