The Search For A Better Sink
Whether we’re talking Porsche engines or performance PCs, surface area has always been liquid cooling’s greatest advantage. You get additional benefits from moving your radiator to a cooler part of your case, though few PC enclosures are designed for this (here’s one). And while it's possible to build an air-only solution similar in size to our favorite liquid-based products, we don't like the thought of a multi-pound copper heat sink hanging from our motherboards. After all, we've seen big coolers devastate processors and sockets when they're strapped in and shipped.
As a result of those logistic nightmares, most boutique builders use liquid cooling of some sort in their overclocked PCs. Of course, those high-end shops have enough experience to know not to ship a filled water-cooled box with an air vent. And they certainly can't expect most of their customers to know how to top-off their own systems, or follow a regular flush and fill routine. Closed-loop coolers are consequently popular because they prevent both leakage and maintenance hassles.
|Closed-Loop CPU Cooler Features|
|Corsair Hydro H90||Enermax ELC120||NZXT Kraken X40||Thermaltake Water2.0 Extreme|
|Cooling Fans||1 x 140 x 25 mm||2 x 120 x 25 mm||1 x 140 x 25 mm||2 x 120 x 25 mm|
|Control Type||Motherboard Fan Headers||Motherboard Fan Headers||Software Programmable||Software Programmable|
|Weight||28 Ounces||28 Ounces||32 Ounces||41 Ounces|
|AMD Sockets||AM2 to AM3+||AM2 to AM3+||AM2 to AM3+||AM2 to AM3+|
|Intel Interfaces||1156/1155, 1366, 2011||775, 1156/1155, 1366, 2011||1156/1155, 1366, 2011||1156/1155, 1366, 2011|
If you don't plan to move your PC, you might not be as stressed about the weight of a big air cooler. For you, liquid cooling is all about temperature control. Therefore, the preeminent big air cooler serves as today’s performance baseline in a follow-up to December's Four Closed-Loop CPU Coolers Take On Noctua's NH-D14.