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Buying a Trading Computer with Liquid Cooling

Keeping CPU Thermals Under Control

Removing the excessive heat produced by CPU intensive tasks such as day trading is critical to the operation of your computer. Modern AIO liquid coolers do an excellent job at maintaining an appropriate temperature for your power hungry processor. Not all traders use their computers in the same way though. Some have more CPU intensive custom software that pushes the processor to its limits while the average trader might not be pushing their system as hard. No matter the use case it’s in your best interest to have a cooling solution that can handle whatever is thrown at the processor, not only will this result in better overall performance but can also add to the lifespan of the system.

There are 2 main types of processor cooling solutions – liquid cooling and air cooling. Liquid cooling and air cooling work in a similar manner – their goal is to absorb as much heat as possible and relocate that heat out of the computer case and away from the motherboard and other internal components. Both air and liquid coolers have a metal block that is attached to the processor, in the case of air cooling the heat is transferred from the block to metal heat pipes then to the heatsink fins which are cooling via a large fan. In the case of liquid cooling the heat is drawn away from the metal via a liquid and redistributed to a large radiator that also uses fans to push that heat outside of the case.

Cooling with an AIO (all in one) Liquid Cooler

There are a lot of unique products on the market when it comes to liquid cooling. Most companies primarily use AIO units, these are self contained coolers that have the liquid already filled and sealed from the factory. Generally speaking, we’ve found AIO coolers to be more reliable with less maintenance and less worry about leakage then a custom loop.

Which is quieter – Liquid or Air?

All-in-One (AIO) coolers tend to be quieter than a typical fan/heatsink air cooler. There would really only be a difference in noise levels under heavy load. Air cooler fans will have to ramp up to near 100% speed in an effort to push the heat out of the heatsink fins. When a fan is at 100% they can be very noisy, even a high end Noctua fan. With an AIO liquid cooler even with as many as 2 to 3 fans they run at much lower RPM even at full load (as long as the fan profile is setup for lower noise levels). With more fans spinning slower you generally have a much quieter system, especially at idle or low/medium CPU usage. The AIO pumps don’t generate much noise and are usually inaudible.

Which Solution is Best?

The answer used to depend strictly on how you use your computer, in particular how hard you are pushing the CPU. There isn’t a right or wrong choice. The good news is that Noctua engineers such good air-cooling solutions they often rival the performance and cooling capabilities of even the best AIO coolers. If we are talking about lower cost air coolers, then liquid cooling wins every time. The Noctua NH-U12A is one of their better coolers, it offers two fans (push/pull design). If we are going to pick a winner between air and liquid the slight edge would always go to a 360mm AIO liquid cooler. Liquid coolers control temperatures more consistently and evenly. The because the temps do not spike up high as easily, the fans are more controlled, and this leads to less perceived fan noise.

Noctua NH-U12A

Advantages to Air Cooling

  • Slightly lower cost.
  • Easier to maintain – the only maintenance needed is fan replacement if one fails and possibly replacing the thermal compound after many years of usage.
  • Simpler design. No dealing with pump failure or liquid leaking.

Advantages to Liquid Cooling

  • Quieter operation.
  • Lower processor temps under heavy load.
  • Although there is always a chance of pump failure or fluid leaking, modern AIO design has improved to such a degree that these issues are no longer of huge concern.

Some of the best liquid coolers we’ve used are from Corsair and Fractal Design. There are several different sizes but the most common are 360mm and 240mm AIO. 360mm is what we recommend, CPU temps will be much more stable with the larger radiator. Below are some examples of 360mm AIO and 240mm AIO liquid coolers we’ve used in our systems.

Corsair iCUE H150i RGB Elite – 360mm AIO Liquid CPU Cooler
Corsair iCUE H100i RGB Pro XT – 240mm AIO Liquid CPU Cooler
Fractal Design Celsius S36 – 360mm AIO Liquid CPU Cooler

The Final Verdict

The Intel trading computers and AMD trading computers we sell at Blue Aura Computers have the option of either air or liquid cooling. There is not a right or wrong decision here as long as the air coolers are higher end Noctua brand. Cheaper brand air coolers don’t work well with newer power hungry Intel processors. If you know you’ll be pushing your processor to its limits frequently then we recommend going with an AIO liquid cooler. Since high end Noctua coolers such as the NH-U12A are engineered so well these can also be used on a system where the processor is being pushed hard.