Air cooling vs. Water cooling - help out a cooling newbie

I'm planning for a new system from scratch (that won't get built until the summer after the new ATI cards are released).

My plan was to get the Thermaltake's full tower Shark case, and I thought I would get one of their water cooling systems to go along with it (Big Water? Don't know which is best). But then as I read reviews of the Tuniq Tower and the like, it seems like those provide enough cooling to achieve a significant OC of a C2D chip.

This will be my first overclocked system, and I'm not interested in pushing the limits of possibility, just getting a substantial performance is there any reason to deal with water cooling systems? I don't mind a little noise, and I'd prefer to not deal with the maitenence that seems to come along with water systems. I was just wondering if there are any tangible benefits to a water setup that I'm overlooking beyond the coolness of having neon water in my computer, before I go the air cooling route.

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  1. Quote:
    I don't mind a little noise, and I'd prefer to not deal with the maitenence that seems to come along with water systems.

    than there is no reason for you to get water cooling, with a full tower case and a tuniq you'll get a good airflow that will keep your temps down even with a significant oc. like you said if you don't mind a little noise and you won't shoot for extreme oc, i'd suggest go with air cooling
  2. Xenikos-

    I wouldnt say im an expert on the topic, but i have built a few computers in my day...never overclocked though. The computer I currently have is water cooled. I have an older Koolance PC2 case. Everything in the case is koolance brand, minus the cpu block.

    I can tell you that this computer is quieter than the others ive had. (Though id say that the other computers were NOT that much louder, and newer technology in the air cooling sector has produced better coolers that dissapate heat better, dont consume as much power, and arent as loud as their predecessors) Ive never had any troublesome maintenance issues with the Koolance setup. (Other than changing the coolant on a yearly basis, which is easy, and adding other cooling blocks as i saw fit)

    To point out any other benefits of using a water cooling system over air, is that if you decide later on down the road that you want to cool your hard drive, or your NB or your video card, or whatever, you can get a water block for almost any component in your system, and it wont add to noise or power reduction.

    To play devils advocate now, there are a lot of excellent air cooling products out now that perform close to the level of liquid cooling. Zalman and Thermaltake have many products that would suit you well, and would cost less. Maintenance is close to zero, accept for vacuuming out the dust bunnies from inside your case every now and then.

    So in short, the choice is up to you. If you have the money and the time, Id setup a liquid cooled system. Like i said before ive never had any problems with mine. Going along with that, I have two 74 Raptors now and want to put them in a raid 0 configuration in my system. I have my eye on a double hard drive liquid cooler and installation will be fairly easy. (Those raptors put out alot of heat) Liquid cooling is kinda like overkill, but you can get great results from air cooling as well.

    Hope this has helped you out.
  3. Bigwillie -

    thanks, that's a dimension I hadn't considered. I'll be setting up a Raid 0 across 2 7200 RPM HDs. Would that generate enough heat to warrant putting a water block on it? I assumed that my vid card (a 8800 or better) will have its own cooling system.

    The only other question I would have is: is there any comparison between the levels of OC achieved on the higher end c2ds (6600, 6800) between air and water systems? I've seen anandtech's comparisons of air systems against each other, but no numbers showing how much further a watercooled system could push those chips.
  4. Great case, but don't go for Termaltake's liquid systems as the pumps do not last very long. I suggest getting a Swiftech or Danger Den kit, you will me more pleased with the performance and longevity that they provide.

    When it comes to the question of whether you should use air or liquid; it's a personal decision, some people want to get the job done and some people want to go beyond getting the job done. Their are great air coolers out there that will cool your overclocked cpu and ask for more, such as the Tuniq Tower and the Thermalright Ultra-120. Liquid systems are for those who want to push their cpu to the max, people who wants the quietest computer possible, or for those who want to say "look I have liquid cooling". I think I am a blend of all three. The big reason why I would say to go for liquid is so that you can cool almost the whole system (cpu, gpu, nb).
  5. And since I'm trying to complete my education in this area, I'll get all the dumb questions out there:

    Do water cooling systems do anything for overclocked RAM, or is that just going to depend on airflow and ambient case temp?
  6. If the RAM is being liquid cooled then I would think so.
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