For your next PC, unless you are going for Crossfire 6970s or SLI 580s. There's no need to pick watercooling for noise or performance. You will find it hard to beat the performance of a thermalright archon + Shamon. Even warriorpoets PC doesn't NEED watercooling
I do if I want to record next to the thing
Again, I don't claim to be anything but a fringe case, so view the necessity of my setup in my circumstances in the same light. Most of the time, there is no NEED for esoteric cooling, but I simply cannot get to where I need to be on air (silent -really silent- for recording, powerful and beefy for the hobbies/ folding).
I don't think silentpcreview ever had a water cooling following, even back in the days of the biege boxes and swiftech rod CPUs. Few watercooling products were targeted at the silencing crowd (i only remember the reservator you had) and the overclocking goal of designed assumed dense fin spacing that don't perform great with lower pressure fans.
A lot of the current stuff is designed with quiet operation in mind. Look for wide-body radiators with loose fin spacing (FPI) for best operation with low-speed fans. Swiftech MCR-QP rads are a nice price/ performance compromise, but not as quiet friendly as, say, an XSPC RX series rad.
Waterblock for GPU designs haven't slowed down. Rather, increasing temps of VRM and varying designs have made it harder for the enthusiasts to recycle a GPU block like before.
True, but now it doesn't matter how much airflow you have going over the GPU, allowing for lower airflow/ quieter systems with much faster/ hotter components.
The increasing efficiency of air cooling is also a factor. It almost only makes sense to go big (triple rads) and huge on watercooling, which is as expensive as ever.
1st part: yes. Air cooling has gotten much, much better with the advent of heatpipe coolers and massive tower heatsinks. Add in tweaks that were once only for water coolers (bowed heatsink bases, high mounting pressure, solid mounts), and there is a very real difference between air coolers from three years ago and today.
counterpoint to the "expensive as ever" argument:http://www.performance-pcs.com/catalog/ ... s_id=30280http://www.performance-pcs.com/catalog/ ... s_id=30017http://www.performance-pcs.com/catalog/ ... s_id=26994
Note that all of these use high quality components good for several generations worth of upgrades and enough cooling capacity for additional components (like a GPU). Also not that the included fans are way too stinkin' loud :p
Overall, watercooling is fading away along with desktop PCs. I am not surprised if many people on these forums back in 2003 have since switched to a laptop and moved on with their lives. That being said, I always find my self being drawn back to watercooling for the sake of tinkering with things.
Whoah there. Many laptops are WAY too loud, but they do offer a nice balance of useability, and out of our four computers three are laptops. HOWEVER, no laptop can surf the cutting edge; not even close.
crazy thing is that watercooling has gotten so much easier and less expensive at the very moment mainstream components require less cooling. That's not to say it's not still worthwhile, just that it's harder to expect the long-range investment perspective necessary to justify the added upfront cost. Add to the perception that most of the casually interested check out all-in-one kits first, and the increasingly negative perspectives seem justified (and they are in the case of the all-in-ones).
And then there's the need for either increased size or an enterprising modding spirit...
In any case, a well-researched custom liquid cooling system is well worth a look for the hobbyist, the tinkerer and the fringe user, but for most it's the last 15% of performance for 30% greater outlay. It's up to you to determine whether that ratio is worthwhile.