Originally Posted by pauldovi
The fact of the matter is, air can provide ample cooling for someone on a budget. Water should be a hobby.
But I didn't say otherwise, and you didn't say that. You said you'd match water cooling with air, where are those results?
All I'm saying is, just because air is more cost efficient doesn't give anyone the right OR backing to go around and tell people, "air is just as good as water!". I'm getting kind of sick of it. People go around using single sample examples as "proof" for outrageous claims.
Under $100 can you do a lot with air? Yeah of course. But why spend $100 on air? Why do that when you can get NEAR that performance with a $30 cooler and a $4 fan?
I'd put an Arctic Cooling Freezer Pro up against any cooler on the market, 6 days out of the week and I guarantee it'd hold its weight. I'd put a Yate Loon D12SL-12 up against a FM121 fan 6 days out of a week and I guarantee that'd hold it's weight too.
My point is, why spend $70-100 on air, when the whole POINT of air is to be able to spend $20-40 and get good over-clocking results? Is the Ultra 120/Tuniq Tower a good cooler? Hell yes it is, but is it worth the $35 difference over other coolers? In my opinion no.
There's a huge void between what I consider adequate air cooling and bare minimum water cooling. The most I think people should spend on CPU heatsinks is $34.99 and the least I think people should spend on water cooling is $160, but those are the standards I set based on performance numbers. A $120 water cooling kit won't give enough performance to justify the jump from a $30 air heatsink to the $120 water cooling, and a $60 CPU cooler also won't justify the marginal performance jump from a $20 AC Freezer Pro cooler.
Just because I think water is better than air doesn't mean I don't think each type of cooling has its bad decisions. If you try to build a $100 water cooling kit, I'll definitely question its credibility and performance nowadays. 2 years ago you might've been able to get away with it, but not today. Today's CPUs run hotter and today's air coolers run cooler, so when you get to the $100 margin, it's more of a "why do that?" ultimatum. Why get a $60 air cooler when a $20 air cooler does the same? Why get a $120 water cooling set up when a $20-30 air cooler offers the same performance numbers, less hassle and more stability?
The bottom line is, for the big question- If you don't do aggressive over-clocking, you're in a cold part of the world and you don't have a lot to spend, air rocks. Air cooling is only getting better and better, but the cons are NOT invisible. Good heatsinks take up a lot of space and don't over-clock as well as water. Air heatsinks are also a little less tolerant of higher ambient temperatures and confined spaces. Taking the door off your case will affect air cooling a lot more than water.
If you plan on taking your OC to the limit, you're in a higher ambient area or you just plain want to throw good money into cooling, water is the way to go. Water, done right, is more stable, quieter and a much better cooling route than air. Water cooling will always be better than water, if anything, just because of physics and noise. The cons of water cooling are also NOT invisible. Water cooling requires attention to detail, maintenance and a decent budget to be done right. You can't "half-ass" water cooling. Done right, you get the best performance for your money, good over-clocks, a very cool looking case and rock solid stability and safety. Done wrong, it's like jumping into the ocean with your computer strapped to your back.
Thermal electric coolers are the best air heatsinks in the business honestly. The problem is: Cost and aesthetics. They take a lot of power to operate, they're very massively huge and they're very expensive. $130 for a TEC is treading on the door steps of affordable water cooling and the performance isn't THAT much better.
An Ultra ChillTec will definitely cool better than a Tuniq Tower or Ultra 120, but at the cost of double? Not worth it.