A lot of people don't know that the fans they hear churning inside their computers cool the hot insides with air from the outside. Dust can collect on these all-important fans and clog them quickly. (See our Tech Tip on the dangers of dust from the October issue.) Clogged fans can mean a possible system crash from overheating.
But there is an answer: liquid cooling. These water-cooling kits are available at most electronics stores and cost $99-$250. Instead of using a dusty fan, these systems cool your computer like a car engine by carrying heat to a radiator that expels it away from sensitive areas. One great feature of water cooling is silence. Instead of using a bunch of loud fans to move air around the case, you use one fan to cool the radiator for the water. There are even some systems that use a radiator tower that sits next to the system and does its job without making a sound.
What you choose depends on your needs. Are you looking for extreme cooling or the path to silence? Several manufacturers are producing all-in-one kits geared toward ease of installation and near-silent operation in place of all-out performance.
As always, the more you spend, the better the cooling. A really good water cooling system will probably cost more — but if you're going to make the move, go all the way. Spend a few extra dollars to see some real improvement in your system.