Keeping your computer cool is important – whether it’s a high-performance gaming machine or a computer for the office. The following question arises: should you stick with a classic fan or opt for expensive liquid cooling?
Do you need liquid cooling for your PC?
When you read about liquid cooling for mainstream PCs in this article, you mean all-in-one coolers (AiO), which consist of a CPU water block, two hoses, the heat exchanger (radiator) and fans and form a unit. This is why AiOs are also quite straightforward in terms of installation, as they can be installed in a similar way to other PC components. But is water cooling always better than air cooling? In general, liquid cooling does a better job than an air cooler. There are exceptions, however: some air coolers do a great job and can compete with lower-priced AiOs – especially models that use only one fan. In general, however, liquid cooling is better than bulky fan and heat sink combinations. Some large air coolers can also block RAM slots if you don’t pay attention to the orientation.
Large air coolers like the Noctua NH-D15 shown here can easily compete with inexpensive all-in-one coolers (AiOs), but they are more bulky.
However, many people claim that there is no reason to use a liquid cooler unless you overclock your CPU, since air coolers do a good job anyway – especially the big, expensive models. This argument is justified, but there are also points that speak for an AiO: There is the CPU temperature, which can be kept quite low. This means that it lasts longer, which generally applies to well-cooled components. CPUs are also throttled in their performance if they run too hot for too long. This means that the better the cooler, the longer a processor can keep top speed.
For example, if you’re playing a CPU-heavy game or editing video files, liquid cooling can result in better performance. If you want to use an AIO, you have to make sure that you have enough space for the radiator in your housing before buying. To do this, consult the manual for the housing. Here you will also find the details of where you can install the large radiator.
When it comes to cooling, liquid coolers are the best. However, since they are much more expensive than air coolers and require more space in the housing, they are not always an option.
While an AiO has a lot to offer PC owners, there are also some downsides – such as the price: A 240-millimeter model usually costs significantly more, while a popular air cooler like the Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo is often for can be had for less than 50 euros. You can certainly make a proud investment for a high-end air cooler (such as the popular Noctua NH-D15) with around 90 euros, but you are still under an AIO liquid cooler.
Another point that could speak against water coolers is sustainability. Because if the AiO pump breaks, you have to replace the entire cooling system.
Our conclusion: AiOs not only look cool, they also ensure cooler temperatures than air coolers. But anyone who has to watch their money is still well served with a good air cooler.
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