Exploring today's technology for tomorrow's possibilities
Top 10 Reasons to Use Liquid Cooling vs Air Cooling in Your Gaming PC
July 29, 2018
Reading time: 5 minutes
If you're using a computer right now, chances are you'll hear the gentle hum of a small fan if you listen closely. And if you have a hefty gaming computer with loads of processing power, the sound of a fan may be even louder.
Fans have long done a decent job of preventing electronics from overheating. But for people with high-end hardware and a desire for the fastest possible processing, a fan might not provide the best solution.
Enter liquid cooling, an alternative to the trusty old fan. Liquid provides some unique advantages to high-performance computers that deliver speed, power, and graphics and require a more advanced cooling solution.
So, what is better, liquid cooling or air cooling? Here are ten reasons why liquid may be the right choice for you.
1. Higher level of efficiency
While the idea of placing liquid anywhere near your computer sounds a bit counterproductive at first, water cooling is actually much more efficient than air.
Water transfers heat more effectively because of its high thermal conductivity, which means the water works to diffuse heat from various components in your gaming computer build.
Essentially, you're comparing a central air system to a box fan. Going the liquid route means your computer is operating at a consistently cool temperature, while a fan typically only kicks into gear as the computer overheats.
2. Improves overclocking potential
Overclocking is the process of setting your CPU multiplier at a higher frequency, which speeds up your processor and other components. However, this process can damage your computer if you’re not careful, because it increases the heat generated by your system.
Liquid cooling keeps your overclocked hardware cooler, so you won’t crash your computer or damage your hardware because of overheating.
3. Less noise
A water cooling kit will reduce the need to use more than one fan in your PC case. The self-contained loop of water cools quietly, so you don’t have to worry about loud fans breaking your focus while fighting that last big boss in your favorite game.
Most liquid-cooled units do include one fan in the build, though. The liquid system takes on the bulk of the work, while the fan circulates the air. This causes the fan to operate at a lower RPM, so you likely won’t even realize it’s there.
4. Sustains cool temperatures over time
From smartphones to laptops, electronic devices just have a tendency to get hot. You know this if you've experienced the sensation of a burning lap while you're simply checking emails.
An air-cooled PC uses the ambient air around it to push hot air out of the computer system, which works to cool things down even when your computer isn't working all that hard.
Fans will respond after there's an increase in heat. So if you're streaming or gaming, the fan steps in to cool the components by blowing away any excess heat. Liquid cooling, on the other hand, keeps your PC running at a lower temperature all the time.
5. Liquid cooling takes up less space than fans
Water definitely wins when it comes to real estate. Fans take up far more space than the thin tubes of water in your average liquid cooling kit.
A traditional air-cooled system relies on a series of fans cooling various components within the gaming PC case. More fans are needed when you get into custom, high-powered PCs, which makes for a bulky and cluttered case.
While liquid units take up less space than fans, their construction is a bit more complex and consists of the following parts:
6. Cools off high-performance GPUs
These days, a high-end GPU can generate two or three times the amount of heat of a CPU. As a result, you’re bound to notice a major increase in fan noise when you’re in the midst of an extended gaming session like when playing Fortnite on your PC.
Water cooling presents an attractive solution because, again, it cuts down on noise and offers an efficient means of cooling things down.
7. Good for warmer climates
If you live in a location with high ambient temperatures, adding a hardware-heavy gaming PC into the mix can be a recipe for overheating and loud fans.
Because the water system works on an ongoing basis, those working in naturally warmer spaces don’t have to compromise on performance.
8. Liquid cooling offers cooling specific components
Another benefit of liquid cooling is its ability to cool specific components more easily than a fan.
Installing a custom cooling system means users can opt to cool specific components that tend to get hot. Options include the hard drives, the CPU, the GPU, and power supplies.
And because liquid cooling systems are so compact, adding multiple units to your system won’t take up all of the space in your PC case. The alternative is buying multiple fans and placing them near say, the GPU, but this setup can quickly get bulky.
9. Not just for gamers
Gaming seems to get all of the attention when it comes to cooling for performance, but anyone working with electronics can benefit from the power of water cooling.
This efficient approach to protecting your gear means anyone performing more strenuous tasks won’t have to worry about their computer overheating and potentially wiping out hours of work.
Instead, you can rest assured that your gear is protected. Leading video editing programs like Adobe Premiere Pro and Sony Vegas are hard on your computer and require a pretty powerful rig if you want things to run smoothly.
And just like with gaming, you may end up generating a lot of heat that you can reduce with a liquid cooling system.
10. Water cooling looks cool
This last benefit is a subjective one, to be sure. However, water cooling units are often customizable and allow you to choose colorful coolant that provides some added flair to your gaming rig.
Water cooling offers some distinct advantages over its noisy air-based alternative, but it’s hard to deny the extra bit of personality that it can add to your system.
When looking at an air-cooled vs liquid-cooled system, it becomes clear that liquid is the more efficient, quiet solution that keeps your computer from overheating in spite of overclocking or other sources of computing stress.
If you’re building a gaming computer or running demanding programs, this type of cooling system may be ideal for you. That said, installation can get a bit complicated. You can always avoid this process by choosing one of the HP OMEN gaming desktops, our signature gaming computer lineup.
You can include liquid cooling as a customization option when making your purchase, so you can stop worrying about installation and instead get straight to gaming.
About the Author
Dan Marzullo is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Dan produces strategic marketing content for startups, digital agencies, and established brands. His work can be found in Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, YFS Magazine, and many other media outlets.
We are working to meet the current extraordinary customer demand for our products. Our website reflects current product availability but circumstances are dynamic. You may check your order status via our Track My Order page (Click Here to log in). We will send updates by email as soon as they are available. We greatly value your business and appreciate your ongoing patience as we work to get your order to you.
Prices, specifications, availability and terms of offers may change without notice. Price protection, price matching or price guarantees do not apply to Intra-day, Daily Deals or limited-time promotions. Quantity limits may apply to orders, including orders for discounted and promotional items. Despite our best efforts, a small number of items may contain pricing, typography, or photography errors. Correct prices and promotions are validated at the time your order is placed. These terms apply only to products sold by HP.com; reseller offers may vary. Items sold by HP.com are not for immediate resale. Orders that do not comply with HP.com terms, conditions, and limitations may be cancelled. Contract and volume customers not eligible.
HP’s MSRP is subject to discount. HP’s MSRP price is shown as either a stand-alone price or as a strike-through price with a discounted or promotional price also listed. Discounted or promotional pricing is indicated by the presence of an additional higher MSRP strike-through price.
The following applies to HP systems with Intel 6th Gen and other future-generation processors on systems shipping with Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 Pro systems downgraded to Windows 7 Professional, Windows 8 Pro, or Windows 8.1: This version of Windows running with the processor or chipsets used in this system has limited support from Microsoft. For more information about Microsoft’s support, please see Microsoft’s Support Lifecycle FAQ at https://support.microsoft.com/lifecycle
In-home warranty is available only on select customizable HP desktop PCs. Need for in-home service is determined by HP support representative. Customer may be required to run system self-test programs or correct reported faults by following advice given over phone. On-site services provided only if issue can't be corrected remotely. Service not available holidays and weekends.
Not all features are available in all editions or versions of Windows. Systems may require upgraded and/or separately purchased hardware, drivers, software or BIOS update to take full advantage of Windows functionality. Windows is automatically updated and enabled. High speed internet and Microsoft account required. ISP fees may apply and additional requirements may apply over time for updates. See http://www.windows.com.
HP Rewards qualifying and eligible products/purchases are defined as those from the following categories: Printers, Business PCs (Elite, Pro and Workstation brands), select Business Accessories and select Ink, Toner & Paper.My HP Rewards
*America’s most trusted printer brand: Based on 2022 semi-annual internal brand surveys commissioned by HP.
Help protect your printer and your data with Original HP cartridges: HP office-class printing systems are select Enterprise and Managed devices with FutureSmart firmware 4.5 and up, Pro devices, LaserJet models
The personal information you provide will be used according to the HP Privacy Statement