Question Expensive AIO coolers: does it really worth it?

JayGau

Commendable
Dec 20, 2016
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A few months ago I decided to upgrade my CPU so I replaced my Ryzen 1700 with a 2700x. My cooler for the 1700 was a Master Cooler ML120 that cost me 55$ in 2017. Since the 2700x with my old ML120 installed was heating more than the 1700 I decided to buy a new cooler, so I looked at the reviews online and the ones that were the most often at the top position for the best AIO you can buy in 2019 were the NZXT Kraken X#2. Since the X62 and X72 are too big for my case I set my attention on the X52. I found it pretty expensive (130$ on Amazon) but I thought it would worth it if it could lower my temp by a few degrees. So I bought it, installed it and... exact same result than with my old ML120: temperature is jumping between 35C and 45C at idle, goes up to 50-60C at moderate load, easily reach 70C under heavy load like stress test and can go above 75C during intense gaming sessions.

At first I thought the thermal paste that was pre-applied on the cooler was not as good as the one that I had on my ML120 so I bought some Artic MX-4: same. So I bought the even more expensive Grizzly Hydronaut: same again. Then I noticed that the liquid was getting pretty hot during gaming sessions (around 50C) so I decided to replace the two default radiator fans with a couple of Corsair ML120 Pro (probably the best fans on the market beside Noctua) : no temperature difference at all.

Then I started to search online for people with same CPU and cooler who were wondering about their temperature and the most common answer was "your temperature is perfectly normal for this CPU with this cooler". Ok... so what's the point of selling (and most importantly buying) those expensive coolers if they don't do any better than the cheaper ones?
 

Lutfij

Titan
Moderator
You might want to read through the watercooling sticky(located in my sig) and jump down to the Closed Loop Cooler section to understand the way the AIO works. In retrospect, you should've gone for a larger heat dissipating surface area to pair with the fans you purchased.

To add, there might be some things that may be off, what are your ambient air temps, what are your specs and more importantly what sort of volts/overclocks are you running on that system of yours?

*Oh no LTT's videos again...that squirrel voiced sell out.
 

JayGau

Commendable
Dec 20, 2016
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Thank you a lot for the sticky there is a lot of interesting info there.

But as I said a larger heat dissipating area would not fit in my case. Also my new fans are not doing worse than the stock fans that came with the cooler. I bought the ML120 fans because they have both good static pressure and air flow, which I thought would be perfect to cool down the radiator and push the air out of the top section of the case (where the radiator is installed) and it seems to work because I can feel a lot more of hot air going out but no real effect on the CPU temp itself at least not on short period of time. it's problably better during long heavy load sessions.

My specs are:

Thermaltake Versa N21 Onyx Edition Case
ASUS ROG Crosshair VII Hero
AMD Ryzen 2700x
2x8 Gb Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 3000 C16
Samsung 970 EVO Plus Series - 1TB PCIe NVMe - M.2 Internal SSD
Gigabyte GTX 1080
Corsair CX650 PSU


I stopped trying to overclock my 2700x when I read that this cpu performs better with default settings because the XFR and PBO are disabled if you manually set the clock and voltage. With all BIOS settings at default the temperature during stress test stays around 65 and I never pass 75C when gaming. If I enable the performance enhancer to level 2, which gives a big performance improvement, the temp under stress goes to 70 and can go above 75 during gaming (but it never reach 80, maybe because of the new fans that efficiently blow out the hot air from the case). Oh and I run the ram at 3133 Mhz but I don't think it does any bad on the cpu temp.

Also, I run the pump at 95% (constant speed) and my fan curve is set to 70% below 60C, 80% at 60C and 100% when the temp reach 65C and above.

Ambiant air temperature in my computer room is most likely an issue and I already knew that. Summer in Texas is very hot and even with my AC running the house temp is always at 27-28C. A more normal 21-22 would make my heavy load session temps drop below 70 for sure (I look forward for the fall).

But my point was why this expensive NZXT is not doing any better than my cheaper Cooler Master? For sure it looks much nicer with those awesome mirror like RGB effects but I was expecting to be blown away when looking at HWMonitor after the switch but no, the difference was very little.
 
Last edited:
May 4, 2019
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It's all air cooling - and that means surface area and airflow are king. Generally, a high-end air cooler and a 240mm radiator are about the same, except that the radiator may solve some space or noise issues if the case can accommodate the larger radiator. Otherwise, there is no point in spending the money.

It's called marketing. Notice how they don't actually give you the performance specification that matters, which is the dissipated power at particular operating conditions. They just tell you how spiffy it looks and that it has wonderful fans, etc. No information on thermal performance, which is the actual purpose of the product.
 

rubix_1011

Contributing Writer
Staff member
Another problem is that the uninformed buyer sees the words 'liquid cooler' and thinks, hey, I bet this works just as well as any watercooling system out there and is 'much better' than an air cooler. Problem is, not every liquid or water cooled based cooler performs the same, and there are some great air coolers on the market today.

Full watercooling loops often perform better than most air cooling and most AIO liquid coolers, and most of this depends on many factors, and there isn't just a simple yes/no answer. By the same token, AIO liquid coolers sometimes perform better, as good as or are outclassed by some air cooling, depending on the models being compared.

This is what AIO companies are hoping for - that the buy is so enamored by the words 'liquid cooler' that they believe their dreams will come true at a low, low price of $119.99. Some custom watercooling pumps, blocks and radiators individually cost more than the price of an entire AIO.
 

JayGau

Commendable
Dec 20, 2016
34
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I have no doubt that some air coolers can do better than some AIO. I recently read that high end Noctua coolers can beat a bunch of AIO models. But I also know that most of the time AIO is a better solution if you want less noise and a better overall heat management (they push the hot air straight out of the case unlike the air coolers that just blow it all inside).

My first AIO was for my old FX8350. I had an AMD Wraith air cooler that was doing pretty well, keeping the temp at around 30C at idle and below 60 at full load, but I wanted to try a liquid cooler, just to see how they do, so I bought the Cooler Master ML120 for less than 60$. I have been totally blown away! My temp went well below 30C at idle (most of the time below 25) and was not even reaching 50C at full load.

But when I bought my Ryzen 7 1700 the temps shifted up by 10 degrees and with my 2700x it was even worse so I thought that a bigger radiator could help to at least go back to something similar to the temps I had with the Ryzen 1700, so I bought the Kraken X52. I got disapointed because the improvement is very little.

I am still listening to any advice that could help me to reduce my temps but maybe it's just what it is.
 

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