Keeping your hardware, especially the vital parts such as the processor, cold is one of the major priorities when we are talking about the computers. Therefore, CPU coolers present a very important part of any custom PC build, and particularly, overclocking machines.
Choosing the best CPU cooler isn’t any easier than choosing the best PSU or the best RAM. It all comes up down to what you need and want, and of course, what level of investment your wallet allows. Since there is a wide variety of shapes, sizes and features, these searches have a tendency to turn into an exhausting and time-consuming marathon that nobody wants.
Because we know that, we’ve come up with a list of a couple of things to pay attention to when buying a CPU cooler. This should help you at least a little in your search.
Best Air CPU Coolers
Best Liquid CPU Coolers
How to Choose a CPU Cooler
Type of a Cooler
The choice between the air cooler and the liquid one mostly depends on your budget and what it will be used for. If you can, and if you are into overclocking, always go for the liquid solution – they generally offer better performance but cost more. On the other hand, there are air coolers that will do a decent job for much less money.
Among the most important aspects of any CPU cooler is its socket support. You can have the best CPU cooler at your disposal, but what is the point if it doesn’t fit your motherboard. Therefore, do your “homework” and there will be no trouble.
Some people don’t care about it, others can’t stand it. Because of that make a decision according to your preferences and, of course, your budget, but also be aware of the fact that noise can increase stress levels and negatively affect your psychic. Therefore, generally go for the more silent ones.
The last thing you need is a piece of hardware that cannot fit into your rig, so be careful about what you buy and be absolutely sure it can be installed inside of your PC case.
RGB lighting by itself isn’t that important from the practical point of view, but solely for esthetical reasons. They are just cool, simple as that. Nobody really needs them, but everybody wants them.
Best Air Coolers
Simply the Best CPU Cooler Money Can Buy
Things are pretty much straightforward when talking about Noctua NH-D15. This is just the best CPU air cooler you can buy. Its performance can be compared even with a large number of liquid coolers and many of them, such as DEEPCOOL Gamer Storm Captain 240, Cooler Master Nepton 240M, and Corsair H100i GTX, etc. are outperformed in both noise levels and cooling efficiency.
Thanks to the great design, which is inspired by its highly successful predecessor D-14, and with the help of a dual tower heatsink and two great 140mm airflow fans, Noctua NH-D15 delivers great cooling results, and at the same time, a quiet work even at full loads. On top of that, it supports almost all the sockets beside the AMD AM4.
Basically, the only downsides of this cooler are its bulkiness, and the price, which is among the highest of all the air coolers. On the other hand, when you look at its performance and the fact that it can compete and beat some of the best liquid CPU coolers out there and that its price, although high, is just a fraction of the liquid cooler pricing, you come to the conclusion that it is actually worth that money.
- extremely quiet
- six years warranty
- the package includes dual 140mm fans
- too big for some configurations
DEEPCOOL GAMMAXX 400
A Great-Performing CPU Cooler that Blasts with its Affordable Price
DEEPCOOL GAMMAXX 400 isn’t among the “cool looking crowd” of the CPU coolers, but its performance beats most of the competition, such as Noctua NH-U12S and Be Quiet! Shadow Rock Slim, by a wide margin. When its great performance to price ratio is also taken into consideration, the advantage over the rivals gets even bigger, positioning it as the best CPU cooler under 50$ you can find for your rig.
With support for all the mainstream sockets and equipped with a 120mm airflow fan and a tower heatsink with four copper heatpipes for a faster heat distribution, DEEPCOOL GAMMAXX 400 presents a great option for any enthusiast out there. Its modest two-year warranty maybe doesn’t offer much confidence in its longevity, but when you realize that you can buy two of these for the price of one Noctua NH-U12S, or Be Quiet! Shadow Rock Slim, its value becomes even higher.
- great cooling
- excellent value for the money
- moderate size
- a bit loud
- it looks slightly unfinished
ARCTIC Freezer 34 eSports DUO
CPU Cooler with the Perfect Airflow
ARCTIC Freezer 34 comes with the improved heat dissipation, which is used to spread heat pipes evenly in order to optimize the heat control, while also keeping your PC as quiet as possible.
Even though this model might not be quite big as some others, it does its job and is capable of working great in combination with some high-end CPUs because it covers the part where CPU’s DIE is, which offers excellent performance.
As for setting this cooler up, it is fairly easy to do so because it has an excellent mounting system, which is compatible with most Intel (115x, 2011-3*, 2066*) and AMD (AM4) sockets.
Where this cooler shines is in providing the perfect airflow throughout your case, which is done with 2 Bionix p-fans that work in push-pull mode.
Because of that, the rise of airflow levels makes sure that heat is dealt with at an even faster rate than usual, which increases the performance and allows you to perform more demanding tasks, such as playing newer games and using some demanding software for your work.
- Improved heat dissipation
- Excellent performance
- There is no too much noise
- Compatible with most sockets
- Provides great airflow
- It comes without instructions
be quiet! BK022 Dark Rock Pro 4
The Best Cooler when Noise is a Concern
The Dark Rock Pro 4 from be quiet! is definitely one of the larger coolers on our list. It’s designed for consumers that need serious airflow but want a system that’s almost silent in the case. Well, we’re pleased to say this one does not disappoint in either of those areas.
With a funnel-shaped frame and brushed aluminum top cover, this slick cooler will look good in your case. It’s also hard to miss considering the heatsink measures 146mm x 136mm x 163mm, and there are two of them. They are made from aluminum and seven 6mm copper heatpipes tie them together which keeps things nice and cool with some help from the fans.
There are two Silent Wings PWM fans in the Dark Rock Pro 4 with 120mm front fan and 135mm inner fan. You can slap another 120mm fan onto the backside for some extra airflow as well. Those fans have a top speed of 1,600 RPMs, and at full speed, they ’re rated at 24.3 dBA which is impressive.
The Dark Rock Pro 4 is rated at 250 TDP and compatible with a wide range of sockets from both Intel and AMD. It’s overall size and height at 163mm may rule it out for some, but it’s an amazing option if you need a large, quiet cooler. The be quiet! BK022 is backed by a 3-year warranty.
- Dual heatsinks
- Slick design
- Mounting system
- Quiet Silent Wings fans
- The price
Scythe Ninja 5
CPU Cooler with the Best Heatsink
Scythe Ninja 5 CPU tower cooler features 2 pretty good Kaze Flex 120 PWM fans that work at a maximum speed of 800 RPM, alongside decent push-pull configuration, which helps with keeping the high cooling efficiency and lower level of noise.
To ensure better RAM clearance, there is the cutout on the fin stack (55mm clearance), which can also be used on LGA2011(V3)/2066 motherboards.
To help with that, this cooler’s dimensions are quite good, with the height of only 155mm, making it possible to fit in a large variety of cases you can find on the market these days.
Apart from that, H.P.M.S III is relatively easy to install, as well as to secure it, since the mounting system is very precise and the pressure on the CPU is perfectly balanced, which makes Scythe Ninja 5 supported by a lot of sockets.
When it comes to the heatsink, this cooler offers pretty large heatsink (130x130mm) with 6x6mm heat pipes, as well as copper base, which altogether makes Scythe Ninja 5 very quiet.
- Quiet double fans
- Excellent compatibility with a variety of motherboards and PC cases
- Very easy to set up and secure
- Pretty large heatsink, which helps with noise reduction
- Great for gaming and demanding work
- It is quite big
A CPU Cooler Made to be the Ryzen Processor Accomplice
Get ready: the best AM4 CPU cooler is in front of you. Brand new on the market, DEEPCOOL FRYZEN is made only for the two socket types: AMD’s TR4 and AM4. Although designed for just one small portion of the market, it offers great heat dissipation and an excellent overall cooling performance much needed for the high-performance Ryzen processors.
DEEPCOOL FRYZEN is made out of the finest materials, it has a tower-type heatsink with six heatpipes for a better heat distribution and aluminum fan frame with a high-performance 120mm fan inside – all the elements needed for a good cooling performance are there. Not too big when it comes to its dimensions, it allows for problem free installation of the other hardware, while its RGB lighting and cool looks make it a desirable choice for any tempered glass PC case.
- good looks
- great performance
- cool lighting
- it supports only TR4/AM4 socket
Best Liquid Coolers
Thermaltake Floe Triple Riing RGB 360 TT
A Silent High-Performance CPU Cooler with Great RGB Configurability
There are not that many coolers on the market that can brag with an excellent, top of the chart performance, silent work and an amazing LED lighting, very uncommon even for the custom loops… and all that in one package. Well, such as the Thermaltake Floe Triple Riing RGB 360 TT is one that can. Thanks to its 360mm highly efficient radiator and the superior performance water block that is accompanied by the durable sleeved cables, this cooler just blasts the competition. There is no better solution for cooling your lovely CPU than this one.
Although silent, it doesn’t offer totally no-sound performance like the competition; on the other hand with its LED lighting, it is the best AIO CPU cooler you can get for your gaming machine. List of its downsides consists only of the lack of easier controls for the RGB LED and the fact that using fan modes is a bit tricky. That’s it – everything else, including support for different socket types, is among the best, and performance and the lighting are the best you can find.
- excellent cooling
- low noise levels
- good RGB options
NZXT Kraken X72
The Best Choice CPU Cooler for any Die-Hard Overclocking Enthusiast
NZXT Kraken X72 is made for a top-notch performance. Its large 380mm aluminum radiator, with the help of the high-performance fans and re-engineered pump, guarantees for premium cooling of your CPU. If you are into overclocking, there is no better option than this piece.
Made out of quality materials and with a six-year warranty, NZXT Kraken X72 is a sure thing when you are trying to buy yourself the best CPU cooler. With this one, there are almost no mistakes; it features a lighting system that impresses, low acoustic, and a top-notch performance. The only downsides are a bit quirky CAM software for RGB coloring, and too many wires that surround the cooling block. But that’s something anyone can live with.
If you purchase the NZXT Kraken X72, you will get yourself a great deal, but be aware that for less money you can buy NZTX Kraken X62 with a 280mm radiator, which delivers pretty similar performance, but for a more acceptable price. This fact deserves a bit of thinking.
- amazing cooling performance
- sleek design
- too much cabling
CORSAIR HYDRO SERIES H115i PRO RGB
A Polished CPU Cooler that is the Closest to the Perfection
CORSAIR HYDRO SERIES H115i PRO RGB is a result of continuous upgrade and polishing of the Hydro Series that made this cooler a great configuration with both a quality cooling and attractive looking RGB lighting. Its 280mm radiator, with the help of the two 140mm low-noise fans, offers silent work and quality cooling even under the default setup. The only issue is a pump that makes a small grinding sound and needs to be placed in a quiet mode with the LINK software in order to create the full no-sound experience.
Other than that, this cooler is almost the perfect product, thanks to its support for the majority of sockets, easy installation, five-year warranty, quality LINK software, and a better performance than most of the competitors, that include Kraken X62 and EK-MLC Phoenix 360. On top of all that, it has some great lighting features. Without any doubt, CORSAIR HYDRO SERIES H115i PRO RGB is one of the best AIO CPU cooler options out there.
- five-year warranty
- easy installation
- low noise levels
- great all-around performance
- wires are a bit short
- it’s expensive
EVGA CLC 120
A Super-Quality Liquid CPU Cooler That Outperforms the More Expensive Competitors
EVGA is known for having some high-quality products and EVGA CLC 120 is definitely one of them. Based on the new more cost-effective pump-block design that improves the flow of the coolant and offers higher heat dissipation, and with the help of Teflon Nano Bearing 120mm fan and the top quality radiator, this cooler offers great cooling performance and terrific overall value for the money.
With a five year warranty, high-quality manufacture and the support for most CPU sockets, including AM4 and TR4, this cooler guarantees for years of use without any trouble. At the same time, EVGA CLC 120 also offers easy and fast install, silent work, and quality EVGA Flow Control software that is a bit buggy in temperature readings, but other than that it works flawlessly. All that is needed for the liquid cooling newbies or experienced users is there.
- easy install
- good noise levels
- great value for the money
- buggy software
DEEPCOOL Castle 240EX
Safe and Easy to Use
DEEPCOOL Castle 240EX comes with excellent anti-leak technology, which helps with keeping your PC case to always work at its optimal levels.
Fins on the backside of the copper base are about 25% more skived than usual, which means that the area that is designed to absorb heat is much bigger, which makes it easier to accumulate and deal with the additional heat.
As for the compatibility, this cooler is compatible with LGA20XX/1151/1150/1155/LGA1366, as well as with TR4/AM4/AM3+/AM2+/AM2/FM2+/FM2/FM1.
When it comes to the fans, there are 2 TF120 S fans, which are specifically tuned to work well and match the radiator properties.
Apart from all that, there is excellent 5V 3-pin customizable RGB lighting, which makes the entire rig even prettier.
As an addition, you can customize the Logo if you wish, which brings more excitement to the DIY experience.
- Safe and easy to use
- Increased anti-heat properties
- Great fans
- Good compatibility with Intel and AMD sockets
- Excellent design
- The pump is a bit too audible
Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML120R
The Master of Cool Looks among the CPU Coolers
Since most of the liquid coolers are pretty similar, manufacturers are trying to find ways to make their products stand out from the crowd. In the case of Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML120R, they have done it through its super cool RGB lighting. Thanks to the 28 LEDs positioned all across the pump and the fans, this cooler offers high customization of lighting, allowing for unique and versatile light effects. The only problem with all those LED lights is the amount of cabling, that can prove to be a bit troubling.
Other than the great RGB LED performance, this CPU cooler doesn’t offer anything brilliant. It is easy to install, it supports the majority of the modern socket types, its 120mm fan radiator delivers solid performance, but overall there is nothing that separates it from the whole bunch of similar products. Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML120R isn’t the best budget CPU cooler, or the best closed-loop CPU cooler. This is a cool looking but a limited piece of hardware. If that’s fine with you, go for it, but before that just think through it all one more time.
- eye-catching LEDs
- quiet pump
- good cooling
- questionable software quality
- too many cables
Finding the perfect solution for your processor is a tricky task. If this review has helped you at least a little bit in that search, then it has fulfilled its mission. No matter what, always be careful in your purchases and research the wanted product – trust us, it will pay off.