Fan Cooled vs. Water Cooled



Continuing the discussion from Anyone have a Corsair 600T case? I'm trying to find replacement fans:

It’s a question I’ve had since I started building rigs, but I never made the jump to water cooled because to be quite honest, it scares the shit out of me. The idea that water is running through a system that is completely powered by electricity just makes me nervous. But, maybe it’s unwarranted?

My system isn’t too powerful right now. I run an 8-core AMD processor, and a Nvidia 780Ti. Everything is fan cooled at the moment. The onyl time I’ve ever heard my computer run harder than normal (or ‘hot’ if you will) is if:

  1. The ambient temperature in the room is warmer than normal.
  2. I’m playing a graphically demanding game on the highest settings for a long period of time.
  3. I’m running a moderate to high game for a long period of time while streaming it.

Knock on wood, I’ve never run into any problems when it runs hot. I get nervous personally, because it can be VERY loud. However, I have noticed no errors, no slowdown, no issues whatsoever. I’d say it runs that hot no longer than an hour or so before I give it a break and let it cool down (which doesn’t take longer than two or three minutes before it’s running normally again).

I am pretty sure water cooling isn’t needed now, but I imagine if I go much more powerful than what I run now, or dual graphics cards, I’m going to definitely see a need for it. I know the general idea is water cooled is more efficient because you can pull heat out of water more quickly, and it doesn’t retain heat as well, but is there anything else I’m missing as to why I’d go water cooled?

Thoughts on the pros and cons of it?


Mineral oil cooled? :smiley:


On a serious note, I don’t have really input for this aside from the fact that I’ve been using fans in a giant case for years, and have had no issues as of yet.

Hopefully some have delved into the topic of water cooling here! I’m sure some have though.


Unless you’re overclocking your CPUs or GPU(s), it’s mostly overkill.

Water disperses heat more efficiently than air and thus cools components better. I’ve built a couple fully water-cooled machines in my day but that was back when you had to cut everything yourself. Nowadays, there are some really nice kits out there than will do a lot of the heavy-lifting for you.

There’s also the all-in-one water cooling that Corsair offers:

Regarding your fear of water, the water doesn’t actually touch anything. It just moves through the heat blocks which are in direct contact with the components. With something like the above Corsair kits, you never even have to mess with the actual water. It’s all just ready to go.


You bring up another interesting topic all together: is overclocking actually worth the risk that comes with it?

I know it’s probably fun for technophiles, and I’m sure I’d find some enjoyment in it myself, but pushing it to the limits beyond it’s normal means scares the shit out of me too.

Apparently I’m afraid of living on the edge when it’s got hundreds of dollars on the line.

Thanks for the link!


Well there’s 2 types of overclocking: preset and custom.

Most modern motherboards have overclocking presets that come built into the BIOS. You can simply set everything a little bit higher while remaining within a relatively safe range.

This won’t give you the crazy 3.5ghz to 4.5ghz gains that some people manage to get by slowly tweaking every voltage setting on everything but it will indeed give you a bit more performance for your money.

These days, that’s all I really do.


Liquid nitrogen cooled?


The general wisdom I have heard is that stock closed systems are best and custom systems are asking for tears of blood and letting the magic smoke out of the computer.


That might be the most beautiful analogy I’ve heard in a while.


When I built this last system, I bought components that were well suited for over clocking. I’ll admit it, I’m scared. It is a huge investment to break because of technology that I really don’t understand completely. I guess if I felt the reward out weighted the risk I would tweak a few settings, but I’m not really sure if there are really beneficial gains to be had.


That was my thing: it seemed like OC’ing within reasonable amounts were very marginal increases (3.5GHz to 4.0GHz). You only see big benefits when you’re risking melting your entire system, and at that point, you might as well just buy a better processor and play it safe.

At least, that’s the way it feels for me.


Getting another .5 Ghz out of your CPU is pretty big. And you can do it for almost no risk. On modern boards it can be as easy as checking a “boost” checkbox in the BIOS.

For me, I always run the CPU and GPU at the highest preset overclock level. They’re built within a set of standards designed for lower-flow fan setups. If you have a good case with good fans, you’re already above the mark. If you’re watercooling, you can go higher.

Just watch your temps and make sure your PSU is a good size.


Time to start tweaking my rig. :smile:


For everyone who’s thinking about OCing, I highly recommend getting a free stability test to make sure your system is still running happy following the tweeks :wink:


Download more RAM! Click here!


Thanks! I just got an extra 2Gb for my phone and the download was fast.


Awwwwwyisssss gotta love downloading me some RAMS!


I’m talking about things like Prime95 (using the torture mode) to make sure your system is happy with the new clock speeds and voltages.


Yeah, just messing with you.


The number of people in here that don’t know anything about overclocking though… :dickbutt:

I used to overclock all the time back in my Socket A days; I’m just trying to spread the knowledge for the uninitiated so they can do it well without risk of crash or system damage :wink: