The Best CPU Coolers: Big cooler, budget cooler, water cooler...

By Steve · 24 replies
Feb 11, 2016
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  1. There isn't quite a one solution fits all product when it comes to CPU coolers. Folks with spacious full tower PCs won't have an issue using a massive 160mm or taller tower style cooler such as the Noctua NH-D15 while those who don't have that kind of cash might lean toward more affordable options such as the Cryorig H7.

    Even if you have the space, some users prioritize operating volume over temperatures in which case the Be Quiet! Dark Rock Pro 3 offers a fine balance. If you find any level of fan noise offensive, then a big passive cooler such as the Thermalright Le Grand Macho will be in order.

    If air cooling comes off as unadventurous, an all-in-one liquid cooler may be of interest. Read on for a full list of our top picks and why we chose them...

    Read the complete article.

  2. Luay

    Luay TS Enthusiast Posts: 79   +13


    I'm building a mitx rig in the Lian Li PC-Q10, and decided that a top flow air cooler would be best to allow top intake fans to feed the CPU, PSU and back of the video card without obstruction, and simultaneously provide cool air around the motherboard. Lots of new information here so thanks. Thermalright AXP200 really is a nice find but would I really choose it over the NH-C14S? Price is the same and if you ignore the ugly color, I think it cools better and sounds quieter.

    As for the Rajinterk Pallas, the Cryorig C1 and C7 are priced around it so I'm not really sure which would be best as a budget choice
  3. darkzelda

    darkzelda TS Evangelist Posts: 302   +108

    How better is liquid cooling compared to air cooling? I use a Hyper 212 for a Core i7 4790K, Would my temperatures get really lower if I use an AIO liquid cooling solution?
  4. alabama man

    alabama man TS Maniac Posts: 378   +243

    I have Noctua NH-D15 and it has been great. The installation is easy and haven't had any issues with it. Waiting for something to require more cpu power so I can overclock, not voiding warranties for no benefit.
  5. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 2,869   +2,038

    It really depends but I would say over a Hyper 212 with something like the H115i would be a considerable upgrade. On an overclocked 4790K operating at around 4.6GHz the H115i will be roughly 8 - 10 degrees cooler than the Noctua NH-D15.

    The NH-C14S is a nice cooler but it is significantly taller than the AXP 200 and since performance is no better I prefer the AXP 200 as the ultimate low profile cooler.
    Reehahs, Peter Farkas and treetops like this.
  6. madboyv1

    madboyv1 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,471   +375

    For a brief moment I thought about the AXP 200, but then realized on paper it won't fit in the ML-08, so much for that... went with the Scythe Big Shuriken 2 Rev. B. Pending a couple cables that I needed to get at the last minute I'll be installing it hopefully tomorrow or early next week.
  7. Adhmuz

    Adhmuz TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,828   +633

    "With literally hundreds of AIO liquid coolers to choose from"

    I'm sorry, but I don't think there are "Hundreds" to choose from... Maybe a couple dozen that are made by reputable brands that come with a good warranty, the ladder being even harder to come by. Honestly anything will less than 3 years warranty should be disregarded in my opinion, and even a minimum 5 year warranty should be sought after.

    The Nepton 280 I just picked up is doing very well despite not being able to use the provided fans effectively, although they are some of the loudest around (as expressed in reviews) though I have not had to hear at full speed yet and even the one I can use is barely audible... It comes with a 5 year warranty to boot, not marked on the box (fools). Performance wise it's great despite the inability to get full use out of the fans.

    I was going to buy the D15 but the store not only had none in stock with none on order, but they wanted $145 for it! The Nepton cost $120? Kind of an easy choice to make.
  8. treetops

    treetops TS Evangelist Posts: 2,073   +219

  9. ct1615

    ct1615 TS Rookie

    Liquid coolers are a complete rip off. They don't cool as well as a similar priced air cooler until you reach $80+ and make more noise then air coolers since they run their fans at higher speeds. They can beat air coolers at bringing the temp down from peak quicker then air cooler but again the running of the fans at higher speeds can have more to do with that then the actual cooler.

    FYI, liquid coolers are all made by two-three companies and then sold by different brands. As for the fans, it's the same thing. Cooler master, corsair, antec, etc, don't make fans or liquid coolers. They purchase them from oem factory and then stick their logs on them. Arguing over two brands that repackage the same liquid cooler is like arguing over which grocery store sells a more effective version of Tide laundry cleaner.
    treetops likes this.
  10. Lionvibez

    Lionvibez TS Evangelist Posts: 1,266   +436

    I will take a liquid cooler over an Air cooler anyday.

    I have a G10+H55 on my Radeon 7970Ghz and its super quiet.

    Granted I've heard of some of the issues with the predator series there are no mention of the swiftech h240x or H220x.

    Which I would still buy over any of the corsair AIO due to have much high quality components and being able to expand the loops.

    Also you can replace the fans for quieter ones if the stock ones are too loud for you.
  11. madboyv1

    madboyv1 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,471   +375

    EK has a really cool set, EK-XLC Predator series that comes in a 240mm AIO CPU kit and a 360mm AIO CPU kit, both come with the option for a quick disconnect (QDC). Unlike pretty much every other AIO kit, EK designed the thing to be bled and refilled if need be, and also offers GPU waterblocks that come prefilled and compatible with the aforementioned QDC. Definitely on the pricier end but curse it all if it's not tempting if setting up a completely custom loop is too daunting of a task.

    Release 1:
    Release 2:
  12. lripplinger

    lripplinger TS Addict Posts: 283   +98

    My system has the Scythe Katana cooling my old i7-860. I had to replace the fan on it, because the original fan wore out and sounded like a lawn mower. So I slapped a 3 speed Antec Tri-cool fan on it, and keep at the lowest setting. It is very quiet and cools just fine. But I have installed many Hyper 212 EVO's, and have found them to be quiet and very good. Installation is a bit fiddly with them, but you install enough and it isn't' a big deal. Silverstone also has some nice, quiet coolers. The AR series from them are really nice. I am intrigued by the Cryorig you mention here. That looks like a very good value. I have also installed Corsair liquid coolers, and they are nice too.
  13. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 2,869   +2,038

    NO there are LITERALLY hundreds to choose from... 4814 600036012&IsNodeId=1&bop=And&Order=PRICE&PageSize=30

    "What you are saying is, while there are literally hundreds of AIO liquid coolers to choose from the search can be narrowed down to just a dozen or so models from reputable brands."

    Yes, I do. They might still be quieter though.
  14. red1776

    red1776 Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe Posts: 5,224   +164

    I have benched a load of air coolers and still find the Silver Arrow superior to the D15, albeit by 1-2degrees.
  15. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 2,869   +2,038

    I have found them to be very very similar as well. The issue being the Silver Arrow costs considerably more.

    EDIT: I take that back, I see at some locations the pricing is very good.

    Availability of the Noctua NH-D15 seems a lot better.
  16. red1776

    red1776 Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe Posts: 5,224   +164

    I have found them to be very very similar as well. The issue being the Silver Arrow costs considerably more.

    EDIT: I take that back, I see at some locations the pricing is very good.

    yeah they dropped the SA last year I think because of the D15. I got very close results from the Nepton 280L and the 115i both intel and AMD, your results seem to have a larger spread. If you listed it I missed it. what ambient do you test at?
  17. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 2,106   +1,282

    I'm one of the lucky few who bought the dark rock 3 when it first came out. Payed $50.
  18. Skinner2001

    Skinner2001 TS Rookie

  19. red1776

    red1776 Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe Posts: 5,224   +164

    That's probably because pure copper sinks don't outperform their Cu-Al counterparts. while copper transfers heat faster, it holds it longer unlike Aluminum which releases it much faster.
    madboyv1 and Skinner2001 like this.
  20. Madmaxneo

    Madmaxneo TS Enthusiast Posts: 30

    For a budget air coolers are a great way to keep any system cool. But Water coolers do perform better though they do cost much more. I would also say that in my experience you should check out the Swiftech AIO coolers especially the new ones. An added feature of these are that you can add components and what not if you prefer. Here is a link As a comparison my OC'd 4930k was running (at idle) in the high 30's low 40's on my evo 212 but now on the Swiftech H240-X it runs (on idle) in the high 20's and low 30's. When running higher end games with my water cooler I hit a high of about 50 degress, with my evo 212 it was also about 10 degrees hotter on average.
  21. Skinner2001

    Skinner2001 TS Rookie

    Well my CPU (i7-4770) dropped about 3-5 degrees C after I fitted this, from a LP11 Freezer.
    There's the evidence.
  22. I don't want to buy any new CPU Cooler, but is there any traditional way to cool off my noisy CPU and its Fan.
  23. chalita

    chalita TS Rookie

    So between Liquid cooling and Air cooling which one performs better?
  24. Antykain

    Antykain TS Booster Posts: 30   +18

    Still using my old Noctua NH-D14 in my secondary/crunching rig. It's cooling a AMD FX-8370 and still works beautifully as all these years. Still, IMO, one of the best air cooling solutions out there when compared to all the 'newer' ones.
  25. synphul

    synphul TS Rookie

    I'm surprised, no love for the thermalright true spirit 140 power. Nh-d14 performance at around $50 most of the time. Only downside is the 171mm height so a bit hard to fit in some cases unless they're wide/roomy. Love the drp3, it matches my black/gray color scheme and cools well with almost 0 noise. Not sure I'd love it for $90 but on sale for $55 when I grabbed it so definitely loving it.

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