AIO Coolers: Intake Or Exhaust [Definitive Guide 2021]

Written By FarhanMax

Your old CPU cooler wasn’t doing a good job at keeping your PC cool so you purchased an AIO cooler that just arrived and you want to make sure that you get the best performance possible with this.

Now, you are just wondering:

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Are AIO coolers best as intake or exhaust?

AIO coolers are best used as an intake and any gamer or heavy PC user out there will say the same thing. The temperatures from intake AIO coolers are desirable and the best part is it won’t affect GPU temperatures.

You are not the only person with that question. I have wondered the same thing myself when I was starting as a computer technician but I’m an expert now, and I have a lot to tell you about this topic.

So, make sure to be wide awake and active by getting a coffee, while reading every part of this article because I have included only the information that is necessary.

Quickly find out how safe is AIO Water coolers for your system.

Are CPU Fans Intakes Or Exhausts?

You will find that the majority of CPU fans are specifically designed for exhaust, unlike the AIO coolers, as they are used to blow the hot air away from the PC. However, there are some CPU fans available that have a dual fan setup, one as intake and one as exhaust.

A point you need to keep in mind is the fact that you have total freedom about which way you want to position the fans. You can position the fans and make the CPU fans work as intakes or exhausts, whichever works for you.

With that said, I would still recommend, without a second’s doubt, that you use your CPU fan as intake because that is exactly what it was made for.

Check out our experts tested and reviewed the best AM4 CPU Coolers for both Ryzen Zen 2 and the latest Zen 3 CPUs.

Now, you are probably wondering how many intakes or exhausts do you really need in a CPU.

The answer to that isn’t as simple as what you might expect. You could use a minimum of two fans and a maximum of about 5 fans to cool down your system.

My personal preference is to get up to 4 fans maximum. I have experienced that getting more than 4 fans could actually end up diminishing your computer’s performance.

One thing you can do is test out whether setting up more intakes than exhausts works better for you or whether the opposite produces better results.

Also, don’t forget to check out our best RGB CPU AIO coolers for the ultimate silent PC.

Where Should I Put My AIO?

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You should place your AIO radiator at the top of the case so air can be exhausted out properly. Most people agree that the placement of the AIO radiator does not make a difference to the internal temps of the system. I did some testing that said otherwise.

I did a few testing on my own and consulted other professionals and came up with some really interesting findings.

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There is a very important difference between positioning the AIO radiator at the front and the top, and that is that the AIO radiator at the front could result in the components in the case reaching higher temperatures.

An All In One radiator at the top, on the other hand, would result in more heat for the CPU because it would pull all the hot air from inside the case.

After analyzing all the results from all this testing, I would say that there wasn’t a whole lot of difference while gaming. Still, I would recommend you to mount the AIO radiator at the top of the case so that it exhausts air out.

Also, check out our expert’s recommended best Aura Sync CPU Cooler.

Is AIO Better Than Air Cooling?

AIO is definitely superior to air cooling and anyone who has experience using both the air cooling and All In One cooler would tell you the same thing. What’s more, they also help make your setup look more attractive.

In addition to that, an AIO cooler is the perfect choice if you want a noise-free environment for your setup.

You will also have the advantage of overclocking your processor to make the most of more powerful components and make it faster without worrying about the temperature going too high.

Check out our expert’s recommended best RGB Hub and fan splitter cable for your ultimate rig.

The only thing that’s far more superior to AIO coolers is liquid cooling. The performance that can be achieved by using liquid cooling is stupendously extraordinary and there is literally no noise associated with liquid cooling.

With that said, if you are a beginner who’s building a PC for the very first time, I would recommend you to start with an air cooler first. Air coolers are also perfect for people who are on a tight budget.

You should also go for an air cooler if you are working with a low spec PC. You should still keep it in mind to upgrade to an AIO cooler system or liquid cooling system sometime in the future.

Also, check out some best 120mm CPU AIO coolers. Also, check out some best 360mm CPU AIO coolers.

FAQ

Question: Should I have more intake or exhaust fans?

Answer: It is usually recommended that you use slightly more intake than exhaust as that has the potential of creating a positive pressure which could help reduce dead spots in the case. It could also prevent dust from coming in through unfiltered openings in the case.

Question: How reliable are AIO coolers?

Answer: There’s no doubt that AIO coolers are extremely reliable and you can rely on them much more than air coolers. Moreover, they also have the advantage of having a longer lifespan compared to custom coolers.

Question: Can you use any fan for AIO?

Answer: Yes, you can use any fan, including case fans, as AIO fans. You just have to make sure that they are the same size which is 120 mm. Also, make sure to test the temperatures using different fans to find which one works best for you.

Question: How can I test AIO without installing it?

Answer: In order to run an AIO without installing it on your computer first, you need to plug the cooler into the power supply. After that, all you need to do is just jumpstart the PSU. Then, you will need to listen to the AIO pump to find out whether it’s working or not.

Question: Is it OK to have no exhaust fans?

Answer: Yes, absolutely. You need it so much that if you wanted to use only one fan in your case, it would have to be an exhaust fan unless you have a top-mounted PSU that is pulling air from within the case.

Question: How can you tell the difference between an intake fan and an exhaust fan?

Answer: You need to look at the direction of the airflow. Intake fans pull the air from the outside into the case while the exhaust fans expel the hot air present in the case.

Question: Is it bad to have more exhaust than intake?

Answer: If you were to install too many exhaust fans, it would result in more air or dust getting in the case through all the unfiltered gaps in the case. You will probably have to spend more time cleaning the case and it would also not do a good job blowing all the heat out.

Final Thoughts

You are always free to choose whether to set up any of your coolers as an intake or exhaust. There are some downsides and perks of both an intake and exhaust so it will depend on what works best for you.

I hope you got all the answers you needed so you can go back to building your PC with all your confusion cleared.

If you happen to face any problems or if you just have a question in general, visit our website which is updated regularly with answers to all the questions you might have.

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