The Finest CPU Coolers for 2020

Choosing a CPU cooler for your build is more difficult than it looks. Should you go with air or liquid? Where is the best placement for this and which brand is the best? There are many wrong answers, but the right answer depends on your budget, setup, and performance standards.

There is no one-size-fits-all option. To narrow your search, we have compiled a list of the best CPU coolers on the market.

Best overall CPU cooler: Noctua NH-D15

Noctua

Socket compatibility Intel: LGA2066, LGA2011-0, LGA2011-3, LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA1151, LGA1150
AMD: AM2, AM2 +, AM3, AM3 +, FM1, FM2, FM2 +, AM4
Dimensions (length by width by height) 161 mm x 150 mm x 165 mm
Weight 1,320 grams

Noctua produces some of the best CPU coolers in the world. The NH-D15, with its double heatsink and fans, delivers performance that can match or exceed some of the best water coolers in the world, while maintaining the color scheme Noctua has defined since its debut.

The NH-D15 is both bulky and heavy and therefore not suitable for every system. It is also quite expensive. However, if you want the ultimate in air cooling from just about any outlet of the last generation, you can't go wrong with the NH-D15. It looks good, is powerful, and even comes with a six-year warranty, so you can be sure it won't let you down as quickly.

Best AIO CPU cooler with closed loop: Corsair H100i Pro

Corsair h100i

Socket compatibility Intel: LGA2066, LGA2011, LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA1151, LGA1150
AMD: AM2, AM3, AM4, TR4
Dimensions 276 mm x 120 mm x 27 mm (cooler) 32 mm (block height)
Weight 1,987 grams (block and cooler)

Closed-loop all-in-one coolers may not offer a dramatic increase in cooling performance compared to the best air coolers, but they are much more minimalist. You push the heat sink fins and their intrinsic surface to the edges and boundaries of your case and leave an attractive and unobtrusive water block on your CPU. There are a number of great AIOs out there, but our favorite for the cost is the Corsair H100i Pro.

It's a 240mm AIO with a sleek look and great overall performance. It is quiet, has no fan rotation when idling and is easy to install in most cases. With the recent price cuts, it's not only more competitive with Corsair's other AIO coolers, but also with those of other companies. It even has some slight RGB lighting effects for a good degree.

Alternatives like the H115i are more powerful, with a slightly reduced noise level and better thermal, but the upgrade isn't really worth it for up to $ 40 more. If you need a larger version, Corsair also offers 280mm and 360mm models.

Best low-profile CPU cooler: Noctua NH-L12S

Noctua NH-L12S CPU cooler

Socket compatibility Intel: LGA2066, LGA2011, LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA1151, LGA1150
AMD: AM2, AM3, AM4, FM1, FM2, FM2 +
Dimensions 146mm x 128mm x 70mm
Weight 520 grams

If your PC is light or unobtrusive, you'll need a low-profile CPU cooler to get the most out of the benefits. Here, the NH-L12S from Noctua really shines. With a height of only 70 mm, it fits into the smallest Mini-ITX case and is therefore a great option for those who want to cool a powerful CPU in a small system construction.

It supports a variety of recent generation Intel and AMD sockets and uses a simple clip mechanism to lock the fan in place. Attractive, light and powerful, this is the best CPU cooler for low-profile builds.

The only limitation with this cooler is that it doesn't have the same thermal headroom as some of the others on this list. Noctua recommends using it with caution on CPUs over 95 W TDP or overclocking as it may not be able to keep temperatures low enough to stay safe.

Best affordable CPU cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 Black

Socket compatibility Intel: LGA2066, LGA2011, LGA1151, LGA 1150, LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA1366
AMD: AM2, AM3, AMD3 +, AM4, FM1, FM2, FM2 +
Dimensions 120mm x 79.6mm x 158.8mm
Weight 700 grams

Cooler Master makes some of the best budget CPU coolers, and its legendary Hyper 212 range is a real flagship in this area. Unfortunately, without an upgrade kit, the 212 Evo is not compatible with the latest generation of AMD CPUs, which adds a few dollars to the cost and more than $ 40. Fortunately, the 212 Black supports almost everything right away and is just as powerful.

With a nickel-black finish and a similarly dark fan, this cooler is reserved and offers solid all-round performance. With eight heat pipes, it dissipates heat quickly and efficiently from the CPU core and cools the expansive fins with a 120 mm fan. There is also the option to add a second in a push-pull configuration to slightly improve airflow.

The big selling point of this cooler is the cost. This is a significant improvement over the standard cooler offered by Intel or AMD, but costs significantly less than $ 50.

Best RGB CPU cooler: Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML240R RGB

Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML240R AIO

Socket compatibility Intel: LGA2066, LGA 2011, LGA 1156, LGA1155, LGA1151, LGA 1150, LFA1366
AMD: AM2, AM2 +, AM3, AM3 +, AM4, FM1, FM2, FM2 +
Dimensions 277mm x 119.6mm x 27mm (cooler) 80.3mm x 76mm x 42.2mm (block)
Weight 1,215 grams

Most closed-loop all-in-one water coolers have lighting, but none is unicorn-certified like the Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML240R RGB kit. It has RGB lighting on the edge of the CPU pump block and on the radiator fans. Everything else is a subtle and elegant black that gives due attention to the luminous parts of your new AIO.

The performance of this 240mm AIO is solid and offers plenty of headroom for even the most roasted overclocked processors. Installation is easy thanks to a simple bracket system and an extensive selection of bundled screws and brackets for each component in the kit. It even comes with a removable block head. If you accidentally mount the pump upside down, you can replace it to ensure that the logo is the right way round.

If you need more or less cooling capacity or have more or less space for your AIO cooler, the MasterLiquid RGB is also available in the forms 120 mm and 360 mm.

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