Is water cooling necessary?


I’m in the process of buying a new GPU to upgrade my system. For Blender use (no gaming at all), is there a big advantage to adding a water block? I tend to do larger scenes that eat up quite a bit of GPU capability, but I’ve never fried one. If I’m not overclocking, can I stick with air cooling and sleep well at night?

Thanks in advance.

Yes there is an advantage: you would sleep better at night because there would be less fan noise.

Seriously though, there are advantages but is it necessary depends on several things. Such as

  • what the sustained temperatures are for GPU, CPU, motherboard sensors, HDDs (SMART info), and for PSU if it participates in transfering heated air off the case, under full load obviously
  • is the fan noise unbearable already (under full load)
  • how crowded the space for the new GPU would be (less space, less cool air, more components heating the air before it reaches the new component)

It’s a system. Watercooling allows to transfer heat (it doesn’t actually cool anything, despite what it says on the label), provide more thermal mass, you get more options to place the radiators where the cooling would be most effective and probably with bigger fans. That’s why it provides options to solve all problems mentioned above.

If the temperatures are reasonable and there are no other problems, watercooling is not strictly necessary. Graphics cards can take the heat too but the higher the temperatures, the more it affects the component life span. You want to look at it as a whole system though and evaluate the need for watercooling or other modifications based on that.

Thanks, JA12,

Sounds like water is a good add-on, but not a necessity for me. One more question - is there a huge difference between Gigabyte and Nvidia cards, for the same specs? For example, the GTX 770 4GB from Gigabyte can be bought for about $100 less in some cases, than the same card from Nvidia. Any advantage to go with the more expensive card, besides warranty?

Not sure if I completely understand the question. Companies such as Gigabyte, Asus, MSI and a whole lot of others make GPUs that originate from nvidia and amd. If you’re talking about nvidia reference design here, it could very well be more expensive while Gigabyte version might even have a better cooler. You might not get anything for the added price.

For consideration, I installed a CPU water cooler simply because the CPU fan was going off it’s nut. Sounded like a jet engine at 60C. I installed water cooling because it meant I could throw a 120mm case fan on the radiator rather than the tiny 60mm stock CPU fan. Now it runs around 40C at load with the sound of a faint breeze :slight_smile:

I didn’t have my brain plugged in on that last post. I actually meant EVGA vs Gigabyte, Asus, MSI, etc. Sorry for the confusion! I read on a forum that the Gigabyte cards are actually set up a little differently than EVGA (something to do with memory usage). Just wondering if anyone had any good/bad experiences with non-EVGA cards, since they tend to dominate from what I can see.


There’s a marginal difference in watercooling and good aircooling. In regular usecases a good towercooler and a water cooling system reach almost comparable temperatures, the watercooling begins to show it’s perks once you start to overclock, bump the vCore and reach critical temperatures.
In this case the watercooling will hold the temperature and the aircooling will has its limits and can’t cool anymore.

What is also important is that you have a good airflow inside your case. Every cooling system can only cool down a delta Temperature.
If you got 22°C room temperature, and 50°C air temperature in your case because you’re not venting it right, and your cooling system has a deltaT of 20°C you’ll never get below 30°C because of the temperature of the air in your case.
If you vent it good and got 25°C in your case, you can always reach room temperature.

And the average graphics card running with 70-100°C boils the inside of your case. It’s more important to get the air out of the case than having a super efficient cooling on the graphics card.

That said, watercooling bypasses this issue. Usually your radiator is mounted outside or on the top and directly cooled with air from the room. The energy (heat) is transported by the water directly from the cooling block to the radiator and the heat expelled there to the room-air, bypassing the hotter air in the case.

However, specially for CPU watercooling you need additional cooling for north/southbridge and the voltage transformers around the CPU. Those parts are usually cooled with the airflow of the CPU cooler.

Not to mention that a good water cooling system for CPU+GPU costs around 400-700 bucks and has some maintanance effort to put into.

@price difference of graphic cards:

There are chip manufacturers, AMD, Nvidia, which produce GPUs. They usually produce reference cards, which are directly from AMD/Nvidia. And then there are the board partners. They buy the GPUs from the chip manufacturers and create their own board designs, memory amount and cooling solutions.

The major differences are the type of cooling and the quality of the parts.
It’s no secret that “all” of them produce in China, as cheap as possible, still there are differences in the quality of PCB and especially the capacitators on the cards. Remember the disaster of many ATI and Nvidia cards, twirping due to low quality coils under load, to graphical artifacts on the screen because cheap capacitators failed, or simply a black screen because one of the liquid filled capacitators blew out?
Today most use solid capacitators but there are still quality differences between them.
It usually reflects directly in the price.
So as a rule of thumb, the more the card costs the better the quality…
However we reached a point where GCs are changed every 2-3 years and quality is a lot higher. Who cares then if the card lasts 10 or 30 years?

Which leaves the most important issue… the cooling system.
The reference cooling usually is complete crap. Bad temperatures and loud like leafblowers.
You either buy a cheap card and buy an aftermarket cooler from Gelid, EKL, Scythe, Thermalright… however you need the balls to disassemble your newly bought card, and you void your warranty. Also you can add another 50-100 bucks to the pricetag for the cooler.
Or you buy a card from a boardpartner with a good cooling solution, such as ASUS’ DirectCU, or MSI’s TwinFrozr.
Effective and smart cooling with low noise even under full load.

You should also keep an eye on the warranty times they offer, and read up on the internet on problems with their support and warranty to pick a board partner.

And lastly it’s the gimmicks and gear inside the box. A retail card just in an anti-static bag is usually cheaper than a boxed card, with adapters and cables and maybe 3 games included and a poster and whatnot.


Thanks, arexma,

I feel like I just went to GPU University! I really appreciate the thoughtful response, and it definitely filled in some gaps in my knowledge. Much appreciated!