For many custom builders looking to get into water cooling or ditch soft tubing, hardline tubing is a sure-fire way of adding some extra flair to the system. However, with different materials to choose from, it can leave beginners scratching their heads asking: PETG vs acrylic tubing, which should I go for?
We have more choice than ever before when it comes to the tubing for our PCs, making it even easier for the newbies to include hardline options. Acrylic is still one of the more popular tubing options, with it providing a clarity closer to glass. PETG (polyethylene terephthalate glycol) is far easier to work with but doesn’t quite have the same wow factor as acrylic.
You may have already guessed it but there is no wrong answer here, both types of tubing offer very similar results and both work in similar ways. So, why pose the question of Acrylic vs PETG in the first place? Well, there are subtle differences that can sway your personal preferences, especially if you’re new to water cooling computers.
Let’s take a quick look at the advantages.
- Lower melting point
- Generally cheaper
- Easier to cut (can use basic tools)
- Offers more visual clarity
- Higher melting point
- Compatible with a wider range of coolants than PETG
- More stain-resistant
- More scratch-resistant
As mentioned, acrylic tubing is the most widely used and looks and feels closer to glass, with excellent clarity. Acrylic is more rigid and will shatter with ease when compared to PETG. Acrylic is stronger in other ways though, with a higher melting point making it much more durable when your system heats up. The downside is that acrylic tubing is harder to bend and cut, with it taking longer to reach the melting point for bends and the material being too brittle for basic tools.
Acrylic tubing allows less water permeation than PETG, meaning you won’t have to top up your loop quite as often. Acrylic is also more scratch-resistant, stain-resistant, and reflects light more, so your tubes will look aesthetically pleasing for longer.
PETG is somewhat avoided by many water cooling enthusiasts but is a fantastic option for those new to the art of custom water cooling a PC. PETG is a great material for the beginner, simply because it’s cheaper and easier to work with. The lower melting point makes it easier to bend and fix mistakes. PETG tubing has less clarity than acrylic but it isn’t as much as you may think, however, it is more prone to staining and for that reason isn’t compatible with as many coolants as acrylic.
You can use basic tools to cut PETG tubing and can handle the material quite roughly thanks to its durability. The negatives come in if your system’s coolant gets too warm, through overclocking or a pump failure, which can potentially deform the tubing, leading to bulges and in extreme cases, leaks.
Both PETG and acrylic are good materials for your next water cooling loop. Which of these materials you decide to go with is ultimately up to your own preference but PETG cannot compete with acrylic visually in the long run. PETG is beginner-friendly but if you are likely to learn how to cut and bend PETG, it is hardly much different learning this process with acrylic, however, you’ll need a few extra tools.
Sure, acrylic is a bit more brittle and prone to crack but you just need to handle it with a bit more care and don’t chuck it around. I’d personally go for acrylic in my system because of how well coolant looks inside, with the additional internal lighting around the build reflecting off the surface in a more vibrant manner.
So, if you are new to hardline tubing and fancy an easier run at it, PETG is a great way to go but for uncompromised quality on appearance and less chance of deforming, acrylic tubing is going to make a world of difference to how your new water cooled PC looks.