Do sealed liquid coolers provide a compelling performance alternative to air?
Liquid-cooling proponents cite the benefits of a larger radiator placed further from the heat source, saying it provides superior results. Meanwhile, fans of air-cooling criticize liquid coolers for their cost, complexity, maintenance, and potential for leakage. Yet, sealed liquid systems have almost none of the problems associated with larger do-it-yourself options. Their plastic cooling lines are nearly impermeable to evaporation, so there's no need to refill them, and they're impervious to the contaminants that so often clog serviceable component coolers. Corsair relied on maintenance-free cooling expert Asetek to develop its universal-fit H50.
Now, air-cooling aficionados point to the fact that the small radiators required to make a sealed liquid system “universal-fit” are already matched in surface area by several tower-style heatsinks. They also say that short, permanently-affixed coolant lines remove any possible benefit of alternative radiator placement. And while liquid-cooling guys can point to occasional installation woes for oversized air coolers, such as what we saw happen with our $1,300 System Builder Marathon build, air-cooling supporters feel such design disasters are avoidable, requiring just a little forethought when selecting parts for the configuration.
Going up against the H50, Rosewill sent its FORT120 for performance and fit testing. We included the results from our earlier comparison to evaluate any improvements these challengers may present. Will we find a new performance leader?