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GingerSoulThief

Why AIO over Tower Cooling

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Posted Original PosterOP

I've been noticing a trend of home PC builders to use AIO coolers over Air Cooling.

I've come to the conclusion that (imho)聽 AIO's are stupid. (emotive language for extra effect馃槀)

As far as Aesthetic's go, they're no prettier聽than most tower coolers (what with there gangly tubing that rarely sits anywhere nice and clean looking etc.) , and their cooling capacity/$ is worse (gross generalisation yes...), longevity is worse too as all AIO's unfortunately have a half life........

I'm not comparing to custom loops, as custom loops are expensive, require maintenance, but they have a definite aesthetic advantage, so depending on how much you care about a sweet looking PC......you get my point......

The only reason I can come up with, is that with all the good Tower coolers (Noctua DH15, Dark Rock Pro4 etc.) clearance of RAM modules can be problematic, and extensive research required to ensure you can fit it all in, and of course the case too.......but, is this the only reason聽a lot of people choose AIO coolers over tower coolers? Just avoiding an hours worth of internet googling?

I'm really interested to hear why you prefer AIO to Tower cooling? or your take on this whole topic.

For reference - I have just finished building a custom loop(running a EK SE 360mm Rad and an EK XE 360mm Rad) -because sweet looking PC bro -聽after having a fully air cooled system with a Dark Rock Pro 4 Tower cooler, and being able to compare like to like, The custom loop, does not perform any better than the dark rock pro 4

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A lot of people like the pipes. When well managed, I find them better looking than most tower coolers.

Just my opinion though.


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Posted Original PosterOP
2 minutes ago, LienusLateTips said:

A lot of people like the pipes. When well managed, I find them better looking than most tower coolers.

Just my opinion though.

So essentially, its聽 - want the aesthetic of a custom loop, but on a budget?

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Tower coolers are huge and block the view of the motherboard, ram, and other components while drawing attention to the ugly giant cube of metal that it is.

AIOs replace that with some cool tubing and a compact CPU block which is 10x easier to mount or swap CPUs.

Also 280mm and 360mm AIOs perform about the same or better than the best air coolers.


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Posted Original PosterOP
Just now, Enderman said:

Tower coolers are huge and block the view of the motherboard, ram, and other components while drawing attention to the ugly giant cube of metal that it is.

AIOs replace that with some cool tubing and a compact CPU block which is 10x easier to mount or swap CPUs.

Also 280mm and 360mm AIOs perform about the same or better than the best air coolers.

you're right, a 280/360mm AIO does perform extremely similar- but you pay more for that performance.......

but I can accept the blocking the view of mobo, and ram, thats a good point.聽 I'll add your points to the "Aesthetics on a budget tally"

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I'm personally using the noctua NH-D15. folks complain about the beige but I'm also one of those dirty non-window-having people and it's whisper quiet, so hey.聽


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AIOs can shift the heat dissipation to almost directly out of the case. Great for helping keep other things cool.

Or you can install them at the front and feed your CPU slightly cooler air to its cooling, rather than air heated by case internals. 聽

One way favours GPU temps, the other CPU.

Towers are the compromise, neither GPU or CPU*

*assuming non-AIO or blower cards.

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20 minutes ago, GingerSoulThief said:

I've been noticing a trend of home PC builders to use AIO coolers over Air Cooling.

I've come to the conclusion that (imho)聽 AIO's are stupid. (emotive language for extra effect馃槀)

As far as Aesthetic's go, they're no prettier聽than most tower coolers (what with there gangly tubing that rarely sits anywhere nice and clean looking etc.) , and their cooling capacity/$ is worse (gross generalisation yes...), longevity is worse too as all AIO's unfortunately have a half life........

I'm not comparing to custom loops, as custom loops are expensive, require maintenance, but they have a definite aesthetic advantage, so depending on how much you care about a sweet looking PC......you get my point......

The only reason I can come up with, is that with all the good Tower coolers (Noctua DH15, Dark Rock Pro4 etc.) clearance of RAM modules can be problematic, and extensive research required to ensure you can fit it all in, and of course the case too.......but, is this the only reason聽a lot of people choose AIO coolers over tower coolers? Just avoiding an hours worth of internet googling?

I'm really interested to hear why you prefer AIO to Tower cooling? or your take on this whole topic.

For reference - I have just finished building a custom loop(running a EK SE 360mm Rad and an EK XE 360mm Rad) -because sweet looking PC bro -聽after having a fully air cooled system with a Dark Rock Pro 4 Tower cooler, and being able to compare like to like, The custom loop, does not perform any better than the dark rock pro 4

That's weird. The dual 360mm Rad system should be slapping that Dark Rock Pro 4. But for me it was for silence and space management. AIO's take less space depending on where you look at it and it makes everyone's lives easier when something goes wrong like a ram stick going bad or just building the PC. Big Tower coolers also have clearance issues which is what happened with my case initially. While I do agree Tower Coolers and AIO's are somewhat matched, it's a personal preference at this point.


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I don't doubt similar performance when not pushing the hardware but when you start to push there is a clear difference.

air vs aio.jpg


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Posted Original PosterOP
1 hour ago, Ciuwas said:

That's weird. The dual 360mm Rad system should be slapping that Dark Rock Pro 4. But for me it was for silence and space management. AIO's take less space depending on where you look at it and it makes everyone's lives easier when something goes wrong like a ram stick going bad or just building the PC. Big Tower coolers also have clearance issues which is what happened with my case initially. While I do agree Tower Coolers and AIO's are somewhat matched, it's a personal preference at this point.

yeah, but that dual 360mm rad system is now also cooling a 2080Ti whereas the Dark Rock was obviously just doing CPU, but that tower is a 250W TDP cooler, its stupidly good, and absolutely silent........check out Jayz recent review of the Dark Rock........

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Aio's are loud but some look kinda cool, theyre also pretty neat when cases dont allow big heatsinks. but id never ever put watercooling in my system without isolating the pump properly, cant stand the noise of pumps or Hdd's

1 hour ago, GingerSoulThief said:

what average user pushes their hardware to those extremes?

Id dare say that most people go overkill in their cooling and the majority of people dont overclock their hardware. I have no numbers on that ,but ive just talked to people irl.


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4 hours ago, Ciuwas said:

it makes everyone's lives easier when something goes wrong

If the AIO is the one which goes聽wrong, then that will make lives harder

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Personally, I prefer AIOs because I build with aesthetic in mind as well. So in my case, there's RGB on the board, and RAM that most towers would have blocked. That, and adding to it are the RGB fans on the top with the RAD. While I know some air coolers can certainly out-perform, and would have been less costly, it was a planned build and Corsair doesn't make an air-cooler, let alone an RGB one that won't block off other components.聽

I also have to disagree with the noise level. With the 115i Platinum and all fans set to quiet I can't hear this rig at all, and yet, I rarely have temps hit anywhere near throttle territory and I do have my system running +192 on the GPU (2070) 24/7 OC with the 8700K. So, I am pushing things to an extent for sure.


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Posted Original PosterOP

thanks for the replies guys, it seems that its just aesthetics -which are completely subjective - I think AIO's are ugly, but I do definitely admit that the sexy tower coolers, do hide all the pretty of RAM and Mobo, so a trade off.......聽聽

other reasons I thought of for pro AIO聽

聽 聽 聽 聽* ease of install - water cooling for a rookie builder.

聽 聽 聽 聽* status symbol - being able to say you have a water cooled system, without the headaches of custom loop.

聽 聽 聽 聽* tech reviewers like linus are often using aio's in their test benches, and also features like the lan-center.

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12 hours ago, GingerSoulThief said:

* tech reviewers like linus are often using aio's in their test benches, and also features like the lan-center.

It's probably a lot easier for reviewers to replace the CPU under an AIO than a giant tower cooler. Linus and Alex聽did have a recent comparison between some AIOs and air coolers and the Noctua NH-U12A was very competitive and beat some of the AIOs. It's a rather expensive tower ($100 US), but it's a smaller form factor and doesn't really obscure the RAM.

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12 hours ago, JabroniBaloney said:

Sometimes people want to pay more money for more points of failure in their cooling solution.

Yes. But Sire... The AIO Clout...


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On 8/11/2019 at 10:35 AM, GingerSoulThief said:

what average user pushes their hardware to those extremes?

Sorry i missed the part in the OP where you said this applies to average users only.

I wouldn't class overclocking on air or aio as extreme either.

So long story short, if you want the most out of you CPU without going for extreme cooling or an open loop, buy a good AIO, preferably a 280 or 360.


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Posted Original PosterOP
10 hours ago, glenalz81 said:

Sorry i missed the part in the OP where you said this applies to average users only.

I wouldn't class overclocking on air or aio as extreme either.

So long story short, if you want the most out of you CPU without going for extreme cooling or an open loop, buy a good AIO, preferably a 280 or 360.

I disagree still...........if you聽aren't going extreme, an AIO or good Tower cooler are comparable performance wise, but a Tower cooler is cheaper so........

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It's honestly a preference at this point.聽 A lot of overclocking scores where AIO crushes air is in short tests.聽 The liquid in a big rad doesn't have time to heat up during a short stress test.聽 Air cooling temps spikes quick (and more often) but pretty much just stays there.

There are聽some super high end AIO's that perform really well, but will set you back quite a bit of cashola.聽聽

Jays2cents did a comparison of his big custom loop聽vs a simple 80 dollar Noctua D15 and the results were barely different.聽 Sounds like his result was similar to yours OP.

Again lot of it comes to preference.聽 I honestly can't stand the way the tubing/pipes look on an AIO, even the neatest you can make them looks sloppy to me.聽 I like a good looking air cooler (hence why I had to add chromax stuff to mine :)聽), beefy heatsink etc.聽 Love the way the DRP4 blacked out heatsink looks with builds.聽 But all that is just my preference.

Simplicity is something that you can't argue with though, it's a heatsink that might need dust removal later on, and a fan.聽 No pump to fail, no pump noise.

Some people can't stand an air cooler's looks either though, want to see their board/RAM etc and I get that.聽 I have LPX ram and a basic board without lights in this case, and detest massive amounts of RGB unicorn barf in my case so that isn't an issue.聽 I guess my Aorus master pc might be worth looking at the mobo, but I still just like the way that massive noctua chromax looks.

I guess you could argue that working on the board would be easier without having to take off the fan/heatsink?聽 That seems legit.聽 The couple times I have fiddled with RAM or had to mess with fan headers it is cumbersome to work around the D15.聽 So I could see that.


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Just now, Zberg said:

It's honestly a preference at this point.聽 A lot of overclocking scores where AIO crushes air is in short tests.聽 The liquid in a big rad doesn't have time to heat up during a short stress test.聽 Air cooling temps spikes quick (and more often) but pretty much just stays there.

There are聽some super high end AIO's that perform really well, but will set you back quite a bit of cashola.聽聽

Jays2cents did a comparison of his big custom loop聽vs a simple 80 dollar Noctua D15 and the results were barely different.聽 Sounds like his result was similar to yours OP.

Again lot of it comes to preference.聽 I honestly can't stand the way the tubing/pipes look on an AIO, even the neatest you can make them looks sloppy to me.聽 I like a good looking air cooler (hence why I had to add chromax stuff to mine :)聽), beefy heatsink etc.聽 Love the way the DRP4 blacked out heatsink looks with builds.聽 But all that is just my preference.

Simplicity is something that you can't argue with though, it's a heatsink that might need dust removal later on, and a fan.聽 No pump to fail, no pump noise.

Some people can't stand an air cooler's looks either though, want to see their board/RAM etc and I get that.聽 I have LPX ram and a basic board without lights in this case, and detest massive amounts of RGB unicorn barf in my case so that isn't an issue.聽 I guess my Aorus master pc might be worth looking at the mobo, but I still just like the way that massive noctua chromax looks.

I guess you could argue that working on the board would be easier without having to take off the fan/heatsink?聽 That seems legit.聽 The couple times I have fiddled with RAM or had to mess with fan headers it is cumbersome to work around the D15.聽 So I could see that.

I have thought about a custom loop for how darn good it looks, but the trouble of all that extra work when my PC with a strix GPU and D15 are whisper quiet, cool, and overclockable.聽 I just dont think all that work would be worth it for me (aka I am lazy :) )聽


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On 8/11/2019 at 3:00 AM, NineEyeRon said:

Towers are the compromise, neither GPU or CPU

That depends entirely on the case. With a RL06 or PM01 and probably the upcoming P400A the airflow is more than good enough to cool both components perfectly well.

On 8/11/2019 at 3:11 AM, glenalz81 said:

I don't doubt similar performance when not pushing the hardware but when you start to push there is a clear difference.

Yeah, now run a medium workload bench for 45 minutes on that AIO and then run that particular bench again to see how real world performance stacks up.

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A lot of people say that AIOs are good from an aesthetic POV but聽I love the聽look of a big ol' tower cooler. The D15 with the Chromax kit looks amazing.

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On 8/11/2019 at 8:38 AM, GingerSoulThief said:

I've been noticing a trend of home PC builders to use AIO coolers over Air Cooling.

I've come to the conclusion that (imho)聽 AIO's are stupid. (emotive language for extra effect馃槀)

As far as Aesthetic's go, they're no prettier聽than most tower coolers (what with there gangly tubing that rarely sits anywhere nice and clean looking etc.) , and their cooling capacity/$ is worse (gross generalisation yes...), longevity is worse too as all AIO's unfortunately have a half life........

I'm not comparing to custom loops, as custom loops are expensive, require maintenance, but they have a definite aesthetic advantage, so depending on how much you care about a sweet looking PC......you get my point......

The only reason I can come up with, is that with all the good Tower coolers (Noctua DH15, Dark Rock Pro4 etc.) clearance of RAM modules can be problematic, and extensive research required to ensure you can fit it all in, and of course the case too.......but, is this the only reason聽a lot of people choose AIO coolers over tower coolers? Just avoiding an hours worth of internet googling?

I'm really interested to hear why you prefer AIO to Tower cooling? or your take on this whole topic.

For reference - I have just finished building a custom loop(running a EK SE 360mm Rad and an EK XE 360mm Rad) -because sweet looking PC bro -聽after having a fully air cooled system with a Dark Rock Pro 4 Tower cooler, and being able to compare like to like, The custom loop, does not perform any better than the dark rock pro 4

Firstly, the average Joe uses the term 'water cooling' and thinks of 'AIOs' whether they know thats what they are called or not.

When an enthusiast or any PC user is the know says 'water cooling' generally they are talking out custom loops, and will state 'AIO' when talking about an AIO.

So, they , the average joe, also unfortunately believe that 'water cooling is just better' and 'water cooling is cool' (referring to AIO's) . both an epeen thing and misguided belief that they are outright better. This alogn with marketing has allowed the wide spread adoption of AIO's in many build regardless of their relative poor price:performance vs air coolers.

The fact of the matter is, only 360mm AIO's have any significant improvement over top end air coolers, and they are far far more expensive.

One should really only use a smaller AIO in SFF builds were a big heatsink wont fit.

The only other scenario is in a purely cosmetic build where a person really hates the look of heatsinks, and thats a subjective choice.

Unless you can get a 240/280mm AIO significantly cheaper than something like a DRP4 or D15, from a performance and money standpoint its almost always better to get the later.


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