Air or water (AIO) cooler???? The great debate...


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I am so sorry But,  I have to pick your brains.   I have just about got all the parts for my rebuild. I'm waiting on the case, two SSD's and the brand new CPU air fan.  I'm torn right now.  I want a really nice set up inside.  Ok! to the point. I have $90.00 maybe $110 if I push it. And I really don't want to push it.  I need your help finding an AIO that's well build. inexpensive ,two fan radiator set up and is not going to crap after one or two years.  I found three that I liked.  One is the  CoolerMaster MasterLiquid ML240L RGB CPU Liquid Cooler 120mm,    the  EVGA CLC 280mm All-In-One RGB LED CPU Liquid Cooler, 2x FX13 140mm and  MSI MAG Series CORELIQUID 280R, CPU Liquid Cooler  280mm Radiator, Dual 140mm.   All of them cost between $79 to $ 89.   My problem are the bad reviews.  I'm scaring my self reading them. Because, well they aren't lasting a year.  Oh! I'll be sharing my build as soon as it's done. I'm really happy with it.   Thanks for the feed back.......... 

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Just my personal opinion, but you probably don't want to mess with water cooling unless you are planning to do some serious overclocking?

 

If the reviews scare you, then you should listen to your gut and heed those warnings.

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Personally, I am a huge fan of the AIO watercoolers.. I wouldn't get any of the ones you listed. I would save up and get something like the Corsair H115i. Then in a year or two, you can update the fans or add them in a push/pull setup.. If you are wanting a really nice setup inside from what you said, save up a bit and get something that will last. I've had four different Corsair water cooling setups over the last 10 years and never had a single problem. 

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I have an MSI MAG series (3 fan)... which replaced a Corsair AIO... and found the MSI way better, and much quieter! Just my personal experience.. :) 

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On 30/11/2021 at 07:20, Dick Montage said:

A GOOD air cooler paired with GOOD fans and arranged into a GOOD airflow is absolutely great.

This. AIOs are not all that amazing vs. a good air setup; not for temperature, not for noise level.  For real performance you would want a custom loop.

 

That said, I use an AIO, and my temperatures are good, but amazingly low?  No.

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I haven't used any water cooling or AIOs myself but every time I've researched and asked for opinions it comes down to the following:

 

  • AIOs often aren't any quieter than a good air cooler and fan layout and they don't give that much better temps either
    • Only really useful if you plan to do higher overclocks
       
  • If you want good water cooling a custom loop is the way to go.
    • these require more time/effort to setup though and require regular maintenance and liquid top ups compared to AIOs/Air
    • has a bit of a learning curve setting up and much trial/error for first timers getting bubbles/leaks out.
       
  • A good CPU cooler and fan setup will be just as silent and give low temps more often than not.
    • Noctua is always recommended for good quiet fans/coolers (Y) 
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i've used a Corsair AIO cooler for many years on my old build. it's been fantastic. it's completely silent for everyday use, that is, until gaming. I'll hear the single fan whirl when gaming or benchmarking. otherwise, it's silent.

 

it may not perform better than a good air cooler, but i also didnt want a huge slab of metal hanging off the motherboard. just a personal preference.

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I used a Corsair H70 AIO for many years, never had a problem with it,

I upgraded last year so naturally went for something similar (the H75) and the pump electrical whine drove me potty. I've now swapped it out for a Dark Rock 4 (air) and I'm loving it.

 

Edit: Apparently my signature needs an update :D

 

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On 30/11/2021 at 14:57, Jason S. said:

i've used a Corsair AIO cooler for many years on my old build. it's been fantastic. it's completely silent for everyday use, that is, until gaming. I'll hear the single fan whirl when gaming or benchmarking. otherwise, it's silent.

Mine failed on me, and while I know it's a one off, I just couldn't recommend Corsair AIOs anymore

 

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On 30/11/2021 at 08:33, Dick Montage said:

Mine failed on me, and while I know it's a one off, I just couldn't recommend Corsair AIOs anymore

 

Yeah...you would think I would learn, but nope I am still using one.

 

I've seen two of them go bad in the course of 12 months. 

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Thanks a lot.  I think after hearing all of you.  An what Steven said about listing to my own gut. I don't really need an AIO.  The fan I ordered is just like the one I'm using now.  Talk about quite. The fan went out and I didn't know for how long. But, my CPU never over heated. I ordered a new fan, and it's blue (lights). The new one I just ordered is red (lights) it will match,  the fan is the Cooler Master Gemin II . I say buy if you need a new CPU fan.  Thanks Again for all the help.................

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I would think typical air cooling is generally all around better/safer/cheaper than water cooling and the like. basically, like already mentioned, unless one is doing some heavier overclocking (which is probably not worth it anyways if you already got a half way decent CPU), air cooling is the way to go. maybe one can cut back on noise a bit with water types of coolers (although I imagine aftermarket air coolers could help a bit here to) but overall it's not worth it if you ask me as air cooling should be quiet enough. so all-in-all, go with air and don't look back.

 

because even if one cuts back on temps a bit with water cooling, it's probably not going to help the lifespan of the CPU to any degree that really matters and there is less stuff to go wrong with air cooling.

 

On 30/11/2021 at 15:33, KruptedSeed said:

The fan went out and I didn't know for how long. But, my CPU never over heated.

 

I am not surprised, as off the top of my head, the heatsink alone (with no fan directly blowing on CPU like usual) will probably keep a CPU functional, especially as long as it does not see any sustained higher loads. because my i5-3550 for example (which is currently using a i3-2120 stock fan/heatsink but is undervolted by -0.130v(which helps further lower heat as that's the most I can shave off voltage (I can lower voltage by -0.010v each increment) and keep a stable system)), while I never directly tested it without a fan blowing directly on CPU like usual, I would not expect it to reach dangerously high heat levels, especially not during general usage, and I think this will further help if your case already has decent airflow.

 

but maybe one of these days, for kicks, I might try unplugging the CPU fan just to see my temps after booting up for a bit with typical usage load and then try putting a decent load on the CPU just to see what the temps hit. my best guess currently (without actual testing)... I would imagine CPU temp will increase noticeably from where it's at now, but unless I am way off, probably won't push the CPU near the thermal throttling limit which I think is 105c. I would imagine it's best to keep temps a fair amount under that at the least to be fairly safe (which I am sure they will be, especially if your not putting too much load on the CPU in general), but it does not appear there are any concrete guidelines for what temps a CPU should not exceed before a noticeable level of it's lifespan will be shortened.

 

plus, even if a somewhat higher CPU temp is somewhat bad for the lifespan of a CPU, it's not like the CPU will be under any sustained higher load levels in general unless someone is always doing tasks that really hammer it. but just on a personal level in regards to my i5-3550 CPU, while I think it will thermal throttle at 105c (according to Linux's 'watch sensors' command it claims "85c = high, 105c = critical" for temp), I would not be all that worried to for it to hit around 70c here and there for some period of time as I can't imagine anything around 60c sustained is outright 'bad' for it and it typically don't exceed around 60c much from my general observations (like during gaming etc). mine typically idles between 31c-40c (maybe even less than 31c) depending on what part of the year as room temp fluctuates from as low as about 66f to as high as about 80-85f. but even during the warmer parts of the year my CPU typically won't see any sustained temp of more than around 60c and even that is only occasionally during gaming (even if there is another tasks that could raise it higher, it's not something I would use all that often) as it would typically be around 40c idle-ish at these times. right now I would say the room temp is on the cooler side and idle is about 32-33c. but even on occasional bursts of the CPU load (like something that hits it a bit fairly briefly), off the top of my head from observations, probably don't see more than high 40's to maybe 50c or so and this is during warmer parts of the year.

 

so I am not sure how that plays inline with more current CPU's in regards to temps, since mine is basically 2012 CPU tech, but I would imagine that's probably still a ball park figure/estimate unless things changed quite a bit since.

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Get a Dark Rock 4.  One of the best air coolers and in the $90 range.  That being said, I bought a MasterLiquid 240 for $55 after rebate on Black Friday but haven't hooked it up yet. 

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On 30/11/2021 at 07:33, Dick Montage said:

Mine failed on me, and while I know it's a one off, I just couldn't recommend Corsair AIOs anymore

 

I've had 2 of the corsair ones fail within a year. Nothing more fun than sitting down for work and having to deal with a dead cooler. First time it happened I Thought I had a faulty unit. Bought the 2nd unit from newegg (1st was a local place). Same result.

 

There in lies my problems with AIO units as well. If its a custom loop swapping the pump out takes what 5mins if you need to drain/mix coolant. Swapping out the whole AIO unit for a regular air cooled setup takes rather longer.

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On 05/12/2021 at 10:48, devn00b said:

I've had 2 of the corsair ones fail within a year. Nothing more fun than sitting down for work and having to deal with a dead cooler. First time it happened I Thought I had a faulty unit. Bought the 2nd unit from newegg (1st was a local place). Same result.

 

There in lies my problems with AIO units as well. If its a custom loop swapping the pump out takes what 5mins if you need to drain/mix coolant. Swapping out the whole AIO unit for a regular air cooled setup takes rather longer.

We’re they 240mm rad models? Both of my failed ones were but my 360 has been running strong for a couple years. 

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Plan on upgrading eventually from my Stock Intel I7 Cooler to Possibly Noctua UH9S Chromax black, as i know that one will fit in my case fine,  My Case Thermaltake V200 TG RGB,  I know a Dark Rock 4 would be pushing it,  think thats at 159mm, case accepts cpu cooler height of 160mm,  so i feel fine with either the Noctua UH9S Chromax black, or Mugen 5 Black Editon (155m) height,    (will be my very very first time ever upgrading a cpu cooler on any processor),  still gathering needed supplies before i even attempt to tackle it 

 

Supplies gathering

Isopropyl Alcohol 99%

q-tips for cleaning off the current thermal paste

new thermal paste with a spatula for spreading the newer thermal paste

the cpu cooler itself (new one)

 

and Hopefully real life peace and quiet for an hour, or two hours, so i can complete the upgrade hopefully by my birthday on February 21st 

 

Sticking with Air Myself, i research AIO's and scared the heck outta me on worrying on leaks, and it going bad and such,  so sticking with Air 

 

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On 05/12/2021 at 23:17, bikeman25 said:

Plan on upgrading eventually from my Stock Intel I7 Cooler to Possibly Noctua UH9S Chromax black..

 

I had my eye on that for awhile, great heatsink. :) 

 

I personally used AIO in the past. I never had one break on me, but the one thing I worried about with water cooling? The mosfets (i think that wrong word) around the CPU aren't being cooled.

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On 05/12/2021 at 20:57, adrynalyne said:

We’re they 240mm rad models? Both of my failed ones were but my 360 has been running strong for a couple years. 

I just found one of the boxes it was indeed the 240...Well now, maybe next time I'll try the 360.

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