Since the inception of personal computers, the need for more processing power has often gone hand in hand with the need for more efficient cooling. An overheated processor can slow down efficiency, induce shut down, or even melt the circuit board. For gaming and other CPU intensive tasks, having an adequate cooling unit is a key to maintaining high frames per second and overall processing speed. This regulation of temperature is achieved primarily through two methods, air and liquid cooling systems.
Air Cooled Tower Cases
Air cooling systems are nothing more than fans built into the tower. While it may sound archaic, most lower to middle tier computers can be sufficiently cooled by this method. The number of fans often depends on the architecture of the case, but most generally have a fan placed in the rear where the ventilation takes place. Larger towers may have three or more fans couched in various locations. The more fans, the better the cooling, and the less chance for overheating and melting parts. The noise of the fan is generally noticeable when doing more labor intensive activities.
The advantages of an air cooling system are mainly related cost. Cases designed for liquid cooling are generally more expensive. Fans are easily replaceable and inexpensive. A liquid cooling system is far more powerful and efficient, but it will undoubtedly cost more and be a major burden to replace. While the idea of a liquid cooling system may sound futuristic and sexy, a simple fan is more than reliable when it comes to computers made for casual use.
Liquid Cooled Tower Cases
Liquid cooling is one of the more recent and advanced technologies for regulating the temperature of your personal computer. Liquid or water cooling dispels heat through the use of a water block, a water pump, and a heat exchanger. A water block has a higher heat capacity and thermal conductivity. Typically the water is pumped through to the heat exchanger or radiator which expels the heat into the air. A radiator is far more efficient than an air cooler because it has a much larger surface area. Liquid cooling is primarily used for CPUs, but GPUs, hard drives, VRM, memory, and power supplies can be cooled in this fashion as well.
The advantages of a liquid cooled tower case are many. They regulate temperature more effectively than fans, allowing for better overclocking and improved heat dissipation. Air cooling systems are also much noisier than liquid cooled systems. and must be constantly cleaned to remove dust and dirt that clogs the vents. Liquid cooling also takes up less space and expansion slots, and requires less power to run.
Choosing the Right Cooling System For You
Really, the choice of which tower case to purchase depends less on the systems themselves as it does on you. If you are constructing a computer for casual use in your home or office, an air cooled tower case is the best option. It is more cost effective and easier to replace. Generally, a CPU will not overheat when used for tasks such as browsing the internet, checking email, or working on spreadsheets. Even more intense processes such as listening to music or playing movies will not strain your CPU even remotely near the point of melting. The tasks and activities that lead to such circumstances generally apply only to overclocked processors.
If your intent is to build a rig to maximize the power of your processor, then a liquid cooling system is your best bet. Whether you’re a gamer who likes to play on high resolution settings or a 3D animator/graphic designer, the best way to prevent your system from total meltdown is to use a liquid cooling system.