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Liquid cooling radiator size, how much bigger better?

There seems to be no consensus on something as trivial at first as the size of a radiator, but when you use less than correct terms in a world as specific as that of liquid cooling, you end up misleading. What do we understand by big? There the question and therefore this article.

The size of a radiator DOES affect performance

As we say, the concept of “large” is misused, and it is for the simple fact that it is totally generic. When we talk about radiators and their size we have to specify if we refer to thickness, length or width.

These three factors are, along with others, the most indicative to know or even intuit what we can expect from said radius. The problem of size is the comparison, that is, what are we comparing with what, what radiators we face.

Therefore, and knowing these three factors to take into account, we are going to try to discern everything necessary to be clear that it is the best. We will start from the basis that we have the same internal deposit system, the same number of tubes, the same materials and the same purposes, that is, equal conditions where only the three named factors will be the differentiator.

Therefore, let’s compare thickness, length and widthWhich of them is more important in terms of performance?

A difficult choice that will be resolved by external factors


The answer to the question is as simple as it is complicated at the same time: it depends. If you thought it was going to be easy to choose… Well, no, it really isn’t and we are going to explain it. Between thickness and length it is more or less easy to have a choice: I would win the length, mainly because that implies at least one more fan, managing to dissipate more watts per square centimeter.

The thickness on the other hand implies better fans and the gain as such is not as high as having more longitudinal surface. But what about length and width? Here everything is complicated a bit, but not too much. Assuming that there are many optimal fans in 120mm than 140mm, it will be easier and cheaper to buy smaller fans and achieve optimal performance than in the second case.

Why is this decisive? Because although the length will continue to win over the width of the rad for the same reasons that it gained from the thickness as such, it is true that there are 140 mm fans that, within the same series as 120 mm, achieve a result close to their brothers. minors on a radiator.

Lastly, thickness vs width? It is perhaps the most difficult to discern, since the thickness of the rad would have to be seen. In our experience, width will always prevail, since it is a handy surface available with less restriction due to the lower thickness, but performance shoots up a lot if we compare a 120mm rad with a 140mm radius and a 30mm thickness versus 60mm .

The comparison for a similar performance would be 140 mm against 60 mm, but I would opt in favor of the former for the fans, since in 60 mm we need high static pressure to take advantage of this thickness, while in 140 mm, simply correct fans will do a decent job.