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Is an Air cooler adequate for the 13900k, or have we exceeded the capability at this point?

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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey All,

So I’m genuinely interested to see what cooling methods you are using for the 13900K, many early adopters are seeing throttling due to the heat being produced from these chips.

This could be helpful for people looking for a new cooler for the 13900K (or other intel 13th series chips), so if you have a 13900K please post your Case, Cooler, idle temp and load temps below, the intent is to keep it simple so its more of an overview. Yes there are many variables at play (Room temp, Fan setup etc.) if you wish to add that, that is great!

My Setup:
Case: Lian Li Lancool II Mesh Performance
Fans: 3x120mm front (Intake), 2x140mm Top (Exhaust), 1x120 Rear (Exhaust), 2x120 Bottom (Intake)
Cooling Type: Air
CPU Cooler: Noctua D15
CPU Overclocked: No (Stock Settings 5.5Ghz, Asus Enhancements Switched Off)
Average Idle Temp: 35 Degrees Celsius
Average Load Temp: 95 Degrees Celsius (Cinebench, prime95, OCCT)
Throttling: Yes - Throttles down to 5.1 - 5.2Ghz to maintain temperature

Lastly, there is a poll at the bottom purely out of interest, do you think Water Cooling is the best option for the 13900K due to the high power draw? Or do you think Air Cooling is still adequate?
 

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Alot of this can also be subject to the CPU oc/voltages/sample/TIM/Lapping/delid/direct die/contact frame/fan speed curves. I'm genuinely baffled as to why people would air cool chips these days. I think from 8th gen I've been aio cooling at 10th gen custom for me that's not to say AIO isn't enough these days but air cooling why?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Alot of this can also be subject to the CPU oc/voltages/sample/TIM/Lapping/delid/direct die/contact frame/fan speed curves. I'm genuinely baffled as to why people would air cool chips these days. I think from 8th gen I've been aio cooling at 10th gen custom for me that's not to say AIO isn't enough these days but air cooling why?
My experience recently is what lead me to create this post, I’ve had my Noctua D15 for a while and been able to throw anything at it, even performing identical to one of my Thermaltake 360 AIO’s so i stuck with the Noctua as less anxiety for leaks/pump failure….. but….. with the 13900k im throttling under load and originally sat at 100 degrees when asus enhancements where switched on, when turned off i am in the 90’s (which is still very hot imho) which has really got me considering to swap to an efficient AIO…… i guess the real question is, what do i benefit from doing so at 4K gaming, will the reduced throttling make that much of an impact and make it worth swapping my D15 to an AIO?
 

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Im running my 13900k stock but undervolted at 1.238v with a custom loop , Cinebench R23 i have seen up to 91c. Normal gaming and use normally less than 70c.
 
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i guess the real question is, what do i benefit from doing so at 4K gaming, will the reduced throttling make that much of an impact and make it worth swapping my D15 to an AIO?
Depends on how much you want to overclock it but no is probably more likely than yes. AnandTech has the best set of 13900K 4k benches I know at the moment (under an EK Elite 360 with a 6950), so those would a point to start from.

I'm genuinely baffled as to why people would air cool chips these days.
Water cooling demand is primarily from Intel i9s. Tower air coolers of US$ 70 and less handle up to 150–200 W sustained without difficulty, maybe somewhat more depending on personal noise tolerances. The meaningful steps past towers are mainly US$ ~170+ 360+ AIOs and custom loops starting from around roughly US$ 500. Most CPUs are operated below 200 W and 360+ rads are awkward to fit in many cases at best, both physically and due to thermal penalties on airflow. On the AMD side, the 7900X and 7950X are the two desktop candidates for water at stock settings. Trimming them into the comfortable air cooling range with eco mode or modest undervolting has little to no performance consequences. For Intel, 12700 or 13600K level turbo powers are ~180 W, also in that upper end of air cooling.

So, a lot of the time, water adds build cost and complexity without any compensating functional advantage. If you're overclocking, want water aesthetics, or just like to see how low you can get processor core temperatures that shifts priorities and makes water more attractive. Unrestricted 13900 and 12900 turbo makes that shift too (253 and 240 W stock, respectively), as does full access to 13900K PL4 (335 W). (For me the most compelling use for water is perhaps reducing GPU fan noise with an external rad. But that's expensive, bulky, and off topic to this thread.)
 

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I'm genuinely baffled as to why people would air cool chips these days. I think from 8th gen I've been aio cooling at 10th gen custom for me that's not to say AIO isn't enough these days but air cooling why?
For me, and I'm sure many others, it is simply hugely decreased maintenance, significant reduction in potential points of failure, and cost. A heatsink and fan has, essentially, a single point of failure: the fan. An AIO has the fan, the pump and every connection which liquid flows through (and on the fancy ones with all the USB bling control, some bonus ones as well). I gave up on AIOs when I had three in a row arrive leaking at a radiator barb. Bad batch? Probably, but I can't be faffed with the hassle.
 

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For me, and I'm sure many others, it is simply hugely decreased maintenance, significant reduction in potential points of failure, and cost. A heatsink and fan has, essentially, a single point of failure: the fan. An AIO has the fan, the pump and every connection which liquid flows through (and on the fancy ones with all the USB bling control, some bonus ones as well). I gave up on AIOs when I had three in a row arrive leaking at a radiator barb. Bad batch? Probably, but I can't be faffed with the hassle.
That's really unlucky, I've never had issues. I've long ago went away from aio's to a full custom loop. Out of interest which aio model did you get that leaked this many times?
 
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Was an air holdout for the longest time - but finally gave in. Air coolers like the D15 are massive, gets in the way of everything and still can't cool as well as water... but I'm on AIO for now, custom loops which I know is optimal for max perfornance is just too much work. If you're not going to take care and maintain your loop, get a large AIO instead if going water. If I do a full new build it will be with the 420mm Arctic AIO in a large case.
 

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Or do you think Air Cooling is still adequate?
I don't have a 13900K myself, but from what I have seen from others, an AIO like the Arctic Freezer II 360 or 420 is highly recommended. But even then I would set a custom powerlimit in BIOS. With your D15 cooler, you could try to set something like this in BIOS : Short Duration = 175 or 200W. Long Duration = 150W. Which is about 100W less than what I would set with an Arctic Freezer II 360 AIO. Yes, you would loose some performance, but you do that anyways when it throttles at stock settings...
 
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With the right 13900K/KF you can get full power performance with low power.

I was testing my 13900KF at 5.8Ghz and it was only using about 260ish watts max during R23 for 30 minutes. In gaming the cpu was consuming anywhere between 60-87 watts max depending on the title. And this is overclocked with DDR5 7600.

Running the cpu stock at 5.5Ghz I can definitely get in the very low 200’s during R23, which would only mean even less power in games.

This cpu can be very very efficient! while still obtaining full power.

I recommend buying what cooler you can afford and tuning the cpu as best you can for optimal power consumption. You don’t always have to sacrifice performance.
 
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This insane 500$ Water Block allows 13900K Overclocking above 6 GHz
 

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For me, and I'm sure many others, it is simply hugely decreased maintenance, significant reduction in potential points of failure, and cost. A heatsink and fan has, essentially, a single point of failure: the fan. An AIO has the fan, the pump and every connection which liquid flows through (and on the fancy ones with all the USB bling control, some bonus ones as well). I gave up on AIOs when I had three in a row arrive leaking at a radiator barb. Bad batch? Probably, but I can't be faffed with the hassle.
A custom loop is a pain with maintenance. But AIO's have - next to no maintenance other than occasionally removing dust from the radiators. What brand AIO's did you buy sounds like bad luck there.

I've never had any issues previously with EK/Corsair/NZXT AIO's.
 
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D15 cools transients better than AIO, custom loop is not a solution but a hobby with too much work.
Most AIO’s have ****ty problems like bad baseplates / mounts, leaking collars, noisy aquarium pumps.
for normal daily usage without SUSTAINED OC benchmark loads, do yourself a favour and buy a D15.
if you prefer to peg your OC’ed CPU for hours in benchmarks trying to gain a few more points you’ll need water.
 

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That's really unlucky, I've never had issues. I've long ago went away from aio's to a full custom loop. Out of interest which aio model did you get that leaked this many times?
A custom loop is a pain with maintenance. But AIO's have - next to no maintenance other than occasionally removing dust from the radiators. What brand AIO's did you buy sounds like bad luck there.

I've never had any issues previously with EK/Corsair/NZXT AIO's.
Corsair H60s. Had H50, H100 and H110-something without issues, but the H60 I swear was cursed.
 

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do yourself a favour and buy a D15
How long have you worked for Noctua? When is the new (D15 replacement) cooler coming out? ;)
 

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With the right 13900K/KF you can get full power performance with low power.

I was testing my 13900KF at 5.8Ghz and it was only using about 260ish watts max during R23 for 30 minutes. In gaming the cpu was consuming anywhere between 60-87 watts max depending on the title. And this is overclocked with DDR5 7600.

Running the cpu stock at 5.5Ghz I can definitely get in the very low 200’s during R23, which would only mean even less power in games.

This cpu can be very very efficient! while still obtaining full power.

I recommend buying what cooler you can afford and tuning the cpu as best you can for optimal power consumption. You don’t always have to sacrifice performance.
How do you play around with consumption? I have mine offset voltage -0.090v which is around 1.236v, stable but in Cinembench R23 im hitting 91c on a custom loop and power use is about 318W! Everything clocks down nicely when idle which helps quite a bit.

Thats stock clocks too. I havent managed to overclock yet, trying to find a sweet spot between voltage, temperature, power and clocks.
 
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You can put power cap in in most BIOSses. I.E. In MSI BiOS you choose stock, air (max 288) or AIO (max 4096)
 
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Thank you for all of your replies, greatly appreciated.
It looks like i have some thinking to do:

1. Leave the Noctua D15 in place, Tune the CPU voltages to try and reduce unnecessary heat

(Positives would be zero maintenance, very low fan noise, no water pump squealing, and no chance of water leaks - Negative would be the fact that I’m likely still throttling the CPU, or at least holding back its potential)

2. Buy a Liquid Freezer II 360 (The 420 wont fit in my case, I measured it haha) or possibly a EK 360 Basic (I don’t care for RGB) - I lose all of benefits of an air cooler, possibly an increase in noise due to the pumps, but unrestrict the i9 with less throttling, and can apply a reasonable OC)

……. hmm
 

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It looks like i have some thinking to do:
Since you had the money to buy a 13900K and a RTX 4090....you can afford to buy a Liquid Freezer II 360 AIO. Try it out, and if you regret it, you could always go back to D15.
 
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The LF will perform worse on transients and maybe 2degr better on sustained.
I would recommend a correction frame first.
 
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