NZXT Kraken 240 Liquid Cooler
NZXT Kraken 240 Liquid Cooler

It’s important to keep your computer’s central processing unit (CPU) performing at its best to ensure a smooth and efficient computing experience. Overheating can cause decreased performance, instability, and potential damage to your hardware. CPU coolers have advanced to provide solutions for both AMD and Intel processors. Whether you’re a gamer, content creator, or just want to improve your system’s performance, selecting the right CPU cooler can make a big difference. This guide outlines the top CPU coolers for 2024, catering to various budgets and needs.

Cooling Solutions for Your Processor

High-End Performance

For enthusiasts seeking top-tier cooling for overclocked CPUs or demanding workloads, consider these options:

  • Noctua NH-D15 Chromax Black: This air cooler is a favorite among PC builders, known for its exceptional performance and quiet operation. It’s compatible with both AMD and Intel sockets.
  • Lian Li Galahad II Performance 360: This 360mm AIO cooler delivers outstanding cooling power with its triple-fan setup and a stylish design. It’s a great choice for high-end builds.
  • Corsair iCUE H170i Elite LCD XT: This massive 420mm AIO cooler offers top-of-the-line performance for the most demanding systems. Its LCD screen adds a touch of flair to your build.

Mid-Range Options

If you want a balance of performance and affordability, these coolers are worth checking out:

  • DeepCool AK500: This air cooler packs a punch for its size, offering excellent cooling performance at a reasonable price. It’s compatible with both AMD and Intel sockets.
  • Thermalright Phantom Spirit 120 EVO: This single-tower air cooler delivers impressive cooling while maintaining a compact footprint. It’s a good choice for smaller cases.
  • Lian Li Galahad II LCD 280: This 280mm AIO cooler offers a good balance of performance and aesthetics. Its LCD screen displays system information or customizable images.

Budget-Friendly Picks

For those on a tight budget, these coolers offer decent cooling performance without breaking the bank:

  • DeepCool AS500 Plus: This single-tower air cooler is a great value option, providing solid cooling performance at an affordable price. It’s compatible with both AMD and Intel sockets.
  • Be Quiet! Pure Rock 2: This air cooler focuses on quiet operation while still delivering good cooling performance. It’s a great choice for users who prioritize low noise levels.
  • Iceberg Thermal IceFLOE Oasis 360mm: This budget-friendly AIO cooler offers decent performance for its price. It’s a good entry point into liquid cooling.

Comparison Table: Top CPU Coolers for 2024

CoolerTypeCompatibilityNoise LevelPrice (Approx.)
Noctua NH-D15 Chromax BlackAirAMD/IntelLow$130
Lian Li Galahad II Performance 360AIO (360mm)AMD/IntelLow$180
Corsair iCUE H170i Elite LCD XTAIO (420mm)AMD/IntelModerate$270
DeepCool AK500AirAMD/IntelLow$70
Thermalright Phantom Spirit 120 EVOAirAMD/IntelLow$60
Lian Li Galahad II LCD 280AIO (280mm)AMD/IntelLow$150
DeepCool AS500 PlusAirAMD/IntelLow$50
Be Quiet! Pure Rock 2AirAMD/IntelLow$40
Iceberg Thermal IceFLOE Oasis 360mmAIO (360mm)AMD/IntelModerate$100

Best AM5 CPU Coolers:

Here are the top-rated CPU coolers for AM5 processors. You can use AM5 coolers on AM4 sockets as well.

Air Coolers:

#NameFan RPMNoise LevelPrice
1Thermalright Peerless Assassin 120 SE1550 RPM25.6 dB$33.90
2Thermalright Phantom Spirit 120 SE1500 RPM25.6 dB$35.90
3Deepcool AK400500 – 1850 RPM29 dB$33.98
4Deepcool AG400 BK ARGB500 – 2000 RPM31.6 dB$29.99
5Cooler Master Hyper 212 Black Edition800 – 2000 RPM6.5 – 26 dB$54.99
6Cooler Master Hyper 212 RGB Black Edition650 – 2000 RPM8 – 30 dB$49.99
7be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 41500 RPM12.8 – 24.3 dB$84.67
8Noctua NH-D15 chromax.black300 – 1500 RPM19.2 – 24.6 dB$119.95
9Noctua NH-D15300 – 1500 RPM19.2 – 24.6 dB$109.95
10Thermalright Assassin X 120 Refined SE1550 RPM25.6 dB$17.89
Enermax AM5 CPU Cooler
Enermax AM5 CPU Cooler

Liquid Coolers:

#NameFan RPMNoise LevelRadiator SizePrice
1Deepcool LS520 SE500 – 2250 RPM28.2 – 32.9 dB240 mm$82.99
2ARCTIC Liquid Freezer II 360800 – 2000 RPM30.0 – 42 dB360 mm$141.88
3NZXT Kraken X-240500 – 1800 RPM17.9 – 30.6 dB240 mm$120.99
4NZXT Kraken X-360500 – 1800 RPM17.9 – 30.6 dB360 mm$156.45
5NZXT Kraken X-360 RGB500 – 1800 RPM17.9 – 30.6 dB360 mm$276.50
6NZXT Kraken 240 RGB500 – 1800 RPM17.9 – 30.6 dB240 mm$159.99
7NZXT Kraken 360 RGB500 – 1800 RPM17.9 – 30.6 dB360 mm$156.45
8Cooler Master MASTERLIQUID ML240L RGB V2650 – 1800 RPM6 – 27 dB240 mm$99.99
9Corsair iCUE H100i RGB ELITE400 – 1850 RPM5 – 28.9 dB240 mm$129.99
10Corsair iCUE H150i ELITE CAPELLIX XT550 – 2100 RPM5 – 34.1 dB360 mm$199.99
Arctic Liquid Freezer Cooler
Arctic Liquid Freezer Cooler

Best LGA1700 CPU Fans:

Here are the top rated coolers for the LGA 1700 CPU socket. LGA1700 has a different configuration than LGA 1200 and LGA 115X sockets, but these coolers have all been checked to confirm they have the brackets to support all three socket types.

Air Coolers:

#NameFan RPMNoise LevelPrice
1Thermalright Peerless Assassin 120 SE1550 RPM25.6 dB$33.90
2Thermalright Phantom Spirit 120 SE1500 RPM25.6 dB$35.90
3Deepcool AK400500 – 1850 RPM29 dB$33.98
4Deepcool AK620 ZERO DARK500 – 1850 RPM28 dB$59.99
5Deepcool AG400 BK ARGB500 – 2000 RPM31.6 dB$29.99
6Cooler Master Hyper 212 Black Edition800 – 2000 RPM6.5 – 26 dB$54.99
7Cooler Master Hyper 212 RGB Black Edition650 – 2000 RPM8 – 30 dB$49.99
8Thermalright Assassin X 120 Refined SE1550 RPM25.6 dB$17.89
9be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 41500 RPM12.8 – 24.3 dB$84.67
10Noctua NH-D15 chromax.black300 – 1500 RPM19.2 – 24.6 dB$119.95
What Is A CPU Cooler
Cooler Master Air Cooler

Liquid Coolers:

#NameFan RPMNoise LevelRadiator SizePrice
1Deepcool LS520 SE500 – 2250 RPM28.2 – 32.9 dB240 mm$82.99
2ARCTIC Liquid Freezer II 360800 – 2000 RPM30.0 – 42 dB360 mm$141.88
3NZXT Kraken X-240500 – 1800 RPM17.9 – 30.6 dB240 mm$120.99
4NZXT Kraken X-360500 – 1800 RPM17.9 – 30.6 dB360 mm$156.45
5NZXT Kraken X-360 RGB500 – 1800 RPM17.9 – 30.6 dB360 mm$276.50
6NZXT Kraken 240 RGB500 – 1800 RPM17.9 – 30.6 dB240 mm$159.99
7NZXT Kraken 360 RGB500 – 1800 RPM17.9 – 30.6 dB360 mm$156.45
8Cooler Master MASTERLIQUID ML240L RGB V2650 – 1800 RPM6 – 27 dB240 mm$99.99
9Corsair iCUE H100i RGB ELITE400 – 1850 RPM5 – 28.9 dB240 mm$129.99
10Corsair iCUE H150i ELITE CAPELLIX XT550 – 2100 RPM30.0 – 42 dBa360 mm$199.99
Deepcool LS520 SE Liquid Cooler

Overview of CPU Cooling Technologies

When the conversation turns to CPU coolers, it’s about keeping one’s computer chilled to ensure top-notch performance. There are two main types: air coolers and liquid coolers, both with the same mission to draw heat away from the CPU. Air coolers are the more common, characterized by a heatsink and fan combo that moves heat away using airflow. They’re typically easier to install and more wallet-friendly.

On the flip side, liquid coolers use a liquid coolant to transfer heat. They consist of a pump, radiator, and tubing, creating a loop that circulates coolant between the CPU and radiator. The heat is then expelled through radiator fins. Liquid coolers can manage more heat, which in turn can help improve cooling performance and can be a game-changer for those pushing their systems with intense tasks or gaming.

Despite differences, each aims for the same goal: to keep your CPU cool and efficient. It’s not about flashy gadgets or magic tricks; it’s about solid engineering to battle against heat – the arch-nemesis of productivity and performance in computers. Whether opting for air or liquid, users must weigh factors like space, budget, and their computer’s specific needs to find the right fit.

Choosing the Right CPU Cooler

When building a PC, selecting an efficient CPU cooler is critical to maintaining optimal temperatures and performance. This component keeps the central processing unit (CPU) cool under various workloads.

Compatibility With CPU Models

Every CPU cooler is designed to fit specific socket types determined by the CPU manufacturer, such as Intel’s LGA 1700 or AMD’s AM5. Always check the compatibility list to ensure the cooler fits your motherboard’s socket. For instance, the popular Noctua NH-D15 is widely compatible across different platforms.

Air vs. Liquid Cooling Systems

CPU coolers primarily come in two types: air and liquid. Air coolers are units with a heatsink and fan, suitable for most users, while liquid coolers or AIO (All-In-One) involve a pump and radiator, offering superior cooling performance for high-temperature tasks.

Air coolers are the traditional choice and are generally more affordable and simpler to install. They work efficiently in large cases with good airflow. On the other hand, liquid coolers are known for their superior cooling efficiency, particularly beneficial in overclocking scenarios or compact setups with limited airflow.

  • Air Cooler: Dependable for everyday use, budget-friendly, easier to install.
  • Liquid Cooler: Better at managing heat under heavy loads, often more expensive.

Cooler Specifications and TDP

TDP (Thermal Design Power) measures how much heat output a cooler can handle. A cooler’s TDP should match or exceed the CPU’s TDP for effective cooling. High-performance coolers typically feature larger heatsinks and more powerful fans or pumps to tackle greater heat output.

Aesthetics and Design Considerations

Aesthetics play a role in the building process for many. Coolers come with features like RGB lighting and LCD screens. A cooler with a brushed aluminum finish or ARGB lighting can enhance the visual appeal of the PC.

Understanding Cooler Dimensions

Coolers must fit inside the PC case without interfering with RAM slots or other components. Note crucial dimensions like vertical clearance and width to prevent space-related issues within the PC case or chassis.

Budget and Value

Balancing cost and cooling efficacy is key. While the best CPU cooler might offer marginally better temperatures or lower noise levels, it may not justify a higher price. Identify what performance aspects are non-negotiable within your budget.

Choosing the best CPU cooler depends on analyzing these specific factors. By understanding the interplay between your PC’s demands, functionality of the cooler, and space considerations, you can make an informed decision that enhances the performance and stability of your system.

Best Budget Air Cooler: Cooler Master 212 EVO

  • Price-Performance Ratio: Exceptional
  • Installation: Easy
  • Fan: Option to add a second fan for enhanced performance

Top CPU Cooler Recommendations

Choosing the right CPU cooler is crucial for keeping your computer’s processor at optimal temperatures. Whether you enjoy high-stakes gaming or run intensive applications, these recommendations cover various needs from silent operation to peak overclocking performance.

Best Air Coolers

Thermalright Phantom Spirit 120: Best Air Cooler for Most

  • Dimensions: 110 x 125 x 157 mm
  • Weight: 810g
  • Fans: 2 x 120mm
  • Price: Around $40
  • Performance: Excellent cooling with low noise levels

Noctua NH-D15: A top contender for air coolers, the Noctua NH-D15 stands out with its exceptional cooling performance. It utilizes dual fans to efficiently manage heat, making it ideal for demanding applications.

  • Performance: Impressive, suitable for overclocking
  • Noise: Quiet operation despite dual fans
  • Size: Bulky, ensure case compatibility

Thermalright Peerless Assassin 120: This air cooler balances cooling efficiency with a quiet operation. Its compact design does not compromise on cooling, which suits a wide array of standard PC builds.

Best Liquid Coolers

Corsair Hydro H100i: Top Pick for Liquid Cooling

  • Radiator Size: 240mm
  • Noise: Low noise pump, but fans can get loud
  • Features: Reliable performance, companion software, universal fitting
  • Suitable for: Unlocked CPUs and overclocking

Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML360R: With its sleek design, three 120mm fans, and RGB lighting, it’s a perfect choice for enthusiasts looking to combine performance with visual appeal.

Lian Li GALAHAD II Performance 360: This liquid cooler is known for its sleek design and robust cooling capacity. Accommodating larger cases, it’s equipped to tackle heat from vigorous gaming sessions.

NZXT Kraken M22 120mm AIO: For those with smaller cases, the Kraken M22 offers excellent liquid cooling in a more compact form. Despite its size, it delivers efficient temperature management for your processor.

Best All-In-One Coolers

Corsair iCUE H150i Elite LCD: An AIO cooler that blends style with performance. It features customizable LCD screens and powerful pump design, keeping temps low even under load.

NZXT Kraken M22 120mm AIO: This AIO again earns mention for its space-saving design yet powerful cooling capabilities, suitable for various PC setups.

Best Low-Profile Coolers for SFF Builds

Noctua NH-L9: Well-suited for small form factor builds, this low-profile CPU cooler offers solid performance without occupying much space. It’s a go-to for compact setups.

Cooler Master Hyper 212 RGB: It presents a balance between aesthetics and function. The RGB lighting adds flair to your SFF build while maintaining effective heat dissipation.

The Cooler Master GeminII M4: Ideal for small form factor builds, this low-profile cooler efficiently manages heat in compact spaces, perfect for low to mid-range CPUs.

High-Performance Coolers for Overclocking

Lian Li GALAHAD II LCD 280: Built to handle the extra heat from overclocking, this cooler offers a notable thermal headroom for pushing your CPU’s limits without overheating.

Corsair iCUE H150i Elite LCD: Strong pump speeds and large radiator size equip this cooler to handle overclocked CPUs while maintaining lower temperatures.

Silent Coolers for Quiet PC Builds

Be Quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4: It’s engineered to operate at low fan noise without compromising cooling effectiveness. A solid choice for silent PC enthusiasts. Offering a blend of top-tier cooling and low noise levels, this cooler is ideal for users seeking performance without the acoustic footprint.

Noctua NH-D15: Once more noted for its quiet performance alongside its cooling prowess, this cooler ensures a peaceful environment even under strain.

Installation and Maintenance

When setting up a cooler for your CPU or maintaining it, it’s crucial to handle both hardware and software elements carefully. Correct installation ensures optimal performance and prevents overheating, while regular maintenance keeps your system running smoothly.

Installing Your CPU Cooler

Prior to installing your cooler, it’s important to apply thermal paste onto the processor to improve heat conduction. For air coolers, like the be Quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4, ensure the heatsink is positioned correctly and the fan is directed towards an exhaust fan in the case. When setting up a liquid cooler, such as the Corsair iCUE H150i Elite LCD, mount the radiator, secure the pump over the CPU after applying paste, and connect all cables to the motherboard and power supply unit.

  1. Prepare the Motherboard Area: Clear any obstacles and ready the backplate if applicable.
  2. Apply Thermal Compound: Spread a pea-sized drop of paste on the processor surface.
  3. Mount Cooler: Align the cooler with the mounting pins or screws and secure it.
  4. Connect Fans/Pump: Plug in any necessary cables for power and control.

Managing Cooling System Maintenance

Regularly check and clean your cooling components to prevent dust build-up, which can lead to overheating. All coolers need a check-up, whether it’s the fans on an air cooler or the pump and coolant levels in liquid systems like a gaming PC’s. Keep an eye on the software, too—programs like Corsair iCUE can help monitor your system’s temperatures and performance.

  • Clean Fans and Heatsinks: Use compressed air to remove debris from these parts.
  • Monitor Coolant Levels: In liquid cooling systems, verify that the coolant levels are adequate.
  • Inspect Pump Operation: Ensure the pump in liquid coolers is functioning properly.
  • Keep Firmware Updated: Ensure all cooling-related software is current for optimal control.

Upgrading Your Cooling Solution

As powerful CPUs and high-end graphics cards generate more heat, you might need to enhance your cooling solution. Upgrading depends on your system’s requirements and whether you currently have an air cooler or a liquid cooling setup. Remember, certain upgrades may affect your system’s warranty, so keep all documentation in case you need it.

  • Evaluate Current Setup: Assess if your system is experiencing overheating issues.
  • Choose Compatible Hardware: New coolers must fit your motherboard and case.
  • Consider High-Performance Options: For hardcore use, look at stronger fans or larger radiators.
  • Review Warranty Information: Understand how changes might impact your warranty status.

Advanced Cooling Technologies

When searching for a CPU cooler, one might consider the latest in advanced cooling solutions to keep their system operating efficiently. Today’s high-performance CPUs generate significant heat, requiring effective cooling to prevent thermal throttling. Advanced cooling technologies leverage both modern design and materials to enhance heat dissipation.

Liquid Cooling Systems have become increasingly popular for their efficiency and quieter operation compared to traditional air cooling. These systems circulate a coolant via a pump through tubes that absorb heat from the CPU and release it via a radiator. Some liquid coolers have integrated LCD displays that provide real-time temperature data or system information, adding a touch of customization and functionality.

Listed below are some features often found in advanced CPU coolers:

  • Argon: This inert gas sometimes fills the heat pipes of air coolers, enhancing the thermal conductivity.
  • Water Cooling: Utilizes the thermal conductivity of water to transfer heat away from the CPU efficiently.
  • RGB Lighting: Adds aesthetic appeal to a cooling system with customizable colors and effects.

Models incorporating RGB lighting cater to users looking for personalization alongside performance. The visual impact of multi-colored lights can be synchronized with other hardware, creating an impressive showcase within a transparent chassis.

While advanced cooling technologies offer superior performance, it’s essential to consider compatibility with your CPU socket and available space within your case. Whether one opts for flashy features like RGB lighting or prioritizes a robust cooling solution with an integrated LCD, there’s a high-tech cooler to fit virtually any preference and build.

Accessories and Customization Options

When assembling a top-notch cooling system for a computer, enthusiasts have a plethora of accessories and customization options at hand to enhance both performance and aesthetics. Fans are the backbone of any cooling system and come in various sizes and airflow capacities. Case fans, specifically designed to fit the dimensions and mounting points of a computer chassis, play a vital role in managing the temperature inside by directing the flow of air.

  • Standard Fans: Often included with CPU coolers.
  • Case Fans: Extra fans to improve airflow within the case.
  • PC Fans: Can refer to either, usually denotes any fan in a PC.

These fans may feature RGB LEDs, adding a splash of color and vibrancy to the interior landscape of a build. RGB LEDs have become a popular trend for those aiming to create a PC that looks as good as it runs.

RGB LEDsColor CustomizationPersonalizes setup with vibrant colors
ARGBIndividual LED ControlEnables dynamic lighting effects

ARGB (Addressable RGB) offers more nuanced control, allowing each LED to shine in a different hue and pattern if one desires. This capability brings a computer build to life with waves, pulses, and fades. However, it’s not just about the lights; these fans often come with controllers and software that allow users to fine-tune their thermal performance, from adjusting speeds to setting up cooling profiles.

In conclusion, it’s the blend of practicality and personal style that truly distinguishes an individual’s cooling setup. Accessorizing with fans equipped with RGB capabilities introduces a personalized touch to the machine, while each fan assists in maintaining an optimal temperature for performance.

Technical Support and Warranty

black and silver audio mixer
AMD Stock CPU Cooler

When choosing a CPU cooler, considering the warranty is crucial. Brands like Corsair and NZXT provide substantial warranties, reflecting confidence in their product’s durability and performance. For example, some Corsair models come with a five-year warranty, which surpasses the industry standard.

NZXT also demonstrates commitment to customer satisfaction with their products often carrying a multi-year warranty, ensuring peace of mind for consumers. It’s important that users register their product with the manufacturer to take full advantage of the warranty offer. This process is usually straightforward and can be done on the manufacturer’s website.

Technical support goes hand-in-hand with warranty. Brands often equip their support teams to help with installation queries, performance issues, and technical difficulties. Such assistance can be reached through various channels like phone, email, or live chat. These services enhance the overall consumer experience.

In selecting a cooler, one should check resources like Tom’s Hardware, which often highlights the warranty and support aspects when reviewing products. Their insights can direct users to products with reliable customer support.

Here’s a brief summary:

  • Corsair: Up to 5 years of warranty.
  • NZXT: Multi-year warranty, emphasizing customer support.
  • Technical Support: Available via phone, email, and live chat.
  • Product Registration: Necessary to utilize full warranty benefits.

Users should read warranty terms since coverage can vary, typically including defects but not damages from misuse or non-standard operation. Choosing a cooler with a robust warranty and support can significantly impact long-term satisfaction with the purchase.

Frequently Asked Questions

When it comes to keeping a CPU cool, it’s crucial to pick the right cooler. Below are some questions to guide you in making a decision.

What should I consider when choosing a CPU cooler?

When selecting a CPU cooler, consider the size of your case, the compatibility with your CPU socket, and whether you prefer air or liquid cooling based on your system’s requirements.

Can air coolers be as effective as liquid coolers?

Yes, high-quality air coolers like the Noctua NH-D15 can offer comparable cooling performance to liquid coolers, especially in systems with good airflow.

Is it worth investing in a high-end CPU cooler?

Investing in a high-end CPU cooler can be beneficial, especially if you are into overclocking or have a high-performance CPU that generates a lot of heat. High-end coolers offer better thermal management, leading to improved CPU performance and longevity.

What factors should be considered when choosing a cooler for a high-performance CPU like the i9-13900k?

High-performance CPUs like the i9-13900k produce a lot of heat, especially when under heavy load. When choosing a cooler, consider the TDP (thermal design power) rating, cooler size, airflow, noise levels, and your case’s compatibility.

How do air coolers compare to liquid coolers in terms of cooling efficiency and noise levels?

Air coolers are generally quieter and more affordable than liquid coolers but may not always offer the same level of cooling efficiency. Liquid coolers excel in intense workloads, often providing better temperature management, though they can be noisier and pricier.

What are the top recommended CPU coolers for overclocked Ryzen 7 series processors?

For overclocked Ryzen 7 CPUs, coolers with high TDP ratings and effective heat dissipation are essential. Some top recommendations include the Noctua NH-D15 for air cooling and high-capacity AIOs like the GA II Performance series for liquid cooling.

Can you recommend durable and efficient CPU coolers suitable for gaming rigs?

Yes, the Thermalright Peerless Assassin 120 SE is known for being an excellent value, combining durability with efficiency, making it suitable for gaming setups. Other notable mentions could be newer models from reputable brands like Corsair, NZXT, and Cooler Master.

Which CPU coolers do regular users and enthusiasts on forums like Reddit highly recommend?

Users and enthusiasts often recommend coolers from Noctua, such as the NH-D15, for its quiet operation and superior air cooling capabilities. AIO coolers with a 360mm radiator are also frequently suggested for those seeking enhanced cooling for gaming or workstation builds.

How does the cooling demand of a Ryzen 5 5600X shape the choice of CPU cooler?

The Ryzen 5 5600X has moderate cooling demands; hence, a mid-range air or liquid cooler would suffice. Look for coolers that balance performance and noise, as the 5600X does not generally require the most extensive cooling solutions, unless you plan on significant overclocking.

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