Computer cooling; what to choose!

Wondering about what computer cooling solution you should choose let’s take you on a tour through the world of cooling.

There are quite a few ways to cool your computer to choose from when you first start digging.

Air cooling: Air cooling is what your computer came with, a fan blows air on a heat sink which sit’s on top of your CPU and thereby cools it. The standard coolers that come with computers or CPU’s from the manufacturer are OK for stock use I guess tho they tend to make a lot of noise and no one likes that. To reduce the noise and gain better cooling you can change the standard cooler with an aftermarket air cooler like this one, this is a bit taller than the original one but not so much it will not fit inside most computer cases but do check the measurements before buying! This cooler comes with a controller that let’s you change the speed of the fan, so you can adjust the noise it makes this cooler in specific is rated to make only 27 dB on max and a barely hear able 18 dB at its lowest setting. We can recommend this cooler as we use it in our server, and it has been running almost constant for about 6 years without failing once!

Picture: Zalman.com

Liquid Cooling: Liquid cooling is a very nice substitute for air cooling but most kits require a bit more technical skills to mount than a regular air cooler. There is some real easy kits as well and we’ll get back to them later. Liquid coolers work by transferring the CPU’s heat into the cooling liquid through a block mounted on top of the CPU usually made from copper, the heated water goes through a radiator that has one or several fans that blow cold air through it like the radiator on your car, thereby cooling the water again before it goes into the tank and starts all over. This gives you a much lower CPU temp than air cooling which is a plus, the fans on the radiator are usually low noise fans that don’t generate much noise, the pumps do make some noise but newer pumps make less and less noise with newer technology arriving these self built kit’s can be expanded to cool hard drives, graphics card or motherboard chipset you can even get liquid cooled power supply’s to build into these kit’s but then again you have to do all the work your self, and if they leak you are usually the one to blame so warranty will most likely not cover it!. Now for the easy kit’s i talked about earlier, these are called closed-loop systems, they come put together and pre-filled from the factory and all you do is mount them and press play, they cool down your computer significantly better than stock air coolers do and you don’t have to build them your self but they are not expandable like the kit’s I talked about above. They don’t cost as much as a DIY kit and don’t need any maintenance! I have used the Corsair H70 my self on a 140 W CPU and it kept it pretty cold compared to the an aftermarket air cooler did.

Picture: Tweaknews.net

Picture: Corsair

Peltier Cooling: Peltier is an electrical phenomenon that occurs when one apply a voltage between two electrodes connected to a sample of semiconductor material, in English this means when you apply power through a Peltier element it transfers heat from one side of the element to the other side thereby cooling the hot side eg. the CPU, these pads are expensive and do not really offer a good cooling to power ratio as they need allot of power to cool efficiently.

Picture: dansdata.com

Phase change cooling: Also known as Vapor phase change cooling is in theory the same as the cooler in your freezer, Liquid R134a gas flow from the compressor and through the block that is mounted on top of the CPU, called the CPU head, there the liquid absorbs the heat from the CPU through phase change when it vaporizes into gas form and is led back into the compressor and then through a condenser where it returns to liquid form and the cycle restarts.  These systems are also expensive but they offer extensive cooling properties as long as you can keep it from generating condense inside your computer. We have not tested these systems our self but reading through other tests seems to give the same picture, they cool very good, take up a bit space and cost allot!

Picture: octools.com

LNG or Liquid Nitrogen Gass: This is a cooling method reserved for the hardcore overclockers only, this method involves pouring compressed Nitrogen at -196 degrees Celsius directly on the face of the CPU, instantly freezing it. This way one can reach insane CPU speeds but as the method is useless to regular consumers we’re not going any deeper into this. If you do wish more info click here .

Picture: speedingcomputer.com

 

So… which one should you choose? well that depends on your use, if your computer is mainly used for surfing, mail and just runs on stock speed and aftermarket air cooler is right up your alley, there are a large quantity of makes to choose from so spend some time to figure out what suits your needs and your budget. We like Zalman products when going for quiet but look around and find the right one for you!

If you are a gamer that require high performance of your system you can go for a top of the line air cooler like the Noctua NH-D14 if you have room for it inside your case, this is an extreme air cooler but it is also huge so you might be better of with a closed loop liquid cooling system or if you got the skills and the money I recommend from personal experience a full liquid cooling solution, as with air cooling there is a large amount of producers, you should start by reading the basics of water cooling and getting to know how the systems work, and what you need to make them work. Then when you know what you need, sett up a list and go shopping.

If you spend all your spare time chasing the ultimate overclock you should look into phase change or LNG cooling, but then again if you do then you already know don’t you!

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