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Desk PC - Air or water?

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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-13-2019, 10:44 AM - Thread Starter
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Desk PC - Air or water?

**TLDR**
[Help me make the decision between air or water cooling for my future desk-pc, so I can get to the design stage. Is there anything I've forgotten? What would you do and what are the reasons behind it? Any ideas or opinions are greatly appreciated.]


The last time I touched my computer was in 2015 when I switched it over to a custom water cooled loop. I haven't even turned it on in over a year because I've been otherwise occupied building my own house and haven't had time for gaming. It's nothing too fancy... i7-3820, MSI 950, 16GB GSKILL Sniper 1866 RAM, 500GB WD Blue and a CM 850W Silent Pro. It's using an XSPC single bay reservoir, XSPC Raystorm, Phobya DC12-400 pump and an XSPC-EX120 radiator connected with PETG and monsoon hardline fittings (which seem to have been discontinued). Apparently one of my fittings had a tiny tiny leak which never showed up during my initial leak tests and has drained most of my system over the year of sitting there not running. I need to build a desk for the office anyway so I figure why not go ahead and put the computer in it to save some floor space, though I did think of a wall PC, but don't trust the cat and I'm pretty sure the wife would object to the aesthetic.

So with all of that out of the way and since I'll be dismantling the computer anyway, I can't decide to go with air cooling or water cooling.

Air cooling would probably be the easiest to set up, cheapest, possibly quietest and easiest maintenance, but will not be as nice looking, will require a bulkier desk to accommodate the CPU cooler (I'm thinking something like a Dark Rock Pro 4), and will not run as cool as water cooling.

On the other side, liquid cooling will still be very quiet (if I get a better pump), run cooler, look a lot better and allow me to have a more sleek/modern desk, but the maintenance could suck, have to be concerned with the possibility of leaks, more expensive and a PITA to set up the first time ESPECIALLY if I use hard lines again.

The maintenance is a big one because there will be a 20G fish tank sitting on this desk and it would absolutely suck to have to completely pull the top off to clean radiators and I don't want them to be external.



Edit: And yes, I will be giving this poor thing an SSD while I'm at it.

Last edited by Animag771; 07-14-2019 at 09:27 AM.
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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-14-2019, 09:05 AM
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go with the water-cooling . make a air tester for the system. saves a lot of hassle like the pics. cost about 20$ for parts
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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-14-2019, 09:16 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote: Originally Posted by GRA-HAM View Post
go with the water-cooling . make a air tester for the system. saves a lot of hassle like the pics. cost about 20$ for parts
I appreciate the tip and I see how that could help with leak testing and as a visual indicator that the system is sealed, but it doesn't do much for long term maintenance like cleaning radiators or having to drain the system and clean water blocks etc.

Any particular reasons you chose water over air?
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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-14-2019, 09:37 AM
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its about 100% more efficient than air so your temps are lower so you can make pc nearly silent though lower fan speed. and it looks cool if done right
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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-14-2019, 02:17 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote: Originally Posted by GRA-HAM View Post
its about 100% more efficient than air so your temps are lower so you can make pc nearly silent though lower fan speed. and it looks cool if done right
Well sorta. The temps can only ever get as low as ambient regardless of water vs liquid and eventually the liquid will reach equilibrium, but yes it is still a more efficient cooling method. I don't do benching and I'm only running a very mild overclock so the performance gain will probably be negligible. It does indeed look sexy though. Nice rig BTW
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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-14-2019, 02:50 PM
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Hi,
Bingo ambient can't be beaten without a chiller
Mild oc just air cool it
Plenty of cool looking air coolers be-quiet has some nice ones.

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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-14-2019, 07:43 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote: Originally Posted by ThrashZone View Post
Hi,
Bingo ambient can't be beaten without a chiller
Mild oc just air cool it
Plenty of cool looking air coolers be-quiet has some nice ones.
I'm currently looking at the be-quiet Dark Rock Pro. It does look nice, but I just wish I could find a cpu cooler that had a vertically oriented fan like the Shadow Rock LP, but with more heatsink space and push/pull fans. That orientation would look so much better from a top down view. All the ones with fans oriented vertically are only rated at about 95W TDP which wouldn't work well for my i7-3820.



So that's 1 vote for air and 1 for liquid. Anybody else? I wish I knew had to start a poll.
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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-15-2019, 05:02 AM
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Im. not against air cooling. it just my preference to water cool. though. it can take a good part of peoples budget. and time. with maintenance. if you want to built and forget it. a good air coolers the way to go
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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-15-2019, 05:09 AM
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I always go with water. Way better temps that way, plus it way quieter. On air my GPU can easily hit 80 degrees, on water I never go above 45.

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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-15-2019, 05:40 AM
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Depends on the use case but for most users air cooling is good enough
By the way i hope you are not re-using that old CM PSU

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