We tested 12 different configurations for installing fans on radiators of liquid cooling systems. Which one is the best? Let’s see.

Some time ago, most liquid coolers (a.k.a. watercoolers) were kits that the user had to assemble himself, at the risk of making a big mess inside the computer. Sealed “all-in-one” systems were rare; there were few options in the market.

Nowadays, however, sealed liquid (a.k.a. maintenance-free) cooling systems are a good option for the user who wants to keep his or her computer cool with low noise and high flexibility. Several brands sell those coolers, offering from basic to high-end models.

Those liquid cooling systems have a block that is in contact with the CPU and transfers the heat to the flowing liquid; the pump (usually integrated into the block) that makes the liquid flow; hoses to connect everything; and a radiator that cools the liquid, transferring the heat to the air. But the radiator needs to be cooled by fans, and there is not much agreement about how to install the radiator and the fan (or fans) on the case.

In this article, we tested several methods of installing the radiator and the fans. We measured noise and temperatures on each test in order to see how the radiator position (and the position of the fans relative to the radiator) influences the temperature and noise.

The positions we tested and the results achieved are described in the following pages.


Rafael Otto Coelho is a physicist with a master’s degree in Education, and is a college professor in Brazil.