When buying a desktop computer, especially when it comes to a serious gaming or high-power computing device, the cooling system is fundamentally important. And this decision should not be made hastily, since this factor will play a role when you are going to overclock the processor for greater performance. A weak and low-quality cooler can also fail to work at the right time and lead to overheating and even processor failure.
Cooler problems also lead to throttling — a loss of power when the heat is too high to give the processor a chance to cool down.
Another problem strongly associated with the cooling system is the noise level. High-quality coolers will be quite quiet, while cheap or not very powerful ones will be noisy.
How well do you know what power and features you need? If you are just getting acquainted with computer coolers, then we have something to tell you.
To begin with, it is worth deciding on the simplest differentiation of cooling systems. They are divided into liquid and air.
If we consider a more detailed differentiation, then CPU coolers can be divided into three main categories: only air, AIO (all-in-one) or closed cooling systems, and custom or open systems. The first, respectively, is a cooler using a fan, and the other two are based on liquid cooling.
Everyone who has ever disassembled a computer or at least removed the cover of a system unit is familiar with air coolers. These are the same ordinary fans of various capacities, which are fixed both on the processor and on the video card.
They work according to the following principle: the fan is mounted on a radiator, which, in turn, is mounted on a material with high heat conductivity, such as copper or aluminum. Also, their efficiency is affected by the shape, material and strength of the blades, since the breakage of the cooler blade leads to the loss of functionality of the entire device.
The power of air coolers also varies, so it is worth paying special attention to whether the cooler is able to cope with your requests. There are several recommendations regarding power that should be followed.
For office computers that are not designed to solve complex problems, low power is enough — up to 45 watts. For computers designed to watch movies and videos, surf the web and download pages, you will need higher power — up to 65 watts. On average, 80 — 120 watts is needed for gaming computers and more than 120 watts will be needed for a device to perform computing tasks, work with demanding games and an overclocked processor.
Air coolers are also divided by design into three types. The classic form is used in office and home computers that are not subject to high loads. Now this type is considered relatively outdated, but such coolers are reliable and affordable. Their disadvantages include low power and high noise levels.
Top Flow coolers distribute air in a different way, perpendicular to the surface of the processor board. Thus, the cooler cools not only the processor itself, but also the space near the socket. Such coolers are lower and more compact than classic ones, and their power is noticeably higher. In some models, such as the Scythe Choten SCCT-1000, heat pipes are provided in the radiator design.
Tower coolers are more expensive than other fan coolers and also use heat pipes that connect the base of the cooler and the heatsink. The air flow is directed along the motherboard to the heatsink.
Water coolers use a special heat pipe to distill liquid for cooling. Despite the popularization of such a system in the last few years, it has been used for a very long time, since about 1982. The system consists of a water block — a metal plate in contact with a heating element, a pump for pumping water and a water-air radiator. The principle of operation is also tied to the liquid, since it is it that is used to transfer heat to the radiator. A typical cooler for this type of cooling is much smaller in size than the others. Also, the tubes themselves for distilling liquid take up little space. Plus, such cooling can function not only for the CPU, but also in a complex way. True, this requires an open-loop cooling system. We will talk about it a little later.
The main advantage of liquid coolers is their efficiency. On average, the power of such a cooling system is higher than that of a standard fan cooler. Hot air is vented in such a way that the risk of damage to other elements is minimized.
Another plus is quiet operation. While the fans create a lot of noise, the water cooler, if not completely silent, does not exceed the average sound level of the devices in the apartment.
It cannot be said that such coolers do not have disadvantages: one of them is the high cost, which gradually, though not quickly, decreases. Service is also essential. You can’t just install a liquid cooling system and expect it to last forever.
Unfortunately, in some cases, the operation of liquid coolers is associated with leaks, as a result of which the filling of the device may suffer. Just this is prevented by care of the system.
In addition to the closed cooling system, which is sold ready-made and installed quite easily, there is also a custom system. It is designed for user requests, therefore it is the most expensive and difficult in terms of installation and operation. It is also called an open-loop cooling system. Oddly enough, it is a custom cooler that gives the most effective results, which are hard to compare with other types. Thanks to such a system, it is possible to immediately and simultaneously solve all cooling issues, covering both the processor and the video card.
There is one advantage of liquid cooling systems that appeals mainly to gamers. This is the visual aspect. The tubes look very impressive, especially if they are equipped with illumination, and not simple transparent water flows through them, but a tinted liquid. However, cooling fluids are also worth paying attention to.
In order for the water cooling system to work stably, a constant circulation of liquid is carried out in it. The fluid must be changed periodically, and it is recommended to do this every six months or a year.
The main and most common liquid is ordinary distilled water, but it is this use that can lead to leaks and corrosion. However, water also gives the highest cooling results, so it is chosen only by those who plan to carefully and carefully care for the entire system in order to prevent trouble. In most cases, it is recommended not to use water.
Therefore, more advanced users prefer to pour special liquids into the CBO. Such liquids do not conduct current and do not cause damage to the elements. Such liquids are more viscous than water and have a different composition. True, each of the popular fluid models also has its drawbacks.
One example is Fluid XP+ Ultra, a food grade fluid that is completely non-toxic and non-corrosive. However, during operation, it causes more noise than other types of liquid.
MCT-40 fluid, in turn, has a specific chemical smell and color, which will not suit users who prefer a stylish look of the fluid. In terms of functionality, the liquid is of high quality, but not the most budget price.
Feser One gives the same results as distilled water, while offering a fairly wide range of color options.
Choosing the Right Cooling System
In most cases, the cooler-fan is still the most functional option. Most users will prefer not to change the elements inside the PC for a long time, and not worry about their condition. This can only be guaranteed when using fan coolers.
Closed-type CBOs certainly outperform a standard cooler in power, but is such superiority enough to justify the expense and associated risks? By itself, such a system is very safe, however, as a rule, there are no guarantees. Therefore, it is more profitable to choose the first option.
An open type CBO will attract users with its efficiency indicator, however, it is recommended to use it only for those who know why they need such a cooler. Be it games that require high computer and video card power, computational or graphic processes that require CPU performance, etc. Plus, any owner of a liquid cooling system should be prepared not only for the one-time cost of purchasing a cooler, but also for the time and material resources that will be required to maintain the system in working condition and ensure safety for other devices and computer stuffing elements.
Thus, it is the time-tested option that is the most attractive.
Cooler Master Hyper 212 is one of the most popular cooler models. This is a powerful fan cooler that features easy installation and stylish appearance. In total, two options are available to choose from — black and RGB with transparent blades and colored backlight. The difference between the two options is also in the number of blades: black has five, RGB has nine. The device is compatible with Asus, ASRock, Gigabyte and MSI motherboards, and the cost is relatively low.
Corsair Hydro Series H100i Pro is one of the most popular CPU hydro coolers. It’s a closed cooler, but that doesn’t mean backlight fans will be disappointed, the pump looks stylish, and the fans are efficient and controlled with a simple software that controls the amount of cooling and the operation of specific fans. The device costs on average, 2 times more expensive than a classic cooler, but you will be satisfied with the results.
Having decided on your requirements, you can choose the most suitable option for your PC.