add arrow-down arrow-left arrow-right arrow-up authorcheckmark clipboard combo comment delete discord dots drag-handle dropdown-arrow errorfacebook history inbox instagram issuelink lock markup-bbcode markup-html markup-pcpp markup-cyclingbuilder markup-plain-text markup-reddit menu pin radio-button save search settings share star-empty star-full star-half switch successtag twitch twitter user warningwattage weight youtube

Learning how cooling works

StrallTech
  • 7 months ago

I am a new builder to the PC building world. I am wondering what the different options were about how to cool a PC and what to consider when looking at cooling options. I know there are 2 types of cooling and that is Water and Air cooling. What are the pro's and con's of each, where would one be better vs another, ect. I am really looking at building a dream build later on down the road.

Comments

  • 7 months ago
  • 2 points

AIO pros:

  • Performance (240mm or larger rads) They tend to have awesome performance
  • Space, They don't crowd the motherboard and the radiator can often be installed in the top or front of the case

AIO Cons:

  • Tend to be expensive
  • Tend to be louder, not only do they have fans like air coolers they also have a pump and water flow to make noise
  • Due to having extra moving parts there is a chance of pump failure or leaks, though not a huge concern with a good quality one

Air cooler Pros:

  • Performance, There are air coolers that can match or beat some AIOs
  • Lower Cost
  • Less noise
  • Reliability, only fans have a chance to fail and dual fan coolers have redundancy

Air cooler Cons:

  • can be very large and not fit in as many cases and limit ram to low profile ram

Both are perfectly viable to use. I didn't list aesthetics as a pro or con on either one as art is in the eye of the beholder. What CPU are you planning to cool and in what case?

  • 7 months ago
  • 1 point

So I don't have specifics about case or CPU, like I said I am new to PC building all together. Growing up I always had the basic home office PC to game on and work with, nothing special. So any tips or advice for which one would be better in certain cases?

  • 7 months ago
  • 1 point

Well in most PC cases out there both options are perfectly viable. If it is your first time building and you want a decent cooler to allow a decent overclock then take a look at this cooler. It is one of the best price to performance air coolers. It may not perform as well as a dark rock pro 4 or a NH-D15 cooler but it is closer to those in performance at a fraction of the cost. It will work well on both AMD and Intel CPUs alike.

If you are getting a locked Intel CPU (one without the "k" at the end) and you want to get an after market cooler then this cooler is one to see. It is super cheap and still performs much better than the stock coolers. Also a good budget option to add to a R5 or R3 CPU from AMD too.

  • 7 months ago
  • 2 points

The proper term for a "air cooler" is a HSF which stands for HeatSink and Fan which makes a lot more sense because a AIO also uses air to help cool and a HSF (assuming it has heatpipes) uses liquid to help cool too.

HSF

Pros.

  • Usually provide better bang for your buck. Coolers such as the ~$50 ThermalRight Macho, the FSP Windale 6, the Scythe Fuma and Mugen 5 come close performance wise to a lot of 240MM AIO's or even a bit ahead in some rare cases while being a lot cheaper. A HSF such as those listed above will easily allow you to extract ~98% of the performance out of a CPU compared to a top of the line AIO.

  • Usually are quieter due to less moving parts.

  • Can't leak and will last basically forever minus the fans.

Cons

  • If you want the best cooler possible and price or bang for your buck isn't a issue you won't want a HSF.

  • Some people don't think they look good although you can definitely get a good looking one imo.

  • Blocks view some of the motherboard

  • Ram can be a issue depending on the HSF in question.

  • Not going to mention size compatibly issues since well that can a issue for both and easily avoided by research.

AIO

Pros

  • If you want the best performance possible you can get it with a 280MM or 360MM rad which usually better than a dual tower HSF. With a 240MM it really just depends on which one, some are worst and some are barely better.

  • They can definitely look better

  • They can offer a better view of your motherboard.

  • Ram clearance isn't a issue.

Cons

  • They often have a worst bang for your buck. This especially goes for 120MM/140MM AIO's.

  • They generally are louder due to more moving parts.

  • They can leak but its super rare to happen.

It really comes down to if you want a better bang for your buck and can live with the downsides of a HSF or if you want the best performance possible and/or care about looks.

  • 7 months ago
  • 1 point

Well 3 types.

  1. Custom water. Expensive, needs maintenance, if the pump fails the PC is 100% down unless you buy dual pumps.

Usually the best performance depending upon the parts you buy and has good looks if you like the look.

  1. AIO water cooler, again if the pump fails the PC is 100% down, slightly more expensive to almost double the price than air that has very close to the same performance or better. Again depending upon what you buy.

Only advantage over air is a cleaner look if you like the looks. Advantage over custom water is no maintenance other than blowing the rad out really no different than blowing a air cooler out but usually the rad needs to be removed from the case depending upon how it's mounted.

  1. Air is to me the best option nothing to go wrong but a fan. Easy to clean and no chance it will leak. If you were looking at a cheap water cooler in the 70 buck range you can usually get a air cooler for about 1/2 the price that will cool just as good.
  • 7 months ago
  • 1 point

I really have to question the idea of a AIO being louder. Sure, the pump will make some noise, but nearly all the noise comes from the fan. For equal temperature/Watt, I'd expect the AIO to come out ahead (moreso with 240mm fans). AIO will only be noisier as they tend to be bought by people who will simply overclock higher with such a system (note that this doesn't seem to matter with the latest zen2 generation, and maybe other latest and greatest CPUs). Note that my AIO+bulldozer was significantly louder (especially websurfing) than Wraith+Ryzen, so if I can get my adaptor+AIO working I'll have to post if it is louder (at least before overclocking).

That said, any water-based system will have to expel any air that gets in the system and some people absolutely hate the "gurgling sound". I've never heard it in mine.

  • 7 months ago
  • 1 point

Pumps are actually pretty loud.

  • 7 months ago
  • 1 point

for example, the H115i Pro is two decibels louder than the Dark Rock Pro 4

  • 7 months ago
  • 1 point

There is a lot of great information here and I just want to add my experience in cooling my hardware. I'm using a 240mm AIO for my CPU and just the stock air cooler for my video card (it's the EVGA 2080 Ti FTW3 Ultra). At first, I was thinking that this would be temporary until I went full custom loop, but I spent a lot of time thinking after watching hours and hours of tutorials (loop planning, tube bending, learning about each individual part in the loop, filling, draining, bleeding the air from the loop, maintenance, and tons of finished builds to get ideas for my own loop). Even after all of this and then picking the parts I wanted and planning my loop, in the end, I realized that nearly $1000 for all of this isn't worth it.

While my build is pretty much top of the line and I don't need the money for upgrades, I could take that grand and buy a nice laptop for my wife, or upgrade my brother's video card, or even take a trip somewhere with my wife among countless other things I could do with that money. Also, after watching many videos and benchmarks regarding the thermals and noise, it seems like my planned loop would barely improve thermals (I already have acceptable temps) and honestly, my system is already very quiet (I make more noise from my keyboard and mouse, and even my chair). I actually kinda wish that I went with an air cooler for my CPU, but they can be pretty large and I think I might have clearance issues with my memory.

Anyway, I'm mostly just trying to say that I don't think custom water cooling is worth it, even with a top of the line system. I'm not really concerned with the maintenance, but when new parts come out that you want to upgrade to, with a hard line loop, you pretty much have to drain the entire system to swap out one part. Then you have to refill and bleed out the air, maybe spend at least half an hour to leak test again to make sure you tightened everything properly, etc. AIOs are fine, but I think that's the limit as far as water cooling for my system.

  • 7 months ago
  • 1 point

Here's a guide from EKWB about that. They have helpful guides on other topics as well.

Sort

add arrow-down arrow-left arrow-right arrow-up authorcheckmark clipboard combo comment delete discord dots drag-handle dropdown-arrow errorfacebook history inbox instagram issuelink lock markup-bbcode markup-html markup-pcpp markup-cyclingbuilder markup-plain-text markup-reddit menu pin radio-button save search settings share star-empty star-full star-half switch successtag twitch twitter user warningwattage weight youtube