AIO Heatsink or Liquid Cooling, Which One Do You Need?

With the number of models that are continuously launching on the market and after the new boom in high-end air sinks, AIO liquid coolers have lost part of the role they had until just 6 months ago. For this reason, many users return to ask the same recurring question: choose an air sink or switch to AIO liquid cooling ? We will try to clarify all possible doubts in this regard.

The first thing we have to say is that we are going to leave the performance of each model and system aside. This is a factor that everyone will take into account and for which one can opt for each other, as well as for example with the price, which we will also ignore.

AIO Heatsink or Liquid Cooling

AIO heatsink or liquid cooling, what is better choice right now?

We are going to focus this article on several points to try different that can rethink the dilemma from other angles, so that the perspective that we have at the end is more complete.

Expectations and needs


It is undoubtedly a very determining factor that can give us the answer to the initial question. You have to know well where we start as cooling of our PC and where we want to go.

If our base is bad, such as a tower without sufficient ventilation, filters and a correct air flow, the needs of the system will indicate that an AIO will always be a better option than a heatsink due to the fact that it concentrates the heat output in a single point, preventing an internal temperature gain that affects the other components.

On the other hand, if our PC has an acceptable or good base in terms of chassis cooling, then we could opt for a high-end heatsink or TOP , considering that the evacuation of heat will become as important as introducing fresh air .

Having clear needs, expectations come. Here comes into play not only the PC from where we started, but the thermal compound used and the assembly by the user, without forgetting the position of the final tower or the ambient temperature.

Keep in mind that the majority of reviews where we base our hopes on performance are taken under a controlled and constant temperature of 20 degrees in the environment. If we have a lower temperature as well, fantastic, the results will be in the worst case similar to the same CPU, but if we have a higher ambient temperature as a rule, we must bear in mind that the loss of performance is almost exponential for each degree of more. This must be clear to avoid disappointment in performance and noise.

You have to be aware of the sizes


Putting a Corsair A500 in an m-ATX box would not make much sense, no matter how high-end the latter is, since in its internal capacity the heatsink is taking up a huge percentage of space and cubic capacity.

The high-end heatsinks are bulky, heavy, and take up a lot of internal capacity in the chassis, transforming a large percentage of that area into heat. The measures of the same, as well as the box and its corresponding vertical and horizontal distances must be taken into account, since it would not be the first or the last case that a rotated heatsink had to be installed because it ends up colliding in several places.

Measuring internal distances is essential to not regret our purchase. Here the AIO usually has the advantage of being more compact and centralizing everything much better, so the question of whether AIO heatsinks or liquid cooling is a question of analysis.

Motherboard weights and orientation

tipos disipador

There is no science to heat sinks when it comes to size and weight. Normally if it is large or very large, it is usually good for dissipating heat. But as for the AIO this is not true, since they are all made from really light components such as aluminum or ABS plastic.

Why is this important? Because we are not aware of the number of hours our motherboard spends anchored to a support where gravity does the same with the heatsink. This fact with the passage of time causes the PCB of the board to stop being straight and sag, which can cause failures and even that the pins of an LGA socket do not finish touching the CPU.

If in addition our board is placed horizontally instead of vertically, a high-end heatsink or TOP is totally inadvisable because it ends up producing that effect and also totally vertically. Here the AIO has relevance again, since the socket hardly supports weight, since the blocks are usually much lighter than the heatsinks.



It is another factor that turns many on their head, especially the most fearful with AIOs. Keep in mind that the quality of today’s AIO liquid coolers are truly superb in terms of leaks or problems.

The heatsinks are safer by nature, since they only have heat pipes as a worrying part of the system, which are copper bars with a liquid / gas thermosealed in the factory.

Based on the fact that we will have leaks, if not zero, very close in the entire useful life of the product, why choose? This is a function of how comfortable one feels. There are people who can not even think that there is a liquid constantly flowing through some tubes on their PC, even if this liquid is dielectric and will not cause damage if for any reason we had a leak (really unlikely).


Another fear is running out of fluid in the AIO, but at this point we should show that this fear should also be reciprocal in the face of a heatsink. Actually, the liquid loss capacity in a closed system, call it a tube or call it a heat pipe, is going to be constant.

An air sink based on its heat pipe dissipation effect is equally exposed to the same principle as an AIO with its tubes: capillary action. Both are going to lose micro particles of liquid or gas and over the years they will lose a small percentage of performance, but surely by then you have already decided to change PCs because it will be so obsolete that even Windows will have trouble moving.

We hope that these guidelines will end the continuous debate of air or liquid AIO cooling, since each one has its sector and time.