They areUPCmay be the heart of your computer, but to enable yourgaming pcTo use its full potential, you need to cool it down properly.
While the processor is running, it can get incredibly hot. When it reaches a high enough temperature, it will lower its energy levels to cool down. A good CPU cooler will ensure that your processor stays cooler for longer so that it can run at the highest possible speed. This means that programs and games can benefit when your processor increases its clock speed for maximum performance. With a sufficiently robust cooling solution, you can even run at these high speeds indefinitely or push your processor beyond its factory settings. Some can even keep your processor cool without making too much noise.
We've selected a variety of coolers, from powerful air coolers toliquid cooler, which offers options that work on many different types of PC builds.
TL;DR: These are the best CPU coolers:
- Night NH-D15
- CoolerMaster Hyper 212 V2
- Corsair iCue H100i RGB Pro XT
- Corsair iCUE H60i RGB Pro XT
- Night NH-L9i
- Night NH-P1
- Criorig H7
- to calm down! Dark Rock Professional 4
- Cross the A500
- ProSifon Elite
best cpu cooler
Granted, paying $100 for an air cooler might seem like a lot; You can get a cheap processor for that price, but the Noctua NH-D15 does a lot for a living. For one thing, you can use it in a variety of new and old processors, for extra value by keeping it across different PC upgrades. Second, it's incredibly powerful, so you can relax when your processor is thermally accelerated.
What's the secret behind the Noctua NH-D15's performance? Well, it's no big secret, as it's easy to see that this cooler has two solid aluminum cooling fins and six heatpipes to pull heat away from your CPU. Those aluminum fins would work a bit passively, but Noctua has included two of their 140mm fans (and they're some of the best fans on the market). The fans' push-pull configuration allows a large volume of air to flow through the radiator at over 82 cubic feet per minute of airflow, keeping noise levels contained. And if you don't need all that cooling power, you can power the fans with a low-noise adapter.
CoolerMaster Hyper 212 V2
The best cheap CPU cooler
There's a good reason why the Cooler Master Hyper 212 cooler has incredible staying power: its design is simple, its performance is solid, and its price is low. That's no less true for the Cooler Master Hyper 212 V2, which has a few upgrades you'll love and stays on budget thanks to its sub-$50 price. and revised brackets for easier installation. The new Sickleflow 120 fan should offer better airflow and air pressure, and if you hate loud fan noise, it should be 10% quieter than the previous model.
The Cooler Master 212 Hyper V2 is ready to power your AMD and Intel, but please note that additional support is required for the LGA1700 socket used by the latest Intel CPUs. It has four heat pipes to extract heat from your processor and direct it to a stack of aluminum fins. There are also X-shaped openings to direct hot air into the heat pipes. It really is an amazing value that should get you plenty of mileage and keep your temperatures in check.
Corsair iCue H100i RGB Pro XT
The best liquid CPU cooler
If you prefer liquid cooling for your processor, the Corsair iCue H100i RGB Pro XT is the best choice. OAIO CPU liquid coolerIt not only keeps your CPU cool, but also makes your PC cool. That's thanks to the pump's built-in RGB lighting, which offers 16 RGB LEDs that can be customized and synced with the rest of the system via Corsair's iCue utility.
However, let's not forget about the main task of CPU coolers: cooling. The iCue H100i RGB Pro XT gets good marks there too. After all, it's a 240mm radiator that offers solid cooling potential even for high-end components. You get a copper cold plate in the pump housing to dissipate heat from your CPU and that meets the aluminum radiator. From there, a pair of powerful Corsair ML120 fans deliver a constant flow of air across the radiator fins to expel heat from your system. All that and all the setup is just $120.
Corsair iCUE H60i RGB Pro XT
Best Compact Liquid CPU Cooler
The Corsair iCUE H60i RGB Pro XT is a compact yet powerful AIO liquid cooler that takes up little space, making it perfect when you're low on space around your CPU. You get a copper cold plate in the pump to dissipate heat, while liquid is directed to the 120mm radiator with a 120mm fan to ensure your PC's interior stays nice and cool. All of this happens silently, with the cooler clocking in at just 37 dBA at maximum setting.
As an all-in-one option, you don't have to mess with priming and padding or spend a lot of money, as the Corsair iCUE H60i RGB Pro XT will set you back under $100. pump for lighting effects that match the rest of your PC with Corsair iCUE. You can also use this software to make adjustments to your entire cooling system, creating different profiles and checking temperatures.
Best low profile cooler
While many tower cases offer more than enough room for beefy coolers, many mATX andcase ITXYou are limited to how much you can pack. In such cases, you need to carefully consider what kind of CPU cooler you can install. Noctua's NH-L9i cooler is an extra-low profile option that lets you build the sleek, compact PC of your dreams.
The Noctua NH-L9i might not offer as serious cooling as other competitors on this list, but that's pretty much a given for a compact PC. Still, it offers a respectable cooler and a high-quality Noctua fan. The combination is enough to cool a wide range of Intel chips, excluding many of Intel's unlocked models and extreme editions. With a separate mounting adapter, it can even support AMD chips in an AM4 socket. And where compactness is just one piece of the puzzle, you can use an included adapter to run the fan in a silent mode that reduces the fan speed to 1800 rpm to reduce the maximum fan noise to just 14.8 dBA.
The best passive CPU cooler
Which cooler doesn't make noise? The kind that use no fans, no water pump, and no significant moving parts. That's what you get with the Noctua NH-P1. This doesn't look like your average cooler, as the heatsink and fins are constructed very differently to allow heat to better escape from the fin stack without the help of a fan.
The Noctua NH-P1 fits a variety of systems, including those using Intel's latest LGA1200 socket and AMD's AM4 socket. Passive cooling isn't as aggressive as active cooling, so you'll need to be careful with component pairing. Notably, the Noctua delivers cooling performance that rivals a decent range of high-end chips, including most AMD Ryzen 5 models (except overclocked X variants) and all 10-inch 2nd and 11th Gen Intel Core i5 models (except unlocked K variants). However, if you don't need absolute silence, you can use one of Noctua's quietest fans and dramatically increase the NH-P1's cooling performance.
The best alternative to Hyper212
Why bother suggesting a cooler that costs $10 more than the 212 EVO when I've already told you that the 212 EVO is all you need? The main reason is that the H7 gives you a little more space, making it easier to change sticks of RAM and taking up less space, so your build will look better. Plus, its smaller size doesn't come with any real downsides; the H7 is a little quieter and runs just as well (if not better) as the 212 EVO.
The H7 accommodates both AMD and Intel sockets, but again, you'll likely need AM4 support. There's a lot of debate about whether the H7 is an "EVO killer" and quite frankly a lot of people are fed up with the 212 EVO as it's been around forever. So if you're willing to spend $10 more and you're short on space, the H7 is the right choice.
to calm down! Dark Rock Professional 4
best silent cooler
Stay quiet! The Dark Rock Pro 4 lives up to its name and is one of the quietest CPU coolers money can buy. It can dissipate up to 250W of heat, which is a lot (a Core i9-9900K has a TDP of only 95W). It is able to do this thanks to its massive 6mm copper heatpipes.
More importantly, it's designed to run almost silently. Even with two or three fans connected and spinning as fast as possible, you only get 24.3 dBA. It'll set you back a pretty penny at $90, making it one of the more expensive air coolers on the market, but if silence is what you're after, this is the cooler for you.
Cross the A500
The best flexible CPU cooler
- Watch on Corsair(Exhausted)
If you're looking for a cooler that's easy to install, works with the rest of your kit, and looks great in your case, then the Corsair A500 is our pick. It packs two 120mm fans into a durable aluminum heatsink with four heatpipes to cool CPUs with a TDP of up to 250W. It does this by blowing a vigorous 75 cubic feet of air across the heatsink every minute.
A solid advantage of this heatsink is that it can be flexibly adapted to your equipment when using extra-tall memory modules. The fans use a slide and lock mechanism so they can be easily moved into position. The cooler is also compatible with a variety of Intel and AMD sockets.
Best CPU mounted AIO liquid cooler
So you want liquid cooling but don't want to find a place in your case to plug in a radiator or hoses that might leak into your expensive PC components? Well, IceGiant Cooling's ProSiphon Elite solves that with an all-in-one cooler that attaches a large 240mm radiator directly to its base to allow liquid cooling directly into your CPU. However, you should make sure that you have space for your RAM with this cooler, as it takes up a lot of space on the motherboard with 48mm of free space for your memory modules.
This is not your typical liquid cooler with a powerful pump. Instead, this design is gravity fed, using an evaporator to transfer heat from the CPU to the cooler, and using condensers and gravity to direct the cooled liquid back to the CPU. Kit includes all necessary mounting hardware for a variety of Intel and AMD platforms, including Threadripper. And it comes with four 120 mm fans that can be configured in a push-pull configuration. It is also recommended to install exhaust fans at the top of the case, as typical front-to-back airflow is not as effective with this cooler.
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Danielle Abraham is an unpaid freelance writer and music historian.