These are the best CPU coolers you can buy in 2022

These are the best CPU coolers you can buy in 2022

CPU coolers, as the name suggests, are designed to handle a CPU’s thermal output and keep it running cool at all times. They’re critical to avoid thermal throttling and help your CPU achieve its full potential. Not having the right cooler can also be a limiting factor when it comes to overclocking the CPU. We believe picking the right CPU cooler is just as important as, say, choosing the best PC case, best SSD, or any other core component of a PC build.

CPU coolers come in dozens of shapes and sizes, and they all fall into one of three main categories:

  • Air coolers
  • Closed-loop or all-in-one (AIO) coolers
  • Part of a custom or open-loop cooling setup

Air coolers and closed-loop liquid cooling solutions will be our primary focus for this collection. We’ll top it off with a custom cooling kit for those who want to dip their toes in the liquid cooling world. Here’s a quick look at our picks for the best CPU coolers to buy:

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Before we dive in and take a detailed look at each item, we wanted to highlight a few things to keep in mind before buying a CPU cooler :

  • Contrary to popular belief, buying an aftermarket CPU cooler isn’t a necessity — unless your CPU manufacturer didn’t include one in the box of course. For most people, the best CPU cooler might just be the stock cooler included in the box. Perhaps use the money for other peripherals like monitors, keyboards, webcam, etc.
  • It’s important to check for space before buying air coolers. Some of the coolers included in our collection demand a lot of space and clearance in your motherboard and PC case. Make sure your case is ready for your purchase.
  • Air coolers will be ineffective without proper airflow inside your PC case. Make sure it has enough vents and fans to move air in and out of the enclosure.
  • Not all PC cases are ideal for AIO liquid coolers due to the lack of proper radiator mounting options.
  • While AMD has confirmed that you can use the same CPU coolers with its upcoming AM5 platform, Intel’s Alder Lake processors will make you install a new cooler mount.
  • Lastly, a sophisticated cooling system requires a lot of space for things like radiators, pumps, coolant reservoirs, tubes, etc. We recommend only full-tower cases for such installations.

Best air cooler for your CPU: Noctua NH-D15

A big-sized air cooler with two brown fans and an aluminum heatsink

Specification Noctua NH-D15
Type Air cooler
Dimensions 165 x 150 x 161 mm
Compatibility: Intel LGA2066, LGA2011-0 & LGA2011-3, LGA1200, LGA1700, LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA1151, LGA1150 & AMD AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, FM1, FM2, FM2+ (backplate required), AM4
Included fans: 2x NF-A15 PWM premium fan
Fan Speed: 1500 RPM (max)
Weight: 1.3Kg
Warranty: 6 Years

It’s no secret that Noctua makes some of the most sought-after air coolers on the market. Their flagship product NH-D15 is our pick for the best air cooler you can buy for your CPU. It’s the successor to Noctua’s award-winning D14, and there’s a lot to like about this beast of a cooler. Even without any RGB lights or flashy colors, the Noctua NH-D15 would still be the most striking component of your PC due to its sheer size. This massive cooler has six heat pipes attached to the heatsinks. The cooler’s dual tower design allows it to have two 140mm fans in between for optimum airflow.

The NH-D15 has a wide 150mm fin-stack and there’s enough space between the heat pipes to allow uniform heat distribution. The cooler also comes with two NF-A15 140mm fans for both heatsinks. These fans support PWM for convenient automatic speed control and Low-Noise Adaptors (L.N.A.) for quiet operation. In addition to moving air from the heatsink, these massive fans also provide good airflow over surrounding components.

It’s recommended that you pair this CPU cooler with a good quality airflow case for the best results. Not having optimum airflow will prevent the hot air to escape the enclosure. This is true for all air coolers since there are no tubes, coolant, or radiators involved to move the heat away from the CPU. The Noctua NH-D15 supports a variety of sockets ranging from Intel LGA1200, LGA115x, LGA2011, LGA2066, and AMD AM4, AM3(+), AM2(+), FM1, FM2(+). The cooler also comes with thermal paste for installation. If you need any help, you check out our essay on how to install thermal paste.

What’s impressive about the Noctua NH-D15 CPU cooler is it runs quiet even when the CPU is under load. Its massive size makes it look like it’ll make a lot of noise handling high temperatures, but that’s simply not the case. In fact, we think it’s one of the best air coolers if you want something that makes less noise. Most other air coolers tend to make a lot of noise with the fans rotating at high speeds under load. If you aren’t a fan of liquid cooling or don’t have enough radiator mounts in your PC case, then the Noctua NH-D15 is the way to go.

Noctua also makes an all-black version of this air cooler called the “NH-D15”. It’s perfect to cool the CPU in an all-black build to maintain the aesthetics. The only drawback of this case is that it demands a lot of space inside your case. As a result, the RAM clearance takes a hit and you’ll be forced to use the standard low-profile DIMMs. Noctua addressed that with a different version of the CPU cooler called the NH-D15S. It has an asymmetrical layout with only a single fan and it offers more clearance for RAM (up to 65mm). It’s also good for LGA20xx in which the RAM slots are distributed on both sides of the socket.

    The Noctua NH-D15 is one of the most powerful air coolers on the market. It's can handle the high performance CPUs on the market too.




Second best air cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 Black Edition

A black colored CPU cooler with a matching heatsink and a 120mm fan

Specification Cooler Master Hyper 212 Black Edition
Type Air cooler
Dimensions 123 X 77 X 158.8 MM
Compatibility: LGA2066, LGA2011-V3, LGA2011, LGA1151, LGA1150, LGA1155, LGA1156, LGA1366, AM4, AM3+, AM3, AM2+, AM2, FM2+, FM2, FM1
Included fans: 1
Fan Speed: 800-2000 RPM
Weight: 700g
Warranty: 2 Years

Our second pick for the best CPU air cooler is a budget option for those who don’t want to spend close to $100 on the Noctua NH-D15. The Cooler Master Hype 212 Black Edition is a $35 CPU cooler that trades blows with some of the best coolers out there. Cooler Master’s Hyper 212 cooler has been around for well over a decade now. These coolers have been a part of recommended lists for many years and yet Cooler Master somehow manages to update them in meaningful to keep them relevant. The Hyper 212 Black Edition brings all the expertise from some of the older coolers in the form of a stealthy black-colored variant.

The Cooler Master Hyper 212 Black Edition cooler features four direct contact heat pipes, an aluminum heatsink, and a 120mm high airflow fan. It’s has a fairly straightforward design to efficiently carry the heat from the CPU IHS. The included PWM fan has a maximum RPM of 2,000. Cooler Master says it has 42CFM airflow and makes up to 26 dBA noise under heavy load at max RPM. It’s a simple air cooler that supports a variety of sockets including LGA2066, LGA2011-v3, LGA2011, LGA1200, LGA115x, LGA1366, AM4, AM3+, AM3, AM2+, AM2, FM2+, FM2, and FM1. As you can see, it’s made to be used with a wide variety of CPUs on the market.

The Hyper 212 Black Edition may not the most powerful CPU cooler out there. However, it’s proven to be better than the stock CPU coolers which is why we recommend it as a good entry-point for most people. Even the AMD users rocking a stock Wraith cooler can upgrade to this for better cooling. One of the best things about the Hyper 212 Black Edition cooler is its size. It’s not a massive unit with a huge heatsink and a bunch of fans. The simple design also makes it very easy to install on the motherboard. You don’t have to be a professional PC builder or an enthusiast to install this cooler. The Hyper 212 is also compact enough to keep its distance from other components like RAM.

We think the Cooler Master Hyper 212 Black Edition is a fantastic air cooler for anybody who’s looking to ditch the stock CPU cooler. It may not be enough for a high-performance unlocked CPU running at upwards of 5.0GHz at all times, but it’s a solid option for users with a basic budget build. There’s also a variant with RGB lights if you want a touch of RGB in your build. In fact, Cooler Master has a few variants of the Hyper 212 with subtle differences in design. It’s the most affordable cooler in our collection, and we’re yet to find a worthy replacement for it. You can use the same cooler with the new AM5 platform and Cooler Master will most likely launch an adapter to support the upcoming Alder Lake CPUs too.

    The Cooler Master Hyper 212 Black Edition is an affordable air cooler for anybody willing to upgrade from a stock cooler.




Best liquid CPU cooler: Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML360 Illusion

A Cooler Master AIO cooler with three RGB fans and a waterblock

Specification Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML360 Illusion
Type Liquid cooling (AIO)
Dimensions 394 x 119 x 27.2 mm
Compatibility: LGA2066, LGA2011-v3, LGA2011, LGA1200, LGA1700, LGA1151, LGA1150, LGA1156, LGA1366, LGA775, AM4, AM3+, AM3, AM2+, AM2, FM2+, FM2, FM1
Included fans: 3x 120mm ARGB fans
Fan Speed: 2000 RPM (max)
Weight: 2.56Kg
Warranty: 2 Years

If you prefer an AIO liquid cooler over an air cooler, then we recommend the Cooler Master’s new MasterLiquid ML360 Illusion. It’s our pick for the best closed-loop liquid cooler on the market right now. It offers excellent cooling performance, making it a reliable cooler to tame the high-performance unlocked processors. Be it the AMD Ryzen 9 5950X or an Intel Core i9-11900K, this should do the trick. It features a large 360mm radiator which allows for an even distribution of the coolant inside the tank. It also looks fantastic thanks to the translucent water chamber dome and three MF120R ARGB fans. This is one of the new few AIOs on the market with a translucent water block.

We hope your PC case has decent radiator mounting space because this liquid cooler comes with a 360mm radiator (hence the name ML360). Even though the cooler is bundled with 3 aRGB fans, you can use any 120mm fans for the radiator. The PWM fans included with the cooler have a maximum RPM of 1,800. The Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML360 Illusion uses a dual-chamber pump. It helps to keep both the temperatures as well the noise levels low. The cooler supports LGA2066, LGA2011-v3, LGA2011, LGA1200, LGA115x, AM4, AM3+, AM3, AM2+, AM2, FM2+, FM2, and FM1 sockets. This can also be used with the upcoming AM5 platforms and we believe the company will also have adapters to support Alder Lake CPUs.

The MasterLiquid ML360 Illusion is a tried-and-tested AIO with consistent cooling performance. It’s one of the top-performing CPU coolers on the market right now and it goes head-to-head with other AIOs like the NZXT Kraken X72 and the Corsair H150i Pro. Cooler Master also has another variant called the MasterLiquid ML240 with a smaller 240mm radiator. We recommend opting for that if your PC case doesn’t have space for mounting a large 360mm one. In fact, the smaller 240mm variant is perfect for mini-ITX builds with limited space. You can also buy a compact version of the cooler with just a 120mm radiator, however, that’s not going to be enough to cool high-performance CPUs.

The ML360 is also bundled with an addressable Gen 2 RGB controller that works with Cooler Master’s MasterPlus+ software to help you customize the lights. However, it involves fiddling with a lot of cables, making it difficult to work with compared to other coolers. While the MasterLiquid ML360 Illusion isn’t the most affordable CPU cooler on the market, we think it’s perfect for power users, gamers, and overclocking enthusiasts looking to push the limits of their CPUs. The MasterLiquid ML240, as we mentioned earlier, is also a solid option if you don’t mind working with a smaller radiator. Corsair also has some quality AIO coolers on offer, however, they’re slightly more expensive than other options in this collection.

    The Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML360 Illusion is arguably the best AIO cooler you can buy.




Second-best liquid CPU cooler: NZXT Kraken X53 AIO

An image of NZXT AIO with a pump and a radiator with fans

Specification NZXT Kraken X53 AIO
Type Liquid cooling (AIO)
Dimensions 123 x 275 x 30 mm
Compatibility: LGA 1700, 1200, 115X, 1366, 2011, 2011-3, 2066, AM4, sTRX4, TR4
Included fans: 2x Aer P 120mm
Fan Speed: 3000 RPM (max)
Weight: 1Kg
Warranty: 6 Years

NZXT’s catalog of AIO liquid coolers includes a bunch of options in the form of the Kraken Z, Kraken X, and Kraken M series. While the Kraken Z series coolers are the most popular ones, we’ve picked the Kraken X53 AIO as the second-best liquid CPU cooler you can currently buy. This isn’t as expensive as the Kraken Z series coolers, and it only lacks the display on the water block. The cooling performance should more or less be similar to NZXT’s other 240mm AIOs. This AIO comes with a 240mm radiator coupled with two 120mm Aer P fans to blow the heat out of the case.

The water block is made out of copper and plastic, and it features a rotatable top to re-orient the logo. The rubber tubes are covered with nylon mesh sleeves to protect the component from any accidental leaks. It’s compatible with LGA1200, LGA115x, LGA1366, LGA2011, LGA2011-3, LGA2066, AM4, AM3, sTRX4, and TR4. The Kraken X53 can be used with almost all the relatively newer CPUs on the market, but we don’t recommend using it if you plan on overclocking your CPU. The 240mm radiator isn’t going to be enough to control the thermal output of high-performance CPUs, especially the overclocked ones.

The water block is the only component of the Kraken X53 with RGB lights. The included fans don’t have RGB, but you can use any 120mm fans with the radiator. NZXT itself has a bunch of RGB fans that are compatible with this AIO cooler. The Kraken x53 syncs with the NZXT CAM software to let you control the RGB lights. A fully decked-out NZXT build with, say, an NZXT case, fans, etc. will work well together and they can be controlled easily via the CAM software. NZXT users have mixed opinions about the CAM software, but it’s a fairly easy-to-use software and most importantly, it gets the job done.

The Kraken X53 is NZXT’s most affordable X-series AIO, but it delivers reliable performance. Just to reiterate, we don’t recommend this AIO for cooling a high-performance unlocked processor like the Core i9-11900K, though. This 240mm AIO should be enough to handle the thermal output of, say, Intel’s Core i5 or the Ryzen 5600X CPU. It’s safe to say that this AIO should be able to handle just about low to mid-tier CPUs on the market right now.

NZXT also has other AIO liquid coolers under the Z-series. These coolers have an LCD display on the water block that can be customized to show many things including the CPU temperature. The Kraken Z73 is also a great cooler, albeit a bit expensive. NZXT coolers are best paired with the company’s own PC cases to maintain the overall aesthetics of the build, but they can be installed on pretty much any case with enough for the radiator. NZXT hasn’t launched any new CPU coolers in a while, so you might want to wait and see if they come up with something new just in time for the holiday season.

    The NZXT Kraken X53 AIO is a great 240mm liquid cooler for those who want a reliable cooler without emptying their pockets.




Best CPU cooler for unlocked Alder Lake chips: Gigabyte Aorus Waterforce x360 AIO liquid cooler

Specification Gigabyte Aorus Waterforce X360 AIO
Type AIO liquid cooler
Dimensions 394 x 119 x 27mm
Compatibility: Intel LGA2066, LGA2011, LGA1366, LGA115x, LGA1200, LGA1700
Included fans: Three 120mm RGB PWM fans
Fan Speed: 800~2500 RPM
Weight: 1.2Kg
Warranty: 3 Years

Intel’s new 12th-gen Alder Lake CPUs are now available to purchase. The new 12th-gen chips drop in an updated LGA1700 CPU socket, which is physically a different socket. You can check out our LGA1700 CPU cooler guide to learn more about the socket in detail. While all the CPU coolers mentioned in this collection are now bundled with a compatible LGA1700 mounting bracket, we wanted to add an AIO liquid cooler we recently tested. After spending an extended period of time testing the Gigabyte Aorus Waterforce X360 CPU cooler for its review, it’s safe to say that it’s one of the best options to consider if you’re looking to buy the new unlocked Alder Lake chips.

We tested the Gigabyte Aorus Waterforce X360 with both the Core i5-12600K and the Core i9-12900K CPUs. The Core i9-12900K is one of the most powerful CPUs out there with an impressive performance and corresponding thermal output. While testing, we were able to notice that the Gigabyte Aorus Waterforce X360 managed to keep the thermal output of this particular CPU in check. We were able to record core temperatures as low as 25°C at idle conditions. While gaming, we ended up logging an avg core temperature of about 45°C. Even under heavy load, the Gigabyte Aorus Waterforce X360 managed to keep the temperatures under acceptable limits.

One thing that’s worth pointing out about this particular cooler is that it can get very loud if you to its limits. We were able to record noise levels of up to 50 dBA under load, which as you probably already know, is one on the higher side. Your mileage may vary but it’s definitely something to make a note of. As we mentioned in the specs sheet, the Gigabyte Aorus Waterforce X360 AIO comes with three 120mm ARGB fans, so you don’t have to separate units unlike a lot of other coolers on the market.

In terms of the design, the Gigabyte Aorus Waterforce X360 sports a 60mm LCD panel on the water block. The cooler also lets you add a microSD card using which you can play custom videos and pictures on the LCD using the RGB Fusion 2.0 software. There’s a copper base plate at the bottom of the water block along with a pair of rotating 90° fittings to which the coolant tubes are connected to the pump.

Overall, we think the Gigabyte Aorus Waterforce X360 checks all the right boxes to become one of the best high-performance coolers on the market. It gets an easy recommendation from us if you’re looking for a reliable high-end AIO cooler to tame powerful chips like the 12900K. The Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML360 Illusion is also a great alternative to consider. It costs almost the same as the Gigabyte Aorus Waterforce X360 and supports the LGA1700 socket, so be sure to check it out. We also encourage you to check out our Gigabyte Aorus Waterforce X360 review to learn more about it in detail.

    The Aorus Waterforce X360 AIO cooler checks all the right boxes to score some good numbers in our test to become one of the best coolers around for Alder Lake CPUs.




Best Passive CPU cooler: Noctua NH-P1

Heatsink of a passive CPU cooler installed inside a PC case

Specification Noctua NH-P1
Type Air cooler
Dimensions 158 x 154 x 152 mm
Compatibility: Intel LGA2066, LGA2011-0 & LGA2011-3 (Square ILM), LGA1200, LGA1700, LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA1151, LGA1150 & AMD AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, FM1, FM2, FM2+ (backplate required), AM4
Included fans: NA
Fan Speed: NA
Weight: 1.2Kg
Warranty: 6 Years

A high-end CPU requires some sort of a powerful cooling solution involving either fans or a liquid cooling loop that make a lot of noise. But Noctua wants to remove the noise from that equation with its NH-P1 passive CPU cooler. A passive cooler, in case you don’t know, solely relies on the heatsink to move heat away from the CPU IHS. The lack of any fans or a liquid cooling loop makes it completely silent. Passive CPU coolers have been around for quite some time, however, the older ones were extremely limited when it comes to their cooling capability.

But unlike the older passive cooling solutions that’d force you to use an underpowered processor or limited clock speeds, Noctua’s passive cooler is good enough to cool an Intel Core i9-11900K. Passively cooling your CPU is not for everyone though. Noctua has a set of setup guidelines and a CPU compatibility list to help you prepare a build involving the cooler. The company also has a list of recommended cases for you to choose from. The cooler is compatible with all modern CPU sockets and it also has 100 percent RAM clearance on LGA1200 and AM4. This makes it even better than the NH-D15 in terms of RAM clearance.

Passively cooling an Intel Core i9-11900K sounds like a fantastic idea, but it’s not something we recommend. The i9-11900K might fall below base-clock under continuous full load and there’s a good chance that you might not be able to take full advantage of the turbo boost speeds too. That being said, the NH-P1 can be paired with a mid-tier CPU for the best results. CPUs like the Ryzen 5 5600X should work just fine with this cooler.

You should also be prepared to give up a whole lot of space in your chassis to use this cooler. It’s an absolute unit at 1.2Kg. Not to mention, you’ll also need a case with decent airflow. Having mesh panels and lots of ventilation is a must to passively cool your PC without any fans. We recommend using Noctua’s NF-A12x25 LS-PWM fans with this cooler, though. You can set these fans to come to a dead stop at 0 percent PWM, giving you complete control over when the fans are active.

Overall, the Noctua NH-P1 is an impressive CPU cooler. It achieves what most powerful CPU coolers struggle to do even with a set of aggressive fans spinning at high RPMs. It’s the kind of sophisticated components enthusiasts love to work with, and it’s a worthy addition to this collection. Noctua’s coolers are also known to work well with newly launched CPUs. So you can pick this up if you’re planning to start an Alder Lake or AM5 build with the upcoming CPUs.

    The Noctua NH-P1 is a passive CPU cooler for those who are looking to build a custom PC with no fans.




Best low profile air cooler: Noctua NH-L9i

A Noctua NH-P1 low profile cpu cooler with the signature Noctua fan

Specification Noctua NH-L9i
Type Air cooler
Dimensions 95 x 95 x 37 mm
Compatibility: Intel LGA1150, LGA1151, LGA1155, LGA1156, LGA1200, LGA1700 | (Sold separately for AMD sockets)
Included fans: NF-A9x14 PWM premium fan
Fan Speed: 2,500 RPM (max)
Weight: 385g
Warranty: 6 Years

The Noctua NH-L9i is officially one of the oldest products to have made it to one of our collections. Much like Cooler Master’s Hyper 212, this cooler has been around for many years and Noctua has done a fantastic job of keeping it relevant to date. The company found a niche in the market and they’ve been serving it for many years with this quality product. The NH-L9i is a tiny 1.46-inch air cooler designed for mini-ITX enclosures. This specific cooler only supports Intel-based platforms, but Noctua also makes one for AMD systems.

There are two U-shaped pipes to draw heat away from the CPU to be dissipated via the heatsink. The fan takes over there to throw the heat away from the CPU. The included low-profile fan with the cooler is among the quietest in the business. The cooler dimensions are small enough to fit on most motherboards without causing any clearance issues too. It comes pre-installed with mounting brackets and the CPU contact surface is nickel-plated, typical for a Noctua cooler.

Just like many other Noctua coolers, we love the NH-L9i for its build quality. The company also throws in some thoughtful extras with the NH-L9i cooler like the rubber inlays for the included fans and a cable to control its RPM. You can also ditch the stock fan to install a thicker one by means of spare screws that also come bundled.

The Noctua NH-L9i is not meant to cool a high-end CPU. It’s a low profile and we recommend using this cooler in low to mid-tier builds. It’s a solid entry point for most people who are looking to replace their stock CPU coolers for the first time. Given its dimensions, this cooler won’t stick out like a sore thumb inside your cabinet. This is perfect for those who complain about CPU coolers taking a centre stage inside PC cases these days. It’s just as small as some of the stock coolers you get with most CPUs. It’s good for small form factor PCs (Cube PC cases) and mini-ITX builds. That’s assuming you’re not going for a high-end build in an ITX form factor, in which case you should be looking at AIO coolers.

The Cooler Master Hyper 212 may seem like a better cooler for the price, but the Nocta NH-L9i is targeted at enthusiasts interested in small form factor PCs. The Hyper 212 budget cooler is more suitable for a mid-tower build. We recommend the Noctua NH-L9i for its low-profile design, impressive build quality, easy installation process, and reliable cooling. Don’t forget to pick up the right variant to go with the CPU socket. You might also want to wait a bit longer to see if this will support the upcoming Alder Lake CPUs. But given how popular these coolers are, there’s a very slim chance of Noctua turning a blind eye towards this cooler.

    The Noctua NH-L9i is a great entry-level low profile air cooler to upgrade from stock coolers. Remember to pick the right variant for your socket.




Best compact liquid cooler: Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML120R RGB

Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML120L

Specification Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML120R RGB
Type Liquid Cooling
Dimensions 157 x 119.6 x 27 mm
Compatibility: LGA2066, LGA2011-v3, LGA2011, LGA1200, LGA1700, LGA1151, LGA1150, LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA1366, LGA775, AM4, AM3+, AM3, AM2+, AM2, FM2+, FM2, FM1
Included fans: 1x 120mm ARGB fan
Fan Speed: 2,000 RPM (max)
Weight: 1.09Kg
Warranty: 2 Years

The Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML120R RGB is essentially a compact version of the MasterLiquid ML360 Illusion we mentioned earlier as the best liquid cooler. So it’s hardly a surprise that we added the smaller, more compact version of the cooler to the collection too. Besides the smaller radiator size and the lack of a translucent water block, the MasterLiquid ML120R RGB is identical to the standard cooler. However, it’s not ideal to control the thermal output of high-performance CPUs on the market.

It supports all modern CPU sockets including Intel’s LGA 2066, 2011-v3, 2011,1151, 1150, 1155, 1156, 1366, 775, and AMD’s AM4, AM3+, AM3, AM2+, AM2, FM2+, FM2, and FM1. You’ll also be able to use it with AM5 platforms and we believe Cooler Master will also provide adapters for the upcoming Intel Alder Lake CPUs. You get two 120mm fans with a maximum of 30 dbA noise and 66.7 CFM airflow. The pump features a copper cooling plate seen on many other Cooler Master AIOs.

Despite the smaller form factor, the ML120 cooler is full of RGB lighting. One of the best things about this cooler is that it comes with aRGB (addressable) technology. Both the fans as well as the water block features aRGB lights and they can be easily controlled using the bundled RGB controller. Yes, you also get an RGB controller with this cooler which is quite impressive for the price.

The included RGB controller is powered using a SATA connection and it features additional ports to allow users to add more RGB lighting to the case. You can also avoid using the controller entirely and customize the lights using the motherboard software. Alternatively, the cooler can also be connected to an existing RGB controller.

The MasterLiquid ML120RS RGB is a compact cooler best suited for builds with a limited amount of space. This particular cooler works best with mini-ITX enclosures with limited radiator mounting options. It’s relatively easier to make space for a 120mm radiator than struggling to mount a full-length 360mm radiator. As mentioned earlier, the ML120R RGB is not meant to be used with high-performance CPUs. The smaller 120mm radiator might not be enough to efficiently cool something like a stock Ryzen 5950X or an i9-11900K, let alone overclocked. It’s good for entry-level to mid-range CPUs.

At $109, the MasterLiquid 120R is not the most affordable compact liquid cooler on the market, but it’s a reliable option that borrows a lot of great features from the bigger cooler. If you don’t mind giving up on some of the RGB lights, there’s also the MasterLiquid 120L for $64. However, this one only comes with a single SickleFlow 120mm fan as opposed to two 120mm units. NZXT also has a couple of 120mm AIO coolers, however, they’re more expensive than this one.

    The Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML120R RGB is one of the best compact AIOs you can buy for your small form factor builds. This is suitable for cooling a low to mid-tier CPU.




Best custom cooling kit: Alphacool Eissturm Hurricane Copper 45

A pc case installed with a custom loop liquid cooling solution

Specification Alphacool Eissturm Hurricane Copper 45
Type Liquid Cooling
Dimensions 157 x 119.6 x 27 mm
Compatibility: Intel LGA 1700/1200/1151/1150/1155/1156/755/2011-3/2011/1366, AMD AM4, AM3(+)/AM3/AM2(+)/AM2/939/FM2(+)/FM2/FM1/G34/940
Included fans: 3x Eiswind Pure Edition
Fan Speed: 1,600 RPM (max)
Weight: 6.9Kg
Warranty: 2 Years

The Alphacool Eissturm Hurricane Copper 45 is unlike any cooling solution we’ve seen so far in the collection. It’s a custom cooling kit that comes with all the necessary parts to create a custom liquid cooling loop for high-end builds. The highlight of this particular kit is the full-copper NexXxos XT45 radiator — a 45mm thick unit enough to cool an entire overclocked PC and then some. The kit also includes a water block, a pump, coolant, a 3-way fan splitter, a thermal compound, a handy funnel, and more.

Unlike other coolers in our collection, the Alphacool Eissturn Hurricane Copper 45 will take some effort to install. The process involves figuring out how to route the tubes for passing the coolant. It’s not as straightforward as closed-loop AIO coolers. As an open-loop cooling solution, you can add more components to the loop including the GPU and the SSD, but you’ll need respective water blocks for those components and more tubes to pass the coolant too. The included Eisblock XPX for CPU supports a variety of sockets including Intel’s LGA 2066, 2011x, 1366, 115x, 775, and AMD’s AM4, AM3(+), AM2(+), FM1, FM2(+), and TR4. These kinds of kits are usually updated to support newer CPUs sockets too, so you can rely on the manufacturer to provide adapters for upcoming CPUs.

The Eisblock XPX features a nickel-plated copper base polished to a mirror finish. It has grooves at the bottom, allowing the metal mounting brackets to maintain even pressure on the CPU. Just remember to apply the thermal compound before installing the water block. The kit also includes the VPP755 pump, which you’ll be pairing with the 250mm acrylic reservoir to make a safe space for the coolant.

The NexXxos 45 radiator features seven G1/4 fittings to enable versatile loop configuration. The kit also includes a trio of Eiswind Pure Edition 140mm fans for the massive radiator. It goes without saying that you’ll need a large case to install a sophisticated cooling solution like these involving reservoirs, pumps, tubes, and more. We recommend installing this cooling inside a full-tower case like the Lian Li PC-O11 Dynamic XL case, for instance.

The Alphacool Eissturm Hurricane Copper 45 is an ideal solution for enthusiasts looking for a high-quality water cooling kit in a single box. There’s always an option to shop for individual parts to build a more customized cooling solution. However, a single box kit like this will save you a ton of time searching for reliable and compatible options. At $380, this is the most expensive cooling solution in this collection, but it’s also more than just a CPU cooler. A bunch of other manufacturers like Corsair also have their own custom-cooling range if you don’t mind spending a little more money.

    The Alphacool Eissturm Hurricane Copper 45 is a complete kit for enthusiasts who likes to get their hands dirty. This type of cooling is perfect for high-performance overclocked machines.




Final Thoughts

That concludes our list of the best CPU coolers you can buy for your PC build. It includes some of the best coolers on market for high-end rigs, small form factor builds, and everything in between. The Noctua NH-D15 is a fantastic air cooler capable of cooling even the most powerful CPUs, and it’s our pick for the best air cooler you can buy. Our second-best option, the Cooler Master Hyper 212 Black Edition is also an excellent air cooler for those who want a relatively smaller solution for a mid-tier build.

All-in-one liquid coolers, on the other hand, have their own advantages over air coolers and we think the Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML360 Illusion is the one to go for. It’s our pick for the best AIO liquid cooler on the market for its excellent cooling performance, stunning design, ARGB lights. The NZXT Kraken X53 is another high-quality AIO that’ll save you some money for the other core components