Keeping your CPU processor properly cooled is critical, if not essential, for you to get the most out of it. Undoubtedly, many CPU air coolers can get the job done; however, few are as exciting as the best liquid CPU cooler. Fortunately, you don't really have to be some computer hardware professional to set up this liquid cooler nowadays, thanks to the snow-balling of these All-in-One (AIO) liquid coolers.
The AIO liquid coolers you come across now can actually be incredibly simple to install. Most come with a water pump that is pre-installed with hoses that connect to the radiator. These may vary in size ranging from a simple square 120mm all the way up to 240mm-360mm.
These AIO coolers also come pre-filled with fluids, so you won't have to wander around any of that. In many ways, they are even simpler to set up than high-end air coolers since you won't need to mount a heavy heat sink onto the processor carefully.
However, these benefits go further than that. The liquid CPU cooler is designed to handle the heat output of your processor and does an impeccable job in keeping your CPU cool. Furthermore, it does this more quietly compared to an air cooler, and some, like the mini ITX case, don't have size constraints like the air cooler, so they work better in tight spaces.
What Is A Liquid CPU Cooler?
Technically, CPU cooling can be achieved in 2 ways; using an air cooler or liquid (water) cooler. Air coolers consist of big and noisy fans that transport the CPU’s heat, while a full water cooling loop incorporates less noisy fans that come with a more outstanding performance in heat transfer. All-in-One liquid cooling refers to a liquid CPU cooler.
The best AIO CPU liquid cooler is one that keeps both your CPU and GPU well-ventilated. When both the CPU and GPU are sufficiently cooled, you will definitely get the best results using them. The water CPU block is connected to your motherboard or GPU to help dissipate the heat through the flowing liquid.
Practically, liquid CPU coolers have a much more efficient thermal performance than air cooling since water has a much higher heat transfer coefficiency than air cooling. Also, unlike air cooling, water cooling uses quieter fans that run at higher RPMs, and you get better clocks.
1. Noctua NH-D15 CPU Cooler
- State-of-the-art dual-tower design with 6 heatpipes provides excellent cooling performance for overclocking or near-silent systems
- Highly optimised NF-A15 140mm fan with PWM support and Low-Noise Adaptor for automatic speed control and ultra-quiet operation
- Includes high-end NT-H1 thermal paste and SecuFirm2 mounting system for easy installation on Intel LGA1150, LGA1151, LGA1155, LGA1156, LGA1200, LGA2011, LGA2066 and AMD AM4, AM3(+), AM2(+), FM2(+)
- Renowned Noctua quality backed up by 6-year manufacturer’s warranty, deluxe choice for Intel Core i9, i7, i5, i3 (e.g. 11900K, 11700K, 10900K, 10980XE) and AMD Ryzen (e.g. 5950X, 5900X, 5800X, 5600X)
- Optional NM-i17xx-MP83 mounting upgrade-kit for Intel’s new, LGA1700 based Alder Lake-S CPUs (12900K, 12700K, 12600K, KF and non-K, etc., Z690 chipset) available separately
The Noctua NH-D15 ranks high as one of the best CPU coolers that you can get for your PC. Overall, it is the best AIO cooler that performs just as great, if not better, than some of the best high-end liquid coolers, yet it costs a fraction of their price.
Many consumers might not be quite as familiar with the Noctua NH-D15 AIO cooler or the Noctua brand since they’re relatively new in the CPU cooler world. However, this brand has been making bold, innovative moves in designing coolers that give you exceptional performance at a low price point.
While getting this liquid freezer, you can reliably trust that you are getting a product that's developed by people who are well endowed in their craft. Other than its great cooling performance, this budget-friendly CPU cooler operates in a near-silent operation as well.
- Fan and heatsink compatibility type
- Compatibility with AMD AM2 – AM3+, Intel LGA 775 – LGA 2066, and FM1 – FM2+
- Rotation frequency of up to 1500 RPM
- Noise volume between 19.20dbA – 24.60dbA
- Dimensions 160 x 150 x 135mm (W x D x H)
- Weighs 2.91 pounds (1.32kg)
2. NZXT Kraken Z73 360mm - RL-KRZ73-01 - AIO RGB CPU Liquid Cooler
- CUSTOMIZE YOUR BATTLESTATION: With a bright, 2.36” LCD screen capable of displaying 24-bit color, you can now completely customize the look of your CPU cooler
- STAY IN CONTROL: CAM’s elegant, user-friendly software makes you the master of your PC with simple-to-use, intuitive controls, you can manage your Kraken’s performance and appearance with ease
- INCREDIBLE PERFORMANCE: Featuring a chamfered intake and fluid dynamic bearings, they deliver silent operation, long-term reliability, and powerful cooling performance
- SIMPLE INSTALLATION: With the fully programmable display, the pump can be rotated* to fit the needs of your motherboard without affecting the direction of the logo or image
- COMPATIBLE SOCKET & CPU: Intel Socket LGA 1151, 1150, 1155, 1156, 1366, 2011, 2011-3, 2066 / AMD Socket AM4, TR4(bracket not included)
Whether you’re aiming for 360mm or 280mm, the NZXT Kraken Z-3 is another choice that you have for the best CPU cooler that uses liquid cooling. Among other features, its vibrant 2.36-inch LCD screen with RGB lights that can capably display 24-bit color makes this fully customizable liquid CPU cooler one of the best CPU coolers.
This customization feature allows you to fine-tune settings and display cool images and animated gifs. And more importantly, it gives you an impressive performance. Additionally, it is also easy to install.
- Fan and heatsink type
- Compatible with Intel Socket LGA 1151 – 2066, Intel Core i3 – i7/ i9, AMD Socket AM4, TR4, AMD Ryzen 3 – Ryzen Threadripper
- Rotation frequency 500-1,800 + 300 RPM
- Noise volume at 21-38dBA
- Dimensions 143 x 315 x 30mm
3. Corsair Hydro H100i PRO Series RGB AIO Liquid CPU Cooler
The Corsair Hydro H100i Pro series is a high-end Corsair model that ranks high as one of the best CPU coolers in the liquid cooling lineup. It balances quite high in its performance and looks. It also comes with a bright RGB lights LED pump to add to its sleek aesthetics.
As a premium best cooler model, it offers a high-end customizable liquid cooling tower, making it one of the best CPU coolers. It has magnetic levitation-bearing PWM fans that deliver maximum airflow and static pressure at minimum noise levels, unlike many air cooling CPU coolers. In addition, the PWM fan speed control gives it a wide range of speed controls that can be adjusted between the 400-2400 RPM speed.
Using a single Corsair iCUE software interface that's also highly user-friendly, you can control the RGB LEDs and fan speeds. This software supports 6 fans and 6 Corsair RGB devices. In addition, the Zero RPM control can be used to stop the fans when the coolant temperature reaches 40° celsius and below.
This control feature also adds to how quiet this cooling unit is. In addition, the black braided coolant tubes give it a more incredibly fresh look. It also comes with a simple tool-free mounting bracket that facilitates installation and comes with a 5-year warranty.
- 276mm X 120mm X 27mm dimension
- 27mm base height
- 4.38 lbs weight
- 2 fans
- Socket support for Intel 1200, 1150, 1151, 1155, 1156, 1366, 2011, 2066 AMD AM4, AM3, AM2, sTRX4, sTR4
4. DEEPCOOL Captain 240PRO V2, ADD-RGB AIO CPU Liquid Cooler
Deepcool Captain 240 Pro V2 also ranks high as the best CPU cooler in price and performance. It comes in a stainless steel structure that adds to its sleek aesthetic look and sturdiness. With an anti-leak technology, it solves one of the problems that are associated with water CPU coolers.
With an automatic pressure regulating radiator, it releases excess pressure in your system, thereby preventing leaks. The base plate on its direct contact heat pipes is also made of copper for efficient heat transfer.
This design also comes with ultra-silent TF 120 double-blade fans that are much more silent than the conventional single-bladed fans. These fans give you an efficient liquid cooling system with a high flow rate and much lesser noise. The sleeved coolant tubing also adds to its sleek look.
It also comes really easy to install with sturdy assembly plates and a powerful pump motor. It has a 250Watt TDP that works well with most high-end motherboards/processors and comes with a 3-year warranty.
- Dimensions at 282mm X 120mm X 27mm
- Base height at 27mm
- Weight at 3.75 lbs
- 2 fans
- Socket supports Intel LGA 2066, 2011-v3, 2011, 1200, 1151, 1150, 1155, 1366, AMD TR4, AM4, AM3+, AM3, AM2+, AM2, FM2+, FM2, FM1
5. Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML120R ARGB Close-Loop AIO CPU Liquid Cooler
The Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML240P Mirage is recommendably the best liquid cooler for your gaming PC. With it, you can reliably play for hours on end without having to worry about overheating.
Thanks to a transparent pump design that lets you see its impeller running with different RGB lighting, it gives you an admirable CPU, especially if yours comes in one of those glass-window cases. Performance-wise, this Cooler master model definitely deserves a spot in the best CPU coolers list.
The Cooler Master ML240P Mirage comes with a PPS+ glass fiber housing and nozzle for temperature change and moisture resistance. This Cooler Master also comes with an EPDM rubber O-Ring that helps eliminate the chances of a leak with a low-resistance radiator for increased flow rate. Overall the Cooler Master gives impeccable heat exchange efficiency and a great performance.
- Liquid cooling CPU cooling type
- Compatible with Intel LGA 775 – LGA 2066; AMD AM2 – AM4, FM1 – FM2+
- Rotation frequency that's up to 2000 ±10% RPM
- Noise volume at 27dbA
- 277 x 120 x 27 mm dimensions
- Weight at 2.11 pounds (957g)
Factors to Consider for the Best Liquid CPU Cooler
A) Size of Radiator
First, you'll need to choose the AIO cooler that is compatible and fits your case. The most common sizes include 92, 140, 120, 140, 240, and 360mm. The larger the size of the CPU coolers, the greater the cooling capacity to remove heat. But also the more space it will need. So it would save you a great deal to choose accordingly.
B) Number of Fans and RPM
The loudest component of your PC is its CPU cooler. Generally, coolers with large diameter fans have less noise and are quieter than coolers that come with a small diameter fan.
A higher number of cooling fans or using top CPU coolers with higher RPMs will increase the heat transfer capacity, but this will also increase the noise. However, you can also use water cooling systems with fewer RPM fans to help resolve the noise issue.
C) TDP Rate
The heat generated by a GPU or CPU needs to be efficiently removed by your cooling system. Therefore, the best cooling solution for your PC needs to have a higher TDP rating than the processor. In this case, the top liquid CPU cooler for your system is the one that has a higher TDP rating margin than that of your processor.
D) CPU Socket
All CPU coolers come with different sockets that the manufacturers indicate on their respective catalogs. Always make sure that the CPU cooler you are buying is compatible with the motherboard-processor combination of your PC. It's always best to go for the cooler that's perfectly compatible with your CPU's socket.
Frequently Asked Questions on the Best Liquid CPU Cooler
1. Does a liquid cooler give better cooling than a CPU air cooler?
Liquid cooling is a better way to cool your CPU because water transfers heat more efficiently than air. The best liquid CPU coolers also make the PC run quieter because the fans aren't constantly running at a high RPM. Alternatively, all-in-one liquid coolers aren't just limited to the CPU either; they can also be used elsewhere.
2. Can a liquid CPU cooler leak?
You have a higher chance of its pump failing than it leaking; however, leaks aren't entirely out of the quest; however, liquid CPU coolers are durably built to cover this, so it shouldn't be a problem.
3. What liquid is used in the best CPU coolers?
The two types of glycol that are mostly used in liquid CPU coolers are Ethylene Glycol + water (EGW) and Propylene Glycol + water (PGW) solutions.
4. Will liquid CPU coolers need maintenance?
AIO liquid cooling solutions, also known as Closed-loop liquid coolers, are sealed coolers. Meaning they won't require any maintenance since they can't even be refilled or opened in the first place.