AIO vs Air Cooler Discussion | PCSPECIALIST

AIO vs Air Cooler Discussion

Mugenjin

Active member
What level of CPU did the people recommending the Noctua have? Just curious. personally, I wouldn't go air cooling for a chip at that level as I'd be concerned over it's ability to keep the CPU cool, especially if run hard....water coolers are just more efficient at it, the H115i is also quieter than the Noctua as it's fans aren't normal fans. But it's your money and your choice.

As to the case, if you want quiet then the Define 7 is the case to go for. Ordinarily I'd say the case is fine for cooling...however, the Noctua changes things a bit as it moves air differently than the H115i. The H115i (and H100i) both expel air directly out of the case through the roof so airflow through the case is less important...the Noctua still relies on airflow through the case so the case needs better airflow. I'd say go with the Meshify (the one to the right of the Define) as it's a bigger case with better airflow..downside is it's not as quiet as the Define
Stock air coolers I would agree, but the Noctua NH-U14S is a relatively high-end air cooler more than capable of adequately cooling any CPU at stock clocks (and performs better than cheap AIO water coolers). It's also recommended by AMD on their list of coolers for Enthusiast Ryzen processors.

AIO water coolers have additional points of failure, and if the pump fails, the whole unit needs to be replaced. Their radiators also need to be cleaned regularly. With air cooling, the only likely point of failure is the fan, which is simple to replace if it ever does.

High-end AIOs (as opposed to air coolers) are still undoubtedly the best for the lowest temperatures, near-silent operation and case practicalities/aesthetics, as well being recommended for extreme overclocking.
 

SpyderTracks

Recluse
Moderator
Stock air coolers I would agree, but the Noctua NH-U14S is a relatively high-end air cooler more than capable of adequately cooling any CPU at stock clocks (and performs better than cheap AIO water coolers). It's also recommended by AMD on their list of coolers for Enthusiast Ryzen processors.

AIO water coolers have additional points of failure, and if the pump fails, the whole unit needs to be replaced. Their radiators also need to be cleaned regularly. With air cooling, the only likely point of failure is the fan, which is simple to replace if it ever does.

High-end AIOs (as opposed to air coolers) are still undoubtedly the best for the lowest temperatures, near-silent operation and case practicalities/aesthetics, as well being recommended for extreme overclocking.
For 3900x or over, you really need a decent AIO to maintain optimum boost clocks.

While the noctuas are certainly up there in air cooling terms, they aren't a patch on the capabilities of an AIO for lower temps which is what you need with Ryzen to be able to achieve boost clocks.
 

AgentCooper

Damn fine cup of coffee!
Cleaning the radiator involves a quick blast of canned or compressed air, which is what you should be doing with your system every few months regardless of what type of cooling it uses. Modern AIOs are effectively zero maintenance.
 

Mugenjin

Active member
For 3900x or over, you really need a decent AIO to maintain optimum boost clocks.

While the noctuas are certainly up there in air cooling terms, they aren't a patch on the capabilities of an AIO for lower temps which is what you need with Ryzen to be able to achieve boost clocks.
Are air coolers incapable of maintaining boost clocks? I've seen benchmarks of overclocked Ryzen 7/9 CPUs @ ~4.3 GHz cooled by Noctua's that barely touched 55°C under load.

Cleaning the radiator involves a quick blast of canned or compressed air, which is what you should be doing with your system every few months regardless of what type of cooling it uses. Modern AIOs are effectively zero maintenance.
Should, I agree, but many do not. A first-timer with zero prior PC experience is unlikely to know what you know or practise what you practise, as easy as it may be to consider AIOs as low-maintenance as air coolers. As rare as failures may be, AIOs are still statistically more likely to fail, especially over the long term (after 5 years of operation). Some customers have no problems identifying the failure and replacing the AIO unit/pump/radiator themselves (so it's a no-brainer to opt for performance and aesthetics), but for others, an air cooler is safer and more reliable overall.
 

SpyderTracks

Recluse
Moderator
I've seen benchmarks of overclocked Ryzen 7/9 CPUs @ ~4.3 GHz cooled by Noctua's that barely touched 55°C under load.
That's an overclock, overclocking Ryzen only overclocks to the max of the weakest core which is easy.

Boosts only activate on a non-overclocked chip, and will achieve much higher clocks on the stronger cores, you'll get 4.6 easily with a properly cooled Ryzen 7/9. On air, you won't be able to achieve those boosts.
 

Mugenjin

Active member
That's an overclock, overclocking Ryzen only overclocks to the max of the weakest core which is easy.

Boosts only activate on a non-overclocked chip, and will achieve much higher clocks on the stronger cores, you'll get 4.6 easily with a properly cooled Ryzen 7/9. On air, you won't be able to achieve those boosts.
Thank you, that is important information to know and will help inform my future build. (I didn't get this feedback in my thread.)
 

AgentCooper

Damn fine cup of coffee!
Should, I agree, but many do not. A first-timer with zero prior PC experience is unlikely to know what you know or practise what you practise, as easy as it may be to consider AIOs as low-maintenance as air coolers.

This is the reason why we are here on the forum, to assist and offer advice. Your earlier statement of ‘their radiators also need to be cleaned regularly’ has the potential to put someone off choosing an AIO which is why I felt it appropriate to step in and clarify that an entire system should be cleaned regularly.

TLDR; any cooler will operate less efficiently if it’s heat sinks are caked in dust, whether it’s fan or liquid.
 
Last edited:

SpyderTracks

Recluse
Moderator
This is the reason why we are here on the forum, to assist and offer advice. Your earlier statement of ‘their radiators also need to be cleaned regularly’ has the potential to put someone off choosing an AIO which is why I felt it appropriate to step in and clarify that an entire system should be cleaned regularly.
I've had an H100i in my rig since 2014 running 24/7 and have to admit I hoovered it out for the first time this year, never had any performance issues. I'm not saying that's good practice at all, you should really have a de dust once a year perhaps, merely pointing out that AIO's are zero maintenance other than what the normal PC maintenance requirements are.
 

Mugenjin

Active member
This is the reason why we are here on the forum, to assist and offer advice. Your earlier statement of ‘their radiators also need to be cleaned regularly’ has the potential to put someone off choosing an AIO which is why I felt it appropriate to step in and clarify that an entire system should be cleaned regularly.

TLDR; any cooler will operate less efficiently if it’s heat sinks are caked in dust, whether it’s fan or liquid.
I also know of cases where AIO radiators had to be cleaned more often because of the denser fins, over and above regular PC maintenance. Notwithstanding personal experiences to the contrary, it's misleading to say AIOs are as low maintenance as air coolers statistically overall.
 

Scott

Modinator
Moderator
There is a whole ton of misinformation floating around on AIOs. Misunderstanding often leads to panning as people just want to justify their choices.

I've got the H115i Platinum in my rig. It's literally crammed in a corner in my cupboard and I've got it cooling an overclocked 9900k. I've not once hoovered it out or done anything with the rig, in fact the poor thing is sitting there covered in dust as I hoovered up some bicarb of soda a few weeks back and some dropped onto it (The hoover hangs above the PC). It's been built and not moved since Jan 2019.

As above, this is not good practice and it would never be my recommendation to treat the hardware in such a fashion. I know the things I should do to take better care of the system. My experience with this particular AIO is that it's quite astounding at how good it cools. My cupboard is often quite warm yet my CPU temps remain low, my GPU hovers around 70C when being used and under 80C when being hammered. I've been playing FS2020 for around an hour and a half and my stats are as follows:

GPU 69C
CPU 57C
FPS 55avg

The cooler is on "Default" mode as I find that FS2020 doesn't require the Overclock MAX mode.

Now.... swap that out with any air cooler, even the best Noctua has to offer, and it will heat soak BIG style. It may take a little while but it'll happen. The H115i is FAR more effective over longer periods of time.

Transfer this way of thinking over to the AMD chips and how important temperatures are with boost. Sure you can overclock one of the chips, throw on a Noctua and run a benchmark or 2. The initial response of the cooling is fantastic with all air coolers and faster than AIOs can ever react..... but, the heatsoak is also accelerated so an hour of use would see it saturated. AIOs take far more to saturate and rely far less on the airflow of the system. The fact that an AIO adds to the airflow through the case actually helps all the other circulating devices in the case.

We are at a point now where, IMO, air coolers are redundant. They always had their place due to price/performance but this is lost now.
 

Scott

Modinator
Moderator
I also know of cases where AIO radiators had to be cleaned more often because of the denser fins, over and above regular PC maintenance. Notwithstanding personal experiences to the contrary, it's misleading to say AIOs are as low maintenance as air coolers statistically overall.

Where are you getting this information from?

An AIO rad doesn't need cleaned any more than an aircooler finstack does. Fans fail on aircoolers just as often as they do on AIOs so that doesn't bring about any change. The pump is the only other point of failure but the failure rate is so low it's not even worth mentioning. I've ran water coolers (decent ones) for 12 years now with no ill effects or negative downsides whatsoever. Believe me.... if there was one, I would say.

Cases are what tend to need the maintenance more than any Rads, something I've neglected on my system as well.... with no detrimental effects.
 

AgentCooper

Damn fine cup of coffee!
I've had an H100i in my rig since 2014 running 24/7 and have to admit I hoovered it out for the first time this year, never had any performance issues. I'm not saying that's good practice at all, you should really have a de dust once a year perhaps, merely pointing out that AIO's are zero maintenance other than what the normal PC maintenance requirements are.

I remember seeing that pic of your desk a while ago, I assume you only dust once a year? 😆

It’s all relative, isn’t it? If you smoke, have pets and have your system placed on a carpeted floor, you’re going to need to get inside the unit and clean it more often than others.

I myself will open it up and have a good blow out every four months. Might not need to do it that often but I love my compressed air blower. I spent seventy quid on it, I’m aiming to get as much use as I can out of it 😁
 

AgentCooper

Damn fine cup of coffee!
Where are you getting this information from?

An AIO rad doesn't need cleaned any more than an aircooler finstack does. Fans fail on aircoolers just as often as they do on AIOs so that doesn't bring about any change. The pump is the only other point of failure but the failure rate is so low it's not even worth mentioning. I've ran water coolers (decent ones) for 12 years now with no ill effects or negative downsides whatsoever. Believe me.... if there was one, I would say.

Cases are what tend to need the maintenance more than any Rads, something I've neglected on my system as well.... with no detrimental effects.

Yep, I’d also like to know where these cases have been encountered because it sounds like cobblers to me.

Fake news, man.
 

Scott

Modinator
Moderator
FWIW here is my rig as it stands right now. Never once cleaned and completely abused.... poor thing. Notice that my cupboard is tiny, the PC is cramped and it's sharing the minimal space with an AV Amp, which puts out a fair whack of heat too. It's a steady 25C in there I would guess.



Temps.... still playing.

 

Scott

Modinator
Moderator
Oh.... and that's an ROG router and a VM Modem sitting on top of the vents of the case..... just to make it a challenge for the cooling :cool:
 

AgentCooper

Damn fine cup of coffee!
Oh.... and that's an ROG router and a VM Modem sitting on top of the vents of the case..... just to make it a challenge for the cooling :cool:

It’s almost as though you don’t like your system 😱

Right, this thread has been officially derailed. Sorry, OP 😆
 

Mugenjin

Active member
Where are you getting this information from?

An AIO rad doesn't need cleaned any more than an aircooler finstack does. Fans fail on aircoolers just as often as they do on AIOs so that doesn't bring about any change. The pump is the only other point of failure but the failure rate is so low it's not even worth mentioning. I've ran water coolers (decent ones) for 12 years now with no ill effects or negative downsides whatsoever. Believe me.... if there was one, I would say.

Cases are what tend to need the maintenance more than any Rads, something I've neglected on my system as well.... with no detrimental effects.
12 years with the same AIO without any replacements? That's definitely an excellent case scenario. I think I read from a poster here who's on their third radiator for the same system within 8 years.

Yep, I’d also like to know where these cases have been encountered because it sounds like cobblers to me.

Fake news, man.
Anecdotal evidence, probably from smokers with pets who place their systems on carpeted floors. 😅
 

SpyderTracks

Recluse
Moderator
I think there are a lot of scare stories still floating around from early AIO coolers that just aren't relevant anymore at all, the leaks rubbish and other things.

People don't know that even if a leak was to occur which is like a minimal chance, the coolant isn't conductive so wouldn't damage the components.

But AIO's are nothing like they used to be, they're incredibly reliable and even if the worst were to happen and there was a pump failure (which is really the only issue remaining), it's a next day fix as PCS would send a replacement by next day shipping, so the impact is minimal.
 
Top