Do I Need An AIO Cooler? Which Cooling Option To Choose

Cooling is an essential facet of computer hardware, with many products on the market. In this article, I will help you decide whether or not you need to upgrade to an AIO cooler to keep your CPU from overheating while putting your CPU through its paces.

I recommend seriously considering an AIO cooler if you have a reasonably high-performance CPU, like to game, work on projects that are CPU resource-heavy, perform overclocking, or your computer operates in a warm room.

In recent years I switched to AIOs, and I’m so glad I did. As a result, my CPU stays cool, even when subjected to large workloads.

I recommend them even more if you have decided to use an AMD CPU in your build. I have nothing against AMD CPUs, as I own one myself, but I have noticed how quickly they spike in temperature.

An all-in-one cooler helps with this by offering superior cooling, which can handle these spikes without letting the temperatures get away from you.

Note: This article assumes that no overclocking is implemented. If you have the intention of overclocking, then it’s only but obvious that you don’t want to rely on air coolers.

an all in one cooler unpacked on a table

What is an AIO CPU cooler?

An AIO cooler is a liquid cooler that pumps water or fluid, usually in a closed-loop system, to cool a CPU cooling block where the warm water continues to flow through a radiator with cooling fans to cool the liquid for the process to begin again.

The pump is usually located in the cooling block that attaches to the CPU. The cooling block is positioned like any other heatsink and makes contact with the CPU to cool it.

An AIO is usually a closed-loop system that doesn’t require water maintenance. However, the liquid remains sealed up, with no way to remove the hoses as they are crimped on.

So let’s see if you need one by looking at ways you may be using your computer to provide some practical insights.

What do you use the computer for?

a gaming computer with peripherals and monitor showing game

If you are into fields of work or activities related to the following, I’d recommend that you strongly consider an AIO cooler for your CPU:

  • Gaming.
  • Multimedia editing.
  • Game design or development.
  • Scientific work.
  • 3D Modelling.
  • Virtualization.
  • Anything else not mentioned here that relies on heavy CPU usage.

I’m sure more can be added to the list, but it gives you an idea of what I’m trying to convey.

Some applications require more out of your CPU and quickly start sending the temperature up.

So if you want optimal speeds reliably, an AIO is the way to go. It will save annoyances and help keep up a good pace on your intended project.

When AIOs aren’t for you

a businessman using a computer with hands on keyboard and mouse

We all use our computers in different ways. Some use it for research, while others for everyday communication or browsing. In contrast, others have more intensive operations in store for their machine.

Here are some reasons to avoid purchasing an AIO cooler.

You don’t use your computer heavily

If you are a pretty light user using your computer to browse the internet, send and receive emails, and edit a few images a year, then it’s probably not for you.

Other examples like browsing or reading up information, simple business tasks, or watching some YouTube videos don’t merit the cost or effort.

The room stays relatively cool

If your computer’s environment stays at respectable temperatures (73 Degrees Fahrenheit (23 degrees Celcius) or lower), then there isn’t much point in installing an AIO.

Your computer should cope with various workloads comfortably with a good quality air CPU cooler.

Your case doesn’t have enough room

Some old model cases don’t have many options for mounting a radiator and fan assembly for the AIO cooler.

So it might be difficult or impossible to install one in this scenario, especially if you can’t warrant the cost of a new computer case.

Some pros

Here are some of the advantages of having an AIO cooler. As you will see, the positives tend to outweigh the negatives for most of us that want the best cooling with the least amount of hassle.

Lower maintenance compared to an open loop cooler

An AIO cooler is very easy to keep clean, like any other part inside your computer. You only need some compressed air and a small brush to help clean the fans.

Compressed air makes short work of cleaning out the dust collected between the radiator’s fins.

They are easier to install than a custom loop system, permitting a lower barrier to entry for water cooling for your system.

Custom or open-loop liquid cooling requires maintenance. You will have to ensure the parts are kept clean, perform coolant flushes every one to two years, and ensure that you have no leaks or air bubbles in the system.

Superior cooling compared to air coolers

You won’t get an air cooler that can compare to the superior cooling of an AIO.

An AIO cooler draws heat away from the CPU very effectively, and the liquid used for cooling is far superior to heat transfer pipes found on air coolers.

If you doubt that an air cooler isn’t going to make the grade, an AIO cooler won’t let you down.

An AIO cooler is really quiet

The fans on an AIO are the most likely culprit for generating noise. But thankfully, due to the radiator being so efficient, very little air is required to keep it cool.

So the fans very rarely need to spin up very fast, provided your case has enough air flowing through it.

Frees up the room around the PC motherboard

You will love the way your system looks once you have installed an AIO.

The radiator and fan assembly mount out of the way, leaving the CPU area with a small pump and block assembly with a pair of hoses. This is an improvement in the aesthetics compared to a large air cooler.

Some cons

With any device, there are always cons. Here are the ones that I think are some negatives.

More thought is required when planning airflow

The radiator and fans of the AIO take up fan locations in your case. So it would be best if you made sure that enough airflow is present inside your case for adequate cooling of your system.

Relying on airflow produced by the AIO’s radiator fans isn’t advised. Air will pass through the radiator slowly. So you will need extra cooling fans to handle the primary cooling of your case.

I discuss airflow configuration more thoroughly, but in short, you need to rely on fans that are configured correctly to give you the airflow you need.

AIO Coolers take up quite a bit of space

Although the fan and radiator assembly part of an AIO fits snuggly away inside a computer case quite nicely, it still takes up valuable space.

Especially those models that are designed with three cooling fans.

This space can alternatively be used for extra case fans to help keep the inside of your computer cooler by increasing airflow.


These units generally last around three to seven years. After that, you will need to replace it.

Compared to an air cooler, it increases the cost considerably. However, that price might be perfectly justified if you consider the level of cooling you get.


You can’t go wrong with an AIO. The only trade-off might be room in your case for cooling fans, but the inside of your computer will be cooler.

With a cooler internal temperature, all the rest of your components inside your machine will be better off.

I realize the cost isn’t for everyone, but it’s still a fantastic deal when you look at the level of cooling you get.

I know I haven’t looked back since making the change.