AMD and Intel have been locked in a fierce rivalry for the past few years, and both of these companies have released incredibly powerful and great-value chips. However, that power comes at a cost: high-temperature output.
We imagine that the thermals of AMD’s Ryzen 6000 series and Intel’s 12th Gen are going to be even more challenging to deal with.
This is why it is important to have a suitable CPU cooler that can handle and dissipate heat properly.
With so many cooling options on the market, it can be difficult to figure out which cooler is the best for your rig. To ensure that you make an informed choice, we created this guide to provide you with a list of the best CPU coolers available.
- December 21, 2022: Replaced Kraken Z63 with Kraken Z73 and Be Quiet! Pro Rock 4 with Scythe Fuma 2.
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Noctua NH-D15 – Best Air Cooler
• Dimensions (with fans): L: 150 mm, W: 165 mm, H: 161 mm
• Fans: 2 x NF-A15 140 mm
• Max noise level: 24,6 dBA
• 6-year warranty
- Rated for over 150,000 hours of running time
- Comes with some of the best fans on the market
- Awful beige/brown fan color
- No option for a different color except Chromax edition which is considerably more expensive
Noctua is prominent in the PC enthusiast world, and with good reason. This company has been releasing some of the best CPU air coolers for years. If Noctua doesn’t sound familiar, you must have at least seen their signature brown/beige-colored fans.
They might look unsightly to many people, but considering their dominant performance, it’s easy to ignore their appearance. And, if the color is too much of a problem, the slightly more expensive “Chromax Black” variants are always available.
The NH-D15 rocks two of these “mocha” colored fans, and it is considered the best air cooler on the market. Priced at around $120, it is a great option even if you prefer liquid cooling. Getting a good AIO is going to cost you at least several dozen dollars more.
So, what makes the NH-D15 so good? That’s an easy question to answer.
It is valued accordingly, is incredibly quiet, keeps any CPU cool, and comes with some of the best 140mm fans available. It’s also compatible with a dozen different platforms/sockets. Whether you have LGA 1150 or AM4, this cooler will fit on your motherboard.
The only downside of this CPU cooler is its size. It is pretty wide and tall, which might be a problem for certain PC cases, so make sure to check your case’s clearance before you buy it.
If it is too large, you can always consider getting the NH-D15S, a more widely compatible variant of the NH-D15.
Arctic Liquid Freezer II 240 – Best Dual-Fan AIO
• Radiator dimensions: L: 277 mm, W: 78 mm, H: 38 mm
• Fans: 2 x P12 120mm PWM
• Max noise level: 22,5
- Pump fan for additional VRM cooling
- Best price to performance ratio on the market
- Overwhelmingly positive ratings
- No significant disadvantages.
Arctic is definitely not as popular as NZXT, Corsair, Deepcool, Noctua, and others, but they are still ranked as one of the best AIO providers. Tech enthusiasts that prefer AIOs know them very well.
Whether it is Arctic’s Liquid Freezer II 240 mm or the 120 mm version, you won’t have to worry about performance because it will definitely deliver. Of course, the 240mm will always outperform the smaller radiator.
With thousands of positive ratings on Amazon and dozens of reviews touting the incredible performance of the Liquid Freezer II, we are confident that it deserves a spot on this list of best CPU coolers, especially with a $100 price tag.
Gamers Nexus, one of the favorites among the PC-building community, has had a lot of good things to say about this AIO. Considering how extensive and in-depth their testing is, that means a lot.
NOTE: Certain Liquid Freezer II sold between May 2021 and March 2022 are affected by a bad gasket, which can be resolved with Arctic’s free self-service kit.
Corsair H115i RGB Platinum – Dual-Fan AIO Alternative
• Radiator dimensions: L:322 mm, W: 137 mm, H: 27 mm
• Fans: 2 x ML RGB PRO 140mm
• Noise levels: 10 – 36 dBA
• 5-year warranty
- Great RGB lighting
- Better alternatives at $170 MSRP
Corsair, like Noctua, has been a major player in the CPU liquid cooling market for years now. In fact, it was one of the first companies in the world to produce AIOs. AIO is an abbreviation for All-In-One cooling solution.
Those years of experience with AIOs are a major reason why Corsair dominates the market with their H115i, specifically the H115i RGB Platinum. It is not their flagship model, but considering its price, it is absolutely a great value cooler.
The 280 mm radiator with its included RGB fans and the RGB pump makes for a great-looking AIO. It will fit great in your case, that’s for sure.
Of course, performance should be the most important factor when choosing a cooler, and the H115i delivers in that aspect too. Looking at this review, we can see that this AIO performs quite well compared to some other liquid cooling alternatives. It might not be the best of the bunch, but it is certainly up there.
Scythe Fuma 2 – Best Value Air Cooler
• Dimensions: L:137 mm, W:131 mm, H:154.5 mm
• Fans: 2 x Kaze Flex 120 Slim PWM – 1200 RPM
• Noise level – 4.0 ~ 24,9 dBA
- Best air cooling for its price
- Admirable design
- No obvious downsides
It isn’t always about getting the best of the best in the PC market, wasting hundreds of dollars on negligible performance improvements. In fact, most of the time, people are looking for the best value.
Well, the Scythe Fuma 2 is not only a budget option but also offers high-end thermal performance. It might not look as flashy as NZXT’s Kraken Z73 or Corsair’s H115i , but it can still aesthetically fit in most cases.
With a $60 MSRP, the Scythe Fuma 2 offers performance comparable to or even better than the $100 NH-D15.
Scythe Fuma 2 is very positively rated on Amazon and frequently recommended throughout enthusiast forums, so you can’t go wrong with this CPU cooler!
Kraken Z73 – Best Triple-Fan AIO
• Radiator dimensions: L:394 mm, W:121 mm, H:27 mm
• Fans: 3 x Aer P 120 mm
• Noise levels: 21 – 36 dBA
• 6-year warranty
- Easily best design
- RGB and LED display on the pump
- Undoubtedly one of the best CPU/AIO cooler
- Over 17,500 5-star ratings on Amazon
- CAM software is useful but can often be unusable/buggy
NZXT offers some of the most popular picks for AIO out there, and the Kraken Z73 is definitely one of the favorites for a couple of reasons.
First, we’ll start with the Z73’s strongest point, its design. NZXT has always had a minimalist style, and we can see that in the Z73 too.
Even though it is entirely black and pretty simplistic in design, it has an LED display on the pump, which adds just a bit more flair to this AIO. Overall, the Z73 looks and feels high-quality.
However, this quality feel comes at a cost. And that cost is a $285 price tag. And if you want RGB fans, you’ll have to pay $20 extra. This is pretty aggressive pricing, so why do PC enthusiasts still give in to NZXT’s AIOs?
Well, NZXT has a pretty good track record when it comes to AIOs, so PC enthusiasts can trust that the cooler won’t fail after a few years. To make users feel even safer, the Z73 has a 6 year warranty.
Thermal performance is also one of the strongest points with NZXT AIOs, so, naturally, the Z73 offers some of the best cooling out there.
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Which CPU Cooler Should You Get?
With so many good options to choose from, which CPU cooler should you get?
Well, if you don’t care as much about aesthetics, the Arctic Liquid Freezer II is the Best Overall liquid cooler on the market. However, we understand that many people do not want to go with liquid cooling, so we suggest the Noctua NH-D15 as an alternative to the Liquid Freezer II.
Our Premium Pick goes to NZXT’s Kraken Z53. This cooler is expensive, but it looks absolutely incredible with its LED display on the pump and infinite mirror RGB.
Naturally, the two remaining coolers are also great options. The Pure Rock 2 is great for those on a budget and with mid-range CPUs. The H115i RGB Platinum would also fit great in any PC and provide solid thermal results.