AIO or Custom Loop

In our previous blog, we’d discussed the differences between an AIO and a Custom Loop, as well as the risks of using an AIO for cooling. Now, we’ll get into why you might choose AIO or Custom Loop.

AIO or Custom Loop: AIO

An AIO is basically a compressed custom water cooling loop, and with that compression comes increased reliability, reduced cost, and less maintenance. However, it also comes with less overall performance. Let’s get into what that actually means.

  1. An AIO loses the modular parts of the custom loop, and replaces the whole system with a single component to install. As you lose parts like fittings, you lose points of failure.
  2. This drastically reduces the ability of the system to leak, as fittings are among the most common points of failure.
  3. As there is no longer a standalone pump or reservoir, you don’t have to worry about either of those parts running dry.
  4. Plus, as stated earlier, you’re removing points of failure.

The most expensive AIO is maybe $200, although there are quite a few in the $80-$150 range. You might think $130 for a CPU cooler is expensive, but remember, it’s a self-contained system that doesn’t need any other parts. A CPU water block can be $130, and the radiator for that part can be another $130. With the custom loop, you’ve already doubled your cost with just one more part.

As the AIO is a closed-loop system sealed from the factory, it requires virtually no maintenance. There’s no filling, no flushing, no need to monitor it really. If all you do is dust off the radiator every now and then, you’re doing great! Talk about low maintenance!

So if AIOs are so good, why in the world would someone go with a custom loop?

I’m glad you asked, as there are two major reasons why you might choose a custom water cooling loop; overall performance, and visual appeal.

AIO or Custom Loop: Custom Loop

If you don’t have much more time to read this, here’s a quick snippet of what to remember about a custom water cooling loop.

  1. The concept of “you get what you pay for” still very much applies here. AIOs compress everything about computer cooling, including the overall performance.
  2. If your entire cooling system is $130, and your friends system has 5 parts that are each $130, there’s a good chance their system is more effective (and they’re probably running more powerful hardware that needs that cooling capacity).
  3. As you individualize the parts in your cooling system, you gain performance and effectiveness from each one.

Where a manufacturer like Corsair, NZXT, or Fractal Design is looking to get the most performance for the lowest price in their AIO; a manufacturer like EK Water Blocks simply designs the best parts (EK does scale their parts though, like any business).

The Verdict: AIO or Custom Loop

So there you have it, what makes an AIO different from a Custom Water Cooling Loop, and why you might go with either one.

The AIO offers increased reliability, reduced cost, and less maintenance; while the Custom Loop offers increased overall performance, and increased visual appeal.

Neither solution is bad, and we have no issue using either one. If you need help figuring out which is better for your needs, or want help installing either one, please contact us!

About Top Flight Computers

Top Flight Computers is based in North Carolina and designs bespoke computers, specializing in workstations, gaming computers, and water cooling.

We believe that fostering and strengthening authentic personal relationships with our customers is the most important part of our business. Above all, we want to help you get exactly what you need to be successful.

If you need more than a mass-market pre-built system, trust our technical excellence and dedication to personal service to design and build your bespoke PC.