When you start building your own computer, or when you want to update the one you already have, there are several components that are essential to have a good performance, among them is cooling. If, in addition, the computer is meant to be gaming, cooling is very useful for the computer to work quickly and without overheating while you are playing.
That is why a CPU cooler is a component that must be chosen with care, the first decision factor when buying it is whether to choose a liquid cooling or air cooling. In this article we will explain which of these two options is best for each case at the time of purchase as a complement to our CPU cooling guide that we recommend you read if you have not done so yet.
How much do you want to spend on cooling?
To begin with, the first thing you have to be clear about is how much you love or can spend; In general, liquid cooling costs a little more than air cooling. If your budget is less than 60 euros, then the only option you have is air cooling.
Another thing to keep in mind is that smaller AIO liquid coolers work worse than high-end air coolers. For this reason we are going to move on to the next point.
Are you going to overclocking with your computer?
If you are not planning to overclocking with your computer and you have a tight budget, then you can use the default cooling that your computer has. But if on the contrary, you want to overclock with your computer or do it in the future the budget has to be higher.
To achieve a more powerful overclock, more expensive cooling is needed. The high-end AIO coolers and custom liquid coolers are best suited to make this type of overclocking. Although there are some air coolers that can also perform powerful overclock.
If you want to make a lighter overclock and have a Ryzen economic processor you can use the standard CPU cooler, which are suitable for a smooth overclock.
Liquid cooling All in One or customized liquid cooling?
Once you know if you are going to overclock with your computer, then the next step is to choose whether you prefer an AIO liquid cooling or a customized one. If it is personalized it will be more expensive and more difficult to put together. But with it you will get a very powerful overclocking.
While the liquid cooler AIO is cheaper and is ready to be used instantly. In addition, these high-end coolers are able to perform a powerful overclock, but not at the same level as with a custom cooling.
Another factor to consider is whether or not the cooler fits in the housing of your computer, because there are some that has a very large size. If you want to update your computer or have already chosen a housing to build your PC, then, you have to choose the CPU cooler carefully so that it is assembled well with the rest of the components. Check the size of your box before choosing a model or another. If you have smaller sizes (mini-ATX or micro-ATX) you should make sure that the model you choose is compatible.
Also, you have to be careful when choosing the cooling because it can interfere with the heat sink of your RAM. For example, the air cooler can become so bulky that it covers the slots and prevents you from placing the memories. And if you have a RAM with a high heat sink, you may not even be able to install it.
Does the aesthetics of the cooling system matter to you?
And finally, before entering the pros and cons of liquid cooling or air, you have to take into account the aesthetics when choosing the one you like most and adapts to your computer.
Liquid cooling usually gives your computer a more attractive air than air cooling. But this choice is more personal, since each one has a different taste. With all these factors we can start with the pros and cons of liquid cooling or air, and so we can choose the best one that suits us best.
Advantages of liquid cooling
In recent years liquid cooling has become more popular, especially the AIO cooler, this is because manufacturers have simplified liquid cooling so that it can be installed and used more easily. Before, the only liquid cooling option was customized, which cost much more money and time to configure correctly. But not all are advantages, it also has some cons.
One of the advantages of custom liquid cooling is that it allows you the best possible cooling potential; the next best option is the high-end AIO liquid cooling. These cooler allow a greater scalability, they can cool by water a personalized system, both the processor and the graphics card, and thus you can save on fans and noise.
Although it must be borne in mind that the best high-end AIO coolers are able to provide small or moderate performance compared to high-end air coolers. If you have a medium-low budget and you do not care about aesthetics, the best cooler for you is the high-end air cooler. But if your budget is higher and if you care about aesthetics, then the best option is a custom liquid cooler.
Disadvantages of liquid cooling
One of the cons of custom liquid cooling or AIO is that its price / performance ratio is not as good compared to air cooling. Since to find a decent liquid cooling system we have to pay at least 80 – 100 euros, and for that price we can find closed kits quite simple and easy to assemble by air cooling.
Customized liquid cooling or a kit has several drawbacks, in its maintenance, in the useful life and in the possibility of leaks. And if these possible problems worry you, then an air cooler could be your best option.
Personalized coolers requires maintenance, but if you want to build a computer you are surely a person who likes to touch up everything concerning the PC. So that would not be a problem for you. On the other hand, pre-mounted liquid cooling does not require as much maintenance, since they are closed and you can not do much, apart from cleaning your radiators. But, keep in mind that they are somewhat more complicated than air coolers and, in theory, will not last as long.
However, most high-end AIO coolers can last long enough to update your system in the future. So, is life really a problem when we compare AIO coolers and air coolers? Probably not.
The most serious problem that must be taken into account in liquid coolers is the risk of water leakage, but it is quite rare that AIO chillers have a leak, and if the custom chillers are configured correctly, there is no need to be at risk.
Advantages of air cooling
Air coolers are not as popular as liquid coolers, but they are the most used and economical. In addition, liquid cooling is often used in high-end computers that in turn carry a high-end air cooling, so the difference in performance of both coolers is not very significant. Let’s see the pros and cons of air cooling.
Air coolers are perfect for you if you have a tight budget and want to have a medium gaming computer. There are many types of quality air coolers that can overclock freely and at a lower price. For 50 – 70 euros you can get a pretty good air cooler.
In addition, air cooling is easier to assemble, so anyone can do it without help and does not need maintenance, just remove dust from time to time. And some of the best air coolers only yield slightly less than some liquid kits.
Cons of air cooling
One of the disadvantages of air cooling is that if you want to perform a powerful overclocking with your computer this type of coolers are not suitable for the small margin they have.
And finally, air coolers do not give your computer as much as liquid cooling, although this is subjective, since each person has their own taste.
In short, there is no better cooler than another in question of whether it is liquid or air, since it will depend on what you want to achieve and the budget you have. Which one do you think is better?