How To Fit Motherboard Waterblocks

7/7/2012 4:29:09 PM

It’s worth fitting a waterblock to your motherboard, as well as your CPU. Antony Leather shows you how it’s done.

Your motherboard can benefit just as much from a little H2O as your CPU and graphics card. Your motherboard’s chipset and VRMs can become incredibly how, especially if your system is overclocked, yet few people think about providing extra cooling here. Adding your motherboard to your water-cooling loop will result in lots of waste heat being moved directly to your radiator to be expelled from the case.

Your PC will then be able to deal with the heat it produces quickly and efficiently, and you’ll almost certainly prolong its lifespan and increase your overclocking headroom too. Fitting waterblocks on your motherboard isn’t quite as easy as installing a CPU waterblock, but this guide will show you how to do it step by step

Step 1

Description: Find the right waterblocks

Find the right waterblocks

You may have to fit several waterblocks to your chipset and VRMs, but most third-party waterblock manufacturers make full-cover waterblocks manufacturers make full-cover waterblocks that wind around the PCB of Asus and Gigabyte motherboards, cooling many areas at the same time. EK Waterblocks also has a fantastic online tool ( that tells you which ones will fit your motherboard.

Step 2

Description: Plan ahead

Plan ahead

The only downside to water-cooling your motherboard is that it can be expensive. If you have a single-piece heatsink with integrated heatpipes, like ours, you’ll have to remove the entire thing, and water-cool all the chipsets and VRMs. Thanksfully, many motherboards have separate heatsinks, in which case you can just water-cool the hottest-running components to save money, or add further blocks later.

Step 3

Description: Unfasten the heatsink

Unfasten the heatsink

Most motherboard heatsinks are held in place by many screws or pronged pins, so identify these on the rear of the board. If the heatsink is held in place by pins, like ours, these can be removed by pinching the prongs and pulling the pin from the other side of the PCB. Be careful to only remove the pins that secure the heatsink you’re replacing; loosening those on a separate heatsink could cause it to overheat.

Step 4

Description: Apply making tape

Apply making tape

If your heatsink is held on by crews or the pins are too stiff to remove by hand, use a screwdriver (or pliers to deal with stiff pins). Apply masking tape to the surrounding area, as this prevents you from scratching the PCB if you slip, which can have dire consequences for your motherboard. Leave this tape in place, as it will serve you well when installing the waterblock.

Step 5

Description: Remove the heatsink

Remove the heatsink

With all the pins or screws removed, the heatsink should be easy to remove. If not, check to see if there any remaining screws; if all is clear then some thermal, paste is probably holding the heatsink in place. Use a hairdryer to heat the heatsink for a few minutes, moving the airflow along the length of the heatsink. This will heat the thermal paste and should enable you to remove the heatsink.

Step 6

Description: Clean the contact areas

Clean the contact areas

Remove any thermal paste between the chipset and heatsink, using TIM cleaner sparingly, and taking care not to get any on the board. Now check the instructions for you waterblocks; most include thermal pads but some require thermal paste, in which case you should use a non-conductive paste such as Arctic MX-2; you risk short-circuiting your board if conductive paste gets onto it.

Step 7

Description: Test fit

Test fit

Test fit the waterblock gently, without forcing it down, so that you can make sure it fits properly, doesn’t have defects and that it’s not going to cause short circuits. Inspect the block and any components near it on the board to make sure nothing is touching it that shouldn’t be. The waterblock and hardware will have probably been tested together by the manufacturer beforehand, but it doesn’t hurt to be sure.

Step 8

Description: Install fittings

Install fittings

In most cases, it will be easier and less hazardous to install your tube fittings before installing the waterblock. Installing the fittings can require a fair amount of force, so it isn’t ideal to do this when the block is attached to the motherboard. Go ahead and install the fittings to the block.

Step 9

Description: Apply the thermal pads

Apply the thermal pads

The vast majority of motherboard blocks will include thermal pads, which bridge any gaps between the waterblock’s contact plate and the components on the motherboard. They also serve to provide a non-conductive layer between the metal contact plate and your motherboard to prevent short circuits. Apply these just before installing the waterblocks, as it’s easy to damage them.

Step 10

Description: Install the waterblock

Install the waterblock

Fit the block and then turn over the motherboard so that you can screw it in place. Only insert the screws loosely at first – once they’re all in place, proceed to tighten them up with a moderate amount of pressure, inspecting the motherboard for warping and other issues as you proceed. All that’s left to do now is leak-test the block and fittings, and you can look forward to a cooler – running PC.

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