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Home » Air Cooling vs Liquid Cooling? What is a Better Option for CPU?

Air Cooling vs Liquid Cooling? What is a Better Option for CPU?

Air and liquid cooling are so the most viable solutions to keep your CPU cool. But which one you should go for? Air cooling Vs Liquid cooling is a surely topic that needs a discussion with a clear conclusion. This blog post shows a detailed comparison between Air and Liquid cooling for your processor.

CPU is responsible for performing all the commands it receives from different components and channels. This tiny thing has a small facade but performs crucial functions with the help of inbuilt transistors. Some computer systems have multiple CPUs that require more processing power, which might result in overheating of computers or PCs and quite significantly slows down the system itself. This is when computer cooling comes into play.

What is Computer Cooling?

When a PC or a laptop is used extensively, we all can feel the heat releasing. At that particular time, your computer is overheating because of multiple factors, one of them being the rigorous use of your system for multiple hours. 

In order for your PC to utilize the maximum amount of potential and perform its best, it is a must to have a PC cooler. Computer cooling helps to keep the components within optimal temperatures and eliminates the heat produced by different overheating components. 

The CPU is capable of performing multiple tasks at the same time but works intricately. Electric signals pass through the CPU’s transistors or they get blocked while the CPU works. Electricity gets converted into heat energy while it passes through the CPU or gets trapped inside it. Resistors are placed in circuits and when electricity passes, it converts itself into heat. 

CPUs have in-built case fans to prevent heat but that can not be the only medium to rely on for cooling. It is a must to have a cooler if you are going to extensively use your system, may that be for gaming or for any other purpose. Heat sinks provide some sort of cooling but coolers are still needed as CPUs consume higher watts if it is tremendously used. 

Although, there are many ways to keep your CPU cool, which include mineral oil and passive cooling. Air coolers and Liquid coolers have certainly been the best players so far. 

Reasons Behind Heating up of CPU

According to the surveys, the CPU generates more power than the core of the sun. Too much heat can relatively affect the performance of your computer. As a result, your system will be coerced to slow down. Apart from the CPU, GPU also requires cooling as it is mostly used in gaming. However, in GPU, coolers are inbuilt but still require cooling. In Fact, all the components somehow need cooling as they produce heat when they are being used.  

Despite the fact that the CPU is responsible for most of the heat, other factors like the model of your computer/CPU and usage of computers play a major role too.

But what could be the possible reasons behind the heating up of CPUs and GPUs?

Heavy usage – 

The usage of your CPU plays a major role in heat generation. If you are using your CPU for intensive tasks such as gaming, 3-D rendering, etc, which helps to consume more watts hence producing more heat. 

Airflow Imbalance –

If the air can’t pass through, the CPU won’t work. Due to this, heat remains trapped inside, which results in the heating of the CPU. 

CPU Cooler Failure – 

All the components that help shred the heat from the CPU like the fan, heatsink, and CPU cooler are not working properly, the CPU will generate heat as the heat is being trapped inside. 

Why is it Necessary to Have a Cooler?

If you are a tech fanatic, you would know the grave importance of having a CPU cooler. Your PC basically can’t operate without a cooler as overheating of computer components can be the cause of hardware damage.   

Overheating –

As discussed above, heavy usage of computer systems for video editing or gaming can trigger the CPU to generate more heat than it usually does, which is why you need a CPU cooler to remove the heat and better function the CPU and computers. 

Overclocking – 

Overclocking is basically helping your computer system to run at faster speeds than specified by the manufacturer, which helps to boost performance. Overclocking increases the voltage and the temperatures significantly, which slows down the performance, and in the worst possible scenarios, your system will crash. 


If the dust builds up inside your system, it acts as a barrier to airflow. Hence, the heat remains inside the system and seriously impacts the performance. Coolers help to prevent dust buildup and have a positive impact on performance.

No InbuiltCoolers

Coolers are not included by all the manufacturers, which means you might have to buy a spare one on your own. 

No Power On Self Test(POST)

POST stands for Power On Self Test. It is a test that runs when you turn on your computers to check if all the components (hardware components ) in your system are working properly or not. Your computers won’t turn on without a fan or cooler, let alone run the POST. 

What is Air Cooling?

As the name suggests, the air-cooling CPU depends on air to cool the system and vanish all the heat trapped. It lowers the air temperature by removing heat. In this process, airflow is increased and the temperatures are decreased with the help of finned coils, fans, and cooling fins. 

In this process, either the targeted area has increased airflow or the surface area of the object is increased, which helps to evenly distribute the heat. 

Air cooling consists of 2 components i.e – the fan and the heatsink

Heatsink sits on the top of the CPU and transfers the heat to large metal fins whereas fans, on the other hand, disperse the heat from the case. Fans either sit on the top of or on the side of heatsinks and cool down the fins by pushing cool air. 

Air Coolers are pocket-friendly and cost-effective. 

However, this technique has some limitations. 

Air Cooling has low heat density due to which it cannot completely cool an overheated component. 

Air Coolers are gigantic and take up a lot of space, so you might need more space to fit them in.

They might not be suitable for overclocking or in gaming or video rendering as they require more CPUs to fasten the speed, which means more air coolers for cooling. They will end up taking up a lot of space and weight and won’t be suitable in the long run. 

What is Liquid/ Water Cooling?

In this type of cooling, water is used instead of air to disperse the air away. Water cooling uses liquid water to transfer the heat away from the CPU to the radiator. Cooling is pumped via tubes and later transferred to the chamber on the copper plate that lies on top of the CPU. It then makes its way back to the tubes and pumps fresh and cooled air. Heat is transferred across the heat fins, which helps to push the heat away. 

Unlike air coolers, they are noise-free and fans don’t need to rely on air coolers for cooling as water shreds away the heat. In fact, thermal conductivity in water cooling is far better than in air cooling. On top of that, they look quite appealing as the facade itself features RGB elements and LED screens, which are eye-catching. 

This method of cooling has proven to be quite effective with a perfect touch of modern approach but don’t let this blindfold you already as this method has some drawbacks too.

First things first, they are expensive and might not be affordable for every person. 

This method requires a lot of care and is of high maintenance as they require regular cleaning. Air cooler is a convenient option to consider as they are cost-effective and fans and radiators just need a bit of wiping. 

Installation of custom water coolers can be a task and inappropriate installation can be of major risk.

The Final Take

The primary function of both liquid and air cooling is the same – absorbing the heat, which will prevent the CPU from overheating and having a negative impact on the performance. The heat generated by the CPU is passed on to the metal lid of the CPU, which is called IHS ( Integrated Heat Spreader ). After reaching the IHS, heat is later distributed to the base of the cooler. Heat then disperses itself via heat or a liquid pipe to the fan, where it gets blown away from the cooler. This is how heat alienates itself from the CPU and the computer. 

Both air coolers and water coolers have their own pros and cons. There is no best answer to which cooler is the best as it totally depends on what serves your needs and purpose well. Some things to consider before wrapping up this article – 

If you are looking for a basic cooler that works efficiently and is affordable at the same time, you can consider air coolers. They are suitable for intensive tasks as well in most cases. 

Liquid cooling, on the other hand, is a modern approach and even more efficient in terms of performance, and technology. But one can’t ignore how expensive they can be. If you can afford it, this could prove to be a great investment.