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Liquid cooling vs air?

Last response: in CPUs
February 10, 2010 4:15:49 AM

I might be setting off a firestorm here, but, most of the articles I've read ( most from this site ) in my mind can't justify the cost and complexity of liquid cooling opposed to air. Keeping in mind that for my next build, I don't want my computer to sound like a fleet of 747's reving for takeoff either. Consider it will revolve around an i7 920 and be used mostly as a media edting work center which requires major "number crunching" and not for gaming. It's going to have to be lightning fast (less time processing = better production) and fast usually brings more heat. Any thoughts?

More about : liquid cooling air

a b à CPUs
February 10, 2010 4:27:54 AM

Corsair H50 is on par with the best air cooling(Prolimatech Megahalems/Megashadow). It should offer you good cooling performance with low noise.
a b à CPUs
February 10, 2010 4:33:19 AM

BTW, an i5-750 is more than enough for your need.
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February 10, 2010 4:52:39 AM

Yes, I've considered the i5, but, I just can't wrap my head around the 1156 platform. I've also looked at a recent article about the H50 because it looked like an elegant solution and I can't think of a better company's reputation, but tests showed that it often fell short compared to air. I know theory says based on thermal dynamics that liquid cooling should be more efficiant, but every comparison I've seen doesn't justify it when it comes to cooling a CPU.

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a b à CPUs
February 10, 2010 8:29:17 AM

Liquid cooling is for ultra-quiet, if not silent, computing, insane overclocks and posers. If you don't fall into any of those categories then air cooling is more than sufficient.

What is there about the 1156 platform you can't get your head around? Dual channel RAM, takes Core i5 and i3 processors (and has a Core i7 if you want hyperthreading), PCI-E handled by the CPU so there's not really enough lanes to go around to drive stupid GPU setups. Seems simple enough - what's your query exactly?

And don't bother with the H50 - the only benches I've seen where it performs well are from Corsair themselves or in comparison to low-end coolers - I've never seen the H50 outperform a Megahalems or Ultra-120 Rev C when bolted to a Nehalem-based chip (you just can't cool them with a single 120mm rad).

Plus, in order for the H50 to work properly you have to draw cool air into the case, so you're straight away messing about with case airflow - the point is to exhaust hot air, not suck it in!
February 10, 2010 3:19:28 PM

I have two computers with i7 920 chips and will soon be building a third. My experience is that air cooling will do that job if you are overclocking up to 4.0ghz, but you have to get a good heatsink. A thing to consider is that these computers run 24/7, running F@H, so they're fairly loaded. This is my experience:

My first i7, running a CO chip, has a TRUE with two fans on it and keeps the temps in the low 70c range at 3.8ghz. Running it up to 4.0ghz raises the temps to about 80c. I was told that a Coolermaster V8 was a good cooler for less money, considering it came with a fan, so I tried one on my second i7 that has a D0 chip. The V8 did not cool as well as the TRUE and I added a second fan. Even with two fans, the temps with the V8 run about 83c at 3.8ghz. I replaced the V8 with a Noctua D14 and the temps dropped 10 degrees (72c). All temps are as measured by Coretemp. I plan to get another Noctua D 14 for the next i7 build. One other good cooler is the Coolermaster V10, but it has a couple complications and does not allow ram that has tall heatsinks, besides being a lot more expensive.

I don't think the H50 will do the job, as others have said. The i7 is a hot running chip, reminiscent to the Prescott chips of years ago, so demands a good heatsink. The H50 is not good enough in my opinion. Of course, it also depends on how far you overclock. The H50 might work well enough if you only clock up to the 3.2-3.4ghz but even then a Noctua U12P would be better for about the same amount of money. Yes, admittedly I like Noctua heatsinks and fans a lot. They are near silent and cool well.

As to water cooling, my limited experience has been that it works very well, but is expensive and takes a fair amount of maintenance. After one venture with it, I decided not to do it again. Others may not mind these problems.

As to the i7 verses i5 platforms, I prefer the i7. It appears to have a longer platform life and will soon have 6 core chips available for those who wish the computing power. But to each his own.
a b à CPUs
February 10, 2010 3:29:04 PM

any kind og H50 like (ala single rad and what nots) just fails to stack up to a quality cooler like the TRUE (and even less so when you go with a dual faned TRUE/CCF/tower based heat piped cooler)

if you want quality water, the cheapest setup that performs better by a good margin is around 400-500 dollars
a b à CPUs
February 10, 2010 3:55:37 PM

On the topic of good quality air cooling, if you're pushing these chips to the 3.8GHz and above range then the cream of the crop is the Prolimatech Megahalems or Thermalright Ultra 120 Rev C (must be a Rev C), both with a pair of 120mm fans attached in a "push/pull" configuration.

Even though the combined cost of these can hit £80-£90, it's far cheaper and just as effective as good quality water cooling, and if done right aren't as noisy as you'd expect.

There are other coolers that perform almost as well at a lower price point - Cogage True Spirit, Titan Fenrir and Thermolab Baram.
a b à CPUs
February 10, 2010 4:52:38 PM

LePhuronn said:
On the topic of good quality air cooling, if you're pushing these chips to the 3.8GHz and above range then the cream of the crop is the Prolimatech Megahalems or Thermalright Ultra 120 Rev C (must be a Rev C), both with a pair of 120mm fans attached in a "push/pull" configuration.

Even though the combined cost of these can hit £80-£90, it's far cheaper and just as effective as good quality water cooling, and if done right aren't as noisy as you'd expect.

There are other coolers that perform almost as well at a lower price point - Cogage True Spirit, Titan Fenrir and Thermolab Baram.

Almost any good tower cooler can put one to 3.8-4.0 GHz, my Xigmatek HDT-s1283 which is aging and out done by ever cooler you listed there takes me to 4.0 GHz with acceptable temps. I say go with what is cheap.
February 12, 2010 2:21:19 AM

I appriciate all of your thoughts, guys. To Phuronn's response, I'm wary of the 1156's limited lane capacity and of reliability issues I've read about aftermarket mobo's. They just don't seem to have flexibilty and expandabily I'm looking for. There is also a question of how long the platform will be around. I want the flexibility of triple channel memory, yes, I know that in many cases, little performance gain would be realized, but, DDR3 triple channel is the direction most are headed. I'll more than likely be running multiple applications at the same time, handling and manipulating HUGE video and sound files, hyperthreading with the 920's "headroom" will come in handy. System longevity is a sidebar of what I'm after, rock solid performance at realistic prices is the other. 10 years from now, I'm confident that the 920 will still be considered a good performer at an affordable price, and by then, the 975 will be at where 920 prices are now. I don't plan on OC'ing an i7 920 anything more than 3.8Ghz, so, thanks Sailor for your information about your surprising results with the V8. I'm sure the V8 is a good cooler, but your results with Noctua is good to know. I've read many praises with them. They certainly won't win any beauty contests, but, then, I'm not after trophies. I was hoping to hear more from the liquid cooling crowd. Based on what everyone is saying here, I'm convinced air is the way to go.
a b à CPUs
February 12, 2010 8:13:00 AM

In that case, crank yourself a i7 920 on the Asus P6TD Deluxe mobo, drop in 12GB Patriot Sector 5 Viper II 1600MHz RAM (3 dual-channel kits, don't worry 6 sticks will kick in triple-channel) and a Cogage True Spirit (or the Noctua if you want) and you're away.

The Asus boards comes with Turbo-V overclocking software that also store profiles, so you can set yourself up a 3.8GHz or even 4GHz OC but only switch it on when you need the grunt (i.e. rendering/transcoding video) - no point in your system screaming at full tilt just for web browsing.

Also with the P6TD Deluxe, you can use both 16x PCI-E slots and still keep a PCI-E 1x and PCI 2.2 slot free for sound card.
a b à CPUs
February 12, 2010 8:48:03 AM

I would Thermalright True Balck 120 Rev C. or Thermalright Ultra 120 Rev C. Just have two 90CFM 120mm fans. Nothing beats it. True Black is a fraction ahead of Ultra. But both are awesome!
February 12, 2010 1:40:16 PM

Thanks, Phuronn. The P6T Deluxe is ideed one of a very short list of mobo's I've been considering just for the flexibilty aspect alone as well as 12mb of memory. To many, it may seem like overkill, but again, I want to future proof this build.
a b à CPUs
February 12, 2010 2:18:17 PM

Dude, nothing is overkill when dealing with media - if I can shave 5 minutes off a render with 12GB RAM over 6 I'll do it without a second thought.

If you're dealing with HD footage, I can't recommend enough setting up a 3 disk RAID 0 for your media files (especially if you're dealing with Canon EOS 5D footage) - 3 Samsung SpinPoint F3 500GB for a (sort of) triple-fast 1.5TB disk, or 3 1TB versions if you have a LOT of footage. Then have another disk on its own for static, low-bandwidth media like project files, graphics and such.

The 6 SATA ports on the P6TD Deluxe will then only leave you one each for system drive and optical drive.
February 20, 2010 5:09:20 AM

Thanks, Phuronn. Your info has been helpful and has me looking in Asus's direction if I can get past some of the reliability issues I've been reading about lately. Never the less, they aren't crossed off my list entirely. I can't agree more in the saying " time is money " when it comes to video editing and even for analog to digital audio conversions. Your idea of using separate hard drives for different types of media is an interesting one considering that hard drives are relatively inexpensive compared to the amount of data being delt with.
February 20, 2010 5:11:04 AM

Best answer selected by mrmazo.
a b à CPUs
February 20, 2010 11:31:25 AM

Cheers for the best answer - glad to help.

At the office I'm running a slightly cut-down version of the multi-drive set-up and it works nicely. I have 2 Samsung SpinPoint F3 500GBs in RAID 0 for our HD footage (mostly Sony XDCAM EX format with a few tape-based ones like HDCAM) and another F3 500GB for the project files, EDLs, batch lists, graphics and such.

The RAID 0 I/O rate is wonderful to keep the HD footage coming and the Core 2 Quad Q5500 clocked to 3GHz is more than enough to keep Premiere Pro CS4 happy displaying it all.

The beauty of it was when the RAID crashed at the beginning (no idea what I did but I killed it when tweaking stuff). All the projects and batch capture lists were stored on the standalone drive so I never lost the edits, so just simply rebuilt the RAID, plugged the cameras back in and recaptured the lot from the batch lists and I was back up and running with no loss, other than about an hour of time to recapture.

Personally I found this approach negates the need to mess about with RAID 1 or RAID 0+1 which means more drives - just make sure you back up your critical files from the standalone drive and only ever use the RAID for batch-captured footage.