Closed Loop vs Open Loop Water Cooling – Know the Difference

loop - Closed Loop vs Open Loop Water Cooling

Have you started venturing into the world of water looping? The newbie often gets confused about what better to choose for their system in between air cooling and water cooling loops!

Even think about how long does liquid cooling last? And, in the case of water cooling, they started comparing open loop CPU coolers vs closed loop CPU coolers.

We will start with a custom watercooling loop! But before moving forward, let us clarify why you should choose the water cooling loop order over air cooling techniques. Computer hardware components generate lots of heat inside the system.

Especially when running a heavily loaded application or game or over-clocking the components beyond their working limits. A CPU cooler cools down the system and keeps running the hardware components at a safe temperature. Water cooling loops can absorb the heat more conveniently than the air blowing inside the system.

The liquid cooled PC case has shown another level of effectiveness and eliminates the noise where the air cooling techniques generate a lot of noise inside the CPU when it has to work hard. 

Using a liquid cooling system on your PC can increase the system speed and maximize the performance levels of each component.

Usually, people who use monster systems like giant gaming stations or do highly challenging tasks with their PCs install custom loops. Otherwise, those who are on a budget can simply go for a pre-built closed loop liquid cooler. Still, many things will matter here that can make you choose one over the other in some particular cases.

To clear things up, we are going to give you an in-depth analysis of liquid cooling loops. In this article, we will share some insights about what you can expect from both cooling loops—hoping that our analysis can leave you with a conclusion of what will be the best for you.


An open loop refers to a custom water cooling loop that you need to build from the start. This cooling solution comes with separate components such as pump, radiator, reservoir, water-block(s), coolant pipes, and other fitting and tubing components.

To complete this open loop cooling system, you have to assemble these individual parts one by one on your own.

open loop - Closed Loop vs Open Loop Water Cooling

The PC custom loop making process depends on the variety of components that you choose to build it. There are considerably more alternative ways available to choose from. Like, you can choose a tube cylinder pump or reservoir to install it inside the system.

In particular, you can fit the pump or reservoir in front of your PC, but it will take a front bay. A tube cylinder pump is much larger than a front bay reservoir but can be placed more inside of the system. Plus, the radiators are available in many more port layouts, sizes, densities, and thicknesses. You can get 120 millimeters, 240 millimeters, 360 millimeters, and 480 millimeters sized radiators.

Water cooling loop design is an expensive hobby for some PC enthusiasts and tech-savvy people. You may feel like it’s a near-impossible task to install these different components in the right way. But, it’s not rocket science. It takes time and patience to learn how to hook up an open loop pc water pump.

In the first place, you need to select the right combination that suits your cooling needs and the system. Hopefully, manufacturers will surely bring out some improved and easy ways for beginners.


Manufacturers have already launched a simplified version of the custom loop for those not pro at PC assembling. Closed loop water cooling makes it easier to install a cooling loop inside the system. The closed loop water coolers contain mainly three units – a low evaporation tubing system, a radiator, and a copper-plated cooling pump.

People know this water loop as an all-in-one (AIO) PC loop because it comes with ready-to-install fitting. With this water cooling loop, you don’t need to assemble the parts on your own apart from installing the entire cooling loop to your system.

closed loop - Closed Loop vs Open Loop Water Cooling

But, unlike the custom water cooling loop, you will get considerably fewer options to choose from for a closed water cooling system. But it is also available in similar sizes to a custom water loop that extends from 120 millimeters up to 420 millimeters all the way.

When it comes to Custom loop vs. AIO, a closed loop cooling system PC can be considered an easier and safer option for the majority. There is no chance that the customer will spill the coolant inside the system while installing it as the loop is already assembled.


So, if closed loop water cooling maintenance and installation is easy and beneficial, why would someone go for a custom loop? Let’s discuss the difference in detail!


Yet, the water blocks are the most expensive unit of a custom liquid cooling loop. Still, everything will cost a large amount of money from coolant components to other fitting or tubing parts. However, do you not have much cash to splash? Go for a cheaper closed loop CPU cooler!

Even though some people find it overpriced, it can still serve as a expensive custom loop water cooling and less efficient air cooling techniques for a giant system.

So if you are on a budget, choose an AIO CPU cooler that cools down your GPU/CPU. With a cheaper cooling option, you can save cash for investing in buying more powerful components in the future.


Specialists often consider an elaborate open loop cooling system to provide greater results than closed loop coolers. The statement is only true when we feature multiple extra-large elaborate loops and plenty of coolant components to consider it a custom water cooling loop.

closed vs open loop

Tiny to elaborate loops are available in the market. If we use only a small amount of coolant in the cooling loop, it can include heating issues for the components in some worst instances. On the other hand, closed loop water coolers contain a single cooling component that constantly provides similar results and leaves an average low temperature inside the system for longer.


All-inclusive, nothing can beat a full loop water cooling system in terms of effectiveness, noise elimination, and utmost cooling capacity. Enthusiasts can add a next-level unique touch to any open loop cooling system customizing the coolant elements, maximizing the overall performance.

The combination of RGB lit box, fittings, and tubing components make your PC or gaming station aesthetically impressive. Trust me; no one can take their eyes away from the system. But, it depends on how much you can afford to set them up and buy those expensive components. It needs lots of planning to design, efforts to select the right and time to install them perfectly.

Besides, the maintenance of these customized cooling loops includes a bit of hassle. But, you all can agree with us that a closed loop CPU cooler is beyond comparison with a custom loop cooler system in terms of its incredible looks and beauty.


A closed loop chilled water system does not allow customizing it in that way, and you can build an open cooling system from scratch. You can install an RGB fan instead of the higher or lower flow fan option and include a better thermal paste while installing the ready cooling system to your CPU.

In the case of a custom-built option, you can change and upgrade every component. We have already talked about the variety of types and sizes of reservoirs. You will find 30 to 40 CPU / GPU water-block options. The interesting part is from the simple, transparent tubing option to UV colors; it offers 50+ solid color combinations and different tubing equipment sizes.

So, you can choose the tubing components of the open loop as per your favorite colors, where the closed cooling loop system comes with only a 12mm black-colored rubber-like tube.


When installing something on our own at home, things get more complicated as we don’t have the correct tool nearby, and we get stuck before we even start. When it comes to installing cooling loops into a system, the requirements of tools are not a big deal if you are going to assemble a closed loop. To do so, all you need is a small toolbox containing various screwdrivers, mini wire cutters, and cable ties.

Instead of these things, you need to arrange a few more tools if you will install an open loop. Even so, most of the screws will come with the components that you will purchase.

Plus, you need a measuring tape, drill to create mounts in the reservoir, heat gun, silicon inserts, chamfer, and a bending tool for hard tubing. If you plan leak testing, arrange a 24 pin jumper and fluid for flushing the loop.


We’ve already discussed and compared every possible aspect of both water cooling loops. If you ignored the detailed discussion due to lack of time, get into this quick snippet of information that might clear up your confusion and help you select the right one.

Why you should choose the AIO cooling loop

An AIO combines three individual modular parts in a single ready-to-install component. As the entire cooling system does not involve any type of fitting, there is no chance of facing a leakage problem. Also, customers need not worry about the cooling parts running dry as AIO does not feature any standalone reservoir, eliminating the chance of system failure.

You can get an AIO water cooling loop in the $80-$150 range. The most expensive option also comes around $200. You may feel $150 to $200 is very expensive for you, but remember that this self-contained cooling system does not require extra components like a custom loop.

As it is a sealed liquid cooler system, there is no need to fill, checking the flush, and monitoring its performance; dusting off the radiator every once in a while is enough. The closed loop water cooling maintenance cost is very low.

AIO water loops have become popular in the gaming PC world as a closed loop graphics card cooler. Manufacturers also assemble this cost-effective, convenient water cooling loop into the CPU cooler and the RAM and GPU cooling solution.


The PC enthusiasts who are fans of the best aesthetics usually opt for a custom cooling loop.

There is no doubt that you will get the best level of effectiveness and performance from every part as you individualize them in your custom cooling system.

Custom water cooling loops are used for cooling CPU, GPU, RAM, VRMs, and motherboard VRMs. It cools down every component, keeps the entire system to its limit or in a work-efficient condition.


With an all-in-one custom water cooling loop, you will get the same what you pay for. When you pay $130 for each part of your system, there is no second thought that you are installing more powerful hardware with maximum cooling capacity and performance.

Technically, you cannot find a better cooling option for your system than a custom loop PC. But, it is less compatible, more expensive, and mostly harder to install. Still, some PC enthusiasts surrender themselves to its visual appeal.

But, most of the customers want the near-best option at an affordable cost! Right? That’s why PC builders often prefer to install cheaper AIO sealed liquid cooling loops inside the system.

Furthermore, closed loops are cheaper, safer, and easier to assemble and provide decent cooling results. No cooling solution is bad in this case. You just need to figure out which one will be better for your needs.


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