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What do you use for system cooling?

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Do you really need water cooling to gain lower temps?


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Do you really need water cooling to gain lower temps?
« on: April 22, 2010, 10:45:23 am »
Please vote for your favoured method of cooling and share your experiences and opinions.

There is always a lot of debate over the best way to cool your CPU should you go for a high end air cooler or go down the path of proven lower temperatures with water. In the end the decision usually comes down to money (or the lack of) what you are trying to achieve and do you really want to put water into your expensive rig with the potential of a major disaster if it leaks.

In my case, I am a coward and despite some very good advice from others such as Gilgamesh, with regard to water cooling, I recently decided to stay with the tried and trusted air cooling method. I had to do something as, for some reason, my AMD 965BE CPU (140W C2 Stepping), which I hadn't over-clocked, was reaching temperatures that were way above what they should have been. Even at idle it was running at around 40ºC and once I started to actually use the system for video rendering or audio recording, the temperatures would rise steadily towards the 60ºC+ mark and over. The stated max temp for this CPU is only 62ºC so, as you can imagine, I was more than a little concerned.

I decided to buy the Noctua NH-D14 air cooler and a nice new case to house my rig in, as the one I was using wouldn't take this monster of a cooler. The parts arrived and I re-built my system and fired it up. To be honest, despite my experience of building PC's and tweaking I didn't expect to get the results that I did.

I am now getting an idle temperature on my CPU of about 22ºC - 24ºC (an 18ºC - 16ºC drop) and even at full load it barely touches 40ºC. I am not in a climate controlled environment (unless you count the fact that I can open the window) and I am, to say the least, pretty impressed by this turnaround. In fact, I actually pushed my CPU to 4Ghz without any issues or major temperature increase. However, as I don't really need to over-clock I have gone back to more standard settings. The other thing I have gained is a lot less noise from the cooler, in fact I can hardly hear it at all!

So Water or Air cooling? It is not for me to adivse on that choice but, if you are struggling to make that decision, I am hoping that this will give another viewpoint and an insight into what can be achieved with a higher end air cooler.

My Current System Specs:
Chassis: NZXT Tempest Evo
Mobo: GA-790XTA-UD4
PSU: Corsair 620W Modular
CPU: AMD Phenom II x4 965BE (C2) 140W
Cooler: Noctua NH-D14 Air cooler
RAM: Corsair Dominator 2 sets of CMD4GX3M2B1600C8 (8 Gig total)
GPU: Sapphire Radeon ATI 4850x2 (1 Gig)
Monitors: 1 x Viewsonic 2216W & 2 x LG L194WT
Sound Card: M-Audio Delta 1010
HDD's: 2 X Maxtor 200 gig; 1 X Samsung 250 gig; 1 x Hitachi 500 gig; 1 x Seagate 1000 gig
DVD/CD: Liteon DVD RW SH-16A7S
Graphics Tablet: Wacom PTZ3
Keyboard: Microsoft Digital Media Pro
OS: Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit
Remember, when all else fails a cup of tea and a good swear will often help! It won't solve the problem but it will make you feel better.


Re: Do you really need water cooling to gain lower temps?
« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2010, 01:13:38 pm »
I have the same cpu and it idled at 40c (22c ambient temp) with the stock HSF. No overclock.

I added the Arctic Freezer Xtreme and temps fell to 27c idle/40c under load.

It is near silent. I am very happy with air cooling. Maybe down the road I will try water cooling.

Its just not needed right now.

Re: Do you really need water cooling to gain lower temps?
« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2010, 11:23:09 am »
I agree with absic115 there is no need to use water cooling.  I been running my Gigabyte GA-MA790FX-UD5P Motherboard for over a year with Geil Value Dual Channel Kit 2G x 2, DDR3-1600 set at 1360 MHz (7-7-7-24-1T) 1.6v, overclocking a 955 BE(C2) to 3.77GHz 1.45V my idle temps are around 30 degrees and 55 degrees at full load.  I use Xigmatek’s Dark Knight which runs very quiet.  I use my machine to produce high quality photographs an average file is about a 150 Mb while watching TV.  Apart from TV, the loudest noise on my machine usually is the hard drive.

A case with good airflow is essential to get the best results in cooling and quietness.  Cases with good airflow create a draft of cold air blowing in and upwards over the hot components to the rear and top.  Case fans can be excellently controlled by a good motherboard like the Gigabyte, so you do not need to spend money on a fan controller.  In my opinion you can pay a lot of money for a case which do not achieve this, such case are only suitable for water cooling.

My Current System Specs:
Chassis:   Cooler Master CM90 II Advanced
Mobo:   Gigabyte GA-MA790FX-UD5P (BIOS F8h)
PSU:   Jeantech Storm 700w Modular
CPU:   AMD Phenom II x4 955BE (C2) 125W
Cooler:   Xigmatek Dark Knight-S1283V Air cooler
RAM:   DDR3-1600 MHz GV34GB1600C8DC (8-8-8-28 1.6v)
GPU:   Sapphire Radeon ATI HD 5850 1024MB DDR5
Monitors:   CRT Dell D1626HT
Sound Card:   Sound Card: Asus Xonar Essence STX - 124dB SNR Built in Headphone Amp
HDD's:   500Gb Western Digital Caviar Green, Hitachi 400Gb, 1TB Western Digital Caviar Black, Maxtor 300Gb SATA1
DVD/CD:   2 x NEC AD-7240S 24x DVD+/-RW/RAM Dual Layer SATA
Keyboard/Mouse:   Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Desktop 7000
OS:   Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit


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Re: Do you really need water cooling to gain lower temps?
« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2010, 03:51:02 pm »
Both of you make valid points.

When you use the standard 'kits' that people manufacture for entry-level water cooling enthusiasts, that is geerally want they are.... entry-level and not much better than air. However this is just to get you going and used to water cooling. To really cool your computer you have to use a large radiator. Case in point

GURU3D recently did an article on water cooling  a gtx480. On air this GPU reached temperatures of 95C when fully stressed out! However when water cooled the temperatures were at 49c stressed and 59c stressed and overclocked. This was using a 120.3 radiator. There is no way you can get that performance on air.

Water cooling has its good points, but like anything you have go full hog

« Last Edit: May 10, 2010, 05:20:37 pm by gilgamesh » , for the best in PC water cooling and hardware news

Dark Mantis

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Re: Do you really need water cooling to gain lower temps?
« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2010, 10:01:12 pm »
Yes I agree. Air cooling has made significant leaps in what can be accomplished with fans alone however to go that extra mile you can't beat liquid cooling(except maybe Nitrogen). Only thing is the system needs to be designed and built with the specific components in mind. A "one size fits all" approach just doesn't cut it.
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