Best CPU cooler 2018: top CPU coolers for your PC

Best CPU cooler

What’s cooler than being cool? That’s right, keeping your PC components ice cold. Here at TechRadar, we love building and overclocking the best gaming PCs we can get our hands on – and we know that the best CPU coolers will help you squeeze every drop of performance out of even the best processors, as lower CPU temps allow your PC to run faster and last longer.

The best CPU coolers come in every shape, size and even color – the best CPU cooler for your build will likely depend on the kind of PC you’re planning to build. Fortunately, the best CPU coolers are available in a wide range of budgets, as well – some of the best air coolers out there are very cheap. And, if you really want to push the best processors to the limit, you can still drop stacks on the latest liquid cooling systems.

No matter what kind of CPU cooler you’re in the market for, we here at TechRadar will help you find it with this list of the best CPU coolers you can buy in 2018 – each one tested and ranked right here.

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

The Noctua NH-D15 is the best CPU cooler you can buy in 2018 simply because it performs just as well as – if not better than some liquid coolers, while costing a fraction of the price. Now, you might not be too familiar with Noctua’s name, as they’re relatively small in the CPU cooler world, but its business is centered around designing coolers, so you know that when you buy one of their products, you’re getting a product by people who really know their craft. Not only will you get fantastic cooling performance from the NH-D15, but it’s nearly silent too. 

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

Yeah, we know, it’s been around for years. But, the Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo is still one of the best CPU coolers on the market – if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Even though it only features four heatpipes and an aluminum fin structure, this legendary CPU cooler has proven again and again to be just as efficient as any liquid cooling system These air coolers are designed to make heat dissipation a breeze – literally – whether you’re playing Destiny 2 at max settings or reading TechRadar 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

Noctua is an Austrian manufacturer that does one thing, and one thing only: make CPU coolers and fans. What this means is that while the Noctua NH-L9 is tiny, it is still capable of insane cooling with no compromises. This is a fantastic cooler for anyone with a smaller build, or even if you’re using a ton of large components, and you’re not comfortable with liquid cooling.  

Corsair H100i Pro

Corsair H100i Pro

Best CPU liquid-cooler

Type: Liquid cooling system | Compatibility: Intel 2011 – 2066; AMD AM2 – AM4 | Rotation frequency: Up to 2,400 | Noise volume: 44dBA | Dimensions (W x D x H): 315 x 143 x 29mm | Weight: 4.4 pounds (1.98kg)

 Insane performance 
 Powerful fans 
 Gets loud 

Corsair has been on top of the all-in-one liquid cooling game for a while now, and the H100i Pro continues the trend. Not only is this thing strapped in the RGB lighting we’ve come to expect from Corsair, but it also features impressive cooling performance, thanks in part to its powerful and unique fans, which you can control through Corsair’s iCue software. This all results in a CPU cooler that not only performs well, but that is also completely customizable. 

Deepcool Gamerstorm Castle 240 RGB

Best RGB cooler

Type: Liquid cooling system | Compatibility: Intel 2011 – 2066; AMD AM2 – AM4; TR4 | Rotation frequency: Up to 1,800 | Noise volume: 30dBA | Dimensions: 274 × 120 × 27mm (L×W×H)

Gorgeous RGB lighting 
Inexpensive 
Bulky CPU block 

If you’re looking for a powerful liquid cooler that’ll help contribute to your RGB aesthetic, the Deepcool Gamerstorm Castle 240 RGB is going to make all your dreams a reality. Not only is it a reliable AIO (all-in-one) cooler that can help push your overclocks to the limits, but its addressable RGB will work with a wide range of different controllers, meaning you can effortlessly sync all the lighting in your system. The CPU block stands a little high from your processor, but when it looks this good, does it really matter? 

NZXT Kraken X72

Best high-performance CPU Liquid Cooler

Type: Liquid cooling system | Compatibility: Intel 1151 – 2066; AMD TR4, AM2 – AM4, FM1-FM2+ | Rotation frequency: Up to 2,800 | Noise volume: 21-36dBA | Dimensions (W x D x H): 294 x 120 x 27mm | Weight: 2.84 pounds (1.28kg)

 Great performance 
 Aesthetic 
 Expensive 

If you’re running one of the best processors, and you’re really looking to push it to its boundaries, the NZXT Kraken X72 is the best CPU cooler for overclocking. Not only does this thing pack in a giant radiator, but its high fan speeds ensure that cooling performance is top-notch at all times. And, because it’s 2018, it features addressable RGB and an infinite mirror design that looks amazing in any case. Then to top it all off, the NZXT Kraken X72 is backed by a 6-year warranty. 

Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML120R RGB

The best compact liquid cooler

Type: Liquid cooling system | Compatibility: Intel LGA 775 – LGA 2066; AMD AM2 – AM4, FM1 – FM2+ | Rotation frequency: Up to 2000 RPM | Noise volume: 6dbA – 30dbA | Dimensions (W x D x H): 83.6 x 71.8 x 52.7mm

 Luminous RGB lighting 
 Premium build 
 A little expensive 

There isn’t a single component that can’t be made better with RGB, and Cooler Master knows this – jumping on the RGB bandwagon with the MasterLiquid ML 120R RGB. What’s more, it integrates some of the first addressable LEDs seen on a liquid cooler. This all-in-one liquid cooling solution isn’t just about aesthetics either – as it features an oxidation-free pump and an efficient radiator. This means that not only will it last longer – but it’ll keep your CPU cooler, and all without giving up too much case real estate.

Arctic Liquid Freezer 120

Best budget liquid-cooler

Type: Liquid cooling system | Compatibility: Intel LGA 2011 – 2066; AMD AM2 – AM3+, FM1 – FM2 | Rotation frequency: Up to 1350 RPM | Noise volume: 22.5dBA | Dimensions (W x D x H): 120 x 120 x 25mm | Weight: 2.65 pounds (1.2kg)

Strong performance
Inexpensive
Somewhat noisey
Few features

For less than 70 big ones in both US dollars and British sterling, the Arctic Liquid Freezer 120 is a deal you can’t pass up if you’re on the prowl for a liquid cooler that won’t break the bank. While it lacks the bells and whistles of pricier, more extravagant liquid coolers, like the NZXT Kraken, the Arctic Liquid cooler is enough to get you by, not to mention it’s still a massive step up from the classic fan and heatsink pairing. So, while you can’t expect RGB lighting or software – or even hardware-based fan control, the 120mm variant of the Arctic Liquid Freezer will keep your system refrigerated at a (mostly) quiet volume. 

  • This product is only available in the US and UK at the time of this writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Corsair Hydro Series H5 SF 

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 your budget will allow you to really go all-out on a serious liquid cooling solutions, if you have a smaller PC case, you’ll likely not have enough space. That’s where something like the Corsair Hydro H5 SF comes into play. Even on the smallest PC cases, you should able to use this CPU cooler to keep your CPU chilled, even if you have some beastly overclocks going on. And, because it’s a closed loop, you don’t even need to worry about maintenance. Set it up, and let it do its thing – you won’t be disappointed. 

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. 

  •  This Product is only available in the US at the time of this writing. UK and Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Noctua NH-L9