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water cooled motherboard

The 5 Best Water-Cooled Motherboards in 2021

If you’re in search of a water-cooled motherboard then you’ve come to the right place.

Unlike traditional motherboards, water-cooled motherboards include an integrated monoblock that not only covers the VRM but often the CPU and chipset, as well.

In particular, this modification appeals to overclockers searching for an unrivaled cooling solution.

Below, we will cover the best water-cooled motherboards on the market right now.


What is the best water-cooled motherboard?

5. ASUS ROG Maximus XII Formula Z490

Socket: LGA 1200
Chipset:
Intel Z490
Form Factor:
ATX
VRM:
16 Phases

The Maximus XII Formula Z490 is a powerful ATX motherboard, plumbed for custom liquid cooling and other enhancements. Featuring an LGA 1200 socket, AI Overclocking, and a hybrid EK water block, it unleashes the maximum performance of Intel 10th-Gen Core processors.

To provide an effective power solution, the VRM is comprised of 16 power stages, each rated to handle 70 amps. Accompanying them are high-quality chokes and capacitors that carefully regulate the voltage. This allows users to push the processor’s max performance to the ultimate limit.

Maintaining stability through heat dissipation is paramount for any motherboard put under a high load. In contrast to other boards from the Z490 line, the Formula comes equipped with an exclusive CrossChill EK II water block that provides a comprehensive cooling solution.

The water block itself is a hybrid design that cools with both air and water. However, water is the optimal solution here, providing up to 37.2°C-lower MOSFET temperatures. This is in part thanks to the widened copper tubes and larger surface area than the previous model.

Towards the right side of the water block, the Z490 includes dual-channel DDR4 (128GB) up to 4700 MHz speeds. Then, beneath we have the PCI Express 3.0s and Triple M. 2 slots. Two of the M.2 slots have a heatsink (on the front of the board), however, the third M.2 does not (and is on the back).

A fast connection is essential for FPS gaming and all other online activities. Fortunately, the Z490 features Intel Wi-Fi 6 (802. 11 ax), dual Ethernet ports, and Intel 2. 5Gb technology. We particularly like that the board includes an external Dual Band Antenna for the most reliable WIFI connection.

In addition to this, you will also appreciate the Aura Sync RGB lighting and Live Dash OLED screen. The tiny 2” screen gives you a heads-up display so you can monitor your temps, stats, or BIOS update progress in real-time.

Overall, it’s a top-tier, liquid-cooled motherboard that now retails at very reasonable price.

Pros
  • Great for overclocking
  • Integrated water block
  • OLED Live Dash screen
  • Good CMOS/BIOS Software
  • Reduced price
Cons
  • Water block only covers VRM
  • Few USB headers

4. ASUS ROG X570 Crosshair VIII Formula

Socket: AM4
Chipset: AMD 570X
Form Factor: ATX
VRM
: 16 Phases

The X570 Crosshair VIII Formula is a water cooled variant of the VIII Crosshair Hero. Equipped with an AM4 socket, it provides the perfect pairing for Ryzen 5000 and 3rd Gen AMD CPUs. It also combines a mixture of premium controllers, quality features, and classic Formula aesthetics.

Built to handle the power of the latest Ryzen processors, the VIII Formulas VRM is comprised of a teamed 14+2 phase configuration. Each of the MOSFETs can handle sixty amps. Moreover, these come accompanied by high-permeability alloy-core chokes, individually rated to handle 45 amps.

Effective cooling is extremely important for any high-powered motherboard. A unique attribute of this board is that it features an integrated VRM water block “CrossChill EK III”. Shaped in an “L”, the EK III covers the VRM power stages to deliver up to 29.3°C-lower MOSFET temperatures.

Unfortunately, one downside about the shape of the CrossChill EK III is that it is limited to just the VRM. For this reason, you will need to buy a separate CPU cooler to externally cool the processor. On the plus side, it has a similar hybrid design (to the EK II) that lets you cool with both water or air.

In terms of the build, the Crosshair VIII is surprisingly solid. An extra thick back plate supports large GPUs and several heatsinks cover the board from head to toe. Similar to other Asus next-gen motherboards, RGB LEDs decorate the heatsink covers, customizable via the Aura Sync software.

Other standout features of this board include; PCIe 4.0, Wi-Fi 6, and Bluetooth 5.0. We also like the very useful BIOS flashback button and 5-way optimization software that offers tons of overclocking abilities. Finally, we can’t forget the Live dash OLED panel that displays useful system information.

Enthusiasts planning on showcasing their Ryzen build will love this water-cooled motherboard.

Pros
  • Great for overclocking
  • Integrated water block
  • OLED Live Dash screen
  • Good CMOS/BIOS Software
  • Lots of USB / IO’s
Cons
  • Water block only covers VRM
  • Pricey

3. MSI MPG Z590 Carbon EK X

Socket: LGA 1200
Chipset:
Intel Z590
Form Factor:
ATX
VRM:
18 Phases

The MSI MPG Z590 Carbon EK X is a spectacular ATX motherboard that employs a custom EK Quantum water-cooled monoblock. Designed to cool the LGA 1200 socket and the VRM sections in one hit, it offers unparalleled thermal performance for both 10th and 11th Gen processors.

In terms of power, an aggressive 16+2 DrMOS system provides stability to the CPU. Sixteen of the MOSEFFS are dedicated to the CPU core while the other two take care of the integrated GPU and system agent. Rated to handle 75 amps each, they offer excellent overlocking abilities.

Overclocking with such power is not to be taken lightly, and this is where the EK monoblock comes into play. Tailor-made for the MSI Z590 CARBON exclusively, it simultaneously cools the VRM and CPU sections to protect against any unwanted thermal throttling.

We particularly like the design of the water block that offers real, incredible beauty. Constructed out of acrylic glass with CNC-machined finer details, you can instantly appreciate the engravings on the surface of the block, as well as the magical D-RGB lighting that illuminates it from underneath.

You’ll also like that the D-RGB syncs up beautifully with the Mystic Dragon aesthetic on the I/O shroud; and the LEDs on the southbridge. All RGB is fully controllable via the MSI Mystic Light software, customizable with up to 16.8 million colors and 29 jaw-dropping LED effects.

Just as you would expect with any Z590 motherboard, it comes loaded with the latest technology. Besides the LGA 1200 socket, you get four DDR4 Dual Channel (that can run up to 5333 MHz OC), two PCI-e Gen 4.0s, and four Lightning Gen 4 (M.2s) with up to 64GB transfer speeds.

Overall, it’s a stunning piece of hardware that looks just as good as it performs.

Pros
  • Great for overclocking
  • Monoblock cooling for VRM/ CPU
  • 2.5 GbE / Wi-Fi 6E
  • Ten USB ports
Cons
  • No TB3 ports, just a header

2. Asus ROG Maximus XIII Extreme Glacial

Socket: LGA 1200
Chipset:
Intel Z590
Form Factor:
EATX
VRM:
20 Phases

The ASUS ROG Maximus XIII Extreme Glacial is a premium water-cooled motherboard that has everything necessary for extreme overclocking. Armed with an LGA 1200 socket and a full-coverage monoblock, it provides an optimal solution to push 11th and 10th Gen Intel Core processors.

Much like the AORUS Xtreme Waterforce, this board goes all out on power and functionality. An equally large VRM with 18+2 (100 amp) power stages provides reliable system voltage. Eighteen of these supply the processor itself while the remaining two are for the secondary voltage rails.

Actively cooling the power stages is a weighty, pure electrolytic copper EK water block. Not only does this beast cover the VRM and CPU in one go, but it also seamlessly extends all the way down to the chipset, covering the network controller and half of the M.2. slots in the process.

To help you effectively monitor your system, the water block has a smart design that includes some valuable features. In particular, you will appreciate the leak detection sensors on the connection ports, in addition to the integrated temperature sensors at both the “in” and “out” ports.

Thanks to the central OLED screen – which displays crucial motherboard and CPU parameters, viewing this information in real-time is easy. We also like how it adds to the visual qualities of the board. When paired up with the addressable LEDs on either side, it creates a real futuristic aesthetic.

Besides the CPU and water block combo, the Glacial comes equipped with five onboard M.2 slots, three of which offer PCIe 4.0 support for the latest GPUs and high-speed SSDs. Besides this, it supports up to 128GB of RAM with speeds listed to an ultra-fast DDR4 5333+ (OC).

For high-performance networking, you also get onboard WiFi 6E (802.11ax), Marvell AQtion 10 Gb Ethernet, and Intel 2.5 Gb Ethernet. Overall, the XIII Extreme Glacial is an incredibly powerful board that’s sure to keep your system running icy-cool long into the future.

Pros
  • Excellent for overclocking
  • Full-coverage water block
  • Ten USB ports, including TB4
  • Five M.2 slots
  • OLED screen
Cons
  • Expensive

1. GIGABYTE Z590 AORUS Xtreme Waterforce

Socket: LGA 1200
Chipset:
Intel Z590
Form Factor:
EATX
VRM:
21 Phases

The Z590 AORUS Xtreme is a state-of-the-art E-ATX motherboard that comes with a very steep price tag. Built to support 11th and 10th Gen Intel Core processors while providing unparalleled thermal performance, it features a 20+1 Phase digital VRM solution and a stunning AIO water block.

Gigabyte went into designing this board with one thing in mind; leaving nothing on the table. This starts with the massive VRM, which is a true beast among motherboards. Comprised of 100A smart power stages and tantalum polymer capacitors, it certainly dominates the competition.

Cooling a VRM of this capacity is no joke either and something not to be taken lightly. To dissipate heat and reduce any thermal resistance effectively, the AORUS Xtreme utilizes an eight-layer PCB and an AIO monoblock that covers the CPU, VRM, and M.2 SSD slots.

The water block is the star of the show here, offering suburb engineering. Constructed out of nickel-plated copper, it weighs a ton and has a real premium feel to it. You’ll be glad to know that it slots right on without any difficulties and has inbuilt leak detection under the bridge.

Aesthetically, the water block looks incredible, something that becomes even more apparent once mounted. Its unique design is split into two diagonal halves. The top half has an OLED screen that displays your system info, whereas the bottom is acrylic to showcase the under-glow RGB lighting.

It’s no surprise that this flagship water-cooled motherboard is loaded with the latest technology. In addition to the LGA 1200 socket, you get four DDR4 Dual Channel (that can run up to 5333 MHz OC), two PCI-e Gen 4.0s, and triple Lightning Gen 4 (M.2s) with up to 64GB transfer speeds.

Much like the Extreme Glacial connectivity includes; Wi-Fi 6 (802.11Ax), and Bluetooth 5.0. Other top features include the very useful BIOS flashback button and 5-way optimization software.

Overall, the Xtreme Waterforce is a real premium board that offers a ridiculous water-cooled platform.

Pros
  • Excellent for overclocking
  • Full-coverage water block
  • Ten USB ports, including TB4
  • Four M.2 slots
  • OLED screen
Cons
  • Expensive

Frequently asked questions

Can you water cool a motherboard?

Since the introduction of custom-engineered monoblocks, it’s entirely possible to water-cool a motherboard. Monoblocks from liquid-cooling specialists “EK-Quantum” are designed specifically to cool the VRM and CPU in one hit while avoiding clearance issues.

Is motherboard cooling necessary?

For most people, cooling the motherboard is not necessary unless they wish to overclock their board beyond the temperature protection limit. In this case, installing some dedicated cooling can benefit the voltage regulator module performance and help improve the longevity of the MOSFETs.

Is VRM water cooling important?

Water cooling the VRM is only important if the air circulation inside the case is not sufficient. When properly cooled, the MOSFETs will last far longer as they are less susceptible to overheating. They will also run more efficiently, improving your processors’ performance.

Do you need a special motherboard for water cooling?

Providing there’s a compatible water block available for your current motherboard (with enough clearance for your CPU), you do not need a special motherboard for water-cooling. Once fitted, it will then perform the same function as a specialist motherboard with an integrated water block.



We hope you found a water-cooled motherboard on this list.

Click here for the 10 best RGB Motherboards!

Click here for a list of the 10 best RGB AIO CPU Coolers!


Image credit:

Photo by J K on Unsplash








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