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A Quick Look at Dual, Parallel, and Serial Loops

A Quick Look at Dual, Parallel, and Serial Loops

 

A Quick Look at Dual, Parallel, and Serial Loops

Most beginner watercoolers have questions regarding loop order, and quite a few people will respond with, “loop order doesn’t matter beyond having the pump below the reservoir.” Which is not wrong, but it really only tells half of the story.  If you’re an enthusiast you are probably interested in how watercooling performs in your system depending on the configuration you use. You may have even explored the differences between dual, parallel and serial loops. This blog should give you a little better understanding of how each configuration can benefit your loop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parallel and Serial Loops

 

The main concept that is often misconstrued is that loop order really isn’t what gives the differences in performance, it’s the flow rate. When you are considering the differences between parallel and serial configurations, you need to examine the differences in resistance each configuration has in your loop. Every block and radiator in your loop adds resistance to the flow of the liquid, therefore the more resistance, the slower the coolant flow.The ideal coolant flow rate in a liquid cooling loop, regardless of components and configuration, is 1gpm (Gallon/Minute) or more. At 1 gpm it takes 250 watts of heat to raise the water in your loop 1C. DDC and D5 pumps can achieve 1 gpm of flow through most standard loops, such as a CPU, GPU and two radiators. Which is why you often see serial loops in a lot of standard water loops. It’s only when you get to more complex loops like SLI and Crossfire GPU configurations that you see parallel and dual loops being used. A parallel GPU configuration alone, is helpful because the resistance in the loop dramatically decreases when the blocks are put in parallel instead of series. The reason behind this is because when you put resistive components into your loop in series, the resistance is additive, however when they are in parallel, the total resistance is less than the smallest amount of resistance in any one of the components. The one key to having a parallel GPU configuration is making sure each GPU block is identical in resistance, or else the flow rates between each block will vary which will result in inconsistent cooling performance. This can be avoided by simply purchasing identical blocks for your cards. If you plan on putting your CPU in parallel with the other blocks in your loop you will want to do some research, or just plain old testing, to see if the difference in resistance to the other blocks is too great to achieve acceptable performance.

 

 

 

Dual Loops

 

Another configuration some watercoolers consider to help with cooling performance is a dual loop. A dual loop allows you to split up your various components between two complete watercooling loops. Of course you may even see such things as triple or quad loops, but that is a topic beyond the scope of this blog. In all practicality most dual loop systems rarely see much more than a few degrees of improvement over a well configured single loop, however there is still a benefit to using a dual loop configuration. Separating your CPU from your GPU(s) is the most common form of dual loop, as it separates the components that add the most heat to your loop. More often than not, a multi-loop setup increases the cost of the loop significantly. Which is why it is typically considered for its aesthetics, instead of its performance.

At the end of the day any loop requires a lot of time to plan and build. It is always wise to consider other configurations for your system before you start building the loop itself. Depending on what you want to get out of your loop, whether it be clean aesthetics, top performance, or both, you’ll want to do some research on the characteristics of the components in your loop. There are benefits to each configuration explained in this blog, so I hope this brief overview has sparked your interest in exploring new ways to watercool!

 

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