[SOLVED] System Almost Decided On With a Few Final Considerations [AIO Liquid or Air for OC 9900k?]

Kirbyarm

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Hey all!

I'm planning on upgrading to a new PC build, and will start ordering the parts at the end of the month or so. I've been an air CPU cooler user in all my PC ownership history and have always been very concerned putting liquid with expensive components... but I'm seeing the Core i9-9900k is a really hot chip and that liquid coolers can make the temperatures run SO cool under heavy loads. So much so, that it's beginning to get really difficult to overlook the cooling performance of liquid cooling as a whole. This is the part list I have so far with the air CPU cooling configuration (Noctua NH-D15):

https://ca.pcpartpicker.com/list/KZ6jxG

The case I chose here was before I decided on liquid cooling, with a high priority on airflow to assist with system temperatures. I'm hoping to decide on a liquid CPU cooler that will work with the other components I've selected. Mostly concerned about it fitting properly in the case with everything else. I am not entirely sure on how to research specific parts fitting with clearance and all these factors when I don't have the parts to measure them yet. I have zero experience with installing liquid coolers. I don't know how to drain or fill tubes. I'm physically weak and don't have any special tools. Just screwdrivers, zip-ties and really basic supplies. I have other concerns I'll express below and I would greatly appreciate any help with them!

Edit: I think it's important to mention I intend on trying for 5.0 - 5.1Ghz of overclocking performance on the 9900k as well.

Firstly, do you need any special tools or training to not be at risk of messing up terribly and ruining the other expensive components during usage or installation?

Is there any maintenance involved to prevent liquid-exploding / liquid-leaking mishaps from destroying this $2,000 system in the future?

Do most/all liquid CPU coolers come with pre-applied thermal paste or is it only a small handful of them?


This is the cooler I'm looking at right now because the reviews seem really good for it and 'Low Profile' makes me think it'll have a higher chance to fit and play nicely with everything else.

https://www.amazon.ca/Thermaltake-Extreme-Liquid-Cooling-CLW0224-B/dp/B00O08FWTM/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

Would any of you liquid cooling professionals out there recommend any alternatives for the cooler or case or perhaps something else in the build above for a better cooling experience for the Core i9-9900k?

Thanks for your time~
 
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maziech

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Firstly, do you need any special tools or training to not be at risk of messing up terribly and ruining the other expensive components during usage or installation?
No. Just common sense + read the manual.

Noctua DH-15 is really, really good. AFAIK it matches good water cooling - there's not much difference. Besides it's quiet and won't leak ;-) Your choice.
 

Kirbyarm

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Thanks @maziech

I do know the premium air coolers are REALLY good and quiet, believe me I've been using them religiously XD But the 'not much difference' you state. Does that mean I can have comfortably low temperatures while overclocking it to 5.1Ghz using only air cooling?
 

maziech

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Does that mean I can have comfortably low temperatures while overclocking it to 5.1Ghz using only air cooling?
From what i know, there's no difference in performance on Top air cooling and a water cooling. I can't tell if You gonna be able to achieve 5.1 or 5.0 on that. Does it really matter that much? Are You going to beat some world records? :) There's no difference to notice on those 100 mhz...

Air cooling = no problems. Is this 100 hz really worth it?

Up to You.
 

Kirbyarm

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I do not care about records, I care about performance. I've been CPU bottlenecked on many games for the last 1.5 - 2 years and I don't want that issue to crop up again, or at least to minimize that issue to the best of my ability until I upgrade to a new PC again in a few years down the road.

Do you have much experience with overclocking the 9900k or liquid cooling?
 

Karadjgne

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Ok, some clarification.

There's 3 types of general use public cooling. Aircoolers, AIO/CLC (all in one/closed loop cooler) and full custom loop. The last 2 are both liquid cooling, but vastly different in approach.

AIO's are literally that, all in one. The radiator is pre-attached to tubing, which is attached to a pump block. You mount the pump on the cpu same as an aircooler, the radiator attaches to the case just like a normal case fan. By far the most common liquid cooling type. Requires 0 maintenance other than the normal dusting an aircooler would receive. No user accessible parts.

Full custom loops are different. These are planned loops using separate components bought individually, where the fittings, tubing, routing are all attached by the user. FCL requires periodic liquid maintenance, either flushing or adding and the liquid can be user defined in color or clarity.

So you can use liquid cooling on the 9900k, it would come in the form of a 280mm/360mm AIO from ppl such as Corsair or Nzxt or Thermaltake. Requires no special tools or training, just follow user manual mounting procedure, common sense and adjust thinking depending on the fitment in the case. Being a standard size of 120mm or 140mm x2 or x3 in length, case fitment isn't difficult to determine.

There is a difference in liquid and air cooling. But it's not evident until the cpu reaches over 200w. Big air has finite limits, you'll only get 250w+ ability due to heatsink fin area. AIO's can go upto @ 350w-400w in thermal ability. Full custom loop has no limits as more radiator space can be added, tubing/flow increased etc.

Under 250w, aircoolers are generally cheaper and can perform just as well, if not better, than a good chunk of the AIO market.

Air cooling : generally under $100
Aio : between @ $60 to $200 depending on size and model.
FCL : Including gpu water blocks, looking at @ $500 and upwards.

From op's question/statements on tools and other aspects like draining, the assumption of liquid cooling is full custom loop, not AIO as referred to by subsequent posts and links. FCL has no user manual, it's conception is entirely in the mind of the user.
 
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Kirbyarm

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Karadjgne to the rescue again! Thank you for your reply.

That addresses most of my installation concerns. But I've heard horror stories about leaks and system shortages. Could you tell me what causes those to happen and if I should / could do anything to prevent that before, during or after installation?

Definitely leaning toward AIO as I'd never trust myself to make a custom loop let alone all that maintenance. At least not at this point in my life.

Would you have any personal recommendations for specific AIO liquid cooler and tower case for an OC 9900k?
 

maziech

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AIO is a closed circuit with no access, nothing You can do about the water pump. The only maintanance You make is to clean radiator and fans from dust with compressed air from time to time.
If it leaks, it leaks. If pump dies, it dies. Nothing to do here.

I know You already decided to go AIO, but if You need to find out, there's plenty of tests and comparisons all over the internet and on Youtube. Usually Noctua DH-15 is 2-4 degrees behind and definitely more quiet than AIO cooling on full load.

If You still have some doubts, check Jay-z or Linus tech tips - they did some testing on that.
 
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maziech

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That depends on which AIO You pick. Top 3-fan AIO's should be slightly better (and much more expensive)

I had the same problem few months ago, when i wanted to replace cooling on my old-old-2600k-friend. Wanted to get AIO so bad, until i did some research.

Then just decided to go dark rock pro 4 (because noctua is ugly :) )
You should hit 5.0 ghz without a problem on Air cooling.

The other thing is, that AIO with some rgb looks great on mobo. (sniff sniff)
 

Kirbyarm

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The other thing is, that AIO with some rgb looks great on mobo. (sniff sniff)
THIS. Some of the RGB ones look SO cool. I was about ready to pay the $50 premium just for fancy lighting. But I'm starting to lean back to my Noctua mindset.. I actually considered the Dark Rock Pro 4 at first because it looks way better and is significantly more quiet... but I get the feeling it way under performs the D15. Feel free to link a few sources saying otherwise or how close they are.
 

maziech

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but I get the feeling it way under performs the D15.
It's almost the same in terms of efficiency and noise. Noctua might be slightly better. (maybe 1-2 degree C)

However, at my place Dark rock is like 20% cheaper and, of course, looks way better. So it was best choice.
 

Kirbyarm

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@maziech Leaning towards Noctua, as even slight performance and personal experience knowing they're reliable and reputable, plus the longer warranty seem more important to me than 2-5 dB and the smexy black aesthetic.

@Karadjgne

There is a difference in liquid and air cooling. But it's not evident until the cpu reaches over 200w. Big air has finite limits, you'll only get 250w+ ability due to heatsink fin area. AIO's can go upto @ 350w-400w in thermal ability. Full custom loop has no limits as more radiator space can be added, tubing/flow increased etc.

Under 250w, aircoolers are generally cheaper and can perform just as well, if not better, than a good chunk of the AIO market.
Thank you for the information, it's very helpful and people like myself can learn from effectively in your clean writing style.

How good of an overclock would you say one can achieve on the finite big air's 250w~ limited cooling capacity?
 

Karadjgne

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The 9900k at 4 cores locked at 4.7GHz at a Prime95 26.6 small fft 100% constant load pushes between 230-250w. That's worst case scenario. So you'll not have issues with a NH-D15S at 4.7 gaming although things like compiling and encoding will jack up the temps. You will not see 5GHz on air on this cpu.

Cooler will be determined by your case. With this cpu bigger is better and for an AIO I'd not be doing anything less than a Corsair H150i Pro or Nzxt X72, 360mm rads.
 

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