A CPU cooler that is high-quality will ensure your processor stays cool. This will ensure you get the best performance possible, as modern CPUs protect the chip with a throttle. This means that if you want to get the best performance from your CPU, you will need to ensure you have adequate cooling. While a good CPU cooler is a great way to unlock the world of overclocking and other options, the core ideas at stock clocks are the same.
A good CPU cooler will keep your processor cool without making it sound like a jet engine. You can either transfer heat to a better place or cool the chip directly. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. We've chosen to choose the best AIO coolers for CPUs and best CPU Air coolers.
Air coolers are the least common method of chilling. A metal heat sink draws heat from the CPU and blows it away using a fan. You must also consider the type of your CPU socket, RAM size, case dimensions and current airflow in your machine.
Liquid cooling is usually more efficient because you can mount multiple fans to the radiator and place it where there is better airflow. You can also make a custom water cooling loop that includes CPU and GPU cooling, if you feel brave. This method requires tube-bending and is not recommended for novice PC builders.
Each cooler below has been tested on PC Gamer's test rigs to determine which coolers offer the best CPU cooling under various workloads. You can also check out our guide on the best fans for increasing your system's cooling efficiency.
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1. EK-AIO Basic 220Step up to the top with even the most expensive air conditioners
SpecificationsSocket support for Intel LGA: 1150-1155, 1156-1116, 1200, 2011, 2011-3 and 2066. Scale: 240mm. Full radiator dimensions: 265x120x27mm. Fan speeds: 550-2200RPM. Noise level: 33.5dB(A). Today's best deals
There are many reasons to buyCooling performance is comparable to that of 360mm coolers.
Avoidable reasonsIt is quite plain-looking if you don't like cooler aesthetics.
EK is a well-known name in liquid cooling. EK Basic is focused on performance and value. It doesn't have any RGB. This is why the EK AIO Basic 240 might be worth a glance. The pricing is kept low by the absence of this feature.
Its build quality is what really makes the EK Basic 240 stand out. It feels heavy and solid. The EK- Vardar fans included are excellent and offer a wide operating speed range. If you have to use it, it's a good idea to have high-speed headroom available. It is almost silent most of the time.
The cooling performance is what really impressed us. It can provide up to 360mm cooling capacity. However, it does get loud if you push a Rocket Lake CPU overclocked. But that's just like any other cooler.
The EK-AIO Basic 240 is ideal for closed case builds that require dark lighting or stealthy focus. It's built quality and high performance make it a cooler you can set and forget, away from sight and out of mind.Image 1 of 2.
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2. Deepcool Gammaxx V2 L240We have some bang for our buck with 240mm liquid cooling
SpecificationsSocket support: Intel LGA20XXX, LGA1366, LGA1200. 115X. Full radiator dimensions: 220 x 120x 27mmFan speeds 500-1800RPMNoise Level: Up to 30dB(A).
There are many reasons to buyExcellent valueGood cooling capacityEffectively silent when idle
Avoidable reasonsCan get loud under significant CPU load
Deepcool is known for making high-quality AIOs at affordable costs. The Gammaxx L240V2 cooler is one of the cheapest 240mm coolers available. This makes it an excellent choice for those who want to move up from air cooling and into AIO cooling.
Gammaxx 240mm has basic RGB lighting for the pump head, fans and pumps. If you are really interested in the ARGB version, there is an additional cost. Deepcool loves to talk about its "Anti leak technology", which aims to maintain a perfect pressure balance within the loop. It's a good idea.
Gammaxx 240 can cool most processors. However, it is not as efficient as some of the other chip chillers. It keeps the rest of the system running at remarkably low levels of noise, which is why we highly recommend it.
The L240 is virtually silent when idle. You will notice an increase in noise and temperatures with high TDP processors. This is especially true when you overclock. The 5800X CPU with PBO disabled is the most suitable for a 240mm cooler. The fans can and do increase under load.
The Deepcool Gammaxx L240 AIO is an excellent choice if you are looking for an affordable 240mm AIO with quiet operation under low loads. It can make a lot of noise if you push the buttons too hard but it is well worth it for its low price.
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3. Corsair Hydro Series H60 V2
Air cooling with liquid cooling
SpecificationsSocket support: Intel LGA 1150, 1151 and 1156, 1156. 1366, 2011, 2066. AMD AM4 & AM3Scale 120mmFull radiator dimensions 157x120x27mmFan speeds up to 1700RPMNoise levels: Up to 28.3dB (A)
There are many reasons to buyIts small size makes it a great radiator.
Avoidable reasonsSuper high-end CPUs would be a challenge
Since its inception, the Corsair H60 has been around. It has seen its fan, tubing, pump, and mounting upgrades over the years. Although the 120mm AIO size is not for everyone, those who need a compact cooler to fit a smaller volume ITX build or other small projects will be able to use it as an air cooler. It lacks RGB lighting, but there is white lighting around its head.
The H60V2 is well-suited for processors below 95w. Although it can be outperformed by an AIO or tower cooler with a larger radiator size, they are often not suitable for SFF builds. The enemy of SFF systems is heat, so the H60's ability eject hot air out of the case will be a benefit to the entire system. Corsair also includes its SP PWM fan. It operates at speeds between 600 RPM (at which it is quiet) and 1700 RPM. At that point, it becomes audible.
Perfect for compact systems, the Corsair H60V2 is a great choice. It is affordable, will outperform low-profile air cooling units and does so without making excessive noise. Although it won't be able to handle a high-core count or processor with a high clock, you shouldn't think that it will. It's easy to recommend if you have the right components.Ir cooling
Best CPU air coolers
1. Deepcool AS500 PlusCool cooler for all occasions that won't break the bank
SpecificationsSocket support: Intel 1200, 1150, 1151, 1155, 2011, 2066, AMD AM4, AM3, AM2, FM2 & FM1 compatibleFans: 2x 140mm PWMFan speeds: 500-1200RPMDimensions (L x W x H): 140 x 102 x 164 mmNoise level: Max 31.5dB(A)
There are many reasons to buyLow noise, great valueEfficient coolingQuality
Avoidable reasonsNot designed for high-end CPUs with overclocked CPUs
Deepcool AS500 was a well-received cooler when it first came out, but the AS500 Plus has an additional fan that makes it more competitive with other tower coolers on the market. It is also cheaper than its competitors. At this price, there aren't many dual fan ARGB-supporting coolers. Even if you spend twice as much on a premium single-tower cooler, the cooling performance will not be any better.
Its compact size belies its cooling power. It is only beaten by dual tower coolers that are much more expensive, but even those coolers don't beat it all. Its dual fan design no doubt helps. It is also very quiet. The cooler is quiet even when the fan is pushed very hard. The cooler's low noise level and cooling capabilities are great. Add to that the excellent build quality and subtle ARGB looks, and you have nothing to complain about. You can also get a white ARGB controller.
The Deepcool AS500 Plus is a great value for money. It cools well, is quiet, has great build quality, an ARGB splash with its controller, and all this on top of it all. It is also a great deal relative to other single-fan dual fan coolers. The AS500 Plus is a great option for those who don't want to overclocked processors. Highly recommended.
2. Be Quiet! Pure Rock 2A quiet cooler that is both affordable and efficient
SpecificationsSocket support: Intel LGA1150, 1155 and 1200. 2011, 2011-3, 2066. AMD AM3 & Am4 compatibleFans are 1x Pure Wings 2 120mmFan speeds up to 1500RPMDimensions L x Wx H: 87x121x155mmNoise level max 26.8dB(A).
There are many reasons to buyVery quiet operationGreat priceGood build quality
Avoidable reasonsThe 150W TDP is very basic and a little optimistic
The Be Quiet Pure Rock 2 is very quiet, if the brand name hasn't already. The cooler is a single-tower cooler that comes with the highly regarded Pure Wings 2, PWM fan. It has a low 26.8dB(A). It is very quiet. It also feels solid, which is a sign of high build quality.
The Pure Rock 2 is not the most beautiful cooler available. If you have a windowed box, the black version is a better option than the aluminum base. Pure Rock 2 was designed to cool, unseen and unheard. It is rated to cool CPUs up to 150W TDP.
This is perhaps a little optimistic, but it's due to the CPU manufacturers''real' TDPs. Pure Rock 2 will not have a problem with an Intel Core i5 11600K and AMD Ryzen 7 5800X.
The Pure Rock 2 is suitable for all other CPUs. The Pure Rock 2 is an excellent choice if you don't care about bling or want something more than bundled coolers. It can cool your entire body.
3. Noctua NH-D15 Chromax Black
It's hard to find a cooler that performs better than the Noctua NH-15 Chromax Black air conditioner
SpecificationsSocket support: Intel LGA 1150, 1151, 1155, 1156, 1200, 2011, 2011-3, 2066, AMD AM4, AM3, AM2, FM2 & FM1 compatibleFans: 2x NF-A15 HS-PWMFan speeds: 300-1500RPMDimensions (L x W x H): 161 x 150 x 165mmNoise level: Max 24.6dB(A)
There are many reasons to buyAmazing cooling performanceQuiet with typical loadsStandard build qualityAll black good looks
Avoidable reasonsBIGLouder than what you might expect when you are under load
Many consider the Noctua NH-D15 Chromax black the best air conditioner on the market. It's a great cooler and a good addition to our recommended coolers list. It works well, has excellent fans, and is a welcome change from the rather unattractive beige or maroon (sorry Jacob). The build quality of Noctua's coolers, packaging, and documentation are top-notch.
Only 360mm AIO coolers can outperform it. You might be able to find an air cooler that will handle any consumer CPU, but it is unlikely that you will find anything that matches the Noctua flagship.
The NH-D15 is considered silent under normal operating conditions. It can be louder when it is pushed to the limit, as it might when trying to load an AVX load. However, we do not mind having some cooling headroom if you require it. Gaming will be quiet even with a Core i9 11900K at 5GHz+.
It is therefore not number one on our list. Its cost and perhaps its sheer size are the only factors that can stop it. Noctua is known for its long history of supporting new sockets. Investing in a NH-15 Chromax Black cooler will ensure a top-quality cooler that will last many years.
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1. Noctua NH-P1
Shiny, powerful, yet quiet
SpecificationsType: Passive air coolingCompatibility: Intel LGA 1200, 115x, 2011/2066; AMD AM2-AM4Fan speed: NANoise volume: SilentDimensions: 158 x 154 x 152 mmWeight: 1800g
There are many reasons to buyCompletely silentCompatible to high-end CPUsPlenty of cool for gaming workloads
Avoidable reasonsLargeRequires a case that has good airflowSilicon dreams
These are the best gaming CPUs to build your rig with.
Although the Noctua NH-1 is a niche CPU cooling device, it is also a very exciting product. It is able to do more than a quiet chip chiller can. You had to either pair the passive cooler with a low-powered processor or limit the clock speed.
However, the Noctua NH-1 is capable of running CPUs with high-end specifications at their normal performance. This passive cooler can keep a decent gaming CPU powered up. The NH-P1 was tested on our Core i7 10700K Open Test Bench. It has no fans and thus is not optimized for airflow. However, the NH-P1 performed flawlessly on our standard gaming tests.
This chip is slightly more than Noctua's recommendations for the NH-1, but you can still check its compatibility centre to determine if your CPU will be supported.
It is indeed large. Although the RAM clearance is good, Noctua designed it to remove dual-channel DIMM slots. However, it will still take up lots of space in your chassis. You will need to have adequate airflow to make the most of your RAM. This is unless you want to go for a totally fanless look.
The Noctua NH-P1 passive cooler is a well-designed and powerful unit that will keep your gaming computer quiet. It won't do much for a noisy graphics card, however.
Check out our complete Noctua NH-11 review.
Best CPU cooler FAQ
How can you test CPU coolers
The selection of the best CPU cooler is like choosing any other component. These variables include performance requirements, case compatibility and budget restrictions. We use Prime95 to test the performance of CPU coolers and we also use a mix of PC games to stress test them. The following criteria were used to determine our top choices: thermal performance, noise, overall features, and value.
How can I find the right CPU cooler for me?
It all comes down to compatibility and budget if you're not sure if you need an air or liquid cooler. We wouldn't recommend stock coolers to PC gamers until AMD released their Wraith coolers, and then removed them again. However, budget-conscious gamers don't have to sacrifice quality for an aftermarket cooler. Liquid coolers are a great option if you have more money. They can provide advanced RGB lighting and intelligent software control.
You might be hesitant about putting liquid near expensive components. However, all the coolers in this guide come with outstanding warranties that will protect you in case of a manufacturer defect. A massive leakage is rare anyway.
Is liquid cooling more quiet than air cooling?
An all-in-one liquid CPU cooling system will generally be quieter than an attached air cooler directly to the processor. The reason is that the fans attached to the cooling fan are usually larger and can spin slower than an air coolant. They are often well insulated so they don't make much noise.
There are also large air coolers that have large heatsinks and big fans that can rival the noise generated by an AIO liquid cooler. A passive cooler with no moving parts would be the quietest. These coolers are not able to handle the most powerful and heavy CPUs.
Do I need liquid cooling if I don't overclock my CPU?
Although liquid cooling will undoubtedly increase your processor's thermal headroom, there are other reasons to include an AIO in your system. The most important aspect is aesthetics. Having a large heatsink that clogs up your chassis is not ideal. Perspex can be used to showcase your components.
This can make it possible to have a smaller chassis. A liquid cooler can often provide the thermal performance necessary to run a high-spec CPU on a small chassis.
What is liquid cooling?
The coolant flows through a closed loop via a plate attached to your CPU. It cools it using the fan and attached radiator. It is simple to install and much more efficient than a whole water-cooling loop.Take a look at the top deals of today
EKWB EK–AIO Basic 240
$96.99View All Prices
be quiet! Pure Rock 2
$58.99View all pricesLow Stock
Deepcool Gammaxx V2 L240
$123.70View All PricesReduced Price
Corsair Hydro Series H60
$89.99$73.99ViewAll PricesReduced Price
Deepcool AS500 Plus
$103.78$86.58View All Prices
Noctua NH-D15 Chromax Black
$99.95View All Prices
$109.90View All Prices
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