AIO vs Air Cooler: Which One is Better?

aio vs air cooler

Why does your CPU need cooling? Well, the central processing unit (CPU) of the computer handles the most important logical and mathematical operations, and processors need a lot of electrical energy to perform and manage such challenging operations. And consequently, such a large amount of electrical energy has to be dispersed and dissipated in the form of heat. In short, the more your processor works, the hotter it becomes. That’s why if you don’t have a proper cooling method, you run the danger of your system overheating and shutting down.

Now that you know why you need a cooling system for your CPU let’s know what AIO and Air cooler are and how they work.

What is An AIO Cooler?

An AIO is short for “All In One”, and here it refers to a liquid CPU cooler. This cooling system helps regulate the temperature of your computer’s processor by circulating liquid coolant through a series of radiators and fans. 

The mechanism of an AIO cooler is simple, pumped water enters the water block and contacts the CPU there. After absorbing heat from the CPU, the water passes through the radiator and is cooled by the fans. 

What is Air Cooler and How Does it Work?

A CPU air cooler is a cooling device that uses air to maintain the processor’s temperature in your computer. In this cooling system, the heat is transferred from the CPU and into the cooler itself via air coolers, then the heat is then dispersed using fans.

What is Air Cooler and How Does it Work

AIO vs Air Cooler 

Your CPU can be kept cool with both AIO and air coolers, but which one is more effective? In this article, we’ll compare AIOs and air coolers and go through their differences.

Cooling Performance

Cooling performance is one of the main factors that must be considered when choosing any kind of cooling system. When it comes to cooling performance, AIO Coolers are designed to be more efficient and effective than air coolers. Since liquids is better at conducting heat better than air, AIO uses water as a coolant, whereas air coolers rely on the airflow to cool down the CPU. Although air coolers are very effective at moving heat away from the CPU, the heat is then ultimately dispersed into the case. Whereas, AIO dissipates heat from your processor and distributes it over the radiator. Another important factor that affects the performance of your cooler is surface area. AIO has more surface area than an air cooler.

With AIO’s excellent cooling performance, you can overclock your CPU to make it faster, while keeping the CPU chilled. On the other hand, an air cooler will be sufficient for your PC, only if you’re not carrying out performance-intensive tasks or utilizing it for cutting-edge gaming. Most non-overclocked CPUs will run perfectly fine on a good-quality air cooler. 

Easy Installation

When it comes to installation, the air cooler earns a point here. Compared to AIO, an air cooler is fairly straightforward to install. 

When installing an air cooler, place the required brackets on the motherboard, use thermal paste, and align the CPU and the heatsink. Once you’re done attaching the heatsink to the brackets, add the fans, and connect the fans to the motherboard, and you’re done.

On the other hand, there’s AIO, which requires you to mount both the cooler and a radiator. Find a bracket that matches your motherboard and install it. You can start screwing the pump, and plug in the cable once you’re done adding the fans to the regulator. Lastly, you need to screw the radiator into the case. Moreover, If it is RGB, you must connect those wires to the appropriate headers.

So compared to AIO, an air cooler is easier to install, making them even better for first-time PC builders.

Noise Level

Liquid cooling tends to be quieter, as AIO’s pump is often well-insulated, and radiator fans typically spin at a lower RPM than CPU heatsink fans. So if you want a quieter operation, then AIO should be your choice. 

The fans begin to speed up as the temperature within the computer casing rises, pushing or drawing more air but also making more noise. The effectiveness of the heatsink/cooler and the quality of the fans determine how much noise is produced.

Due to the longer time required for the water to get hot and attain that steady state, AIO coolers are much quieter during intense gaming sessions. Air coolers, on the other hand, to keep up with the abrupt increase in temperature, instantly begin to increase fan speed as well as the noise. 


A liquid AIO cooler contains multiple moving elements that make it more vulnerable to wear and tear than most air coolers, which have only one active fan.

The problem with AIO is, the leakage of fluid, which can be caused by many reasons. A bad seal is one factor in leakage. The AIO Cooler’s seals might not have been put correctly, to begin with, or they might have worn out with time. Liquid can leak if the seal has a gap in it. Moreover, leakage might also happen if the radiators get damaged, or there is extreme pressure inside the AIO Cooler. 

On the contrary, air coolers have fewer points of failure. The fans can break down, but they can also be quickly and easily changed. The cold plate could crack, chip, or have manufacturing flaws that reduce performance.

Compared to AIO, an air cooler is, therefore, your best option if you’re searching for a cooler that will last longer.

Design and Aesthetics

If you’re searching for a cooler that will make your PC stand out from the rest, go for the AIO one. Because they come in a variety of colors and patterns, you may select a cooler that precisely meets your needs. Some coolers also feature RGB fans, a pump with RGB LEDs or an LED display, etc. So, AIO Coolers can give your gaming rig an aesthetic look. 

On the other hand, air PC Coolers are much more basic in terms of design. They don’t come with fancy RGB lighting options like AIO Coolers, and some people prefer the simplicity of air PC Coolers. Whether you prefer a fancy or minimally designed cooler ultimately comes to personal preference.

Which One Is Better?

There’s no denying that an Air cooler doesn’t have the same cooling power as an AIO Liquid Cooler. 

So, if you’re looking for a silent-running system with the best cooling performance, and one that looks aesthetically pleasing, you should go with the AIO cooler. And especially if your PC does high-end gaming or uses high-end programs for tasks like video editing, undoubtedly, AIO Cooler is the better option. 

However, if you’re on a tight budget, and are happy with your CPU’s default clock speed, you can go for the Air cooler. 

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Nafiul Haque

Nafiul Haque has grown up playing on all the major gaming platforms. And he got his start as a journalist covering all the latest gaming news, reviews, leaks, etc. As he grew as a person, he became deeply involved with gaming hardware and equipment. Now, he spends his days writing about everything from reviewing the latest gaming laptops to comparing the performance of the latest GPUs and consoles.