Computer Cooling Systems
A common problem with PCs that leads to the need for computer repair is overheating, especially with older laptops.
Any operating computer system needs to have a cooling system installed in order to operate and function at all. These cooling systems are used to remove the excess heat which is produced by computer components. A lot of components in a computer system are susceptible to malfunction or even total failure if they become overheated.
These components most commonly include the CPU, hard disk drives and the graphics cards. Even though all of these components are built to reduce power consumption as much as possible, they will still overheat if your cooling system starts to fail for any reason.
Heat sinks and coolers (fans) are widely used to overcome this issue, as well as some other, more advanced cooling techniques such as water cooling systems.
As said before, all of these components (especially the CPU) are built to reduce their power usage, some CPUs also have a built-in "speed limit" which makes sure the processor doesn't run at speeds which would cause it to overheat.
Your cooling system can be made to take care of the ambient temperature inside your PC case, or to "spot cool" a single components - spot cooling is usually mounted on CPUs, GPUs and sometimes on to the northbridge.
Air and Water Cooling Systems
When it comes to air cooling, system's biggest fan is the cooling fan, and lots of them! A standard PC packed with air cooling carries case fans, video card fans and a fan or two on top of your CPU.
On the other, and more expensive hand, a water-cooled system brings in a couple of coolant-filled tubes, water blocks, and a radiator.
Now that we know what we're talking about, lets try and figure out which one of these cooling systems would work best for you.
Needless to say, air cooling systems are far easier to build. Typically, your brand-new computer system will already have all necessary fans installed by the manufacturer. Not to mention that most graphic cards and CPUs already come along with powerful cooling fans, and when you combine these with all the case fans - you're all set!
Of course, those stock fans may not be what you want, or should I say - need for all your over-clocking and all night, full-screen 3D working or playing requirements. If that's the case, you'll need to purchase more fans! Bigger fans too!
This will cost you more, sure, but consider that even the best fans will still cost you less than installing water cooling into your system. Another great thing about air-cooling systems is that they're decently easy to mount/install - as opposed to installing the liquid cooling system.
So, air is cheap, easy to install, and widely available. The catch? Well, fans are not as efficient as water cooling systems, not even close. There's a reason people spend good cash to install a water cooling system, and for most - it's over clocking of the CPU. Air cooling systems can also cost you a lot of room in your PC case, especially if you have multiple graphics cards. One more catch: Fans can be loud!
One great thing about water cooling is that you get to cool a specific system component (e.g. your over clocked CPU) more than you would be able with air cooling. This pretty much means you don't even need to look up water cooling if you're purchasing a standard stock-clock processor unit, but for someone who is looking to maximize the power of their "K" processors - water cooling will give you the ability to do so.
Water cooling systems are also a much better option for late-night gaming or work sessions as they're much, much quieter than a dozen fans inside your case. As mentioned before, fans and heat sinks can take a lot of space inside your case, sometimes even preventing you to install additional fans - depending on what size your case is. This is not a problem for water cooling systems. On top of all that - liquid-filled tubes look a lot cooler than dusty fans!
On the other hand, that coolness can cost you a lot more than the air-cooling system. Most common high-end fans can cost up to $100, while some high-end water cooling systems go over $300! Another thing water-cooling systems will cost you - is your patience, and probably your sanity. This is true especially if you're building your PC yourself, there are so many parts you'll have to think about.
For a simple water-cooling system, you'll have to wrap your head around reservoirs, pumps, water blocks for CPUs, the tubes, coolant, the radiator (and fans for it) and these parts only include the most basic water-cooling system - yes, the "simple" at the beginning of this sentence is still true. In case you want to expand to advanced water-cooling, you'll have to plan, purchase and think about separate water-cooling loops for your video cards, motherboard, hard drives and the RAM.
Confused? I don't blame you. The answer for the question which cooling system you should get, air or water, depends solely on your needs.
If you happen to be a rabid gamer interested solely in controlling a beast of a PC with over clocked performance - you really should consider water cooling.
But for the other 99.9% of computer users, fans are easy, cheap, and will work just fine for any typical PC set-up. I hope this article didn't blow you away! (sorry ;-)