Is Liquid Cooling Worth It & Is It Risky?

A liquid-cooled PC seems like a pretty good option, especially in the hot summer months. It will surely help keep your CPU cool whilst maintaining its high performance.

It is also very efficient in dissipating heat as the fans installed in the radiators will immediately push heat outside of the PC case. Despite this, there are many people who suggest that a liquid-cooled PC is overrated and that an air cooler should suffice their needs.

a custom-loop water cooled setup

The difference between the two is that an air cooler’s efficiency would depend so much on different factors, such as the ambient temperature inside the case.

No matter how good the air-cooler is, if the ambient temperature inside the case is to high, it will affect the overall temperature of the computer system. On the other hand, a liquid cooler will immediately disperse heat outside the case through the radiators.

In addition to that, installing liquid cooling can also make your PC look good as there are several liquid coolers today with additional aesthetics such as RGB backlights. Not to mention those sexy custom-loop water cooling kits.

So is liquid cooling worth it? The short answer is yes. Investing in a liquid cooler is worth every penny. I would say that it’s totally worth it as the majority of liquid coolers are more efficient than air coolers.

So What Is Good About Liquid Cooling?

It helps to keep the CPU cooler. Keeping your CPU cool is a good practice since its temperature would also affect the overall ambient temperature inside your case. In addition to that, you can be sure that your CPU will last longer.

Liquid coolers can also help make your PC run quieter than air coolers since the fans won’t have to spin at a higher RPM (revolution per minute) just to keep your CPU cool. Less RPM means less noise, and in some cases, less vibrations.

However, there are some scenarios that air coolers are better than liquid coolers. A good example is that if we have a high-end air cooler such as the Noctua NH-D15 and compare it against a 120mm AIO (all-in-one) liquid CPU cooler, such as the Corsair Hydro Series H60, there is no doubt that the air cooler wins this battle. It’s not even close.

The NH-D15 will outperform the H60 in almost all aspects. But this high-end CPU cooler also comes with a high price tag, not to mention its enormous size. I personally don’t like seeing that huge cooler attached to my computer, so it’s really just a matter of personal preference.

Is Liquid Cooling Safe or Dangerous?

Using a liquid cooling is generally safe if it’s done properly. There are many cases where some users have damaged their parts, especially the GPU, CPU, and motherboard, because of leaks. Exposed to liquids, while the PC is running, will instantly damage these parts.

However, if you really want to use a liquid cooler, I would recommend an AIO liquid cooler to start with.

An AIO liquid cooler is much easier to use and to install than custom-loop water cooling kits and it’s generally safer, especially for beginners.

a very colorful AIO setup

Using custom-loops is actually the better choice but it is only meant for experienced users, as there is a lot of work required to it install in your PC.

There are also some services today being offered where they will install custom-loops to cater for beginners. This way you can enjoy the benefits of a custom-loop without have to get your hands dirty yourself.

Do Liquid-Cooled Computers Need Maintenance and Is It High Maintenance?

Every computer needs maintenance whether it’s a liquid-cooled PC or air-cooled PC, the difference is how often you do it.

In maintaining an air-cooled PC, I usually do it every 2-3 months, depending on how dusty it can get.

But with my front intake fans, I at least clean the dust filter every 1 or 2 weeks to keep good airflow. Plus a hassle for me when maintaining an air-cooled PC is disassembling all the parts and then assembling them all over again.

Unlike the AIO liquid cooler, custom-loops will require so much work. Not only is it more difficult to install, maintaining it is another story.

Maintaining a custom-loop kit without adequate knowledge will give you a higher chance of getting yourself and your parts into serious trouble. So never ever touch it unless you already know what you are doing.

In addition to that, installing the cooler itself is not your only concern when it comes to custom-loop kits, as you also have to consider the fittings, tubings, reservoirs, blocks, pumps, and everything that comes with the kit.

So not only is it expensive, but it is also high maintenance. But as soon as you’re done with all the setups and you see your computer up and running, it is all totally worth it.

How Often Should You Change Liquid Coolant?

Since liquid coolant evaporates over time, it is also important to monitor this if you have water cooling installed.

Generally, liquid coolant can last for up to 12 months, but it is highly recommended to check it every 6 months, or if you notice some abnormalities like high temperatures.

Aside from changing the liquid coolant, you can also refill your water cooler. Some AIO liquid coolers, also called closed-loops, now come with refillable tubes, meaning you can replace or add the liquid inside the cooler.

Custom Loop Water Cooling Kits vs AIO (All-In-One) Liquid Coolers

Whether your purpose is for overclocking, keeping a cool temperature, or just aesthetics, there are different varieties to choose from when you plan to buy a liquid cooler.

The most popular for the consumers today are the AIO coolers. Not only is it cheaper, it is also easy to install and easy to maintain.

Although AIO offers an excellent cooling solution, it does not have the full capabilities of a custom loop water cooling kit.

On the other hand, while a custom-loop kit offers a better performance against the AIO coolers, the overall looks of your PC will also become more striking, as it is also designed for aesthetics.

Who Do AIO liquid Kits Suit?

  • Beginners
  • People who want low maintenance water cooling
  • Users on a tight budget

Who Do Custom-Loop Water Cooling Kits Suit?

  • Enthusiasts
  • Experts
  • Serious overclockers
  • Users who have an unlimited budget

 

Liquid Cooling vs Air Cooling

While both products have their pros and cons, they share the same purpose, which is to cool our PC. And although we have discussed that liquid coolers provide the best and more efficient cooling performance, there are still other things to consider whether you should get an air or liquid cooler.

Budget

The very first thing you should consider when choosing a cooler is your budget. Although liquid coolers provide better performance, you can still cool your PC with the use of an air cooler but it will cost you less. IF you have the budget, I’d say go for a liquid cooler, otherwise you can settle on an air cooler just fine.

Usage

Choosing the type of cooler will also depend on the tasks or applications that you are going to run on your computer. If you expect that your computer will undergo heavy usage, you can invest in a decent air cooler, if you don’t want to be spending more time maintaining a liquid cooler. But if you are up to some serious overclocking, a liquid cooler is the better choice.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is Liquid Cooling Necessary If You Are Not Going to Overclock?

Liquid cooling isn’t that necessary if you are going to run your computer at stock speed. Also, there are some air coolers that are capable of overclocking.

These air coolers are designed to keep your system cool while running on a higher clock speed. Most of these coolers come with high-performance static pressure fans, which are usually 120mm fans.

a very old AIO water cooling

What Liquid Is Used for Liquid Coolers, Can I Use Distilled Water?

The cheapest option is distilled water. Since the wide availability of distilled water, I assume that everyone who is in a position to build a PC has access to this type of water.

There are cases that people put tap water instead of distilled water and ended up having clogged blocks and radiators.

Aside from distilled water, there are some special colored additives that can be added to the liquid inside your cooler to make it look awesome. This can give a variety of colors depending on your choice.

Aside from that, pre-mixed solutions or biocide can also be added in your liquid coolant. The purpose of this is to prevent bacterial growth and corrosion inside your cooler, particularly in the water blocks.

It can also prevent the growth of algae, especially to those computers with direct exposure to sunlight.

How Does Liquid Cooling Work?

Very briefly, liquid cooling in your PC works very similar to a car engine or modern motorcycle liquid-cooled engine. Its job is to cool the components down which have direct contact with the water blocks.

This is usually the CPU and in some cases the GPU. Since it uses liquid, it can cool down faster by transferring heat more efficiently from the source, to the flowing liquid inside the coolers, up to the radiators. The purpose of the fans is to then push the hot air away to keep the radiator cool.

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