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Question What are the best heatpipe air-coolers today? And what are good AiO watercoolers recommended?

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
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Recently posted at "Motherboards" about a static-charge disaster on my Sabertooth Z170 S board.

I'm acquiring "extra" hardware for the primary objective of resurrecting the existing configuration -- in event I need to do a motherboard swap.

My current SKYLAKE system deployed a ThermalRight Le Grand Macho . I remember the trouble I took to build this system, and I'd thoroughly researched the performance of the LGM against water-coolers like the Kraken and the Coolermaster H-115. If I was about two degrees C short of those water-cooler performance ratings, I preferred it and that's why I used it.

BUT ! BUT!! Is there anything better than that now? I have to use an existing computer case, and I don't want to fiddle with a radiator at this time, whether I resurrect the old system and build a second one "new". If I build another clone of my SKYLAKE, I'll be happy to follow the same cooling strategy. But better is better -- "more" is better.

So what's new?
 
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UsandThem

Elite Member
Super Moderator
May 4, 2000
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Since you are pretty much keeping the same build, I'd just reuse the cooler you already have as it's still a pretty solid cooler.

If you feel like getting something new for whatever reason, the Noctua NH-U12S or NH-U14S (if you have space) are both quality coolers that can be reused in a future build.
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
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Since you are pretty much keeping the same build, I'd just reuse the cooler you already have as it's still a pretty solid cooler.

If you feel like getting something new for whatever reason, the Noctua NH-U12S or NH-U14S (if you have space) are both quality coolers that can be reused in a future build.
Yes . . . I remember now . . . I have an NH-14 in another system, and I think I had cross-referenced reviews between the Grand Macho and the NH-15. Also, I'd best run a search on the Noctua model number you gave, to assure we're talking about the same things.

My Skylake system -- the one awaiting either a motherboard resurrection or replacement -- was built in a CoolerMaster Stacker mid-tower, with custom fittings for 140mm fans. it would work well for an AiO watercooler, but I'm fine with the heatpipes, and don't want to rearrange anything like the storage-disk placements.

I was just short of being fanatic about OC'ing under good cooling conditions. But it's "how" I've been using this system that is most important. I don't need to squeeze an extra 100 Mhz or 200 Mhz out of an overclock. My four-year experience with this system proved to me that I had plenty with a 4.7 Ghz clock setting, and most of the performance enhancement was coming from RAM and NVME (PrimoCache) caching. I built it to handle gaming well, but it's also the portal for all my household business, my rental property -- taxes - - graphics, music. I'm not ready to build a 9th or 10th gen Intel system right now, and the Z170 chipset provides all that I need.

You'd think someone came up with a better design for a heatpipe cooler since four years past . . .
 

UsandThem

Elite Member
Super Moderator
May 4, 2000
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You'd think someone came up with a better design for a heatpipe cooler since four years past . . .
Yeah, all heatpipe towers haven't changed drastically for a while because there's not really much left to improve upon outside of bigger / different / faster fans, and more or less surface area.
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
14,951
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Yeah, all heatpipe towers haven't changed drastically for a while because there's not really much left to improve upon outside of bigger / different / faster fans, and more or less surface area.
Have Intel processors become easier or harder to cool since my i7-6700K? I had the Skylake chip delidded for liquid metal and re-lidded by Silicon Lottery when I bought it. They "binned" it at 4.8 Ghz and I'd been running it comfortably at 4.7. I think the most I had to adjust the VCORE was an Offset setting that gave load voltage of about 1.38 or 1.39V. This was below the measured "Auto" setting of the motherboard, or 1.4V. With the Le Grand Macho, I think the LinX and other stressers would push the processor to at most 68C. It never got warmer than mid-50's C for gaming or anything else. It's just been a superb system for all the things I've used it for since early 2017.
 

UsandThem

Elite Member
Super Moderator
May 4, 2000
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Have Intel processors become easier or harder to cool since my i7-6700K?
With the last several generations they have. Since they have been on 14nm since Sky Lake, they have pushed that process about as far as it can go at this point. Their lower core CPUs are somewhat reasonable, but the i9 skus can put out some major heat if pushed really hard.
 

aigomorla

Cases and Cooling Mod PC Gaming Mod Elite Member
Super Moderator
Sep 28, 2005
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Have Intel processors become easier or harder to cool since my i7-6700K?
no but its been labeled taboo if your running one since everyone is now on Ryzen.
Just head over to cpu and overclocking, and watch how many Ryzen people lynch you.

on a serious note, actually that is my serious note....

BTW WB Bonzai.

i9 skus can put out some major heat if pushed really hard.
I think they are still easier to cool then a Ryzen 5800X+
Only because the Ryzen's are on a 5nm die, and smaller dies put out more heat per square mm.
But definitely the performance isn't on Intel's as of late.
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
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no but its been labeled taboo if your running one since everyone is now on Ryzen.
Just head over to cpu and overclocking, and watch how many Ryzen people lynch you.

on a serious note, actually that is my serious note....

BTW WB Bonzai.



I think they are still easier to cool then a Ryzen 5800X+
Only because the Ryzen's are on a 5nm die, and smaller dies put out more heat per square mm.
But definitely the performance isn't on Intel's as of late.
Well, if Ryzen is the way to go, I still cannot wrap my head around an imagined possibility that Intel is now permanently in "second place" to AMD.

Ordinarily, Aigo, if I were ten or twenty years younger than I am now, I wouldn't hesitate in jumping on AMD technology. But old men don't embrace change like they did when they were fulla beans. (Young and fulla beans -- I'd think you would've heard that before. Morgan Freeman in Eastwood's "Unforgiven".

You might easily understand this -- I've been posting a lot on the "Garage" forum about my 26-year-old "orphaned" Trooper LS. Its a 21st century Android Trooper, now. Two different hardware sources for more than 500 albums'-worth of "Classical", "R&R", Jazz, Folk -- even John Phillip Sousa marches. Wi-Fi configured rear-view/backup-camera displayed on the dashboard Android tablet.

And especially -- reporting this especially for you. I replaced the radiator and transmission cooling lines last year.

So! In a way, I'm "into" water-cooling. But main point -- I took my computer-tech inclinations on the road (so to speak). You should see it. You might even admire the job I did for installing the MP3-player/FM-transmitter and Bluetooth receiver. Fine woodworking with a Dremel "drill-press" and special bits, in solid walnut for a perfect fit in a vacant shelf of the center SUV console . . . .

This year, I plan to teach "Google Assistant" to make the female-voice of the Google Maps navigation system ask me if I want a blow job and to please attach the Vac-U-Jack stored in the glove box. I should hope! But it's nice to be told where to go and how to get there, as it gently mutes the music for the voice instructions.

All those folks with cell-phones might say "Well -- THAT'S no big deal!" Maybe even . . . . YOU!!

But it was such a rewarding project for this last year, that I go out to the garage almost every morning to pick up the newspaper, fire up the engine, pick something to listen to on the new Polk Audio speakers, and just sit in the car while it warms up.

I think I might be looking for either a 240 or 280mm-high AiO water cooler this year. Tell me what's good. I'd looked at them a lot when I built my Skylake. And I'm likely to build another system this year, even if done with dated motherboards and processors.

My main priority is to repair my Skylake system before end of February -- if necessary, to replace the motherboard. "USB Overvoltage detected . . . restarting in 15 seconds . . . " I zapped a charging vaping pen in the front panel with static from the carpet, and the USB went south. It may only be necessary to clear a gold capacitor of that charge, but just as likely may need to replace the board. So I blew the first part of my "stimulus" check money on two option replacement boards. One of them bundled with an i7-6700 (non-K) and a pair of Corsair DDR4's.

I figure, as insurance, it was worth the money I spent. More leggo blocks to play with, right?!
 

gorobei

Diamond Member
Jan 7, 2007
3,188
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noctua d15 and u12a are probably the peak of air cooling right now, or will be if the d15 7heatpipe version comes out.

the u12a is the one that meets the op need for compact size.

ryzen 5000 series is on 7nm, so die size isnt an issue. intel is on 14∞ nm so an 8/10 core i9 compared to a 4 core i7 6700 is literally twice the size and pumping out 2x the heat.

unless your use case is single threaded sub 2sec jobs the tiny clock speed peak before the i9 starts playing with PL time limits, amd is going to win anything multi threaded while using less power. the bigger hit comes from the need for better mb, mb vrm, vrm heatsinks from going with intel. intel is adding pcie4 support but still offers fewer lanes than amd.

covid pricing and availability is the only reason to go intel right now.
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
14,951
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noctua d15 and u12a are probably the peak of air cooling right now, or will be if the d15 7heatpipe version comes out.

the u12a is the one that meets the op need for compact size.

ryzen 5000 series is on 7nm, so die size isnt an issue. intel is on 14∞ nm so an 8/10 core i9 compared to a 4 core i7 6700 is literally twice the size and pumping out 2x the heat.

unless your use case is single threaded sub 2sec jobs the tiny clock speed peak before the i9 starts playing with PL time limits, amd is going to win anything multi threaded while using less power. the bigger hit comes from the need for better mb, mb vrm, vrm heatsinks from going with intel. intel is adding pcie4 support but still offers fewer lanes than amd.

covid pricing and availability is the only reason to go intel right now.
I built my Skylake system between October 2016 and June 2017 -- there were "evolutionary" tweaks, like adding a second NVME as a caching disk, getting over the hump of Win 10 feature upgrades, etc.

But for the cooling, I'd thoroughly researched cross-referenced lab-test cooling reviews. The Le Grand Macho by ThermalRight beats out the NH-D15 by a couple C degrees. As I also said somewhere, when I bought the CPU, I ordered it from Silicon Lottery, binned, delidded and relidded with one of the liquid metal compounds. It gave me something between a 15C and 18C advantage over the stock processor.

This was good, from the standpoint of a cool-running system using a heat-pipe cooler, but it further deferred and delayed any experience I might have obtained by selecting an AiO water cooler. Right now, I have a spare Skylake processor, there will be a spare motherboard or two, plenty of RAM sticks, an extra Titanium PSU and so forth to build another system. If I (ever!) or eventually move up to a gen 9 or gen 10 processor, switch over to AMD or any number of options, I'll have to use an AiO watercooler, I think. I dunno -- what do you need for an i9-10900K processor? What do you need for a Ryzen core?

Whether it's Intel or AMD, I don't see a need for (very much) overclocking anymore. Cooling is likely only a big issue with that prospect. But either way, and for either heatpipe or water, if the difference in price between adequate and superb is maybe $50, I say . . . . spend the extra $50.
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
14,951
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. . . So, anyway . . . . AigoMorla didn't respond to the question for him in my TLTR post.

How good are the Corsair watercoolers? I was looking at the H100i and H110i in some comparison lab tests. Often, you might find a half dozen or more coolers that test within 1 or 2 C degrees of each other, so it becomes a matter of judging reliability, cost and other factors.

I'm in the middle of troubleshooting a motherboard with prospects for replacing it -- tedious work. Fiddling with a large heatpipe cooler is an annoyance I could do without in the future.

If anyone has some info or recommendations about other models of AiO coolers, please post. Some brands, like EK, just cannot be found at my favorite resellers: "Out of Stock". Ideally, I can fit a radiator assembly of 140mm x [240 to 280]mm in one of the cases I'm using. I have thoughts to buy a Coolermaster "Master" case, and probably not going to do it on the cheap.
 

CU

Platinum Member
Aug 14, 2000
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I have been looking at getting a nice air cooler also to play with and use on my next system. The Le Grand Macho seems like a good one. Not sure if you can really top that one, as in most reviews I see it is +/- 2 degrees of the D15. They seem about equal with the Le Grand Macho a little quieter and cheaper. It is hard to find newer reviews of it though.
 

aigomorla

Cases and Cooling Mod PC Gaming Mod Elite Member
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Sep 28, 2005
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. . . So, anyway . . . . AigoMorla didn't respond to the question for him in my TLTR post.
???

I do not like AIO's
Honestly they are all made by the same OEM, and well, that OEM company to me is not really special.
The reason is they 3/4th fill the AIO, its not bleeded out properly, which means you can't really mount it in free position lest you get air gaps in the radiator, or the cpu pump can run half dry.


They do this to prevent expansion. *shrug* i guess its more in transport, where the gas inside the unit can expand and eventually end up rupturing inside the box. Think of potato chips and going up the mountain.

I will honestly use an Air sink whenever possible, as its much more reliable. The only time i consider AIO's is if space and clearance does not allow me to put in a Noctua.


I really liked the swiftech one, as it was fillable and expandable.

That would of been my first choice honestly.
Yes its not the performance king out of the box, but its serviceable, bleedable, and expandable hence you have free range of mounting without worrying about all the problems gamer nexus points out about all the AIO's Astek makes.

Swiftech to me is also a much more superior LCS company the AStek, has been in the game a lot longer, has also made many of the revolutionary advancements in watercooling thanks to old timer and legend Cathar who basically piggybacked our hobby back in 2005 with the original Storm.
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
14,951
1,050
126
I have been looking at getting a nice air cooler also to play with and use on my next system. The Le Grand Macho seems like a good one. Not sure if you can really top that one, as in most reviews I see it is +/- 2 degrees of the D15. They seem about equal with the Le Grand Macho a little quieter and cheaper. It is hard to find newer reviews of it though.
I'm not sure how they run the benchtests. ThermalRight manufactures a silicone rubber "accordion" duct which snugly fits the rear of the Grand Macho and secures to either a 120mm or 140mm exhaust fan -- you can order them in either size. It makes a difference, and as I said, with the proper airflow it will cool passively.

Here's what I did with it. I had to shop for an extra amount of time. There is a certain spec of a Nidec-Servo Gentle Typhoon fan -- 120mm -- that will spin up to 4,000 rpm. I forgot the spec, but it pushes air at about 150 CFM, if I'm not mistaken. AigoMorla and others will promptly observe the shortcomings of the dB sound-level at that speed. But with thermal fan control from the motherboard, there's only noise at the extreme of cooling need. All my fans use rubber mounts -- "shocks" or cushions, and the Grand Macho duct will also muffle noise.

But as if that weren't enough, I put a 140mm fan on the front which also offers good CFM at the high end. I want at least 110 CFM coming and going, if only in the fan spec. These and all other fans are under motherboard PWM thermal fan control, and I can control groups of fans -- two 140's on the sidepanel and two at the case front. Nobody can ever tell me my Skylake system is noisy. Never ever.

Of course you have to choose your case carefully to be sure the Macho will fit, just as you'd choose one to accommodate a radiator. And fiddling with your motherboard without at least removing the duct is -- well -- not fun.

So I've got an active thread about a "Static Charge" -- still testing to make sure the old board cannot be resurrected. Removal and replacement will be a pain in the ass. I enjoyed building it this way, the cable management and ducting were a source of pride. But taking it apart and putting it back together again so it's the same as it was?

I'm cleaning off my 1/2" thick glass-top coffee table so I'm not working on the carpet. I can see blood, sweat and tears through next week. Just clearing the coffee table is a chore for tomorrow -- the whole damn day. Stuff needs to be boxed and put away.
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
14,951
1,050
126
???

I do not like AIO's
Honestly they are all made by the same OEM, and well, that OEM company to me is not really special.
The reason is they 3/4th fill the AIO, its not bleeded out properly, which means you can't really mount it in free position lest you get air gaps in the radiator, or the cpu pump can run half dry.


They do this to prevent expansion. *shrug* i guess its more in transport, where the gas inside the unit can expand and eventually end up rupturing inside the box. Think of potato chips and going up the mountain.

I will honestly use an Air sink whenever possible, as its much more reliable. The only time i consider AIO's is if space and clearance does not allow me to put in a Noctua.


I really liked the swiftech one, as it was fillable and expandable.

That would of been my first choice honestly.
Yes its not the performance king out of the box, but its serviceable, bleedable, and expandable hence you have free range of mounting without worrying about all the problems gamer nexus points out about all the AIO's Astek makes.

Swiftech to me is also a much more superior LCS company the AStek, has been in the game a lot longer, has also made many of the revolutionary advancements in watercooling thanks to old timer and legend Cathar who basically piggybacked our hobby back in 2005 with the original Storm.
You are always a source of wisdom on this forum. Honestly, I might have tried either a custom rig or AiO if I had more reason, but I found other ways to discipline CPU thermals. I was never the hot-dawg you were about overclocking, and would always settle for the safe side of maximum.

Now it's come to the point where I'm not all that keen on overclocking. That makes heatpipes even less disappointing, but note my observations to CU's post.

I'll say this, though. If I build a 9th or 10th gen Intel box, and it benefits from Silicon Lottery's de-lidding service, I'll do it again. It really made a difference on this rig.
 

Puffnstuff

Lifer
Mar 9, 2005
15,377
4,117
136
Having run custom loops in the past using D5 pumps I too was skeptical about AIO's but alas I'm running an EVGA AIO 360 with Antec prizm fans and its working well for me. I still might go back to a D5 based loop in the future with a copper radiator using a heatkiller cpu water block but for now the AIO is working.

Just remember to remove the factory applied Tammy Fay Baker makeup thermal paste from it and use some decent paste. I'm running Artic MX-4 on mine which works far better for me.
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
14,951
1,050
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Having run custom loops in the past using D5 pumps I too was skeptical about AIO's but alas I'm running an EVGA AIO 360 with Antec prizm fans and its working well for me. I still might go back to a D5 based loop in the future with a copper radiator using a heatkiller cpu water block but for now the AIO is working.

Just remember to remove the factory applied Tammy Fay Baker makeup thermal paste from it and use some decent paste. I'm running Artic MX-4 on mine which works far better for me.
I'd be interested to hear about your maintenance effort over a block-sample of time, like three years. There must be a routine. I can't ask you to go at Frederick Taylor depth of work measurement, but I'd be eager to see it. Ever have problems with an older pump seizing up, or leaks, or biological contamination growing in the loops? I'd like to know what to expect, because I can always change a long-standing decision-choice just for whim and enthusiasm if I can manage the extra work.

From my thread on "Motherboards", I've been finishing up the motherboard replacement on the Skylake-turned-Kaby. People will say I didn't need to invest in the second dated processor, but I had the opportunity with the board-swap and couldn't resist. It looks good. I've been tweaking the RAM to use it with the CPU at stock settings. The thermals during short 3-pass LinX runs look to have very promising head-room. The load voltage already registers at 1.28V @ 4.5Ghz, and the informed skinny says I can get to 5.0Ghz with 1.28V using a Noctua DH-15. So the Grand Macho would seem a "done deal". I'm feeling very good about this. Maybe I'll post some new pictures on my Coolermaster 83[x] thread -- sooner or later. I prefer my 15-year-old 3.5 meg-apixel Olympus digital camera. I'm familiar with the routine, ya see. Old dogs, new tricks . . . cell-phones. . . . you know . . .
 

Puffnstuff

Lifer
Mar 9, 2005
15,377
4,117
136
First let me say that I'm not a water expert and that I bumbled my way through the whole thing Archer style. When I set up my loops each had a drain making it easy to change fluid. I ran distilled water (non conductive) with PT Nuke biocide, 3 drops per loop, and changed it out once a year. I was using clear tubing which discolored with time. I had an internal reservoir for the mb/cpu loop and an external cylinder for the gpu loop using a alphacool bracket.

I used Feser copper radiators, 360 internal and 480 external along with the ek motherboard blocks, fittings and reservoirs along with the aforementioned heatkiller 3.0 cpu block. I also ran the aluminum pump housings on my D5's which has tons of fitting options for inlet/outlet direction versus the stock plastic housings. I never had a D5 fail, however, I did keep a spare just in case plus I used a tackle box for all of my parts and tools but these days there are alot more toolbox options on the market to choose from. I always used the variable speed pumps so I could control the flow and no AIO can match a D5's 250 gph flow rate.

As for water leaks they happen which is why you want to run non conductive fluid so nothing gets fried. If you run colored fluid it will stain your lines. Personally I want colored lines next time so staining won't be an issue.

I also ran high static pressure fans, scythe ultra kaze 3000's, which could get loud if I turned them up so I always kept them on a fan controller for quick access. Once you let the custom loop bug bite you it's hard to get free from it. I've been on air for a while now since gpu coolers are so much improved these days and I don't OC.

There are a lot of great water cooling parts and suppliers to choose from these days making it super easy to get started.
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
14,951
1,050
126
First let me say that I'm not a water expert and that I bumbled my way through the whole thing Archer style. When I set up my loops each had a drain making it easy to change fluid. I ran distilled water (non conductive) with PT Nuke biocide, 3 drops per loop, and changed it out once a year. I was using clear tubing which discolored with time. I had an internal reservoir for the mb/cpu loop and an external cylinder for the gpu loop using a alphacool bracket.

I used Feser copper radiators, 360 internal and 480 external along with the ek motherboard blocks, fittings and reservoirs along with the aforementioned heatkiller 3.0 cpu block. I also ran the aluminum pump housings on my D5's which has tons of fitting options for inlet/outlet direction versus the stock plastic housings. I never had a D5 fail, however, I did keep a spare just in case plus I used a tackle box for all of my parts and tools but these days there are alot more toolbox options on the market to choose from. I always used the variable speed pumps so I could control the flow and no AIO can match a D5's 250 gph flow rate.

As for water leaks they happen which is why you want to run non conductive fluid so nothing gets fried. If you run colored fluid it will stain your lines. Personally I want colored lines next time so staining won't be an issue.

I also ran high static pressure fans, scythe ultra kaze 3000's, which could get loud if I turned them up so I always kept them on a fan controller for quick access. Once you let the custom loop bug bite you it's hard to get free from it. I've been on air for a while now since gpu coolers are so much improved these days and I don't OC.

There are a lot of great water cooling parts and suppliers to choose from these days making it super easy to get started.
I guess before I do anything with that choice, I'm going to have the current system with the new de-lidded Kaby Lake processor at the best clock speed I can find for it.

Right now, running at the stock "Auto" voltages and frequencies to the maximum 4.5 Ghz, I reach a package temperature maximum of 76C with the Grand Macho cooler, and the load voltage is nearly what I would use to find 5 Ghz. That's a maximum for one of the four cores; another maxes at 72 and the remaining two in the high 60's C. Of course the average of the recorded stress temperatures are all lower. I would think if I can keep the processor below 80C through some real torture tests with this cooler, I needn't do anything more than that for the twin build I'll be putting together from the spare parts and identical used Stacker 832 case. And that second machine will be using the Skylake that was part of the original system for four years.

I need to convince myself that I'm up for the adventure of it as well as the occasional work and disappointments. This month-long repair could happen to anyone using either water or air, and it was no picnic: I had other plans to reset the bumper support and alignment on my Trooper ("Garage") this year, and I'm pooped out enough to postpone that . . too. . .
Suppose I get to 5.0Ghz and rock stable on this Kaby with the air-cooler? I'd have to find other justifications to convert it or water-cool the Skylake.
 

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