We surely live in the age of liquid cooling. Almost all manufacturers specialized in air cooling systems have their own AIO kits (and a clear example of this is the renowned German manufacturer be quiet!), while we also have companies specialized almost exclusively in custom liquid cooling circuits. What to choose? Is it better to go for an AIO kit for its simplicity or is it worth getting complicated with a custom system?
Why choose liquid cooling (AIO or custom)?
Liquid cooling systems have something fascinating, something different, something that is outside the norm established by the air heatsinks. But it’s not all aesthetics, as when it comes to getting excellent cooling performance to keep your CPU cool, high-end liquid cooling systems are without a doubt the way to go, as they can provide performance far superior to any air heatsink.
In addition to this, a liquid cooling is generally plus silent than an air-cooled heatsink because its high cooling capacity prevents the fans installed in the radiator from having to spin too fast. In view of this, it is worth mentioning that they also give us a great versatility since we can choose the radiator size that best suits our needs, with the 120, 240 and 360 mm models with one, two and three fans being the most frequent types (proof of this is, for example, the Silent Loop 2 by be quiet!).
When to use a radiator with one, two or three fans? The first thing you have to look at is the compatibility of your box, since these have limitations in terms of the length of the radiators that can be installed. The second thing you need to know is what level of cooling you want or need for your CPU, since the higher the radiator, the greater its ability to dissipate heat and, therefore, the better the temperature result that we will obtain.
Advantages of using AIO liquid cooling
Of course, all hardware enthusiasts will know that the biggest advantage that AIO liquid cooling systems have over custom is their ease of installation, since we do not have to go around measuring or bending tubes, installing fittings or filling the liquid itself by hand. In addition to this, as they are closed circuits that are already sealed at the factory, the probability that they will occur fluid leaks they are very low, much more than in any custom circuit.
On the other hand, AIO systems require practically no maintenance; manufacturers like be quiet! recommend refilling the liquid every two years, and for this heatsinks such as your Silent Loop 2 have a refill port to make things easier for even inexperienced users (in fact, they even include a bottle of coolant so you don’t have to worry about buying anything separately).
In addition to all this, the higher-end AIO models have a performance similar to that of custom systems but without much “hassle”, with the advantage of being much more versatile, easy to install, and with which there is also no need to have Be so careful when transporting the PC case. On the other hand, we cannot forget to mention that in monetary terms, AIOs are much cheaper than any custom system, even the highest-end models compared to the entry-level ones.
It is true that compared to a well-built custom system, AIO liquid cooling may not be as visually striking, but it is still much more so than an air-cooled heatsink and, in fact, leaves a lot of free space in the center. of the case that allows a better flow of internal air, providing better thermal performance and giving the case a more sober appearance than with an immense copper and aluminum heatsink in the middle.
Custom liquids also have their advantages
So far we have seen that AIO liquid cooling systems have many advantages over custom systems, but it is necessary to also mention the advantages that these have, starting with their enormous expandability; This means that, in addition to cooling the CPU, we can integrate other hardware components such as the graphics card, the RAM or even the motherboard chipset in the same circuit, providing the PC with much more “integral” cooling.
The bad part of this (or good, depending on how you look at it) is that custom systems allow the integration of various radiators at the same time on the same circuit, creating configurations that are undoubtedly impressive as in the photo that we have put above these lines. In addition, they also provide another additional advantage and that is that when one of the circuit components breaks down, we can simply change it for another: for example, if the pump breaks down, we disassemble it and assemble another one, being able to continue using the rest of the components, something that if it happens to us in a liquid AIO would be synonymous with having to throw it away.
AIO or custom liquid cooling, what should you choose?
As we always say, it will depend on your needs, preferences and budget. An AIO liquid cooling kit is undoubtedly much simpler, cheaper and almost maintenance free, offering a level of performance similar to that of a custom liquid, although it may not be as visually impressive.
Now, if what you need is a liquid cooling system that encompasses CPU, GPU, RAM and / or chipset, then you have no choice but to opt for a custom system, although its installation difficulty and price may be reversed. the mayority.