Everything About Fittings and Tubing
One of the most daunting tasks of building a custom loop is picking out all the correct fittings and tubing for it. Even experienced builders will often make several orders of fittings for a single build because it is very difficult to get everything you need the first time around. Over time this does get easier to do, however, this blog should help you get there a little faster.
Step 1: Tubing Types
The first question I always ask our customers is which type of tubing they want to use. We’ll start with either soft or rigid tubing. Soft tubing is typically best for the newcomers to the scene, but I’ve seen plenty of people start by jumping head first into rigid tubing, myself included. A few key things to note about both types is that soft tubing will generally require less fittings overall when it comes to angled adapters. Rigid tubing is usually less susceptible to issues with coolant such as staining or plasticizer leaching. Every kind of tubing, both soft and rigid, has a specific maximum bending radius, which is the size of the radius at which you would bend the tubing. Metal and glass tubing is extremely difficult to bend, but can be done with the proper tools and knowledge. Once you’ve made up your mind on the type of tubing you want to use, you can go ahead and start looking at fittings.
Step 2: Fittings
Just like tubing, there are two main types of fittings. One kind only works with soft tubing, and the other will only work with rigid tubing, and they cannot be interchanged. If you were thinking of starting with soft tubing because you’re new, but wanted to switch to rigid later on, just remember that you will have to buy new fittings for your tubing. For soft tubing I most often recommend using compression fittings over barbs, however barbs are a great option if you are looking for the most affordable fittings possible. Compression fittings will both look better when installed, and have a more secure hold on your tubing though. These work by using a barb fitting that you slide the tubing over, then a threaded collar goes on around the outside of the tubing and screws down onto the barb side of the fitting to lock the tubing onto it. Because this design uses both a barb and an outer collar, you will need to be mindful of both the inner diameter and outer diameter of your tubing. You will see tubing and fittings measured in either metric or imperial dimensions - some will list both, however metric and imperial sized tubing can typically only be interchanged when using soft tubing, not rigid.
Step 3: ALL The Other Fittings
Now that we’ve determined both your tubing type, and the fittings you want to use, it’s time to get the rest of the fittings you’ll need to complete your loop. If you’re going with soft tubing you can probably get away without too many angled adapters or extensions, but I still recommend getting a handful of each just in case. If you decide on some type of rigid tubing it’s very unlikely you’ll be able to finish your loop without the use of any adapters and/or extensions. All of the fittings I will suggest are G1/4” threaded, so they will be compatible with any of the compression or barb fittings you picked for your tubing. My general rule of thumb for a basic CPU/GPU loop with 1-2 radiators is to get 6-8 single rotary 90° adapters (Here is an example), and 4-6 dual rotary 90° adapters (Here is an example). There’s many more angled adapter options such as 30°,45°, and 60°, which can provide you with more options for bending and tube routing, as well as a multitude of rotary and offset adapters. I highly recommend you spend a little time perusing our selection here at PPCs if this is your first foray into custom cooling, as it will give you a good idea of what options are out there. You will also want to consider a few straight extensions. The most common place I use these are when my fans are mounted on the same side as the ports on the radiator, this can cause a compression fitting not to fit anymore. A couple of 10mm, 20mm, and 30mm extensions would serve you well during your first loop build. Beyond adapters and extensions, you’ll also want to get a drain valve setup, as loop maintenance is much harder without one. You can start by checking out the various ball valve options here, however, many valves will require another adapter or extension to get it to fit properly in your build. You want to place your drain valve at the lowest (with respect to elevation) point in your loop if possible. An easy location to use is typically a spare port on your pump top. Many drain valves are female G1/4” threaded, and so is your spare port, so you will more than likely need one of these rotary male-male G1/4” adapters. The rotary adapter will allow you to spin the valve in order to “clock” the handle in a usable position.
No matter what, picking all of your fittings and tubing for your first loop can be a very intimidating task. Hopefully this blog will answer most of your questions, but if it doesn’t, please do not hesitate to reach out to our team at PPCs to help you out. If prices of all these fancy parts are getting you down don’t worry, we have frequent sales and discounts to help you out as well!
Contact us at: Sales@performance-pcs.com