The Best CPU Coolers in 2024

Building a computer using one of the best gaming CPUs but without using one of the best CPU coolers can significantly limit your PC’s performance. CPU coolers exist not only to provide better thermals but also to increase your CPU lifespan. Buying an aftermarket CPU cooler has become crucial these days, since newer CPUs are more power-hungry and generate more heat than their predecessors.

A perfect example would be the Core i9 14900K, which can keep you warm in winter but it’s not what you would want. One of the major benefits of lowering the CPU temperature is that it achieves stable and higher clock speeds for a longer duration, resulting in better and consistent performance. CPU coolers don’t have to be ugly. Many of the modern coolers look as gorgeous as a graphics card, equipped with beautiful shrouds and RGB LEDs.

If your CPU is thermal throttling or if you are planning to overclock, you might need one. In this guide, we have put together the best CPU coolers for your computer to ensure optimal performance and cooler operation.

TCG’s Picks for the Best CPU Coolers in 2024

Best Overall

ARCTIC Liquid Freezer III 360

Remarkable Cooling

The Liquid Freezer III 360 replaces the legendary Freezer II 360 by adding contact frames for both Intel and AMD platforms and improving the VRM fan. The cooler’s terrific design and large aluminum radiator quickly dissipate heat, helping high-end CPUs achieve better thermals.

Type: AIO, Size: 360mm, Fans: 3

Pros

  • Excellent for overclocking
  • Comes with contact frames
  • Improved VRM fan performance
  • Affordable

Cons

  • No RGB
  • A bit noisier compared to Freezer II

The Liquid Freezer III 360 is the flagship AIO cooler from Arctic, replacing the Freezer II 360 by taking a new approach to the design. As enthusiast gamers and overclockers prefer going with AIO for their PCs, the Freezer III 360 is an excellent choice at a much lower price than some premium AIOs from Cooler Master, Corsair, and Asus. Despite the price tag of $120, the cooler is not only on par with premium AIOs in all areas but in most cases, outperforms almost every AIO available on the market.

The new design that helps it achieve better thermals incorporates the use of contact plates for the socket. The new AM5 and LGA 1700 platforms sometimes introduce improper contact with the CPU but with the contact plate, the cooler’s base creates more and even pressure for making a better contact with the chip. The 360mm radiator coupled with high-pressure fans is quick in cooling the CPU and the new VRM fan on the CPU block now has a wider range of speed to increase the airflow. All in all, the Freezer III 360 is flawless except for the absence of RGB and is somewhat noisier at full speed compared to the predecessor. Nonetheless, you can control the noise with custom curves and get the RGB edition by paying some more.

Best Air

Noctua NH-D15 Chromax.Black

Supreme Airflow

Since its initial launch in 2014, the NH-D15 has seen no other dual-tower cooler that can match its cooling performance. Though it’s bulky and heavy, the thermal results are impressive enough to ignore its size. Perfect for mid-range CPUs, featuring hexa or octa-core configuration.

Type: Air, Size: Dual-Tower, Fans: 2

Pros

  • Unbeatable for a decade
  • Can accommodate 3-fan configuration
  • Big heatsinks for faster heat dissipation

Cons

  • Too big and heavy
  • No RGB lighting
  • Somewhat expensive

This decade-old cooler has been enjoying the status of being the best air cooler of all time since its release in 2014. The design is so robust that no other cooler has been able to dethrone it ever since. There are some great dual-tower air coolers that do come close to their performance, but the functionality and the possible configurations on this one still go unmatched. By default, the cooler comes with dense and properly grooved dual aluminum heatsink blocks. The six copper heat pipes connect both of the blocks and go straight through the base for faster heat absorption.

Each block has a 140mm fan attached and while one act throws air on the heatsink directly, the other dissipates the heat by pulling the hot air from the heatsink. This creates a push-pull configuration for maximum heat dissipation. The cooler, however, allows you to add another fan right between the two blocks for even higher airflow without taking additional space inside your chassis. Still, the cooler is already large enough to occupy most of your case’s interior and sometimes interfere with the RAM installation. You can avoid this by removing the fan on the DIMM side and placing it in between but if you want a three-fan configuration, the issue can’t be avoided.

Best 280mm

Corsair iCUE H115i RGB Elite

Chill in Style

Even though the iCUE H115i RGB Elite isn’t at the top of the charts, its combination of looks and performance is fairly tempting, particularly due to the ease of installation, iCUE software, and premium design. It’s ideal for most overclockers but is positioned at a higher price tier.

Type: AIO, Size: 280mm, Fans: 2

Pros

  • Premium design
  • ARGB CPU block
  • No clearance issues
  • Zero RPM mode

Cons

  • No RGB on fans
  • Expensive
  • Somewhat loud at full speed

Corsair has a phenomenal history of AIO coolers. From the Hydro series to the iCUE Elite series, most AIOs from the company have been widely accepted as ideal cooling solutions for modern computers. The iCUE H115i RGB Elite is a continuation of that legacy. It boasts a solid 280mm radiator that uses dual 140mm AF Elite fans and a compact yet beautiful RGB CPU block, which hosts a low-noise pump.

Fans operate between 400 to 1600 RPM and produce up to a maximum of 84.5 CFM, delivering incredible cooling performance at full speed. However, it can get a bit noisier at 100% fan speed. So, it’s best to operate it between 50-80% of fan speed when overclocking. When the CPU isn’t operating at full load or idle, the cooler can take care of the temperature without having to spin the fans at all. This is called Zero RPM fan operation, which is nearly silent as the only component active is the pump. Luckily, the pump speed can be adjusted too, and all of the customization that includes fan speed, pump speed, and RGB lighting can be customized from the iCUE software.

Best Budget

Thermalright Peerless Assassin 120 SE ARGB

Economical Cooling

The Peerless Assassin 120 SE is literally the best budget cooler of all time, outperforming the more popular coolers like Hyper 212 and many others for the same price tag. Its dual-tower design at a sub-$35 price is nothing sort of impressive but its cooling and silent operation are much more appealing.

Type: Air, Size: Dual-Tower, Fans: 2

Pros

  • Incredibly cheap
  • Silent operation
  • Competes with premium air coolers
  • RGB lighting
  • Full clearance for RAM

Cons

  • May cause clearance issues

It’s hard to believe that a cooler like Peerless Assassin 120 SE exists at such a cheap price. Usually, you will find only single-tower air coolers for $20-$40, and while some premium offerings like NH-U12 are touching the $100 price tag, the Peerless Assassin 120 SE is several times cheaper but provides exceptional cooling performance. With two blocks of aluminum heatsinks, the surface area for heat dissipation is bigger. Both are joined via the base and 6x 6mm heat pipes, where the base remains free of non-uniformity to make good contact with the CPU.

It’s fully compatible with the latest AMD and Intel platforms and if you are on a very tight budget, there can’t be a better choice. Even if you have more to spend on a cooler, you will still be better off with this one. Its nearly silent operation, RGB lighting, and PWM controllable fans make it worth every penny. The only con is that it takes somewhat more space than single-tower coolers but there won’t be any issue with RAM sticks installation.

Best 240mm

EK Nucleus AIO CR240 Lux White D-RGB

Sleek Looks, Unbeatable Cooling

The distinguished looks and incredible cooling of Nucleus AIO CR240 Lux are comparable to high-end 280mm coolers. Being a veteran of cooling solutions, EK delivers a highly functional design on the CR240 that allows easier installation and customizable functions.

Type: AIO, Size: 240mm, Fans: 2

Pros

  • Daisy chainable fans
  • ARGB fans and CPU block
  • Premium radiator design
  • Zero RPM mode

Cons

  • Somewhat expensive

EK’s AIO lineup is as impressive as its custom liquid cooling solutions. While working out with individual reservoirs, pumps, and loops is sophisticated and time-consuming, installing an AIO like Nucleus CR240 Lux is straightforward. The design offers great positioning of rotary fittings and flexibility that makes positioning the CPU block in any orientation and allows installing radiator in any place. 240mm radiator is generally sufficient for most people but usually they aren’t as effective as 280 or 360mm radiators. However, the Nucleus CR240’s radiator is on par with most premium and bigger radiators and is sufficient for overclocking mid-range and even high-end CPUs.

The specifications are impressive with pump speed going as high as 3100RPM and the fans maxing out at 2300RPM. This will surely create a noisier operation at full speed but you don’t need to put them at the maximum speed. Considering how good the airflow and air pressure of these fans are, you will be quite ok even at 50% of the fan speed. One major advantage of this cooler is that you can daisy chain the fans to have a single PWM connector to control both of them. On top of that the D-RGB lighting on the block and fans are fully customizable via popular software such as Asus Aura Sync, Gigabyte RGB Fusion, MSI Mystic Light, and various others.

Best High-End

CORSAIR iCUE Link H170i LCD

Sleek Looks, Unbeatable Cooling

The iCUE Link H170i LCD isn’t your typical AIO cooler but a luxury one that has a top-notch appearance, functionality, and cooling. The big radiator and the high-performance fans keep thermal throttling at bay while the LCD display shows real-time temperature, custom images, or GIFs.

Type: AIO, Size: 420mm, Fans: 3

Pros

  • Almost wireless connection
  • Mesmerizing ARGB lighting
  • LCD screen
  • Fantastic cooling and silent operation

Cons

  • Very expensive
  • Configuring can be a bit buggy
  • The radiator is a bit too big

The Corsair iCUE Link H170i LCD is a luxury that everybody can’t afford. Priced at a whopping $240-$250, the cooler can be out of many users’ budget. However, if you don’t have the budget constraints, feel free to maximize your system’s potential via the 420mm radiator that provides a massive surface area for faster heat dissipation. The cooler boasts incredible functionality via the iCUE Link that almost eliminates the need for cables. From connecting multiple fans to the CPU block, everything is achieved via a single cable. The configuration can be messy at times but once you set it up, you will love how it turns out.

The cooler’s block is especially one of the most appealing areas where the LCD sits on top for displaying real-time CPU temperature, custom images, or animated GIFs. Everything from the pump to the fans is easily controllable via the iCUE. So, whether you want to change the pump speed or RGB lighting, you can do it in a single place.

What to Look for When Buying a CPU Cooler?

Type: It’s crucial to select between the cooler types before anything else. There are two types of CPU coolers: Air and AIO, the former is generally cheaper but is larger in size. The AIO, on the other hand, takes less space on the motherboard but requires dedicated space on the case panels. These are better at cooling higher-end CPUs but they pose the risk of leaking. Nonetheless, it’s rare to see good AIOs leaking but they are more expensive.

Size: If you choose the air cooling method, you have to decide between single and dual-tower coolers. Single-tower coolers come with a single aluminum block of the heatsink but dual-tower have two blocks. The latter are more effective since the surface area is more and dual-tower coolers generally allow two or more fans to be added.

Compatibility: Check the cooler’s compatibility with your motherboard socket as well as the case. You will find detailed spec sheets of the coolers on the official manufacturer websites. Next, check if your case has the clearance for your cooler whether it is air or AIO. You will find the detailed information on the case’s product page on the manufacturer’s websites too.

Noise: A cooler that sounds like a jet engine isn’t something most users can tolerate. Look for low-noise coolers apart from good cooling performance. Air coolers are generally quieter because AIO coolers produce noise via both fans and the pump.

FAQ

What is the best type of CPU cooler?

There isn’t a best ‘type’ because every type of cooler has its own benefits and flaws. While air coolers are cheaper and are quick to install, AIO coolers are best for overclocking but are also expensive.

How can I cool my CPU faster?

By installing an aftermarket CPU cooler and making sure it gets enough cool air from the front panel. The heat should be dissipated from the rear or the top with the use of exhaust fans.

Is 80C safe for my CPU?

Even though 80 Degrees Celcius is safe for most CPUs, it isn’t ideal for the CPU lifespan and performance. Higher temperatures tend to produce instability and may throttle the performance if the temperature is close to the max operating temperature.

Author

  • Sarfraz Khan

    From authoring almost a thousand articles on Xtremegaminerd.com to writing extensively on Gamerant.com, Sarfraz has covered a wide range of topics, showing his expertise in the PC hardware and tech industry.

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