Technology Explained

3 Reasons Why You Might Want a Water-Cooled Laptop

Joel Lee 24-02-2016

If you’ve ever tried gaming on a laptop, you know how frustrating it can be. Even after you’ve done everything you can to boost your laptop’s gaming performance 10 Ways to Improve Gaming Performance on Your Laptop Want improved laptop gaming performance? Here's how to improve laptop performance and ensure you can easily run the games you want. Read More , it’s rarely enough. Until now, desktops have always reigned supreme as gaming machines.


To be fair, there are a lot of great gaming laptops on the market right now, and if you really need a powerful rig that you can take anywhere, then they’re your best option. (Keeping in mind the stark differences between gaming laptops and desktops What's The Real Difference Between A Gaming Laptop And Desktop? The fact that laptops are slower than desktops is common knowledge, but how much slower is hard to quantify, and gamers find themselves weighing the reduction in performance against the price tag and the portability. Read More  that you should know about.)

But in September 2015, ASUS unveiled the world’s first water-cooled laptop — the ROG GX700 gaming laptop — and it’s a big enough breakthrough to change the face of portable gaming for years to come.

What Is Water Cooling?

Let’s make one thing absolutely clear right off the bat: water is harmful to electronics, so much so that even a single drop can completely destroy an entire device. This is why it’s crucial to handle laptop spills in a specific way You Just Spilled Water Or Coffee On Your Laptop - Here's What You Should Do Okay, let's take a deep breath and deal with the emergency first. Any emergency requires us to take a moment or two and assess the situation. That way we aren't just reacting, we are acting... Read More  — so that nothing gets fried.

In that light, water cooling may sound like a contradiction. But it isn’t. Not long ago, engineers found a way to leverage the heat-absorbing properties of water What Water Cooling Is & Should You Use It? [MakeUseOf Explains] Water is a great coolant. It’s plentiful, cheap and can be easily moved via pumps. The need for specialized hardware has often made this solution too expensive and too complex for mainstream users, however. That... Read More  without damaging electronic parts in the process. And now that technology is available for laptops, too.

The concept of water cooling is simple: it starts with a water source. That water is pumped in through tubes and flows over a piece of hot metal which is drawing heat out of the CPU and GPU. The water absorbs the heat, flows back to the source, is cooled down, and repeats.


In practice, it’s much more complex than that. Water itself isn’t easy to cool, and takes a lot of energy to do so. Plus, the system needs to be robust because a single leak could result in catastrophic damage (though I’ve never heard of that happening).

Water cooling offers two main benefits: it cools down hot components faster than air fans, and it’s much quieter than air fans. Both of these benefits are important when trying to crank out power from a laptop, where air ventilation is often poor.

So here are three big improvements that you can expect from water-cooled laptops that you probably won’t be able to get in air-cooled laptops (for the foreseeable future, anyway).

1. Desktop Parts in a Laptop Body

We’ve written guides for buying the best budget laptops Best Laptops Under $300: Everything You Need to Know Finding a good laptop for less than $300 is almost impossible these days, but can be done if you know what to look for. Here's everything you need to know to make a purchase you... Read More  and buying the best mid-tier laptops How To Find The Best Laptop Under $600 If you know where to go, $600 can get you a lot of laptop. Here's what you should be looking for. Read More , and in both cases, the most important consideration is the processor. As it turns out, laptop processors are usually gimped due to the constraints of being portable.


As mentioned before, ventilation is often crippled in laptop cases. Even the best designs are cramped, which results in sub-optimal air flow, and this means that components usually have to have their power scaled back so that they produce less heat.


Problems with heat dissipation are also why many laptops don’t have dedicated GPUs. Have you seen modern graphic cards? The powerful ones usually come with two built-in fans because that’s how much heat they generate. A normal laptop simply can’t handle that.

But with water cooling, optimal air flow matters a lot less. If heat can be dissipated by water, then manufacturers have more freedom to put in more powerful components. Now you can get desktop-quality parts in a laptop case, and you can take it anywhere you go.


Don’t believe me? The first water-cooled laptop — the ASUS ROG GX700 — will have an Intel Core i7-6280HK processor and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980, which is unheard of outside of a desktop!

2. Overclock for Even More Power

Anyone who’s serious about resource-intensive tasks (e.g. gaming, video editing, audio encoding, etc.) has probably dabbled in overclocking before. If not, then they’ve at least thought about doing it. It’s an effective way to get more power out your system.

If you don’t know what it is, overclocking is when you force your hardware to run at a faster speed What Is Overclocking, And How It Can Help Your PC, Tablet, & Phone [MakeUseOf Explains] Provided that you have hardware from a manufacturer who understands those principles, you can do plenty to juice up your system, whether it be a computer, tablet, or smartphone. One of the best things you... Read More  than what the manufacturer set it to run at. Most components, including CPUs, GPUs, and RAM, can be overclocked, but there’s usually some risk in doing so.



The main risk is that an overclocked component requires more electricity. That extra power has to come from somewhere, after all, and that extra energy translates into extra heat. Extra heat can not only cause parts to wear down faster, but it can also cause your system to become unstable (e.g. random crashes).

In a desktop, overclocking usually requires you to install additional fans to help air circulation and reduce heat buildup. In a laptop, your options are more limited unless you’re using water. And because water is so good at keeping a system cool, you can eliminate those loud, noisy fans.

Every serious laptop gamer should think about overclocking their system Overclocking For Gamers: Everything You Need To Know Here’s every a gamer needs to know about overclocking – and how to do it. Read More , but in order to get the most out of it, consider saving up for a water-cooled device in the near future. It will take you farther than you thought possible.

3. Ultra HD 4K Is Now Possible

So what does all of this mean? Essentially, it means you’ll be able to play the latest games at maxed out settings without any issue. Water cooling is the most effective form of cooling we have today, and with it available on laptops, we’re going to see a huge jump in laptop computing power.

That means you’ll be able to play games and/or edit videos in Ultra HD 4K, which is double the resolution size of 1080p. This is good news because the world of media entertainment is steadily moving towards 4K.

Netflix is already starting to offer many of its shows in 4K What Can You Actually Watch On a 4k TV? 4K TVs were definitely a hot gift this past Christmas—but what can you actually watch on one? Read More , and if you care at all about YouTube Red’s original content We Watched Scare PewDiePie So You Don't Have To Are these YouTube Red Originals worth the price tag? We watched the first batch so, well, you don't have to. Here's what we thought... Read More , most of them will be available in 4K as well. And yes, 4K games are already here on PCs PC Gaming at 4K: Is It Worth The Money? A resolution revolution is on its way. Ultra HD televisions and monitors are finally starting to drop to reasonable prices. Has Ultra HD matured, or is it still too much money for too little benefit? Read More , and a lot of them look great.

The problem is that 4K requires a lot more power to compute than 1080p, and it’s hard enough to get that high on a desktop while maxing out graphics settings. Until now, 4K on a laptop was a pipe dream. With water cooling, it’s much closer to reality.

Next-gen gaming with beautiful graphics and massive resolutions on a portable machine that you can take anywhere and everywhere? We’re moving into the future with this, yes we are.

Water-Cooled Laptops: Worth It or No?

Now it’s time to talk about the elephant in the room: water-cooled laptops are going to be expensive. There’s no way around this. Even if cheap versions were available, I’d be too afraid of the quality (i.e. water leaks) to bother with them.

A top-of-the-line gaming laptop today will set you back a few thousand dollars at the very least. Throw in a water cooling system, more powerful components, and a bit of markup for development costs, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they cost between $5,000 to $10,000.

So really, the only people who really need a machine like that are professional gamers and hardcore enthusiasts. If you don’t care about tip-top quality, settle for a regular powerhouse laptop. If you do want power but have a small budget, build your own PC instead Is It Still Cheaper to Build Your Own PC? How much does it cost to build your own PC these days? Compared to pre-built models, are the savings worth the effort? We investigate. Read More .

What are your thoughts on water-cooled laptops? Too niche? Too excessive? Too pricey? Share with us in the comments below!

Related topics: Computer Processor, Graphics Card.

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  1. Anonymous
    February 25, 2016 at 1:20 am

    Do you know information how the watercooled laptop from Asus works?