Liquid cooling is a radiator for the processors inside a computer. Like an automotive radiator, a liquid-cooling system circulates a liquid through a heat sink attached to the processor. As the liquid passes through the heat sink, heat transfers from the hot processor to the cooler liquid. The hot liquid then moves out to a radiator at the back of the case and transfers the heat to the ambient air outside of the case. The cooled liquid travels back through the system to the components to continue the process.
Over the years, CPU (central processing unit) and graphics card speeds have increased. To generate the new speeds, CPUs employ more transistors, draw more power, run at higher clock rates, and thus generate more heat than ever before. Liquid cooling is more efficient than traditional heatsink technology at moving heat away from components.
Another benefit of liquid cooling is quieter operation. Most current heatsink and fan combinationsgenerate a lot of noise because their fans work hard at circulating large volumes of air. In fact, many high-performance CPUs require fan speeds in excess of 5000 rpm; overclocking a CPU requires even more airflow over the CPU. Liquid cooling reduces the “engine noise” this generates.
As advantageous as liquid cooling systems are, they do have drawbacks. THEY NEED SPACE. Liquid cooling kits require a fair amount of space inside the computer case to work effectively. There must be room for items such as the impeller, fluid reservoir, tubing, fan, and power supplies. For that reason, liquid-cooled systems require larger desktop system cases. Much of the system can be outside of the case, but that takes up space in or around the desktop.
Recent closed-loop technologies have reduced the overall footprint over older systems, but they still require space. Specifically, they need enough clearance for the radiator to replace one of the internal case fans. Also, the tubes must reach from the component that needs to be cooled to the radiator. Finally, a closed-loop system cools only a single component, so if you want to liquid-cool a CPU and a video card, you need space for two systems.
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