Top 5 CPU Coolers for Your PC

Top 5 CPU Coolers for Your PC

list of cpu to help you determine the best cpu cooler for your PC
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When you’re building or upgrading a computer system, one of your primary considerations is the CPU/processor to be used in powering the system. This will depend greatly on what you’re planning on doing with the system, and what level of performance you demand. This review will help you determine the best cpu cooler for your PC.

Building a computer for home business use or personal enjoyment such as social media or surfing the web will present quite different performance requirements than high-powered gaming sessions, graphic design, or video editing applications.

On top getting a processor that will provide the performance you need, you need to consider whether you intend to overclock the processor to maximize its performance. Overclocking the processor essentially means running the processor at higher speeds than its specified rating. This means that you might run a processor rated at 3.5 GHz at a rate of 4.0 GHz, as an example.

One of the downsides of running your processor at higher speeds is that the extra performance will also result in the generation of higher temperatures. Even if your processor includes a standard fan or heat sink to keep the processor cool, overclocking can present a whole new requirement to keep high temperatures from damaging the processor, or even other components of your system.

There are many good CPU coolers available for hobbyists and professional computer builders to incorporate in their systems to avoid heat problems.

What is a CPU Cooler?

Technology applied to keep CPUs and other internal computer components are primarily compact, high-performance fans that pass enough air over the CPU to keep the temperature at acceptable levels and to prevent damage from overheating. Most computer systems also incorporate case fans that help expel heat from the computer protecting all components, including video cards and storage media such as hard drives and solid-state drives (SSDs).

Just as automotive engines need coolant to prevent damage from high internal temperatures, your computer’s processor needs the same care to keep it running efficiently and to promote long life. Many computer systems today are left with power on for many hours – even days or weeks – at a time. This also contributes to the need to dissipate the heat that builds up over time.

How We Rank Them

Best CPU cooler rankings have been gleaned from multiple sellers and technical groups including:

Reviews of technical specifications

Critiques from technical publications, non-biased reviewers, and consumers that include experienced computer system builders.

The ranking is based on several factors:

  • Performance
  • Features, including noise levels
  • Price
  • Reliability and warranty
  • Reviews – individual, technical, and retailer consolidated rankings

Types and Features of Best CPU Coolers

Many CPU coolers are affixed to CPUs or motherboards directly, even being purchased with the CPU. To enhance cooling function and especially to protect overclocked CPUs, building a system with a cooler designed to provide maximum heat reduction is beneficial for your system and components.

Although fan-based coolers with heat sinks are by far the most common CPU coolers, there is increasing attention given to water-cooled CPU coolers, as well as utilizing water-cooled systems for cooling graphics cards.

There are several key features you should consider when seeking the best CPU cooler for your application:

Noise

The last thing you want from your computer is a high-pitched whine or loud fan sound generated that becomes annoying or overwhelms the sound of music, videos, or games you’re playing.

Rating

Make sure the CPU cooler you purchase is rated appropriately for the processor you’re incorporating in the system.

Ease of installation

If you’re not skilled or experienced with the installation of water-cooled options, your best bet is to utilize a fan-based cooler or enlist help from more knowledgeable technicians. Another option for installing water coolers is purchasing an All-In-One cooler (more on that below).

 Size

Can the cooler and heatsink be integrated with the motherboard that will house your CPU, or are other accessories or mounting methods required? This will also be critical in determining whether the cooler will fit into the enclosure/case of your computer.

 Power requirements

Perhaps you’ve already purchased the power supply for your computer system. Will the CPU cooler require more power than you’ve allowed for? Coolers can vary in their power requirements, so be sure to plan accordingly when purchasing both the CPU cooler and power supply.

 Price

Finding the best CPU cooler in the world won’t help you if it blows the budget for your system. You need to find the right blend of features and price to make the right decision.

You may not be out to build the world’s most powerful gaming computer with an overclocked processor that runs rings around the rest. Still, the best CPU cooler is an important investment that will keep your system running more efficiently and will extend the life of your system and its critical components.


Quick Comparison Table: Best CPU Coolers



Full Review: Best Models Of Fan CPU Coolers


Studying suppliers and manufacturer offerings reveal a large variation in best CPU cooler styles, specifications, and prices. Some of the best options you will encounter include models from multiple manufacturers.

1. Noctua NH-D15


This best CPU cooler receives a 5-star rating from system builders.

Specifications:

  • 6 heat pipes – dual tower design
  • Dual NF-A15 140mm fans
  • Expanded heat pipe layout – widened fin stack
  • More uniform heat dissipation than prior models
  • Low noise – between 34-43 dBA depending on load
  • High quality and ease-of-use mounting system
  • High RAM compatibility in single fan mode
  • Limited 6-year parts and labor warranty

The NH-D15 facilitates automatic speed control with pulse-width modulation support (PWM) and includes a multi-socket mounting system for compatibility with both AMD and Intel architectures.

PR​​​​OS

  • installation was straight forward and super easy
  • amazing build quality 
  • top notch cooling

CON​S

  • the cooler itself is huge

What builders say

Some of the reasons for the 5-star rating are quickly understood through reading consumer reviews:

“Mega splendiferous – keeps my 8700k (all 6 cores overclocked to 5GHz) nice and cool at minimum fan speed. Yes – that’s 30 GHz of CPU throughput – on air – while the fans spin low – can’t even hear them!”

“The mounting kit was the easiest I have encountered, the cooler is massive, love the dual fans, this thing is a functional piece of art. I7-8700k is cool as a cucumber. Thermal paste included. Would recommend and buy again.”

“Awesome build quality – really good and high-end packaging – best of the industry.”

Quality

Price

Our Rating

Top Quality

$$

2. Dark Rock Pro 3


best cpu cooler featuring seven high-performance heat pipes with copper lining and aluminum caps carry heat to the optimal location on the cooling fins, maximizing heat conductance
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If you’re looking for a reliable, high-performance CPU cooler that’s whisper-quiet, this is the one. Even with overclocked CPUs, the Dark Rock Pro 3 keeps your system cool without any detectable fan noise.

Specifications

  • Includes 2 SilentWings PWM fans (120 and 135mm)
  • Optional support for an additional 120mm fan
  • 7 high-performance heat pipes
  • 6-pole vibration-reducing motor
  • 3-year warranty
  • Quiet – sound rating of 26 dBA, even at 100% speed

With its combination of performance and quiet operation, the Dark Rock Pro 3 is a great choice for high-graphic and overclocked systems.

PR​​​​OS

  • quite and delivers good performance
  • affordable price
  • very refined noise that simply sounds like more air

CON​S

  • needs improvement on technical documentation

What builders say

“For cooling, we use the Dark Rock 3, which is very quiet, delivers good performance, and also looks very nice.”

“This cooler can be an excellent choice when assembling the system with any modern processor if you want to get a high-performance system that will not even disturb you. Definitely must have!”

“Be Quiet has done it again with the Dark Rock 3. Yet another fantastic air cooler, with the well-known German quality. Superior performance with an almost on-existing noise level makes the Dark Rock 3 an obvious choice if you want to squeeze out the last MHz of your CPU, or just want a silent air cooler with a nice design.”

Quality

Price

Our Rating

Top Quality

$$

3. Noctua NH-L12S


There are many systems being built today that incorporate Mini-ITX platforms, requiring a low-profile CPU cooler due to space constraints. This cooler meets those needs with a high-performance, low-noise solution.

Specifications

  • Low-profile for Mini-ITX and compact home theater PC (HTPC) applications
  • Compact NF-A12x15 120mm PWM fan – slim 70mm height
  • Compatible with RAM up to 45mm high
  • 6-year warranty
  • Quiet – maximum noise levels 23.9 dBA

NH-L12S is a great choice where space is an issue, but performance is a necessity.

Note that the manufacturer does not recommend this model for applications where overclocking is intended and suggests special considerations for using this best CPU cooler where power will exceed 95W Thermal Design Power (TDP).

PR​​​​OS

  • quiet, effective and not very expensive
  • Professional quality and easy to install
  • high quality fan and hardware

CON​S

  • the cpu cooler is quite tall

What Builders Say

“Quality CPU Cooler at a Great Price. Professional quality with easy installation. Low profile with various mounting options.”

“Excellent. Low profile – very quiet – cross-platform mounting kit. Includes everything you need, even a screwdriver and thermal paste.”

“Super easy to set up – high-quality fan and hardware – low volume.”

Quality

Price

Our Rating

Top Quality

$$

Liquid-Based CPU Coolers

Focusing on water-cooling alternatives, there are models that stand out from the rest here, as well.

Why use water-coolers?

Just as with cooling systems utilized in most vehicles, water cooling a CPU or gaming system (GPU) involves a sophisticated collection of components that include a water reservoir, pump, fan, and tubing with fittings to make it all work properly. This can be an intimidating prospect for many computer builders.

For computer systems such as powerful gaming applications or where overclocked processors are likely to generate high heat levels, water cooling provides a more efficient method of protecting your critical components from exposure to high temperatures.

One solution to simplify incorporating liquid cooling in your system is the use of All-In-One (AIO) water coolers. These systems combine all the components of water cooling into a single piece of hardware that is pre-assembled and far easier to install.

4. NZXT Kraken X62


best cpu cooler with
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NZXT’s X62 offers an All-In-One liquid best CPU cooler. The X62 makes installing a high-performance water cooler easier and far less prone to installation problems or errors. This also provides the benefits of water cooling at a much lower cost over assembling such a system from individual components.

Specifications

  • Software with features that allow establishing custom profiles for pump and fan speeds
  • Monitoring setup for keeping track of CPU and GPU temperatures
  • Custom RGB lighting on the cooler that alerts you to overheating conditions
  • 280mm radiator
  • Easy installation
  • Optimized Aer P140 radiator fan
  • A wide variety of CPU socket support
  • Increased durability provided by reinforced tubing
  • Quiet – 21-38 dBA - hardly noticeable noise levels, even with overclocked CPUs
  • 6-year manufacturer’s warranty

Although a bit more costly than some other water-cooling options, the X62 ranks as the best in its category.

PR​​​​OS

  • solid performance
  • amazing build and quality
  • List Element

CON​S

  • a little bit pricey compared to competitors

What builders say

“Been using an X62 for about a year now. Solid performer.”

“Dead silent and high performing. RGB lighting is gorgeous.”

“Great CPU liquid cooler! Great Product! I really like the lighting options, and the cooling performance is outstanding. Keeps my CPU (Ryzen 7 1700X) at least 10-12 degrees cooler than the stock cooler I was using previously.”

Providing their CAM software to set up custom monitoring and incorporating the RGB lighting which can also be tailored to your preferences are just additional ways NZXT adds value to this high-performance cooling option.

Quality

Price

Our Rating

Top Quality

$$$

5. Corsair Hydro Series H60


best cpu cooler with low evaporation, large diameter tubing offers decreased resistance and improved flexibility
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Including AIO water-cooling technology into your system does not have to blow the budget. Corsair’s H60 provides the benefits of liquid cooling without including a hefty burden on your wallet.

This unit combines low-noise operation with efficient water cooling with precise PWM control to minimize noise while maximizing airflow.

Specifications

  • Fan speed variable from 600-1,700 RPM
  • 120mm high-density slim radiator for cooling performance over a greater surface area
  • Tool-free easy installation
  • Compatible with all AM4 and an array of LGA socket CPUs
  • Pump head with LED illumination

PR​​​​OS

  • Advanced fan design
  • cooling temperature is great
  • superb quality

CON​S

  • need additional software to adjust fan settings

What builders say

“Quiet – does a good job in my daughter’s rig.”

“A great cooler at a solid price. Corsair sells solid-liquid coolers.”

“Great little entry-level AIO cooler. I’m not a huge overclocker, but this does the trick. It worked well for a 4690K, and out of the box I was able to get it up to a 4.2 GHz overclock without any heat escaping.”

Quality

Price

Our Rating

Top Quality

$

How to Decide

Determining which best CPU cooler is right for your application will be dependent on your cooling requirements and the type of system being built. Your experience level and budget are certain considerations, especially when considering water cooling assembly or AIO solutions.

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