These are the best liquid coolers for CPU you can buy in 2022
The CPU is one of the core components of a PC that can get very hot. Not even the best CPUs are complete without a dedicated cooler. Buying the best CPU cooler, however, isn’t an easy task. There are a lot of things to consider including whether you want the best liquid coolers or air coolers? The ‘liquid coolers vs air coolers’ debate has been around for many years now. The honest answer, as we just mentioned, depends on a lot of factors. Both coolers work in different ways to dissipate heat, have different form factors, and, most importantly, are priced very differently.
We already have a separate collection dedicated to air coolers a.k.a fan coolers on the market. So in this article, we’ll be taking a look at some of the best liquid coolers you can buy. We’ll mostly be focusing on closed-loop, all-in-one (AIO) liquid coolers that you can buy and install with relative ease. Of course, the open-loop style of liquid cooling also exists, but it’s tricky to install and is often expensive. You might want to keep an eye on this page though, as we update it over time to reflect the current market scenario. Without wasting any more, let’s jump into our collection:
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- Best overall liquid cooler: Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML360 Illusion
- Best 240mm AIO liquid cooler: NZXT Kraken Z53
- Best value for money AIO liquid cooler: Deepcool Gammaxx L240 V2
- Best compact 120mm AIO liquid cooler: NZXT Kraken M22
- Best Reconfigurable Closed-Loop Cooler: Alphacool Eisbaer Aurora 240 CPU Digital RGB
- Best custom cooling kit: Alphacool Eissturm Hurricane Copper 45
Best overall liquid cooler: Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML360 Illusion
It’s no secret that Cooler Master makes some of the finest CPU coolers. The company has a wide variety of coolers including both closed-loop liquid as well as air coolers. We’ve already added a few of Cooler Master’s fan coolers in our best fan coolers collection and it’s now time to get into some of their best liquid coolers. We crowned the MasterLiquid ML360 Illusion as our best overall liquid cooler in the best CPU cooler collection, so it’s hardly a surprise this one made it into this list as our top pick as well.
The Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML360 Illusion is a closed-loop AIO liquid cooler with a 360mm radiator. The kit, as you can see, is fully decked out with RGB lights. Cooler Master is using ARGB Gen 2 RGB LEDs for this kit which means they can be controlled individually to create a mini light show in the PC case. You can connect these directly to your motherboard and pass them through an RGB controller to control them. They work with Cooler Master’s Master+ software that lets you customize each individual LED in color, effect, brightness, and more. The software also acts as a central hub for all your other Cooler Master components like the case, headphones, keyboard, and more.
The MasterLiquid ML360 uses 120mm Master Halo MF120 fans that are mounted on the radiator. You’ll need a decent-sized PC case to make clearance for the radiator since it’s now 25% wider compared to the older one for increased cooling surface area. The radiator is connected to the water pump block via pipes that carry the coolant. The ML360 Illusion features the 3rd generation Dual Chamber Pump for excellent cooling performance. The pump also features RGB lights. In fact, the ML360 Illusion has 12 addressable RGB LEDs and it’s been integrated into a new translucent pump. The new pump design exposes more diffused lights as opposed to the older one in which only the front portion of the pump was lit.
Cooler Master says this new pump offers reliable performance while keeping the noise output low. We’re looking at a pump noise level of <10 dBA and it has an MTTF time of 70,000 hours, which is good. The fans connected to the radiator have a max RPM of 1800 RPM and we’re looking at a fan noise level of 30 dBA max. The MasterLiquid ML360 is compatible with a variety of CPU sockets — LGA2066, LGA2011-v3, LGA2011, LGA1700*, LGA1200, LGA1151, LGA1150, LGA1155, LGA1156, AM4, AM3+, AM3, AM2+, AM2, FM2+, FM2, FM1. Yes, this particular cooler is also compatible with the new LGA 1700 socket, which is good for those looking to build a new PC using one of the new Intel Alder CPUs.
Cooler Master also has smaller versions of this cooler with a 240mm and 120mm radiator. The 240mm variant is more suitable for mid-tower cases whereas the 120mm is recommended for those working with an SFF build. All these coolers are also available in white color which is great for those who’re building a PC with white aesthetics.
Second best overall liquid cooler: Corsair iCUE H150i Elite Capellix
Corsair’s CPU coolers are quite popular in the marketplace, and rightfully so. The H150i Elite Capellix’s performance is on-par, or sometimes, even better than some of the top 360mm coolers around. Also, the Capellix in the name means it’s fully kitted with Corsair’s Capellix RGB LEDs, which it has now started using in almost all components. Why, not? They look so damn cool and it adds to the overall appeal of the product. Corsair adds more value to the product with its Commander CORE hub/control module that lets you seamlessly control everything in one place.
One of the best things about the Corsair h150i Elite Capellix AIO cooler is that it’s compatible with AMD AM4, Threadripper TR4 (gen1 and 2) and even the Threadripper sTRX4 socket. On the Intel side, it’s compatible with Intel LGA 1700, 1200, 115x, 2066 and 2011x. You also get a Corsair logo faceplate, mounting brackets along retention hardware. The Commander CORE hub module is also included with this kit, as mentioned earlier. Corsair also gives you five years of warranty the H150i Elite Capellix AIO, which is great.
Unlike, the ML360 Illusion AIO from Cooler Master, the Corsair H150i Elite Capellix cooler has a rather simple looking water pump block out of the box. It only features the Corsair logo as a clear part with opaque backing. You can change this by switching it with the included translucent faceplate. The pump is backed by 33RGB LED lights that can be customized using the iCUE software to match your system scheme. The base of the H150i Elite Capellix features a brushed copper cold plate and it’s connected to nylon-sleeved tubing for the cooler.
You also get a trio of 120mm ML120 RGB fans that are mounted on the 360mm radiator. These fans are rated up to 2400RPM and the speeds are managed via a 4-pin PWM. The 360mm aluminum radiator is also easy to install provided your chassis has enough space to accommodate it. The commander Core Hub is also fairly easy to use and it gives you more control over everything. The H150i Elite Capellix is also a solid cooler when it comes to performance. It’s capable of handling everything from a low-powered Celeron processor to a fully unlocked Core i9-12900K CPU. 360mm is also the sweet spot for high-end PCs, but there’s also a 420mm variant if that fits your boat.
Those with a small system with limited space can also opt for either the 240mm or the 120mm variants. 240mm seems just about right for most and it’s also well-priced in the market among other options. Even the 120mm cooler is no slouch, but that’s only recommended for SFF builds or those with very limited space inside their cabinets. There’s also a white-colored variant of this particular cooler, which is always nice to have as an option. Additionally, Corsair has also launched a new variant of this particular unit with an LCD screen for the pump. That variant obviously costs more than the regular one, but it adds to the overall user experience. Existing Corsair H150i Elite users can also buy the LCD screen pump as an upgrade.
The Corsair iCUE H150i Elite Capellix AIO is also a solid 360mm AIO for high-end builds. It's also available in two other radiator sizes for PCs with smaller form-factor.
Best 240mm AIO liquid cooler: NZXT Kraken Z53
NZXT is one of the few manufacturers that makes a lot of AIO liquid coolers. You can either pick up a budget-friendly barebones cooler from them or go all-in by spending plenty of money to enjoy all the RGB lights you want. They even have liquid coolers with LCD displays that you can use to show memes or GIFs. It’s great. Out of the available NZXT coolers, we think the company’s 240mm Kraken Z53 is a fantastic option that’s worth considering. As such it’s our pick for the best 240mm AIO liquid cooler you can buy right now. The Kraken Z53 is a part of NZXT’s premium range, which means you get NZXT’s Aer fans and an LCD display included in the kit too.
The Kraken Z63 is also a great choice but it costs a bit more for adding 140mm fans instead of 120mm fans on the Z53. Is it worth it? Well, that depends on your build but we think 120mm fans are a great pair for a 240mm radiator. A mid-tower PC case like the Corsair Airflow 4000D is perfect for a 240mm cooler. It’s a great fit for PCs with compact and narrow radiator support. The cooler features the 7th gen Asetek pump along with an LCD display. This is the company’s new cooler which is it says is capable of cooling even the most demanding CPUs on the market. It’s also compatible with a lot of CPU sockets including the new Alder Lake CPUs. Existing Z53 Kraken users can also get a free LGA 1700 kit from NZXT for free.
The LCD is the star of the show here, really. You can control the panel through the CAM software and make it display a bunch of different data including the CPU and the GPU temperature. You can also use it to display media, which opens up a new world of customization for a lot of people. As a content creator, for instance, you can display your brand’s logo. The nylon-sleeved pipes pass the coolant to the 240mm aluminum radiator. The addition of Aer RGB fans makes it a really good option. These are some well-built fans that’ll last you for quite some time. The fan RGB lighting can also be controlled via CAM software. These Fluid Dynamic Bearing fans have a max speed of 1500RPM and have a noise output of 33 dBA at max RPM.
The Kraken Z53 is excellent when it comes to cooling too. They can easily handle the load of even the high-performance CPUs on the market. Overclockers might want to look at either the Kraken Z63 or even the Kraken Z73 for the best cooling performance. The 240mm cooler, as we mentioned earlier, isn’t ideal for a fully decked out high-performance rig. In that case, you’re better off getting a 360mm AIO or bigger. NZXT also has a variant of this cooler without any RGB bling. That’s perfect for those who don’t necessarily want RGB lights or for those who’re looking to save some money by opting out of RGB. Both variants, however, have the same cooling performance out of the box.
Second best 240mm AIO liquid cooler: EK AIO 240 D-RGB CPU Liquid Cooler
EK is a brand that needs no introduction does it? It’s a premium liquid cooling solutions provider popularly knowns for its sophisticated open-loop liquid cooling kits. They essentially sell the kind of stuff that enthusiasts PC builders like to play with. Well, guess what? EK also has a bunch of closed-loop AIO coolers on offer and you can grab them right from now from their website or the retail partners. We’re adding the EK-AIO 240 D-RGB AIO cooler as our alternate pick for the best 240mm AIO cooler you can buy right now. As the name suggests, this is a 240mm liquid cooler but the company also sells 360mm and a 120mm variant of the same too.
As an AIO, the EK-AIO 240 D-RGB is ready to go out of the box without a complex installation process. It’s also universally compatible which means you’ll only need the right mounting brackets to pair with the CPU of choice. EK hasn’t mentioned anything about the support for LGA 1700 socket yet, but we’re expecting an upgrade kit making them compatible with the new socket soon. Considering how popular EK really is in the enthusiast community, it’s only a matter of time till they add support for the new socket. The EK-AIO cooler supports Intel LGA 1150, 1151, 1155, 1156, 1200, 2011, 2011-3, 2066, and AMD AN4 sockets, for now.
The EK-AIO 240 D-RGB cooler, as you can see, comes with RGB lights — both on the fans and the CPU water block itself. These are fully addressable D-RGB lights that offer a range of color configurations. It can be controlled from either your motherboard or standalone RGB controller. The CPU block features a full acrylic cover which also acts as a diffuser for the lights with its frosted finish. It’s one of the most beautiful-looking CPU blocks you can get for your PC. The cooler is compatible with popular RGB sync technologies from all major motherboard manufacturers, so that’s awesome too. You just have to connect the 3-pin LED connector to an RGB header on the board.
The EK-AIO comes with two 120mm fans for the radiator. These are EK-Vardar S fans that are included with the cooler. These are industrial grade high-static PWM fans that can be controlled either by your motherboard or a dedicated fan controller. These fans have a max RPM of 2200, which is a lot higher than most other cooler fans we see on the market.
Coming from a reliable brand that’s known for liquid cooling, the overall cooling performance of the EK-AIO 240 D-RGB is also excellent and is on par with most other 240mm CPU coolers. EK also has a 360mm variant of the cooler that’s more suitable for high-end systems. The 240mm version is plenty for a mid to high-end PC with modern components. The EK-AIO 240 isn’t as fancy as some other coolers on the marketplace that have LCD displays. But the EK unit works as advertised and it also looks good without being overly obnoxious. EK is planning to bring new AIO units on the market, so keep an eye on this space as we’ll end up updating with newer and better options over time.
Best value for money AIO liquid cooler: Deepcool Gammaxx L240 V2
There’s no shortage of closed-loop AIO liquid coolers on the market, but a lot of them tend to be on the expensive side. A lot of these products in this collection cost upwards of $100, which may be expensive for a lot of people looking to step into the world of liquid cooling. Well, that’s why we wanted to add an item that offers a reliable cooling performance without burning a huge hole in your pockets. And we think the Deepcool Gammaxx L240 AIO fit that boat very well. The Gammaxx L240 is a 240mm AIO liquid cooler and it’s one of the best in the market when it comes to cooling. It’s also priced at $90, which is significantly less than some other options like the NZXT Kraken Z53 AIO.
The Deepcool Gammaxx L240 covers most of the popular sockets on the market which includes both Intel and AMD options. The LGA 1700 compatibility is still missing for this particular model but we’ll keep an eye out for updates on that front. The Gammaxx L240 uses a 274 x 120 x 27 mm aluminium radiator with braided tubes. You also get two 120mm PWM fans capable of reaching speeds up to 1800 rpm. This particular AIO, as you can see, also supports RGB lighting and it can be controlled directly via the motherboard software. All you need to do is simply connect the LED connector to the RGB header on the board and you should be good to go.
This is a barebones cooler, so there’s no dedicated software for lighting control. The unit isn’t even bundled with a SATA controller, so you’ll need LED headers on your motherboard to control the lighting. That’s not really a surprise considering it only costs $90 or less depending on where you buy it. The Gammaxx L240 is using a normal-sized CPU block as opposed to a super-sized unit with a powerful pump used for its more expensive AIO unit. The block has a built-in lighting system, so that’s good. The bundled PWM fans are essentially Deepcool’s case fans which you can buy separately from their website for your cabinets.
The Deepcool Gammaxx L240 is an entry-level AIO closed-loop liquid cooler that’s suitable for a lot of low to mid-ranged builds. We won’t recommend using this to cool a high-performance overclocked CPU, but a mid-range processor like, say, an AMD Ryzen 5 5600X will work well. The Deepcool Gammaxx L240 may not help you shave off a lot of temperatures, but we think it’s plenty to keep the CPU temperatures under acceptable limits. The overall kit itself is nothing fancy, but it’s aesthetically pleasing enough to look good while it’s doing the job. It’s also fairly easy to assemble the cooler and the radiator will fit into most PC cases without any issues as long as there’s mounting space for a 240mm unit.
The best thing about the Deepcool Gammaxx L240 is its $90 price tag. Sure. it’s not the most affordable CPU cooler you can buy on the market right now, but it offers good value as an AIO for the price. We think this is a good place to start as an entry-level user before investing in more expensive coolers for your rig.
Best compact 120mm AIO liquid cooler: NZXT Kraken M22
Compact PCs and SFF builds have very limited options when it comes to CPU cooling solutions. You can either pick up a low profile CPU air cooler like the Noctua NH-L9i or go with a small, compact AIO. The problem is, there aren’t too many compact AIOs in the market. And the available ones are either too expensive or don’t offer the best cooling performance to maintain the thermal output. After doing a little bit of research around the compact AIOs, we think the NZXT M22 is a reliable 120mm cooler you can grab for your small form factor builds. Unlike the Kraken series, the M22 isn’t a high-end cooler aimed at powerful rigs. The M22 is a small 120mm cooler that can easily fit into most builds without a hitch.
The Kraken M22 comes with a single 120mm radiator along with a 120mm Aer fan that’s bundled with other Kraken coolers. It’s a P120mm fan rated for 2000RPM. The fans don’t have RGB lights though, so you might want to look elsewhere you want to add more bling to your build. The only RGB light you get as a part of Kraken M22 is built into the CPU block. The LED lights behind the mirror cooler top can be controlled via CAM software. You can use the same software to monitor your PCs performance too, but it sadly doesn’t allow you to control the pump speed of the cooler.
The cooling plate at the bottom of the M22 CPU block is milled copper and arrives with a factory-applied thermal compound. A lot of AIO have pre-installed thermal compounds so this isn’t out of the ordinary. But it’s indeed nice to see NZXT not skimping on it considering this is a relatively small cooler. The overall footprint of the Kraken M22 is small and it should have no issues fitting into most PCs. The installation process is also fairly simple and the small 120mm radiator isn’t going to take too much effort to mount.
The cooling performance of this small-sized cooler is on par with a lot of air coolers on the market, if not better. It’s proven to be as powerful as some of the big-sized air coolers like the ‘be quiet!’ Dark Rock 4. That’s commendable because the Dark Rock 4 is a chunky piece of equipment. The fact that a small 120mm AIO is able to keep up with that is quite impressive. This means the Kraken M22 should have absolutely no issues cooling even the most demanding SFF builds out there. We obviously don’t recommend it for high-performance overclocked CPUs, but it shouldn’t have any major pushing mid-range CPUs in a tightly packed cabinet.
The NZXT Kraken M22 is a little on the expensive side though. It costs over $100 which means it’s more expensive than the Deepcool Gammaxx L240 cooler that we picked as our best value for money liquid cooler. That being said, a lot of these compact coolers are similarly priced unless you’re willing to step down to relatively older coolers.
Best Reconfigurable Closed-Loop Cooler: Alphacool Eisbaer Aurora 240 CPU Digital RGB
The only disadvantage of having a closed-loop AIO liquid cooler is that it doesn’t leave any room for customization, whatsoever. All you get is a radiator with fans, connected to a CPU block that cool the CPU itself. You can’t disconnect the fittings or add cooling blocks, to upgrade the setup. You’ll be forced to go for a more sophisticated open-cooling cooling solution to achieve any degree of customization. But the Alphacool Eisbaer Aurora 240 CPU cooler wants to change that. This is essentially a modular AIO cooler which means it’s expandable and can be used with other Alphacool components that utilize its quick-disconnect system.
As an end-user Alphacool will let you change the radiator or use the Eiswolf AIO water cooler for graphics cards. This is the only AIO in the market that allows you to swap out an existing component for a new or a different one, which is fantastic and unique. The end result is still not as robust as an open-loop cooler, but having some degree of customization allows it to be a unique offering in the market. You can swap out the radiator at any point or even use a GPU water block in place of the CPU one. While this forces you to stay within the Alphacool ecosystem, but it’s pretty neat nonetheless. It makes it somewhat easier for you to transition into larger liquid cooling loops.
You can entirely ignore the customization part and use the Eisbaer cooling as a closed-loop AIO too. That’s not going to take away from the cooler’s performance. The base cooling kit comes with a radiator, a set of 120mm fans with RGB lights and the CPU block itself. The CPU block also has built-in lights but you’ll have to rely on the motherboard software to control the lighting. The cooling performance of the Eisbaer Aurora 240 is on par with many other 240mm AIO coolers out there. It’s plenty for those who’re getting started with a closed-loop cooler for the first time. The Eisbaer Aurora works well with the majority of CPUs on the market and it’s also compatible with a lot of sockets.
We think the Aurora 240 cooler is a great fit for those building their first gaming PC. The modular nature will allow you to expand the loop further in future when you’re ready for the upgrades. Adding a new radiator or a GPU block to the loop is as simple as detaching the existing tubes and channelling them again to over the required components. Alphacool says you’re bound to lose some coolant when you detach the tubes, but we don’t think it’s something to worry about. As long as you’re giving it enough time to rest after turning the system off, it should be fine.
The Alphacool Eisbaer Aurora 240 is by no means a replacement for an open-loop cooler. Those are still considered to be the best when it comes to customization. However, this will save you a lot of money transitioning from a closed-loop to an open-loop solution as you get to keep a lot of existing components.
Best custom cooling kit: Alphacool Eissturm Hurricane Copper 45
Closed-loop AIO liquid coolers have their own advantages but there’s nothing satisfying than building your custom loop from scratch for the ultimate custom-cooling PC build of your dreams. Sure, the Alphacool Eisbaer Aurora offers a degree of customization that other closed-loop AIO on the market lack, but we think open-loop cooling is the most reliable cooling solution you can have inside your PC to keep the temperatures in check. As such, we’re adding the Alphacool Eissturm Hurricane Copper 45 custom cooling kit to this collection.
The Alphacool Eissturm Hurricane Copper 45 is essentially a custom cooling loop kit that’ll give you all the tools you possibly need to build a new open-loop cooling solution for your PC. Buying a bundled kit like the Hurricane Copper 45 makes it easier to have everything in place as opposed to combing through multiple pages on the internet to find compatible fittings for your loop. This is as good as it gets for those looking for a complete, high-quality water cooling kit in a single box. It’s quite an elaborate solution, so it goes without saying you will need a full tower case to fit in the loop.
The kit comes with enough mounting hardware for complete installation on nearly every existing AMD and Intel CPU socket with the exception of Threadripper. As a part of the kit, you get coolant for the loop, a 3-way fan splitter, thermal compound, a handy funnel to pour the coolant, and an ATX 24-pin jumper module for priming and filling the cooling loop. Not to mention, you also get the core components of the loop like a radiator, tubes, a reservoir, CPU water block, and more.
The Alphacool Eisblock XPX CPU block features a solid top with G1/4 standard fittings. There’s also a backlit logo powered by 3-pin PWM. The bottom of the water block is a nickel-plated copper base that is polished to a mirror finish. You also get an incredibly powerful VPP755 pump to power the entire cooling system. There’s also a 250mm acrylic reservoir in the package. One of the highlights of this particular cooling system is the massive 3x 140 (420) NexXxos 45 radiator featuring seven, G1/4 fittings. This is plenty for almost any loop configuration or mounting option desired. You also get additional plugs to close any unused radiator ports. This is one of the biggest radiators you can buy right now, and it is more than enough to cool even the most demanding rigs.
As an open-loop cooling system, the installation demands a lot of effort. As such you’ll have to channel the coolant through each part that you’re trying to cool and put everything in place by finding space for the components in the chassis. It’s safe to say this kind of sophisticated system is not for beginners. It’s better to start with a closed-loop AIO before making your way to an open-loop if you need one. Also, a cooling solution like this isn’t necessarily for entry-level to mid-range builds anyway. At $380, this is the most expensive cooling solution in this collection, but it’s also more than just a CPU cooler.
Best Liquid CPU Coolers: Final Thoughts
Though it’s possible to find powerful air coolers for your CPU, liquid coolers have advantages that make them a desirable option. The products mentioned in this collection are some of the best CPU liquid coolers you can find on the market right now, and most of them are better than a lot of air coolers unless you’re going for the more expensive, big-sized fan coolers, of course. We think the Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML360 Illusion is a fantastic cooler for most high-end builds whereas a 240mm AIO like the Kraken Z53 RGB is enough to cool a mid-range build. We’ve also added some other affordable options like the Deepcool Gammaxx L240 cooler that’s worth considering if you’re too strapped cash.
Buying the best liquid cooler largely depends on your budget and your CPU. We think we’ve covered a lot of options across different categories as well as price ranges, so you’ll definitely find something you like. We also have a lot of other collections involving PC components and peripherals including the best monitors and even the best webcams on the market. All our collections are updated over time to reflect the current market scenarios, so be sure to check back when you need some recommendations. We also encourage you to join our XDA Computing Forums to have so some interesting conversations around various computing topics, be it Windows 11 or the soaring graphics card prices.