Affiliate Disclosure: When you purchase products through our links, we may receive a commission at no additional cost to you. August 7, 2020. An old and reliable air cooler. If you need an entry-level cooler, this lesser-known cooler is often on sale and offers great performance per dollar. Fortunately, there are an ample amount of quiet PC fans on the market that you can use with either an air cooling or liquid cooling setup. It also requires the most long-term maintenance, and the largest chassis to get working. For the sake of argument, let’s assume you want good cooling performance, in addition to a small size. 1-Air Cooling 2-Liquid Cooling The secret to harnessing the cooling power of air lies in fans—lots of fans. Likely the best value cooler on our list, includes slim and full-sized fans for better clearance in all systems. And let’s not forget. At least, so long as it has the appropriate heatsink and fan to work with. CPU water coolers are a bit more complex than air coolers because they actively pump liquid, which is why liquid coolers consume more electricity. The circuit boards were completely immersed in a non-conductive fluid called Fluorinert™ which was cleverly re-circulated throughout the entire system. This will initially reduce performance, increase pump noise, and eventually lead to failure. At the end of every great action movie, hero and nemesis face each other for a final battle to prove that good triumphs over evil. In most cases, the top AIO water coolers will slightly outperform the top air coolers. Learn More Buy Now However, many coolers ship with lower quality fans or run their fans at higher RPMs out of the box to achieve better thermals. You can also overclock your CPU when using a premium air cooler. 01/09/2021 07:15 am GMT. We’ll cover that subject more in a future article. Very helpful article, thank you. air coolers can last 8-10 years. Liquid coolers will tend to be quieter at a given heat load. 01/09/2021 07:15 pm GMT Higher level of efficiency. Some radiators will be longer and take up more fan slots, but also provide better cooling performance in turn. However, that’s an oversimplification on the topic of liquid cooling vs. air cooling. EVGA CLC 360mm - AIO CPU Liquid Cooler $132.92 And there are absolutely reasons to go with air cooling: a good entry-level air cooler is typically about $20 less expensive than an entry-level liquid cooler, and has the potential to be quieter to boot. The most most widespread type of cooling solution which many people are familiar with is air cooling. Again thank you all. The same general rules described above apply here. In this article,... GPU backplates may not help much with performance but they can make a huge impact on the appearance of your build. Liquid cooling wins… usually. A traditional air-cooled system relies on a series of fans cooling … There is no other way to say it that liquid cooling is much more efficient and stronger than air one could ever be, mostly because of liquid can circulate much faster than the air.. Your typical air-cooled PC is packed with case fans, graphics card fans, and a CPU fan or two—positioned atop a big metal mesh heat sink—to keep your expensive components nice and frosty. Buy Now Assuming you’re using the same fans and achieving the same temperatures, a water cooled vs air cooled system will be quieter. Now that you are aware of the factors worth considering before making the final decision, let’s find the benefits of each cooler type and the shortcomings that each may come with. Buy Now While they may not be quite as effective as liquid cooling systems, air cooling systems are still a viable option. However, generally speaking, computer performance hasn’t changed drastically in the last decade or so. If so, they need to factor in several important considerations. If you want the best possible cooling performance, and money/time aren’t an object, then, If you want great cooling performance and your rig is spacious enough for a thick heatsink, then, If you want good-to-great cooling performance without spending too much money, then, If you want good-to-great cooling performance while keeping noise levels low, then, If you just think liquid cooling looks cool, especially with RGB, then. Air-Based Cooling vs. Liquid-Based Cooling – Newly Updated Submitted by Dhruv Varma, Director of Business Development - APAC. They are as effective as most AIOs when it comes to cooling the CPU. An air cooler generally refers to a heatsink, which is a stack of metal fins connected to the heat source using metal heatpipes. Live prices may vary depending on availability. It's the biggest hardware launch in an age! So if noise is a concern, some custom fan curve tuning would likely be required regardless of which solution you choose. A liquid cooling setup will take up a lot less space than an air cooling one with a large heatsink, a case full of colorful liquid-filled tubes looks rather nicer too! Before we determine the winner of liquid vs air cooling, we need to cover each of the cooling types. This is the most expensive and difficult setup to get running, especially for a first-timer. Particularly as technology becomes more advanced, certain situations require more power. Your typical air-cooled PC is packed with case fans, graphics card fans, and a CPU fan. (That’s what we meant earlier about why anyone would go to the trouble of a custom loop.). If you’re building your PC in a compact case, you will need to pay careful attention to the size and compatibility of your components. Building a custom water cooling loop can cost anywhere from $300 to $1,000 (you can get an idea of the price by going through EK’s configurator). With enough time, the liquid level in your loop will decrease as it slowly permeates the tubing. Owing to the impedance of the electrical circuits in chips, heat is produced as a form of energy loss. Widely it has been seen that Liquid Cooling is mostly been used in Smartphones and Air Cooling is been used in PC and Laptops. The cheapest AIO liquid cooling setups can cost as much as the best air coolers on the market. Arguably the most important of all. One will leave! This warmed liquid is then passed through the radiator where aluminum fins conduct heat away from the liquid. Now getting right into the point I want to clarify the obnoxious long time misconception that liquid coolers outperform traditional heat sinks. While such advantages for liquid cooling definitely exist in comparison to average air-cooling deployments and especially in comparison to most legacy air-cooled data center spaces, those efficiency and density gaps are much narrower when compared to air-cooled data centers more fully exploiting industry best practices. If your processor is running at factory clock speeds, liquid cooling would be unnecessary and even if you plan to do some light overclocking, you are still good with an air cooler. It also requires the most long-term maintenance, and the largest chassis to get working. Water cooling looks cool (w/RGB) but really isn’t a long term solution. PCguide.com is part of the BGFG family of websites. In terms of real-world performance, the difference between air coolers and AIO liquid coolers is minimal, though that difference increases the more power your processor burns. Quality modern AIOs can be expected to last around six years or more, but all AIO liquid coolers will eventually fail. You pay more for RGB. There are two main components in an air cooler, which include: Heat sink; Fan; The heat sink comes as a large thermo-conductive metal which is placed on top of the CPU … Your email address will not be published. Fans take up far more space than the … Aftermarket CPU air coolers often take up more space around your CPU, which could be a problem if you need to show off as much RGB lighting as possible. Both air and liquid CPU coolers operate on a similar principle, and both do essentially the same thing: Absorb heat from the CPU and redistribute it away from the hardware. In this context, we’ll be referring to “air cooling” as coolers for individual components, rather than the system at large. However, liquid coolers are not cheap. The time has come to buy a new CPU cooler. You’ll have to decide for yourself what best suits your needs and budget. If so, you're not alone. Home Tips Components Liquid Cooling vs Air Cooling: What’s the difference, and which is better? You have additional points of failure with the impeller and tubing as there are no perfect seals. Closed-loop liquid cooling is achieved through the use of all-in-one (AIO) liquid coolers. The downsides of Liquid cooling however are the Water Cooling Kit Price and the complexity of building such setup. Big radiator with three fans. And ultimately, it’s just a computer part that you’ll eventually upgrade. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. When heated, this liquid becomes a gas and travels up the heat pipe where the heat load is spread across the aluminum fins and dissipated by a fan. Buy Now is all-in-one. NZXT Kraken X63 280mm - AIO CPU Liquid Cooler, ARCTIC Liquid Freezer II - AIO CPU Liquid Cooler, ARCTIC Freezer 34 eSports - CPU Air Cooler, 21 Brilliant Gifts for Computer Geeks and Gamers, GPU Backplate: An Easy PC Mod That Makes a Big Difference. Performance is the overall aspect people will look for most when purchasing for a CPU cooler. PC builders often overlook the large flat area on top of their GPUs, potential prime real estate for eye-catching designs and additional lighting. Even if your AIO liquid cooler doesn’t suffer a catastrophic failure, it will eventually break down. The main difference in air vs water cooling is the presence of a heatsink. Liquid Cooling. Liquid cooling vs Air cooling: Noise. Learn More To more easily understand the difference, we’ll put it this way: Two (technically three) will enter! How a CPU Cooler Works. Don't really understand the world of PC hardware and gaming? Liquid cooling only wins if you’re willing to do a custom loop. Likely the best value cooler on our list, includes slim and full-sized fans for better clearance in all systems. Buy Now This advantage affords you the choice between lower temps or lower noise levels. Fortunately, there are an ample amount of quiet PC fans on the market that you can use with either an air cooling or liquid cooling setup. Required fields are marked *. If you want that extra edge, though, then go liquid. We’ll dive deeper into the performance differences later, but the same wisdom applies here. It is not always true, when it comes to peer cooling many of the best air coolers on the market, easily beats … This flow rate is controlled via an impeller often located in the CPU block (a dubious design patent held by Asetek). This is the most expensive and difficult setup to get running, especially for a first-timer. 01/09/2021 07:16 pm GMT. That is quite groundbreaking, especially when you consider that the development of that system began around 1982. It’s one of those dilemmas where the answer depends on what kind of desktop PC you are assembling. These don’t require much extra setup for the users, just a place to mount the radiator. How do you even choose? You may one day even consider buying a phase change CPU cooler that can handily beat both liquid and air coolers with sub-ambient temps. While custom loops promise greater performance, customization, and aesthetics, they take longer to install, require more maintenance, and introduce more points of failure. Installing an air cooler is mostly set it and forget it, so long as the mounting hardware exists they can be reused in new builds for a decade or more. Required fields are marked *. Should you choose Liquid or Air coolers for your desktop CPU? If we put aside the cooling of the whole rig and focus only on the CPU, the first question to ask yourself should be what CPU are you going to use? More surface area dedicated to cooling = better cooling performance. Many setups will also employ multiple radiators. Learn More Is air cooling enough for your PC? For example, the ARCTIC Freezer 34 eSports is a great entry-level air cooler for less than $40, while it isn’t until you get above $70 that you can find reliable AIO water coolers that are worth buying (we recommend some great air and liquid coolers in a section below). Here are ten reasons why liquid may be the right choice for you. Scythe Fuma 2 - CPU Air Cooler $121.11 As always, the answer is… it depends. Learn More These radiators correspond to fan size and start at 120mm. If you need an entry-level cooler, this lesser-known cooler is often on sale and offers great performance per dollar. (youTube channels) LTT = better entertainment content (not always helpful) GamersNexus = Super detailed technical information. If you don’t have the room to mount even a small radiator, though, an air cooler with a proper heatsink may be the better option, especially if your PC is deep enough. We’ll lay out the advantages and use cases for water cooling vs. air cooling, then make some product suggestions for different budgets which will hopefully let you make a more informed purchasing decision. We’re going to talk about liquid cooling vs air cooling: how they work, the pros and cons of each, and which might be right for your setup. Some radiators will be longer and take up more fan slots, but also provide better cooling performance in turn. If you want an unobstructed view of your components, AIO liquid coolers move the radiator out of the way so you aren’t left staring at a hunk of aluminum. Unbeatable price-to-performance ratio at MSRP, no fancy RBG, small VRM fan, slightly thicker Z depth at 32mm, but hard to find in stock. The cheapest AIO liquid cooling setups can cost as much as the best air coolers on the market. At least that’s what we hope. The cooler that is able to run quieter is the cooler that has the better thermal performance. 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