Aio build

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Should I Use An AIO For CPU Cooling?

The Risk of AIOs (and Water Cooling overall)

With water cooling, you are reliant on every part in the system working as it should, in order to have a functional cooling system. The blocks need to not clog, the radiators need to not leak, the fittings need to remain watertight, and the pump needs to remain powered.

If any one of these things fail, you generally have a big problem pretty quick (overheating).

This means the heat isn’t moved away from the source, and the cold water isn’t moved in to absorb the heat. You generally have an automatic thermal shutdown in a few seconds when that happens. Not necessarily good for a production workstation.

If the radiator leaks, you’ll be losing coolant. While not an immediate issue on a big loop with a big reservoir, AIOs don’t have a reservoir, and thus a radiator leak is an issue. If the fittings leak, you have a geyser. Water cools great...but only when it’s contained. Water and a powered up motherboard do not mix well.

Actually, water and electricity mix very well, but that’s not what you want. AIOs don’t have fittings, so to speak, but you get the point.


How to Build: All-in-One PC

Build your own All-in-One PC!

The all-in-one PC is predicted to be one of the hottest PC form factors over the next few years. That’s great for Joe 12-Pack, but for an enthusiast, an AiO is pretty much as monolithic as you can get. Sure, you might be able to add RAM or swap the HDD, but that’s usually the extent of the average AiO’s upgradeability.

Enter Intel ’s new push for the DIY AiO, the first serious attempt at building a standard around this practice. All-in-one bare-bones kits have likely been available before, but Intel’s backing formalizes it as a real DIY category. The big change is the Thin MiniITX, which specifies far slimmer mobo profiles than regular Mini ITX, as well as fixing a spot where the CPU can be installed. The fixed CPU location enables standard heat pipe–type cooling solutions as an option, whereas Mini ITX allowed vendors to put the CPU anywhere on the board.

To get our feet wet, we decided to build a nicely outfitted AiO to see how it would compare spec-wise to a prebuilt peer. The result? You’ll have to read to the end, but we’ll be a clock tease and say that a DIY AiO might be just the way to go.

Choosing the Hardware

The First step of building an AiO is finding the chassis. Since Intel has been the main driver behind a standard, a good place to start is here . The DIY site has numerous resource for builders. We recommend that you start with the Design Component Catalog as well as the Compatibility Matrix . Remember, the standard is evolving and we’re not at the point of desktops, where 98 percent of hardware is compatible. For example, some of the AiO models use proprietary coolers while others can use the standard Intel part. AiO units that don’t use the standard Intel heat pipe should ship with their own. Also keep in mind the thermal constraints of an AiO before you buy the parts.

Our build started with a Loop L5 LP-2150 chassis . The chassis features a 21.5-inch panel and normally comes without the cooler and power brick for about $265. We did find some sites offering it packaged with the Intel cooler and a power brick though, for a small savings. The board we used is an Intel DH61AG. It supports an external power brick–type connector and up to a 65-watt TDP desktop processor. For our build, we tapped the quad-core 3.1GHz Core i5-3570S chip, which is nearly the same as the Core i7-3770S save for the Hyper-Threading. For storage, the board supports Mini PCIe SSDs and standard 2.5-inch drives. For our build, we opted for an Intel 240GB 335 Series SSD. Finally, we went with a pair of Patriot 4GB SO-DIMMs.


Click the next page to see each installation step.

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Cooler Master NR200P PC Build Guide (AIO \u0026 Horizontal GPU)

While the liquid cooling vs. air cooling debate may sound like a give and take, there is an alternative: all-in-one liquid cooling systems that will meet your needs and are easier to install, especially if you’re installing your first liquid cooling system. Specifically, we’re talking about the Eisbaer CPU and Eiswolf GPU cooling systems from Alphacool.

What is AIO cooling? As the name implies, it’s a kind of self-contained alternative to fully-fledged water cooling systems that run throughout your PC. Much like a car radiator, they use a combination of liquid and fans (hence, “all-in-one”) to offer compact cooling for specific components in your PC. The heat from your CPU or GPU is absorbed via the liquid running through the cooler’s tubes. Those tubes run to a radiator hooked up to fans, which expel the heat and send cool liquid back down to your CPU or GPU in order to start the process all over again.

AIOs are generally cheaper than full liquid cooling alternatives, typically more effective than simple air coolers, and they’re fairly easy to install. They sometimes come with their own drawbacks, but these AIOs from Alphacool find some interesting paths around some of the most common AIO cooling problems.

For instance, you can easily swap and replace key components of the Eisbaer and Eiswolf systems. This affords you a degree of customization and alteration you don’t typically get to enjoy unless you install a complete water cooling setup. The Eiswolf is modular, which means that you only need to replace a small section of the cooling system to fit it to different graphics cards. You simply don’t get that feature with many other models. Each also boasts a surprisingly appealing design that counters the “bulky” look you sometimes get with these units. You even get an easy-to-read fill gauge cleverly integrated into the case.

As with most major PC components, the true appeal of these AIO units are their functionality. That starts with their pure copper radiators. Their sturdy design offers nearly unrivaled cooling power in comparison to other AIOs on the market that settle for lesser materials. This results in some of best heat transference that you’ll find outside of, perhaps, a dedicated full liquid cooling solution.

That dedication to quality and performance extends to even minor design details such as the fittings. Thanks to brilliantly implemented anti-kink springs, you’ll rarely ever have to worry about the hoses bending over the long-term and disrupting the vital liquid transfer process. Considering that the hoses on these units are designed to be more flexible in order to more easily fit in a variety of computer cases, that’s quite the welcome failsafe.


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How To Build A PC - Step by Step (Full Build Guide)

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