Question Expensive Air Cooler vs Cheap Water Cooler?

Sep 14, 2020

I could not find an answer for that question. First of all, yes, I have budget for a quality water cooler. I already have a Thermaltake Water 3.0 water cooling and that was the cheapest water cooler in the market when I bought it in 2017. I am still using the same cooler for more than 3 years. I am sure that its performance is equal to an air cooler right now. Doesn't matter if I apply thermal paste again or not, whenever I overclock my i5 7600k, the most problematic thing is the temperatures. While the others are not facing with the same problem, even if they are using an air cooler, I am really pissed to get high temperatures with a water cooler. I've never change its liquid before, and never check its pump. I afraid to do that because as I know, it is really risky to do that on your ready to use water cooler. I don't want to take risk and throw my other components to trash.

This is the actually thing I hate to do and think about it. When I buy a cooler, I don't want to deal with these kind of things like chancing its liquid, etc. That's why I want to continue with a quality air cooler. It is actually a better choice for me because I won't need to worry about changing liquid, checking its pump, etc. Change the thermal paste evbery year and done, nothing more.

So can you please tell me if I could get an expensive air cooler or a cheap/mid-quality water cooler? I really don't want to deal with those kind of things.
All aio coolers start with at least a little air in their systems.
Over time, more comes in through the liquid tubes.
That is why aio coolers have a definite useful life.
This is not usually a big issue unless the pump is located at the highest point in the system and that is where air bubbles will migrate.

liquid cooling is really air cooling. The difference is where the radiator is located.
You will find that if the radiator sizes are comparable, so will be the cooling capacity.
For example, the noctua NH-D15s with twin towers will cool about as well as a 280 aio.

What is the make/model of your case?
A good air cooler will need 160mm height available.

Air is usually cheaper and more reliable with no moving parts.
Usually, air is quieter and air will never leak.

There are two scenarios where I would pick liquid over air.
  1. In a space constricted case.
  2. Where very hot overclocked processors need a 360 aio for cooling.


I know exactly where you screenshotted that image from. That video should've taught you something about the pros and cons of both.

I'm sure you've heard of planned obsolescence? Most of those units aren't meant to be serviced by the user. It's the cheap and convenient alternative to custom liquid.

As someone who played around with air and hybrid on both cpus and gpus:
Air coolers
+superior performance per dollar/currency
+fans are generally the only point of failure
+user can keep using their PC if one or more fans were to suddenly fail; the chassis fans can still provide cooling over the heatsink
+fewer screws involved in mounting

-there is an upper ceiling where air starts to fall off, in regards to performance compared to hybrids, and that's 280mm
-there is also a lower ceiling where hybrids pull ahead(performance), and that's SFF; basically, chassis that can only support top-down air, but not tower air

=shorter time to soak, meaning more temperature swings, but nothing a custom fan curve can't fix
=the size debate: I don't know how some people can say air coolers are bigger, 'cause they're not

Hybrid coolers
+superior performance over air coolers at 280mm and up
+superior performance over in SFF where air is limited to top down models
+longer time to soak, so fewer temperature swings
+radiator fans = chassis fans

-awful performance per currency
-extra points of failure: the pump, and some models have a VRM fan now
-inevitable pump failure: the entire unit is to be tossed out, save for the working fans, and the user best have a backup cooler on hand
-can leak: it's not as bad as it once was, but the possibility, although low, is still there - they're more likely to be cause by the user these days
-lots of screws involved in mounting, and it gets worse the larger the unit is(turned out to be a bigger pain in the butt than I though it would be)
-fluid loss over time, meaning eventual refill, but most of the units aren't meant to be refilled
-biocides in the fluid eventually expire, so sooner or later it's going to get clogged

=the size debate

All that said, it's nice to have options.
IMO, hybrids are far more worthwhile to use on the gpu.
Reactions: Krotow and rjn00