These are the best CPU fan coolers you can buy in 2021

These are the best CPU fan coolers you can buy in 2021

The CPU is one of the core components of a PC and it can get really hot, very quickly. This is irrespective of whether you’re a casual user with a basic workflow, or an enthusiast overclocker targeting the next world record. Not even the best CPUs out there are complete without a dedicated cooler. We think choosing the best CPU cooler is crucial when you’re, say, upgrading your processor or building a new PC altogether. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at some of the best fan coolers for CPUs you can buy. Fan coolers are essentially air coolers that rely primarily on airflow to dissipate heat unlike liquid coolers that you a liquid coolant to achieve the same result.

‘Air vs liquid coolers’ is a never-ending debate and we’re not getting into it, at least not in this article. Instead, we’ll only focus on the best fan coolers that can tame even the most demanding CPUs out there without letting their temps tip into the danger zone. These are some of the best fan coolers for CPUs you can buy on the market right now:

Navigate this article

Before we jump into each individual item in the list, let’s a quick look at a few reasons why you may want to consider a fan cooler instead of a liquid cooler for your CPU:

  • Air coolers are just as good as liquid coolers: Most modern CPUs — overclocked or otherwise — will run perfectly fine with an air cooler. Liquid coolers have advantages of their own but they’re merely options and don’t necessarily blow air coolers out of the water.
  • You don’t need a sophisticated liquid cooling solution for a low to mid-range PC. There are a ton of affordable CPU air coolers on the market that can replace your old stock coolers.
  • Easy Installation: Air coolers tend to be easier to install when compared to liquid cooling solutions. There are no coolant tubes or radiators to work with, and all you need is a mounting kit, standoffs, and a tool to put everything together.
  • Case compatibility: It’s no secret that air coolers also tend to fit inside most PC cases. You’ll have to make room for a radiator, route the cooling tubes, etc. in case of an AIO. For air coolers, however, you only have to worry about their height and the RAM clearance. Not all PC cases will have room for 240mm, 280mm or 360mm radiators that are essential for a liquid cooling solution too.

With that out of the way, let’s jump into each individual item to take a detailed look at their specs, performance, and more.

Best overall fan cooler: Noctua NH-D15

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

SpecificationNoctua NH-D15
TypeAir cooler
Dimensions165 x 150 x 161 mm
Compatibility:Intel LGA2066, LGA2011-0 & LGA2011-3, LGA1200, 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

Noctua is an extremely popular brand in the CPU cooler space and the company has launched a number of air coolers on the market. They haven’t a new air cooler in quite some time now, but they’ve done a fabulous job of keeping some of their older coolers relevant. They do it by dishing out new mounting kits for the new socket. As such, the Noctua NH-D15 isn’t necessarily a new CPU cooler. It’s been around for a few years now but it’s still one of the most popular air coolers on the market. It continues to remain a sizable beast, though. The overall dimensions of 165mm (H) x 150mm (W) x 161mm make it one of the biggest CPU coolers you can buy for your CPU in 2021. It supports a wide variety of sockets, so compatibility isn’t an issue when it comes to the NH-D15 cooler.

The Noctua NH-D15 sports a symmetrical design with a cooling fan attached to each heat sink on one side. The dual-tower, as they call it, includes two 150mm wide aluminum fin-stacks, and a pair of NF-A15 PWM fans that are among the best in the business. You also get a low-noise adapter, a y-splitter cable, and a tube of Noctua’s own NT-H1 thermal compound in the bundle, making it a well-rounded product in our collection. The NH-D15 also comes with a six-year warranty, which is on par with most other CPU coolers.

RAM compatibility can be an issue with a chonky CPU cooler like this, so keep that in mind. Noctua quotes 64mm of clearance in single-fan mode, and just 32mm of clearance while using both fans. You’ll be forced to attach the front fan (next to the RAM sticks) at a high position, which honestly looks straight-up bad, and isn’t good for the overall performance too. Either that or you’ll be forced to switch to low-profile DIMMs. We recommend checking for RAM clearance before buying this cooler if you’re planning on installing it in your existing build. This is one of the main reasons why most people stay away from big coolers like this.

If you do manage to get it up and running successfully, then you’re in for a treat. The Noctua NH-D15 is arguably one of the best performing CPU coolers on the market. This is one of those CPU coolers that can cool even the most demanding high-performance like the Ryzen 9 5950X in a way that even a lot of liquid coolers cannot. The cooling performance of NH-D15 is on par with some of the sophisticated 360mm AIOs out there. It also happens to be one of the quietest CPU coolers around despite its size and performance.

Noctua also released a black-colored variant of the NH-D15 called the NH-D15 chromax.black at the tail end of 2019. It promises the same level of performance with an all-black design. Everything including the fans, fan clips, heat pipes, and the fin arrays have been given the all-black makeover. It’s perfect for those who weren’t a fan of the dual-tone design of the regular NH-D15.

    Noctua NH-D15
    The Noctua NH-D15 is one of the biggest, most powerful air coolers on the market. It can handle even the most demanding CPUs in 2021 including the Ryzen 9 5950X.

      Features:

      Pros:

      Cons:

Second best overall fan cooler: Deepcool Assassin III

A big-sized CPU cooler with a dual tone design and lots of heat pipes.

SpecificationDeepcool Assassin III
TypeAir cooler
Dimensions 161×140×165 mm
Compatibility:Intel LGA2066/2011-v3/2011/LGA1200/1151/1150/1155/1366 & AMD AM4/AM3+/AM3/AM2+/AM2/FM2+/FM2/FM1
Included fans:2x Deepcool GamerStorm TF-140S fans
Fan Speed:1400 RPM (max)
Weight:1.4Kg
Warranty:6 Years

DeepCool is a fairly name in the community with plenty of PC hardware and components on the market. It’s also known for making CPU coolers, some of which are widely used by the enthusiasts for their sophisticated builds. DeepCool was quick to churn out a full-sized air CPu cooler following the success of a lot of these big-sized fan coolers. The DeepCool Assassin III is very similar to Noctua’s NH-D15 it deserves a spot inside your PC case if you’re looking for a NH-D15 alternative. The Assassin III is just as big, if not bigger, than the Noctua NH-D15 CPU cooler. Its sheer size will make you think twice about putting it inside your PC and making room for it.

The DeepCool Assassin III features a dual-tone design with a bright, chrome finish for the heat pipes and the fins and a blacked-out color scheme for the fans and the plastic accents. It has seven nickel-plated heat pipes that start at the bottom and run the entire height of both cooling towers. The cooling fin stack also seems to have a good density to adequately displace the heat. It includes a pair of Deepcool GamerStorm TF-140S fans rated up to 1400 RPM. These fans, however, aren’t going to be as silent in operation as the ones fitted on the NH-D15 cooler from Noctua. You’ll also see a pair of glossy black spoilers on top of each fin stack, although those are just for aesthetics and they have no role in improving the performance of the cooler.

The Assassin III is also a viable option for cooling some of the newer high-performance CPUs on the market. It trails behind the Noctua NH-D15 in a lot of cases, but it isn’t far behind. It also beats a lot of other mainstream CPU coolers on the market, so you can consider it as an upgrade coming from those coolers. It’s not the quietest CPU coolers around, although you can tweak the fan profile to get a lower decibel reading.

Overall, we think the DeepCool Assassin III is a great alternative to the Noctua NH-D15. It’s also a little easy on your pockets, which means you can save money for some other components in your PC. Not to mention, it’ll also appeal to those wanting to avoid RGB, or lighting of any kind. It’ll still grab all the attention due to its sheer size, though.

Besides the obvious alternative, we think the be quiet! Dark Rock 4 is also worth considering as an alternative to the Assassin III. It’s also a big-size CPU cooler with a huge heatsink, but it’s known for its quiet operation. It also costs slightly less than the Assassin III, so it’s not a bad deal at all. RAM compatibility remains an issue with these big-size fan coolers, so it’s best to ensure you have enough clearance before mounting these coolers. If you don’t want to switch to low-profile DIMMs with smaller heat spreaders, then you might want to check out some low-profile coolers in this collection.

    DeepCool Assassin III CPU cooler
    The DeepCool Assassin III is a great alternative to the Noctua NH-D15 in the big-size CPU cooler category. It also has a fantastic dual-tone design, huge fin-stacks and a pair of high-performance fans.

      Features:

      Pros:

      Cons:

Best mid-size fan cooler: Cooler Master MasterAir MA410M

A CPU cooler with a black-colored outer shell and some RGB lights in the middle.

SpecificationCooler Master MasterAir MA410M
TypeAir cooler
Dimensions111.8 x 130.9 x 165.1 mm
Compatibility:Intel LGA2066, LGA2011-v3, LGA2011, LGA1200, LGA1151, LGA1155, LGA1150, LGA1156, LGA1366 & AMD AM4, AM3+, AM3, AM2+, FM2+, FM2, FM1
Included fans:2x 120mm MF120R fans
Fan Speed:1800 RPM (max)
Weight:1.2Kg
Warranty:5 Years

CPU coolers like the Noctua NH-D15 and DeepCool Assassin III may be good for high-performance CPUs, but they’re undeniably big and not ideal for most PCs. You really have to plan a build around those CPU coolers, since fitting them into your existing PC case and making sure they have enough RAM clearance is quite the task in itself. This is where the mid-size coolers like the Cooler Master MasterAir MA410M come into the picture. It’s not as big as the big-size coolers, so they’re relatively easier to install and take less space on the mainboard. The MA410M’s performance is also plenty to keep your CPU temps well under the acceptable limits.

The MA410M features a quad-heat pipe design and a tall fin-stack to dissipate heat away from the CPU IHS. The heat pipes are offset in pairs, allowing for equal dissipation of thermal loads. There are two 120mm MF120R fans on each side of the fin stack for sustained airflow. The cooling fins have an open design on each side, allowing the outer plastic shell to guide airflow uniformly throughout the cooler. The MA410M has addressable RBG LEDs embedded in the side casing. These lights produce a unique shimmering effect that looks fantastic from the outside. The photos don’t do justice to how good the RGB lights on this CPU cooler looks. It’s a very different effect you get from other RGB-enabled coolers on the market since the lights are essentially inside a shell.

The overall width of the MA410M is quite manageable too. Unlike the big-sized coolers, you don’t have to worry about the DIMMs coming in contact with the cooler, The dual 120mm fans, which functions in push+pull configuration, can also be easily attached to the shell via the thumbscrew-like fan bolts.

In terms of performance, the MA410M trades blows with a lot of other premium coolers on the market. In fact, it matches be quiet! Dark Rock 4’s performance, which is impressive since the latter is a big-sized cooler with a dual-tower design. The Dark Rock 4 fans are dead silent though, so this definitely comes down to your preference — strong acoustic efficiency or better cooling with a smaller footprint?

Overall, we think the Cooler Master MA410M is a solid-performing, mid-size CPU cooler. You also get thoughtful additions like a well-designed exterior shell and addressable RGB lighting. At $70, we think it hits the sweet spot for most users who are looking to upgrade from older, relatively smaller CPU coolers. This is also not a bad cooler for those looking to switch out their stock CPU cooler for the first time. Its wide compatibility with a bunch of CPU sockets makes it more accessible too.

There’s also the MasterAir MA620P TUF Gaming Edition which costs the same as the MA410M but makes less noise while cooling. The lower noise output also affects the cooling performance, so you might want to stick to the MA410M. We’ve also added some budget CPU coolers if the $60 is making you balk a bit.

    Cooler Master MA410M Cooler
    The Cooler Master MA410M is a solid-performing mid-sized CPU cooler that comes with a plastic shell, two fans, and all the RGB bling you need.

      Features:

      Pros:

      Cons:

Best low-profile fan cooler: Noctua NH-L9i

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

SpecificationNoctua NH-L9i
TypeAir cooler
Dimensions95 x 95 x 37 mm
Compatibility:Intel LGA1150, LGA1151, LGA1155, LGA1156, LGA1200 | (Sold separately for AMD sockets)
Included fans:NF-A9x14 PWM premium fan
Fan Speed:2,500 RPM (max)
Weight:385g
Warranty:6 Years

Noctua makes a ton of air coolers and they have everything from the biggest CPU coolers to a low-profile unit that’s suitable for a small enclosure. The Noctua NH-L9i is one such low-profile CPU cooler. In fact, it’s one of the best low-profile CPU coolers you can get for your small form factor (SFF) build. SFF PC enthusiasts usually rely on AIO liquid coolers for cooling, because air coolers demand a lot of space. Case clearance, and even RAM clearance becomes an issue with most air coolers when it comes to SFF builds.

That being said, a low-profile air cooler like the NH-L9i can also go a long way in keeping those CPU temperatures in check. With a height of just 1.49-inches, the Noctua NH-L9i can fit easily into an SFF build without causing any clearance issues, be it RAM or the PC case. As a matter of fact, the NH-L9i will only be ever so slightly taller than the memory module height.

The Noctua’s NH-L9i is only compatible with Intel-based platforms, but you can buy a variant of this exact cooler with AMD mounts too. The NH-L9i is almost perfectly square and the cooling fins are densely packed. The included 9.2cm low-profile fan sits on top of the fins stack to push air through. Noctua says this low-profile fan is enough to cool the CPU since the heat sink itself is very thin and there’s a good amount of airflow through the cooler.

The CPU contact surface is nickel-plated and sanded with fine grit. The manufacturing quality, as you’d expect from a Noctua cooler, is excellent. The mounting brackets are factory-installed, so you’ll have to buy the right variant to match your CPU’s socket. In typical Noctua fashion, this is also one of the quietest coolers around. The noise is almost completely inaudible, so it’s great for those looking to build a minimal SFF PC for a low-noise operation.

Understandably, the cooling performance of the NH-L9i isn’t outstanding. It’s still plenty to cool a mid-tier CPU but we won’t recommend this for a high-performance overclocking SFF build. It’s still better than a ton of other CPU coolers on the market, so you might still get your money’s worth if you’re coming from a very basic or a stock CPU cooler. Also, this is one of the very few low-profile coolers on the market and your options for an SFF build is already quite limited unless you want to go for an AIO liquid cooler.

Noctua also makes an all-black variant of the NH-L9 coolers, so you might want to check that if you don’t necessarily like Noctua’s signature dual-tone finish. It’ll cost you a bit more though, so keep that in mind. At $45, the Noctua NH-L9i isn’t the most affordable CPU cooler on the market, but it works as advertised and there’s a lot to like about the performance of this cooler. We’ve seen this cooler make it into a lot of small-form-factor builds in which other regular coolers usually have a hard time fitting in.

    Noctua NH-L9i
    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.

      Features:

      Pros:

      Cons:

Best budget fan cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 RGB Black Edition

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

SpecificationCooler Master Hyper 212 RGB Black Edition
TypeAir cooler
Dimensions120 x 79.6 x 158.8 mm
Compatibility:Intel LGA2066, LGA2011-v3, LGA2011, LGA1700, LGA1200, LGA1151, LGA1150, LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA1366, & AMD AM4, AM3+, AM3, AM2+, AM2, FM2+, FM2, FM1
Included fans:SF120R RGB Fan
Fan Speed:2,000 RPM (max)
Weight:930g
Warranty:2 Years

The Cooler Master Hyper 212 has been around for decades now. It’s, without a doubt, one of the oldest CPU coolers on the market that gets updated time and again to be compatible with all the new CPU sockets. The company either makes a new version of the Hyper 212 cooler or it just relelases new mounting kits for the new sockets. In fact, Cooler Master has even updated the Hyper 212 Black Edition to be compatible with the new Intel Alder Lake CPUs, which is impressive considering not a lot of CPU cooler makers have done that yet. The Cooler Master Hype 212 Black Edition, as the name suggests, an all-black variant of the original Hyper 212 cooler.

Besides the black paint, everything about the Hyper 212 Black Edition is the same as the original cooler. It features a direct-contact, quad-heatpipe tower design with minimal flair. There’s a 9-blade SF120R RGB fan on one side of the fin stack to move air through the tower, thereby dissipating the heat away from the CPU IHS. The cooling tower is topped with a brushed aluminum top plate featuring the Cooler Master logo. You can also see a bunch of caps to conceal the heat pipe ends.

Installing this cooler is relatively simple and it causes no clearance issues. It leaves enough room for the DIMMs to breathe and it won’t touch the PC case side plate either. This is what we call a no-frills CPU cooler that’s designed to provide the best possible cooling performance. The form-factor itself makes it a highly popular option unlike bigger coolers that may or may not fit in most user’s case. The Hyper 212 Black Edition is not going to trade blows with some of the other high-performance coolers on this list. However, it’s a solid option for those who are looking to switch their older coolers or even the stock ones that came with the CPU.

The Hyper 212 Black edition is good for cooling mid to even high tier CPUs if you’re not going to overclock them. We think it’s best paired with a CPU like the Ryzen 5 5600 or Intel’s Core i5 CPU. It’s also not the quietest cooler in this collection, but it makes less noise than the Cooler Master MA410M that we’ve listed above as our pick for the best mid-sized CPU cooler. As we mentioned earlier, the Hyper 212 comes in a bunch of different flavors. You can also buy the standard version of this cooler if you don’t like the all-black design. There’s also a variant with RGB lights for the fan if you feel like adding a bit of light to the setup.

The performance of each variant is more or less the same. The Hyper 212 isn’t here to break any records, but it’s definitely a solid CPU cooler that won’t break your bank either. We’ve also this fan cooler in our round up of the best CPU coolers overall which includes both best of both air and liquid coolers on the market.

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

      Features:

      Pros:

      Cons:

Best silent fan cooler: be Quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4

a black colored CPU cooler installed on a motherboard

Specificationbe Quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4
TypeAir cooler
Dimensions146 x 136 x 163mm
Compatibility:Intel 1150/1151/1155/1156/1200/1366/2011(-3) Square ILM/2066 & AMD AM2(+)/AM3(+)/AM4/FM1/FM2(+)
Included fans: 1x Silent Wings 3 120mm PWM/ 1x Silent Wings 135mm PWM
Fan Speed:1,200/ 1,500 RPM (max)
Weight:1.39Kg
Warranty:3 Years

be Quiet! is another popular and reliable name in the industry with a lot of PC components centered around low noise operation. A lot of their products have made it into our other collections like PC cases, power supply units, and moroe. As such, the be Quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4 is the company’s top-of-the-line CPU fan cooler that stands out from the bunch for a lot of reasons. First off, it looks great with an all-black aesthetics, featuring two fans and coloured-coated aluminum fins.

There’s a 120 x 25mm SilentWings fan on the front that moves the air through the first tower. It meets the second 135 x 22mm SilentWings fan to move the air stream through the second tower, eventually blowing it out of the cooler. It’s very similar to how Noctua’s NH-D15 CPU cooler works, however it’s worth pointing out that both have fans are different in size. It works in favor of the cooler to keep the CPU temps in check, so it works as advertised.

The fins feature an open design to maximize airflow and allow heat to escape from all four sides. This, in combination with the fans’ push/pull airflow, works incredibly in favor of the cooler to keep the CPU thermal output in check. The top of the Dark Rock Pro 4 features a contoured, brushed-aluminum top plate. It also has a ton of caps to conceal the heat pipes. The Dark Rock Pro 4 has seven heat pipes, in case you’re wondering. As you can see, this is one of the biggest CPU coolers in this collection, locking horns with the likes of Noctua NH-D15 and the Assassin III.

But what works in favour of the be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4 is the overall noise output. Despite the massive footprint and the presence of two fans inside the cooler, it’s the quietest big-sized cooler you can buy on the market. Not only does it beats all the other coolers in this category when it comes to the noise output, but it’s nearly inaudible even when the CPU is under heavy load. That’s quite impressive for a cooler this size. If you think the Noctua coolers are silent, then wait till you hear, or at least try to hear, how silent this cooler is. We think it’s perfect for those who want to build a silent PC for, say, a recording studio.

As for the performance, the Dark Pro 4 does an excellent job. The low noise output is due to the relatively low fan RPM. As such it runs the CPU a couple of degrees hotter, but that’s a fair trade if you want a silent cooler. That’s also why there are no real competitors to the Dark Pro 4 due to its low noise output. The Noctua NH-D15 comes close, but the be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4 should be your pick if you want a great cooler for your high-performance CPU that also makes less noise. Just make sure you have enough clearance for your RAM modules or else you’ll be forced to pick up some low-profile sticks.

    be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4 CPU cooler
    The be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4 is one of the best big-sized CPU coolers that's among the best when it comes to low noise operation. It's the quietest CPU cooler in this category.

      Features:

      Pros:

      Cons:

Best AMD Threadripper fan cooler: Noctua NH-U14S TR4-SP3

A dual tone Noctua air cooler with a fin stack and heat pipes

SpecificationNoctua NH-U14S TR4-SP3
TypeAir cooler
Dimensions156 x 150 x 78mm
Compatibility: AMD sTRX4, sWRX8, TR4, SP3
Included fans: 1x NF-A15 PWM premium fan
Fan Speed:1,500 RPM (max)
Weight:1Kg
Warranty:6 Years

AMD’s Threadripper CPU, as you probably already know, is a step above the company’s mainstream consumer line of CPUs. In simple terms, the Threadripper CPUs are powerful beasts and it’s not easy to tame them when it comes to their thermal output. We’re talking about CPUs with up to 64 cores, so it’s not really a surprise to see how hot these chips can get. It’s also worth pointing out that these CPUs also use a different socket, which means your normal CPU coolers aren’t going to play along. You can’t even use mounting kits to use the regular coolers due the bigger socket.

Noctua, however, has a great CPU cooler for AMD’s Threadripper line. Remember how we said Noctua has air coolers for everyone? Well, this is one of their best coolers on the market. Not only does it manage to cool a monstrous CPU like Threadripper, but it also does it while being quiet. Yes, we’re talking about the Noctua NH-U14S TR4-SP3. It uses six copper heat pipes to dissipate the heat along the fin-stack, while the included fan blows it away from the cooler. The heat pipes and the mounting base plate are both nickel-plated for an aesthetically pleasing Chrome finish that we’ve come to expect from a lot of these Noctua air coolers.

It only has one included 140mm NF-A15 PWM, but the company says it’s plenty to move the heat away from the cooler itself. The installation is fairly simple which involves mounting the tower, followed by securing the fan using wire spring clips. The spring tension mounting bolts are integrated into the mounting base hardware due to the Threadripper and Epyc socket exclusivity. The overall footprint of this particular CPU cooler is surprisingly small. Yes, it’s still bigger than most CPU coolers in this collection, but it’s definitely not as big as the NH-D15 or the Dark Pro 4. Those coolers have a dual tower design that tends to have clearance issues inside the PC case.

The cooling performance of the Noctua NH-U14S TR4-SP3 is also excellent. It’s proven to keep the CPU temps from tipping outside the danger zone. The fan only hits the maximum RPM when the CPU is under load. It’s one of the quietest CPU coolers in its category, which isn’t surprising considering it’s coming from Noctua. It’s quieter than most other big-sized mainstream coolers like the Cooler Master MA410 under heavy load.

At $90, the Noctua NH-U14S TR4-SP3 is also not the most expensive cooler on the market. In fact, it’s a fantastic deal considering it’s capable of cooling high-performance Threadripper CPUs while keeping the noise output low. The Noctua NH-U14S TR4-SP3 is arguably better than even the Noctua NH-U12S TR4-SP3. The Cooler Master MasterAir MA621P is also a great alternative to consider, but it’s bigger than the U14S and you may have trouble mounting it on your motherboard. The Noctua NH-U14S TR4-SP3 also performs, thereby making it one of the best Threadripper CPU air coolers right now.

    Noctua NH-U14S TR4-SP3 CPU Cooler
    The Noctua NH-U14S TR4-SP3 is a great silent CPU air cooler to keep the temperatures of Ryzen Threadripper processors in check. It offers a great value for money at $90.

      Features:

      Pros:

      Cons:

Best passive CPU cooler: Noctua NH-P1

Heatsink of a passive CPU cooler installed inside a PC case

SpecificationNoctua NH-P1
TypeAir cooler
Dimensions158 x 154 x 152 mm
Compatibility:Intel LGA2066, LGA2011-0 & LGA2011-3 (Square ILM), LGA1200, 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

Last, but not the least, we have another air cooler from Noctua. We’ve picked the Noctua NH-P1 as a worthy mention in this collection simply because of its unique operation. Yes, the NH-P1 doesn’t have a fan, which means it, technically, doesn’t qualify as an air cooler. However, this passive CPU cooler doesn’t use any liquid to move the heat away from the CPU. That’s why it eliminates any/all possibilities of accidental damage that mainly keeps people away from the AIOs. Also, it relies on the case fans to regulate the airflow and keep the CPU temperatures in check. The Noctua NH-P1 does all this while making absolutely no noise whatsoever, which is simply fantastic. It’s particularly impressive how it cools even the most demanding high-performance CPUs on the market.

The Noctua NH-P1 is one of the biggest CPU coolers you’ll ever see, though. The density and the thickness of the fins make up most of the cooler’s large size. Yes, it’s bigger than the NH-D15 air cooler, so you can imagine the sheer size of this thing. The cooler’s fins are entirely responsible for cooling the CPU due to the lack of a cooling fan. The NH-P1 also features a grid of cut-outs horizontally, which Noctua says helps with the natural airflow. The heat pipes on the Noctua NH-P1 are also oriented differently than the NH-D15. The NH-P1 has a copper base and heat pipes, and the fins are made out of aluminum.

Installing the Noctua NH-P1 is not a simple task though. It’s also worth pointing out that the NH-P1 is not going to be able to perform well against all the high-performing CPUs on the market. Not to mention, overclocking will also be out of the question with a passive cooler like this. You might be able to pull it off by maintaining a low ambient temperature or by increasing the case airflow, but we think the Noctua NH-P1 is best paired with a mid-tier CPU like the Ryzen 5 5600. Sure, it can handle heavy CPU load while resource-intensive tasks like gaming, but it’s best to use it with a mid-tier PC that’s not necessarily meant to push the limits when it comes to performance.

Noctua has a set of guidelines in place for those of you who are interested in buying this passive cooler. The company even recommends a set of PC cases that works well with the NH-P1. So, it’s safe to say you really have to be invested in the idea of building an entirely silent PC to buy this cooler. So yes, the NH-P1 is not a CPU cooler that fits all PCs, but it works really well when paired with the right components.

At $100, the Noctua NH-P1 is a little on the expensive side, but you’re paying the premium for the kind of performance it brings to the table without using any fans. It achieves what most other CPU coolers fail to achieve with sophisticated cooling solutions and aggressive fans spinning at high RPMs.

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

      Features:

      Pros:

      Cons:

Final Thoughts

Well, that’s all we have in this collection of the best air CPU coolers you can buy for your PC build right now. Our collections reflect the ever-evolving market, so we tend to update this article with newer, more efficient and powerful coolers. We think the Noctua NH-D15 is the best fan cooler you can buy right now. It’s known for its excellent cooling performance and low noise operation even when paired with some of the most powerful CPUs on the market. The DeepCool Assassin III is also a great choice if you don’t mind big-sized coolers. We’ve also added options like the Cooler Master Hyper 212 Black Edition for those who don’t want to spend a lot of money on an air cooler.

As always, you can also drop some of your suggestions in the comments below in case we ended up missing an important that you think deserves a spot in this collection. From Windows 11 launch to AMD’s AM5 announcements to Intel Alder Lake launch, there’s a lot happening in the world of computing, so be sure to join our XDA Computing Forums to connect and have meaningful discussions with some like-minded PC enthusiasts. Also, if you’re building a new PC setup, then be sure to check out our collection of the best monitors and the best webcams to see if you can find some good options there.

About author

Karthik Iyer
Karthik Iyer

Karthik covers PC hardware for XDA Computing. When not at work, you will find him yelling at his monitors while playing video games.