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Worried about getting an AIO


ac19189
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So I am building a new system and have spent a good amount on parts. I have always gone with an air cooled setup because AIO just scares me. I am worried about the AIO pumps failing or a fitting breaking and it toasting my gear with coolant.

 

The reason I decided to come here and post was because frankly I am looking for people to change my mind on AIO coolers and I was really considering corsair for that cooler. However as I said above I am scared of failure and it taking out my parts. When I am talking near 1k worth of parts in just the CPU, Motherboard, Ram by itself. What is the likely chance of corsair stepping up and taking care of me if their cooler wrecks my system.

 

Do I have any maintainance that is required for AIO what do I need to do for safe use can the system stay running or would I need to shut it down. Another huge worry I have is the case I am using I plan on running it horizontal which makes me worried the bubbles will settle in the the top of the AIO's lines.

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I think if you power down for the night, hit the pillow, and the first thing that comes into your mind is "I hope it doesn't explode", then water cooling is not the right choice for you. I can list the advantages, minimize the risks, and sell you on the convenience. But in the end, if you don't fully believe it, then it becomes a persistent element of worry. There is no need for that and there are too many other stressors in this world.

 

That said, I will go ahead and make a case for AIO water cooling.

 

Positives: A water cooling system is more capable of carrying large watt loads from a CPU/GPU over time without negative effect on the processor's temperature. If you had a 65W Ryzen 3600, this conversation would have stopped at the first paragraph. You do have a 10900K and the watt output is significant. I can hit 225-240W for sustained maximum loads. If you do a lot CPU renders or other professional batch jobs that last 15-30 minutes plus, water cooling offers a much larger safety margin on temperature without downclocking. The longer you need to run at that level, the more water cooling helps.

 

A water system has a higher capacity to hold heat than an air system - or at least one that can fit inside a PC case. Most recent CPUs have become very reactive to instructions and tend to jump around, both in terms of frequency and voltage/temperature. The old days of the clocks relaxing to some 1.5 GHz level and dropping off are more or less gone. It is a constant up/down with power saving features moving to the hardware level. CPU air coolers need to react to CPU temperature directly. There isn't another good metric to use. This tends to make the fans a bit racy, even at the desktop level. Water coolers don't need to do this. You can run slow and steady on the fans and see a clear indicator of how much that affects CPU temperature (coolant or liquid temp change).

 

For a 10900K, you need a pretty good air cooler. Something with a large block radiator and dual fans. The last time I did one of these, it took me 4 hours to get it in, required removal of the motherboard from the case to mount it, and surgical precision to use some absurd tool to reach underneath it all and tighten things down. I can take an AIO in and out of a case in 5 minutes flat. In most circumstances, it is a relatively easy bolt on procedure with options as to where you dump the heat (radiator placement). Smaller cases are more difficult, but then that applies to the air towers as well.

 

Leaks & Maintenance - These don't happen often and we maybe see a couple of reports in here a year. AIOs are also referred to as 'closed loop coolers'. There is no easy way to accidentally make leaks happen. The biggest risk for custom water loops is filling/draining and changing out parts. those are things you don't have to worry about here. That also means no maintenance for you. Aside from a seasonal dusting, there is nothing you need to do.

 

Guarantees - Corsair is likely to compensate you for damaged gear in the unlikely event the AIO leaks all over. However, officially those decisions are made on a case by case basis and there are always a few people who are trying to scam the system. The cooler itself has a 5 year warranty and that covers most people longer than they end up using it. It is a 'no maintenance' product and anything like that will eventually stop working like it once did. Aside from the above, if you really have deep concerns about your hardware and want a financial guarantee, you should probably look at personal property addendums to your home insurance that would cover the PC. You are more likely to take damage from a power surge than have your AIO explode. Most people throw a surge suppressor in between, but if you think that is going to stop a lighting strike in the immediate vicinity, you will be unpleasantly surprised. The exploding cooler falls into the same category of unlikely events that do happen a to few unlucky people. Whether that is worth the financial expense of a contractual insurance guarantee is something you have to decide for yourself.

 

Risk minimization - If the pump were to fail on boot, the motherboard/CPU will shutdown the system the moment it hits the TJ Max. You can set an additional lower temperature threshold in the CUE software that will shutdown the system, but the Intel/AMD specified shutdown point is not arbitrary and exists for safety - not because you just fried the CPU. People who claim their AIO cooler failed and their CPU 'melted' as a result either had another issue (like a massive electrical event that did system wide damage) or they are not being truthful. Additionally, when the tachometer from the pump is connected to CPU fan, you will get a warning the moment you try to boot at the BIOS level if the pump does not start. This is not something you should worry about since even in a worst case scenario, there are systems in place to prevent damage.

 

Mounting - The AIO can go in most positions. The one you want to avoid is the CPU block area is the highest point. This is not something most people are able to do unless their case offers a bottom mount position or they are running it outside the case on table. All liquid cooling systems have air somewhere in the loop. The only place it becomes a problem is when it's in the pump making noise or the CPU block preventing liquid from passing through the fins. You have a P3 listed in your specs, but mentioned horizontal mounting so I was wondering if you had something else in mind. Horizontal mounting is not out and I ran a 540 like this for quite a while. Most horizontal set-ups are going to be CPU facing the ceiling. In that circumstance, almost all radiator positions will be horizontal and above the pump/block.

 

 

 

There are two groups of people who I generally recommend stay away from liquid cooling. The first is those who are highly sound sensitive, a.k.a. the 'Quiet freak'. I am not making judgments on their preferences, but if you are watching TV and all you can think about is the slight hum the refrigerator is making in the next room, then liquid cooling is not for you. A pump is a small, high speed mechanical device. It's is going to have a higher frequency sound not like the wide, diffuse noise from a fan. If you live alone, in a quiet apartment, with the fans on the lowest possible setting, you probably are going to hear the pump when working quietly at the desk. This is most certainly true if you place the case on the desk 18 inches from your ear. Most people are accustomed to the soft noise from a fan and if the lowest possible noise profile is your absolute goal, then adding additional mechanical devices like HDDs or pumps does not fit that aim.

 

The other non-recommended group is if you are afraid of water. As mentioned at the top, if even thinking about this fills your heart with worry, then I think you take a pass. Perhaps somewhere down the line you change your mind and give it a try, but there is no CPU on the market that requires water cooling right out of the box.

Edited by c-attack
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What a beautiful read I enjoyed all the points you made. I am still very much considering an AIO though I am a bit worried about the mounting in this case both my cpu and AIO Rad would be facing the ceiling as you put it. The high point in the system would end up being the loop pipes themself and I don't know how that would work with an AIO I would imagine it would cause a the two following issues.

 

Air in the lines means fluid will not move very well if at all and then over in the rad you would run into the possible issue of air on the intake side i would imagine unless the AIO lines had enough space to displace all the air in the rad and pump. What are your thoughts on this?

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Every AIO has an air bubble in it, regardless of mounting position. Every test/benchmark you see is an AIO with air in the system somewhere. The only place it becomes a serious issue is when it drifts into the CPU block and prevents water from covering the heat dissipation fins on the block. If you do a horizontal motherboard case and then presumably the radiator is mounted on one of the sides, all you do is lift up that end of the case after starting up for the first time (and that's only if the pump is making noise). That should put the bubble in the radiator where it usually stays. It's a bit like the old marble maze game where you tilt the board to move it around, avoiding the holes. In this version, you want to maneuver it away from the pump/block. '

 

I like unusual or different cases. Anything but the standard, under the desk box. For years I have closely examined almost every horizontal case from TT, Caselabs, or anyone else. I also ran my Corsair Air 540 turned on it's back to create the same thing for over a year. I have not seen any reports on these cases having issues with AIO coolers. The only one that comes to mind is this two level horizontal case where the MB tray is the "second story" and there is the potential of mounting the radiator underneath the entire motherboard tray. That might be a bit tricky. Can you be more specific about what case you are interested in? It doesn't matter if it's not Corsair. They don't have anything in this category at the moment.

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There is also a "bling" aspect to water cooling in that it is seen by many as more "pro" than air cooling.

 

My personal choice is air cooling unless you really have a very hot CPU. The reason is that I generally find air coolers to be quieter. For a really hot CPU or a "blingy" system then I would get a watercooler. Don't forget that most GPU's are air cooled all the way up to 300W. That's a lot more than most CPU's will ever give off.

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