While assembling a gaming PC, various users go for high-performance hardware components. These components offer excellent gaming performance at the expense of heat generation. Excessive heat is not desirable for gaming PCs as it limits the performance of the system. Coolers offer the best cooling solution to combat the heat generated by gaming PCs.
PC coolers are designed to remove heat from the intended areas of the PC and then dissipate it to the surrounding area. Depending on the type of components and temperature, liquid or air coolers are used. Before we learn about these coolers, it is essential to know about some governing factors. The factors control the type of performance a cooler will deliver.
- Noise Level: A CPU cooler always has a cooling fan regardless of liquid or air cooling. The fan runs at higher operational speeds like 1600 RPMs. The speed goes beyond 2000 RPM when the PC is under heavy loads. Cooling fans thereby produce more noise than any other component. Hence, noise levels are important when selecting a CPU cooler. This level usually lies below the 40 dB limit, where it sounds like a whisper.
- Cooling Method: Depending on a gaming PC’s heat production, the cooler type is selected. The cooling method varies based on the cooling medium. The most popular cooling methods are either air cooling or liquid cooling. Air cooling uses heat sinks and cooling fans to remove heat from the system. Liquid cooling uses coolant, fans, and radiator setup to remove heat from the system.
- Compatible Sockets: Every CPU socket has a different size and configuration, affecting the mounting layout. The cooler needs to be compatible with the CPU socket to ensure its perfect placement over the CPU. Depending on the socket, the distance between mounting holes varies. Motherboards from Intel and AMD have their own sockets like LGA 1700 and AM5 sockets.
By properly understanding these factors, a user can select the best CPU cooler for their gaming PC. Due to the availability of various CPU coolers from several brands, it is natural to get confused between multiple choices. Therefore a detailed list of such CPU coolers has been compiled in this article along with their technical specifications. A “Buying Guide” is also provided to ease your selection process.
Best CPU Coolers for a Gaming PC Build Table
Best CPU Coolers for a Gaming PC Build Reviews
The first cooler comes from Corsair, a leading manufacturer of PC hardware components. It offers a range of high-performance components for gaming as well as other types of applications.
The Corsair iCUE H115i Elite Capellix Liquid CPU Cooler is tuned for high performance. This unit features a 280mm aluminum radiator, large enough to fit a pair of 140 mm cooling fans. Being a PWM unit, control over the fan speed from 400 RPM to a maximum limit of 2000 RPM is possible. The Zero RPM mode helps in lowering operational noise and creates only 36 dB of noise at extreme conditions.
The cooling fans and pump head are fitted with 33 CAPELLIX RGB LEDs which can be controlled with the Corsair iCUE commander CORE. with a wattage rating of 3600 kWh, this cooler can run on a 220 V power supply via any standard power connector. This cooler is compatible with Intel LGA 1700 and 1200 sockets and AMD AM5, AM4, and sTRX4 sockets.
- A liquid CPU cooler with a 280 mm aluminum radiator
- A pair of 140 mm cooling fans
- Adjustable speed range between 400 to 2000 RPM
- Maximum noise level of 36 dB with Zero RPM mode
- Compatible with latest Intel LGA 1700, 1200, etc sockets
- Compatible with latest AMD AM5, AM4, sTRX4, etc sockets
- Built-in 33 RGB LEDs with customization
- It is one of the most powerful coolers on the list
- It is compatible with very nearly-outdated CPU sockets
- It offers heavy customization with the RGB lights
- It is priced higher than other options on the list
Our next product comes from CoolerMaster, a leading manufacturer of thermal accessories. It offers a wide range of customizations on its product range to suit a user’s needs. These products have standard quality and assured durability.
The CoolerMaster MasterLiquid ML240L CPU Liquid Cooler is designed to deliver efficient cooling. It has a dual-chamber pump that continuously circulates the coolant in the cooler block. The heated coolant is passed to the radiator via pipes made from EPDM material. The large surface area of the 240 mm radiator allows maximum heat transfer. The pair of 120 mm cooling fans circulate air over the radiator at a speed of 1800 RPM.
It is compatible with Intel LGA 1700 and AMD AM4 CPU sockets and fits older sockets via additional mounting extensions. The cooler runs at a noise level of 15 dB without disturbing the user, even with CPUs rated for a TDP rating of 260 Watts. It supports the regular 12V DC power supply. Additional RGB lights are included to give the cooler a good look.
- A liquid CPU cooler with a 240 mm radiator
- Features a pair of 120 mm cooling fans, dual chamber pump, and a cooling pipe made up of EPDM material
- The operational noise output of 15 dB
- The maximum rotational speed of 1800 RPM
- TDP rating of 260 Watts and supports 12V DC input
- Compatible Intel sockets: LGA 1700, 1200, 1151, 1150, 1155, 1156, 1366, 2066, 2011-v3, and 2011
- Compatible AMD sockets: AM4, AM3 plus, AM3, AM2 plus, AM2, FM2 plus, FM2, and FM1
- The 3rd generation dual-chamber pump can circulate heated coolant at extreme conditions
- It is one of the most silent liquid coolers on the list
- The built-in RGB light supports a wide range of customizations
- It comes with a 2-year warranty
- Power consumption sometimes increases drastically at higher loads
ARCTIC develops and manufactures various components for PCs. It offers a wide range of thermal solutions for PC components like CPU, GPU, etc. These products include thermal pads, thermal pastes, and coolers.
The ARCTIC Liquid Freezer II 240 Liquid CPU Cooler is the most silent unit on the list. It has a noise output level of only 8.4 dB (0.3 sones), silent as if it is not running. It has a cold plate that absorbs heat from the CPU and transfers it to the aluminum radiator via EPDM cooling pipes. A pair of radiator fans and an additional fan for the pump helps in circulating fresh air. As a result, a reduction in temperature by 15 degrees Celsius is achieved.
The cooler is compatible with the latest Intel LGA 1700 and AMD AM5 sockets. It can be connected to a 12 V power supply via the 4-pin connector. All the fans are PWM units and can be set at a speed range between 200 RPM to 1800 RPM. Air is circulated at the rate of 48.8 CFPM. This unit also features RGB LEDs all over the setup to colorfully illuminate the surrounding.
- A liquid CPU cooler with pump, aluminum radiator, and a copper cold plate
- The operational noise output of 8.4 dB (0.3 sones)
- Features a 40 mm VRM fan for the pump and dual radiator fans
- PWM feature with adjustable rotational speed from 200 to 1800 RPM
- Cir circulation rate of 48.8 CFPM
- Supports 12V DC power supply via a 4-pin power connector
- Compatible Intel sockets: LGA 1700, 1200, 115X, 2011-3, and 2066
- Compatible AMD sockets: AM5 and AM4
- It offers a reduction of 15 degrees celsius temperature from the CPU surface
- It consumes over 80% less power compared to the other coolers
- To avoid leakage of coolant, it comes with good-quality cooling pipes
- It does not have a dedicated cable for RGB lights and pump
MSI offers a range of innovative products for gaming laptops and desktops. With the help of the latest technologies, it has developed high-performance products to fulfill the needs of modern users.
The MSI MAG Core Liquid 240R V2 Liquid CPU Cooler is designed for silent operations. It features a 240 mm radiator with a spit-flow design, allowing maximum heat exchange. The pair of 120 mm PWM fans circulate fresh air with adjustable speed. It can run at a maximum speed of 1800 RPM and still produce a minimal noise level of 16.7 dB. The 400 mm coolant pipes have a triple-layer construction, to avoid leakage of heated coolant.
The built-in pump helps maintain a simple design for the cooler. The cold plate of this liquid CPU cooler can turn up to 270 degrees to align with the CPU lid. It is compatible with the Intel LGA 1700 or AMD AM5 sockets and supports mounting on older sockets via extension brackets. The ARGB lights add excellent illumination with various lighting effects.
- A liquid CPU cooler featuring a 240 mm radiator with a built-in pump
- A pair of 120 mm cooling fans with built-in ARGB lights
- The maximum rotational speed of 1800 RPM
- The operational noise output of 16.7 dB
- Cold plate with 270-degree rotation feature connected with 400 mm cooling tubes
- Compatible Intel sockets: LGA 1700, 1200, 1150, 1151, 1155, 1156, 1366, 2011, 2011-3, and LGA2066
- Compatible AMD sockets: AM5, AM4, FM2+, FM2, FM1, AM3+, AM3, AM2+, and AM2
- It supports a 12 V power supply
- It is one of the silent coolers on the list
- The built-in pump design keeps the overall setup simple and easy to install
- The coolant tubes have a triple-layered construction making them less vulnerable to leakage
- Management of the cable and cooling tubes is a bit difficult
ID-COOLING specializes in manufacturing cooling solutions for gaming setups. Its range of computer hardware components is developed for all types of segments. The products are known for their reliability and aggressive price tags.
The ID-COOLING ZOOMFLOW X 240 Snow CPU Water Cooler is a budget-oriented unit. It is equipped with a 240 mm radiator which offers a large surface area for heat rejection. A pair of 120 mm fans circulate fresh air over the radiator at the rate of 62 CFPM. Being PWM units, the speed of fans can be controlled up to 2200 RPM. These fans create operational noise between 18 to 26.4 dB even at extreme loading conditions.
Both the fans and pump are fitted with customizable RGB lights. The cooler can be connected to a 5 V power supply via a standard power connector. It is easy to mount this cooler with various sockets including the new generation Intel LGA 1700 and AMD AM5. The brackets of cooling fans have a rubber lining to prevent vibration transfer to the cooler’s body.
- A liquid CPU cooler with a 240 mm radiator
- A pair of 120 mm PWM cooling fans
- Maximum airflow of 62 CFM at a speed of 2200 RPM
- The operational noise output is between 18 to 26.4 dB
- Compatible with Intel sockets: LGA 1700, 1200, 2066, 2011, 1151, 1150, 1155, and 1156
- Compatible with AMD AM5 and AM4 sockets
- Built-in RGB lights with a wired controller
- Supports 5 V power supply
- It is the most affordable liquid cooler
- Due to the rubber lining on the cooling fan’s bracket, the transfer of vibration to other components is prevented
- It offers better cooling with efficient airflow
- It has a very outdated design, compared to the other coolers
Thermaltake develops various types of computer hardware components. It also offers a variety of cooling solutions for the modern gaming PC setup. Its high-quality products assure the user of long-term durability.
Sasta air cooler
The Thermaltake UX200 SE Air CPU Cooler is developed for high-performance CPUs. With a TDP rating of 170 Watts, it can handle the extreme temperatures of CPUs. This unit features an integrated fan and heatsink design. The 9-blade fan circulates large volumes of air over the aluminum heatsink. This unit works on a 5V power supply and can be directly connected to the motherboard.
Even at a speed of 1800 RPM, this unit produces only 25 dB of noise. To allow maximum heat removal, over 4 u-shaped copper heat pipes of 6 mm in length are in continuous contact with the CPU surface. The built-in 15 ARGB LEDs illuminate the surroundings in 16.8 million colors. It is compatible with Intel LGA 1700 and AMD AM5 series sockets.
- Air CPU cooler with a TDP rating of 170 Watts
- A 9-blade cooling fan connected with an aluminum heatsink
- The maximum rotational speed of 1800 RPM
- A total of 4 u-shaped copper heat pipes of 6 mm in length
- The operational noise output of 25 dB
- 15 ARGB LEDs with 16.8 million color output
- Compatible with Intel sockets: LGA 1700, 1200, 1156, 1155, 1151, 1150, and 775
- Compatible with AMD sockets: AM5, AM4, FM2, FM1, AM3 plus, AM3, AM2 plus, and AM2
- It is the most affordable cooler on the list
- Installation of the cooler is very easy
- It comes with a hydraulic bearing for silent operation and a seal cap to prevent leakage of lubricants
- The cooling fan’s design makes it difficult to clean
We have another product from ID-Cooling in the air coolers segment. This product has all the qualities of its brand and assures a good performance similar to its liquid-cooling sibling.
The ID-COOLING SE-914-XT ARGB Air CPU Cooler offers better cooling. This unit features 4 heat pipes connected to the heat sink for efficient heat transfer. The 92 mm PWM fan circulates air over the heatsink at a controlled speed between 600 to 2200 RPM. It produces an airflow of 45.8 CFM, to ensure faster removal of heat from the heatsink. With a height of 131 mm, it does not obstruct other components.
This unit can function at higher speeds and still create noise levels of 30 dB. With the help of a 3-pin power connector, this cooler can be connected to a 5 V power supply. It also features multi-color ARGB lights to illuminate the setup with several colors. It is compatible with various Intel and AMD sockets including LGA 1700 and AMD A5.
- Air CPU cooler with 4 heat pipes
- A 92mm PWM fan with adjustable speed between 600 to 2200 RPM
- Maximum airflow of 45.8 CFM
- The operational noise output of 30 dB
- Compatible with 5 V power supply via 3-pin connecter
- Compatible with Intel LGA 1700 and AMD AM5 sockets
- Built-in ARGB lights with customizable colors
- It has a compact size which does not interfere with other components
- The design of this cooler looks futuristic with RGB lights
- It offers better cooling with efficient airflow
- It is not suitable for overclocked CPUs
DeepCool is one of the well-known developers of thermal solutions for modern PCs. It offers the user a wide range of high-performance components, specially designed for the efficient cooling of modern gaming systems.
The DeepCool GAMMAXX GT CPU Air Cooler is a compact unit. With a TDP rating of 180 Watts, this cooler can handle extreme heating conditions. With 4 copper heat pipes, continuous contact with the CPU surface is achieved. Equipped with a 120 mm PWM fan, its rotational speed can be controlled up to 1500 RPM. Air flows at a rate of 56.5 CFM to ensure faster removal of heat from the aluminum heatsink.
This unit creates an operational noise of 27 dB even at extreme settings. The cooler is connected to a 12 V DC supply via a 4-pin connector. The RGB lights can be controlled with software to brighten up the cooler with various effects. It is compatible with several sockets including the Intel LGA 1700 and AMD AM5 sockets.
- Air CPU cooler with a TDP rating of 180 Watts
- 4 copper heat pipes each 6 mm long
- A 120 mm PWM fan with adjustable speed up to 1500 RPM
- Maximum airflow at the rate of 56.5 CFM
- The operational noise output of 27 dB
- Customizable RGB light with software support
- Supports 12 V DC power supply via a 4-pin connector
- Compatible with Intel sockets: LGA 1700/1200/1151/1150/1155
- Compatible with AMD AM5 and AM4 sockets
- It is compatible with ATX/M-ATX PC cases, making it simple to install in tight space conditions
- It offers better cooling performance
- The body design looks refreshing under RGB lights illumination
- It is the most expensive air CPU cooler
Thermalright has been constantly updating its range of cooling solutions to deliver efficient products. By giving priority to premium materials, it delivers a reliable, durable, and performance-oriented product to the user.
The Thermalright BA120 CPU Air Cooler performs on par with the liquid coolers. This unit features an aluminum heatsink connected to 6 copper heat pipes. This heatsink is cooled with the help of a 120 mm PWM cooling fan. With a maximum speed of 1550 RPM, the fan creates an airflow of 66.17 CFM. It creates only 25.6 dB of noise even when running at maximum speed. The TDP rating of 245 W makes it compatible with extreme gaming sessions.
This cooler also features a durable S-FDB bearing which has an industrial service life of 25,000 hours. To ensure safety against electrical hazards, it uses UL-class PBT and PC materials. With a height of 154 mm, this cooler fits any medium size computer case. It is compatible with various AMD and Intel CPU sockets including the latest AMD AM4 and Intel LGA 1700. A 4-pin connector connects the cooler with a 12 V supply.
- CPU air cooler with a TDP rating of 245 W
- Features aluminum heatsink with 6×6 mm copper heat tubes
- A 120 mm PWM fan with adjustable speed
- The airflow rate of 66.17 CFM at a maximum speed of 1500 RPM
- The operational noise output of 25.6 dB
- UL-listed PBT and PC materials for safety
- Supports 12 V power supply via 4-pin connector
- Maximum height of 154 mm
- Compatible with AMD A4 socket
- Compatible with Intel sockets: LGA 1700/17XX/1200/115X
- With 20,000 hours of service life, the S-FDB bearing ensures the durable operation of the cooler
- It easily fits into medium-sized computer cases
- It is the most powerful air CPU cooler on the list
- It is not compatible with the latest AMD AM5 socket
Buying Guide For Best CPU Coolers to Buy for a Gaming PC Build
By selecting the right cooling unit for your gaming PC, you can enjoy uninterrupted gaming sessions. With the help of the list of best CPU coolers, you can narrow down the ideal option for your gaming PC. Before you can finalize the option, it becomes crucial to understand some parameters related to the CPU coolers. This buying guide will walk you through several factors that control the quality and performance of a CPU cooler.
1. Noise Level
Irrespective of the cooling method, every CPU cooler uses single or multiple setups of cooling fans. Due to their higher rotational speeds, fans contribute to the overall noise of a PC. The acoustic aspect of a cooler is given importance since many users expect a silent environment. Hence the noise levels in extreme conditions matters. The fans are designed in a way to produce more airflow without increasing the noise level. The noise level of most CPU coolers lies below 30 dB for regular operation and 40 dB for extreme conditions. Liquid coolers are more silent than air coolers due to the presence of a radiator.
2. Cooling Method
Depending on the heat dissipation requirement, CPU coolers are normally divided into two types: air coolers and liquid coolers. Both work on the same principle of heat exchange from the heated surface but have different setups. The air cooling units are used for systems working under moderate temperatures. It consists of a setup where a heat sink dissipates heat away from the CPU by using metal fins. For extreme temperatures, liquid cooling uses a closed coolant and base plate system. The CPU lid heats the base plate which further heats the coolant. A pump sends the coolant to the radiator for the heat exchange process. Both systems use cooling fans to reduce cooling time.
3. Compatible Sockets
Every generation or series of CPUs comes with different configurations and layouts. The motherboards are designed to fit specific CPU sockets, leading to the difference in the mounting holes. This might become a problem while installing an older CPU cooler with the latest generation of CPU sockets. Misaligned mounting is not desirable as it leads to uneven heat exchange, affecting the cooler’s cooling performance. Hence, the compatibility of the cooler with the CPU socket is checked. The Intel LGA 1700/1200 and AMD AM5/AM4 are recent generations of sockets with different sizes. Few brands also provide mounting brackets with coolers to make them compatible with previous-generation sockets.
4. Power Connector Type And Voltage
The CPU coolers need a stable power supply to carry out the cooling process efficiently. A set amount of power is supplied to a CPU cooler with the help of power connectors. These connectors are available in different types, depending on the design of the pins. The most commonly used connectors are the 3-pin or the 4-pin version. These connectors can be connected to the motherboard or directly to the PSU of the gaming PC. Similarly, the power supply is set to a fixed voltage range to ensure the effective running of the cooler. The current generations of CPU coolers work on a 12 V power supply while older models need a lower voltage.
Material selection is a crucial factor in any type of cooler. Due to the need for heat exchange, the materials need to be good conductors of heat. Therefore, copper is used for the base plate which is in contact with the CPU lid. Due to its toughness, aluminum is used for radiators or heat sinks. In liquid cooling, the cooling pipes have to carry heated coolant to the radiators. To avoid leakage under high pressures, these pipes are made up of flexible materials like rubber with multi-layered construction. Cooling fans are available in steel, plastic, or even composite material options.
The rotational speed of cooling fans is an essential parameter in both air and liquid coolers. Measured in rotations per minute (RPM), the speed affects the rate of airflow over the radiator or heat sink. To ensure proper heat exchange, the cooling fans run at an average speed between 1000 to 2000 RPMs. At extreme conditions, few fans can run at 3000 RPM or above. Due to the absence of coolant in air coolers, they are set to work at higher speeds compared to liquid coolers. By adopting large-diameter fans, better airflow with minimum rotational speed can be achieved. Similarly, multiple fan setup allows better cooling by reducing the need for higher rotational speeds.
Being an electrical device, a warranty is equally important for the CPU coolers as any other factor. When used on gaming PCs CPU coolers undergo extreme conditions sometimes on a regular basis. The warranty assures the user of safety against accidental or operational damages to the CPU cooler. The warranty also instills confidence in the user about the brand’s quality and durability standards. Various brands offer a minimum 1-year warranty on their coolers. With the help of extended warranties, users can avail of warranty periods from 2 to 6 years. It is advised to check the types of damages and replacements covered in the warranty period.
Best CPU Coolers FAQs
Ans: The best CPU cooler for your gaming PC depends on various factors. If you want a cooling system with a limited budget and lower maintenance, air coolers are an ideal choice. Liquid cooling is the right choice if your gaming PC runs at extreme settings and prices at high temperatures. Air CPU coolers have a simple design and easy installation, while liquid CPU coolers have more components and a complex installation process.
Ans: Air coolers are a good choice for gaming PCs where CPU overclocking is not done. The current generation of air CPU coolers can handle the operational temperature of high-end gaming setups. Due to the overclocking process, high heat is generated as the CPU works at its limit. Users can also opt for air CPU coolers with multiple fan setups, for efficient cooling.
Ans: Yes, as liquid CPU coolers have various parts working together in a closed-loop layout. The coolant is circulated through the base plate, cooling tube, radiator, and pump. The coolant needs to be checked at a set interval to prevent evaporation or accumulation of impurities. The cooling fan and radiator are cleaned to keep them efficient for the heat exchange process. Various seals also need inspection over time to prevent leakage of coolant via worn-out seals.
Ans: The Thermalright BA120 is the most powerful air CPU cooler. It can handle gaming systems with a TDP rating of 245 W. To allow faster cooling of the CPU, it circulates at the rate of 66.17 CFM. At extreme conditions, this cooler runs at 1500 RPM speed and produces only 25.6 dB of noise. Hence, this unit is a powerful yet silent air cooler for CPUs.
Ans: Both types of coolers can have a longer lifespan. The longevity of both air and liquid coolers depends on various factors. By using high-quality materials, the cooler easily works for years without wearing components. To increase durability, periodic maintenance is also needed on the coolers. For liquid coolers, the coolant needs to be supervised against impurities. The CPU coolers must be used within their allowable temperature limit.
With the help of CPU coolers, gaming PCs can run at extreme settings without worrying about CPU overheating. Both air and liquid coolers are designed to quickly remove heat from the gaming PC. Depending on the gaming PC’s specifications, one can choose an air or liquid CPU cooler. This article has already compiled a detailed list of the best CPU coolers. The buying guide and FAQ section further help in understanding the importance of a few governing factors. By considering this discussion, we have chosen our favorite coolers from the list.
- If you want a high-performance liquid CPU cooler, the Corsair CPU Cooler is ideal. It is equipped with a 280mm aluminum radiator and a pair of 140 mm cooling fans. With a maximum speed of 2000 RPM, it produces 36 dB of noise thanks to the zero RPM mode. It has 33 RGB LEDs which can be managed using the Corsair iCUE commander CORE. The cooler has a wattage rating of 3600 kWh and can run on a 220 V power supply using any standard power connector. It is compatible with Intel LGA 1700 and 1200 sockets as well as AMD AM5, AM4, and sTRX4 sockets.
- If you want an air CPU cooler with the best performance, the Thermalright CPU Cooler is ideal. It features an aluminum heatsink connected to 6 copper heat pipes cooled by a 120 mm PWM cooling fan. The fan generates an airflow of 66.17 CFM at a maximum speed of 1550 RPM. It produces only 25.6 dB of noise even under extreme situations. With a TDP rating of 245 W, it is suitable for extreme gaming sessions. It also features durable bearings and UL-listed materials for added durability and safety. It is compatible with various AMD and Intel CPU sockets, including the latest AMD AM4 and Intel LGA 1700.
- When the budget is limited, the Thermaltake CPU Cooler makes sure to cool things down. With a TDP rating of 170 Watts, it can handle extreme temperatures. It features a 9-blade fan and an aluminum heatsink for heat removal. Operating on a 5V power supply, it is directly connected to the motherboard. Despite reaching a speed of 1800 RPM, this cooler produces only 25 dB of noise. It has over 4 u-shaped copper heat pipes continuously removing heat from the CPU surface. This ARGB-fitted cooler is compatible with Intel LGA 1700 and AMD AM5 series sockets.