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liquid cooling vs air cooling

Are you planning to choose a proper cooling system for your PC? If so, you may want to know whether you should choose liquid cooling or air cooling. In this post, MiniTool Partition Wizard analyzes liquid cooling vs air cooling to you.

If you like to build a PC by yourself, you should consider the cooling system, which can make the CPU cool down quickly and therefore ensure the stable operation and work of the computer. If the computer cannot dissipate heat well, then the computer will shut down automatically, or the motherboard, CPU and other important hardware will be burned.

Therefore, in addition to the powerful performance of the computer, you should also ensure the powerful heat dissipation effect. At present, there are two types of CPU radiators: air cooling system and water cooling/liquid cooling system. Which radiator is better? In the following contents, I will analyze water cooling vs air cooling.

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Liquid Cooling vs Air Cooling: Principle

To cool down computer, there are two processes: taking the heat away from the chip, and then dissipating the heat into air. For air cooling system, it usually uses heat exchanger tube to take heat away from chips and conduct heat to aluminum heat sink fins. Then, fans blow the fins to dissipate heat into the air.

Tip: A heat exchanger tube is usually a hollow copper pipe filled with special liquid. The special liquid will become gas after absorbing heat and then become liquid again after dissipating heat. Through this way, the heat exchanger tube can conduct heat effectively.

For liquid/water cooling system, it uses water to conduct the heat. The water pump will be attached to CPU directly and it makes water to flow pass the water pump. Then, the heat water will flow to aluminum heat sink fins and fans blow the fins to dissipate heat.

water cooling

Comparing water cooling vs air cooling principles, do you think which one is better?

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Liquid Cooling vs Air Cooling: How to Choose Between Them?

In most cases, water cooling is better than air cooling system, especially for high-end cooling systems (I mean custom loop liquid cooling). But these high-end cooling systems are expensive and hard to install.

In most cases, people will choose All-In-One (AIO) water cooling system, which is cheaper and easier to install. But correspondingly, its ability of heat dissipation is also weaker. Common AIO radiator sizes are 120mm, 140mm, 240mm, 280mm, and at the high end even 360mm and 420mm.

Comparing water cooling vs air cooling, if your AIO radiator is 120mm or 140mm, its performance is worse than air cooling at the same price. If you don't care price, water cooling is better.

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Apart from performance difference, there are other differences between water cooling vs air cooling, for example:

  1. Noise: Some users feel that the noise of water cooling is lower than that of air cooling. This statement is true only under short-term loads. If under long-term loads such as games or rendering, the noise of water cooling is similar to or greater than that of air cooling.
  2. Convenience: Water cooling is easier to install and clean than air cooling.
  3. Potential Risk: The core of water cooling is water. Therefore, there is the potential risk of water leakage, although the rate of this risk is not high. If the water leakage happens unfortunately, the CPU, the motherboard, and other parts may have troubles.
  4. Price: In general, the water cooling system has a more complicated manufacturing process, and therefore, it has higher production cost and price.

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