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Best CPU cooler 2021: top CPU coolers for your PC

You need one of the best CPU coolers to keep your processor chill. It doesn’t matter how powerful your gaming PC is. From kitted-out machines to budget builds, motherboards, graphics cards, and processors all generate a lot of heat, and they all can easily falter when being pushed to the limits and their temperatures get too hot. That means you can’t skimp on your cooling solution if you want to get the most out of your computer’s performance.

It’s no fun witnessing your processor slow down as it goes through thermal throttling because it’s gotten too hot inside the chassis. It’s even worse if it catches fire, which can happen if you’re not careful. Having a quality CPU cooler will ensure that CPU you’ve just spent your hard-earned money on, especially when you plan on overclocking it. If you’re an RGB fan, you’ll also appreciate that some come with stunning RGB lighting built-in.

Whether you’re building a PC or upgrading your existing one, make sure that the processor inside stays nice and frosty. Invest in and install a quality CPU cooler. We’ve gathered our top picks here for you, as well as our price comparison tool to help you score the best price available.

Noctua NH-D15 at an angle on a white background

Image Credit: Noctua

1. Noctua NH-D15

Best CPU cooler

Specifications

Type: Fan and heatsink

Compatibility: Intel LGA 775 – LGA 2066; AMD AM2 – AM3+, FM1 – FM2+

Rotation frequency: Up to 1500 RPM

Noise volume: 19.20dbA – 24.60dbA

Dimensions (W x D x H): 160 x 150 x 135mm

Weight: 2.91 pounds (1.32kg)

Reasons to buy

+Whisper quiet+Six-year manufacturer’s warranty

Reasons to avoid

Too big for some PC builds

The Noctua NH-D15 is one of the best CPU coolers you can buy in 2019 simply because it performs just as well as – if not better – than some liquid coolers, while costing a fraction of the price. You might not be too familiar with Noctua’s name, as they’re relatively small in the CPU cooler world, but its business is revolves around designing coolers, so you know that when you buy one of their products, you’re getting a product by people who really know their craft. On top of delivering a fantastic cooling performance, the NH-D15 is nearly silent as well. 

Cooler Master Hyper 212 RGB Black Edition with its RGB lighting on at an angle on a white background

(Image credit: Cooler Master)

2. Cooler Master Hyper 212 RGB Black Edition

Better than ever before

Specifications

Type: Fan and heatsink

Compatibility: Intel LGA 1150 – LGA 2066; AMD AM2 – AM4, FM1 – FM2+

Rotation frequency: 650 – 2,000 RPM

Noise volume: 8 – 30 dBA

Dimensions (W x D x H): 120 x 79.6 x 158.8 mm

Weight: 1.54 pounds (700g)

Reasons to buy

+Improved performance+Easy installation+Quiet fan

Reasons to avoid

RGB lighting just ok

Cooler Master’s Hyper 212 CPU RGB cooler is back with a vengeance, and sporting a sleek gun-metal black brushed aluminum finish to boot. It’s not only jet black look that’s upping this CPU cooler’s cool factor – though it does help what with that aluminum top cover and nickel plated jet black fins to complete the look. It’s also easily one of the best CPU coolers on the market with its stacked fin array that ensures least airflow resistance, four heat pipes that boast Direct Contact Technology to better battle the heat, and a wide speed range for fine-tuning cooling performance and silent operation.

Noctua NH-L9 at an angle on a white background

Image Credit: Noctua

3. Noctua NH-L9

Best low-profile CPU cooler

Specifications

Type: Fan and heatsink

Compatibility: Intel LGA 1156/1155/1151; AMD AM2/AM2+/AM3/FM1/FM2

Rotation frequency: Up to 2500 RPM

Noise volume: 14.8dbA – 23.6dbA

Dimensions (W x D x H): 206 x 184 x 37mm

Weight: 1.03 pounds (0.47kg)

Reasons to buy

+Ultra compact+Six-year manufacturer’s warranty

Reasons to avoid

Only 92mm fan

Noctua is an Austrian manufacturer that does one thing, and one thing only: make the best CPU coolers and fans. What this means is that even though the Noctua NH-L9 is tiny, it is still more than capable of insane cooling with no compromises. This is a fantastic cooler for anyone with a smaller build, or even if you’re using a ton of large components, and you’re not comfortable with liquid cooling.

NZXT Kraken Z-3 at an angle on a white background

(Image credit: NZXT)

4. NZXT Kraken Z-3

Personalize your all-in-one liquid cooler

Specifications

Type: Fan and heatsink

Compatibility: Intel Socket LGA 1151 – 2066, Intel Core i9 / Core i3 – i7, AMD Socket AM4, TR4, AMD Ryzen 3 – Ryzen Threadripper

Rotation frequency: 500-1,800 + 300 RPM

Noise volume: 21-38dBA

Dimensions (W x D x H): 143 x 315 x 30mm

Reasons to buy

+Total customization+Superior performance

Reasons to avoid

Premium price

Whether you’re going for 360MM or 280MM, the NZXT Kraken Z-3 is an excellent choice if you’re looking for liquid cooling. First of all, thanks to its vibrant 2.36-inch LCD screen that’s capable of displaying 24-bit color, this liquid cooler allows total customization so you can fine-tune settings as well as display your favorite images and animated gifs. More importantly, it delivers impressive liquid cooling performance and is easy to install. 

Corsair iCUE H115i Elite Capellix with its RGB lighting on at an angle on a white background

(Image credit: Corsair)

5. Corsair iCUE H115i Elite Capellix

Brighter is better

Specifications

Type: Liquid cooling system

Compatibility: Intel 1200, 1150, 1151, 1155, 1156, 1366, 2011, 2066, AMD AM4, AM3, AM2, sTRX4, sTR4

Rotation frequency: Up to 2,000

Noise volume: 36dBA

Dimensions (W x D x H): 322 x 137 x 27mm

Reasons to buy

+Insane performance +Brighter RGB lighting

Reasons to avoid

Only minor improvement over predecessor

The Corsair iCUE H115i Elite Capellix continues Corsair’s tradition of outstanding liquid coolers. It couples excellent cooling, thanks to its split-flow copper cold plate and its low-noise centrifugal pump, with bright RGB lighting, due to the use of Capellix LEDs. And, the RGB lighting is, in true Corsair style, customizable through the company’s proprietary iCue software. If you want a powerful liquid cooling system that looks good too, the Corsair iCUE H115i Elite is a perfect choice.

Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML240P Mirage with its RGB lighting on at an angle on a white background

(Image credit: Cooler Master)

6. Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML240P Mirage

Cool and hypnotic

Specifications

Type: Liquid cooling

Compatibility: Intel LGA 775 – LGA 2066; AMD AM2 – AM4, FM1 – FM2+

Rotation frequency: up to 2000 ±10% RPM

Noise volume: 27dbA

Dimensions (W x D x H): 277 x 120 x 27 mm

Weight: 2.11 pounds (1,237g)

Reasons to buy

+Threadripper support+Gorgeous RGB lighting

With the Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML240P Mirage in your gaming rig, you won’t only end up playing for hours on end without worrying about thermal throttling or overheating. You might just an hour or so admiring your CPU, especially if you have one of those glass-window cases, as this CPU cooler is indeed hypnotically pretty. It’s mostly thanks to its transparent pump design that lets you see the impeller spinning while bathed in different RGB lighting, like a colorful spinning wheel at a funhouse. Performance-wise, it definitely deserves a spot in our best CPU coolers list, with its PPS+ glass fiber housing and nozzle that provides temperature and liquid resistance, EPDM rubber O-Ring that helps eliminate liquid emission, and a low-resistance radiator that increases flow rate, heat exchange efficiency and cooling performance.

Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML120R RGB with its RGB lighting on at an angle on a white background

Image Credit: Cooler Master

7. Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML120R RGB

The best compact liquid cooler

Specifications

Type: Liquid cooling system

Compatibility: Intel LGA 775 – LGA 2066; AMD AM2 – AM4, FM1 – FM2+

Rotation frequency: Up to 2000 RPM

Noise volume: 6dbA – 30dbA

Dimensions (W x D x H): 83.6 x 71.8 x 52.7mm

Reasons to buy

+ Luminous RGB lighting + Premium build 

Reasons to avoid

 A little expensive 

There isn’t a single component that can’t be improved through RGB, and Cooler Master is well aware – jumping on the RGB bandwagon with the MasterLIquid ML 120R RGB. What’s more, it integrates some of the first addressable LEDs seen on a liquid cooler. This all-in-one liquid cooling solution isn’t just about aesthetics – it features an oxidation free pump and an efficient radiator. This means that not only will it last longer – but it’ll keep your CPU cooler, and all without giving up too much case real estate, which is why it’s made our best CPU coolers list.

Arctic Liquid Freezer II 120 at an angle on a white background

(Image credit: Arctic)

8. Arctic Liquid Freezer II 120

A multi-compatible all-in-one

Specifications

Type: Fan and liquid cooling

Compatibility: Intel 1200, 115X, 2011-3*, 2066* *Square ILM; AMD AM4

Rotation frequency: 200 – 1 800 RPM

Noise volume: 0.3 Sone

Dimensions (W x D x H): 157 x 120 x 38 mm (radiator), 98 x 78 x 53 mm (pump)

Weight: 932 g

Reasons to buy

+Strong performance+Easy mounting on Intel

Reasons to avoid

Single radiator fan

You’re getting your cool plate, radiator, and pump in one with the Arctic Liquid Freezer II 120, but that’s not all. Its pump clocks down to consume 80% less power and produce much less noise when cooling isn’t vital, and its water loop is practically maintenance-free, sealed with fibre-reinforced EPDM tubing. Plus, it’s easy to mount and very affordable, making it among the best value CPU coolers in the market today.

Corsair Hydro Series H5 SF at an angle on a white background

Image Credit: Corsair

9. Corsair Hydro Series H5 SF

Best low-profile CPU liquid-cooler

Specifications

Type: Liquid cooling system

Compatibility: Intel LGA 115x; AMD FM2 – FM2+

Rotation frequency: Up to 1,800 RPM

Noise volume: 36dBA – 42dBA

Dimensions (W x D x H): 167 x 57 x 84mm

Weight: 2 pounds (0.91kg)

Reasons to buy

+Guaranteed leak-free tubing+Compact, all-in-one form factor

Reasons to avoid

Blower style cooler

Even if your budget will allow you to really go all-out on a serious liquid cooling solutions, if you have a smaller PC case, you’ll likely not have enough space. That’s where something like the Corsair Hydro H5 SF comes into play. Even on the smallest PC cases, you’re able to use this CPU cooler to keep your CPU chilled, even if you have some beastly overclocks happening. Plus, because it’s a closed loop, you don’t even need to worry about maintenance. Set it up, and let it do its thing – you won’t be disappointed. 

NoFan CR-95C at an angle on a white background

Image Credit: NoFan

10. NoFan CR-95C

Best fanless CPU cooler

Specifications

Type: Passively cooled heatsink

Compatibility: Intel LGA 775 – 1156; AMD AM2 – AM3+; FM1

Noise volume: 0dBA

Dimensions (W x H x D): 180 x 148 x 180mm

Weight: 1.6 pounds (0.73kg)

Reasons to buy

+You won’t hear a peep+Works well with low-power CPUs

Reasons to avoid

Exorbitantly massive95W TDP limitation

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