120mm AIOs don’t provide significantly better cooling than high-end air CPU coolers. In other words, a 120mm AIO and a stock air cooler of a high-end CPU are mostly similar in their performance. But in most cases, AIOs are ahead of air coolers.
As water has a higher specific heat capacity and thermal conductivity than air, AIOs can keep your PC slightly cooler than air coolers. And in long-term use, AIOs can extend the health of your PC more than air coolers do.
Let’s discuss more details about 120mm AIO vs Air Cooler and identify which one is better between these coolers.
120mm AIO vs Air Cooler – Let’s See Which One Is Better?
A 120mm AIO may not give you extra performance, but it is quieter than the air cooler. AIO cools down your CPU by both air and water and that is why it makes less noise than an air cooler.
Liquid cooling works very much like a radiator in your car or home. This system cools off the CPU by taking the heat from the CPU by water and dissipating it by the fans. On the other hand, an air cooler uses a heat sink and air instead of water which is used in an AIO.
120mm AIO Cooler
Here are some of the best AIO CPU coolers available in the market.
- Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML120R,
- ARCTIC Liquid Freezer II 120,
- Corsair Hydro Series H80i v2,
- Asus ROG Strix LC 120,
- Thermaltake TH120 ARGB Sync,
- Cooler Master MasterLiquid LC120L V2,
- Corsair Hydro H60,
- EVGA CLC 120,
- NZXT Kraken M22
Cooler Master MasterLiquid LC120L V2 RGB is best at its price point. Corsair Hydro Series H60 is the best among these for its quietness. If you want the best performance then you should go for Corsair Hydro Series H80i v2Air Cooler. Again, if you are into customization, NZXT Kraken M22 would be best for you.
There are a lot of options out there and here are a few of them that are useful and handy.
Pros & Cons of 120mm AIO Cooler
Here are the pros & cons of 120mm AIO Cooler –
|120mm AIO Cooler|
|They look nicer.||They cost twice as much as equivalent air cooling.|
|They can sometimes be quieter than air coolers.||Usually, these coolers are not as quiet as folks think as they have pump noise.|
|You can have more surface area than the largest air coolers.||They can leak even though it is rare.|
|At the highest level, they can dissipate more total heat than any air cooler can.||Normally, it is hard to break an AIO, you cannot use a broken AIO.|
|Commonly smaller than the largest Air cooler.|
Here are some of the best Air Coolers you can get for your PC –
- Cooler MasterAir MA624 Stealth,
- Deepcool Assassin III,
- Cooler Master MasterAir MA410M,
- Noctua NH-U14S,
- Zalman CNPS10x Performa Black,
- Deepcool AS500 Plus,
- Be Quiet! Pure Rock 2,
- Noctua NH-D15 Chromax Black
Among these, Cooler Master MasterAir MA624 Stealth is the best of big CPU coolers, Cooler Master MasterAir MA410M is the best among the mid-sized coolers. If you have an AMD Threadripper processor then Noctua NH-U14S would be the best choice. Pure Rock 2 is best for its silent fans and it is also affordable.
If you do not have any of the equipment or missing a few, the online store is one tap away.
Pros & Cons of Air Coolers
Here are the pros & cons of Air Coolers –
|The biggest pro of an air cooler is it is affordable.||An air cooler is louder than AIOs.|
|An air cooler does not need maintenance as much as an AIO.||Most of the time, these are bulky and look less attractive.|
|There is no chance of leaking so you do not need to worry about it.||Air cooling technologies take up more space inside of a PC case than AIOs|
|The ratio of price to performance of an air cooler is impressive.||Sometimes it bumps against other components like RAM or PSU (Power Supply Unit).|
|Its cooling rate is limited on an air cooler.|
Overclocking | AIO vs air cooler
As AIOs keep CPUs cooler than an air cooler does, AIOs play a better role if you want to overclock your CPU. Because an overclocked CPU heats up more and may get damaged if not properly handled.
Style | AIO vs Air Coolers
We really should talk about the style of the coolers. Nowadays, decorating the PC with RGB strips, RGB fans, and stylish coolers is a common trend. And coolers play the most vital role in decorating the PC. Between the water cooler and air cooler, the water cooler looks more stylish.
As you can see in the picture above, the 120mm AIO makes the internal space more usable and it looks cleaner than an air cooler. As it takes less space inside the case, the RGB lights of the fans and RAMs are more visible here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are 120mm AIO Coolers Good?
120 mm AIO coolers are good almost every way – it is compatible with different cases, and can cool better than other coolers. However, the price of this cooler is little-bit higher than regular cooler and you may need more effort to install this cooler.
Should I Switch from Air Cooler to AIO?
AIO coolers are comparatively cheap, compact, good-looking, and provide more than enough cooling for entry-level to mid-range CPUs. So, switching from air cooler to AIO is always a good decision.
Is Air Cooler Better than Liquid?
No, air cooler isn’t better than liquid coolers. It is true that air coolers are quite good at relocating heat away from the CPU, but the heat is dispersed into the case after that. As a result, the temperature of your system may increase. Liquid coolers on the other hand relocate head off the CPU and through them outside of the system via the fans on the radiator. So, liquid coolers are actually do a better job than air coolers.
Should I Get an Air Cooler in Humid Conditions?
The effect of an air cooler is dramatically decreased when utilized in extremely humid situations. This is because coolers cool the air by adding humidity to it, and once the air is saturated, it can no longer absorb any more moisture, rendering the device less effective.
Air coolers are quite good at relocating heat from CPUs. But the heat is then dispersed into the case, so the other components might get hotter. You can open a side of the case permanently but then you have to sacrifice the aesthetics of the PC. AIOs handle the situation best, as they take the heat outside of the case.