How to Replace AiO Cooler?


What’s an AiO cooler? How do you replace it? Learn more about this topic through this quick and handy guide.

AIO or AiO stands for “All-in-One”.  When it relates to CPUs and PCs, AIO refers to AIO coolers. They’re all-in-one because they include the radiator, fan, pump, tubes, and a whole cooling unit. Because they’ve got it all for your CPU, they’re more reliable at cooling down your rig’s CPU.

However, if your AIO cooler malfunctions, you also need to know how to replace the AiO cooler. Spoiler alert—it involves taking out the old cooler and putting in a new one.

How to Replace AIO Cooler

To replace an AIO cooler, you need to remove the original compromised cooler. Afterwards, install and secure the back plate, the fans, the radiator, the pump, and so forth. It’s an All-in-One cooling rig that could either use a liquid or air cooling.

Pick whichever makes the most sense and/or the one you can afford the most. If this sounds all too complicated for you, then make room for your budget to have someone tech-savvy to do the installation for you.

Install the Back Plate and Fans

The back plate should have screw holes that require support screws to hold it in place. This will serve as the support for your pump later on. You should secure the back plate solidly because it’s the foundation of the whole rig.

Afterwards, you should install the fans by orienting them correctly onto the radiator while making sure they’re pushing the air through the radiator (they have small arrows marked on them to show you the airflow direction). Screw them into place using a crisscross pattern.

Install the Radiator and Pump

Install the radiator on a desired spot of your rig then line up and sort its cables to make room for it. Cable management is the key to securing your radiator at the end or middle of your PC build. Don’t tighten the screws just yet to allow you to reposition the radiator and cooler around.

When installing your pump, you need to first install the right retention bracket that goes around the pump. Read your manual as they can come off or go on in a multitude of ways. Line up the bracket holes over the support screws then have the pump sit directly over the top of the CPU socket.

Sorting Out the Cables

Once the back plate, fans, radiator, cooler, and pump are installed, then you can plug the CPU fan cable unto the CPU fan header. Consult your manual for more details if you’re unsure about this step. Feed additional cables for SATA power, micro-USB, or fan headers at the back of the case.

This allows for easier cable management when all is said and done. You can daisy-chain RGB connectors and the SATA power to your PSU if needed once you connect the fan cables to their relevant fan headers.

Q&A

Can AIO fans be replaced?

Yes, you can use any fans, as long as they are the same size, 120mm, because the AIO used the 120mm fans.

How long do AIO water coolers last?

Generally, a well-made AIO water cooler can last you about 3 – 6 years. Whereas with custom solutions, they usually don’t last as long. Usually just 1 – 3 years without any sort of maintenance.

Do AIO liquid coolers need maintenance?

The only part you have to maintain in an AIO, is the radiator and fans. This is because a lot of dust can get stuck inside or inbetween the radiator and the fans. You don’t need to maintain the pump, or the liquid- it’s closed and cannot be opened.

How do I know if my AIO pump is failing?

Simulating a Broken AIO Pump (so You Don’t Have To)

Is AIO better than air?

Just as a swimming pool cools you down quicker than a fan, AIO coolers are much better at chilling CPUs than air. This allows you to get the most out of more powerful components because you can overclock your processor to make it faster without temperatures rising too high.

What liquid is used in AIO coolers?

Yes, they come with a water-glycol mix. You generally can not open them and add water. They are nearly always a completely closed system and not user-serviceable.

Do I need case fans with an AIO?

It depends on whether you need more airflow or more static pressure, as well as how much noise you can tolerate, as well as your budget. If your CPU is AIO liquid-cooled, you have good cable management and have a large enough case, then you should opt for larger fans.

Can you replace fans on Corsair AIO?

Short answer: Yes. Honestly, just about any decent fan you put on there will do the job.

Can you change fans on AIO Corsair?

It will be fine. I have a h100x and use 2 LL120 fans on it so they match all my other case fans. The stock SP120 fans that came with the cooler are technically better on the AIO than the LLs but the difference is minuscule in practice.

When should I replace my liquid cooling?

We recommend changing the fluid in your custom cooling system every 12 months to remove particulate build-up and ensure optimal thermal performance.

How do I clean my AIO cooler?

How to Clean an AIO (All-In-One) CPU Cooler

Can liquid cooling leak?

A water-cooled PC doesn’t leak when built properly.

There’s a very small chance it will occur as long as you don’t remove it too often. If you keep adjusting or reinstalling it, there’s a possibility that it will leak. Whatever type of water coolers you install, it’s guaranteed that you get the best performance.

Why is my AIO making noise?

If a PC with AIO liquid cooler got moved via long distance, there is a chance that the air bubbles, which is already there in the AIO liquid cooler before move, will get trapped in the liquid cooler head. When we got the delivered PC and turn it on, there would be extremely noisy rattling or bubbling noise.

Can you plug the fan into the AIO pump?

Can you plug an AIO pump into a fan header? Yes. It will work perfectly fine.

Are AIOs louder than fans?

Yes. Since your CPU works harder, it also produces more heat. And in turn, your AIO has to work harder: fans spin faster, and pump speed goes up, to provide enough cooling for CPU. And with faster rotation speeds, there is louder noise.

Is AIO good for gaming?

Because AIOs tend to use more powerful processors than laptops do, all-in-one PCs will execute CPU-intensive tasks more rapidly, on the whole. Some 3D games will run better, too, thanks to the discrete graphics chips in some A-grade AIO PCs.

Are AIOs quieter?

Sound. Liquid cooling, especially when using an All-in-One (AIO), tends to be quieter than the fan on a CPU heatsink. Again, this can vary, in that there are air coolers with fans specifically designed to reduce noise, and fan settings or fan selection can impact the amount of noise generated.

Is distilled water good for AIO?

As it chemically removes electrons from the metals of cooling system components, distilled water eventually does extreme damage that could lead to cooling system failure.

Can AIO coolers freeze?

that is very unlikely it will freeze. even if it does….it will not damage the cooler. or else coolers would have been damaged in the warehouse itself.

In Summarization

Are you sure your All-in-One cooler requires replacing? The thing is though that PC slowdown and crashes when you’re overclocking or testing its 4K video rendering fidelity can happen for other reasons too unrelated to your AIO cooler, like a virus or a system error.

Troubleshoot to investigate what’s the deal then if it’s a failing AIO cooler that’s the problem then you should go about replacing it.

References:

  1. How do I know if my AIO is going bad?“, LinusTechTips.com, April 22, 2019
  2. Jack Howarth, “How To Install Liquid Cooling (AIO CPU Cooler)“, April 18, 2022

Andy Avery

I really enjoy helping people with their tech problems to make life easier, ​and that’s what I’ve been doing professionally for the past decade.

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