Question Why so much cooling?

Sep 16, 2019
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Ok. This may seem like a stupid question, but forgive me;
I'm relatively new to the PC building scene.
I've had many computers over the years, and they've all been pre-builts from brands such as Acer, Dell, HP, etc.

These PCs never had any cooling in them other than the CPU cooler and one on the power supply. I've upgraded the GPUs, etc, but, I've never had any trouble with temperature: when monitoring, the core/GPU temps are always in line with what they should be, and I've never experienced any thermal throttling.
Some of these were high end I5 and I7 systems too.

Now when I see PC enthusiast builds, there seems to be a crazy amount of emphasis on the cooling, water cooling, LOADS of extra fans, Case fans, fans everywhere.

Why is this, if just running with a CPU and power supply cooler does the job just fine?
 

boju

Polypheme
Ambassador
There can be a lot of heat generated and dumped inside the case and intake/exhaust fans help move air quicker allowing for sustainable higher clocks. Also less heat is passing through the PSU as a result if the PSU is open to the elements, as in not in a separate chamber.

I dislike liquid cooling and will never consider it. Just a decent heatsink with push pull fans and 2 or 3 case fans and im happy.
 
Reactions: RodroX
Ok. This may seem like a stupid question, but forgive me;
I'm relatively new to the PC building scene.
I've had many computers over the years, and they've all been pre-builts from brands such as Acer, Dell, HP, etc.

These PCs never had any cooling in them other than the CPU cooler and one on the power supply. I've upgraded the GPUs, etc, but, I've never had any trouble with temperature: when monitoring, the core/GPU temps are always in line with what they should be, and I've never experienced any thermal throttling.
Some of these were high end I5 and I7 systems too.

Now when I see PC enthusiast builds, there seems to be a crazy amount of emphasis on the cooling, water cooling, LOADS of extra fans, Case fans, fans everywhere.

Why is this, if just running with a CPU and power supply cooler does the job just fine?
Times are changing and more power is needed, I remember when CPU didn't need any cooler, than just passive cooler followed by small fans but amount of energy need to run increasing number of transistors kept on climbing, density of transistors and other components also climbed creating hot spots. Most of that energy is dissipated as heat, hence more cooling is needed. Smaller transistors and other elements became more sensitive to heat so they need to be protected.
Admittedly some are overdoing specially with case cooling but with all those RGB fans it became kinda modern to stick as many fans as a case could take. In other words they they are preferring looks over functionality, ignoring laws of physics. A fan, no matter how fast, is not cooling anything bellow environment/room temperature. Newest processors for instance, have temperature controlled boost frequencies and excessive heat would lower their frequency to save processor from decaying. Keeping it cool increases CPU's yield and with it performance.
Take newest Ryzen CPUs for instance, let's say my 3700x, it's auto boost goes to 4.4GHz up to about 62-65c, if it hits 70-71c, boost frequency drops by 100-150 MHz and at 80c that's over 200MHz drop. It's logical to have as good cooling as possible to keep temperature down to low 60s or I'd loose some performance I paid for. OEM cooler is right at the edge where longer period of full load lowers performance therefore I had to install better cooler for which I chose liquid cooler but for other reasons.
Same logic goes for GPUs and mostly even on higher level because they have just as many transistors or even more than CPUs and on higher density board,they are also mainly placed in the middle of the case where air flow is usually poorer due to disk and other mounts and they heat up more.
There's another reason for oversized CPU/GPU coolers, an oversized cooler can provide better cooing whose fan(s) can run at lower speed and be quieter.
 
Reactions: RodroX

Rogue Leader

It's a trap!
Moderator
Ok. This may seem like a stupid question, but forgive me;
I'm relatively new to the PC building scene.
I've had many computers over the years, and they've all been pre-builts from brands such as Acer, Dell, HP, etc.

These PCs never had any cooling in them other than the CPU cooler and one on the power supply. I've upgraded the GPUs, etc, but, I've never had any trouble with temperature: when monitoring, the core/GPU temps are always in line with what they should be, and I've never experienced any thermal throttling.
Some of these were high end I5 and I7 systems too.

Now when I see PC enthusiast builds, there seems to be a crazy amount of emphasis on the cooling, water cooling, LOADS of extra fans, Case fans, fans everywhere.

Why is this, if just running with a CPU and power supply cooler does the job just fine?
They all always have at least 1 case fan as well.

As for why? a few reasons.

1. they are normally running at base clocks. You don't need any fancy or advanced cooling for running a cpu totally stock.

2. Memory is at base clock as well. Its very rare to find a prebuilt with memory higher than whatever the base is for that chipset. Keeps the CPU cooler as well.

3. People who buy them care less about the system being quiet. Compare a Dell running under load to a system in a good case with one or two more fans. Those fans can run at a lower RPM making it way quieter. The Dell sounds like a small vacuum cleaner.

4. In terms of adding a GPU again unless you're overclocking it the cooler should suffice, and the rest of the case isn't generating as much heat so your overall temps should be in line.

5. Over time cooling efficiency in these systems goes down, processor heat gets to them, they lose performance..... aka planned obsolescence. As if the technological breakthroughs that happen aren't enough.

There are plenty of reasons to have them:

  • Big case, fans look cool, have RGB, show off hardware.
  • Lower temps/quieter
  • Overclocking
  • Looking cool (again) lol
 

GarrettL

Respectable
Dec 4, 2019
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I have a 3800x and a 2070 super in an NZXT 500H case. The rad is 120mm rear mounted and there is a 140mm top exhaust fan.

That's it. Cool and whisper quiet for everything but gaming, that will get the fans running to an audible level.

There are lots of builds that use the fans for RGB bling.
 
Reactions: RodroX

Zerk2012

Titan
Ambassador
I've build my PCs with custom watercooling for nearly 19 years and will continue to do so.

The hobbyist aspect and fun factor are the primary reasons.

How do you customize an Xbox or a PS4? Put stickers on it.
.

How do you customize a PC? Anyway you want.
How do you customize an Xbox or a PS4? Put stickers on

Add LED's under it everbody knows it improves the performance
 

grimfox

Distinguished
Jun 2, 2009
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I think it's also important to note that Dell custom designs their chassis to operate with just one fan. The motherboard is also custom and sometimes so are the CPUs and GPUs they use in their systems. All to make them cheaper and simpler to build.

They also make Alienware systems which at one time were the absolute height of gamer bling (cough before dell bought them cough) And they do ship systems with liquid cooling if I'm not mistaken.

On the custom PC side we don't always pick the best cases for airflow. We pick them because they look cool. But unlike dell we can't custom design a motherboard to take advantage of fan placements and baffles/shrouds that improve cooling efficiency. So we have to resort to brute force, big coolers, more fans, water cooling. Although water cooling is in the same realm of hobby as car tuning. Do I need my car to hit 60MPH in 2.3 seconds...no...but it's cool that it can.
 

rubix_1011

Contributing Writer
Moderator
A big part of what you mentioned was around case airflow vs. looks. The web and e-markets have been flooded with a large volume of cases featuring glass panels and RGB lighting, but with less focus on airflow through the chassis for component cooling.
 

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