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I have a 7700k with h110i water cooling. Originally it was oc 5.2ghz and idled 70c with peaks of 87c. Now (four years later), it's 70c idling in Windows but during gaming is averaging 90-100c, even though I've dropped overclock to 4.4ghz. I have repasted and reseated my cpu. Is my processor dead or my AIO cooler, or something else?

(This only started happening after latest Windows feature update)
 

Lutfij

Titan
Moderator
Welcome to the forums, newcomer!

I doubt that the processor might be failing though I would be interested to know what sort of voltages you pushed through that processor while it was overclocked. In fact idling at 70 C does seem high. That sort of temps should be when you're on load. What are your ambient room air temps o your build? Then again, what is the make and model of your motherboard? BIOS version for motherboard? Case make and model and it's airflow? You might want to pull up task manager and take note of your system usages when idle and taxed. It's possible you might be suffering from a Memory Leak which can only be solved by reinstalling your OS.

As for you cooler, is the pump block hot but the radiator cool to the touch?
 

Darkbreeze

Retired Mod
Probably the pump has gotten weak AND you've lost water in the loop over time AND things get gunked up inside. 3-5 years for an AIO is a pretty good run to be honest.

As far as the latest feature update is concerned, I haven't seen anybody else complain about anything similar EXCEPT on a couple of laptops which of course don't have much or any headroom in the cooling configurations. If we're being honest, you were already pushing the limits when it was new, as I'd never run an OC on an Intel CPU that was pushing 87°C. The recommendation is that you don't go higher than 80°C if it's a daily driver and you want it to last and the absolute most I'd allow for in any circumstance would be 85°C tops.

The fact that it idled at 70°C, if that is ACTUAL idling, which is highly variable from system to system, should have been much lower than 70°C.

You should do yourself a big favor, and read both of these:



 
Jul 2, 2021
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I got my system overclocked on delivery from pc specialists. It had a 48 hour burn test before delivery, so it is a good bin cpu. The 87c was a spike, not a constant.

I am running a corsair 540 Air with 5 12cm fans (2 radiator mounted) and 2 8cm fans.

The pump (according to sensors) is working and the radiator temp (also according to sensors) is getting hotter but not matching the cpu.
 
Jul 2, 2021
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Welcome to the forums, newcomer!

I doubt that the processor might be failing though I would be interested to know what sort of voltages you pushed through that processor while it was overclocked. In fact idling at 70 C does seem high. That sort of temps should be when you're on load. What are your ambient room air temps o your build? Then again, what is the make and model of your motherboard? BIOS version for motherboard? Case make and model and it's airflow? You might want to pull up task manager and take note of your system usages when idle and taxed. It's possible you might be suffering from a Memory Leak which can only be solved by reinstalling your OS.

As for you cooler, is the pump block hot but the radiator cool to the touch?
The motherboard is a z270h. I can't remember the general idling from four years ago but the spike of 87c was an acceptable temp according to 7700k generally being hot.
 

Darkbreeze

Retired Mod
I got my system overclocked on delivery from pc specialists. It had a 48 hour burn test before delivery, so it is a good bin cpu. The 87c was a spike, not a constant.

I am running a corsair 540 Air with 5 12cm fans (2 radiator mounted) and 2 8cm fans.

The pump (according to sensors) is working and the radiator temp (also according to sensors) is getting hotter but not matching the cpu.
So, none of that is really relevant, and I'll explain why.

First of all, READ the Intel temperature guide. Computronix has devoted YEARS to the data it contains. 87°C is too high, spike or not, if it's consistently spiking that high.

Pre-overclocked systems are BS. They can't possibly have tested it in the same environment nor at the same ambient temperature as your location, before shipping it. Plus, most of these systems are configured to only last to the warranty period anyhow. After that, they don't give a crap whether your system lasts or not. If you are going to overclock your system, it should be done ON SITE, yourself, using prescribed and preferred methodologies. Otherwise, might just as well use one of the automatic OC profile in the BIOS, which is likely what they did anyhow, and that too is highly NOT recommended.

The fact that you are seeing normal RPMs from the pump also means nothing. It simply means that the motor and shaft themselves are turning. It in no way means that inside the pump junk hasn't built up so that less water per RPM can flow through it than it did when new, or that the impeller isn't slipping so that while the shaft or motor are turning, the impeller is actually NOT turning at the same RPM. It also doesn't mean that there isn't some amount of inversion isn't happening, where the pump is turning but the water isn't moving as fast as it should because something is restricted ELSEWHERE in the loop, like the radiator or the lines. Lots of ways these fail. They are simply not designed to last more than five years, at most, in most cases. Unlike a custom loop, AIO coolers are simply disposable.

And again, 87°C is not an acceptable temp, as you seem to believe. Just because it doesn't exceed juncture temperature or cause throttling or shut downs, doesn't mean it's doing any favors to the longevity of your CPU.

Honestly, 5.2Ghz is an exceptionally high overclock for that CPU, regardless of binning quality, without a delid or a custom loop. That's just a fact.
 
Reactions: ManicMarksDog
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So, none of that is really relevant, and I'll explain why.

First of all, READ the Intel temperature guide. Computronix has devoted YEARS to the data it contains. 87°C is too high, spike or not, if it's consistently spiking that high.

Pre-overclocked systems are BS. They can't possibly have tested it in the same environment nor at the same ambient temperature as your location, before shipping it. Plus, most of these systems are configured to only last to the warranty period anyhow. After that, they don't give a crap whether your system lasts or not. If you are going to overclock your system, it should be done ON SITE, yourself, using prescribed and preferred methodologies. Otherwise, might just as well use one of the automatic OC profile in the BIOS, which is likely what they did anyhow, and that too is highly NOT recommended.

The fact that you are seeing normal RPMs from the pump also means nothing. It simply means that the motor and shaft themselves are turning. It in no way means that inside the pump junk hasn't built up so that less water per RPM can flow through it than it did when new, or that the impeller isn't slipping so that while the shaft or motor are turning, the impeller is actually NOT turning at the same RPM. It also doesn't mean that there isn't some amount of inversion isn't happening, where the pump is turning but the water isn't moving as fast as it should because something is restricted ELSEWHERE in the loop, like the radiator or the lines. Lots of ways these fail. They are simply not designed to last more than five years, at most, in most cases. Unlike a custom loop, AIO coolers are simply disposable.

And again, 87°C is not an acceptable temp, as you seem to believe. Just because it doesn't exceed juncture temperature or cause throttling or shut downs, doesn't mean it's doing any favors to the longevity of your CPU.

Honestly, 5.2Ghz is an exceptionally high overclock for that CPU, regardless of binning quality, without a delid or a custom loop. That's just a fact.
I have questioned if it's a 4.9ghz with 5.2ghz boost. The 7700k in many forums have been said to run hot, I'm not saying it's acceptable but it was known about and seemingly not as much of an issue. The 87c spikes were split second, up and down. I only mentioned for comparative temps. I assume they were the turbo'd core.

I have reset the motherboard to default. Right now in borderlands main menu i am getting 60-70c temps. Although this is from start up and straight into borderlands and core temp says my cores have had max temps of: 93, 100, 90, 92!
 
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I'm thinking the AIO I'd dead. A custom water cooling is stupid money (set up without a 36cm radiator is £300+). I was thinking of just buying the h150i 360mm cooler. I'm just anxious of blowing money incase it's not the cooler that is the problem.
 

emitfudd

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I can give you my specs as a comparison. I have a 7700K overclocked to 5.0 Ghz at 1.328 volts. It is delidded and I am running a 360mm AIO cooler with the 3 fans exhausting out the top of the case. My temps are around 37 idle, 54 to 67 while gaming and spikes reported in MSI Afterburner of 82. Even opening a web page causes huge temperature spikes. It's just a hot cpu. Remember the thermal limit on these is 100 degrees. My delid and addition of the AIO cooler was about 3 years ago and I notice my temp spikes keep going up over time. I would suggest you use Afterburner and have the cpu temp on your screen while you are gaming. The spikes don't really matter unless they are exceeding 100 and causing throttling or other issues such as crashing.

Is your 90 to 100 during gaming constant or just the spikes?

What is your voltage set at?

As Darkbreeze said, 5.2 oc is rare and will run really hot. I was not able to get mine above 5.0 even with a delid.

I had an issue after my delid where the temps actually went up and I had to redo the paste again to get it right. I also had a few instances where the computer wouldn't even boot after reseating the cpu. Computers are finicky. I am leaning toward your voltage being too high or your AIO is crapping out. If I'm not mistaken you can actually lower the voltage below stock to keep things cooler.
 
Last edited:
Reactions: ManicMarksDog

Darkbreeze

Retired Mod
I can give you my specs as a comparison. I have a 7700K overclocked to 5.0 Ghz at 1.328 volts. It is delidded and I am running a 360mm AIO cooler with the 3 fans exhausting out the top of the case. My temps are around 37 idle, 54 to 67 while gaming and spikes reported in MSI Afterburner of 82.
This, is pretty realistic for that CPU, and also at least moderately acceptable.
 
Reactions: emitfudd

Darkbreeze

Retired Mod
I have questioned if it's a 4.9ghz with 5.2ghz boost. The 7700k in many forums have been said to run hot, I'm not saying it's acceptable but it was known about and seemingly not as much of an issue. The 87c spikes were split second, up and down. I only mentioned for comparative temps. I assume they were the turbo'd core.

I have reset the motherboard to default. Right now in borderlands main menu i am getting 60-70c temps. Although this is from start up and straight into borderlands and core temp says my cores have had max temps of: 93, 100, 90, 92!
That CPU out of the box, with the factory configuration, no tampering but turbo boost enabled, should have a MAXIMUM turbo frequency of 4.5Ghz with a 4.2Ghz base clock speed.

If you have it set to 4.4Ghz at the default BIOS configuration and you are seeing temperatures exceeding 90 degrees then you need to stop using it until you resolve the cooling situation if you don't want to end up with thermal damage.

If your case will accept a larger AIO, that's great, if not, then a good quality 280mm SHOULD be ok. Even for a mild overclock, say 4.8Ghz peak, it should be well enough for that. I'd say get a new cooler, then set the BIOS to defaults, then configure any custom settings in the BIOS that you need to like fan profiles, etc., make sure everything is working correctly and THEN perhaps worry about reconfiguring or setting up any overclock settings.
 
Reactions: ManicMarksDog
Most AIO pumps eventually fail, most slowly degrading over time, be it at the hands of micro fluid leaks/fluid dissipation, clogged/fouled internal cooling fins due to hose lining disintegration/hard water deposits, or just outright pump failures, etc...

I'd just get a Noctua NH-D15 and be done with it....
 

Darkbreeze

Retired Mod
I'd recommend going with a high end air cooler as well, but I also recognize that they aren't for everybody due to room in the case to work and aesthetics. I always tell people, if you are OK with having to replace your cooler every 3-5 years, then an AIO is generally fine these days. If not, then get a high end air cooler.

If you are interested in switching to air, these are the coolers I'd recommend looking at.

Below is my list of preferred CPU AIR coolers, also known as Heatsink fans (HSF).

Do not look here for recommendations on water/liquid cooling solutions. There are none to be found.

BEFORE seriously considering ANY cooler, make sure to compare it's height with the maximum CPU cooler height supported by your case. If a cooler won't fit, then there isn't much point in looking at it anyhow unless you are willing to replace the case with a larger, more accomodating model. It should probably go without saying that the recommendations below are NOT intended for systems that incorporate small form factor or mini ITX type enclosures. These are generally for standard ATX tower cases. For recommendations on coolers for very small enclosures, there are many of us around here that can offer some suggestions based on the use case.

A good air cooler works just as well for most applications. There are very few instances I can think of where an AIO will work better than a good air cooler, and even fewer where an AIO will outperform an air cooler if you are willing to buy the right air cooler and then level up by adding some even higher end fans to it.

Loops leak. Heatsinks don't. Pumps fail, FAR more often and usually with far worse consequences, than fans do.

And unlike a heatsink fan assembly, when your pump fails for 99% of AIO coolers, you will be replacing the whole thing, for another 100+ dollars, rather than just a 25 dollar investment for the failure of a fan. Especially since I've rarely seen dual fan coolers have both fans fail at the same time, but even if you factor in two fan failures that's still only about fifty bucks compared to the 100+ it will cost to replace an AIO with a failed pump. And you WILL have a failed pump on most AIO coolers within three years of purchase. Seeing one last longer than five years is possible, but it is not particularly common and we often, very often, see them fail at around the 3 year mark. Sometimes much sooner.

Pump quality and longevity is an area that needs GREAT improvement before AIO coolers will become a primary recommendation for me.

I see a lot of AIO coolers leak and damage hardware as well.

Certainly there are situations where an AIO is called for, or even preferred, but those are MOSTLY aesthetic considerations, because let's face it, a build with an AIO or custom loop generally "looks" a lot cleaner than one that has a big heatsink taking up half the real estate inside your case. When that is the case, I have recommendations for those as well, but I don't offer them unless somebody is specifically asking to go that route.

They are basically listed in order of preference, from top to bottom. To some degree that preference is based on known performance on similarly overclocked configurations, but not entirely. There are likely a couple of units that are placed closer to the top not because they offer purely better performance than another cooler which is below it, but potentially due to a variety of reasons.

One model might be placed higher than another with the same or similar performance, but has quieter or higher quality fans. It may have the same performance but a better warranty. Long term quality may be higher. It may be less expensive in some cases. Maybe it performs slightly worse, but has quieter fans and a better "fan pitch". Some fans with equal decibel levels do not "sound" like they are the same as the specific pitch heard from one fan might be less annoying than another.

In any case, these are not "tiered" and are not a 100% be all, end all ranking. They are simply MY preference when looking at coolers for a build or when making recommendations. Often, which HSF gets chosen depends on what is on this list and fits the budget or is priced right at the time due to a sale or rebate. Hopefully it will help you and you can rest assured that every cooler listed here is a model that to some degree or other is generally a quality unit which is a lot more likely to be worth the money spent on it than on many other models out there that might look to be a similarly worthwhile investment.

Certainly there are a great many other very good coolers out there, but these are models which are usually available to most anybody building a system or looking for a cooler, regardless of what part of the world they might live in. As always, professional reviews are usually an absolutely essential part of the process of finding a cooler so if you are looking at a model not listed here, I would highly recommend looking at at least two or three professional reviews first.

If you cannot find two reviews of any given cooler, it is likely either too new to have been reviewed yet or it sucked, and nobody wanted to buy one in order to review it plus the manufacturer refused to send samples out to the sites that perform reviews because they knew it would likely get bad publicity.

IMO, nobody out there is making better fans, overall, than Noctua, followed pretty closely by Thermalright. So if you intend to match case fans to the same brand on your HSF, those are pretty hard to beat. Of course, Corsair has it's Maglev fans, and those are pretty damn good too, but they tend to be more expensive than what are in my opinion better fans by these other two, so while they are good products they don't have the same noise characteristics and are probably better suited for configurations where sheer brute force is preferred over low noise that still gives good performance. Also, as with most fan models out there, don't look at the specifications for the non-RGB Maglev fan models and think that you'll be getting the same specs on any RGB versions, because you won't. Fans with RGB tend to sacrifice both maximum CFM and static pressure for the right to stuff the RGB electronics under the hood.

Noctua NH-D14 (Replace stock fans with NF-A14 industrialPPC 2000rpm)
Noctua NH-D15/D15 SE-AM4
Noctua NH-D14 (With original fans)
Thermalright Silver arrow IB-E Extreme
Cryorig R1 Ultimate or Universal
Be Quiet Dark rock Pro 4
Noctua NH-D15s
Thermalright Legrand Macho RT
Phanteks PH-TC14PE (BK,BL, OR or RD)
Deepcool Assassin III
Thermalright Macho X2
Thermalright Macho rev. C
Thermalright Macho rev.B
Thermalright ARO-M14G (Ryzen only)
SilentiumPC Fortis 3 HE1425
Thermalright Macho direct
Deepcool Assassin II
Noctua NH-U14S



It may not be obvious, but is probably worth mentioning, that not all cooler models will fit all CPU sockets as aftermarket coolers generally require an adapter intended for use with that socket. Some coolers that fit an AMD platform might not fit a later AMD platform, or an Intel platform. Often these coolers come with adapters for multiple types of platforms but be sure to verify that a specific cooler WILL work with your platform before purchasing one and finding out later that it will not.
 
Last edited:
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emitfudd

Reputable
Apr 9, 2017
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I'd recommend going with a high end air cooler as well, but I also recognize that they aren't for everybody due to room in the case to work and aesthetics. I always tell people, if you are OK with having to replace your cooler every 3-5 years, then an AIO is generally fine these days. If not, then get a high end air cooler.

If you are interested in switching to air, these are the coolers I'd recommend looking at.

Below is my list of preferred CPU AIR coolers, also known as Heatsink fans (HSF).

Do not look here for recommendations on water/liquid cooling solutions. There are none to be found.

BEFORE seriously considering ANY cooler, make sure to compare it's height with the maximum CPU cooler height supported by your case. If a cooler won't fit, then there isn't much point in looking at it anyhow unless you are willing to replace the case with a larger, more accomodating model. It should probably go without saying that the recommendations below are NOT intended for systems that incorporate small form factor or mini ITX type enclosures. These are generally for standard ATX tower cases. For recommendations on coolers for very small enclosures, there are many of us around here that can offer some suggestions based on the use case.

A good air cooler works just as well for most applications. There are very few instances I can think of where an AIO will work better than a good air cooler, and even fewer where an AIO will outperform an air cooler if you are willing to buy the right air cooler and then level up by adding some even higher end fans to it.

Loops leak. Heatsinks don't. Pumps fail, FAR more often and usually with far worse consequences, than fans do.

And unlike a heatsink fan assembly, when your pump fails for 99% of AIO coolers, you will be replacing the whole thing, for another 100+ dollars, rather than just a 25 dollar investment for the failure of a fan. Especially since I've rarely seen dual fan coolers have both fans fail at the same time, but even if you factor in two fan failures that's still only about fifty bucks compared to the 100+ it will cost to replace an AIO with a failed pump. And you WILL have a failed pump on most AIO coolers within three years of purchase. Seeing one last longer than five years is possible, but it is not particularly common and we often, very often, see them fail at around the 3 year mark. Sometimes much sooner.

Pump quality and longevity is an area that needs GREAT improvement before AIO coolers will become a primary recommendation for me.

I see a lot of AIO coolers leak and damage hardware as well.

Certainly there are situations where an AIO is called for, or even preferred, but those are MOSTLY aesthetic considerations, because let's face it, a build with an AIO or custom loop generally "looks" a lot cleaner than one that has a big heatsink taking up half the real estate inside your case. When that is the case, I have recommendations for those as well, but I don't offer them unless somebody is specifically asking to go that route.[/B]

They are basically listed in order of preference, from top to bottom. To some degree that preference is based on known performance on similarly overclocked configurations, but not entirely. There are likely a couple of units that are placed closer to the top not because they offer purely better performance than another cooler which is below it, but potentially due to a variety of reasons.

One model might be placed higher than another with the same or similar performance, but has quieter or higher quality fans. It may have the same performance but a better warranty. Long term quality may be higher. It may be less expensive in some cases. Maybe it performs slightly worse, but has quieter fans and a better "fan pitch". Some fans with equal decibel levels do not "sound" like they are the same as the specific pitch heard from one fan might be less annoying than another.

In any case, these are not "tiered" and are not a 100% be all, end all ranking. They are simply MY preference when looking at coolers for a build or when making recommendations. Often, which HSF gets chosen depends on what is on this list and fits the budget or is priced right at the time due to a sale or rebate. Hopefully it will help you and you can rest assured that every cooler listed here is a model that to some degree or other is generally a quality unit which is a lot more likely to be worth the money spent on it than on many other models out there that might look to be a similarly worthwhile investment.

Certainly there are a great many other very good coolers out there, but these are models which are usually available to most anybody building a system or looking for a cooler, regardless of what part of the world they might live in. As always, professional reviews are usually an absolutely essential part of the process of finding a cooler so if you are looking at a model not listed here, I would highly recommend looking at at least two or three professional reviews first.

If you cannot find two reviews of any given cooler, it is likely either too new to have been reviewed yet or it sucked, and nobody wanted to buy one in order to review it plus the manufacturer refused to send samples out to the sites that perform reviews because they knew it would likely get bad publicity.

IMO, nobody out there is making better fans, overall, than Noctua, followed pretty closely by Thermalright. So if you intend to match case fans to the same brand on your HSF, those are pretty hard to beat. Of course, Corsair has it's Maglev fans, and those are pretty damn good too, but they tend to be more expensive than what are in my opinion better fans by these other two, so while they are good products they don't have the same noise characteristics and are probably better suited for configurations where sheer brute force is preferred over low noise that still gives good performance. Also, as with most fan models out there, don't look at the specifications for the non-RGB Maglev fan models and think that you'll be getting the same specs on any RGB versions, because you won't. Fans with RGB tend to sacrifice both maximum CFM and static pressure for the right to stuff the RGB electronics under the hood.

Noctua NH-D14 (Replace stock fans with NF-A14 industrialPPC 2000rpm)
Noctua NH-D15/D15 SE-AM4
Noctua NH-D14 (With original fans)
Thermalright Silver arrow IB-E Extreme
Cryorig R1 Ultimate or Universal
Be Quiet Dark rock Pro 4
Noctua NH-D15s
Thermalright Legrand Macho RT
Phanteks PH-TC14PE (BK,BL, OR or RD)
Deepcool Assassin III
Thermalright Macho X2
Thermalright Macho rev. C
Thermalright Macho rev.B
Thermalright ARO-M14G (Ryzen only)
SilentiumPC Fortis 3 HE1425
Thermalright Macho direct
Deepcool Assassin II
Noctua NH-U14S



It may not be obvious, but is probably worth mentioning, that not all cooler models will fit all CPU sockets as aftermarket coolers generally require an adapter intended for use with that socket. Some coolers that fit an AMD platform might not fit a later AMD platform, or an Intel platform. Often these coolers come with adapters for multiple types of platforms but be sure to verify that a specific cooler WILL work with your platform before purchasing one and finding out later that it will not.
I started my build with an air cooler but I had an issue with clearance against the ram. I had to remount one of the fans and change the push/pull configuration. This was in a huge case. Corsair 780T. This case was built for a 360mm AIO. No way my air cooler could have possibly cooled a 5.0Ghz 7700K. Liquid cooling is a huge risk with the possibility of a leak toasting everything in the case but I won't go back to air cooling.
 
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I can give you my specs as a comparison. I have a 7700K overclocked to 5.0 Ghz at 1.328 volts. It is delidded and I am running a 360mm AIO cooler with the 3 fans exhausting out the top of the case. My temps are around 37 idle, 54 to 67 while gaming and spikes reported in MSI Afterburner of 82. Even opening a web page causes huge temperature spikes. It's just a hot cpu. Remember the thermal limit on these is 100 degrees. My delid and addition of the AIO cooler was about 3 years ago and I notice my temp spikes keep going up over time. I would suggest you use Afterburner and have the cpu temp on your screen while you are gaming. The spikes don't really matter unless they are exceeding 100 and causing throttling or other issues such as crashing.

Is your 90 to 100 during gaming constant or just the spikes?

What is your voltage set at?

As Darkbreeze said, 5.2 oc is rare and will run really hot. I was not able to get mine above 5.0 even with a delid.

I had an issue after my delid where the temps actually went up and I had to redo the paste again to get it right. I also had a few instances where the computer wouldn't even boot after reseating the cpu. Computers are finicky. I am leaning toward your voltage being too high or your AIO is crapping out. If I'm not mistaken you can actually lower the voltage below stock to keep things cooler.
The overclock was the reason I bought a system from pc specialist, rather than building one myself. I worked out that buying from them was £20 more than buying all the parts myself but with the benefit of a good bin chip because if their overclocking and burn test means that low bin chips that didn't manage the over clock would be swapped for a new chip, then that one tested and possibly swapped, until a chip managed it. I just bought a graphics card separately because they just had basic palit cards, not asus strix.

I did reset the bios, to remove the overclock, to see if that lowered temps but it had zero effect. The reason I've got it overclocked now is because a friend who knows about all the settings, changed voltage, etc, to try lower my temps.
 
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I'd recommend going with a high end air cooler as well, but I also recognize that they aren't for everybody due to room in the case to work and aesthetics. I always tell people, if you are OK with having to replace your cooler every 3-5 years, then an AIO is generally fine these days. If not, then get a high end air cooler.

If you are interested in switching to air, these are the coolers I'd recommend looking at.

Below is my list of preferred CPU AIR coolers, also known as Heatsink fans (HSF).

Do not look here for recommendations on water/liquid cooling solutions. There are none to be found.

BEFORE seriously considering ANY cooler, make sure to compare it's height with the maximum CPU cooler height supported by your case. If a cooler won't fit, then there isn't much point in looking at it anyhow unless you are willing to replace the case with a larger, more accomodating model. It should probably go without saying that the recommendations below are NOT intended for systems that incorporate small form factor or mini ITX type enclosures. These are generally for standard ATX tower cases. For recommendations on coolers for very small enclosures, there are many of us around here that can offer some suggestions based on the use case.

A good air cooler works just as well for most applications. There are very few instances I can think of where an AIO will work better than a good air cooler, and even fewer where an AIO will outperform an air cooler if you are willing to buy the right air cooler and then level up by adding some even higher end fans to it.

Loops leak. Heatsinks don't. Pumps fail, FAR more often and usually with far worse consequences, than fans do.

And unlike a heatsink fan assembly, when your pump fails for 99% of AIO coolers, you will be replacing the whole thing, for another 100+ dollars, rather than just a 25 dollar investment for the failure of a fan. Especially since I've rarely seen dual fan coolers have both fans fail at the same time, but even if you factor in two fan failures that's still only about fifty bucks compared to the 100+ it will cost to replace an AIO with a failed pump. And you WILL have a failed pump on most AIO coolers within three years of purchase. Seeing one last longer than five years is possible, but it is not particularly common and we often, very often, see them fail at around the 3 year mark. Sometimes much sooner.

Pump quality and longevity is an area that needs GREAT improvement before AIO coolers will become a primary recommendation for me.

I see a lot of AIO coolers leak and damage hardware as well.

Certainly there are situations where an AIO is called for, or even preferred, but those are MOSTLY aesthetic considerations, because let's face it, a build with an AIO or custom loop generally "looks" a lot cleaner than one that has a big heatsink taking up half the real estate inside your case. When that is the case, I have recommendations for those as well, but I don't offer them unless somebody is specifically asking to go that route.[/B]

They are basically listed in order of preference, from top to bottom. To some degree that preference is based on known performance on similarly overclocked configurations, but not entirely. There are likely a couple of units that are placed closer to the top not because they offer purely better performance than another cooler which is below it, but potentially due to a variety of reasons.

One model might be placed higher than another with the same or similar performance, but has quieter or higher quality fans. It may have the same performance but a better warranty. Long term quality may be higher. It may be less expensive in some cases. Maybe it performs slightly worse, but has quieter fans and a better "fan pitch". Some fans with equal decibel levels do not "sound" like they are the same as the specific pitch heard from one fan might be less annoying than another.

In any case, these are not "tiered" and are not a 100% be all, end all ranking. They are simply MY preference when looking at coolers for a build or when making recommendations. Often, which HSF gets chosen depends on what is on this list and fits the budget or is priced right at the time due to a sale or rebate. Hopefully it will help you and you can rest assured that every cooler listed here is a model that to some degree or other is generally a quality unit which is a lot more likely to be worth the money spent on it than on many other models out there that might look to be a similarly worthwhile investment.

Certainly there are a great many other very good coolers out there, but these are models which are usually available to most anybody building a system or looking for a cooler, regardless of what part of the world they might live in. As always, professional reviews are usually an absolutely essential part of the process of finding a cooler so if you are looking at a model not listed here, I would highly recommend looking at at least two or three professional reviews first.

If you cannot find two reviews of any given cooler, it is likely either too new to have been reviewed yet or it sucked, and nobody wanted to buy one in order to review it plus the manufacturer refused to send samples out to the sites that perform reviews because they knew it would likely get bad publicity.

IMO, nobody out there is making better fans, overall, than Noctua, followed pretty closely by Thermalright. So if you intend to match case fans to the same brand on your HSF, those are pretty hard to beat. Of course, Corsair has it's Maglev fans, and those are pretty damn good too, but they tend to be more expensive than what are in my opinion better fans by these other two, so while they are good products they don't have the same noise characteristics and are probably better suited for configurations where sheer brute force is preferred over low noise that still gives good performance. Also, as with most fan models out there, don't look at the specifications for the non-RGB Maglev fan models and think that you'll be getting the same specs on any RGB versions, because you won't. Fans with RGB tend to sacrifice both maximum CFM and static pressure for the right to stuff the RGB electronics under the hood.

Noctua NH-D14 (Replace stock fans with NF-A14 industrialPPC 2000rpm)
Noctua NH-D15/D15 SE-AM4
Noctua NH-D14 (With original fans)
Thermalright Silver arrow IB-E Extreme
Cryorig R1 Ultimate or Universal
Be Quiet Dark rock Pro 4
Noctua NH-D15s
Thermalright Legrand Macho RT
Phanteks PH-TC14PE (BK,BL, OR or RD)
Deepcool Assassin III
Thermalright Macho X2
Thermalright Macho rev. C
Thermalright Macho rev.B
Thermalright ARO-M14G (Ryzen only)
SilentiumPC Fortis 3 HE1425
Thermalright Macho direct
Deepcool Assassin II
Noctua NH-U14S



It may not be obvious, but is probably worth mentioning, that not all cooler models will fit all CPU sockets as aftermarket coolers generally require an adapter intended for use with that socket. Some coolers that fit an AMD platform might not fit a later AMD platform, or an Intel platform. Often these coolers come with adapters for multiple types of platforms but be sure to verify that a specific cooler WILL work with your platform before purchasing one and finding out later that it will not.
Thanks for all the effort to help inform me. It's really appreciated.
 

Darkbreeze

Retired Mod
It was the Cooler Master Hyper 212. Makes you mad when you buy a full size case and motherboard and you can't even properly mount a cooling fan. LOL.
No wonder you had problems. That cooler sucks butt. But, it's not all that big, so it shouldn't really have been a problem unless you were using the wrong DIMM slots, or all DIMM slots, or just had very tall memory.
 
Jul 2, 2021
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With my 7700k being overclocked (or it will be once I get the temps down!), I have to have water cooling. I am thinking about getting a 360mm AIO and mounting it on the front, moving my 2 14cm fans from the front to the top, where currently my 280mm radiator is.

Custom water cooling set ups are a lot more expensive and that doesn't mean they won't have parts fail over the years. If just the pump fails, that's £150 to replace it, which is similar to the price of a whole AIO cooler! Lol Also my cpu is not a current high end chip, so a custom loop is a bit of overkill.

I've no interest in RGB, my pc is purely for gaming (and maybe Facebook, ebay and amazon), so it's good news to hear that the fans are better on non RGB coolers. I would rather buy better components than put lights in my pc!
 

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