What is a CPU cooler?
A Central Processing Unit, (CPU) is the brain of the computer, the CPU is responsible for processing data. A CPU cooler is a type of fan that is used to ventilate the heat which has been generated from the CPU chip and other hot running chips such as the graphics processor (GPU) before it over heats and damages other components.
Computers come with different types of cooling fans to redirect the heat that has been generated by electrical components. A CPU is a fan used purposely for cooling the CPU chip.
Why use a CPU fan?
The main reasons to use a CPU fan is to reduce the heat of the CPU chip, which will protect the components of the computer. The warmer the processor gets the harder the components have to work and this can reduce the life span of the processor. It will also damage other parts of the computer like micro chips and hard drives. This can lead to a loss of data and that is a big compromise.
How a CPU fan works?
The CPU fan is connected to the top of the CPU, it works by simply drawing heat away from the CPU and any other hot air that is making its way around other important components like circuit boards and motherboards to ensure that the computer is operating at its full strength.
What is a heat sink?
A heat sink is an electrical device that is designed to keep a hot component like a processor cool. There are two different types of heat sink, active and passive.
Active heat sink has a fan attached to it, used to pull the hot air away from the heat sink and the CPU that lies underneath it.
Passive heat sink is a flat piece of metal that redirects the heat away from the CPU.
Things to consider before buying a CPU fan
Before you purchase a CPU cooling fan, there are a few things to consider.
The size of the CPU fan, the sizes usually range from 60mm to 120mm. The bigger the fan the noisier they tend to be so take that into consideration as well as the space needed.
You can also buy multi speed CPU cooling fans. These cooling fans will cover the motherboard and other components and not just the processor.
You can buy other types of cooling fans which will keep different parts of the computer cool so make sure it is the CPU cooling fan you are looking at buying.
You will also need to consider the price, air CPU coolers are the cheapest option, with the water-cooling system being the most expensive and usually requires a degree of knowledge to set it up.
Space is another factor to think about as all CPU coolers come in different sizes, so be sure to check the space you have to install the CPU cooler.
Types of CPU cooling
- Air cooling
- Water cooling
- Self contained liquid cooling
Air CPU cooling
Air CPU cooling fans use air to cool down the CPU, the main advantage is it has fewer moving parts than a liquid cooler and the airflow will actually help to cool the motherboard as well. Air CPU coolers have a fin like aluminium structure which the fan is attached to (heat sink).
This works by pulling the hot air from the processor and replacing it with the cooler air generated by the fan. The main draw back to this type of CPU cooler is the size and weight.
Liquid CPU cooling
A liquid CPU cooling fan is used with a pump, a radiator, and a series of coolant filled tubes. The pump is used to circulate the fluid quickly and draw heat away from the components and push it towards the radiator.
Liquid cooling allows you to cool specific components to a greater degree than a fan would. Although these are all the rage, they can have a tendency to leak. They are very good at cooling the components and are generally quieter than the air-cooling fan.
This type of cooling system can get expensive and take up a lot of room if you want to cool the video card, motherboard, RAM and hard drives.
Self contained liquid cooling
Self contained or sealed liquid cooling systems come pre assembled and sealed. They allow you to have the water-cooling setup without the headache of finding all the parts individually and setting them up together. You will need to attach the water block and the radiator and then you will be ready to enjoy the benefits of a liquid cooled system.
To keep your fans operating at the very top of their game you should keep them clean. Cleaning the fan blades will help maintain performance and efficiency, if you do not clean the fan then it could result in components not operating as they should and this could give a poor performance and harm the processor.
Air or Liquid cooling?
The million-dollar question, which is better air or liquid cooling?
The answer is that it all depends on your requirements. Most people will get enough cooling from air CPU cooling fans alone; it tends to be an easier and cheaper option. If you are a PC enthusiast who needs the best cooling system around for your CPU then liquid cooling is the way to go.