I've been searching through the internet for ever trying to answer this question. It doesn't seem like there is a clear cut answer to it. It seems that water cooling used to be a better solution than air, but with the advent of better fan/hs products, this advantage isn't so much. The more I think about it, the more the two solutions seem similar. Water cooling ends up using the same technology, it just does it farther away from the CPU. Instead of the radiator being right on top the CPU as in air, it is located some distance away. The only advantage of water seems to being able to have a limitless ability to increase the size of the radiator.
Some talk about water's higher specific heat. But doesn't that mean that it takes water longer to cool down also. So any advantage in its capacity to withdraw heat is negated by the fact that it's harder for it to lose the heat. I'm out of school here, this is just my rational thinking. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
I might set up a water cooled system anyway because it sounds like fun, but I'd like to see some hard data that indicates watercooling as the superior technology especially with consideration to overclocking.
Right now I have a lapped Opteron 170 at 2.95Ghz that stays at about 57C @ 1.5v on A8N SLi premium. I will have to do the voltage modification to push it any farther, but I would only do that if I had better cooling. My Zalman is smaller 92mm so I could upgrade that, but if water is better . . . . ?
Water conducts heat better than air - that's why the natural progression to water from air. Now, the best air solutions are as good or better than the worst liquid cooled setups but don't let yourself be fooled - with the proper investment, liquid cooling is far superior to any convection method. Pretty much the knock against liquid cooling is the same as going to TEC cooling from liquid - initial investment. Where you can spend less than $100 for convection cooling of multiple components, to achieve the really excellent cooling results that most people hope for with liquid cooling requires an investment of over $200 in most cases, initially.
Liquid cooling is more complex and does require much more equipment but remember what you are trying to achieve here - it will bring you closer to ambient tempratures than any convection cooling method - after all, the magic number is ambient temperature. The only way to do better is to go to extreme cooling to achieve sub-ambient temperatures.
Umm. One of the biggest advantage of water cooling is that water has a larger thermal capacity than air. This means that for the same volume of air, water can remove more heat from a part. Usually with good water cooling you can keep your CPU near ambient air temps,. Even if it is overclocked.
Also with water you can remove heat from a case quicker than you can via air cooling. Plus with water you can cool more than just your CPU. You can also cool your systems video cards, hdd's, nb, sb, and mosfet's. Which can mean a much quieter system than an air cooled one.
Imagine a HTPC that is amlost inaudible from 2 feet away, yet is running nice and cool. Even though it is in a cabinet.
Now that is a huge advantage when it comes to water cooling.
I agree with both of what these guys have said. It is definitely worth it if your willing to put the effort into getting it right, as it is incredibly satisfying when it works. Some say that its too hard and fiddly to deal with but I really disagree, especially if your overclocking. My e6700 @ 3.6ghz and 1.48 vcore doesn't push 50C at full load. I do agree however that you have to spend a bit more $$$ to get a decent system but if you can afford too then do. It looks great too!
Thanks guys. The fact that it is a little more efficient is all I need. I was pretty much set on doing it anyway. Just needed a little push. At this point it is probably the least expensive thing to do to satisfy my addiction.
Just remember to not go inexpensive when it comes to water cooling. Get good quality parts (DangerDen, Swiftech, etc) not cheapo parts (thermaltake) for you rig, and you will get the best performance and reliability.
I couldn't break the bank for a good water cooling solution, honostly most major OC's are attainable with GOOD Air solutions. And even then lets say to get that extra 400Mhz, is the real world performance gain worth the hundreds of dollars needed to get that notch higher? In my humble opinion, no. Installing water cooling does a better job at cooling while being silent, but I think its more of the 'hobby' kicking in as well as show-off/bragging rights. In a nutshell if you have the cash and really enjoy tinkering around go grab a good water cooling system. If your on a budget and want to get most available OC's just get a good air solution. Basicly $$$ is the determinent for you question.
Of coarse water isnt necessary you can be air cooled and silent these days its easy too.
Water looks nice though and does cool it MUCH better.
If you want to get some max overclocks go for a ultra120-ex and a silenx fan, you can get ones of those that push 90cfm while being 20dba. it'll cool it for some much higher over clocks while staying silent.
Of coarse cant compete with water though atm the best water block to buy is the EK Supreme since it beats out the Dtek fuzion by a few degrees.
But if you want just look for little things that decrease temp like the top thermal paste fan positioning etc. Maybe even lap your HSF, it'll all shave a few degrees off with air cooling.