The great crime of modern computing: liquid cooling

We are lucky that nowadays computing has advanced a lot and there are solutions for all tastes and pockets. But now it is no longer enough to have a good team, now it must also be aesthetic, striking. A component that has become very fashionable are liquid coolers and, more specifically, All-in-Ones , but are they better than an air cooler?

Liquid cooling itself can bring interesting aspects, such as better temperatures. Above all, this type of cooling is interesting for very high-end processors, such as the Intel Core i9 and the AMD Ryzen 9. Although, in most cases they are a worse option than the typical tower-type heatsink.

liquid cooling

They do not lower the temperature so much, nor are they quieter

Several myths have been generated around these systems of heat dissipation of the processor (and also graphics card). Usually, it is highlighted that they are more efficient in heat dissipation and that they generate less noise. The truth is that an RL will not always give us better results than a block-type heatsink, and there are reasons.

The first reason is in the fans, more specifically, in its typology. Although you may not know it, there are two types of computer fans : pressure and flow . Usually, the flow ones are used more for RL and the pressure ones for block heatsinks. The reason is in the amount of surface that the air must cover. Block-type heatsinks are thicker than a liquid-cooled radiator.

rl aio montaje configuración

What is remarkable is that both systems use fans, which in the end are what allow cooling. The problem, so to speak, is that a one-fan heatsink is equivalent to a two-fan RL (more or less). Pressure fans are noisier than flow fans , compared one to one. But, by having more fans, the noise increases.

In addition, pressure fans are usually more efficient at dissipating heat. They generate more amount of air, so the temperature is reduced more quickly. Of course, there’s also more surface area to cover than an RL radiator.

disipador aire cpu

Actually, the problem is elsewhere.

We have to say that the biggest problem with RL is its simplicity. A custom liquid cooling is complex and has different elements, such as a separate pump and a reservoir. AIO systems do not have a tank, so there is no “excess” of liquid that compensates for the micro evaporation that occurs through the pores of the tube.

Any plastic tube has pores and when the liquid evaporates, very slowly and in small quantities, it is lost. In the long run (and depending on the use) the amount of liquid decreases and the circulation of the system worsens. It forces the pump to work at a higher power and in the end, it will end up burning or not doing its job well.

There is a design defect in all RL AIO that generates a durability of 2-4 years (depending on use). The vast majority do not have a filler cap to compensate for the loss of liquid. This simple element could make our liquid cooling last forever and it doesn’t matter. In the end, it is the origin of all the problems that you will have in the not so distant future.

I personally find AIO RLs to be interesting and useful. They are a good product, but they have a design and manufacturing flaw that, to me, makes them a horrible product. Curiously, the first models of this cooling system did have this filler cap, which has been lost over time.