Quiet PC: Water vs Air Cooling?

Self built / NA
January 10, 2009 at 14:50:53
Specs: Windows Vista, E6600
Hi there,

So I'm looking at making a pretty major upgrade to my PC. For the past few years I've just been updating piece by piece but this time I'm going for a full blown brand new everything. As a consequence I'm at a stage where I can seriously consider water cooling.

I'd love to have a completely silent PC however I have no experience with water cooling.

I'm *not* particularly concerned with over clocking so this isn't a performance issue, it's more that I just want a PC that doesn't sound like a helicopter in the corner of my room. It is a gaming machine though so obviously it has some high end, hot running, components which need a significant amount of cooling.

Water Cooled Questions:

Is water cooling easy to implement? I'm by no means a computer building novice, but at the same time I'm not a plumber and generally would think water and electricity is a bad idea..

Will I find it easy to get the water blocks I need for CPU/GFX etc (I'll have major manufacturers i.e. Intel/Nvidia)?

What about secondary cooling such as the north and south bridge heat sinks which are typically cooled by the airflow generated by the CPU cooler?

What are the average costs like?

Is it a significant improvement, i.e. I won't be able to hear my PC at all, or is it still noticeable?

Do the pumps make a lot of noise, hence making it pointless? What about the PSU?

Air Cooled Questions:

Are noise reduction foam panels you see advertised any good?

Can the same level of quietness be achieved with air cooling vs water cooling if using high quality quiet fans etc?

Are the cases with the PSU at the bottom rather than the top significantly better?

Basically, should I switch to water or stick with air? Any other thoughts/experiences you have then let me know :)

Thanks, Ed.

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January 10, 2009 at 15:23:53
I personally have no experience with water cooling, nor have I ever heard a water cooled system run to compare it to air cooling. You're not gonna get away from fans though. Waterblocks would be used on the CPU, GPU & northbridge, but there's still a fan for the radiator, not to mention the PSU. And case cooling fans are still necessary as well.

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January 10, 2009 at 15:34:15
Heat pipes is a non fan method. Don't know the heat flow capacity.

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January 10, 2009 at 15:36:08
I prefer air.


Easy to implement? No, it's more involved than air cooling. To start with, you'll have to find a place to put the pump, radiator/fan, reservoir and all the plumbing.

Water and electricity don't mix. That said, it could be a week or a year before you spring a leak. Maybe never; but the chance is always there. Electrolysis and algae growth can be a concern too. Imagine water block passages eaten up or plugged. Hell, imagine the consequences of such a thing.

Water blocks should be pretty easy to find. Something suitable for NB and SB chips shouldn't be too hard to come by either.

Average cost for a good system? I imagine $200-400US; maybe more. The "all in one" units I've seen have been a disappointment from the cooling, cost and noise standpoints.

Completely quiet? Nope. Pump makes a little noise and the radiator will usually have a fan to move air through it.


Yes, insulation from kits or diy mousepads do help.

I believe I can run as quiet on air as water.

Case layout differences? Not significantly better. Air still follows physical laws and rises as it is heated. Basic airflow thru a case dictates ambient air enter in the bottom front area and warm air be exhausted at the top rear. That diagonal airflow should wash across as much of the innards as possible.

I believe you can refine air cooling to be cool and quiet without investing the money good water cooling would require.

A guy who once frequented these forums mentioned that of cool, quiet, and cheap; you can choose any two of the three.

You'll find other opinions...this is mine.


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Related Solutions

January 10, 2009 at 16:20:27
If you learn how to read the specs on fans you can find CPU cooling fans that are quiet. Same goes for PSUs, case fans, graphics cards, etc. There are cases that are designed with noise in mind. Google is your friend.

Start with the case. Look at the major makers. Antec is a good place to start as they sell cases and PSUs.

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January 24, 2009 at 02:47:53
hey mate i got water cooling its simple to do and it quiet and mine has 2 radiators but the only problem is the north bridge get hot so get a asus sriker extreme motherboard it comes with a fun for the chipsets when you install the water cooling make sure you have no mb in the case and bleed it or it wont work

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