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Let’s talk the Best CPU Coolers. While all CPUs will come with a stock cooler, they are not a long-term option. That’s especially true for the overclocker who is building the ultimate gaming computer. Sound like you? Generally, a stock cooler will not be able to keep up to the task of cooling a hardcore gamers CPU. Especially while they log all those extra hours of gameplay.
The CPU Cooler is not always the first upgrade you think of when you start rebuilding your computer. Though it should be. There may be more epic upgrades that will enhance your gameplay. But a CPU cooler will ensure all your components keep functioning and that the computer as a whole, performs better.
CPU coolers are also essential to making everything, including your funky new graphics card, last long. You don’t want to be buying up components only to have to repurchase them down the line.
What exactly is a CPU cooler and what does it do for your computer?
CPU stands for central processing unit, which is basically the main unit that makes everything in your computer run. It has a tough job to do, and just like when you do a hard workout, it gets hot. That’s where to CPU cooler comes in. It will keep your computer at a functional temperature so that it can continue running without overheating. When it overheats, it slows down and can lead to long-term damage to your components.
For gaming, high performing computers are needed for the best experience. A CPU cooler will guarantee that all your other components perform to their highest abilities. The more advanced and powerful your computer is, the stronger of cooler you will need to cool all the components.
But how, you ask, do you pick the best one for you?
There are a ton of CPU coolers available on the market today. They come in all different sorts of sizes and shapes and in cool colors too. Ultimately, the best one for you will come down to a few factors. These include how much gaming you do, how much you have to spend and what processor you have.
If you are tight on funds, it’s relatively cheap to get yourself an air cooler. However, if you have a few dollars to spare, then investing in a liquid cooler will deliver a high performance. Let’s dive in a bit deeper into what the two types actually do.
The Two Types of CPU Coolers
Air cooling CPU coolers are the most accessible and affordable CPU coolers you can get. They utilize traditional fans to cool your components since this option is efficient and also relatively cheap to make. They combine the use of the fan with a heat sink. A heat sink will pull the heat out of the components that create the most of it. The fan will automatically turn on when it feels that it’s getting too hot. This will then ventilate the hot air out of the case.
Most people choose an air cooler as they are reliable, trusted and easiest to get your hands on. They also can handle a high level of heat.
Liquid coolers provide a higher level of performance than traditional air coolers. They operate a lot more quietly and tend to have a better esthetic appearance as well. They aren’t necessary for a standard running CPU but those using it heavily may require additional cooling power. Liquid coolers can be more complicated to install, but once installed will operate at a very high-quality level.
One worry about liquid coolers is that they may leak or rust after a while of use. This is due to the liquid in the cooler. Luckily though, most coolers now have a closed-loop system to prevent leakage.
Liquid coolers work by essentially pushing the heat from the components through a cooling liquid. They are the best choice for heavy gamers or those who want to push their computers to their limits. Though they can run at a higher price-point, you pay for the insane performance and typically, the flashy design.
Things to Consider
Choosing a CPU cooler should take into account what you use your computer for and how much cooling power you need. There are so many options out there, so you can find the one that ticks all your boxes. Whichever you choose, there are a few additional things to consider when looking at cooler options.
When you are browsing for a cooler you will notice they mention the RPMs or revolutions per minute. This tells you how quickly the fan spins. Though you may think that a faster moving fan means more cooling power, that isn’t necessarily true. A fan does not create cool air, it simply moves it. The faster your fan spins, the more air will flow through it, but that is only part of the cooling job.
The other things to think about are how large the heat sink is and how big the fan itself is.
If you’ve got a large fan, then even if its RPMs are low you will still get good airflow. However, if you have a large heatsink than it will disperse the heat from your components better.
It’s also important to consider that the higher the RPM, the more noise the fan will make. So contrary to popular belief, it may be better to have a fan with lower RPMs. That is, as long as it’s got a decent fan size and heat sink.
In general, low or high RPMs don’t necessarily dictate a coolers performance level.
Does It Fit?
It’s important to be aware of the sockets on your computer. This will affect whether the cooler is compatible or not. The two standard socket types are from Intel and AMD, but there are many models of each.
The majority of coolers are made to be universally compatible with all sockets, but there are some out there that aren’t. It’s always a good idea to check with the cooler you’re thinking of buying just in case it’s not compatible.
How to Take Care of Your Cooler
Like any piece of equipment, the better you take care of it, the longer it will last. Taking care of your CPU cooler is of utmost importance. A well-performing cooler will ensure the rest of your components stay cool and increase their longevity. So how do you take care of it? There are 3 main steps to caring for your cooler.
– Make sure it’s got good airflow. The air should be properly channelled so the heat can be effectively removed from the inside of the computer base. Try to ensure that all your components have enough space and are not squished up against each other. This will allow the air to move easily around everything and allow the cooler to do its job.
– Keep you cooler, and all your components, clean and clear of dust. Dust can easily settle inside the intricate parts of your computer so it’s important to do a regular clean to keep everything running smoothly.
– Pick a cooler that is appropriate for your computer size and computer usage. The most essential way to take care of your cooler is to get on suited to you. Purchasing one that operates exactly as you need it to will stop you unnecessarily straining on that can’t keep up.
With all the above factors and features in mind, we went on the hunt for the best CPU coolers on the market. With a model to fit each requirement, we’ve reviewed our top 10 picks. This will help you choose the one that suits your personal needs and budget.
Best CPU Coolers – Reviews
1. Cooler Master Hyper 212 RGB Black Edition
Type: Air | Compatible With: All AMD & Intel | Dimensions (W x D x H): 120 x 79.6 x 158.8 mm |
Cooler Master brings their A-game with the newest edition. The 212 Black model. Esthetically you can’t beat it, from its nickel-plated fins to its aluminum finished top cover, all brushed in a classic black.
Though it looks the part, it tops our list for its functionality as well. It’s got 4 heating pipes with their own patented technology. This helps more effectively deal with the heat by keeping a direct connection with the CPU.
The stacked fin design maintains the lowest possible airflow resistance. Its wide range of speeds contributes to higher performance and less noise. On top of that, it comes at a reasonable price considering the quality and is easy to install. This is because it’s universally compatible with AMD and Intel sockets.
- Direct contact heat pipes
- Easy to install
- High performing
- Dual fans
- RGB lighting isn’t anything fancy
- Since it’s made of lower quality materials there is more maintenance involved
Overall, this CPU is the greatest value for money we could find while still delivering on high-quality performance. It ticks the boxes on compatibility and as it’s an air filter. It comes at a good price.
2. DeepCool Gammaxx 400
Type: Air | Compatible With: All AMD & Intel | Dimensions (W x D x H): 120 x 25 x 120 mm |
The DeepCool Gammaxx 400 is the best budget CPI cooler you can get. Though it still has some great features, all packed in a compact and streamlined design.
It features maximum heat dispersing technology with its 4 copper pipes that connect directly to the CPU. This allows the heat to not only be flushed out more effectively but also at a quicker rate. It has a funky LED light as well, so it will look cool with the rest of your computer setup.
It’s got universal compatibility as well so it will be able to fit into any socket.
- Compatible with all sockets (Intel or AMD)
- Good quality material at a low price
- Direct contact heat pipes
- Solely air-cooling
DeepCool is a well-known company in the CPU cooling world, so you can trust the product. With a price tag like this one, it’s a great option for anyone on a tighter budget. Or for anyone who just wants to spend their cash on a fancy graphics card.
3. Corsair H100i Pro
Type: Liquid | Compatible With: Intel 2011 – 2066; AMD AM2 – AM4 | Dimensions (W x D x H): 315 x 143 x 29mm |
Corsair has long conquered the CPU cooling scene with their liquid coolers and the H100i tops the pack. It has two 120mm fans that are magnetic levitation bearing and deliver amazing airflow and high-performance cooling with minimal noise. Its large 240mm radiator helps to control and muffle the noise levels even more so.
The Corsair H100i Pro is completely controlled with its iCue program. iCue allows you to control the RGB lighting and fan speeds directly in the program. Now that we mention RGB lighting, the options are insane and make your computer extra flashy.
- Customizable fan speeds and lighting with iCue
- Incredible cooling power
- Funky lighting
- At top speeds, it can be a bit noisy
In the liquid cooling game, Corsair is our go-to. This self-contained system has super flashy lighting but also delivers extremely high performance. It’s a great option if you have more heavy-duty components and need that extra level of cooling. Its high spec can alleviate even the most extreme heat.
4. Thermaltake Water 3.0 Riing Series
Type: Liquid | Compatible With: All Intel & AMD | Dimensions (W x D x H): 120 x 120 x 25 mm |
There may not be gold at the end of these rainbows, but you’ll find one of the most user-friendly CPU coolers on the market. By rainbows, we’re referring to this coolers bright rainbow LEDs embedded into the fans.
It can switch between 5 different LED modes, which include solid colors or rotating through all the colors of the rainbow. It’s totally customizable and controlled with a smart controller. The controller features speed control so you can slow the fan down and lower the noise when you need to.
It’s incredibly easy to install and available in either 240mm (2 fans) or 360mm (3 fans) depending on how intense your gaming is.
- Universally compatible with all sockets, so it’s easy to install
- High-quality parts used to protect against extreme heat
- Capable of running up to 2000rpm if you’re doing intense gaming
- Customizable rainbow LEDs
- Can be quite noisy, but to be expected at such high speeds
For anyone that wants a user-friendly CPU cooler that can keep up, the Thermaltake Water 3.0 is a fun and functional pick.
5. NoFan CR-95C
Type: Liquid | Compatible With: Intel LGA 775 – 1156; AMD AM2 – AM3+; FM1| Dimensions (W x D x H): 180 x 148 x 180mm |
The name says it all. This unique, South Korean designed CPU cooler cools your computer down without the use of a fan.
How? Well, the exact way it works is a trade secret. What we do know is that it’s cooled with their patented IcePipe in a process called convection cooling. The pipe is small and filters the hot air through the liquid and comes out cool on the other side.
The cooler makes no noise whatsoever, so if you want to eliminate the fan sound, this is the way. On the downside, it is not compatible with all CPUs. You’ll want to make sure the check if yours is on the list of options before purchasing.
It doesn’t deliver a high enough level of cooling for a massive overclocker. However, if you don’t need an insane amount of power it could be a good option.
- No sound!
- Very large
- Limited compatibility
This innovative CPU cooler may well change the game one day. For now, it struggles to keep up with the performance of the classic air and liquid coolers. On the flip side, the fact that it is silent is a huge perk.
6. Arctic Freezer Xtreme
Type: Air | Compatible With: All Intel & AMD | Dimensions (W x D x H): 100 x 132 x 140mm |
This universal and easy to mount CPU cooler delivers effective cooling with very low noise, considering it’s an air cooler. This is due to its impeller and uniquely designed fan holder which helps eliminate any shaking that contributes to the noise.
The speed of the fan adjusts automatically depending on the temperature of the CPU. It will stay especially quiet when the CPU is running at a lower heat. It is cooled through 4 individual heat pipes which effectively disperse the heat.
It’s easy to install so you can just pop it in and get gaming.
- Designed to effectively eliminate noise
- Universally compatible
- Great heat dispersion
- No direct airflow line, so it’s important it’s installed properly.
For one of the quietest air coolers on the market, the Arctic Freezer Xtreme will effectively cool your CPU. It will do so without the noise associated with most CPU coolers. It’s added bonus is its reasonable price point.
7. Noctua NH-D15
Type: Air | Compatible With: Intel LGA 775 – LGA 2066; AMD AM2 – AM3+, FM1 – FM2+ | Dimensions (W x D x H): 160 x 150 x 135mm |
What makes this CPU cooler so great is that it is an air cooler, that performs like a liquid cooler. But it doesn’t come with a high price tag.
The Noctua brand may not be a household name in the gaming world, but the performance doesn’t lie. Plus, if you’re still unsure, it comes with a 6-year warranty, so no need to worry about it breaking.
It features a dual tower for ultimate cooling potential but is on the quiet side when it comes to the noise level.
- 6-year warranty
- Low noise
- Good price point
- On the larger side and may not fit into some computer towers
- Esthetically, kind of boring
Though not as flashy as many of the other CPU coolers, this one focuses on function. For the price, you receive liquid cooling performance in an air-cooling device. So, if you’re not fussed with the looks, then this could be a great choice for you.
8. Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML210R RGB
Type: Liquid | Compatible With: Intel LGA 775 – LGA 2066; AMD AM2 – AM3+, FM1 – FM2+ | Dimensions (W x D x H): 83.6 x 71.8 x 52.7mm |
This compact, liquid cooler is the smallest on our list but still packs an amazing cooling punch. It’s one of the coolest looking ones out there, with its bright, rainbow-colored LEDs.
On top of that, it’s got a low resistance radiator. This means a higher flow rate, ensuring your CPU doesn’t overheat and all your components last much longer.
- Bright and flashy rainbow lighting
- High-quality materials
- On the pricey side
This small but mighty CPU cooler is one of the best-looking coolers on the market. And bonus; it doesn’t take up much space inside your computer.
9. Be Quiet! Dark Rock 4
Type: Air | Compatible With: AMD FM2(+), FM1, AM2(+), AM3(+), AM4, Intel 775, 115x, 1366, 2011x, 2066| Dimensions (W x D x H): 158.8 x 136.9 x 75.4mm|
The guys behind the Dark Rock 4 could care less about flashy lights and coloring. Their slick, classic black air cooler delivers on function and doesn’t need the visual distractions.
Its performance is comparable to others of similar size, with six copper heat pipes that provide excellent heat dispersion. The blades are virtually silent, which compliments its Batman-like qualities.
With its brushed aluminum cover and diamond-cut finish it just looks expensive, and it is. But if you’re willing to drop the cash, you won’t be disappointed.
- High-quality built cooler
- Supports the majority of CPU sockets
- Powerful performance
- No colored LEDs (if you’re into that kind of thing)
This high-quality air cooler may cost you, but with its sophisticated design and more sophisticated performance, it’s a great investment.
10. Corsair Hydro Series H5 SF
Type: Liquid | Compatible With: Intel LGA 115x; AMD FM2 – FM2+ | Dimensions (W x D x H): 167 x 57 x 84mm |
Maybe you have smaller-bodied computers and can’t fit in any of the larger coolers. This low-profile liquid cooler will be a great option for you. It can fit into even the smallest of PC cases and can keep up with high heat PCs. It is even able to keep up with overclocked PCs.
It uses a high-pressure blower fan which provides efficient, yet quiet, liquid cooling.
- Tubes are guaranteed to be leak-free
- Small and compact design that can fit small PC bodies
- Blower style
This cooler doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles. But if you cannot fit the larger-scale models into your computer then this compact design will work great for you.
A quality CPU cooler is one of, if not the most, important component of your build. It may not improve the graphics or the audio. What it will improve is the life span and function of all your other components.
Overheating can lead to serious damage to the CPU and other inner modules. It’s essential to their performance that they are kept consistently cool. On top of that, there are some pretty cool designs out there that can add aesthetic value to your build.
Whatever you’re looking for, our 10 picks cover all the bases to ensure you can find the CPU cooler that is best for you.