This blog post stems from a conversation Clive and I had the other day about the water cooling grommets we’re seeing on most cases
these days. If you’re not sure what I’m on about a water cooling grommet is a rubber-lined, circular cut-out in the back of a case that appears to be designed to have water cooling tubing passed through it.
The crux of the conversation was essentially the question of whether anyone actually uses these grommets, and if they could actually be considered a feature when it comes to calculating a case's feature score in a review. My argument is that they shouldn't be counted and I’ll explain why.
It’s clear that in the majority of cases the grommets are meant for use with an external 120mm radiator. The problem is I can’t work out why or when anyone would actually use an external 120mm radiator.
Water cooling is a complex, time consuming and expensive way to cool a PC; three factors that ensure a water cooled build is rarely rushed into. As a result I can’t work out why a computer enthusiast who’s taken the time to carefully put together the component for his build would choose to use an external radiator.
For a start it would compromise not only the noise of the system but also the aesthetics of the build. It gives the build an amateur look, as it gives the impression of the water cooling just being ‘tacked on’ like some kind of afterthought.
WHAT ARE YOU FOR?!?!??
I understand the argument that an external radiator can be useful when there isn’t sufficient room inside a case, but surely anyone who takes their hardware seriously enough to water cool it would pick a suitably sized case for the task. Paradoxically most high-end cases that include these grommets are huge anyway, with space inside for double or even triple 120mm radiators.
What bends my brain even more is when cheap cases such as the Sharkoon Rebel 9
have grommets on them. Is someone who's buying a cheap, flimsy case really going to be water cooling their components? Of course not.
I think the water cooling grommet has become something that manufacturers add to cheap, tacky cases in an effort to give them vaguely enthusiast leanings - “hey, you could totally add an external radiator to me, I’m sooooo extreme
” (ignoring my cheap materials and shoddy build quality).
Unfortunately it then looks like enthusiast cases such as the Antec Dark Fleet
and the HAF X
feel the need to make sure they have grommets on too, probably because it wouldn't look good if they didn’t have the features of a £50 case. This completes the circle and makes the whole cycle perpetuate itself.
This is even more bonkers when you realise you’d have to be a lunatic to mount an external radiator on either of these cases as they have more than enough space inside to accommodate one or maybe two dual radiators.
As you can see it’s a topic that baffles me, but I’d be intrigued to know if anyone actually uses the water cooling grommets on their case. Maybe you can show me that they are actually useful for something after all. Let us know your thoughts in the forums