Electrical components that overheat, and it’s their durability that takes a shock. The thing is obviously no different with computers and especially processors, except that you also experience poor performance. It is therefore worth investing in an efficient cooling system, but which one? The watercooling , passing through water to cool the whole or coolers , cooling in air? We discuss their positive and negative points here, and pay particular attention to gaming. If liquid cooling convinces you, then I invite you to find our comparison of the best PC watercooling kits.
The cooler: classic, efficient and inexpensive
Embedded from the very first computers, fans have become essential for good thermal performance. The proof: even hydraulic solutions call for it! Coolers simply rely on the force and speed of their blades to release enough air, and thus dissipate heat.
The surface of the cooler which is against your processor aims to transport heat via heat pipes and direct it towards thin aluminum strips, the heatsinks. Finally, one or more fans are placed on the block to cool the assembly. Do not forget to put thermal paste between your cooler and your processor.
Be careful not to confuse heatsink and fans. You can see many PCs with fans on the front or in height and even on the back of a tower. Their roles can be multiple depending on whether you want to extract or suck the air.
If you want to know more, do not hesitate to consult our guide to choosing the best cooler that suits your configuration.
The advantages of fans
- Affordable prices. This is of course the major advantage of these cooling systems, namely that they offer exceptional value for money , so that it is possible to find high-end models around 70 euros to 90 euros (the Noctua and BeQuiet models are perfect for those who want to overclock). But you can opt for a model between 30 and 40 euros, a price which is the average for a watercooling with 1 fan.
- Recognized performances. If fans have been in use for so long, it is because they are known for their efficiency. The heat dissipation is multiplied by the number of fans, so that the hot air is evacuated from the housing quickly, even during intensive use.
- A confirmed lifespan. The lifespan of a cooler is longer than a water block. First of all, there are less sensitive elements in terms of wear compared to a water-cooling pump. Some models allow you to quickly change the fan at low cost.
The disadvantages of the cooler
- Aesthetics. Clearly, the fans come in big, massive housings that are not very pleasing to the eye. And even if recently manufacturers have started to promote design more, it remains discreet.
- The noise. Although it depends on the model, the fans are generally noisy, especially when accompanied by heavy use, for example for gaming. Again, there are near-silent products.
Watercooling: aesthetic and efficient
Much more recent, watercooling uses water to cool everything. Afraid to put water and electricity so close? Do not worry: the tube system promises exemplary sealing , for excellent cooling of your cpu and even your GPU according to the manufacturers.
Its operation, although ingenious, remains simple: the pipes convey the water among the components in order to cool them, before transporting it to the radiators. Misleading name: they aim to cool the water, using an exchanger and one or more fans. This same water then resumes the circuit mentioned.
The advantages of a liquid cooling system
- Design & style. This is the best asset of this solution, because in addition to coming with a real style and neat finishes, it embeds the RGB backlighting . You can configure it from an application or software, which allows you, for example, to define the zones, the colors or the effects. For example, Corsair’s ICUE system allows you to define colors according to the temperature of your processor, for example. Overall, it’s hard to resist these settings, especially when you’re a gamer!
- From sacred performance . If some users find the gain in performance marginal compared to the price, let’s recognize that the combination of liquid cooling with air cooling gives water cooling a tremendous efficiency. It is therefore particularly suitable for gaming , since the stabilization of temperatures makes it possible to maintain FPS at the same time at their optimal level. Remember: components that overheat, and FPS drop dramatically!
- Overall quieter operation . As with the coolers, it depends on the models. If you take a water block from an obscure brand, there is a good chance it will be noisy. Some Corsair models are known for their silence. But in general, for intensive use such as gaming, liquid / air cooling is less noisy than air cooling alone.
The disadvantages of water-cooling
- A sometimes complex installation. Even if manufacturers are increasingly offering IAO (All in One) watercooling , these generally remain difficult to install due to the multiplicity of cables. It is therefore preferable to turn to a ready-to-use model, which also has a sufficiently long pump cable.
- A higher price. At almost equal performance, watercooling can sometimes see their price double or triple in comparison to simple fans. It nevertheless depends on the ranges and, above all, on the manufacturers, some of them practice an aggressive and attractive pricing policy, like Cooler Master or Enermax .
- Choose your model carefully. We advise against brands unknown to the general public which abound on the Internet. A defective product and it is the leak, at the risk of damaging or destroying the rest of your equipment. Even some well-known brands have encountered problems. For example, the Cooler Master ML240L V2, is an excellent product in terms of quality / price ratio while its first version V1 was a disaster.
In conclusion: trust your usage and budget
As you may have noticed, every cooling system comes with its strengths and weaknesses. Thus, if the coolers have largely proven themselves, they often remain noisy, especially during intensive use. A little more efficient in stabilizing the temperature, watercooling is also generally intended to be quieter if you opt for a quality product.
However, the price difference should appeal to you, so prefer fans for a tight budget, and water cooling for gaming and better cooling. Also take into account your needs in relation to these questions:
- Is the interior aesthetics of my case important to me?
- Are you planning to overclock?
- Do you want rgb?
- Does my processor model naturally heat up a lot?
- Does the cooling I’m aiming for coincide with the size of my case?
We hope that we have given you enough tips to make your choice and if you are not sure which model to go with, you can consult our guides via the links in the introduction18.