PCs have never been more powerful. New technology has enabled them to run games with better graphics, edit videos with more precision, and so much more.

But the increased power that modern PCs offer comes at a price. The components within our PCs are having to push themselves more and more to keep up with our demands. The only reason that they’ve been able to do so is because of PC cooling systems.

One type of cooling system that you may use is an AIO cooler. If you have one in your PC, then you might be wondering how long you’ll be able to count on it.

AIO coolers usually last between 5 and 7 years. But the exact lifespan of your AIO cooler will vary based on how often you use your PC. Most pumps are expected to last for up to 70,000 hours. So if you know how many hours you use your PC on an average day, you can figure out how long your AIO cooler will last.

Do AIO coolers go bad?

To answer this question, we need to first understand exactly what an AIO cooler is. AIO is short for “all-in-one”. It refers to a liquid CPU cooler that combines a water block, radiator, pump, and all other cooling components.

The liquid in your AIO cooler is what keeps your PC running smoothly. This shouldn’t ever go bad. But some, or even all of it, may evaporate as time goes by. This tends to happen more often to AIOs that are ran at higher temperatures.

To solve this issue, some manufacturers sell AIOs that can be refilled. To fix the evaporation problem, you add more liquid to the AIO. Once you do that, it should return to its normal functioning.

But AIO coolers feature other components, like tubes and pumps that need to be replaced every so often. That’s why most manufacturers advise consumers to replace their AIO once every 5 to 7 years.

Do AIO coolers need maintenance?

Maintaining your AIO cooler is a very straightforward, easy process. Some manufacturers will tell you that no maintenance is required. And to a certain degree, they’re correct. You almost have nothing to worry about in terms of AIO cooler maintenance.

However, there are a few things that you can do to make sure your cooler is functioning optimally. Namely, it’s worth taking some time to maintain the cooler’s radiator and fans.

The maintenance process itself isn’t complicated. Just take some time to clear out any dust that may have accumulated in these parts. The easiest way to do that is with canned air. Use it every month or two and your AIO cooler will continue performing its best.

Are AIO coolers reliable?

Yes, AIO coolers are highly reliable. In fact, they’re more reliable than custom water loops and traditional air cooling systems. This is true for a few key reasons.

Most importantly, AIO coolers are all-in-one systems. This means that there are virtually no failure points within them. So you can install an AIO cooler, do some basic dust-related maintenance, and be happy for years.

Custom water loops aren’t reliable in this way. They have many failure points because they are composed of many parts. So the process of maintaining a custom water loop is much more labor-intensive and expensive.

Is AIO better than air?

Yes, AIO is considered to be better than general air cooling systems. The key here is that AIOs provide more cooling power to your PC. That’s because they use a liquid cooling system.

The comparison is akin to a fan versus an air conditioner. Fans can be nice but they’re no match for the cooling power offered by a good AC system. Similarly, air cooling systems can work in many PCs, but they can’t match the output of a good AIO system.

For this reason, most people who place heavy demands on their PCs utilize an AIO cooler. Doing so is essential if you want to run high-end programs or overclock your system.

Is AIO worth it?

Only you can decide if an AIO cooler is truly worth it. But there are some real benefits to using them that are worth considering. Most importantly, AIOs tend to offer more cooling power than their air cooling counterparts.

So you need to determine how much cooling power you need. If you game heavily or edit large video files, then investing in an AIO for your machine could be a good idea.

On the other hand, you might only use your PC for basic tasks like watching videos and editing documents. If so, you’re probably not going to get enough value out of an AIO to make investing in one worth it.

What happens when AIO fails?

The prospect of having your AIO fail can be a scary one. Especially if you’re someone who regularly runs demanding programs on your PC. However, you don’t actually have all that much to worry about.

If an AIO fails, your system would begin heating up very quickly. But the good news is that most PCs nowadays will automatically shut off if they get too hot. This failsafe mechanism ensures that no lasting damage is done to your PC in the event of a cooling failure.

So really, you don’t even have to stay on top of whether your AIO is working or not. Just know that if it stops working, your PC will do what it needs to do to protect itself.

What liquid is in AIO?

Different manufacturers use different types of liquid in the AIOs that they sell. But usually, you’ll get a mixture of distilled water and propylene glycol. The exact ratio of these ingredients will vary based on how the manufacturer expects you to use the product.

For example, a manufacturer might expect its consumers to need a ton of cooling power. If so, they may include a larger amount of propylene glycol in their mixtures. This active ingredient helps to keep PCs as cool as possible when running demanding programs.

On the other hand, a manufacturer might not expect its consumers to need very much cooling power. If so, they might only include a minor amount of propylene glycol in their mixtures.

To figure this out, consider how the manufacturer markets its AIO coolers. Are they selling to high-end gamers? Or are they targeting the average PC user? This can clue you in to how much propylene glycol they include in their AIO coolers.

Can you refill an AIO cooler?

The answer to this question depends on the AIO cooler that you purchase. Some manufacturers sell AIOs that can be refilled. The process of doing so is usually pretty straightforward.

You need to start by draining out the old coolant. Then, you can clean the tube with a mixture of vinegar and distilled water. Run the AIO cooler through a few cycles with that cleaning mixture in it. Then refill it with the coolant mixture that you want to use long-term.

That being said, this won’t be necessary for all AIO coolers. Some are designed in such a way as to make refilling them very difficult. With these products, it’s best to just purchase a replacement cooler instead of attempting to refill them.

Should AIO fans be intake or exhaust?

AIO fans can be either intake or exhaust depending on your setup. The answer lies in the type of CPU that you’re using. Some CPUs are known for giving off a large amount of heat. Products like the 9900k come to mind here.

If your CPU gives off a lot of heat, then you should set your AIO fans as intake. That’s because the CPU needs to be cool enough to run your programs and boost your performance.

But if you’re using an average CPU, then setting your AIO up as exhaust is probably best. So your fallback should be to set up the AIO as exhaust. But if you know that your CPU gives off a bunch of heat, then set it up as intake.

Related Questions

How often should I clean my AIO?

Many manufacturers will tell you that you don’t ever need to clean your AIO cooler. But that’s not always the best strategy. If you really want to make sure your AIO lasts, then you should clean its radiator when it’s full of dust.

The timeline for this will depend on how dusty your environment is. If it’s full of dust, you may need to clean your AIO as often as monthly. But if there’s very little dust in your room, then cleaning it every 3-6 months should be just fine.

Can AIO coolers freeze?

Yes, it is possible for an AIO cooler to freeze. But it will only do so if temperatures in your home reach 32 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. This is very rare and is not something that most people will ever need to worry about.

Do AIO coolers need thermal paste?

Yes, AIO coolers do need thermal paste. But most of them come with it pre-applied on the block. So it’s not something that you usually need to worry about doing yourself.