Choosing the best CPU cooler for your rig depends on lots of variables such as price, space, overclocking, noise and aesthetics. It can be difficult trying to find the perfect cooler that fits all of the above, but we’ve compiled a list of the best where compromising has been kept to a minimum.
+ Easy to Install
– Not one for Overclocking
We’d always recommend an aftermarket cooler for your gaming PC and this budget cooler is the next step above a stock Intel or AMD one. Cooler Master has ensured it remains on top of the budget CPU cooler market with the Hyper TX3 Evo. Incredibly easy to install due to it using similar locking pins as the stock Intel processors, the Hyper TX3 Evo performs better than its price tag suggests. On top of this, it’s quiet, running at 17dBA on the minimum setting and will keep your CPU cool while playing most games. Perhaps not the one for you if you are looking to overclock as there are other coolers further down the list which will handle it better and be quieter. As always, double check that your socket is compatible, but this multi-purpose, compact, lightweight cooler is the perfect first step in upgrading your tower’s cooling capability.
+ Performs as well as many mid-tier coolers
+ Easy installation
-Lack of RGB
Another budget cooler from Cooler Masters, the Hyper 212 Evo has been a steadfast budget option for gamers for years. Very quick and easy to install and with the option of adding another fan, the Hyper 212 Evo really is the king of entry-level CPU coolers. In addition, the four Continuous Direct Contact heat pipes ensure maximum heat conduction resulting in your processor remaining cool, even if you wanting to overclock. You won’t have to worry about noise either, with the fans running at 9 dBA on the lowest setting. Furthermore, due to the multipurpose locking pin system, the cooler is compatible with a range of both Intel and AMD CPU sockets (however an AMD AM4 upgrade kit is needed for AM 4 Ryzen sockets). A solid CPU cooler that was built to handle intense gaming sessions and will keep your CPU nice and cool.
+ Water cooled
+ Extensive compatibility
The Corsair Hydro Series H45 is a compact, lightweight liquid cooler which won’t have trouble fitting in almost all cases and is compatible with a wide range of Intel and AMD CPU sockets. As long as your processor has a 120mm fan mount near the CPU then the Hydro Series H45 will most likely fit. The cooler comes with all the standard benefits of liquid cooling and with the added pluses of coming pre-filled and never needing to be primed. Furthermore, the advanced SP120L PWM fan design will ensure maximum cooling is achieved and will improve overall case cooling flow. The ability to change the fan speed, too, is a handy option, especially when you are playing more demanding games. Overall, the Hydro Series H45 is a perfect entry-level liquid CPU cooler which is easy to install, compact and has minimal maintenance needed compared to other liquid coolers.
-Big and bulky
The Noctua NH-D14 has everything you want in a CPU cooler. Its six heat pipes and dual radiator design ensures that your CPU runs cool even when playing demanding games with an overclocked rig. In addition, the cooler has two fans which further ensures low CPU temperatures, resulting in excellent component cooling. You won’t need to be concerned with the noise level of this fan either, as on max it runs at a quiet 19.8 dBA, so even when you’re pushing your PC’s limits, it will remain quiet. The only thing to note is that it’s on the larger side due to the dual radiators and fans, to make sure you have enough space to fit it in your case. However, thanks to the SecuFirm2 multi-socket mounting system it’s sure to fit most motherboards. If you’re looking for the ultimate CPU cooler at an affordable price then this is the choice, and the fact you get a tube of thermal paste with it is the icing on the cake.
+ Powerful supporting software
The H150i Pro RGB is a liquid-cooled fan which has three ML Series 120mm PWM fans to ensure your rig remains cool no matter what you put it through. You have the option of adjusting fan speed and pump speed to easily jump between minimising noise or maximising cooling. Plus, if noise is a key variable for you then you’ll love the zero RPM mode which allows fans to stop at low temperatures, minimising sound. Furthermore, you’ll be able to customise which vivid colour you want on the cooler to match your rig. The main reason why this is the king of coolers is the supporting software you can download. Corsair Link software puts you in full control, allowing you to change individual fan speeds, pump speeds and RGB lighting whilst monitoring coolant and CPU temperatures. If you’re after the ultimate CPU cooler, and have the space to fit it, then this is most certainly the best to go for.
These are our pick of the best CPU coolers ranging from great budget choices to a no-expense-spared beast of a cooler. Regardless of which one you opt for, you will be adding a great component to your rig and will ensure that your CPU remains cool as ever.