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Why use a thermal solution? (Air Cooling & Liquid Cooling)

The function of a CPU cooler is to move heat from the core of a CPU and transport it into the surrounding air environment. Here’s what you need to know when choosing between liquid cooling vs air cooling, including how these two methods work and which one is right for you. For desktop and workstation processors, the power levels or buckets can change from generation to generation or between product categories or segments or architectures.

“Active air-cooling” solutions are designed as a heatsink with an electric fan attached to it. They are designed to force air to flow directly through the heatsink and absorb heat from the fins and therefore have much higher cooling capacity than “passive” heatsinks. “Liquid Cooling” solutions have even higher heat absorption capability and are commonly used in higher performing CPU configurations, including overclocking usages. They come in two flavors: open loop and closed loop. Open Loop liquid coolers are for customer liquid cooling setups usually implemented by experienced DIY computer builders looking to build a visually custom implementation. Closed loop or All-In-One (AIO) liquid cooling solutions are the easiest to implemented and are recommended for non-technical expert computer builders. The following is an example of a liquid cooling closed-loop or AIO solution.

Which Is Right for You?

Both cooling options are highly effective when properly implemented; but excel in different circumstances. Here are a few factors to consider when making your choice.

Ease of Installation

Though an All-in-One (AIO) liquid cooler is often more complex to install than a standard air cooler, it’s still fairly straightforward. Most consist of only the water block, the two hoses that cycle the coolant, and the radiator. The extra steps involve attaching the water block, which is a process similar to installing an air cooler, and then attaching the radiator and the fans in such a way that the excess heat can easily exit the PC. Since the coolant, pump, and radiator are self-contained in the apparatus (hence the name “All-in-One (AIO)”), it requires very little oversight or maintenance after installation.

Sound

Liquid cooling, especially when using an All-in-One (AIO), tends to be quieter than the fan on a CPU heatsink. Again, this can vary, in that there are air coolers with fans specifically designed to reduce noise, and fan settings or fan selection can impact the amount of noise generated. Overall, though, liquid cooling tends to generate less sound, as the small pump is usually well insulated, and radiator fans tend to run at lower RPM (revolutions per minute) than those on the CPU heatsink.

Temperature Regulation

If you’re serious about overclocking, or plan on undertaking CPU-intensive tasks like rendering video or streaming, liquid cooling might be the best choice.

According to Mark Galina, liquid cooling more “efficiently distributes heat over more convection surface area (radiator) than pure conduction, allowing for reduced fan speeds (better acoustics) or higher total power.”

In other words, it’s more efficient and often quieter. If you want the lowest possible temperatures, or if you’re interested in a quieter solution and don’t mind a slightly more complex installation process, liquid cooling is probably the best option.

Air coolers are quite good at transporting heat away from the CPU, but keep in mind that heat is then dispersed into the case. This can raise the ambient temperature of the system overall. Whereas liquid coolers do a better job of transporting that heat outside of the system via the fans on the radiator.

Make Your Choice

So, back to the original debate: Liquid cooling vs air cooling. Which is better?

The answer depends on how you use your computer and the performance and workloads you expect to encounter.

If you want almost silent operation, the most efficient cooling, and don’t mind a potentially higher price tag, liquid cooling will fit the bill.

If you’re looking for a solution with more entry-level pricing and simple installation at the potential expense of peak performance or acoustics, air cooling is an easy recommendation.

Consider how you use your PC and how you plan to use it in the future when making your choice. Though both are excellent solutions, they are designed for slightly different use cases. It’s up to you to decide which is a better fit for how you use your computer.

What are Intel® Laminar Coolers?

Laminar Coolers are designed to help properly cool your CPU by dissipating heat and be aesthetically appealing. All of this while delivering the performance you desire that complements the 12th Gen and next Gen Intel® Core™ processor.

Intel® Laminar RH1 Cooler Intel® Laminar RM1 Cooler Intel® Laminar RS1 Cooler
Features
  • Controllable aRGB Lighting
  • 2.6 BA Near-silent Performance
  • Larger / Copper Heat Column
  • Intel Validated Compatibility
  • Three-year Limited Warranty
  • Standard size
  • 3.9 BA Quiet Performance
  • Intel Validated Compatibility
  • Three-year Limited Warranty
  • Standard size
  • Intel Validated Compatibility
  • Three-year Limited Warranty
Available with
  • Intel® Core™ i9-12900 Processor
  • Intel® Core™ i9-12900F Processor
  • Intel® Core™ i7-12700 Processor
  • Intel® Core™ i7-12700F Processor
  • Intel® Core™ i5-12600 Processor
  • Intel® Core™ i5-12500 Processor
  • Intel® Core™ i5-12400 Processor
  • Intel® Core™ i5-12400F Processor
  • Intel® Core™ i3-12300 Processor
  • Intel® Core™ i3-12100 Processor
  • Intel® Core™ i3-12100F Processor
  • Intel® Pentium Gold G7400 Processor
  • Intel® Celeron® G6900 Processor

Vendor Solution

Vendor List


Socket Vendor Brand Website
LGA4677 EKWB https://www.ekwb.com/
CoolerMaster https://www.coolermaster.com/
Cooljag http://www.chia-cherne.com/

Vendor List


Socket Vendor Brand Website
LGA1700 be-quiet! https://www.bequiet.com/en/cpucooler
Coolermaster https://www.coolermaster.com/catalog/pages/cooling/all-coolers-ready-for-intel-alder-lake-lga1700-cpu/
MSI https://www.msi.com/Landing/Sleek-Silent-Sensational-msi
thermaltake https://www.thermaltake.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=Toughliquid+360