280mm vs 360mm AIO Coolers

For modern CPUs to be able to deliver the best performance, it would need to run at an extremely fast processing speed which could lead to different extreme levels of temperatures. This means, you would need to cool them down to ensure that everything is under control. To be able to do this, you will need to have an AIO cooler. The use of an AIO cooler is an efficient method to cool your CPU. It comes in a complete package which has the ability to cool high-end CPUs.

There are many different sizes of AIO CPU coolers. They are offered by different brands as well. In this article, we shall feature the 280mm and the 360mm AIO and see what are their differences and which size cooler would best suit your needs.

280mm AIOs usually s a dual fan type of design. It comes with 140mm fans and 360mm AIO on the other hand has a triple fan design.

Differences Between 280mm vs 360mm AIO Coolers

There are some differences between 280mm and 380mm AIO sizes. For one, the sizes of their fans and the height of their radiator differ from one to another. 280mm come with much smaller-sized fans and radiators as well compared to the ones of 360mm.

360mm AIO has 3 fans while 280mm has dual fans which are measured 140mm. While 360mm has three 120mm fans. 280mm AIO support larger fans which covers more surface area. It also provides better airflow. The 360mm on the other hand comes with an extra fan attached to it.

There are some exceptions to this. The EK-AIO Elite 280 D-RGB comes with 280mm but it has 4 140mm PWM fans. The EKWB EK AIO Elite D-RGV has 6 x 120 mm fans.

Last key difference between the 280 mm and 360mm is their radiator dimensions. The radiator height of 280mm is much smaller than the 360mm.

Differences in Specifications

The biggest difference of 360mm and 280mm is the number of fans they have and the size/dimensions of the fans and radiators.

360mm comes with 10 percent larger radiator compared to the 280mm. Keep in mind when choosing your AIO, the bigger the radiator the better heatsink and liquid flowing area you will have which would definitely help in cooling your CPU. 280mm as mentioned, on the other hand, is a bit on a disadvantage when it comes to the cooling department. The reason behind this is because it has a smaller radiator.

Moreover, the 360mm AIP has three 120mm fans while the 280mm AIO has 140mm fans. This means that the 280mm AIO has more advantage compared to 360mm in this category.

280mm vs 360mm AIO – Benchmarks

Idle Benchmarks

Through the idle benchmark, you will be able to get an idea that the 280mm and 360mm AIO come with the same and has similar results. Both AIOs have reached the same temperature mark. This is despite of both running at a different RPMs. In other words, their fans combined provide the same temperature at idle at 39 degrees celsius. As for benchmarking the noise. It is observed that for them not to produce a lot of noise, the fans’ speed should be adjusted.

CPU-Z Benchmark

In comparing 280mm and 360mm AIO, we have used the CPU-Z benchmark tool since it is a good testing tool for gaming. Meaning, it is perfect for heavy loads. If you need your CPU cooled while you are gaming, then this benchmarking and comparison are something you should give attention to. In this test, CPUs have a load of 123W.

We also got the noise results at 40dbA and 50dbA with max RPM results and they also have similar results as well. The temperatures area on the other hand are close in the 40dbA. 280mm AIO is slightly ahead. The 140mm fans of 280mm are spinning at 900 RPM. 360mm on the other hand has its fans at an average rotation speed of 971 RPM. Even though this is the case, the 360mm is slightly a bit warmer than the 280mm. Moreover, even though the 360mm has larger radiator, it has been found out that the 280mm AIO is better in terms of overall cooling efficiency.

As for the 50dbA normalized test, it has been noticed that the results are close just as what has happened with the 40dbA. The only difference is that the 360mm AIO is cooler than the 280mm. With 1530 RPM, the fans of 360mm is slightly better in terms of cooling compared to 280mm AIO with 1268 RPM. The opposite has happened in this situation. The greater the RPM of 360mm has more advantage this time compared to the bigger sized 280mm AIO.

Another factor that has affected the temperatures is the liquid cooling. In this case, the 360mm is better than the 280mm. This is due to its radiator being better.

With the maximum RPM graph, it has been observed that it is very close match up. Though the 360mm fans are spinning faster, it is still the 280mm that wins this category.

Everything boils down to 360mm and 280mm AIO have very little difference.

Cinebench R20 Benchmark

The last test that we did was the Cinebench R20. Cinebench pulled up 154W of load vs 123V of CPU-Z test. Hence, there is a difference of 31W between two benchmarking tools. We also have noticed that the Cinebench R20 has 4 degrees higher average CPU temperature compared to CPU-Z test. With the stress test, we R20 also beats the loads of other strong benchmarking tools for testing extreme loads.

CPU-Z benchmark’s noise levels are capped at 40 dbA and 50 dbA when observe the noise levels at max RPMs.

We got the same results when we compared the 40 dbA noise graph. Both AIOs are matched on 40 dbA test with average rotation speed of 900 RPM for the two fas and 971 RPM for the three fans. Both has reached the temperatures of 72 degrees.

For the 50 dbA noise capped, we have noticed that the 280mm is a bit below by a degree compared to the one on 360mm. The 360mm AIO has reached an average of 70 degrees. 280mm on the other hand has an average temperature of 69 degrees.

Lastly, maximum RPM test also has the same and similar results with the 280mm is a bit cooler than 360mm.

As we could summarize, with all the benchmarks, we could say that the difference between the two AIOs is very little in terms of the overall cooling performance.

360mm vs 280mm AIO Compatibility

PC chassis differ in size which means it differs in compatibility in terms of dimensions of coolers. Hence, one would definitely ask if your PC case could support 280mm or would it fit the 360mm AIO? This is why it is very important for you to check which AIO size your PC chassis supports? There are two ways to do this and that is through by checking the maximum cooler size which you will be able to find in the specifications of your PC. You could also measure your PC chassis with a ruler or measuring tape.

Once that is done, the next one is to look for a mount. You might want a top mounting over your front mounting. In this case, you might find a case that does not support that. Hence, it is important that you consider this. Moreover, you could also find PC cases supporting 280mm or 360mm sizes of AIO coolers but once you try to install it, it could get congested. Due to this, we discourage top mounting for 360mm AIO.


When doing the benchmark, we could see that there is very little to nothing in terms of difference in performance and overall cooling efficiency. Though 280mm AIO is slightly better than 360mm in terms of cooling.

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