Discussion liquid cooling or heatsink?

Gam3r01

Titan
Moderator
Depends on specific components and use.

Overall, I would recommend a decent air cooler over "cheap" liquid cooling any day.

I generally never recommend anyone buy a CLC (your typical H100i, etc). If you do go the water route, buy an open loop kit like an H240x2 or a kit from EWKB. Either do it right or dont do it at all.

The exception in very compact systems where a liquid cooler is the only way to accommodate high thermal components.
 

TGFallenOne

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May 18, 2019
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Depends on specific components and use.

Overall, I would recommend a decent air cooler over "cheap" liquid cooling any day.

I generally never recommend anyone buy a CLC (your typical H100i, etc). If you do go the water route, buy an open loop kit like an H240x2 or a kit from EWKB. Either do it right or dont do it at all.

The exception in very compact systems where a liquid cooler is the only way to accommodate high thermal components.
Yeah I agree with you! because isn't there a lot of maintenance with liquid cooling that is just very annoying and time consuming?
 

Gam3r01

Titan
Moderator
For a closed loop system, they never need maintenance, however they can leak or "dry up" over time. I generally dont recommend using them for much longer than their warranty period.
Open loops require cleaning/flushing at least once a year.
 

dphotog

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Currently I'm in the middle of building listing things I want to get for my next big upgraded. If you can handle the ugly brown Noctua 12x25 is a prime prime cpu fan cooler that's all air. It's been matched to handle temps equal to AIO cpu cooling and smaller than it's big brother the d15
 

TGFallenOne

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Currently I'm in the middle of building listing things I want to get for my next big upgraded. If you can handle the ugly brown Noctua 12x25 is a prime prime cpu fan cooler that's all air. It's been matched to handle temps equal to AIO cpu cooling and smaller than it's big brother the d15
I am going with the cooler master but heard A LOT of good about Noctua but for now gonna stick with the one I am looking at this is just a general discussion bc I was curious how many really think liquid cooling is good
 

dphotog

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Also a friend of mine decided to use nocutas for his case fans too the guys building a Halo rig for about 4.5k USD so it can be used for cases too and your aio cooler if you ever wanted
 

Karadjgne

Titan
Herald
Clcs and air are the same thing, performance-wise, in their respective ranges. A corsair H60 has almost identical performance to the 140w CM hyper212 evo for instance. The kraken x61 and NH-D15 are equitable. Under 250w cpu output. So as long as you compare like for like, the differences are mostly aesthetic or rely on actual cooler efficiency to dictate which gets slightly better temps or acoustics.

But that's in range performance. That stops at @ 250w for aircoolers as they simply do not have the size and surface area to handle more. The Aerocool 480mm rad is rated upto 700w. There isn't an aircooler made that's even close to that ability.

But each design has its own quirks, advantages and disadvantages. Aircoolers have a tendency to block ram slots, especially on the HEDT boards. Clcs don't. Big aircoolers are restricted by height in many cases, Clcs fit anything with 120/240/280/360mm fan slots. Many Clcs can be adapted for use on gpus. Aircoolers rarely ever leak and are good as long as the fan is functional, Clcs have pumps that can fail and are subject to coolant dissipation failure after @ 5years.

So budget concerns aside, cooler choice is a personal thing, not really a performance thing, unless you start running into certain disadvantages, like using 8 ram sticks with a high OC pc.

Full custom loops are entirely different in that respect, they do not operate like air or Clcs for temp performance, adding more rad size won't show real benefits if you are already over-provisioned. But being modular, a FCL can be made to fit any combination desired at any cpu/gpu output
 

Karadjgne

Titan
Herald
I prefer AIO's. My kraken x61 ran my i7-3770K at 4.9GHz in near silence and because of the Cam software tailorable fan curves and ability to switch from cpu temp response to liguid temp response never, ever ramped up with opening apps or windows idle. After one of the fans quit on me after 6 years of 24/7 usage, I replaced it with a Cryorig R1 Ultimate. That cooler is supposed to be a few db louder than a Noctua NH-D15S at load. Yeah right. Ramps up all the time and is easily double the volume of the old nzxt AIO it replaced. Not happy there for sure.

My other pc runs a Corsair H55 with an NF-F12 pwm fan. It's so quiet that even running an AV check, my wife still would hit the power button because she thought it wasn't on. Had to train her to look for the LED.

For aesthetics, I just much prefer the cleanliness of liquid cooling, any type. Not a fan of oversized bricks.
 
You indicate that you will buy a cm of some sort.
If it is the hyper 212 which is popular because it is cheap, I advise against it.
As an experienced builder, I was given a hyper212 to install and it was most difficult.
First, how to install it, and second to get it on properly.

As to liquid vs air, here is my stock rant:
My canned rant on liquid cooling:
------------------------start of rant-------------------
You buy a liquid cooler to be able to extract an extra multiplier or two out of your OC.
How much do you really need?
I do not much like all in one liquid coolers when a good air cooler like a Noctua or phanteks can do the job just as well.
A liquid cooler will be expensive, noisy, less reliable, and will not cool any better
in a well ventilated case.
Liquid cooling is really air cooling, it just puts the heat exchange in a different place.
The orientation of the radiator will cause a problem.
If you orient it to take in cool air from the outside, you will cool the cpu better, but the hot air then circulates inside the case heating up the graphics card and motherboard.
If you orient it to exhaust(which I think is better) , then your cpu cooling will be less effective because it uses pre heated case air.
Past that, A AIO radiator complicates creating a positive pressure filtered cooling setup which can keep your parts clean.
And... I have read too many tales of woe when a liquid cooler leaks.
Google for AIO leaks to see what can happen.
While unlikely, leaks do happen.

I would support an AIO cooler primarily in a space restricted case.
If one puts looks over function, that is a personal thing; not for me though.
-----------------------end of rant--------------------------

Your pc will be quieter, more reliable, and will be cooled equally well with a decent air cooler
like the Noctua NH-U12s or NH-NH-D15s.

If the fan color offends you, it can be changed out, but the noctua fans are among the best and quietest.
 

rubix_1011

Contributing Writer
Staff member
Old Hyper 212 is kind of a pain, newer ones aren't too bad.

I am much more a watercooling guy - custom stuff, or high-end expandables like Swiftech and EKWB.

AIOs serve a purpose but everyone should understand their limitations and have appropriate expectations. In recent years, AIOs have performed better than the abysmal ones of a decade ago, although most AIOs are built by one of a few OEMs. So, that Corsair, NZXT and Cooler Master AIO you are comparing? They is a good chance they are nearly identical other than stickers, fans and software. The pumps and radiators are typically the same, although we've seen some newer pump designs in the last 18-24 months that aren't of the Asetek proprietary design.
 

Karadjgne

Titan
Herald
Perspective: several hollow pipes filled with liquid, attached to a fin array. Just described what? A heatsink, a radiator or both. Answer: Both. And neither one has moving parts or creates noise. What does is the fans themselves. Noctua makes some of the quietest and best performing fans there is for a pc. Corsair went the other direction with their fans, performance at the cost of upto @ 2800rpm and 60db+. Simply not an equitable comparison by any stretch. Take the 2x old SP's that came on the H100 and stick them on a NH-D14, you get the same noise as on the H100. Stick the Noctua fans on the H100 and get the same noise as from the D14. But as popular as the H100 became, the stigma attached and all AIO's are louder and hotter.

Which is totally untrue. For a demonstration, speaking of the CM hyper212, crank one of those to its 2000rpm limits and try and say it's quiet. Noise is dependent almost entirely on the fan(s) used, doesn't matter if it's AIO or heatsink.

Negative/positive pressure is garbage. At idle speeds, the exhaust fan(s) have so little affect on anything, the draw in front is minimal. They are more likely to pull air from above the gpu, the unused pcie slots etc, than move air from the front. Intakes are similar, most fans barely move any cfm worth noting at minimal speeds. End result at idle is almost always a negative balance. That changes under loads, when cfm is finally pushed into the case by high speed fans in front, and the rear exhaust is swamped with flow. Positive. It takes cases like the Meshify C and 3x 120mm intakes with a single 120mm exhaust to retain positive at a times, and thats only effective if the top baffle is sealed. If that fan vent is open, different story, exhaust fans will suck air straight from the top first, which is usually un-filtered.

Cost. A joke mostly. Ppl say get a $90 NH-D15 it's cheaper than an equitable AIO. Not true. An equitable AIO comes with 2-3 fans that double as case fan usage. The Noctua doesn't. So take that $90 heatsink and add $20-$90 for 2-3 decent fans. Total is more than the cost of a CM ML240R with RGB fans. The only time cost is even close is when comparing a uber budget heatsink to a small AIO and the case came with more than 2 fans.
 

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