Usually Water Cooling the CPU is better than Air Cooling.
Although I heard recently air cooling is getting just as good as water cooling.
answered Sep 25 '10 at 00:19
For the most part, air cooling works better when you consider it's price.
The benefit of water cooling is it allows you to have a larger surface area but most water cooling kits come with a radiator that doesn't really perform better than a quality air cooled heatsink (which is almost always significantly cheaper)
I generally build many gaming PC's and for the users with a giant budget that want liquid cooling, I will always use multiple radiators.
To keep a core i7 cool while pushing a lot of voltage and high clock speeds, I will use a setup like this
Reservoir > Pump > 120mm radiator > CPU waterblock > dual 120mm radiator >then back to reservoir.
Works better than using a a high end standard air cooled heatsink. My reasoning for the 120mm radiator before the CPU is that I put it on the air intake so it gets the coolest air, the air from it blows directly at the power supply at the bottom of the case. Also with that being said, liquid cooling does not remove your need from having case fans, I still have a additional fan for the hard drives, most motherboard components and various other devices rely on passive cooling, so you still need case fans (so no having a radiator on the outside of the case at a distance so your case can be fanless and quiet (with the exception of a power supply fan)
The main problem with the liquid cooling other than price is maintenance. The tubing degrades overtime, the pumps don't last as long as a quality fan, there are risks of leaks over time due to the tubes being easily damaged (granted that takes years)
Overall, you are spending nearly 7-10 times the cost of aircooling for only a little bit better cooling
A quality liquid cooling setup will run you around $300-400, while a quality air cooling setup will run you probably $30-60.
The goal of liquid cooling is to maximize surface area. When aircooling, you can only slap so much copper on top of your CPU before the heatsink mounting hardware breaks under the weight. But with liquid cooling, as long as your pump is powerful enough, you can add as many radiators as you want. You can even use the radiator from a car or truck (just don't make the mistake of using a weak pump (like they did on a episode of the revision3 show called systm) The more surface area you have, the closer you can get the heated liquid to the ambient temperature (if you feel like it, get a really powerful pump then line your room with truck radiators (as long as you keep the flow rate up to the optimal level for the radiators, you will have good cooling).
PS don't buy into the marketing crap about water being many time more heat conductive than air because ultimately you are aircooling that water and what ever heat doesn't make it into the air, stays into the water so the water has no benefit.
Kevin is right. There are air coolers that can be just as good as water coolers with the cost of db. But they are getting quieter.
answered Sep 25 '10 at 01:32
2 things I like to consider ! 1) I like to keep my outgoing CFM (cubic feet per minute) higher than my incoming, aiming my incoming directly at what I want to keep kool! 2) \I will cut out the tin if it is there in the tower creating a hole behind the processor ( back side of the mother board) and mount a medium (75mm) fan blowing in on the outside cover. IF you have to cut a hole , stay at least 1/2 inch away from any motherboard mounting screwsThis works like a cool pad for your laptop and is good for 3-5% c!
answered Sep 27 '10 at 21:54
2 things I like to consider ! 1) I like to keep my outgoing CFM (cubic feet per minute) higher than my incoming, aiming my incoming directly at what I want to keep kool! 2) \I will cut out the tin if it is there in the tower creating a hole behind the processor ( back side of the mother board) and mount a medium (75mm) fan blowing in on the outside cover. IF you have to cut a hole , stay at least 1/2 inch away from any motherboard mounting screws. This works like a cool pad for your laptop and is good for 3-5 degrees c!
answered Sep 27 '10 at 21:59