I'm getting into watercooling finally and am looking for some really good guides on how to start, how to build your loops, best parts to date, and a general overview of how to properly and reliably watercool.
Also, a quick question: If I run more than 1 loop in my rig (say, one for my CPU and one for my GPU(s)), do I need 2 of everything, like 2 pumps, 2 rads, etc? It seems like I've seen setups with just 2 rads and 1 pump...
Great questions for a great hobby. Welcome to the club!
Start simple: One loop, one pump: "K.I.S.S.". Dual loops are kinda tit-for-tat, add to frustrations and cost, and are really minimal gains overall. Sure, I love them...but it's just not something to start off with. It's kinda like getting a Corvette as a first car. If you start more simply, you know what you need instead of not knowing what you're missing. Save that stuff for later.
What I suggest is a pump you can grow with and a rad that simply fits your case. I still
feel one good 120mm rad will cool an entire system with one fan that still rivals fans spread about a build. $80 for a heatsink for one device? It's trivial to me really. Black Ice Extreme: Low cost for what it is, and works very well. If you have room for a 120x2 (usually called a 240) do it...just because. Not that you need
it, but rather that it's room for future BTU's. I held up a PresHOT, 75G raptors, 925xe chipset, and 2 nVidia cards with just one rad/one fan and average temps. A pump should match your system, but it should also offer more tomorrow as well. The Laing D5 Adjustable
is spot on for this. Spend a lot now, and you'll use it forever in other builds. Bought one in the 90's and still in my main rig today.
3/8" tubing is fine, so try and not be distracted by all the 1/2" talk. I know Tygon is the typical, but look at Feser tubing instead. Tygon just has a name brand in the industry, was the go-to, but others have caught up. I'd not go with clear either way. I play chemist at work and at home, and algae still eludes me as to where it decides to grow. Colored tubing just helps the look, so try Feser.
Along with the KISS ideal, you don't need a reservoir...but it's desired. It's a bubble tank, but it's more time between fill ups for a new water user. I have a T-connection on my main rig and it needs a top-off monthly, where a reservoir could...do whatever. Fill it when you can. Mine, it needs attention NOW. If you do the simple T-connection...get 2' of CLEAR tubing. If you pick blue overall and use left-overs for the fill connection...you can't tell when it's out of water until the pump slurps air.
Water? Walmart Battery isle; DI bottles for a buck a gallon. What do you add to it? Household bleach; a cap full per gallon. Again, Algae adapt and will ignore the bleach, so in a month or so you change it up and add another bug killer (rum works), then another cap of bleach the next month. For cooling? WaterWetter. It's $20 for a bottle at any autoparts store, but again...you just need a cap-full for any water loop. If the water is pink, it's not good! I use a 1/4 bottle in my bikes for example. Pure water is the best, and the more additives you use, the worse it performs. You could use Xerex for the Glycol, but why?
The actual parts can get complicated, so we won't go there yet. If you go to Danger Den you won't go wrong. If you start with them and feel a need for the fine tuning...please inform me.