The process, which is often regarded as the CPU, is the brain of every machine. Most pc users would spend a lot of time to consider and choose the right process with care. However, they often forgot its trusty companion: the CPU cooler. If you are looking to overclock your pc, you definitely have to pick one.
However, choosing a cooler is also an equally challenging job. How do I know if my case can fit a cooler? Which kinds of cooler should I go for: air or liquid? How do I mount it to the processor? Just read though everything written down here. By the end of this guide, you’ll have all the answers when it comes to picking the best CPU coolers.
CPU generates heat when in use. To ensure maximum performance, you need to cool it down. That’s when CPU coolers come into play. These specifically designed heat sinks keep your CPU operating at the ideal temperature. Now let’s take a look at what you need to know about to choose the most suitable CPU cooler:
1. CPU socket
As the name implies, the socket is where the processor fits in and being held in place. This is the first thing you need to check to see if the cooler of your choice fits with the CPU socket. Take a look at your motherboard or CPU specs and see which socket it uses.
2. Thermal Design Power (TDP)
TDP measures the maximum amount of heat generated by a computer chip, such as a CPU, under any workload. For instance, the Ryzen™ 5 3600XT has a TDP of 95W. You should always find a cooler with a TDP parameter higher than 95W. Ideally, go for something with as twice TDP as 95W like EVGA CLC 240mm in case you want to overclock it. The higher value of a CPU’s TDP is the more cooling will be required.
In short, TDP is the parameter that helps you determine the power efficiency and performance of a CPU. Always find a cooler with at least 2-3 times higher DTP value than the one on your processor.
3. Air vs Water Coolers
There are two major cooling options: air or liquid coolers. How you choose one cooling option depends on your needs. Here are some details about them:
The advantage of air coolers is their price and ease of install. They are also low-maintenance and last longer in comparison to their liquid counterpart. On the other hand, air coolers are not suitable for systems which require extreme cooling. I recommend you to check out Dark Rock Pro 4 and Noctua NH-D15, two excellent choices of this type.
This type of cooler is for those who want to keep their high-powered CPUs cool despite being put under heavy stress. However, they require more maintenance due to the risk of leaking. They are classified furthermore into two different categories:
AOI (All-in-one) liquid coolers are the cheaper option of the two. They are designed to be working out of the box. AOI coolers allow you to overclock your process to a higher level than air coolers. However, it can’t push your CPU to the same level done by a custom loop cooling setup. Check out this Corsair Hydro Series H100i PRO or ARCTIC Liquid Freezer II 240.
Custom loop coolers are on another level. Therefore, they cost a considerable amount of money and are more complicated to set up. I advise those who are new to the CPU cooler screen to stay away from it, for now at least.
4. Noise levels
The CPU cooler is among the loudest components in a computer, partly due to the fans. It is advisable to find CPU coolers with max noise about 25 dB. Higher than that and you may get distracted or irritated by the noise from it.
Most liquid coolers are quieter than their air counterpart. If you want to reduce noise on an air cooler, choose one with multiple fans (and make sure these fans are big, too).
Some of the quietest CPU coolers include Noctua NH-D15, Thermaltake Contac Silent 12 150W, and Corsair H115i.
The final factor you may want to consider is the style differences between air coolers and liquid coolers. Generally, the latter often offers better aesthetics than the former. If you are looking for effective cooling and RGB lightning, always go for liquid coolers.
Liquid coolers like EK 240mm AIO or NZXT Kraken M22 120mm will make your case look sleek and striking. However, there are also some visually appealing air coolers such as MasterAir G100M.
1. How can I check whether my case can house the cooler or not?
Some CPU coolers can be set upright at a considerable height from the CPU. You have to choose a case that is wide and tall enough so your cooler can fit in comfortably. Fortunately, you can easily find all of this information in the CPU cooler and case’s specs. If you can’t find it, simply contact the manufacturer and they’ll let you know the case’s clearance for the CPU cooler.
2. Can I install a CPU cooler without taking the motherboard off?
The answer to this question depends on the case and the cooler itself. The first thing you should do is take off your computer’s side panel and see what you can do. Check whether your case has a cutout or not. If it is, you’re good to go.
3. Should I remove the cooler before transporting my computer?
Yes. It is generally a good idea to take the cooler off as its weight is considerable. You don’t need to do this, however, if your CPU cooler is a small one. As for liquid based coolers, for precaution, always take them off and put them in somewhere secured.
4. Does cooling improve my computer’s performance?
Overall, any heating is bad for your pc. When the heat is too much, the processor will slow or shut itself down to prevent melting. Thus, the performance is affected. You need to keep it cool to keep this from happening. Cooling mainly helps with your overall system’s longevity and stability.
5. Are there alternative ways to keep my CPU cool?
A cooling device is the best method to make sure your CPU stays cool. There are still other ways to keep a processor cool without installing one:
Keep your case clean.
Relocate your computer, don’t let it get trapped in a corner or near any heat sources.
Make sure your pc has proper airflow.
Take a few minutes and do some Cable management.
Applying new thermal paste to the processor, especially if your machine is old.
You could try undervolting, the opposite of overclocking.
How you choose the CPU coolers depends on your particular needs. For pcs with light to moderate usage, stock CPU coolers are fine for them.
Else you should take a look at Cooler Master Hyper 212, the best all-rounder cooler. This cooler is versatile (compatible with various chipsets) and budget-friendly.
On the other hand, if you are someone who wants to do serious gaming, streaming or video editing, you should go for CoolerMaster MasterLiquid ML240L. This one features dual chamber pumps and extended Impeller blades. Another noteworthy thing is its RGB lightning which adds a nice vibe to your whole case. Both versions of this cooler support almost all current Intel and AMD desktop processor sockets on the market.
After reading through this guide, you’re now equipped with everything you need to know to choose the best CPU coolers for yourself. In case you’re still unsure, don’t hesitate to contact us, let us know what you want and we will help you purchase the ideal coolers for your processors.