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Are we witnessing the slow demise of the air cooler?

Are we witnessing the slow demise of the air cooler?

  • No, it will take some time before the air cooler becomes obsolete

    Votes: 82 91.1%
  • Yes, the transition to the AIO/Custom Loop is inevitable

    Votes: 9 10.0%

  • Total voters
    90
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WC is an enthusiast solution, and we might see more of it in prebuilt cooling solutions at the expense of air; but there is not a snowball's change in hell watercooling will make air obsolete.

The vast, vast majority of cooling is air, its much cheaper and much lower maintenance. As heat density increases, the added value of watercooling also diminishes. The biggest influence is the ambient temp for either solution anyway.

There is probably an upper limit to how much power a consumer CPU can draw mostly for practical real world reasons. The first main thing I can think of is the limitation of a standard household circuit: 120 V x 15 A = 1800 W. I'll get to the second one later.

With a monitor and typical accessories (like a set of powered computer speakers + subwoofer, maybe an external drive or USB hub), the typical desktop PC -- even the enthusiast grade builds -- are probably have a soft limit about 1500 or 1600 watts peak draw.

Proper airflow appears to be more effective than case material choice. Don't forget Lian Li originally focused on all aluminum computer cases (back in the Nineties) which many believed would help dissipate heat. A flat panel doesn't scale very well which is why typical desktop PC heatsinks are designed with spikes or ridges to increase surface area. And if you were using the exterior case panels, you'd still need a way to transfer the heat from the source to those panels.

The radiator is really just an extension of this large surface area for cooling. You're just using water (or other liquid coolant) to move the heat from the source (silicon chip) to a place where the heat can be exhausted fairly easily because water has great thermal capacity.

Remember that all of these cooling solutions are compromises. Thermal performance, ease of installation, acoustics, size, ease of construction, durability, materials, maintenance requirements, cost, etc.

Could there be 400-450W PPT CPUs one day? Possibly. Could they be cooled? Sure, why not? GPU chips already put out that PPT and most of them are air cooled at this point. Can it be done quietly? Maybe. GPU cooling systems are constrained to certain dimensions. We're seeing larger and larger AIB coolers to handle increased GPU heat production. In some of the high-end graphics card products, there are hybrid AIO liquid/fan cooling systems.

There's an upper limit to what Joe Consumer will find as acceptable fan noise for a consumer electronics product. Hell, some people gripe about fan noise from their video game consoles, it's not just about enthusiast PCs.

And now the second reason: from a total cost of ownership perspective, I'm not sure how many people really want a 1500 W PC running for a long time. It's not just the component cost or how much power a residential circuit can handle: there's also the electricity charges to consider. For sure, there will always be enthusiasts who would want such a machine but I would expect them to be in a very small minority of even enthusiasts.

There aren't many CPU workloads that will max out a typical gaming enthusiast's CPU. Most games are still heavily reliant on IPC/single threaded performance. I look at the performance analyses at DSOGaming and usually peak gaming CPU performance is achieved with 6 cores/12 threads or occasionally 8 cores/16 threads.

There are always unusual edge cases and I'm sure someone here will say "I use Linux on a 64-core CPU to do blah blah blah" which is probably something that 0.001% of people on this planet do but they think is common enough to mention.
1800W? Lol, you're just behind on infrastructure over there, we have 3500w on every circuit in the house, standard.
 
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I believe you guys are making a good mix of European and USA power systems.

Here in Italy (and EU) most "main power" circuits are 230v / 16A, while lights are on 10A or lower circuits. Outlets, both IEC and schuko can hold up to 16A at 230v, so theorically up to 3.6kW.

From what @cvaldes writes, assuming your usual outlets in the US are 15A at 120V, that's your 1800w limit overseas.
 
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I believe you guys are making a good mix of European and USA power systems.

Here in Italy (and EU) most "main power" circuits are 230v / 16A, while lights are on 10A or lower circuits. Outlets, both IEC and schuko can hold up to 16A at 230v, so theorically up to 3.6kW.
Same here right next to Italy...
 
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I agree with everything but how about this:


To be honest I dont understand what you mean that a household circuit has a limitation of 1800W.

I run myself (a couple of years ago) on 1 wall plug, 3 PCs, 2 monitors, 1 laptop and a bunch of other smaller stuff (router, bridges etc) with total power of around 2000W.
And the max power allowance of plug/cable/safety was 3600W (230v x 16A). Those (almost all) was running for 6 months straight 24/7. And I'm not even mentioning other house devices.
My house is a standard apartment 45y old and its max power capacity is 230v x 35A. Always has been.

Do I run this now? No. Do I want a single PC of 1500~2000W power draw? No

I sincerely dont get your point there.
That's because we use 230 V in Europe, unlike the 120 V overseas. That's why it isn't enough to buy a simple converter plug when you travel there like you would if you came to the UK.
 
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120v is the standard, but 240v is used for high power draw appliances.

Both 15A and 20A circuits @120V are common for both lighting and outlets.
 
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Guys, the point is that consumer electronics needs to consider the lowest common denominator in household power. It’s great that your European household circuits provide more juice.

But realistically the PC industry as a whole will architect systems to fit in the US household power window. Sorry, that’s just reality.

America is not going to rewire every house with 3-phase 240 volt 20 amp circuits.

I don’t know about you folks here but most Americans are going to plug their computers into ordinary outlets, not ones intended for high draw appliances like microwave ovens, air conditioner, electric ranges, etc.

A maximum practical limit of a 1500W desk computer is reasonable. Is it any coincidence that electric hair dryers and popcorn poppers top out around that range? NO.

And don’t forget that Japan‘s electric service is 100 V. Hell, they have 50 Hz in one half of the country and 60 Hz in the other half.

Remember that we are talking about circuits not outlets. Most US residences don’t dedicate one circuit per outlet and the average American had no clue how many outlets (or which ones) are on a given circuit.

An even more realistic PC power limit for an enthusiast consumer PC might be really be between 1200 and 1500 watts.
 
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Here in Italy (and EU) most "main power" circuits are 230v / 16A, while lights are on 10A or lower circuits. Outlets, both IEC and schuko can hold up to 16A at 230v, so theorically up to 3.6kW.
Couldn't you guys decide on one standard?

I have a pair of luce and forza plugs, and the combo sockets that can fit both. A friend went to Italy and brought me these as gift, better than silly souvenirs or flowers tbh ^^
They fit my sockets if I remove the center pin, that's for earthing, and we don't do that here.

There's also the comically large 32A plug but I doubt it's related to Italy in any way, honestly it looks like if a guy had thought "why don't we take this 16A plug, but make the pins THICC" and then everyone else was fine with it. Imagine pulling 7500W out of a single plug, that's ready for quad 5090s and 14th gen CPUs :D
 
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Couldn't you guys decide on one standard?
Things are changing, around here there's still many houses that got wired in the early eighties and are not up to code today. In new or renovated buildings you'll see almost only the bivalent (10/16A) plug allowing either 16A plugs or the common "low power" ones for appliances - CEE 7/16 Europlug.

What you are referring as a 32A plug I believe are the "industrial" IEC 60309 blue/red plugs. These go from 16 to 125A (and above) at either 230V single phase or 400V three phase. These are rugged, very resistant to dust / water ingress and usually offer far lower contact resistance than a normal plug. They are used either for building sites or workshop applications.

Going back to the topic at hand, I think many of us that are using air cooling today on new chips are doing some sort of power tuning on them. My 5800x would, without power changes, boost to almost 160-170W at 4.8GHz all core, temps in the high 80s. By doing a bit of PBO2 and power tuning, I've got it running capped at 110W, still yielding good results (4.6GHz boost, CB23 15.3K vs 16.2 at 160W) while staying below 70°C. 5.5% Performance "loss" for 35% less power feels like a fine deal to me. I'll link, on this topic, this thread that I believe many of you have already seen.
 
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Air Cooling will continue to be the most reliable and economical, for volume sales. Looking back in time, Intel and AMD both have sold CPUs for OEM products that were drastically undercooled: Pentium 4 Prescott, Pentium D, and AMD FX come to mind.

That said, AIOs in the DIY and Enthusiast spaces are already almost 'first choice', budget included.

If anything is going to happen, I think all these extraordinarily thermally dense CPUs and GPUs will spurr a return to developing and selling Phase Change/Active Heat Pump cooling systems for computers.
Fact is with all the Turbo, PBO, etc., 'cooler makes faster' no other tweaking required.

(The products and tech related to Phase Change Cooling, outside the computer enthusiast space, have come a long way since the Athlon XP and Pentium 4 days. Even in just the last few years, the DC microcompressors have come down in $ considerably. ...and that's keeping the concept tied to 'traditional' heat pumps.)
 
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It appears that talk of the air cooler's slow demise, even within the enthusiast segment, is entirely unfounded, at least at present:


I am pleased that the air cooler will continue to serve its purpose for the foreseeable future, thanks to everybody who contributed to this discussion.
 
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I don't think air cooling is done. Right now we're just seeing a sort of brut force performance generation in the PC sector - higher clock speeds are a selling point but instead of increasing performance by all means the new nodes could also have been used for reducing power consumption with a marginal performance increase, thus reducing heat. Increasing efficiency can also be done by lowering power consumption but - as I already said - high numbers do sell better. If this trend continues I rather think the x86-era is coming to an end sooner or later, maybe even sooner than later. Air cooling will survive.
 
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I would say yes and no, becouse while in high end(13700k,13900k,7700x,7900x,7950x) market air coolers need to be big monsters or AIO, but at the same time in medium and low end air coolers will still exist
 
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Zach_01

EU 250 volt ring mains rated up to 30 amp. These ring mains use 2.5 amp outlets that for 2 round pin flat plugs. So while the ring main can flow 7500 watts at 250v. I think actual EU voltage is 230 volt ro 6980 watts , each outlet is 627 watt at 250v .. at 230 volts outlet is 575 watts.
.
North America normal wall receptacle is rated 115 volt 15 amp with 4 or 5 double receptacles with 15 amp rating each socket. Newer houses have 20 amp circuits for frig, microwave and garbage disposal. Only 230/240v circuits are for water heater, AC, cooking range and oven. NA homes have a maximum of 8 receptacles on each 115v 15a circuit. Circuits for refrigerator, disposal, microwave, are single 20a receptacle.

UK has 230 volt with 3 amp or 13 amp fused plugs on 24-32 amp ring mains.

No idea what is in other countries.
 
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Even for the combustion engine, air cooling never saw its demise.
My understanding is air cooled automotive engine demise was because it's much harder for them to meet modern exhaust emissions / pollution standards without damatically shortening their usable life. I worked on Corvair and VW air cooled for many years. While we could get similar HP to displacement, air cooled engine life was much less than same displacement / HP water cooled engines. That said, I ran a 1971 VW high top camper van with a custom 2160cc (90.5x84mm) engine with custom geared transmission over 80,000 miles before selling engine into a Baja Bug that went over 20,000 more miles when bug was wrecked (cc1982). We still have lots of modern air cooled motorcycles and small aircraft
 
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does anyone know if teh Vetroo V5 cpu cooler would benefit from this thing in the toms hardware article?
The way the contact frame works, it should improve *any* cooler that is intended to be interfaced with the IHS.

Of note: coolers that have overhanging fastener heads or other material just beyond the IHS, would not be compatible. Not sure I've ever seen a cooler that would have that problem, but still mentioning it as a consideration.
 
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