How Safe are AIO Coolers? Important Facts Explained [2024]

Written By Steven Arends

Cooling solutions are an absolute necessity for the proper functioning of a modern-day gaming rig. Depending on the task level, you should select the type of cooler you need. That said, AIO cooling solutions can be pretty handy for taming down the temps of your system.


What is an AIO Cooler?

All in One Coolers or AIO coolers are closed-loop liquid cooling solutions that require minimal maintenance. AIO’s are compressed custom water cooling loops. But these coolers come with a risk of leakage, which makes a good number of people skeptical of using them.

This article will discuss this matter and debunk whether these Coolers are safe or not.

Do AIO Coolers Leak?

AIO Coolers Leak after a certain period of time. However, mechanical damages can also cause the liquid to leak and damage your entire rig.

Every PC component out there fails so often. The AIO coolers aren’t any different. At some stage, they fail, but that doesn’t mean that it will leak.aio-leak

The leakage of AIO coolers is a pretty rare scenario. What I have primarily seen in the AIOs is that there are issues with the pump. And that is the most prominent reason behind failure.

Even if a rare thing like leakage occurs, you can report the manufacturer and claim the warranty. But to let you know, these coolers are designed so that nothing can go out or even come inside. There is no provision for you to change the liquid coolant. And that’s why they are called closed-loop AIOs.

To know more about this stuff, check out our in-depth discussion on CPU liquid cooling.

Lifespan of AIO Coolers

Everything depends on maintenance. The more you take good care of this component, the longer it will last.

If you aren’t regularly removing it from the build, it will last at least 5-7 years. Most of the AIO cooler manufacturers rate their products up to 70000 hours. It means most of them can even last eight years.

On a side note, check out our experts’ tested and reviewed the best RGB CPU AIO cooler that will last for years to come.

Do AIO Coolers require maintenance?

Yes, AIO Coolers need maintenance. If you want your AIO cooler to last long, then some maintenance is essential. Keep in mind that if your cooler is custom looped, not the regular AIO, you should give some extra attention.

Like, you need to maintain every aspect. Also, in the AIO coolers, you would need to make sure that the fans and the radiators are functioning in the right way. These parts also need to be kept free of dust as the layers forming over the fans may slow the speeds.

Other than this, there isn’t anything much to do for you. Just always the cooler under close observation. Additionally, refer to this article to know whether the liquid cooler is working properly or not.

Is AIO liquid cooling worth it?

When you expect optimum cooling performance, you must require a cooler that brings top-class functionality to the table. And this is where AIO liquid coolers make a statement. Their top-notch operations make it worth a shot.

A notion about the AIO coolers is that they are expensive and the price-to-performance ratio isn’t reasonable. But that’s not the true scenario. Their counterparts are that the air cooling solutions come with an appropriate tag and offer performance that suits the price. But to be honest, the AIO coolers can do it better and the expensive ones are absolutely worth it.

If you compare the entry-level AIO coolers with the entry-level air coolers, the latter will always have an edge. Because the air coolers are projected into the market in that way.

But, how about you move on to the mid-range or high-end options?

In such comparisons, the AIO liquid coolers always thump the air cooling options in every aspect. Be it efficient cooling, silent operations, or top-notch aesthetics, AIO coolers are clear winners. And that eventually makes these cooling solutions worth every penny that you would be paying.

If you’re interested in buying one, here’s our shortlist for the best AIO CPU cooler in the market.

Are AIO coolers better than air coolers?

It is a tricky question to ask. You can’t just simply determine which is better than the other. There are obviously some factors to consider, and these factors are pretty significant.

If I have to talk about air coolers, I will say that they are highly cost-effective. When you compare a high-end air cooler with a high-end AIO, you will notice considerable discrepancies in the prices. Rarely do they come with such price tags that are out of reach for some gamers. They also have a simplistic structure and, most notably, an easy-going installation process. What you will like the most about this type of cooler is that this type of cooler is reliable in the long run. You can easily replace the fans if needed; no complications would be there. However, apart from a few, most air coolers aren’t suitable for PC cases with a small form factor. The reason is that they can be bulky, which will create issues related to clearance.

Now, to talk about the AIO liquid coolers, you can be assured that these coolers will offer better potential than the mainstream air coolers. This type of cooler is the perfect solution for those who seek powerful cooling performance. Especially for people who like to overclock their rig to limits, they better choose AIO coolers over air coolers.

Another good thing about this type of cooler is that they are pretty good for PC cases with limited airflow. Also, there are plenty of options you would find that come with a small form factor. The only problem that you might face with the AIO liquid coolers is that they are comparatively tough to install.

Therefore, the bottom line is that AIO coolers are better than air cooling solutions only in high-end performance and compatibility. When it comes to price and reliability, the air coolers do have a slight edge.

Liquid Vs. Air Cooler – Which one you should choose

When it’s the matter of choosing between two options, a lot of things come into play. Between air coolers and AIO cooling solutions, you might get confused. Both of these types come with their share of pros and cons. But you need to make one specific choice, and for that, there are some factors to consider.

First of all, performance is what matters. If you prioritize performance over anything, liquid coolers are better than air coolers. But exceptions are there, as few high-end air coolers offer quite similar outputs as some liquid coolers. But when you consider something top-notch like the high-end AIOs, there is a significant difference in the results.

Price is yet another factor that can highly influence your decision. Most air coolers tend to be cost-effective. Significantly, the entry-level ones come at a very affordable tag compared to similar liquid cooling solutions.

Also, the best part about the price of air coolers is that even the high-end options are way more cost-effective than the high-end AIO liquid coolers.liquidcool-vs-aircool

Now, in terms of noise level, the liquid coolers are way better than the air cooling solutions. The reason is quite simple. Fans of the air coolers rotate faster as the whole cooling process of air coolers is dependent on how quickly the hot air is moved out of the system.

But for AIO solutions, the phenomenon is different. The cooling isn’t just dependent on them but also on the liquid coolants inside. That is why while doing power-consuming tasks like gaming or producing videos, a liquid cooler is always preferable over air ones in the system.

However, you can still purchase air coolers that are quiet and your computer can even get absolutely silent when you use fanless coolers.

The lifespan of any component is crucial when you are building a PC. And it largely depends on how healthy your system remains over time. That said, a CPU cooler plays a big part in ensuring the good health of your CPU. But what about its own lifespan?

If I have to compare air and liquid coolers, I will say that air coolers come with greater longevity than liquid ones. Because AIO liquid coolers are prone to coolant leakage. The fluid inside can pour out accidentally and can cause serious complications.

It can affect other components inside the rig and may even cause the pump to be completely non-functional. Now compared to these scenarios, the air coolers are way safer. Other than the fans failing, they aren’t prone to any significant issues.

Last but not least, the aesthetics of your cooler can be the focal point of your buying decision. If you want your rig to look appealing, AIOs are a better choice to make. It’s not like the air coolers are mediocre. It’s just that the AIO liquid coolers have a better implementation of RGB lighting.

Overall, the comparison is tricky as there is no clear winner out here. If you have a tight budget and want a considerable performance, air coolers should be your preference. Or else for something aesthetically pleasing that delivers top-end performance, liquid coolers always stand on top.

Should You Go with a Liquid or Aftermarket Air Cooler?

When you plan to ditch your stock cooler, you should make a proper choice. And that is where a hell of confusion arises.

Should you go for a liquid cooler or go for an aftermarket air cooling solution?

Well, if you ask anyone, I am sure that they will be biased in their opinion. But I am going to give you the most unbiased approach.

Now, since you want to replace your stock cooler, both the aftermarket air cooler or AIO liquid coolers can be a suitable option.

If I have to discuss the aftermarket air coolers, it offers the best price-to-performance ratio. Also, it can easily handle decent overclocking performance. The main element of their cooling process is fans.

Even on the low-end options, you’ll find that high-quality fans are used. However, their cooling potential isn’t as good as the high-end liquid cooling options. Besides, for mini-ITX builds, they aren’t that good prospects.

Now, let’s talk about the AIO liquid coolers.

The AIO coolers have better-cooling potential than any type of cooler. You’ll find no compatibility issue with the CPU coolers. They move heat out of the case like none other. However, they aren’t devoid of problems. They are pretty expensive and aren’t that long-lasting in comparison to the air cooling solutions.

So, you should go for a liquid cooler if you want extreme performance from your gaming rig, or else for a cost-effective option, aftermarket air coolers are a perfect choice.

Is custom water cooling better than AIO?

AIO’s are compressed custom water cooling loops. That said, such compression comes with increased reliability, reduced costs, and less maintenance.

It reduces the ability to leak as the whole system is based on a single component. The chances of failure are not that high. Also, it requires much less maintenance. All you need to do is to clear the dust settling on the radiator.

About the Custom loop water coolers, you can form them by choosing your own parts. They offer way better cooling potential than the liquid AIO’s, which eventually makes them great for powerful CPUs. Maintaining them could be a tricky task. But, overall, they are an excellent package with decent aesthetics and top-notch performance.

Should AIO fans be intake or exhaust?

Intake is the best option for fans when it comes to AIO’s. When you replace the intake fans, it eventually means reducing the airflow inside the PC case. As a result, the ambient temperature inside the PC case will have a drastic change. What happens, in this case, is that the GPU performance is highly affected. In this situation, if you overclock a high-end CPU, there is a possibility of strains on VRMs of the motherboard. What will happen is no active cooling will be there in these components. CPU performance will be affected and even there are chances of performance lag. That is why AIO fans should always be intake.

What liquid is in the AIO coolers?

The liquid or coolant inside AIO coolers is a mixture of ethylene glycol and distilled water. It is kind of slippery and oily. The best part about this liquid is that it doesn’t evaporate. However, loss of these coolants can occur as they can permeate through the tubes. If the coolant temperature remains under control, like it’s below 60°C, then permeation gets minimized to a great extent. There must be minimal permeation to fill up the loss of coolant air that is sucked, which eventually results in gurgling noises.

Can you replace the AIO fans?

Yes, if needed, it is possible to replace the fans of an AIO cooler. Unlike the air coolers, fans don’t control the whole cooling process in the AIO’s. But that doesn’t make it less critical. Be it an air cooler or AIO, a full-flowing fan is always necessary for optimum cooling.

You may want to change the fans for various reasons. It may be for enhanced aesthetics or maybe for getting good static pressure. But before changing, always be sure that they are wired in or not.

Do AIO Coolers make noise?

Yes, the AIO coolers make noise, but it isn’t something that should make you too concerned. The noise level isn’t that high, but if you want something inaudible, there’s some work to do.

Primarily everyone thinks that a fan is the primary source of the noise. But other than the fan, there can be another source. It can be the pump or even the cooling loop. To determine the exact reason, you can try out something. Maybe, you can unplug the fans and see if the noise is still there or not. Still, if the noise exists, then it’s sure that the source is from either a pump or cooling loop. The remedy to this is simple. You can tilt the PC case forward and backward or even set the pump mode to an extreme to clear up bubbles causing the noise.

If it still doesn’t help, try rotating the PC 45° in different directions.

Do AIO Coolers need thermal paste?

Yes, thermal paste is required for cooling. Be it air or liquid cooling, having a thermal paste is crucial for carrying out the whole process. Because liquid cooling doesn’t change anything about the heat transfer interface. When there is overheating, it is necessary to minimize it, and this is where the thermal paste comes into play. The processor might even fail if properly the paste isn’t applied. Therefore, the need for thermal paste is for all types of coolers irrespective of their kind.

Final Thoughts

AIO coolers are the market-leading cooling solutions that many high-end gaming enthusiasts seek. That is because their performance level is top-notch, especially while overclocking, they offer some excellent output. Besides, they also look sleek inside the gaming rigs, mostly the RGB AIOs. Clearance issues are also rare for them.

Therefore, do not be afraid of leakage. Just try to maintain the cooler regularly, and then you will notice the incredible value that an AIO cooler has to offer.

About The Author
Steven Arends is a computer science graduate and tech enthusiast with over 10 years of experience in the field. He has a vast collection of computer hardware and loves exploring the latest advancements. As a contributing author to 10Scopes, Steven shares his expertise to make the world of technology more accessible and easier to understand for all readers.

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