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May 22, 2008, 06:21 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Kitchener, ON
It depends entirely on how hard you're pushing your system. Up to a certain point, air cooling is probably a better choice, since its both simpler and up to the task. But beyond a certain point, air cooling simply chokes, requiring the move to stronger cooling methods (i.e. water).
IMO, watercooling doesn't let you get rid of fans, it simply makes each fan more effective. The combination of water's superior thermal characteristics, combined with the ability to spread the heat dissipation out over a larger area (double, triple radiator, etc), makes it very easy to run the same fans at a significantly lower speed. But those advantages usually don't amount to much at stock/milder OC's.
Case in point: My secondary rig is a Q6600 at 3.2 GHz on air, and the "noisiest" thing in the entire system is a Noctua fan at only 1100 rpm. Even a little DB-1 water pump is louder than this system. Obviously, water-cooling would be largely pointless in this instance.
the system is basically at threshold temperatures - if I want it any faster, I have to either start using much stronger fans, or switch to another cooling method. At that point, water-cooling becomes an option to consider.
That said, at higher levels, the difference can be far beyond 2-3 degrees. For a hot system, 10 or 15 degrees difference is entirely possible.
i7 2600K | ASUS Maximus IV GENE-Z | 580GTX | Corsair DDR3-2133
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