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Hi, Chris. My name is Paul.

I wanted to know the best cooling for overclocking. What's the difference between air cooling and water cooling? I was thinking of doing water cooling, but I heard it's bad.

asked Jul 14 '10 at 01:58

divine_dragon's gravatar image


edited Jul 14 '10 at 13:04

Fogarty's gravatar image

Fogarty ♦♦

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If you really wanted to contact Chris, you could always email him. This is a community powered site. Chris doesn't respond to every question...Especially when you don't have proper capitalization and punctuation.

answered Jul 14 '10 at 02:00

catchatyou's gravatar image


"Especially when you don't have proper capitalization and punctuation" You kidding around when you said that? If that's the case then I am glad I have never emailed him and I don't think I want to EVER! Sorry but that just pissed me off.

(Sep 24 '10 at 15:07) Database Database's gravatar image

get a closed water cooling system like the corsair H50

answered Jul 14 '10 at 02:40

r4mb3R's gravatar image


That only has a 120mm radiator. There are normal air coolers that perform better...

(Jul 14 '10 at 23:01) Leapo Leapo's gravatar image

The Corsair H-50 has been proven to be better than any air cooling setup.

(Jul 15 '10 at 14:46) jonesin jonesin's gravatar image

No, it hasn't...

The Noctua NH-U12P and the Tuniq Core Contact Freezer beat the Corsair H-50, they're both normal heatpipe air coolers, and they're both cheaper than the H-50.

The reviews of the H-50 done by guru3d.com and techreport.com both confirm this.

(Jul 15 '10 at 18:37) Leapo Leapo's gravatar image

I prefer air cooling. Water cooling works, but if you eff up, you can potentially end up screwing your entire PC

answered Jul 14 '10 at 02:07

Gary's gravatar image


The manufacturers of liquid cooling equipment have warranties that cover that, and there are dielectric dies that you can spray on your motherboard to repell any leaked water. The dies are excellent insulators.

(Jul 14 '10 at 02:25) Seb Seb's gravatar image

You've been misinformed.

Water is around about 200 times more thermoconductive than air, so liquid cooling is great for overclockers. Even wood is more thermoconductive than air (by at least 2x). There are also liquids such as mineral oil (which is used as a form of coolant), which has dielectric properties so if it leaks it won't ruin your mainboard (though it'll still make a mess).

A fan has to do more work to pump (if you like) the air around quicker than a pump would have to. If you're going to become an overclock hobbyist, I suggest finding a case that is built for liquid cooling. Pumps last longer than fans, are quieter and use less electricity (and generate less heat, too).

edit: as it turns out according to this site, even the insulative plastic foam found in those foam cups is better at conducting heat than air is...

answered Jul 14 '10 at 02:39

Seb's gravatar image


edited Jul 14 '10 at 04:18

Water is around about 200 times more thermoconductive than air

That's great and all, but that doesn't mean 200 times better cooling.

You still have to transfer that heat from the water to the air through a radiator. Air will only suck up so much heat so quickly, so you're still bound to the same ultimate cooling limitations as air cooling. If the radiator can't keep up with the amount of heat you're dumping into the cooling loop, every successive circulation will just cause the coolant to get hotter and hotter until eventually something fails.

The only things that let water cooling edge out air cooling are that you can place the radiator outside of the case (where the air is cooler), and the radiator can be a lot larger than a normal heatsink(more surface area for heat transfer). A normal air cooler with extended heatpipes to place the cooling fins outside the case would work just as well, but setups like that usually have to be made custom.

(Jul 14 '10 at 22:59) Leapo Leapo's gravatar image

Too bad wood doesn't flow :D

(Jul 15 '10 at 17:26) blackbird307 blackbird307's gravatar image

Water cooling is really good. Nice, cool and quiet. Problems are that it can damage system if leaks, and it's expense. There are some air fans out there that are effective and maintain a low noise level.

answered Jul 14 '10 at 03:08

blackbird307's gravatar image


At Puget Systems, we think of water cooling as a great way to make extreme configurations (or overclocked configurations) quiet. If quiet is not a factor, then air cooling is simpler, cheaper, and less risk. With a standard or low end PC, air cooling is preferred, and done right is much quieter than liquid cooling. Simplicity is the key to reliability! So if you don't NEED water cooling, don't.

Or you can go the exact opposite route, and dunk it all in mineral oil :)

answered Jul 14 '10 at 17:48

Jon%20Bach's gravatar image

Jon Bach

edited Jul 14 '10 at 17:49

How much did you spend on oil for that system?

(Jul 14 '10 at 21:49) Seb Seb's gravatar image

For 6 gallons of oil locally, we pay around $60 from a local oil supplier

(Jul 15 '10 at 20:24) Jon Bach Jon%20Bach's gravatar image

On my school they have a huge Aquarium and in that Aquarium is a computer running xD It got cooling liquid in it, but its still pretty awesome :)

answered Jul 14 '10 at 22:31

MastaGlazy's gravatar image


Many air coolers now perform better than those liquid cooling kits. The only real belefit of liquid cooling is that you are able to have more radiators.

The last liquid cooling system I did for someone (about 1.5 years ago), had a quality pump and 3 radiators

it went like this. CPU> 120mm Radiator> GPU> 120mm Radiator > dual 120mm radiator

The top of the case had a area for a radiator then the back of the case had 2 mounding areas for 120mm fans so I added 2 radiators. Couldn't get the piping really neat due to the setup but it cooled well.

With air cooling, theres a limit to how much copper you can stack on your CPU as space is limited and the mounting areas can only handle a small amount of weight.

With liquid cooling you only get a benefit when you can provide a larger surface area for heat dissipation. You also have to take into account how much weight the pump can handle.

Also liquid cooling does not mean you can avoid case fans, as your chipsets and other various ships on the motherboard and the hard drive need to be cooled.

another warning. You can not place an external radiator outside of a window in the winter to boost cooling. The fluid will freeze and the fan will fail (I know people who tried)

For the size, a radiator provides more surface area than a standard air cooled heatsink due to it's design. (a air cooled heatpipe design cant work in a radiator as heatpipes are not efficient enough at transferring heat at that length)

Overall liquid cooling will provide better cooling but the systems are expensive and are high maintenance.

An air cooled system is significantly cheaper and provides cooling very close to that of a decent liquid cooling system.

answered Jul 15 '10 at 00:49

Razor512's gravatar image


Hold for a second... The first thing you said: "Many air coolers now perform better than those liquid cooling kits." Then you said: "Overall liquid cooling will provide better cooling but the systems are expensive and are high maintenance." Now I don't mind if you have a go at liquid cooling. At least make sure you don't contradict yourself.

... I'm going to introduce passive cooling for the sake of being a devils advocate. My system is full of aluminium oxide. I don't need a fan, heatsink or pumps, and the temperature is far below what it would be if I were to fill my case with mineral oil.

(Jul 15 '10 at 08:50) Seb Seb's gravatar image

yep liquid coooling kits often perform poorly as you generally get a weak pump and a small radiator. a custom liquid cooling setup in which you add additional radiators and a better pump will provide better cooling but the cost will skyrocket.

(Jul 15 '10 at 14:29) Razor512 Razor512's gravatar image

Liquid cooling is fantastic if you're planning the clock the nuts off your hardware because it's incredibly efficient if your setup is done properly and is leak proof. However, With Overclocking brings the risk of blowing out hardware (As we all know), And with blowing out hardware brings replacing hardware, Which also brings having to unhook, drain, bleed, clean, re-attach, fill, bleed, test for leaks ect.

The only thing that'd put me off going for a liquid cooling setup is that my system's hardly ever fully assembled at any one time lol, It's a lot of maintenence but for keeping your temperatures in those lovely teens it's the best option short of hooking up a phase change system :P

answered Jul 15 '10 at 16:25

Mousey's gravatar image


Make sure the air surrounding and inside the computer is cool. Especially in the hot summer days.

Otherwise use a liquid cooling system (with dielectric properties).

answered Jul 15 '10 at 19:27

archaeme's gravatar image


edited Jul 15 '10 at 19:28

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Asked: Jul 14 '10 at 01:58

Seen: 3,957 times

Last updated: Sep 24 '10 at 15:07