What’s cooler than being cool? That’s right, keeping your PC components ice cold. And, before you go out to find more exciting parts like the best graphics cards, you should start your best gaming PC build off with the best CPU cooler. After all, lower CPU temps will make your computer last longer and be more performant.
Coming in every shape, size and color, the best CPU cooler for your PC will likely depend on what you’re looking to build. Luckily, the best CPU coolers are available in a wide range of budgets, too – some of the best air coolers are very affordable. And, if you’re looking to push the best processors to the limit, you can still splurge for 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.
Luckily, the best CPU coolers are about to get a lot more affordable. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are right around the corner, and you should be able to save a ton of cash on the best CPU coolers. So, keep an eye on all the Black Friday PC component deals, and be sure to stay tuned to TechRadar for all of your holiday shopping needs.
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)
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)
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.
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)
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
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)
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)
If you’re looking for a powerful liquid cooler that’ll help contribute to your epic RGB setup, the Deepcool Gamerstorm Castle 240 RGB is the best CPU cooler for you. Beyond the ridiculous name, it’s a reliable AIO cooler that can push your overclocks higher and higher with addressable RGB that’s compatible with a wide range of controllers – so you can effortlessly sync your lighting. The CPU Block stands a little high, 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)
If you’re running one of the best processors, and you want to push it to the limit, the NZXT Kraken X72 is the best CPU cooler for overclocking. Not only does it pack a gigantic radiator, but its high fan speeds ensure that cooling performance is top-notch all the time. 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
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)
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)
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.
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)
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
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