The Best CPU Coolers
There is a single red line that runs through every smartphone, stereo amplifier, and personal computer: There has to be something that keeps things cool because the circuits inside produce heat. Over the course of the past ten years, the hardware that is used to keep PC components from getting too hot has changed a lot. Liquid coolers, which were once only found in high-performance desktops, are now used a lot, and some cooling hardware plays a big role in the look of show-off gaming rigs and custom builds.
The options for keeping chips and PCs cool have become significantly more diverse as a result of these two factors. Additionally, while the avalanche of gear has been beneficial for seasoned system builders, it has also caused some confusion for those new to the industry. We have combined a brief tutorial with a list of some of the best CPU coolers currently available in this article. Make sure you read it carefully to make sure it works with your system.
If you’re new to PC building, first read our comprehensive PC Cooling 101 guide to learn everything you need to know about CPU coolers before proceeding. We’ll sum up a couple of focuses from that article here, however will not be covering it in remotely close to a similar profundity.
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Do I require a liquid cooler or an air cooler?
The market for processor cooling can be broken down into two broad categories: liquid and air conditioners. The most prevalent type of air cooler found in retail desktops is These are basically heatsinks made of metal that have fans that push air through their fins to speed up the cooling process. Some of these are what are known as “stock coolers,” which are fan and cooling heatsink assemblies made by the two major chip manufacturers (AMD and Intel) to go with their mainstream processors. The majority of AMD’s stock coolers are referred to as Wraith coolers, whereas Intel’s newest stock coolers, which are found on its 12th Generation “Alder Lake” chips, are referred to as the Laminar line.)
Note: Although not all CPUs include one, stock air coolers are the coolers that are included in the box with an AMD or Intel CPU. Additionally, the manufacturer of a prebuilt desktop PC may use a cooler of its own design or sourcing rather than the AMD or Intel stock model when you purchase one.
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Water coolers, also known as closed-loop liquid coolers or all-in-one (AIO) CPU coolers, are considered to be more exotic. Instead of being a pre-filled, pre-made system, a class of liquid coolers that are even more exceptional are designed individually for each tube and joint; In this article, we will not discuss such sophisticated custom cooling hardware.) Even though AIO coolers have large metal structures with fans, these are actually radiators that are mounted to the PC’s case and allow the liquid to flow in a circuit. By utilizing liquid-filled tubes and a pump to transfer heat from the CPU’s “water block,” or assembly that sits atop the CPU and draws heat away, through the radiator for cooling, and back again in a loop flow, the entire process differs significantly from an air cooler.
It is a common error to believe that every air cooler is superior to every water cooler. Fluid coolers truly do enjoy a few certain benefits, however a particular cooler’s plan is fundamentally significant, and some air coolers perform better compared to some water coolers. You, as a rule, can expect greater coolers of one or the other plan to beat more modest ones, just in light of the fact that bigger coolers by and large have more metal inside to fan out retained heat and can normally mount more or greater fans. These two aspects all contribute to more effective cooling.
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Comparing CPU Coolers: Can I use my cooler?
When selecting a CPU cooler, the size of your desktop system will ultimately play a significant role. Unless the CPU manufacturer explicitly recommends a liquid cooling solution, the stock cooler or a slightly stepped-up air cooler will suffice for everyday use. This is interesting, and for the most part applies just to upper-end chips like Intel’s top Center i9 models and AMD’s Ryzen 9 and Threadripper chips.)
Whether you choose an air or water cooler, you’ll want the largest cooler that fits inside your case for the best performance, especially for system tweakers and CPU overclockers. It’s also worth noting that, in addition to the heatsink and the fan or fans mounted on the cooler, air coolers typically benefit more from having additional case fans and strong ventilation. The radiator fans in water coolers vent or pull air into or out of the system through the radiator, boosting case-wide ventilation and making these cooling systems less dependent on additional case fans. Water coolers have their radiators mounted to one of the case walls.
These distinctions give the two kinds of coolers eminent benefits in various sorts of frameworks. In general, air coolers work best in big cases with a lot of airflow. Water coolers can be effective in such systems, but they typically perform better than air coolers in smaller cases that are more congested and have limited airflow. However, many very small chassis don’t have room for a water cooler, so you’ll have to use a low-profile air cooler even if your PC doesn’t have much room for internal airflow.
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Which CPU Sockets Does a Specific Cooler Work With?
It is crucial to discuss cooler compatibility prior to examining the coolers we have selected. Each motherboard is intended to help a specific kind of processor, with a computer chip attachment intended for that reason. Additionally, the CPU cooler can be attached to a specialized mounting platform that is included with each of these sockets. You must ensure that the motherboard’s socket is supported by a cooler; Otherwise, it won’t work at all. Indeed, mounting a cooler on an incompatible motherboard can cause hardware damage to your PC.
The chart below lists the most recent CPU sockets and the processors and chipsets that go with them. This should make it easier to figure out your supported hardware.
Some of the coolers listed below support many of the sockets on the list above—including older ones—out of the box, while others may require additional mounting brackets that can be purchased separately. This is common, particularly with more recent CPUs and CPU sockets; A new mounting bracket that is sold separately from the cooler that came with it is the simplest way cooler manufacturers can support new platforms. Luckily, cooler sellers are awesome about posting which attachments their items support on their site item pages. Before purchasing a CPU cooler, you should confirm this information once more.
You are ready to select a cooler now that you have a firm grasp on the size, design, motherboard, and socket type of your system. For the most typical cooling scenarios, here are the quick dozen that we recommend.
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EVGA CLC 120 CL11~Best budget 120mm Water Cooler
Upheld AMD Attachments: Intel Sockets were supported by none: LGA 1700, 1200, 20x, 1366, 115x The CLC 120mm water cooler from EVGA is a straightforward thermal solution: simply a 120mm radiator and a couple of cylinders interfacing it to a copper mounting plate and a siphon.
A single 120mm fan moves air at a rate of 58.9 cubic feet per minute through the cooler. EVGA estimates that the fan makes between 20 and 32 decibels of noise when it is running, with the water pump making up to an additional 20 decibels. This solution doesn’t stand out with RGB lights or anything else, but it’s one of the cheapest water coolers available, making it appealing for any budget build.
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Thermaltake TH120 ARGB~ The Best 120mm High-End Water Cooler
Works with AMD Sockets: Supported Intel Sockets: AM4, AM3+, AM3, AM2+, AM2, FM2, and FM1. LGA 1700, 1200, 115x
Thermaltake’s more superior TH120 ARGB 120mm water cooler packs a lot of energy into a somewhat little cooling gadget. The system includes an addressable RGB (ARGB) fan and additional ARGB lights above the water block for bling-obsessed users to illuminate the interior of your case and highlight your expensive components. It is rated at 28.2 dBA, making it relatively quiet overall. Air can be moved at a rate of 59.3 cubic feet per minute by the single fan. The programmable lighting on the fan and block, which can be synchronized with the rest of a custom build, is the main draw here, though.
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NZXT Kraken X53~AMD Sockets Supported by Best Budget 240mm Water Cooler
Supported Intel Sockets: AM4, sTRX4, and TR4 (bracket sold separately). LGA 1200, 20xx, 1366, 115x (LGA 1700 bracket sold separately) NZXT designed the Kraken X53 in a balanced manner. This 240mm cooler has a RGB “boundlessness reflect” implanted in the water block segment that makes an optical deception of an unlimited pit relapsing down into the center of your PC. While this gives your system a touch of surrealism, the cooler’s fans are more grounded: only two regular 120mm fans with no LED lighting. The company makes a version with RGB LEDs that costs a little more, but if you just want a good thermal hardware piece, the unlit model is a better choice.
Fluid dynamic bearings are used in the construction of the non-RGB Aer P radiator fans shown here, which help to keep the cooler relatively quiet while still providing a strong airflow. The cooler all in all is evaluated to deliver somewhere in the range of 21dBA and 26dBA of clamor when being used, while the two fans cooperate to push air at a pace of 73.1 cubic feet each moment at to the max.
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Corsair iCUE H100i Elite Capellix
is the best high-end 240mm water cooler that works with AMD sockets: Supported Intel Sockets: AM4, sTRX4, TR4, AM3+, AM3, AM2+, and AM2. LGA 1200, 20xx, 1366, 115x (LGA 1700 bracket sold separately) Corsair’s iCUE H100i Elite Capellix cooler has one of the lowest noise ratings we’ve seen on a CPU water cooler. In addition, it has an appealing aesthetic design. To be fair, the cooler can get a little loud when the pump and fans are running at full speed; Corsair claims that the noise level can reach 37 dBA when everything is going crazy. The Elite Capellix, on the other hand, is only rated for 10dBA at ideal temperatures, which, assuming the number holds for your particular build, is practically inaudible.
RGB LEDs are incorporated into the two fans and the water block of this cooler, which is mostly white. The latter has a translucent top that can be added to give the water block the appearance of one large RGB light field. The cooler comes with Corsair’s iCUE Commander Core fan and light controller, which gives you more control over these devices in your PC. The two fans have magnetic levitation bearings.
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Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML360
Supported Intel Sockets: AM4, AM3+, AM3, AM2+, AM2, FM2, and FM1. LGA 1200, 20xx, 115x (LGA 1700 bracket sold separately) The Master Liquid ML360 from Cooler Master is surprisingly affordable for a 360mm water cooler, costing around $100, depending on reseller. Despite having a larger 360mm radiator and three 120mm fans, this makes it an even better deal than our budget 240mm cooler. The fans are assigned as “SickleFlow 120” models and have no Driven enlightenment. When in use, they can push air at 62 cubic feet per minute and produce noise levels ranging from 8dBA to 27dBA. The cooler should be relatively quiet overall thanks to the pump’s rating of extremely quiet (under 10 dBA).
The cooler’s water block, which, like the one in the NZXT Kraken cooler above, has an ARGB infinity mirror optical-illusion panel, does provide some ARGB illumination. An otherwise uninteresting piece of equipment gains some much-needed flair thanks to this.
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Asus ROG Ryujin II Intel Sockets
Best High-End 360mm Water Cooler for AMD Sockets:
Supported by AM4, TR4: LGA 1700, 1200, 20x, 115x The wild-looking water block of the Asus ROG Ryujin II water cooler makes it the most outrageous cooler in this collection and probably the most coveted item for PC modders reading this guide. What’s more, however it’s the priciest cooler of this parcel, who could have imagined: There are no RGB LEDs attached to it.
However, when you have a fully functional, customizable 3.5-inch LCD panel integrated into your CPU cooler, who needs tiny little lights? The Ryujin II’s mini-display, which can be positioned atop the cooler block, can play any short video loop you want. The panel can also display system information in real time, such as CPU temperature, utilization, voltage, and clock speed, if that isn’t enough personalization for you.
In addition, the cooler has four fans as opposed to the three found in the majority of 360mm coolers. Three of these are Noctua IndustrialPPC fans, which are mounted on the radiator segment as you’d anticipate. They are made to generate up to 29.7 dBA and push air at a rate of 71.6 cubic feet per minute. However, the water block of the Asus cooler also has a small 60mm fan. Its function is to distribute airflow over other important nearby components, including the motherboard’s VRMs, by pushing air directly onto the heat collector.
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Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO ~ the best budget air conditioner
AMD sockets: Supported Intel Sockets: AM4, AM3+, AM3, AM2+, AM2, FM2+, FM2. Cooler Height: LGA 1200, 20xx, 1366, 115x The Hyper 212 series of coolers from 154mm Cooler Master have been around for a long time and have a good reputation for being affordable options. They are a step above stock fans in terms of performance and affordability. As a result, you’ll probably find a lot of coolers made by other companies that look like this one but don’t have the same level of recognition as the Hyper 212 brand.
The Hyper 212 Evo V2 is the model that is recommended. It has four heat pipes made of copper that are in direct contact with the surface of the CPU. A Cooler Master SickleFlow 120 V2 PWM fan actively cools a bulky aluminum heatsink as these pipes also wind their way through it. At a rate of 62 cubic feet per minute, the fan can move air. Read more on What Are The Best Cpu Coolers . Read more on Can Best Buy Test Your New CPU For You?
Noctua NH-D15~Best Very good quality Air Cooler
Upheld AMD Attachments: Intel Sockets: AM5, AM4, sTRX4, sWRX8, TR4, SP3 Cooler Height: LGA 1700, 1200, 20xx, 3647, 4189, 1366, 115x, and 775 165mm
Noctua’s experience is in modern and business fans, and its recognizable maroon and beige fans for PC developers have for some time been a sign of value for modders and upgraders in the loop. The NH-D15 from the company is widely regarded as one of the most efficient air coolers available. Two aluminum heatsinks with six heat pipes help to evenly distribute heat from the CPU base plate in this massive cooler. For a large PC case with a lot of vertical clearance, it is the ideal air cooling solution.
This cooler comes with two 140mm Noctua NF-A15 fans included. They are positioned all around the heatsinks, with one mounted between the heatsink towers and the other on the outside of one of the heatsinks, depending on the desired airflow path. This arrangement accelerates the cooling of both heatsinks by pushing and drawing air through them.
Alseye M120D is the most affordable RGB air cooler that works with AMD sockets: Supported Intel Sockets: AM4, AM3+, AM3, AM2+, AM2, FM2, and FM1. Cooler Height: LGA 20xx, 1366, 115x, and 775 117mm
This air cooler is a surprising section in our rundown — the only one not worked by a natural industry pioneer. Although the Alseye M120D is the cheapest cooler in this group, its features and value make it a tempting option for a budget build that combines cooling and bling. The previous style comes as three standard 90mm PWM fans with RGB Drove lighting.
It appears that the DR900 should also perform reasonably well in its primary function. A cooler’s design can tell a lot about it, and this one has six heat pipes that pass through two aluminum heatsinks, similar to the high-end Noctua NH-D15. The three illuminated fans push air at a rate of up to 34.5 cubic feet per minute per fan, stacking the heatsinks between them like a triple-decker sandwich.
Don’t expect this budget model to perform as well because the fans are significantly smaller than the 120mm spinners of the NH-D15. Yet, that has a potential gain, as well: The Alseye cooler is just 135 millimeters taller than the Noctua, which is 165 millimeters. This cooler will be able to fit in many situations where a massive beast like the NH-D15 is simply too large due to its shorter design. It should easily outperform the stock cooler, even with the small fans, and you won’t find another CPU cooler with three RGB fans for this price.
Noctua NH-P1 Passive Cooler
AMD Sockets for the Best Noctua NH-P1 Passive Cooler: Intel Sockets Supported by AM5, AM4, and AM5: Cooler Height: LGA 1700, 1200, 20 x, 115 x 158mm Noctua’s NH-P1 is one of the few modern CPU coolers that is designed to be completely passive. If you want to build a PC that is as quiet as possible, this is the cooler for you. The gadget contains a tremendous aluminum heatsink with six copper heat pipes and a nickel-plated copper base plate. Since passive coolers are uncommon, you should carefully consider the rest of your system’s hardware before purchasing one because they are not suitable for power-hungry processors or overclocking. Since any chip that runs too hot will have performance issues, the NH-P1 is best suited for energy-efficient CPUs.
It would be beneficial to pair this cooler with case fans or a third-party fan to improve performance. Obviously, that would to some degree invalidate the point of purchasing a detached cooler. The Noctua, on the other hand, still has a lot of potential for a quiet build because you can shop for and find the quietest fans on the market.
Scythe Shuriken 2
AMD Sockets are supported by Scythe Shuriken 2, the best low-profile air cooler
Supported Intel Sockets: AM4, AM3+, AM3, AM2+, AM2, FM2+, FM2, FM1. LGA 1200, 1366, 115x, 775
Cooler Level: Compared to a tower-style desktop, your CPU cooling options are significantly limited when building a PC in a small form factor chassis like a compact Mini-ITX case. If you’re building or upgrading such a system and the case doesn’t allow for the addition of a water cooler, you might be tempted to give up and just use the CPU’s stock cooler. But you can find better options even in these constrained spaces. Warm arrangements worked for this design are known as low-profile coolers, and Sickle’s Shuriken 2 is an amazing one.
The Shuriken 2 has a solid copper base plate and four heat pipes that help to transfer heat through its aluminum heatsink for improved cooling performance. Despite having a height of just 58 millimeters, the Shuriken 2 is roughly the same size as one of the stock coolers offered by AMD or Intel. Due to its design to not overhang the RAM slots on most motherboards, the cooler also has a relatively small physical footprint on the motherboard when its 92mm fan is installed. That is a problem that many other air coolers have. When installing RAM and other components close to the CPU socket, the Scythe cooler stays out of the way due to its precisely trimmed dimensions.
The best air coolers for AMD Ryzen Threadripper and Cooler Master Wraith TR4, sTRX4
Upheld Intel Attachments: Height: None Cooler 160mm Using an air cooler to cool high-power, high-end desktop (HEDT) processors like AMD’s Ryzen Threadrippers or Intel’s Core X series is a difficult task. In most cases, cooler manufacturers will increase an air cooler’s size to improve both its performance and its capacity to handle heat. A PC case’s limited space and overhead clearance, on the other hand, limit the size of an extreme air cooler. There simply isn’t much room for HEDT air coolers to get much bigger because of the larger die size and high power consumption of today’s HEDT processors.
However, there are a few companies that produce HEDT processor coolers. Cooler Master’s Wraith Ripper is one of our favorites, designed specifically for the AMD Threadripper line. Only AMD’s TR4 and sTRX4 Threadripper sockets and their enormous CPU dies will work with this enormous cooler, which is one of the largest air coolers we’ve ever seen. The Wraith Ripper has seven heat pipes that go through two bulky heatsinks and are sandwiched between them by a 120mm fan. This is the product for you if you are determined to build an AMD Threadripper desktop without a liquid cooler.