Do you need a CPU cooler? Let’s find out. CPUs are incredibly complex in the way they work, CPUs take instructions from computer programs and process them into calculations. A CPU generates heat, like literally all other electrical components, this is just a fact since nothing can really be 100% efficient.
It is precisely for this reason that coolers and coolers are necessary, since heat is the enemy when it comes to the operation of electrical components. You may have seen small shavings with large ribbed blocks of aluminum attached to them. It is what handles the heat generated by these components and pulls it away from the component itself. A CPU cooler works in exactly the same way.
Do you need a CPU cooler?
The short answer is yes, absolutely. CPU coolers are essential for PC operation and have been for well over a decade now. Without a CPU cooler, you WILL damage your CPU irreparably. To understand why we need a CPU cooler, we must first understand more about how a CPU generates heat.
How does a CPU generate heat?
A CPU has one main task, and that is to convert instructions from a computer program and call on the services and components needed to execute the instruction. A CPU contains transistors that are capable of emitting a simple yes or no variable, and adding several of these yes or no variables together leads to more complex decisions on the CPU side.
Of course, all this treatment uses electricity, and our technology to contain electricity does not allow us to use it with 100% efficiency. This is because many of the materials that conduct electricity well are also good heat conductors. This means that some of the electrical energy can be wasted as heat or thermal energy.
We already have a name for this wasted thermal energy when it comes to electrical components, and that name is Thermal Design Power, or ‘TDP’ for short. You may have heard this phrase while discussing PCs and CPUs in general.
How do CPU coolers work?
The way CPU coolers work is full of physics and thermodynamics, but is very easy to understand when it is divided into stages. Let’s follow the heat of the journey through a CPU cooler.
The CPU matrix is heated during use, and as a result there is also an IHS (integrated heat spreader) for the CPU. Between the cold plate and IHS is thermal paste, to provide better contact between IHS and the CPU cooler’s cold plate.
Thermal paste aims to eliminate any air bubbles and even out the contact between IHS and cold plate, as air is a fantastic insulator. Heat is then transferred from the CPU to the cold plate through the heat transfer process to wire.
When the cold plate is heated, the heat is transferred to the heating pipe.
The heating plate is now hot, excuse the pun, which means that it can not take more heat from IHS as efficiently, so the heat must be transferred to a copper heating pipe. This heating tube contains a wet wick to better transfer heat to the heat sink. Some of the heat can spread into the air from the heating pipe, but not much due to the very low surface area.
The main purpose of the heating pipes is to move the heat away from the cold plate and into the heat sink for more aggressive convection.
The heat sink is a large copper or aluminum block (or any good heat conductor) with fins to significantly increase the surface area. These fins surround the heat pipes coming from the cold plate to extract heat and radiate it into the air surrounding the heat sink.
The larger surface area helps the heat sink to radiate heat more efficiently as it comes in contact with as much of the air around it as possible. This provides a greater opportunity to transfer heat to air molecules.
This is how passive cooling works, passive cooling may be enough for chips with lower power, but certainly not a 5900X.
To turn the passive cooling into active cooling, we need a fan.
Fans are there to move air around the heat sink to allow new, fresher, colder air to surround the heat sink for easier heat transfer. According to the heat convection coefficient, the colder something is, the easier it takes heat. Therefore, we want the air around the heat sink to be as cool as possible.
The inclusion of the fan also changes the diverting method to convection rather than radiation, as we use the fan to crush cold air molecules into the heat sink to absorb heat. As opposed to waiting for the heat sink to radiate heat into the surroundings.
Do you need a CPU cooler? Yes absolutely. CPU coolers are essential for CPU operation and health, without a CPU cooler you will definitely kill your CPU. If you are looking for a CPU cooler, here are the best CPU coolers from 2022.