We rated, reviewed, & compared 13 of the best CPU coolers on the market. The guide is broken down into two sections: the best air-based CPU coolers & the best closed-loop liquid coolers.
If you don’t plan on overclocking and you don’t mind the look of a stock CPU cooler, it is not absolutely necessary to go out and get an aftermarket CPU cooler. However, CPU coolers really aren’t that expensive (especially if you go with an air CPU cooler) and they can give you better cooling and help put the finishing touches on a nice-looking build.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at the best CPU coolers for gaming for 2020 and beyond. We have looked at six different air coolers and six different closed-loop liquid coolers.
For liquid coolers, the absolute best-case scenario for extreme builders is a custom loop liquid cooling setup. However, these aren’t as simple and straightforward as the closed-loop options currently available and are really only items that people looking to do some extreme overclocking, or people who really want to build something aesthetically superior should look into.
And, for the most part, air coolers compete fairly similar to closed-loop liquid coolers, despite costing less. Although, if you’re going for a really clean look, perhaps nothing can accomplish that more than a closed-loop liquid cooler.
Ultimately, if you aren’t planning on going with a custom liquid cooling setup, but you want something a little more than the cheap stock fan that your CPU will come with, this guide will help you make the best choice for your needs.
Our Top Picks for the Best CPU Coolers
The table below represents our top choices for the best CPU coolers across various use cases and price points. We’ve chosen our pick for the best air CPU cooler, the best AIO cooler, the best all-around value option, and the best budget cooler.
NZXT Kraken X72
EVGA CLC 280
ARCTIC 33 eSports
*To read more about our picks for the best CPU coolers listed above, just click the “Read Review »” button to hop to our overview on that cooler. You can also keep scrolling to find more air and AIO options.
FAQ: Questions to Ask Before You Choose A CPU Cooler
If you’re in the market for a new CPU cooler and you’re unsure of what you should be looking for, in this section, we’ve highlighted a handful of the most commonly asked questions about CPU coolers. So, whether you want to know what a CPU cooler does, or you’re debating between whether you should get an air cooler or a liquid cooler, the questions below will point you in the right direction.
1. What Does A CPU Cooler Do?
So, CPU coolers serve the role of removing heat from your processor so that your processor can keep functioning properly.
There are two types of CPU coolers: air CPU coolers and liquid CPU coolers.
Air CPU coolers draw heat away from your processor with the help of a large heatsink and a fan (or two). Liquid CPU coolers draw heat away from your processor with liquid, a radiator, and one or more fans.
2. How Do I Choose A CPU Cooler?
- Compatibility with your other components
- Your budget
- Your aesthetic demands
There are a variety of compatibility issues that you need to be aware of when you are choosing a CPU cooler. The first one is whether or a not a specific cooler is compatible with your other components. Certain CPU coolers are designed to only work with a specific set of CPU sockets. Nowadays, most CPU coolers come with different brackets that make it compatible with most modern CPU sockets. However, you shouldn’t just assume that a CPU cooler will work with your motherboard socket.
Clearance issues can also be a concern for some air coolers that have a larger heatsink. We’ve discussed those potential issues in the section below.
The other thing to consider is how much you have to spend. Whether you’re upgrading the cooler on an older system or you’re building a brand new PC, your budget will determine what kind of CPU cooler you can get. For most, the stock cooler that comes with the processor (although, some processors do not come with a stock cooler) is decent enough for casual use.
However, if you want to get better thermals on your CPU, an upgraded third party cooler is worth considering. If you have between $20-$50 to spend, you will be limited to a third party air cooler. If you have more than $50 to spend, you can opt for either a higher-end air cooler or a liquid cooler.
And, while a higher-end air cooler will outperform most similarly-priced 120mm or 140mm AIO coolers, aesthetics will also play a role in what CPU cooler type will work best for you. Some people like the cleaner look that a 120mm AIO cooler offers, while other prefer the looks of a nice-looking air cooler.
3. Will Any CPU Cooler Fit in My Computer?
Larger liquid cooling radiators won’t fit in every case either. So, before you drop ~$150 on a 360mm AIO cooler, you need to make sure that the case you’ve chosen can accommodate a 360mm radiator.
Some bulkier air coolers might also conflict with memory kits that have tall heat spreaders. So, if you’re going to buy a bulky air cooler, it would be a good idea to choose some lower-profile memory to ensure that no conflicts exist.
4. Is Water Cooling Better Than Air Cooling?
If you don’t have a lot of money to spend on a CPU cooler, you’ll probably be limited to a budget-friendly air cooler.
If you have a larger budget, you can opt for either a higher-end air cooler or a liquid cooler.
If you have clearance restraints because you’re building a mini gaming PC, you’ll probably be limited a low-profile air cooler or a smaller AIO cooler.
If you want to go extreme with your setup, you might want to consider putting together your own custom liquid cooling loop.
If you’re still on the fence on whether or not liquid cooling or air cooling would be better for you, check out our guide Liquid Cooling vs. Air Cooling: Which Style CPU Cooler is Right for You?
The Best Air CPU Coolers
Air CPU coolers are, on average, less expensive than closed-loop liquid coolers. And, for some of the more high-end air coolers out there, they are even able to perform on par with the top closed-loop liquid coolers on the market.
But air CPU heatsinks are much bigger and bulkier and don’t quite offer that clean look that closed-loop liquid coolers do.
So, if you are looking for something that can keep your system cool, give you good temperatures, and won’t cost you as much as a closed-loop system, and you don’t mind having a bulky air cooler take up a ton of space on the inside of your computer case (for aesthetic purposes), then an air cooler will be your best bet.
What follows is a list of six of the best CPU heatsinks currently on the market.
Comparison of the Top Air CPU Coolers
Read Review »
Featuring an asymmetrical heat sink design for maximum compatibility, the Noctua NH-D15 uses special rubber mounting brackets on both the fans and the heat pipes to minimize vibrations and keep the noise low, making it the best quiet CPU cooler available. It uses dual radiators and 6 heat pipes to provide extra cooling and supports up to 3 fans.
|DIMENSIONS||6.5″ x 5.9″ x 6.3″|
|SOUND||19.2 dB-A max|
Noctua NH-D15 Overview
High-quality components, excellent cooling, and brilliant noise control. The Noctua-DH15 is one of the few air coolers that can actually match up to the cooling power of a closed-loop liquid cooler, and it does so without punching a hole in your wallet.
The heat sink is asymmetrically designed, so unlike the Phantek cooler, you don’t have to worry about the fans hitting your RAM sticks. The heat sink is split into two sections, hence it is called a “C-tower” heat sink, and draws heat from the CPU with the help of six 8-mm pipes.
There are two fans included with this unit, with the option to attach a third fan.
Setting up and installing the cooler is incredibly simple as it will easily fit on any AMD socket, and accepts all Intel sockets released after 2011, including the LGA 2011. The cooling is provided by 2 Noctua NF-A15 140 mm fans, installed in a standard 2 fan push-pull configuration.
These fans come with automatic speed control and don’t rev up until your CPU needs the extra speed, thus keeping system noise to a minimum unless you are gaming, in which case these fans unleash their full potential and spin at 1500 rpm to send 140 cubic feet of air flying out per minute. And all of this happens while keeping the sound levels under 24.6 dB-A. And if you install the low noise attachment (included), the noise levels go further downwards to just 19.2 dB-A.
If you are overclocking, makes sure that it is an LGA 2011 or 115x series CPU in the case of Intel, and an FM-series socket based CPU in the case of AMD. This cooler can comfortably handle the highest overclocking levels as long as the CPU’s base TDP is 140 W or lower.
It measures 165 x 150 x 161 mm in height, width, and depth respectively. There is an impressive 6-year limited warranty on this cooling unit.
Read Review »
The MasterAir Maker 8 is highly customizable and can accept fans of multiple sizes thanks to a dedicated fan mounting bracket. There are a total of 8 heat pipes and two giant 140 mm fans that work on the aluminum radiator to dissipate up to 240 W of TDP from your CPU.
|DIMENSIONS||6.8″ x 5.7″ x 5.3″|
|SOUND||24 dB-A max|
MasterAir Maker Overview
Designed exclusively for gamers and overclocking enthusiasts, the MasterAir Maker 8 uses a unique design principle that separates it from the rest of the air coolers in the market. It does not use a heat plate to collect the heat from the CPU into its heat pipes.
Instead, it uses a special ultra-thin vapor chamber, similar to the ones used in high-end aftermarket graphics cards for cooling. When the heat from the CPU passes into the vapor chamber, it vaporizes the liquid coolant and sends it floating up through the 4 massive copper heat pipes.
From these 4 heat pipes, the heat gets evenly distributed into the heat sink with the help of another 4 U-shaped heat pipes.
As a result, the Cooler Master MasterAir Maker 8 manages to comfortably handle up to 240 W of TDP, which is more than you can expect from any air operated CPU cooler on this planet.
There are two 140 mm fans mounted in a push-pull configuration to flush out all that heat, and they barely generate any noise, since the sound levels for the entire unit looms between 8-24 dB-A. The fans are mounted on loop dynamic bearings and are self-lubricating with built-in anti-clog systems to increase operational life up to 160,000 hours- 4 times the life of a conventional air-based CPU cooler.
Obviously, it is more than equipped to handle the highest overclocks on both Intel as well AMD processors. LGA 2011, FX 8000, FX 9000- this beast can deal with all of them, and the Intel CPU’s don’t even get close to 60°C under load.
Power is supplied via a 4-pin 12 V connector and this unit draws a maximum of 1.8 W under full load, at which time the fans hit 1800 rpm, and pump out air at 66 CFM. The cooler along with the fans and heatsink measures 172 x 145 x 135 mm in height, width, and length respectively.
Read Review »
It keeps the CPU ice cool even under the heaviest loads and stays extremely silent at all times. The five 8-mm heat pipes are linearly aligned to ensure minimum air and thermal resistance, allowing for extra efficient and powerful heat dissipation. Even though there are two fans running in a push-pull configuration, this unit still sounds quieter than a single-fan air cooler.
|DIMENSIONS||6.3″ x 5.5″ x 5.3″|
|SOUND||38 dB-A max|
PHANTEKS PH-TC14PE Overview
The Phanteks CPU Cooler is built to keep gaming system CPU’s cool and maintain a low noise level at the same time. It features a unique patented PATS (Physical Antioxidant Thermal Spraying) heat plate that acts like a virtual vapor chamber, and efficiently transfers all the heat from the CPU to the five 8-mm heat pipes.
It also uses a special metal deposit at the base to transfer heat onto the copper joints more quickly, thus reducing the amount of time it takes to decrease the CPU temperatures.
The radiator is a C-tower type and holds two fans in a push-pull configuration for maximum efficiency. Each fan has a maximum airflow rating of more than 75 CFM, and measures 140 mm in diameter.
The bearings are designed to be extra durable and frictionless, which means the fan can spin faster with less power and also lasts longer. The premium quality PH-F140 fans on this Phantek cooler carry 9 curved blades that are optimized to scoop air away from the radiator while making as little noise as possible.
For all the gamers out there looking to overclock their CPU’s, this is one of the best CPU coolers for the job. It can keep an Intel Core i7 cool and below 60°C even while running the latest AAA titles.
The Phantek CPU Cooler can be mounted on any modern CPU socket, such as the AM and FM series for AMD, and the LGA 2011, 1155, 1151, 1150, and 1156 platforms for Intel. It is a tad bit large though, and on mid-tower cases, you might want to adjust the position of the front fan before attaching this cooler onto the socket, else you will end up hitting the RAM modules. Low profile RAM modules will do fine, as long as they are less than 30 mm in height.
This cooler measures 134 x 140 x 160 mm in length, width, and height respectively. The complete unit with heat sink and fans weighs about 2.5 lbs, so it is a bit on the heavier side. It also carries an exceptional 5-year standard warranty on manufacturing defects.
|ARCTIC Freezer 33 eSports||/10|
Read Review »
If you’re looking for a really quiet dual fan air CPU cooler and you have plenty of space in your case, the ARCTIC Freezer 33 eSports edition air cooler is a great all-around option. And, with its all-black design (and multiple accent colors to choose between), it is also one of the better-looking air coolers out there, too.
|DIMENSIONS||4.8″ x 4.0″ x 5.9″|
|SOUND||14.0 dB-A max|
ARCTIC Freezer 33 eSports
The ARCTIC Freezer 33 eSports is our choice for the best value air CPU cooler currently on the market. For just under $50 you get an insanely quiet air CPU cooler that comes with dual 120mm fans that can operate in a range of 200 to 1,800 RPM.
The design of the ARCTIC Freezer 33 eSports is also worth noting as not all air coolers are as nice-looking as this bad boy is. The heatsink itself is all black and the fans are also all-black, but come with either white, yellow, green, or red accents.
At 4.8″ x 4.0″ x 5.9″, this air cooler is a bit on the bulky side. However, it is compatible with most RAM heatsinks and in most mid-tower or larger cases.
ARCTIC also offers an insane 10-year warranty on the Freezer 33 eSports cooler. While air coolers do typically last a long time, most companies don’t back their products with that long of a warranty. As an example of that, the next highest warranty on this list is 6-years (the Noctua NH-D15).
Overall, if you’re looking for a really good value air CPU cooler that looks nice, performs well, and is backed by an incredibly long warranty, then the ARCTIC Freezer 33 eSports edition cooler is the option for you.
|Be Quiet! Shadow Rock||/10|
Read Review »
The Shadow Rock Slim has a unique slim profile that lets you fit it into most compact motherboards without blocking any RAM slots and its nickel-plated copper base plate does a great job at transferring heat to the four 6 mm copper heat pipes.
|DIMENSIONS||6.3″ x 5.4″ x 2.9″|
|SOUND||23.7 dB-A max|
Noctua NH-D15 Overview
Be Quiet! loves to manufacture ultra-silent cooling fans, and they provide one of the best sub-$50 air cooling units with the Shadow Rock Slim.
It is great at doing two things- dissipating heat silently, and maintaining a low profile. This CPU cooler is fully capable of handling an overclocked Intel CPU, even the notorious Haswell series. In fact, this cooler can keep an unlocked Haswell i7 processor running under 40 degrees, even at a 4.5 GHz clock speed.
Those performance figures are mainly due to the 160 W TDP cooling capacity of this unit. Unfortunately, you cannot expect it to perform the same with an overclocked FX-8000 or 9000 series CPU from AMD, because they tend to have a base TDP of around 130 W, which can easily hit 190-200 with overclocking.
Nevertheless, this is an excellent CPU cooler for keeping your gaming system or workstation running quietly regardless of whether you choose to overclock or not. The fans are bigger than the ones on the Cooler Master 212 Evo, at 135 mm. Yet they manage to run quieter than the Evo, with a peak sound level of just 23.7 dB-A, which is much lower than the 36 dB-A of the Evo. Since the Evo itself is renowned to be super silent, you can imagine how quiet the Shadow Rock Slim truly is.
Keeping your CPU cool with its nickel-plated copper heat plate, the Shadow Rock transfers heat via the four 6 mm heat pipes. Once the heat reaches its aluminum radiator, it is thrown away from the system by a 9-blade fan which spins on extra durable rifle-bearings.
The Shadow Rock is also extremely slim, so it will fit into the most crowded and smallest motherboards without blocking any RAM slots. This air cooler measures 73.66 x 137.6 x 160 mm in depth, width, and height respectively. Warranty is a standard 2 year and is limited to parts and labor. Overall, this is probably the best CPU cooler under $50 currently on the market.
|CM Hyper 212 EVO||/10|
Read Review »
The Hyper 212 EVO air cooler is cheap, efficient, and silent. It offers unbeatable airflow and heat dissipation at this price range, thanks to its unique 4-pipe construction and the cleverly designed heat sink. Although most sub-$50 coolers aren’t meant for overclocking, this one might be capable of taking the heat.
|DIMENSIONS||4.7″ x 3.1″ x 6.2″|
|SOUND||36 dB-A max|
CM Hyper 212 EVO Overview
Cooler Master is renowned for their ingenious air cooling designs, and the Hyper 212 Evo is a model that has been the favorite of budget PC builders and casual gamers for quite some time now.
It uses a 4-pipe design to quickly and efficiently suck away the heat from your CPU and transfers that heat to its brilliantly designed aluminum fin heat sink which is optimized to dissipate heat equally well at both high as well as low fan speeds.
Cooler master utilizes a close contact heat dispersion system in their pipes, and they call it their Continuous Direct Contact (CDC) design. What it means is that the copper heat pipes are placed in direct contact with each other at the point where they touch the CPU.
This transforms the 4 individual pipes, into one continuous plate-like layer that sucks away the heat more efficiently than the simple pipe designs found on other manufacturers. This heat is carried to the aluminum heat sink and is then sent outside by the 120 mm PWM fan. The PWM fan can modify speeds based on the temperature input from the motherboards heat sensors, and it is whisper quiet at low speeds.
Even at high speeds, the fan generates only 36 dB-A of sound. That’s 36 dB-A for 2000 RPM if it runs at the minimum of 600 rpm the noise level decreases to just 9 dB-A.
This cooling unit supports all modern sockets created after 2011, including the AM and FM series sockets from AMD, and the LGA 2011, 1155, 1150, and 1156 for Intel processors. The dimension of the entire cooling unit is just 120 x 79.7 x 158.5 mm, meaning that it is compact enough to fit on most motherboards and cases.
Maximum airflow is a whopping 82.9 CFM, and yet it draws just 2.64 W of power. With all that airflow and the whisper quiet operation, this CPU cooler actually makes a decent overclocking cooler unit if you throw in a second 120 mm fan to run it in a push-pull configuration.
The Best AIO CPU Coolers
I will admit that, for my own personal tastes, I prefer an inexpensive air cooler over a high-end closed-loop liquid cooler. But, that’s mostly because I don’t try and overclock my CPU to insane levels and it’s really not necessary for my system to look perfect.
I’m mostly looking for practicality over aesthetics and high overclocks. So, choosing a more affordable air cooler that can do a similar job to a closed-loop liquid cooler is fine with me.
However, this doesn’t mean you should do the same. In fact, if you are planning on pushing your CPU to the extreme and you want something that will show off the aesthetics of the inside of your case, then a liquid cooler is probably more in line with your wants and needs.
So, with that being said, the list below goes over six of the best closed-loop liquid coolers currently on the market. This list will help you find the right liquid cooler for your needs.
Comparison of the Top AIO Coolers
|NZXT Kraken X72||/10|
Read Review »
If you’re looking for a high-end RGB-enabled 360mm AIO cooler, then you might want to consider the NZXT Kraken X72. It sports three 120mm fans with NZXT’s innovative Aer P design and comes with a 6-year warranty.
|DIMENSIONS||15.5″ x 4.7″ x 1.1″|
|SOUND||36 dB-A max|
NZXT Kraken X72 Overview
The NZXT Kraken X72 is an excellent option for anyone who has a large budget and is looking into a case that can hold a 360mm radiator. It also comes with three NZXT Aer P radiator fans that can operate between 1,600-2,800 RPM and a bunch of RGB lighting configurations.
NZXT clearly stands by their Kraken series AIOs, as they all come with 6-year warranties—which is longer than all of the other AIO coolers on this list.
The cooler also comes with longer tubing that will help you fit it inside larger full tower cases and it is compatible with all modern Intel and AMD sockets.
The Kraken X72 does come in at a premium, though, costing a little over ~$180. That’s pretty much to be expected for a 360mm AIO, though. But, if you don’t have the budget, or you’d rather get a more affordable 280mm or 240mm option, you probably won’t lose too much cooling performance overall.
|EVGA CLC 280||/10|
Read Review »
We may be a bit biased as we just reviewed the entire EVGA CLC lineup, but we feel like EVGA’s 280mm closed loop cooler offers the best price-to-performance among other AIO coolers currently on the market.
|DIMENSIONS||12.2″ x 5.5″ x 1.1″|
|SOUND||39.5 dB-A max|
EVGA CLC 280 Overview
Despite the fact that EVGA’s CLC series is the company’s first attempt at producing an AIO liquid cooler, they have done an exceptional job of delivering three coolers that can compete with companies who have been making closed loop coolers for years.
EVGA offers their closed loop coolers in sizes of 280mm, 240mm, and 120mm.
The coolers didn’t originally come with support for AM4 motherboards right out of the box, but I can confirm that they do now come with AM4 brackets. So, if you do want to use these coolers on a Ryzen-based build, you can definitely do so.
In terms of cooling performance, the 280mm option does offer the best thermals. However, if you are working with a case that doesn’t support a 280mm radiator, the 240mm option will work well, too.
Also, like the other top AIO coolers out there, EVGA’s CPU blocks contain EVGA’s logo and it is RGB friendly. And, if you have an EVGA graphics card with RGB lights, you can actually sync the two items together.
Ultimately, in our review of EVGA’s CLC series, we determined that they offer some of the best price-to-performance in liquid cooling currently on the market. If you want to read our full review on the coolers, please go here.
|Thermaltake Water 3.0||/10|
Read Review »
The Thermaltake Water 3.0 is an extremely customizable and powerful, yet incredibly easy-to-use AIO closed loop liquid CPU cooler. The 360 mm radiator features three times the surface area of conventional 120mm radiators and it supports up to 6 x 120 mm fans.
|DIMENSIONS||4.7″ x 12.8″ x 1.1″|
|SOUND||26.4 dB-A max|
Thermaltake Water 3.0 Overview
If you have room in your case to house a larger 360mm AIO cooler, one option you’ll want to consider is Thermaltake’s Water 3.0 Triple Riing AIO cooler. The Water 3.0 also comes in a 280mm version, but, if you have an extreme budget the 360mm version will take your cooling to the next level.
The Water 3.0 can can actually hold up to six 120mm fans in total (three on each side of its radiator) and the AIO comes in a few different options: ARGB, non-RGB, Floe, Riing RGB.
The ARGB offers three fully-lit RGB fans. The non-RGB version offers, well, no RGB-lit fans. The Floe version comes with better-performing fans. And, the Riing RGB version comes with Thermaltake’s Riing RGB fans.
The Water 3.0 360mm AIO measures in at 12.8-inches long, 4.7-inches wide, and 1.1-inches thick.
You will pay a premium to get this bigger 360mm AIO cooler, though. Unlike the 280mm EVGA CLC cooler listed above, which has been priced as low as ~$100, the Thermaltake Water 3.0 Riing RGB edition comes in at a littler over ~$130.
Again, though, if you want a larger 360mm AIO cooler for your build, the Thermaltake Water 3.0 is an option worth considering.
|Corsair Hydro H115i||/10|
Read Review »
The Corsair Hydro H115i Extreme is a beastly AIO cooler, designed to be used in high-end gaming desktops or workstations. Installation requires cases that have at least one 280 mm, or larger fan mount. Its built-in Corsair Link cable lets you closely monitor and control your fan speeds, lighting, and CPU temperature.
|DIMENSIONS||5.5″ x 12.3″ x 1.0″|
|SOUND||40 dB-A max|
Corsair Hydro H115i Overview
The super large 280 mm radiator and high power pump on this H115i make it a truly enthusiast grade AIO closed loop CPU cooler that is perfectly suited to cool high TDP gaming or workstation CPU’s.
It is basically a modified version of the H110i and features larger, more powerful SP140L PWM fans. The 140 mm SP140L fans are designed to deliver more static air pressure and featureless turbulence and noise.
The turbulence is controlled by the special rubber padded fan mounts and the rubber coating on the fan blades. Special bearings extend the fan life and increase efficiency by decreasing friction.
The first thing you will notice about this closed loop CPU cooler is its large size. Its radiator measures 140 x 312 x 26 mm in height, width, and depth respectively. The fans measure 140 mm each, and are mounted next to each other so you’ll need a 280 mm fan mount on your case to support one of these coolers. Then, you have the specially designed pump block which goes on top of your CPU.
The cool plate comes with a layer of thermal paste applied onto it and is built from extremely heat conductive alloy to transfer heat from your CPU to the pipes as efficiently as possible.
Once the CPU starts heating while running a demanding game, the radiator fans crank up their speed according to the CPU temperature, which you can monitor using the Corsair Link software.
You can either choose to let the software automatically adjust the fan speeds or manually change the speeds with the Corsair Link. You can even change the LED lighting on the CPU header and set it so that the Corsair logo changes colors according to the change in temperature.
The pump block can be mounted on any modern Intel or AMD processor socket and comes with a mounting kit that includes an easy to follow mounting guide. Just a few minutes with a screwdriver is all it takes to mount this beast in your PC case. And then, you can overclock all you want because this cooler can easily handle TDP’s as high as 250 W, which is something you might encounter if you run an FX-8000 or 9000 series AMD CPU in that box.
Read Review »
The Deepcool Captain 120EX CPU all-in-one cooler is a mid-priced option that both works well and looks awesome. It includes a 120 double-blade fan, a motor with three-phase induction, and a lifetime ceramic bearing that will last for up to 120,000 hours of gaming.
|DIMENSIONS||6.1″ x 4.7″ x 1.1″|
|SOUND||31.3 dB-A max|
DeepCool Captain 120EX Overview
Unlike some products that look good aesthetically but lack in performance, the All-in-One CPU cooler from Deepcool not only does the job, but it looks mighty fine doing it.
The Captain 120Ex model features an upgraded high-density water microchannel that dissipates heat from your gaming system 10% more efficiently than the previous version.
While it’s not the most effective option available, it will support most gaming systems without issue and is a mid-priced choice with a lot of power.
This model features a near silent 120 double-blade fan design that does an adequate job of keeping everything cool, even when playing games on an overclocked CPU. The motor features three-phase induction and has a lifetime ceramic bearing that boasts a mean time between failures (MTFB) of 120,000 hours.
The construction is designed to be both visually attractive and functional. The red and black combination looks fierce, and you’ll see a bionic red LED breathing light that both looks cool and lets you know the system is operating efficiently. The manufacturer says the Captain 120EX has a steampunk appearance, and the reactor-style pump housing is a feature that’s completely unique to this model.
When it comes to installation, this option doesn’t require any tooling. The material clip is 100% metal, though the backplate is made of plastic. Other upgrades include an anti-explosion rubber tube and materials that are resistant to corrosion, being crushed, and that is thermostable. The hoses, fan, and pump cables all feature high-quality braiding and are made to last.
Ultimately, if you need a low-profile CPU cooler for a smaller form-factor build, the Captain 120EX is definitely worth considering.
|Corsair Hydro H55||/10|
Read Review »
The H55 is a simple to install and super-efficient closed-loop CPU cooler, built for people with a really tight budget who really want to buy a liquid cooling system. It is extremely quiet and is really reliable as well with the special non-conductive coolant fluid that prevents any circuit damage in case an accidental leak occurs.
|DIMENSIONS||6.0″ x 4.7″ x 1.1″|
|SOUND||34.2 dB-A max|
Corsair Hydro H55 Overview
The Corsair H55 is a no-frills, simple to use, and highly compact liquid cooling system that will fit into the budget of any casual gamer or cash-strapped PC builder who wants to get the power of liquid cooling, but does not want to spend a fortune on it.
It is important to note, though, that the H55 will get outperformed in cooling performance by most high-end air coolers. And, it will cost more than them, too. However, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a use-case scenario where the H55 (or any other 120mm or 140mm AIO cooler) makes sense.
Unlike bulky high-end air coolers that take up a ton of space, single fan closed loop coolers are much more compact making them perfect options for anyone that is using a mini-ITX case to build a mini gaming PC in.
And, while the H55 won’t give you quite as good of thermals as some of the higher-end air coolers, it will be able to get pretty close. So, if you’re working with a tighter space, the Corsair H55 (or any of the other more compact AIO coolers) should serve you well.
The H55 comes with a standard 5-year warranty on this cooler, and it comes with an easy to understand quick start guide that will help you install the whole system within minutes.
Which CPU Cooler Style is Right for You?
The first decision you need to make when choosing a cooler for your new gaming computer build is whether or not you’re okay with sticking with your stock cooler or if you need something a little bit more powerful.
Then, if you have decided you want a better CPU cooler, your next step is to decide whether or not you want an aftermarket air CPU cooler, a closed-loop liquid cooler, or if you want to build your own custom liquid cooling setup. (For more information on the differences in cooler styles, check out our guide on liquid cooling vs. air cooling.)
And, if you are looking for an air cooler, or a closed-loop liquid cooler, this guide will help you find an option that will work for you.