Best CPU Coolers: Air and Liquid Cooling

Best CPU Coolers: Air and Liquid Cooling
Best CPU Coolers: Air and Liquid Cooling (Image: © Final Desktop)

To avoid going for the best cpu cooler to save some cash for other components is not a good idea. Getting a cheap cooler and spending all money on other PC components will ruin your entire setup. It is not wrong if we say a perfect motherboard, best graphic card, and ideal processor on which you have spent all that cash need a long-lasting and reliable CPU cooler so that it may work correctly and in brilliant condition. 

On the other hand, the perfect CPU cooler plays a vital role in building a PC. No matter it’s a gaming PC or you are using it for routine workloads. It will keep your system components cool, and they can work for more extended periods. It doesn’t mean you need to invest a lot in a CPU cooler, and there is a wide range of CPU coolers from affordable to expensive ones. All of them belong to well-reputed brands that don’t compromise quality and performance. Wait a minute! I don’t think that the affordable ones will not work correctly. They are also efficient and reach your PC’s potential to meet the overclocking needs and processor cooling. 

This article has rounded up the eight best cpu coolers, including each best air cooler cpu and some basic queries related to these products. We will discuss their pros and cons, their features and specs, and some customers’ reviews. We will try our best to make it easier to decide which one would be best suitable for you. Else up to you, as we know, choices differ from person to person, and you should choose according to your preferences and requirements. But before that, let’s have some quick shopping tips before buying the CPU cooler. 

Quick Shopping Tips:

The processor is the most crucial part of your entire system and can not work if it gets too hot. For your system’s temperature maintenance, you should buy an accurate CPU cooler for your system’s CPU. Here are some essential tips that you should consider before buying a CPU cooler. 

BUDGET: The first and most important thing that you should consider is your budget. If you want to upgrade your computer, then you must know your account. You know what you have to spend. But if you are building a new system, it is essential to determine the exact amount of money you have to pay. 

AIR COOLING VS AIO COOLERS: The selection between them is a must for system builders, and both have their advantages and disadvantages. It would help if you chose according to your preferences and requirements. 

LIQUID COOLING PROS: Heavy-duty liquid coolers and custom liquid cooling setups perform better than the best air coolers can achieve. They are low profiles than air coolers like they don’t have clearance issues with case fans, memory, and other parts placed near the motherboard CPU socket

LIQUID COOLING CONS: They have a lower price-to-performance ratio as compared to air coolers. Moreover, they demand more maintenance, and you might face the risk of leakage. 

AIR COOLERS PROS: Usually, AIO coolers have a better price-to-performance ratio. Besides this, they require no maintenance and have a long lifetime. 

AIR COOLERS CONS: These are not suitable for extra cooling setups. In other words, it doesn’t perform well if your structure demands additional cooling. Some heavy-duty air coolers might be very hefty, and you may face clearance issues with case fans, memory, motherboard, and other components. 

TDP RATING: A TDP is one of the most critical factors to determine whether a particular cooler is suitable for your system or not. The processor and CPU cooler both have a TDP rating. In simple words, your CPU cooler should have a low TDP rating than your processor so that it can perform an excellent job of cooling your CPU. But if you want to overclock your processor, then the TDP rating of your CPU cooler should exceed your processor’s TDP rating. 

CPU SOCKET: Most CPU coolers are manufactured so that you can fix them with any CPU socket. But some CPU coolers can go with specific CPU sockets. So before buying, make sure that the CPU cooler you choose has compatibility with the combination of your motherboard or processor you have.

Best CPU Coolers at a glance:

  1. Noctua NH-D15
  2. Cooler Master Hyper 212 RGB
  3. Noctua NH-L9
  4. NZXT Kraken Z-3
  5. Corsair iCUE H115i Elite Capellix
  6. Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML240P Mirage
  7. Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML120R RGB
  8. Arctic Liquid Freezer 120

The Best CPU Coolers You Can Buy Today

Noctua NH-D15 (Image credit: Amazon)

Noctua NH-D15

Best CPU cooler

SPECIFICATIONS

Dimensions: 5.91 x 6.34 x 6.5 inches | Base Height: 165mm | Weight: 1320g | Fans: 2 | Socket Support: Intel LGA1150, LGA1151, LGA1155, LGA1156, LGA1200, LGA2011, LGA2066 and AMD AM4, AM3(+), AM2(+), FM2(+) | Warranty: 6 years

REASONS TO BUY

Solid build quality

Excellent thermal compound

Silent and smooth performance

REASONS TO AVOID

Size compatibility issue

No SP3, sTRx4, and TR4 support

Noctua NH-D15 is the CPU cooler with a rich set of features and is the Best CPU cooler. It is manufactured on the base of ultimate NH-D14 and is ranked high for its quiet and improved cooling performance. The product is known as the premium class dual-tower cooler for reaching the highest demands of its customers. Moreover, the extended heat-pipe design and two elite-class 140mm fans with the remarkable support of PWM offers automatic speed controlling. 

The product has six years of warranty, which is a plus for many of us not to worry for more extended periods. This CPU cooler offers a complete range of premium features that deliver vast privilege gamers who prefer silent coolers and overclockers. Its six heat-pipe dual tower structures provide more space, efficient airflow, and improved heat distribution in dual fan mode. 

However, some buyers complained about its bigger size and limited color choice. Users suggest that you should check your case compatibility before buying this CPU cooler. Overall, the installation procedure is very straightforward, and an unmatchable thermal compound is provided with the kit. We recommend trying this product as it is in the top picks for the best air cooler cpu.

Cooler Master Hyper 212 RGB (Image credit: Amazon)

Cooler Master Hyper 212 RGB

Better than ever before

SPECIFICATIONS

Dimensions: 6.29 x 3.93 x 9.09 inches | Base Height: 37.8mm | Weight: 2.06 pounds | Fans: 1 | Socket Support: Intel: LGA2066, LGA2011-v3, LGA2011, LGA1151, LGA1150, LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA1366, AMD: AM4, AM3+, AM3, AM2+, AM2, FM2+, FM2, FM1 | Warranty: 2 years

REASONS TO BUY

Offers Direct Contact Technology

Compatible with numerous chipsets

Easy configuration with the universal bracket design

REASONS TO AVOID

Too big

Poor RGB

Cooler Master Hyper 212 RGB is the cooler that proved to be better than ever before. The cooler offers excellent performance and better installation. This CPU cooler is known to be the best air cooling solution. The product has high demand because of its outclass aesthetics. Its top aluminum cover and jet black fins with nickel-plated give this cooler a premium look. The slim and sleek black cooler looks attractive and makes it more efficient and better cooling performance. 

Moreover, the product has a refined look with top-class aesthetics and rich features. The fin array provides less airflow resistance that helps the CPU cooler for better airflow into the heatsink. The product ensures high-end cooling so that all your system components can work for more extended periods. The four heat pipes with advanced technology deliver faster and effective heat dissipation, which is beneficial for your heavy workloads. 

Some issues are reported related to RGB effects. In contrast, some people complained about the enormous size that creates problems in case compatibility. Overall, the product has top-notch performance, and its vast speed range can be set and controlled according to your cooling requirements and silent operation. We recommend you try this product as it is the best air cooler cpu of all.

Noctua NH-L9 (Image credit: Amazon)

Noctua NH-L9

Best low-profile CPU cooler

SPECIFICATIONS

Dimensions: 3.74 x 1.46 x 3.74 inches | Base Height: 37mm | Weight: 385g | Fans: 1 | Socket Support: Intel: LGA1150, LGA1151, LGA1155, LGA1156, LGA1200 | Warranty: 6 years

REASONS TO BUY

Super-low profile cooler

Ultra-compact and quiet

Easy installation due to adjustable design

REASONS TO AVOID

Only 92mm fan

No protector cover for heatsink

Noctua NH-L9 is the cooler that is known to be the Best low-profile CPU cooler. Noctua is a well-reputed brand that doesn’t compromise quality and performance. Moreover, the cooler has a better understanding and improved cooling solutions. It is best suitable for small form factors and for those that are based on HTPCs. The product is low-profile of only 37mm and is perfect for slim cases. It is compatible with tall RAM modules and also with VGA cards on Mini-ITX boards. 

This cooler is very tiny, but still, it delivers high-end performance without sacrificing intense cooling. The cooler is perfect for smaller builds and if you don’t prefer liquid cooling. Besides this, the cooler is very beneficial for users using extensive components and doesn’t have space for a large CPU cooler. You can easily fix it in areas with less space and small desktops. 

The product offers all the rich features that are useful in handling heavy workloads. However, some buyers complained about the thermal throttling that has to be noticed during intense workloads. While some users also suggested providing a top cover for the heatsink to avoid dust coming inside the fan. We recommend you try this product as it is added in the top picks of best cpu cooler.

NZXT Kraken Z-3 (Image credit: Amazon)

NZXT Kraken Z-3

Personalize your all-in-one liquid cooler

SPECIFICATIONS

Dimensions: 13.78 x 7.87 x 9.84 inches | Base Height: 9.84inches | Weight: 3.3 pounds | Fans: 2 | Socket Support: Intel LGA 1200, 1151, 1150, 1155, 1156, 1366, 2011, 2011-3, 2066 & AMD AM4, sTRX4, TR4 | Warranty: 6 years

REASONS TO BUY

Offers 240mm, 280mm, and 360mm configurations

Visual customization with beautiful 2.36” LCD screen

Premium quality material with unparalleled aesthetics

REASONS TO AVOID

No RGB fans

No AM4, TR4 bracket included

NZXT Kraken Z-3 is the best liquid cpu cooler and facilitates you to Personalize your all-in-one liquid cooler according to your style. This kit has a high demand because of its great aesthetics. We had to add it to our top picks for the best cpu cooler because we don’t want you to miss its high-performance and handle high TDPs. Some users reported that they have tested this cooler under intense workloads and find it brilliant in this condition. 

The cooler has a rich set of features and is compact. The price is high, but its customers don’t argue about the price because of its premium quality and top-notch performance. Moreover, the cooler has an easy installation process. It delivers intense cooling solutions for more extended periods during stressed conditions—the CPU cooler offers 4.56W of power consumption, making some heavy-duty processors run smoothly. 

However, some buyers reported that they face difficulty replacing the non-RGB fans with the 140mm RGB fans if you prefer a fascinating PC case. The users also complained about the fan noise at high speeds and some complications when linked with CAM. Otherwise, the CPU cooler performs brilliantly in extreme conditions and doesn’t bother you much. This CPU cooler is recommendable to those who prefer a lively atmosphere because of its customizable 2.36” bright LCD offering 24 bit-color.

Corsair iCUE H115i Elite Capellix (Image credit: Amazon)

Corsair iCUE H115i Elite Capellix

Brighter is better

SPECIFICATIONS

Dimensions: 12.68 x 5.39 x 4.71 inches | Base Height: 65mm | Weight: 2.26 pounds | Fans: 2 | Socket Support: Intel LGA 1150, 1151, 1155, 1156, 1200, 1366, 2011, 2011-3, 2066 and AMD AM2, AM3, AM4, FM1, FM2, sTR4, sTRX4 | Warranty: 5 years

REASONS TO BUY

Stylish and glossy pre-installed pump cap

Fascinating with magnetic levitation RGB fans

Tool-free mounting bracket for easy installation

REASONS TO AVOID

Extra bright RGB

No color choice (only black)

Corsair iCUE H115i Elite Capellix is known to be the most fascinating and best liquid cpu cooler. People admired this CPU cooler because it is attractive and on top of the line Brighter is better. Its brightness is a plus for lively users out there. Corsair is the brand name that maintains its outstanding performance and doesn’t compromise quality and performance. It delivers excellent cooling in stressed conditions and faces all the hurdles coming on its way. 

The product has a split-flow copper cold plate that helps to maintain the temperature. Moreover, the CPU cooler has a highly silent centrifugal pump and RGB lighting using Capellix LEDs. The company offers customizable RGB lighting in corsair’s style through iCue software. People appreciate the performance a high-quality aesthetics of this CPU cooler. 

However, some buyers complained about the predecessor that could be much better and need some improvement. At the same time, some users suggested that the cooler is not suitable for overclocking conditions. So, in short, if you are searching for a robust liquid cooling system that not only works efficiently but also looks fascinating, Corsair iCUE H115i Elite Capellix is the ideal one.

Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML240P Mirage (Image credit: Amazon)

Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML240P Mirage

Cool and hypnotic

SPECIFICATIONS

Dimensions: 13.7 x 11.22 x 5.79 inches | Base Height: 44.5mm | Weight: 1237g | Fans: 2 | Socket Support: LGA2066, LGA2011-v3, LGA2011, LGA1200, LGA1151, LGA1150, LGA1155, LGA1156, LGA1366, LGA775, TR4, AM4, AM3+, AM3, AM2+, AM2, FM2+, FM2, FM1 | Warranty: 5 years

REASONS TO BUY

Threadripper support

Controller hub included

Tri-phase/PWM motor with a silent driver

REASONS TO AVOID

No 360mm radiator support

No documentation on how to install

Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML240P Mirage is the best liquid cpu cooler known to be Cool and hypnotic of all. Using this cooler in your gaming rig, you can play games for hours and hours. During intense conditions, you may not face overheating and any thermal throttling. If you have a CPU case with tempered glass, you can see the hypnotic and mesmerizing lighting effects. A transparent pump is admirable that lets you see the beautiful spinning while showered with several RGB lighting. 

The product deserves to be the best because of its PPS+ glass fiber housing and nozzle to deliver liquid resistance and temperature. If you want a CPU cooler with RGB effects and at the same time stylish, sleek, and slim, too, this cooler is best suitable for you. This optimized liquid cooler provides excellent cooling along with delicate aesthetics. The product offers a low resistance radiator that enables a higher flow rate and accelerates heat exchange and quality performance. 

However, some buyers report tells us that the cooler has a poor thermal performance. There is also no detailed documentation about the installation procedure. Otherwise, the cooler delivers quality performance. The addressable RGB controller allows you to select colors according to your style, and you can enhance your gaming rig the way you want. We recommend you try this best liquid cpu cooler so that you can increase the lifetime of other components.

Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML120R RGB (Image credit: Amazon)

Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML120R RGB

The best compact liquid cooler

SPECIFICATIONS

Dimensions: 6.2 x 4.7 x 1.1 inches | Base Height: 27mm | Weight: 2.4 pounds | Fans: 2 | Socket Support: LGA2066, LGA2011 v3, LGA2011, LGA1200, LGA1151, LGA1150, LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA1366, AMD: AM4, AM3+, AM3, AM2+, AM2, FM2+, FM2 | Warranty: 2 years

REASONS TO BUY

Two 120mm RGB fans

Addressable RGB fans

Intel and AMD compatible

REASONS TO AVOID

Loud at full speed

Unsatisfactory low cooling performance

Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML120R RGB is known to be The best compact liquid cooler. This liquid cooling solution is incredible in aesthetics and features an oxidation-free pump and a full radiator. Moreover, It will not only increase its lifetime but also accelerates its quality and performance. The cooler has long been popular among its customers. It’s been a favorite for people who use technology for long hours. 

The most shining and attractive part of this CPU cooler is its addressable RGB technology. It contains two MF120R addressable RGB fans, along with the ARGB on the pump block. The CPU cooler is compatible with the software of all top-class motherboards. This great cooler allows you to control the lights entirely from the unit so that you can set the effects according to your style. The kit is powered with plenty of ports and a SATA connection to connect additional lighting effects. 

This CPU cooler has a rich set of features that increase the performance quality. However, the buyer’s report tells us that the cooler is loud at 100% speed. At the same time, some customers complained about the lack of instructions for the ARGB controller. Otherwise, the overall performance is excellent and reliable. It comes with a bit of an expensive price tag, but still, it has a high demand in the market. We recommend you try this product, as we are sure you will not regret it.

Arctic Liquid Freezer 120 (Image credit: Amazon)

Arctic Liquid Freezer 120

Best budget liquid-cooler

SPECIFICATIONS

Dimensions: 7.2 x 6.97 x 5.59 inches | Base Height: 155mm | Weight: 2.77 pounds | Fans: 2 | Socket Support: Intel LGA 2011 – 2066; AMD AM2 – AM3+, FM1 – FM2 | Warranty: 6 years

REASONS TO BUY

Integrated cable management

High quality fluid dynamic bearing

Synchronous pump/fan control with PWM

REASONS TO AVOID

Limited features

Compatibility issues

Arctic Liquid Freezer 120 is a favorite among its users and is the Best budget liquid-cooler. This CPU cooler has an efficient and robust cool plate, radiator, and pump that makes it one step forward than other AIO water coolers. The extra 40mm PWM fan accelerates cooling for both the voltage transformer and base. The cables are sleeved beautifully and are, at the same time, integrated systematically. There is only one cable visible for preventing routine cable mess. Moreover, the cooler has less power consumption, and it runs smoothly at high speeds without throttling, producing less noise. 

Besides this, the cooler is sealed with top-quality fiber, so you don’t need to worry about refilling them. The product has been tested several times by individuals and has been crowned for its top-notch performance. However, some buyers complained about the loud noise noticed at some points. The kit has fewer features but has still been appreciated because of its reasonable price tag. This all-in-one liquid cooler fulfills all the cooling requirements. So don’t hesitate has tried this great cooler.

Conclusion

We have featured almost every best cpu cooler that includes both air and liquid CPU cooler. Choices vary from person to person, and the user decides themselves which one best suits them. The best air cooler CPU with overclocking capability demands more room inside the case. So it is preferable for those who have mid-tower cases with enough airflow. 

On the other hand, liquid coolers are most brilliant and efficient, containing extra large radiators with high power consumption, but at the same time produce low noise levels. People who want silent CPU coolers can go for Noctua NH-L9. It makes low noise levels but delivers poor performance than others. Meanwhile, if you are not bound in budget and can go for expensive products, NZXT Kraken Z-3 is the perfect one to choose from available coolers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is the best CPU cooler?

Noctua NH-D15 is one of the highly efficient cpu coolers. It can easily handle all the complications that you may face in stressed conditions. Whether it is gaming or other heavy workloads, this CPU cooler keeps the temperature maintained and increases other components’ lifetime. It is silent and has an excellent thermal compound. The product has fantastic build quality and delivers top-notch performance.

Is it worth getting a CPU cooler?

Stock coolers are good but produce more noise, which can be annoying for some people. Meanwhile, if you want to overclock your system, an aftermarket CPU cooler is a must. When you overclock your system, it can run hot under overclocking conditions which can damage your processor. In this condition, we recommend you try Arctic Liquid Freezer 120. It is the Best budget liquid-cooler that can save you from damaging your system’s components.

Is liquid cooling worth it 2021?

The liquid cooling is worth it if you could spend some extra money for cooling purposes. If you keep your components’ temperatures at low levels, it would work more efficiently and extended periods. Liquid cooling has better thermal performance and quality aesthetics. But at the same time, it can be louder and costly to some. If you have decided to go for liquid cooling, we recommend you try Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML120R RGB. It has addressable RGB fans and is compatible with Intel or AMD.

How many CPU coolers do I need?

We suggest you go for cases with a minimum of three fans (or there should be extra slots for adding more) for gaming setups, CPU, and GPU fans. We recommend you go for Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML240P Mirage. It has excellent cooling performance with top-class build quality. The mesmerizing RGB effects help enhance your gaming rig.