Water cooling pumps and reservoirs are an essential thermal solution to any overclocking enthusiast’s build. Custom loop cooling solutions are the way to go for expert PC builders and tinkerers because they offer much more control and give a massive thermal headroom for overclocking beyond what you could achieve with AIO or air cooling solutions.
It’s a niche that requires patience, time, money, and knowledge to master, but even the most learned of the individuals will have a hard time finding the best water cooling pumps out there.
Best Water Cooling Pumps Reviewed
It’s not easy finding a great and reliable water cooling pump for your high-end PC. As an overclocker looking to build the best custom loop, you’ll find it hard to find multiple options for great and reliable water cooling pumps.
We’ve done that hard work for you by finding 5 of the best water cooling pumps available in the market right now. We’ve also written an extensive buyer’s guide after the reviews to highlight the important aspects of the water cooling pumps and what to consider when buying.
EK-XRES 140 Revo D5 PWM
Powerful, Quiet, and Efficient
The EK-XRES 140 Revo D5 water cooling pump is one of the most popular pumps among enthusiast overclockers. This pump has PWM connection for automated speed controls, comes with a large 205ml reservoir, and can hit speeds of well over 4000 RPM. All that is combined with fancy RGB lighting to match the rest of your rig.
EKWB makes the best water cooling pumps out there, and their Revo D5 is our favorite overall pump and reservoir combo out there.
Swiftech Laing D5 Vario
Ideal for the DIYers
The Swiftech D5 Vario is a standalone water cooling pump that is incredibly fast, able to reach speeds of up to 4800 RPM. It has a 5 years lifetime and offers lots of power. Yet despite its power and speed, it has a very quiet operation.
If you’re looking for a standalone water cooling pump to integrate with your reservoir, the Swiftech D5 Vario is a fantastic alternative to the reservoir and pump combo of EKWB.
EKWB is the most popular designer of water cooling pumps for custom loops, so it’s no surprise their product would make it at the top of our list. The EK-XRES 140 Revo is a reservoir/pump combo, so you won’t need to spend any additional money on getting a separate reservoir for your coolant, nor will you have to find elaborate ways to combine the two pieces together.
What makes the EK-XRES 140 Revo D5 water cooling pump so popular is its versatility and reliability. You can install the pump at just about any angle in your rig, and it will withstand all shocks thanks to the special dampening rubber added to it.
The Revo pump comes with PWM connectivity, so its speed is electronically regulated by the motherboard. Some find PWM important, while others like manual adjustments. Either way, it’s hard to deny the quality of the Revo pump in construction and function. It has a high maximum flow rate, a large 205ml reservoir, and maximum speeds of over 4000 RPM.
In addition to its fantastic cooling performance and high maximum flow rate of 1500 liters per hour, the pump also has an RGB lighting effect added to it to match the rest of your build. It is also leak proof and extremely reliable as long as it is used properly.
- Comes with a fantastic manual
- Excellent performance
- Integrated RGB lighting
- PWM speed control
- Pump bracket not included in the unit
The Swiftech Laing D5 is one of the most well-known water cooling pumps for custom loops among PC builders and enthusiast overclockers. This is an industrial grade pump with a long life span of 50,000 MTBF (Mean Time Between Failure), which translates to 5 years of reliable performance.
The pump itself is also very easy to mount, as it can be either installed on a built-in neoprene pad with a peel off the adhesive back or can be mounted with thru-bolts. The pump doesn’t have a PWM connection. Instead, it uses an old school potentiometer system that can regular the speed between minimum 1800 RPM and maximum 4800 RPM.
Swiftech’s pump is rather large though, so you’ll need plenty of space in your PC to set it up. Additionally, this water cooling pump can be a challenge to set up with the flanges and it comes with no instructions whatsoever. This makes it rather user unfriendly, though the performance of the pump itself with ½ ID tubing is fantastic.
- Silent operation
- Powerful motor
- Excellent for big loops
- Handy potentiometer
- Unfriendly setup
- Very tight flanges
- Manual doesn’t provide any specifications
Thermaltake is better known for its excellent AIO coolers and fantastic PC gaming cases, but they also make a wicked D5 water cooling pump in the form of the Pacific. Known technically as the Pacific PR22-D5, this is a high-quality POM and PMMA water cooling reservoir and pump combo that is tightly sealed thanks to its quality rubber washers.
For the ultimate noise control, this D5 custom loop pump comes with a Silent Kit cover to reduce the noise by 10%. The reservoir of the pump is genuinely massive at 300ml, and the maximum flow rate is an impressive 1135 liters per hour.
This pump also uses a 5-speed adjustable control system to alter the speeds to your liking from a minimum speed of 1800 RPM all the way to 4800 RPM. The way to access the speeds is a little tricky though as the location of the control is located under the pump. We love that Thermaltake Pacific also gives you multiple mounting options so you can use it in multiple ways to suit your needs best.
- Excellent performance for the price
- Reservoir capacity is huge
- Quiet operation
- Ideal mounting options
- Speed control knob is difficult to access
- Brackets and mounts not compatible with many cases
If you’re looking for a higher quality DDC pump instead of a D5 pump, then you should consider the EK-XTOP DDC 3.2 PWM Elite Plexi. It’s one of the best DDC pumps out there. DDC pumps are ideal for compact builds and offer more head pressure.
The pump itself has a Plexi glass see-through design and is compatible with all other EKWB components, which are the components of choice for most custom loop cooling solutions among enthusiasts and overclockers.
The pump has PWM control, so the speed of this water cooling pump will vary according to the CPU temperature. There are also vibration dampening rubber mounts, so the pump’s vibrations aren’t transferred to the rest of the computer chassis. Additionally, this dampening system also reduces the pump’s noise.
Like most high-quality pumps, the Elite Plexi has a 50,000 hour MTBF or 5 years of lifetime. The maximum flow rate is 1000 liters per hour, and the head provided by the pump is an astounding 7 meters.
- Huge head pressure
- Excellent build quality
- Rubberized dampers isolate vibration and reduce noise
- Great for compact builds
- Low maximum flow rate
It’s hard not to be impressed by the Enermax NeoChanger for just how awesome the functionality and features it offers at a fantastic price point. You can buy this water cooling pump and reservoir combo in 200ml, 300ml, and even 400ml variants, depending on how much coolant you need.
This is a state of the art water cooling pump. Right out of the box, you’ll notice its design is way more refined than other pump and reservoir combos, which admittedly look a little old fashioned. A display is integrated into the pump that shows the exact RPM at which it is running.
Additionally, the pump also has RGB lighting integrated into it, with a 4-pin header that connects to the motherboards of some of the most popular board manufacturers like Asus, MSI, ASRock, and more. You can choose up to 256 different RGB combinations.
All the RGB combinations and speed controls (ranging from 1500 to 4000 RPM) can be accessed from an absolutely brilliant little remote control that can stick to the side of your PC. The magnetic remote control gives RGB color adjustments and speed increments of 150 RPM for ultimate finetuning.
- Fantastic value
- Integrated RPM display
- Excellent remote control
- Beautiful RGB system
- Great cooling
- Some users have had the pump die on them
- Quality control issues
Water cooling pumps are available in two main times. This is DDC and D5.
DDC pumps have a higher head, which makes them a great choice for compact custom loops with lots of twists and turns. DDC pumps also consume less power than D5 cooling pumps. However, DDC water cooling pumps run hotter, louder, and don’t over as much flow rate as D5 pumps.
D5 pumps are the preferred choice by most enthusiast overclockers and PC builders. These water cooling pumps don’t have huge head pressure, but they run quieter, cooler, and have a much larger flow rate. D5 pumps also offer variable speed, which is almost never found in DDC pumps.
This makes them more efficient as cooling pumps. However, D5 pumps do draw more power from your PSU than DDC pumps. Unless you’re running a very compact and convoluted custom loop, D5 water cooling pumps are the preferred choice.
The specs of the pump you’re buying are important because they determine exactly how it will perform. The three most important specifications to look out for are max flow rate, the head, and the speeds.
The maximum flow rate is the amount of coolant the pump can transmit throughout the system in a given hour. If you are overclocking your water-cooled CPU and GPU heavily, you will want a pump with a very high maximum flow rate. Anything above 1300 liters per hour is phenomenal.
The head is the height to which the pump can raise the water too. It’s not as important on a well-built system, but if you have a lot of twists and turns, they will add resistance to the pressure produced by the pump. To counter this pressure, a high head is required. DDC pumps have higher heads than D5 pumps, but the latter performs better.
Finally, there is the speed. The RPM determines how fast the pump functions, and is measured in revolutions per minute (RPM). Pumps can have RPMs ranging from anywhere between 1500 up to 4800 or more. Higher RPMs are great for extreme overclockers, but they also produce more noise.
The mounting system of the pump is extremely important. You could have the best water cooling pump in the world, but it’s useless if it doesn’t mount to your PC. Some pumps come with multiple brackets that let you orient them whichever way you want. Many have rubber dampeners with the brackets to prevent the transmission of vibrations to the rest of the system.
The mounting system is complex with pumps and reservoirs, but it’s an extremely important part of your purchase decision. Make sure you research properly about the mounting system and whether it fits your case of choice.
A custom loop is one in which the tubing, radiators, and reservoir/pump are all separately bought and assembled according to preference. Custom loops give the user more control over the cooling system, and in the experienced hand can seriously push overclocking potential of CPUs (and even GPUs) to extreme limits.
Custom loops are made by melting tubing to desired angles, joining them through flanges with the reservoir, and pumping them with water cooling pumps. Special brackets for the CPU and GPU also have to be used. It’s an expensive endeavor, but it can push the performance boundaries of your system beyond what all in one liquid coolers.
Which one is better: a standalone pump or a reservoir and pump combo?
Neither. It completely depends on the individual. A pump and reservoir combo is more convenient, but many users would opt to have a custom reservoir and a separate pump instead.
Is it safe to orient a reservoir and water cooling pump combination horizontally?
Yes, it’s safe to orient a reservoir and pump combo horizontally. However, make sure that when you fill the reservoir it is in an upright position, so no air is trapped inside it.