If you’re building your own PC or looking to upgrade your existing machine, one component you shouldn’t overlook is the cooler. Most processors come with a stock cooler when you buy them. But these don’t give great performance and can be very noisy.
To keep your processor temperatures down and the noise levels low, you’ll want a third party cooler. Here’s our list of the very best coolers for your PC.
An air cooler consists of a heat sink to move heat away from the processor and one or more fans to disperse that heat. It’s the same principle as a stock cooler, but usually larger for better heat distribution.
For most users looking for an upgrade in performance for an affordable price, air coolers are ideal.
The Hyper 212 Evo is infamous in the PC building community for its solid performance and low price. It has four heat pipes to carry heat to the 4.6 x 2.0 x 6.3-inch heat sink. It is also compatible with many modern Intel and AMD processors.
Its reasonable size means it will easily fit into most cases, with the exception of very small compact cases for which it can be too wide. The Hyper 12 Evo comes with one fan, which is sufficient for most users. Though, there is an option to add a second 120mm fan if you need more cooling.
2. Noctua NH-D15
The Noctua NH-D15 is ideal for those who want serious cooling performance, particularly when overclocking. The beefy cooler has six heat pipes and two fans, one of which is sandwiched between the two sets of fins. The fans are 140mm for maximum airflow and can be run at low speeds for quieter operation.
A neat feature of this cooler is the recessed lower fins. These create a cut-out effect on the bottom side of the cooler. This means that even though the cooler is very large, there’s still enough clearance for taller memory sticks beneath it. The cooler supports most Intel and AMD chips and comes with an easy-to-use mounting kit.
If a silent operation is your priority, then you’ll be well served by the be quiet! Dark Rock 4. This cooler has a large size but a tiny sound profile, with the virtually inaudible Silent Wings fans which the company popularized. The 135mm fan stays below 22dB even at maximum speed.
To meet cooling requirements with minimal noise, the cooler has six copper heat pipes and specially contoured cooling fins. There’s also an option to add another 120mm fan to keep your processor even cooler. Like the others, it’s compatible with most Intel and AMD processors. The Dark Rock 4’s medium size means it should fit inside most full or mid-size cases.
All-in-One Water Coolers
An alternative to air coolers for those looking for top-level performance is an all-in-one liquid cooler.
Unlike a custom water cooling setup, all-in-one coolers are essentially plug and play. They consist of a closed loop of liquid which circulates through a block affixed to the processor and out to a radiator. The liquid carries heat from the processor to the radiator, where fans disperse it.
All-in-one coolers require essentially no maintenance and give you the benefits of high-performance cooling without the challenges of a custom water cooling setup.
The Corsair H150i is a favorite for those who want solid performance with no extra frills. The cooler comes in 240mm, 280mm, and 360mm sizes which are equipped with one, two, or three low-noise fans respectively. The fans deliver great airflow and don’t go beyond 20dB even at full speed. There’s an option to turn fans off completely when temperatures are low for even quieter operation.
The cooler’s performance can be customized through Corsair’s software. You can change the fan and pump speeds, and monitor both your CPU and coolant temperature. There’s also some RBG lighting options for the block if you want to match your PC’s color scheme.
The cooler is compatible with most modern Intel and AMD processors, and the tubes are long enough to comfortably fit the cooler into most mid-tower and full-tower cases.
If you’re after performance and aesthetics, the NZXT Kraken X62 is the most beautiful all-in-one cooler on the market. The CPU block has an infinity mirror design which shows a mesmerizing swirling pattern in the color of your choice. There are lots of lighting modes controllable through NZXT’s Cam software, and you can customize the color of the NZXT logo for perfect color matching.
The Kraken X62 isn’t all about looks though. It comes in a range of sizes, with 120mm, 140mm, 240mm, 280mm, and 360mm variants available. It has a quiet but powerful pump, and with the software, you can tune both the pump and the fans. The tubing is reinforced to make it last, and the fans run quietly too.
Compatible with most Intel and AMD chips, this is the ideal choice for users who want an all-in-one that offers stunning aesthetics without compromising on cooling.
The Alphacool Eisbaer is one of the best all-in-one cooling solutions on the market. The company is one of the standout brands for custom water cooled builds. Unlike other all-in-ones, it is designed to be refillable, upgradable, and rebuildable. This makes it a great stepping stone if you want more control over your cooling, but aren’t ready to take the plunge into custom water cooling just yet.
The radiator is pure copper, rather than the aluminum typically used in other all-in-one radiators. This gives a better cooling performance and means you don’t have to worry about mixing metals inside your loop. The fans that come with the cooler are be quiet!’s popular Air Wings 2, which move plenty of air to keep temperatures low. The integrated pump is the Alphacool DC-LT Ceramic Ultra Low Noise, the performance of which can be tweaked through software.
It comes in 120mm, 140mm, 240mm, 280mm, 360mm, and 420mm variants. So, you should be able to find the right size for almost any use case. And it’s compatible with most Intel and AMD processors.
Keep Your PC at Top Performance With These Coolers
Upgrading your PC’s cooling system will help keep your processor temperature down and reduce noise levels. If you’re looking for a simple and affordable upgrade, get an air cooler for a boost in performance. Or if you’re looking to seriously overclock your system, an all-in-one liquid cooler gives you the benefits of custom water cooling solutions, but without the hassle.
For more advice on keeping your PC temperatures in check, we’ve got a complete guide on how to prevent overheating and keep your PC cool.