Modern computer systems have a tendency to run really hot, especially gaming rigs. This is normal if you want to get the highest possible performance from your PC. Hence, an effective cooling solution is required to offset the high temperatures produced by the internal components. When discussing 240mm vs 360mm liquid cooling, the most obvious answer is to go with the bigger 360mm solution. A bigger area equates to better cooling as it is much more effective at dissipating excess heat.
So, which one do you get? Well, the most common form of cooling method is to use an all-in-one (AIO) package, which usually comes with a fan as well as a liquid cooler. But then the issue of which size to get arises. Typically, 240mm and 360mm radiators are commonly used. So, how do they stack up against each other?
240mm vs 360mm Liquid Cooling: Key Differences
The main difference between a 240mm vs 360mm liquid cooling solution is that the 360mm AIO is fitted with more fans (in some cases, bigger fans) and a larger radiator compared to the 240mm AIO. To be more specific, 360mm AIOs usually come with three 120mm fans, whereas 240mm AIOs have two 120mm fans.
From this information, we can conclude that 360mm liquid cooling radiators have more fans attached to them, which leads to better airflow. But if you base your decision just on this, then you are likely not to get the best product, as there are several products on the market that go against this rule. So, let’s take a look at some of the other notable aspects you should consider.
The first thing that you will need to take into consideration is if your case can actually house the AIOs. Most modern CPU cases come with 360mm AIO support. But if you are using a really old case, then there is a chance that you may not be able to fit your desired cooler. Check out the specifications of your case online to get an idea of what size of cooler it can support. On the other hand, if you don’t have a case yet, then you can simply ask the retailer if it supports 360mm or 240mm coolers.
Performance and Temperature
On paper, a 360mm AIO should give you better performance than a 240mm AIO. And that is true for the most part. But if you were to ask by how much? Then, the answer may not be satisfactory as you are not likely to get a performance boost by leaps and bounds. Usually, the performance gain is rather minimal. Moreover, a typical 240mm AIO should be able to handle 250 watts of power dissipation with relative ease, whereas a 360mm AIO has an effective power dissipation of approximately 380 watts. Do take these numbers with a grain of salt, as they are only rough estimates.
An Intel i9 12900KS has a TDP of 150 watts, but with Intel’s turbo frequency, this value goes up to 241 watts. So, whether you are using a 240mm or 360mm AIO, it wouldn’t make much of a difference as the wattage is reasonably within the power limit of the coolers. However, the primary difference here between the two liquid-cooling solutions is – as the CPU reaches its maximum TDP, you are likely to hear the 240mm AIO start ramping up to its highest speed while the 360mm AIO will remain calm. This is also applicable to overclocking the CPU.
Sound and Noise
From the previous point, we can come to the understanding that as the temperature and TDP rise, it’s going to put more strain on a 240mm liquid cooling AIO than its 360mm counterpart. That means the fans will need to spin much faster in order to effectively get rid of the excess heat. On the other hand, as the 241 watts of the i9 12900KS is well below the 360mm AIO’s 380-watt load capacity, it will still continue to operate relatively quietly. Hence, you can expect to get less fan noise from a 360mm AIO.
Which One Should You Get?
To conclude the debate between the 240mm vs 360mm liquid cooling solutions, it would seem like the best option would be to get the 360mm liquid cooling AIO over the 240mm one. But you should also note that the type of fans you get (push or pull, intake, exhaust, etc.), the brand/manufacturer, the quality of the product, the custom fan curves you use, etc., largely determine the expected cooling output. With that said, if you are still confused, then the best course of action is to conduct some more research on the matter, consult with an expert, or simply talk with your PC builder friends.