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Water cooling, in the context of computing, is a method of removing heat that uses water as the cooling medium. It is used to cool components of a PC or computing device. Water cooling can remove heat from a CPU or other component at approximately 30 times the speed of air flow cooling.
Water’s ability to cool is superior to air because of water’s higher density, specific heat capacity and thermal conductivity. Compared to air flow, water is able to transmit more heat over greater distances with much less volume - even with less of a temperature difference between the cool water and the CPU or other component.
Water cooling is gaining traction as increased processing speeds make heat more of an issue.
Engineers are creating more optimally-designed radiators to replace the heat sinks and fans currently cooling heat sources like high capacity CPUs. CPU water blocks and heat exchangers, consisting of a radiator with an attached fan, allow quieter operation and improved overclocking. Improved heat-handling capabilities allow for the support of hotter processors.
Until the late 1990s, PC water cooling was a homemade hobby. Now computer manufacturers have started to use pre-made and specialized components to fit inside computer cases. Alternate technologies also are being tested, including vapor-compression refrigeration and thermoelectric coolers.