Water Cools The PC Better

7/11/2012 5:59:17 PM

Water is life, but one cannot live without air either. Our myth chaser clarifies which element is better for cooling the PC.

The myth water is better suited than air to cool a processor. Water has a higher heat capacity and thermal conductivity. Hence, water cooling can take away the CPU heat in a more effective manner. This way, the inner parts of the computer heat up less.

Description: Description: Water cooling is the first choice for PC

Water cooling is the first choice for PC

The truth physically, the assumption that water is better for cooling is correct without doubt. When compared to air, the considerably higher heat capacity (i.e., the amount of heat that can be assimilated per kilogram) and thermal conductivity (how quickly the heat is taken away) of water ensures considerably better dissipation of energy. This is why water is also used as a cooling agent in cars or nuclear power stations. The effective stemming of high generation of heat is important here.

This is also important in a PC, but completely different factors are taken into account here - depending on what one wants to achieve by cooling the PC. Water cooling is the first choice if the focus is on maximum overclocking of the CPU: in the test, we could overclock an AMD FX-8150 on the ASUS Crosshair V Formula mainboard to 4.8GHz with the help of an air cooler. The temperature of the CPU increased up to 70 °C. With water cooling the eight-core CPU functioned with a much lower temperature of 65° C with the same clocking - and could also be overclocked to more than 5.1 GHz.

Description: Description: if you don't want to test the limits of your silicon chip, air cooling would be a better option for you.

if you don't want to test the limits of your silicon chip, air cooling would be a better option for you.

However, if you don't want to test the limits of your silicon chip, air cooling would be a better option for you. In normal operation, the difference in temperatures in case of water or air cooling is not very distinct, the operating noise during water cooling is not lower and finally even the liquid is cooled with a radiator with fans. Besides, the water pump generates noise (air: 1.8 sones, water: 2.0 sones). Higher acquisition costs and much more work in terms of installing the water cooling unit are involved - even if it is already integrated in the housing as in case of Thermaltake Level 10 GT LCS. What's more, using water can also be risky: if there is no air draft in the housing, the voltage transformers or capacitors of a component on the mainboard can get overheated and hence break down. Secondly, the water cooling device can leak - and result in a short circuit due to the high conductivity of water. Therefore, if you don't need maximum output, air cooling is a more suitable option.

Water Vs Air - ranking

To find out which cooling agent is better, let us compare air and water in various categories. The air wins in the end!





Physical comparison values

Heat capacity

4,18 kJ/kg K

1,00 kJ/kg K


Heat conductivity (at 20° C)

0,597 w/(m K)

0,0261 w/(m K)


Heat transfer coefficient

Up to 700 W/(m2 K)

Up to 10 W/(m2K)


Viscosity (at 20“ C)

1,0 mPa s

0,0182 mPa s


Freezing point

0,00 °c

-218,3 °c


Boiling point

99,97 °c

-182,9 °c


Comparison values for cooling in pc water vs air

Cooling costs

Approx RM 1,800

Approx RM420


Complexity of installation






Hardly any


Operating noise

2,0 Sone

1,8 Sone


CPU temp.; normal clocking

40 °C

40 °C


CPU temp.; overclocking (4.6 GHz)

65 °C

70 ”C


Final result





CPU - temperature comparison

Description: J:\Online\2012\06\Unedited\HTML\Tech_Desktop_Water_cools_the_PC_better_files\image003.png

For a computer operating with normal CPU clocking, there is no difference between water and air cooling

For a computer operating with normal CPU clocking, there is no difference between water and air cooling. Water cools slightly better only if the processor is overclocked to a great extent.

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