Best CPU cooler 2017: top CPU coolers for your PC

Update: If peace and quiet is your prerogative, look no further the NoFan CR-95C, a passively cooled heatsink that uses IcePipe technology to sidestep fans altogether. Keep reading to find out why it’s the best CPU for fanless setups!

You’ll want only the best CPU cooler for your self-built computer. Whether for work or gaming or anything in between, a processor can’t refrigerate itself. So without a proper cooler, your CPU will overheat and lead to the imminent destruction of your PC (or at least a central part of it). That’s why it’s integral to have only the best CPU cooler to mitigate these concerns.

Although some processors do come bundled with stock coolers, these primarily only include low- to mid-range processor from Intel and AMD. Both companies also don’t include coolers with their respective enthusiast-grade Intel Core X and AMD Ryzen Threadripper chips.

Regardless of whether your CPU came with a fan, aftermarket coolers, particularly of the liquid variety, can dramatically reduce both fan noise and running temps. As such, we’ve gone out of our way to find all of the top CPU coolers on the market.spanning all budgets and desktop tower sizes, these are the top 6 best CPU coolers money can buy in 2017:

Noctua NH-D15

Best CPU cooler

Type: Fan and heatsink | Compatibility: Intel LGA 775 – LGA 2066; AMD AM2 – AM3+, FM1 – FM2+ | Rotation frequency: Up to 1500 RPM | Noise volume: 19.20dbA – 24.60dbA | Dimensions (W x D x H): 160 x 150 x 135mm | Weight: 2.91 pounds (1.32kg)

Whisper quiet
Six-year manufacturer’s warranty
Too big for some PC builds

Although you may not be familiar with Noctua, this CPU cooler kicks off our list of the best CPU coolers with a compelling premise: that while it’s not a liquid cooling system, it works just as well if not better than some all-in-one loops. Noctua focuses solely on designing coolers, and just coolers, so this is one of the quietest concoctions you’ll find, not to mention it comes with a six-year warranty.

Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO

Best budget CPU cooler

Type: Fan and heatsink | Compatibility: Intel LGA 775 – 2066; AMD AM2 – AM3+, FM1 – FM3+ | Rotation frequency: Up to 2,000 RPM | Noise volume: 9dBA – 36dBA | Dimensions (W x D x H): 120 x 120 x 25mm | Weight: 1.26 pounds (0.57kg)

Balanced cooling performance
Heat pipes ideal for conduction
AM4 bracket sold separately

For $29 (£30, AU$43), the Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo is one of the most affordable CPU coolers you can buy. Given, too, that most online stores offer a rebate on this fan and heatsink combo pack, the Hyper 212 EVO is a prodigious value. Although it only features four heatpipes and aluminum fin structure, this legendary CPU cooler has proven itself to be as efficient as liquid-coolers two-to-three times more expensive than it. These air-coolers are designed to make heat dissipation, quite literally, a breeze, whether you’re playing Destiny 2 at max settings or watching YouTube videos in a web browser.

Noctua NH-L9

Best low-profile CPU cooler

Type: Fan and heatsink | Compatibility: Intel LGA 1156/1155/1151; AMD AM2/AM2+/AM3/FM1/FM2 | Rotation frequency: Up to 2500 RPM | Noise volume: 14.8dbA – 23.6dbA | Dimensions (W x D x H): 206 x 184 x 37mm | Weight: 1.03 pounds (0.47kg)

Ultra compact
Six-year manufacturer’s warranty
Only 92mm fan

This CPU cooler is among one of the smallest we’ve ever used for our own Mini ATX builds. It come from an Austrian company as our best CPU cooler that specializes entirely in PC coolers and fans, which means no compromises are made in the way of quality assurance despite its low-profile form-factor.

Corsair Hydro Series H5 SF

Best low-profile CPU liquid-cooler

Type: Liquid cooling system | Compatibility: Intel LGA 115x; AMD FM2 – FM2+ | Rotation frequency: Up to 1,800 RPM | Noise volume: 36dBA – 42dBA | Dimensions (W x D x H): 167 x 57 x 84mm | Weight: 2 pounds (0.91kg)

Guaranteed leak-free tubing
Compact, all-in-one form factor
Blower style cooler

Even if you have a budget that allows for some of the more serious liquid cooling solutions, even some of the sweetest PC cases don’t permit the sheer mass of a bulkier, dual-fan or even a single 120mm radiator. That’s where the Hydro Series H5 SF proves building small doesn doesn’t mean you have to give up on liquid cooling. NZXT Kraken X62

NZXT Kraken X62

Best CPU liquid-cooler

Type: Liquid cooling system | Compatibility: Intel 2011 – 2066; AMD AM2 – AM4, FM1 – FM2+ | Rotation frequency: Up to 1,800 | Noise volume: 21dBA – 38dBA | Dimensions (W x D x H): 315 x 143 x 30mm | Weight: 3.2 pounds (1.45kg)

Dead silent and high performing
RGB lighting is gorgeous
Price range out of bounds for some

Known best for its cases, such as those produced in collaboration with Asus and Razer, you may be surprised to learn that NZXT’s CPU coolers are every bit as impressive as the hardware which encloses them. The Kraken X62 is no exception, being one of the few 280mm all-in-one liquid coolers to feature RGB lighting. Given that the radiator comes pre-attached and the thermal paste pre-applied, the NZXT Kraken x62 is awfully easy to set up too. The packed-in CAM software, which lets you tweak settings on the fly, is merely icing on the cake.

NoFan CR-95C

Best fanless CPU cooler

Type: Passively cooled heatsink | Compatibility: Intel LGA 775 – 1156; AMD AM2 – AM3+; FM1 | Noise volume: 0dBA | Dimensions (W x H x D): 180 x 148 x 180mm | Weight: 1.6 pounds (0.73kg)

You won’t hear a peep
Works well with low-power CPUs
Exorbitantly massive
95W TDP limitation

Unless you’re already neck deep in the rabbit hole that is silent PC assembly, you’ve probably never heard of NoFan, a South Korean component company that specializes in helping enthusiasts reach that 0dBA silent sweet spot. In doing so, of course, you can count on severely limiting yourself in terms of power, with its CR-95C fanless solution being limited in compatibility to processors whose TDP fall below 95W. Still, the NoFan CR-95C is worth a shot for those sporting low-power rigs that prioritize tranquility over raw horsepower.