Every computer, whether it is a small home theater PC or an enormous hulking rig, usually generates heat when operating. However, if it is not properly controlled, this heat can cause unimaginable damage to the internal components of your computer, which could, in turn, affect its efficiency. Fortunately, there are different cooling systems that have specifically been designed to help in cooling your PC.
Cooling Methods Explained
Ideally, there are two major types of CPU cooling systems; the water/liquid cooling and air cooling systems. The air cooler usually relies on two major components; a fan and heatsink in its functioning. The heatsink is typically made of thermo-conductive materials such as aluminum or a unique combination of copper and aluminum. Its purpose is to effectively draw the excess heat away from your CPU. However, upon reaching its maximum heat absorption capacity, the heat will, in turn, need to be dissipated. And that is exactly where a fan comes in. This usually spins continuously, hence keeping cool air flowing through the heatsink, hence preventing overheating.
Liquid cooling is a more complex cooling system with more parts than the air cooling system. They include; the pump, radiator hoses, and a fan. Unlike air cooling, which relies on air, the liquid cooling system usually adopts the same approach but using a liquid instead. Here water or any liquid coolant is normally pumped through hoses that connect to the CPU or any other component that needs cooling. To ensure effective cooling, this system features the radiator, which works like a heatsink but within the liquid cooling setup. To prevent overheating, there is also a fan that helps in constantly circulating cool air over it.
Liquid cooling systems usually employ the theory of thermodynamics where heat is believed to move from warmer objects to cooler ones. Here the heat that is generated by the CPU is circulated through the liquid in order to cool down the excess heat from your computer. A typical liquid cooling system is made up of a small internal fan, pump, a radiator and one or several water blocks. The liquid is normally pumped from the block via the tubing, which ultimately transfers heat from the CPU, motherboard or any other part that needs cooling.
Air CPU coolers are unique cooling units that work by enhancing the flow of cool air around your computer’s heatsink, hence cooling it continuously. One of the greatest advantages of air cooling is that in most cases, you do not need to do anything extra in order to create a better cooling setup. This normally comes from the manufacturer with everything that is necessary already installed.
The cooler is comprised of an intake fan that is located at the front of the CPU. This usually pushes the outside air over the hard drive, motherboard and other internal components. The other one is the exhaust fan, which shoots the hot air out from the rear end, hence cooling your central processing unit. In addition, the option is also way cheaper compared to the liquid or water cooling method.
Air Cooling vs. Liquid Cooling
Though these two systems help to cool the CPU, it is critical to look at the pros and cons of each in comparison so as to choose a system that will suit your needs.
Air coolers are known to be safer than liquid coolers since there are lesser risks involved. Ideally, the worst that can happen when using an air cooler is fan failure, which is cheaper and easier to fix or change. Even with this, the heatsink will still function well, although thermal throttling may happen because of the high load on your CPU especially when gaming or engaging in any other CPU-intensive activity. On the other hand, liquid coolers are less safe due to the risk of water leaks that could damage the different components of your CPU.
Besides performance, this is another critical factor to consider when selecting the right cooler for your CPU. Ideally, noise levels below 30 decibels can be considered to be silence. However, anything above that could easily interfere with you in-game sound making it difficult to focus on gaming. Since water cooling systems are relatively quieter than air coolers, this makes them a better option for gaming CPUs.
Compatibility and the Space Required
For an air cooler, all you need is a case with dimensions that are big enough to support your cooler. In this case, mini air coolers are the best when it comes to space as well as delivery of solid performance. However, to cool your CPU in a more effective manner, you require a beefy heatsink with a larger fan. All-in-all air coolers require less space than liquid coolers. In fact, radiators usually take up most of the liquid cooler’s space. Always ensure that you take a cooler that is compatible with your CPU or motherboard.
This is another great factor to consider when choosing a CPU cooler. On average, liquid coolers are known to cost more than the air coolers. In case you have less than $6o to spend on a new cooler for your gaming computer, then it would be wise to go for an air cooler.
It is important to note that your choice of CPU cooler will largely depend on your unique usage needs. When it comes to Water Cooling vs. Air Cooling, the air cooling systems are particularly known to be cheaper, easier to use and require minimal maintenance. However, if you are an enthusiast who requires the best cooling system for your gaming CPU then a water cooling system can aid in keeping your overlocked processor cool with minimal noise levels.