Best CPU Coolers Buying Guide 2017

best cpu coolers buying guide

Whether you’re overclocking or if your PC is just running loud and hot, your best bet for keeping your computer cool and running properly is to get a CPU cooler. CPU coolers tend to come in either air cooler or liquid cooler forms when we talk about a cooler that goes beyond the capabilities of the standard fan and heatsink that come with your computer. Choosing an air cooler over a liquid cooler or vice versa mainly comes down to your needs, goals, personal preference, and what you’ve been doing with your computer. Below, we will review the best air and liquid CPU coolers on the market at the moment.

[icons icon=”alert” color=”#dd0000″] How to choose the best CPU cooler for your needs

There are a lot of great CPU coolers out there, but the best CPU coolers are the ones that suit your specific needs. Here are some tips to find the best CPU cooler for your PC:

  • When looking at CPU coolers, ensure they are compatible with your processor and sockets so that installation is successful and results are ideal.
  • Which is best for you and your PC: An air cooler or a liquid cooler?
  • Many of you will already have in mind which way you are leaning, but for those who don’t, it’s important to read as many reviews and product specs as you can to make the right decision.
  • Consider how much cooling power you need? The harder you are on your computer, the more cooling power you’re going to require. It’s simple physics. In this case, it’s better to overestimate than underestimate, because your computer is what’s at stake. Underestimating your needs can wreck your setup, so be careful on that front.
  • If you’re considering a liquid cooler, do you have a preference for coolant type? For instance, is it important to you that the liquid is water, ammonia or something else? The liquid involved directly affects the tubing material. (For instance, copper is best for water.) So, it’s not a big deal for most, but for those who care, keep that in mind as well.
  • Is it important to you that your cooler is mounted inside or outside the case? Most people don’t care about this, but then again, many do, so it makes it worth considering.
  • Do you care whether your cooler is aesthetically pleasing? For instance, do you want it to have a cool design or LED lights or something that makes it special looking and visually exciting? To be blunt, some models just look cooler than others.
    However, this is not the first thing to consider when shopping for a CPU cooler. It is, however, something that can help you narrow down between two coolers that have great specs for your PC but you can’t decide between them since they both function equally well. That is when you consider aesthetics—after you put in the work checking out specs.

 

Best Air CPU Cooler Reviews

best air cpu coolers

 

Top 5 – Best Air CPU Cooler Comparisons Table

 

 

The retail Intel Core i7-4770K I use for testing at stock is set to load-optimized defaults with the CPU’s voltage at a static 1.15 V. Overclocked, the processor is running at 4.2 GHz on the CPU and 3.9 GHz on cache, with respective voltages set to 1.20 V and 1.15 V. During all these tests, fans are set to run at 100% in the BIOS, with temperatures being recorded by AIDA64.

The idle test will consist of the CPU sitting idle at the desktop for 15 minutes. This will allow for a stable temperature reading that will be recorded at the end of those 15 minutes.

Wprime’s and AIDA64’s CPU test represent typical multi-threaded loads. Both offer consistent results, with one being a benchmarking application and the other a stability test. Both are run for 15 minutes before the peak reading during the test is recorded and taken as the result. This test lets enthusiasts know what temperatures they can expect to see with games and applications. Wprime is set to eight threads while AIDA64 is configured to stress the CPU, FPU, cache, and system memory.

AIDA64 offers maximum heat generation when set to stress just the FPU in the stability test, which will really push the CPU. This test represents extreme loads much like LinX, Prime95, and other extreme stress tests many users are familiar with.

The Test System

 

[icons icon=”star” color=”#dd0000″] Noctua NH-D15 6 heat pipe with Dual NF-A15 140mm fans review

cpu cooler Noctua NH-D15 6 heatpipe with Dual NF-A15 140mm fans

Features – Overall Best CPU Air Cooler for the money

High compatibility
Thanks to its asymmetrical design, the Noctua NH-D15 is highly compatible with a variety of processors. As long as your RAM is standard height, the NH-D15 should fit beautifully in your case.

Powerful component cooling
With a six heat pipe dual radiator design, and its dual NF-A15 PWM (pulse width modulation) 140mm fans, the NH-D15 is even more powerful than its predecessor, the lauded NH-D14. The NH-D15’s setup allows for exceptional cooling, making it one of the best CPU coolers on the market today.

Efficient and quiet
The heat pipe layout and the 140mm fans allow for automatic speed control, making it an extremely effective cooler. When the fans slow down when you’re putting less strain on your computer, it saves energy as well as wear and tears on your air cooler. The setup also makes your PC super quiet, which is great for those who are bothered by noise.

Superior to its predecessor
Sometimes when a new model of anything comes out, the changes are superficial, but this isn’t the case with the NH-D15, which performs significantly better than the NH-D14, thanks to better fans, air flow, and general cooling power.

Noctua NH-D15 Specifications
Pros
[lists style=”plus” color=”#1e73be”]What to like about the Noctua NH-D15:

  • Well-respected brand: Noctua’s older fan model, the NH-D14, is very highly regarded and the NH-D15 builds on that legacy.
  • Runs quietly
  • Six heat pipe layout for superior heat conductivity
  • Dual NF-A15 PWM 140mm fans for powerful cooling
  • Noctua is regarded by many as one of the most reliable air CPU coolers on the market.
  • Easy to install
  • SecuFirm2 multi-socket mounting system for secure installation
  • Great customer service at Noctua, if you have questions.
  • 6-year manufacturer warranty
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Cons
[lists style=”minus” color=”#1e73be”]What to consider:

  • According to the manufacturer, the DH-15 should be used with standard height RAM (32mm). This isn’t a problem unless you don’t have standard height RAM—it’s just something to note for those who don’t.
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[icons icon=”star” color=”#dd0000″] MasterAir Maker 8 High-end CPU Air Cooler. Featuring 3D Vapor Chamber Technology and Customizable Cover Designs review

best premium air cpu cooler for the money

Features – Best Premium Air CPU Cooler for the money

Quiet, high capacity fans
The MasterAir Maker 8 comes with top quality Silencio FP fans amped up with Cooler Master’s Silent Driver IC, which is tech exclusive to their brand, that you can’t find anywhere else. All of this combines for a very pleasant, quiet experience, and cements the Master Air 8 as one of the best CPU coolers when it comes to the quiet factor.

Other nice cooling aspects of the MasterAir Maker 8
The fans and Silent Driver IC aren’t the only things to like about the MasterAir Maker 8’s cooling technology. There’s a reason it’s called the MasterAir Maker 8: It features eight heat pipes, four of which are situated on the base. On top of the heat pipes, fan and driver, the MasterAir Maker 8 also features a large heatsink and a 3F vapor chamber to disperse further any residual heat that might linger.

Aesthetic customizations
One of the unique things about Cooler Master’s air cooler is its high level of artistic customization the customer has access to. For instance, the top covers can be either clear or aluminum plate, depending on your style preference. Meanwhile, you can 3D print creative designs to accompany your air cooler. Even if the visual appeal does nothing for you, Cooler Master gets points for uniqueness on the customization game.

Fan compatibility and adjustability
The MasterAir Maker 8 supports both 140mm and 120mm fans, and you can adjust and remove the fans quickly due to their easy bracket setup.

MasterAir Maker 8 Specifications
Pros
[lists style=”plus” color=”#1e73be”] Things to like about the MasterAir Maker 8:

  • Some readers will like the notion that it seems Cooler Master has all their bases covered when it comes to air cooling technology.
  • Cooler Master’s exclusive Silent Driver IC technology
  • 3D vapor chamber
  • Quiet fans
  • Supports 140 and 120mm fans
  • Fans are easy to remove, replace and adjust
  • Visual customization options
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Cons
[lists style=”minus” color=”#1e73be”] What to consider:

The customization is purely visual. However, this doesn’t affect how the fan works—just how it looks. And many users may find they don’t care how it looks, as long as it does the job they need it to do.
Slightly larger than some of its other competitors, though this isn’t a problem as long as it fits your RAM and works.

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[icons icon=”star” color=”#dd0000″] PHANTEKS PH-TC14PE 5x8mm Dual-Heat-Pipes Dual 140mm Premium Fans and Quiet CPU Cooler with patented P.A.T.S coating review

affordable air cpu cooler

Features – Affordable Air CPU Cooler

Solid construction
Phanteks’ PH-TC14PE CPU cooler is composed of nickel-plated aluminum with their patented P.A.T.S. (Physical Antioxidant Thermal Shield) and C.P.S.C. (Cold Plasma Spraying Coating) technologies, with copper base and 5mm x 8mm heat pipes.

Powerful fan
The fan blades on Phanteks’ CPU cooler are made with the Maelstrom Vortex Booster design; the 140mm fans are capable of reaching 1200RPM +/- 10%, and have the ability to reach a max air flow of 78.1 CFM. The fans on this model are supported by the Updraft Floating Balance bearing and use the Maelstrom Air-Fort Optimization drive system to ensure powerful airflow.

Noise reduction
Thanks to an anti-acoustic rubber pad and rubber bar, the fan emits low-weighted decibels (dBa). This makes the overall sound from the fan a lot quieter.

Patented technology
The Phanteks PH-TC14PE CPU cooler featured two patented technology from Phanteks: P.A.T.S. (Physical Antioxidant Thermal Shield) and C.P.S.C. (Cold Plasma Spraying Coating).

P.A.T.S. is a nontoxic bit of technology that deflects thermal radiation away from other heat sources in a computer (like the GPU) and can tolerate temperatures up to 200 degrees Celsius. Meanwhile, C.P.S.C. works to dissipate heat through better conductivity; combined, these two patented technologies enhance the cooling experience from Phanteks’ CPU cooler.

PHANTEKS PH-TC14PE Specifications
Pros
[lists style=”plus” color=”#1e73be”] What to like about the Phanteks PH-TC14PE CPU Cooler:

  • Quiet, thanks to anti-acoustic mechanisms
  • 140mm fans capable of reaching 1200RPM with Maelstrom Vortex Booster design
  • Physical Antioxidant Thermal Shield and Cold Plasma Spraying Coating Technology enhance the Phanteks’ cooling ability
[/lists]
Cons
[lists style=”minus” color=”#1e73be”] What to consider:

  • The Updraft Floating Balance bearing is a sleeve bearing. Sleeve bearings don’t bother most these days, but it’s important to note that that’s what UFB means.
  • Bigger than some CPU air coolers, however as long as it fits in your case and works with your RAM, you’re good to go—and it does tend to work for most people.
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[icons icon=”star” color=”#dd0000″] Be quiet! BK010 SHADOW ROCK SLIM Silent Wings CPU Cooler – 160W TDP review

best quietest air cpu cooler for the money

Features – Best Quietest Air CPU Cooler for the money

A CPU cooler made for compact PCs
The dimensions on the BK010 are smaller than many of its competitors, allowing those with compact computers to get the benefits of having a quality CPU cooler that wouldn’t normally be available to them.

High capacity cooling
Despite being a CPU cooler for compact PCs, be quiet!’s BK010 has a cooling capacity of 160W TDP (thermal design power), making it one of the best CPU coolers in its class.

Nice fans
The be quiet! The model comes with a 135mm cooling fan with the ability to support an additional 120mm fan to maximize its cooling capabilities.

6mm heat pipes
The BK010 comes with four 6mm heat pipes that conduct the heat away from the base, promoting additional cooling capacity.

BK010 SHADOW ROCK SLIM Specifications
Pros
[lists style=”plus” color=”#1e73be”] What to like about the be quiet! BK010 Shadow Rock Slim CPU Cooler:

  • Works for compact PCs
  • Quiet
  • Thermal paste is included
[/lists]
Cons
[lists style=”minus” color=”#1e73be”] What to consider:

  • Some people have lamented that the installation instructions are extremely confusing. If you have installation questions, try calling the company or connecting with them through their website or social media instead. (It’s important to note that the poorly-written installation instructions do not have any bearing whatsoever how the CPU cooler works when properly installed.)
[/lists]


[icons icon=”star” color=”#dd0000″] Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO – CPU Cooler with 120mm PWM Fan (RR-212E-20PK-R2) Review

best budget air cpu cooler

Features – Best Budget Air CPU Cooler

Patented Continuous Direct Contact (CDC) heat pipes
The Hyper 212 EVO features Cooler Master’s patented Continuous Direct Contact (CDC) heat pipes, situated at the CPU cooler base, acting as a “virtual vapor chamber” that conducts heat away from the from the CPU.

Aluminum Fin Optimization
Fin optimizations provide perfectly balanced high-speed and low-speed cooling operations.

Uniquely-designed, powerful fan
The pulse width modulation fan features wave-shaped blades, allowing for superior airflow. The fan speed ranges from 600-2000RPM, making it one of the best CPU coolers when it comes to fan speed.

Long lifespan
The Hyper 212 EVO has a life expectancy of 40,000 hours, making it a great choice for those who are looking for value in their purchase.

Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO Specifications
Pros
[lists style=”plus” color=”#1e73be”] What to like about the Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO:

  • 40,000-hour life expectancy
  • Quiet
  • Lightweight
  • Thermal paste included
  • Compatible with a variety of processors
[/lists]
Cons
[lists style=”minus” color=”#1e73be”] What to consider:

  • Larger than some alternatives. However, this isn’t a problem, providing it fits your specs. Also, it’s not that large, so, again, it depends on your personal specs.
[/lists]

 

Best Liquid CPU cooler reviews

best-liquid-cpu-coolers-buying-guide

 

Top 5 – Best Liquid CPU Cooler Comparisons Table

 

 

[icons icon=”star” color=”#dd0000″] Corsair Hydro Series H115i Extreme Performance Liquid CPU Cooler review

best ultimate water cpu cooler system

Features – Ultimate CPU Water Cooler System

Improved since previous models
The new Corsair Hydro Series H115i features better cold plate and pump designs allowing for superior performance compared to older models. With the new design, this liquid cooler keeps temps low and is much quieter than before.

Built-in Corsair Link
With the Corsair Link cable, you’re directly connected to the hardware via your desktop. The downloadable software linkage allows you to adjust fan speed, monitor temperature and tweak superficial things like lighting.

Dual SP140L PWM fans
The Corsair’s powerful fans, designed for high static air pressure delivery, combined with its 280mm radiator make for a great CPU cooling experience.

Pros
[lists style=”plus” color=”#1e73be”] What to like about the Corsair Hydro Series H115i CPU Cooler:

  • Designed for cases with 280mm radiator mounts (or dual 140mm fan mounts) and claims superiority over other 280mm radiator models
  • Built-in software provides linkage to the cooling system, allowing the user to monitor and maintain the specifications they desire
  • Comes with a tool-free mounting bracket
  • Closed loop system for easy maintenance
[/lists]
Cons
[lists style=”minus” color=”#1e73be”] What to consider:

  • Some people prefer the older model to this one. This is likely down to personal preference and isn’t a con, but rather a note.
  • Some users have found their unit’s radiator is leaking. This is probably due to rough handling during shipping or a similar issue. If your unit is leaking, simply call customer service. This doesn’t reflect on the non-leaking, factory fresh H115i’s cooling performance one bit, however, as the overall performance tends to be very good.
[/lists]


[icons icon=”star” color=”#dd0000″] Thermaltake WATER 3.0 Dual Ring High Pressure CPU Water Cooling System review

coolest looking premium liquid cpu cooler

Features – Coolest Looking Liquid CPU Cooler

LED RGB radiator fans
The Thermaltake Water 3.0 features two 120mm radiator fans; LED-lit, these RGB effect rings come with five color modes that can cycle a total of 256 colors. Also, you can pause and play the color cycle, which is a cool thing.

High-capacity radiator
The radiator of the Thermaltake model is 240mm and can support up to four 120mm fans. This is great for when you need extra cooling power.

Copper base plate and tube
The base plate is copper while the sleeved tube is copper cold plate. Copper, though more expensive than aluminum, is an excellent heat conductor, which furthers the Water 3.0’s cooling capabilities.

High-powered water pump
The powerful water pump ensures optimal circulation, allowing for a better cooling experience.

Maintenance-free
Some people who’ve never owned a liquid CPU cooler may be a little apprehensive about maintaining it, but with the Water 3.0’s pre-filled water coolant, you don’t have to worry about that. Because it’s prefilled, it’s unlikely you’ll ever have to refill the liquid.

 

Pros
[lists style=”plus” color=”#1e73be”] What to like about the Thermaltake Water 3.0:

  • It’s quiet
  • The LED RGB fan feature adds visual appeal
  • Easy to maintain
  • Ability to support up to four fans, which doubles its cooling capacity
  • 3-year warranty
[/lists]
Cons
[lists style=”minus” color=”#1e73be”] What to consider:

  • Some users find the instruction manual a bit confusing. This has no impact on how the liquid cooler itself functions but can be somewhat frustrating. To remedy this small issue, simply call the company or connect with them online if you have any installation questions.
  • Some customers think the LED display on this model is inferior to others in the Thermaltake line. On the other hand, most think it’s just fine. This is most likely due to personal perception and isn’t an actual flaw in the design or execution of the LED setup on this model.
[/lists]


[icons icon=”star” color=”#dd0000″] NZXT Kraken X61 All-in-One CPU Liquid Cooling System review

powerful and quiet liquid cpu cooler

Features – Powerful and Quiet Liquid CPU Cooler

Integrated Variable Speed Pump
Perhaps a unique feature of NZXT’s Kraken X61 liquid CPU cooler is its Integrated Variable Speed Pump, which they tout as a world’s first, making it the first closed loop cooler designed for consumers. Computers are getting more power all the time, and CPU cooling systems have to keep up with this to compensate, so when a company makes a major innovation, it’s a big deal.

Variable speed pump
With the variable speed pump, the Kraken X61 is powerful when it needs to be, while still being a very quiet option. This is great for those who need a balance of power and silence, which can sometimes be hard to achieve in the world of CPU coolers in general.

New software
The Kraken X61 features new software from previous NZXT models. The new software, called CAM, gives the operator the ability to control the fan speeds, with the added ability to customize aesthetic features like the Hue lighting.

Systems nativity
Thanks to the new CAM software, you can assign Kraken as your CPU or GPU cooler and integrate it into those components. When features like this work well, it can increase overall performance.

 

Pros
[lists style=”plus” color=”#1e73be”] What to like about the NZXT Kraken X61:

  • Compatible with a large variety of processors, making it a good choice for those who require versatility in their liquid cooler above all else.
  • Powerful yet quiet fan
  • It’s the world’s first closed loop cooler built for consumers
  • Ability to designate Kraken as the native cooling system to your CPU or GPU
  • All-new CAM software supplants old Kraken software, allowing for more user control
  • The Kraken works fine with the thermal paste that comes with it
[/lists]
Cons
[lists style=”minus” color=”#1e73be”] What to consider:

  • Some people have been underwhelmed by this model’s cooling capabilities. However, this could be a user error. As with all CPU coolers, you have to make sure that it works for your system specs as well as how you use your computer. Most are happy with the Kraken X61, which reinforces the idea of getting the best CPU cooler for you as opposed to just buying one.
  • Some users have received broken coolers. This isn’t a problem with the cooler itself, but likely something that occurs with shipping and handling. If this happens to you, call customer service and tell them about it. They will solve the issue. However, this is not a big worry, because most people receive their unit intact. (Because, after all, it depends on whether it’s handled properly during shipping and most units are handled properly.) It’s just something worth noting.
[/lists]


[icons icon=”star” color=”#dd0000″] DeepCool Gamer Storm Captain 240 Water CPU Cooler review

best liquid cpu for gamers

Features – Affordable Premium Liquid CPU Cooler for Gaming

All-in-one liquid radiator
The all-in-one liquid radiator features a “self-governed circulation channel” providing for superior heat dispersal.

Aesthetics
The overall visual look of this CPU cooler is touted as steampunk, which many will appreciate. Meanwhile, the connections and liquid flow are transparent, resulting in a unique visual style.

Noise-reducing fan and bearings
The 120mm PWM fan is covered with rubber, which reduces vibration and ultimately noise. The DeepCool model uses a fluid dynamic bearing which aids in both noise reduction and cooling capability.

Induction Motor
The three-phase induction motor with integrated closed impeller makes for a stronger liquid flow and an ultimately better cooling experience for your CPU.

 

Pros
[lists style=”plus” color=”#1e73be”] What to like about the DeepCool Gamer Storm:

  • Life expectancy of about 120,000 hours, one of the longest mean time between failures in CPU coolers in general
  • Rubber-covered fan reduces vibration and noise
  • Good tube length
  • It’s an all-in-one cooler, which means easier maintenance
[/lists]
Cons
[lists style=”minus” color=”#1e73be”] What to consider:

  • “Fluid dynamic bearing” is a type of modified sleeve bearing. Some CPU cooler enthusiasts are very against sleeve bearings, and their minds may not be swayed even by the other excellent features a product has. That said, sleeve bearings aren’t the only thing to consider when shopping and most users won’t mind them if the product itself is solid and works.
  • Like many of the CPU coolers we’ve reviewed, the instructions can be a bit head-scratching, but, as always, this has no bearing on how well the CPU cooler itself functions. If you’re worried about instructions, just contact the company and ask for clarification.
[/lists]


[icons icon=”star” color=”#dd0000″] Arctic Liquid Freezer 120 CPU Cooler, Fluid Dynamic Bearing, MX-4 included Cooling review

best budget cpu liquid cooler

Features – Best Budget Liquid CPU Cooler for the money

Excellent water circulation
Thanks to the Artic Liquid Freezer 120’s strong water pump, water distribution is exceptional and provides significant cooling benefits.

120mm PWM fans
The 120mm PWM fans are super quiet, and the fan speed can be adjusted for even greater user control and quietness.

Small case compatible
Due to its ultra-flexible rubber pipes, the Artic Liquid Freezer 120 can fit into small computer cases. This is a very important feature because some CPU coolers can be quite bulky and don’t fit well in smaller cases.

120mm radiator
The 120mm radiator holds both 120mm PWM fans on opposite sides to control the airflow and provide optimal cooling. Meanwhile, the water pump is incredibly powerful for its size, adding to its reputation as one of the best CPU coolers for small cases.

 

Pros
[lists style=”plus” color=”#1e73be”] What to like about the Arctic Liquid Freezer 120 CPU Cooler:

  • Compatible with many Intel and AMD sockets
  • Two 120mm PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) fans
  • 12mm radiator with powerful water pump
  • Powerful option for smaller computers
  • User can adjust the fan speeds
  • Backed by a 6-year warranty
[/lists]
Cons
[lists style=”minus” color=”#1e73be”] What to consider:

  • Fluid dynamic bearing: This is a type of sleeve bearing. Anti-sleeve bearing consumers will probably be turned off by this, but most users will find that it doesn’t have a negative impact on the Arctic Liquid Freezer 120’s overall performance.
  • No software controls: Some users may find this disappointing if their last cooler had that feature, but the lack of software controls doesn’t reduce the liquid cooler’s performance. It’s more of a nit-picky side note.
[/lists]


Best Alternative CPU Coolers

 

[icons icon=”info-circled” color=”#00b8dd”] How air CPU coolers work

how air cpu cooler work

If you buy a name-brand desktop from a store (either brick-and-mortar or online), it will already come with a fan (usually two nowadays) installed to keep your components cool. And this is entirely adequate if you use your store-bought computer in a casual way. But if you push your store-bought computer to the limits by playing graphics-heavy games on the highest settings and overclocking, you’re going to want to add a more robust cooling option to your CPU at the very least to prolong your computer’s life.

And of course, if you’ve built your PC yourself, you’re going to have to get a cooler of some kind; depending on your rig and needs, air cooler may be just what you need.

Air CPU coolers typically have at least two fans. One draws in cool air, and the other expels hot air out the back of the computer. These fans sit on top of a heatsink, which further dissipates heat away from your rig’s delicate insides.

Pros: The upside of an air cooler is that it is more cost-effective and will work for most people’s needs, even many gamers. Also, CPU air coolers are more reliable and they have fewer parts than can break down over time.

Cons: The downside is that if you are a gamer who has an uber-rig, tricked out with many graphics cards; air cooling may not be enough for you. The other downside is that air systems, which are run by fans, are typically louder than liquid coolers. And usually the bigger and more powerful the fan setup, the louder it is.

[alert variation=”alert-info”] However, modern designs typically minimize noise and are a lot quieter than their predecessors.[/alert]

Easy Installation: It’s also important to note that air CPU coolers are generally very easy to install. If you’re a beginner and are in desperate need of a quick and reliable cooling option, you’re probably going to want to go with an air cooler that fits your needs if for no other reason than its simplicity to install and utilize.

 

[icons icon=”info-circled” color=”#00b8dd”] How liquid CPU coolers work

how liquid cpu cooler work

Liquid coolers are more appropriate for custom-built rigs, built by either yourself or custom made for you. They’re especially crucial if you have a setup that is super-intensive and needs the strongest cooling possible. Without extensive cooling, your rig’s internal components will quickly die, and all the work you put in on your creation will be ruined.

Liquid CPU coolers (also known as water-cooling systems) are composed of water blocks (which work like the heatsink of air coolers), coolant (usually water, but there are other kinds), and radiators and fans, which propel the water through tubes (also known as loops) that cool your CPU and sometimes surrounding components.

Some people build their liquid cooler setup just like they build their PC. While that’s perfectly fine (and often encouraged) for advanced PC users, it is not recommended for beginners, because if your liquid cooler isn’t properly installed, it’s going to leak everywhere, resulting in damage to your entire system, which is a nightmare scenario as any computer owner knows.

This is where all-in-one liquid CPU coolers come in. All-in-ones are closed loop systems. The liquid won’t leak unless the product has been severely damaged by the time it arrives on your doorstep (which isn’t likely either).

[alert variation=”alert-info”] Liquid CPU Coolers can be considered less-reliable, because they have more parts than can break down. There is a chance you can lose the whole system if water cpu cooler fails. [/alert]

In the past, a downside to closed loop systems might have been their ho-hum appearance that was more or less just as standard-looking as a primary air cooling system. Having more exciting-looking liquid coolers has been one of the big reasons why people decide to build their own.

After all, someone who goes to the lengths of custom-building their rig wants to make it look as awesome as possible, right?

However, companies have caught onto this need for visual appeal; nowadays, there are plenty of closed loop (or otherwise manufactured) liquid coolers that have attractive and even customizable aesthetic options that can often be controlled via software or some other convenient method.

Cons: The functional downside to liquid cooling systems is that some of the higher-end options are going to be more expensive than their air cooling counterparts.

Pros: The upside is that they can sometimes cool better and often cool quieter, which are two factors that most take into consideration when choosing their CPU cooler type.

 

 

Does CPU cooler size matter?

Size matters when it comes to CPU coolers. First, you have to consider the size of your case. Then, you have to consider if the cooler you’re interested in will be compatible with your processor in both size and type. Also, heatsinks and radiators can take up a lot of room, so take all of that into account as well.

Just be sure, that you can fit all that in PC case

Both air and liquid CPU coolers come in a variety of sizes. So, even if your options are less than standard, the right-sized CPU cooler for you is out there somewhere.

 

Why do you need a powerful CPU cooler?

It must be powerful enough 

The number one benefit of buying a CPU cooler is fairly obvious: To cool down your CPU and surrounding components that become too hot when overclocked or merely overworked. That’s the basic explanation, but there are reasons behind it.

For instance, say your computer gets super-hot, hotter than it’s ever gotten before, hotter than it was ever intended to be by the manufacturer—components could start melting. Anyone who understands the basics of computers and how they work knows this is bad. That’s the worst-case scenario.

A more common issue with overheating is that you shorten the lifespan of your computer’s inner components. Many of these are replaceable if you have the time, money and know-how. However, once the heat has ruined your hard drive, your computer is a goner.

The best thing to do is to stop heat issues before they become a problem, by choosing enough powerful CPU cooler for your PC build. Cooling down your PC before things get bad is your best bet for prolonging its life and health. A good CPU cooler is the best way to do that, and it’s a fantastic investment for anyone who uses their computer a lot, especially for gamers and designers.

 

Things to consider when buying a CPU cooler

Nowadays, overclocking doesn’t offer the same level of advantages as it once did, only because computers, in general, have gotten so much faster. Most people who overclock on a modern computer might not notice much of a difference at all, except for when playing newest games, and even then, it would be a lot different than overclocking on an older computer while playing an older game.

[alert variation=”alert-info”] Of course, overclocking isn’t the only reason to buy a powerful CPU cooler, but it’s worth mentioning because it can factor into it.[/alert]

So, the thing you want to consider is the age of your computer, for one:

  • Are you looking to cool a new (or newer) computer that you’re using heavily?
  • Or are you trying to overclock an older computer for faster/better gaming performance?

The reason I mention age is for the obvious reason: you’re going to want a CPU cooler that will be compatible with your PC, because not every single CPU cooler will be, necessarily.

Also, it’s important to keep in mind that—aside from the heatsinks and fans that come with your computer, which doesn’t actually work for intensive cooling needs—there are two types of CPU coolers. There are air coolers (which operate with fans and heatsinks and are rather self-explanatory) and liquid coolers, which work by circulating liquid (either water or ammonia) through pipes, dispelling the heat with vapor. And then returning to liquid again to repeat the process. Which one you choose could be down to preference or necessity, depending on your situation, so keep that in mind.

 

[icons icon=”alert” color=”#dd0000″] As a recap, the important things to consider when buying a CPU cooler are:

  • Compatibility: Ensure that the CPU cooler is compatible with your processor and sockets. For instance, older computers may have more limited options when it comes to what’s easily available on the market today. Meanwhile, smaller computers and cases may also have more limited options. (Though there are still great cooling options out there for compact PCs, so keep that in mind.)
  • Should you consider an air cooler or a liquid cooler? Do you already prefer one over the other? Would you be interested in switching from one to the other, depending on which you had last? While these questions aren’t vital, they’re things to think about when weighing your options.
  • How much cooling power do you need? This can depend on the state of your computer as it is now or how far you will be pushing it. It’s crucial you choose a cooling system that can get the job done for your CPU. The harder you work your CPU and GPU, the higher the cooling capacity you need.

 

 

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