High-performance CPUs generate a lot of heat so to keep them stable you are pretty much required to get a capable liquid cooler. Why not an air cooler? Are liquid coolers worth the extra expense? The short answer is yes. They provide better performance though it’s not always about keeping the temperatures of your CPU as low as possible. It’s a better idea to choose liquid over air cooling as it usually helps to keep your system more stable in the long run and can be less tricky to install. You might also be interested in our articles about the best stick pc and the best hard drive docking stations.
If you decided that it’s time to eliminate the heat that’s dragging your CPU down and you wish to buy a liquid CPU cooler, there are a few things that you should consider such as:
Obviously, the first thing that you need to check is if the cooler is compatible with your system’s case. The radiator is an important component of a liquid cooler and they can be usually found in sizes ranging from 120mm to 280mm in length. You’re going to have check what is the maximum size of a radiator which can fit in your case and this is done by going through the case’s specs. Another aspect that should also be taken into account is the thickness of the radiator and whether you’d like to go for a push-pull configuration which will require more space.
2. Your needs
People can easily get tempted from colorful premium liquid coolers that advertise incredible performance and whatnot but the truth is that you need to analyze your particular needs very well before breaking the bank on a very high-end liquid CPU cooler. Like all PC components, you can find entry-level coolers but also some high-performance ones that come with a premium price. It’s fine if you can afford it but consider well if it fits your current system and usage of the CPU. Many manufacturers add features like LED lighting or built-in fan control which are more or less interesting but some people don’t really care about these. Instead, they try to find the best performance, the best bang for their buck. Even cheaper liquid CPU coolers can have a significant impact on your CPU temperatures when you’re upgrading from a stock air cooler.
If you have a general idea about how your future liquid CPU cooler should look like, it wouldn’t hurt to check out these products below. They have been analyzed very carefully and only selected if they can be truly considered worth the money. You can discover models suitable for a varied range of budgets and particular needs. If you are finally ready for dramatically lowering your CPU temperatures, getting a quality liquid cooler is a very smart investment.
Best Budget Liquid CPU Cooler
The H60 from Corsair’s Hydro Series is easily one of the best when it comes to liquid CPU coolers and the reason for that is simple. It provides an excellent balance of performance per price. The new and improved SP120L fan is designed for a quiet and more performant experience to keep the temperatures of your CPU lower than ever.
The H60 makes use of an advanced fan design which incorporates custom-engineered blades that improve the performance and also significantly lower noise levels. The static pressure to noise ratio is better and that actually translates to less noise overall.
As this is a self-contained cooling system, you don’t have to deal with complex plumbing. The modular design also makes installation a breeze as you won’t be needing any tools. The Hydro Series is pre-filled and will never bother you with constant refilling or priming which is great news as nobody likes high-maintenance devices.
In terms of performance, this liquid cooler really shines. For the cooling to be truly effective, quality components must be used and Corsair doesn’t disappoint. The cold plate comes with pre-applied thermal compound and is made of copper which has a considerably higher level of thermal conductivity to transfer heat more efficiently to the manifold.
Reliability isn’t left out either. The number one fear of watercooling users is obviously liquid leaks which don’t play well with delicate electronic components. To guarantee a better level of leak protection, it has a very flexible design that also facilitates the installation process and keeps the coolant evaporation to a minimum so as to ensure a longer life.
Considering how smoothly the installation process was, how efficiently it eliminates the heat from a medium to high-end CPU, and how reasonably priced it is, it’s safe to say that the Corsair H60 is a great buy. The design is flexible and leans towards safety and reliability in the long term. A high-quality product overall, definitely worth the price.
- Pre-filled, and never needs refilling
- Improved micro-fin copper cold plate
- Low-profile black aluminum heat exchanger
- Low evaporation, large diameter tubing
- 120mm fan
- Magnetic multiplatform mounting bracket kit
Best Liquid CPU Cooler For Gaming
Corsair is one of the most popular manufacturers of computer components and is known for the dedication to always deliver superior quality products. If you have a performant CPU and wish to maintain it more stable as you’re worried about excessive heat, you need to get something like the H115i from Corsair’s Hydro Series. This liquid CPU cooler provides a hard-to-match level of performance for the money.
Maximizing cooling surface area seems to be the key to fast and efficient cooling. If it can fit, the 280mm dual-fan radiator of this cooler will let you benefit from the full cooling potential of your case. It has been improved to operate more efficiently as it makes use of an enhanced cold plate and an efficient pump design that lowers the temperatures and eliminates noise better.
This liquid cooler uses a closed loop design which means that there are no special tweakings needed to be done by the user. It comes pre-filled and has a tool-free mounting bracket delivering a modular and quick installation experience.
The included 140mm fans have been designed for performance but also to consider the noise levels as they offer minimum air turbulence. As they’re PWM controlled, you have the ability to set the fan speed according to your preferences to get the right balance of cooling and noise.
Controlling and monitoring your liquid cooler’s activity is important and Corsair understands that. This is why there’s a link cable for attaching it to a USB header on the motherboard. After you download the free software you can finally unleash the full potential of this unit. Lots of parameters can be adjusted however you like for getting the best CPU performance. Customizing the cooling performance or monitoring the CPU and the coolant’s temperature is a breeze. This where you can also make changes to the RGB LED lighting to suit your system or according to temperature readings and other inputs.
The Corsair H115i has solid fans, a bit loud but this is a small price to pay for such incredible temperature drops. Considering how easy the installation process is and all the other features like the Corsair Link software and the colorful RGB LEDs, this is a solid investment. Once you make the switch to liquid cooling, you will never go back.
- 280mm radiator
- Dual SP140L PWM fans
- Improved cold plate and pump design
- Corsair Link
- Factory sealed design that comes pre-filled
- Tool-free mounting bracket
Based on a 280mm radiator and with the addition of the capable CAM software, the NZXT Kraken is fully packed with powerful features for users with very demanding CPUs. The price is admittedly not on the low-cost side but if you want to make a serious investment in an all-in-one liquid cooling system, this has great potential.
This is a consumer closed loop cooler that uses an integrated variable speed pump. It keeps noise to a minimum during operating but without sacrificing top end pump power. One of the most impressive aspects of the Kraken X61 is the 280mm aluminum radiator which is cooled by a pair of FX V2 140mm PWM fans. The fans have rubber isolators placed in the corners of the black frames and are capable of delivering approximately 102 CFM of airflow each.
At the bottom of the unit, you can discover the illumination. The X61 offers full RGB scale color options complete with modes to make an outstanding look for any system build. The CAM software is also a great feature as it brings more customization options to the table and more information compared to similar software. You can control the hue lighting, fan speeds, and many other custom cooling settings. What’s nice about CAM is that it supports more Kraken systems natively.
Installing this unit is facilitated by the extended 16” tubing and a large tower support. Liquid cooling used to be a big hassle, but it takes all the trouble out of it and simplifies things a lot so that even if you are a novice, you can handle the installation process with ease.
Taking into account all the features of the NZXT Kraken X61 RL-KRX61-01, the final conclusion is a highly positive one. The CAM software, in particular, takes this good cooler into the ranks of an incredible cooling solution thanks to its depth of customization. If you have the budget, this model will take your CPU cooling to a new level, ensuring peak efficiency even during intense usage.
- Integrated Variable Speed Pump
- FX 140 V2 water-cooling PWM fan
- CAM Software Kraken+
- Extended 16″ tubing
- Premium black sleeved cables
- High pressure, micro-fin copper coldplate
An attractive liquid CPU cooler for any users who demand superior performance, the Thermaltake earns a spot on this list with ease considering how it offers solid features for a very reasonable price. It has double RGB effect radiator fans that are designed for the ultimate performance and complete with a smart fan controller, you can also provide a more aesthetic look to your system.
The first thing that’s worth discussing regarding this liquid cooler is the simple setup. Not only it’s very easy to get through the install process but this unit also promises a completely maintenance-free operation. The pump provided by Thermaltake is one of the most reliable on the market for allowing an optimal level of water circulation because keeping the copper plate cool is a top priority. This plate is made with high-performance copper to accelerate the heat conductivity. Pre-filled coolant removes the problem of liquid replenishment.
The 240mm radiator is capable of doubling the cooling surface to handle the intense heat from your processor. Two 120mm fans are equipped with the ultimate high static pressure technology for obtaining solid cooling performance.
A great aspect about this model is the self-contained fan controller that can easily switch between a total of 5 LED modes and cycle through 256 colors. The play and pause functions enable users to cycle colors but that’s not all, you can also control the speed options and reduce noise directly from your fingertips.
Designed with efficiency and reliability in mind, the Thermaltake CL-W107-PL12SW-A is a very capable All-in-One liquid cooling system for any high-end CPU. When everything is put in balance, this cooler comes out a big winner on the market due to its highly competitive price. Installing can be a bit tricky if you’re a novice but all in all, this liquid cooler is recommended.
- PWM Riing 12 RGB LED Fans
- Sleeved Tube with Copper Cold Plate
- 240mm Aluminum Radiator
- Maintenance Free Operation
- Universal Socket Compatibility
Performant and yet surprisingly quiet, the Arctic Liquid Freezer 240 is a very capable AIO water cooler that offers 4 x F12 PWM PST fans, an efficient water pump, and a 38mm deep radiator. The fans are designed for optimal heat dissipation and with the help of the PST function, the fan speed can be adjusted precisely to match an increasing CPU temperature.
The Liquid Freezer 240 has four F12 PWN PST fans, a good water pump, and a 38mm deep radiator. The water pump’s efficiency is due to the latest motor technology and quality tubes which perform exceptionally consuming only 2 Watts of energy.
The design choice of mounting the 120mm fans on opposite sides of the radiator was made for creating the optimal heat dissipation as it provides a much better airflow this way. Two fans push air through the radiator while the other two fans pull the air through it. Adjusting their speed is possible with the help of the PST function that adjusts the speed according to the temperature of the CPU.
To optimize each F12 fan with a high airflow, Arctic integrated the best Computational Fluid Dynamics software adjustments. Compared to its competitors, the Liquid Freezer 240 manages the highest airflow at a given noise level. For avoiding the danger of lubricant leakage, the Fluid Dynamic Bearing of this cooler offers an oil capsule.
This water cooling solution is highly compatible with most Intel and AMD sockets and the units are designed to perform exactly the same. This is thanks to a concentric CNC surface treatment which ensures a smooth and even surface.
With impressive quality for its price, the Arctic Liquid Freezer 240 is one of the best products on the market right now if you need high-performance water cooling for your CPU. There are some better but more expensive options out there but this one is a relatively low-cost option which shouldn’t be missed by anyone on the hunt for a decent liquid cooler.
- 4 x F12 PWM PST fans
- 300 Watts TDP
- 38 mm deep radiator
- Very quiet
- Controllable with PST function
- Fluid Dynamic Bearing
Best Liquid CPU Cooler For Overclocking
Another model worth taking a look at from Corsair is the H100i v2, a liquid cooler designed to keep the temperatures of your CPU under control. It boasts a solid surface area to improve the cooling performance and the pump is designed for less operating noise. The feature package is completed by the presence of the built-in Corsair Link that can customize the cooling experience including the lighting.
The fans of this unit are built for extreme performance and it shows. They can provide an incredible level of heat dissipation that’s needed for those with overclocked CPUs. Custom-designed for delivering high static pressure for mounting right against radiators, these SP120L PWM fans are different than basic case fans. Their blades are shaped to bring in the maximum air delivery while reducing noise levels as much as possible.
Corsair Link is built-in for monitoring and customizing all the aspects of the watercooling process. The software will allow you to take advantage of many interesting adjustments including tweaking of the RGB lighting and cooling performance based on the temperature of the CPU.
To install the H100i v2 shouldn’t be a problem as it won’t require lots of work. As this model uses a closed loop design and it comes pre-filled, you can get some peace of mind knowing that this won’t pose troubles during installation. It offers a modular, tool-free mounting bracket which is great news. The power of watercooling is quick and accessible in a very compact and simple-to-install package taking the complexity of traditional liquid cooling kits out of the equation.
The newest version of the H100i seems to be a solid improvement over the old one. Corsair did a great job on the performance and installation aspects. The only downside is the reduced amount of RGB lighting effects which is a bit odd but shouldn’t be a problem for those who don’t care that much about lighting. Overall, this is an excellent choice for a quality liquid CPU cooler as it brings a lot of value for a fair price.
- 240mm dual-fan radiator
- Advanced SP120L PWM fan design
- Improved cold plate and pump design
- Corsair Link
- Simple to install
Getting a capable liquid CPU cooler is essential if you are a hardcore gamer who runs an overclocked CPU but it can be useful for anyone who feels like their air cooler just can’t handle the heat anymore. A very powerful solution is offered by the LEPA AquaChanger LPWAC240-HF, which has good cooling capabilities thanks to its 240mm radiator and lots of other impressive features which will be discussed below.
One of the most impressive features of the AquaChanger is the Central Diffusing Passage Cold Plate. This patented cold plate accelerates the absorption of heat from your CPU up to 30% thermal convection. Thanks to the protrusive structure, the copper base feel sturdier and is capable of deploying more coolant for better CPU hot spot removal.
The blades of this liquid cooler have been designed with advanced aerodynamics for boosting down-force air pressure and delivering a high-volume airflow. Some of the most important aspects regarding the ceramic bearing pump are the reduced noise and smooth operation as well as the protection against corrosion. The level of noise is not very reduced despite the efforts of the manufacturer but it’s not the kind of issue that will impact most users.
Having a large 240mm radiator, it is built to enhance heat exchange for superior cooling performance. In the long run, durability is ensured by the anti-leakage tube which is a very elastic rubber tube fitted with special layers that should prevent any leakages. Most AMD and Intel sockets are supported and the installation process is quite straightforward.
As a closed-loop cooling solution, the LEPA AquaChanger LPWAC240-HF is a must-have companion to your CPU thanks to the powerful ability to lower its temperature. A little loud but manageable, this liquid CPU cooler does a solid job overall and it’s worth considering for your next purchase.
- Central Diffusing Passage Cold Plate
- Dual Convex Blades Fan
- Ceramic Bearing Pump
- Protrusive Copper Base
- Anti-Leakage Tube
- 240mm radiator
Equipped with one of the most reliable and powerful pumps which deliver the maximum amount of water circulation, the DeepCool Captain is an AIO liquid CPU cooler which will help your CPU to achieve peak performance. There are lots of features to get excited about and the price is also relatively balanced for a liquid cooler.
One of the first thing that has to be discussed is the appearance. The red and black look gives off a very cool visual impression and it will definitely fulfill your aesthetic demands. The unique reactor-style pump housing complements well the rest of the look of this stylish cooler. This is nice and all but what about the performance?
It seems that Deepcool went all out with this liquid cooler when it comes to cooling capabilities. The 240mm aluminum fins are optimized for reduced noise allowing for lower fan speeds. More efficient heat dissipation is achieved thanks to the higher air pressure to the radiator that’s created by the unique TF 120 double-blade fan. Approximately 10% better heat dissipation can be obtained by the improved high-density water micro-channels that deliver powerful autonomous circulation.
It has closed impellers that are driven by strong three-phase induction motors which increase the liquid flow and pressure. Reliability is also a factor addressed by this liquid CPU cooler. It has an upgraded anti-explosion rubber tube designed to be resistant to crushing, corrosion and it’s made from a highly thermostable material. The ceramic bearing is built to last with long service life and the installation process shouldn’t be too complicated. Thanks to the 100% metal clip, you can have a securely solid attachment without too much hassle.
The Captain EX series has preserved through the 240EX those key features that made it popular among liquid cooling enthusiasts. The steampunk appearance, the cool looking in-built liquid flow and LED lighting really add to the whole experience. Everything seems to be designed with quality in mind, including the cooler’s components and the RGB effects so this product is highly recommended for gamers or anyone who’s into CPU watercooling.
- 240mm PWM dual-fan
- Pump with breathing LED light and visual glass tube
- Flexible anti-explosion rubber pipes
- Copper Cold Plate with Pre-applied Thermal Compound
- High-Density Aluminum Fins