Liquid Cooling vs Air Cooling: A TechSpot Comparison

By Julio Franco · 33 replies
Dec 19, 2013
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  1. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,264

    Interesting comparison. For an all aluminium AIO (excepting base) the Tundra isn't too shabby. 29C over ambient for an OC'ed IB-E CPU seems reasonably respectable- kind of makes me wonder what a copper and brass chambered version would be capable of.
  2. St1ckM4n

    St1ckM4n TS Evangelist Posts: 2,922   +630

    I have Noctua U12P SE1366 in push-pull, and it's amazing at bringing my temps down on i7 920. Additionally, I run these with Ultra Low-Noise Adaptors plugged in, so it's pretty much inaudible. 40dBA is way higher. :p
  3. LinkedKube

    LinkedKube TechSpot Project Baby Posts: 3,485   +45

    I dont expect anything less from Silverstone. I feel like 90% of the enthusiast market is still sleeping on their great products.
  4. "Besides keeping our overclocked 4.3GHz Core i7-4960X at 53 degrees (30% lower than Intel's stock RTS2011AC),"

    How can you compare temperatures in percentages? If you switch from Celsius to Fahrenheit or Kelvin surely the percentages would change - though the actual temperatures would be the same. Or what is the difference in percentage between 0 degree Celsius and 10 degrees Celsius? Percentages in temperature make no sense.
  5. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,264

    I'm not entirely sure you understand what is being said. 30% lower than the stock Intel cooler means 30% less than the 75C recorded by the RTS2011AC in the air cooler review Steve linked to in the review:

    75°C minus 30% equals 52.5°C...or 53°C in round numbers.
    Steve likes this.
  6. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Posts: 2,869   +2,039

    To be honest it probably makes even less sense to talk about Fahrenheit or Kelvin when everything was displayed in Celsius :S
  7. Cycloid Torus

    Cycloid Torus Stone age computing. Posts: 3,023   +662

    I'm hoping some brave soul will document a DYI water cooler. Take an old air cooler with convection tubes. Hack into two pieces - tubing, clamp, etc from block to radiator - but I haven't figured out pump or filling process - water? / water & white vinegar?

    Thinking it through I've gained appreciation for the kits.
  8. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,730   +3,703

    There are several problems that will prevent an attempt from succeeding.
    • Efficiency because of design modifications appropriate each method.
    • Tubes dead end in the cooler instead of looping. You would be better off starting from scratch.
    • I've heard stories of corrosion because different types of metal was used. DIY would make it even harder in using the same metals, especially the ones you would want to use in a water cooler loop.
    In the end, it would be best to purchase parts designed for best results or forget about water cooling all together.
    Cycloid Torus likes this.
  9. amstech

    amstech IT Overlord Posts: 1,936   +1,101

    I've had a liquid cooled build but that was for a Q8400 on a LGA775 chipset and GTX 280. I can't even get my i7 930 @ 4.0Ghz 24/7 to go anywhere near its thermal barriers, same for my Windforce 3X 670 ( Gigabyte use a custom 680 PCB and power phase). I have no need to go liquid cooled.
  10. GhostRyder

    GhostRyder This guy again... Posts: 2,198   +593

    Its good to see some definitive proof of this, though most people can guess that it would be better than an air cooler. That Noctua though is such a good cooler in general for air users that it really makes the liquid coolers work for their temps.

    Cool Review
  11. Heihachi1337

    Heihachi1337 TS Rookie Posts: 49   +11

    I switched from a Thermaltake OC King Frio cooler to the Corsair H60 closed loop liquid cooling due to concerns of the added stress on the mainboard and the lack of room to work in my case. I would have to say, best switch I've ever made.
  12. Corsair loop units FTW! H100 is really an awesome unit.
  13. It's funny that we call these closed-loop systems "Water coolers" as there is rarely any water in them. The heatsink that goes on the CPU is usually copper, and the radiator is usually aluminum. That combination with water can cause corrosion issues, so the manufacturers usually use something like a pure ethylene glycol.
    Matthew likes this.
  14. I must be tired after a working week, but I just couldn't see how does water cooling compare with air cooling. I'd have to figure out what each name of the cooler corresponds to, couldn't they just summarise to how exactly water cooling is more efficient (or not) than air cooling. I can't physically read all those GuNuBuDOC-2001-XYZ sort of names. They may be legendary, as the author say (King Arthur had one, evidently), but I've never heard of them, I just wanted to see if I should get myself water cooling or not for my next PC.
  15. lipe123

    lipe123 TS Evangelist Posts: 718   +236

    Yeah reading and looking at pictures can be really hard right (No I's not).
    The Corsair H75 and Tundra TD02 is the water coolers that obviously kept it cooler than all the rest which is air coolers.

    TLDR; Go buy the H75 its cheap and small and works well.
  16. Mike89

    Mike89 TS Booster Posts: 41   +13

    I see nothing here that would influence my cpu cooli ng choices. I remain a loyal air cooling guy. I just still cannot wrap my head around putting liquid inside my computer. I just can't do it. I have the NH-U14S in push pull and I wouldn't trade it for anything else.
  17. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,730   +3,703

    I suffer from that very same dilemma. lol
  18. GhostRyder

    GhostRyder This guy again... Posts: 2,198   +593

    In this day and age though, most of the liquids inside the All in Ones or that you buy to use in a custom loop is already "Non-Conductive" and will not damage the hardware if spilled upon anyway. Theres always a chance this could happen anyway, but from all the accidents ive seen in my time most damage that happens is rarely from a liquid leak (Unless you actually use water) and more from other sources in machines that run liquid cooling. Even when the liquid leaks, for instance recently a friend of mine attached the tubing to his GPU waterblock in properly and caused it to leak down his video card 8 and 6 pin connectors along with the motherboard while the system was running for about 2 minutes, he shut it down, cleaned it up, and let it dry then ran it again with no issues or hiccups.

    Air cooling will always be there if you dont plan on heavy clocking or just dont want to deal with it, but liquid really is the way to go for fast, cool, and silent machines. But of course, everyone will choose their own path.
    cliffordcooley likes this.
  19. Jad Chaar

    Jad Chaar Elite Techno Geek Posts: 6,515   +974

    I would just go with an air cooler. I wouldnt want to risk the loop leaking or malfunctioning. The difference isnt that big and doesnt convince me.
  20. I've used the Noctua big boy for some time on my i3770k OC to 4.5ghz and it's never been above 75. I considered liquid cooling first, but reading so many reviews of people losing their entire rig from leaks convinced me it wasn't for me. The failure rate is unacceptable as far as I'm concerned and proved an unnecessary risk.
  21. Great article. I have the Corsair H50, and it's one of the best PC purchases I've made. It's a little more bulky than the newer models, but it still takes up much less space than an air cooler.

    I also just bought a used Thermaltake Water 2.0 for $30 on Ebay, which I'll be putting in an HTPC, so you can find these things for super cheap.
  22. St1ckM4n

    St1ckM4n TS Evangelist Posts: 2,922   +630

    Yes, yes it is. :)
    Matthew likes this.
  23. treetops

    treetops TS Evangelist Posts: 2,073   +219

    All I know is I'v had at least 4 fans die in 4 years, back, side, front. The cost to replace them comes to around 200$. And currently only my cpu and back fan still work. Next time I will def go for water cooling.
  24. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,730   +3,703

    Water cooling uses fans to. So I'm not following why you would use fan failure, as an excuse to switch from air cooling.
    GhostRyder likes this.

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