Best CPU cooler 2018: top CPU coolers for your PC

 techradar.com  7/19/2018 8:30:00 PM  2  Gabe Carey

What’s cooler than being cool? That’s right, keeping your PC components ice cold. Here at TechRadar, we love building and overclocking the best gaming PCs we can get our hands on – and we know that the best CPU coolers will help you squeeze every drop of performance out of even the best processors, as lower CPU temps allow your PC to run faster and last longer.

The best CPU coolers come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, and what’s best for your build will largely depend on what you’re going for. Fortunately, you should be able to pick up one of the best CPU coolers no matter your budget – some of the best air coolers on the market are unbelievably inexpensive. And, if you’re overclocking the best processors, you should consider a beefy liquid-cooling solution, just to eke out that extra bit of juice.

No matter what kind of CPU cooler you’re in the market for, we here at TechRadar will help you find it with this list of the best CPU coolers you can buy in 2018 – each one tested and ranked right here.

Noctua NH-D15

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)

Whisper quiet

Six-year manufacturer’s warranty

Too big for some PC builds

The Noctua NH-D15 is the best CPU cooler you can buy in 2018 simply because it performs just as well as – if not better than some liquid coolers, while costing a fraction of the price. Now, you might not be too familiar with Noctua’s name, as they’re relatively small in the CPU cooler world, but its business is centered 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. Not only will you get fantastic cooling performance from the NH-D15, but it’s nearly silent too. 

Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO

Type: Fan and heatsink | Compatibility: Intel LGA 775 – 2066; AMD AM2 – AM3+, FM1 – FM3+ | Rotation frequency: Up to 2,000 RPM | Noise volume: 9dBA – 36dBA | Dimensions (W x D x H): 120 x 120 x 25mm | Weight: 1.26 pounds (0.57kg)

Balanced cooling performance

Heat pipes ideal for conduction

AM4 bracket sold separately

A constant reminder of the age-old saying ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, the Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo is a mainstay in pretty much any budget build, as its one of the most affordable CPU coolers you can buy today. Although it only features four heatpipes and an aluminum fin structure, this renowned CPU cooler has proven itself time and again to be as efficient as any liquid cooling system. These air coolers are designed to make heat dissipation a breeze, whether you’re playing Destiny 2 at max settings or reading TechRadar in a web browser. 

Noctua NH-L9

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)

Ultra compact

Six-year manufacturer’s warranty

Only 92mm fan

This CPU cooler is among one of the smallest we’ve ever used for our own Mini ATX builds. It come from an Austrian company as our best CPU cooler that specializes entirely in PC coolers and fans, which means no compromises are made in the way of quality assurance despite its low-profile form-factor.

Corsair H100i Pro

Type: Liquid cooling system | Compatibility: Intel 2011 – 2066; AMD AM2 – AM4 | Rotation frequency: Up to 2,400 | Noise volume: 44dBA | Dimensions (W x D x H): 315 x 143 x 29mm | Weight: 4.4 pounds (1.98kg)

 Insane performance 

 Powerful fans 

 Gets loud 

Corsair has been on top of the all-in-one liquid cooling game for a while now, and the H100i Pro continues the trend. Not only is this thing strapped in the RGB lighting we’ve come to expect from Corsair, but it also features impressive cooling performance, thanks in part to its powerful and unique fans, which you can control through Corsair’s iCue software. This all results in a CPU cooler that not only performs well, but that is also completely customizable. 

NZXT Kraken X72

Type: Liquid cooling system | Compatibility: Intel 1151 – 2066; AMD TR4, AM2 – AM4, FM1-FM2+ | Rotation frequency: Up to 2,800 | Noise volume: 21-36dBA | Dimensions (W x D x H): 294 x 120 x 27mm | Weight: 2.84 pounds (1.28kg)

 Great performance 

 Aesthetic 

 Expensive 

If you’re running one of the best processors, and you’re really looking to push it to its boundaries, the NZXT Kraken X72 is the best CPU cooler for overclocking. Not only does this thing pack in a giant radiator, but its high fan speeds ensure that cooling performance is top-notch at all times. And, because it’s 2018, it features addressable RGB and an infinite mirror design that looks amazing in any case. Then to top it all off, the NZXT Kraken X72 is backed by a 6-year warranty. 

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

 Luminous RGB lighting 

 Premium build 

 A little expensive 

There isn’t a single component that can’t be made better with RGB, and Cooler Master knows this – 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 either – as 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.

Arctic Liquid Freezer 120

Type: Liquid cooling system | Compatibility: Intel LGA 2011 – 2066; AMD AM2 – AM3+, FM1 – FM2 | Rotation frequency: Up to 1350 RPM | Noise volume: 22.5dBA | Dimensions (W x D x H): 120 x 120 x 25mm | Weight: 2.65 pounds (1.2kg)

Strong performance

Inexpensive

Somewhat noisey

Few features

For less than 70 big ones in both US dollars and British sterling, the Arctic Liquid Freezer 120 is a deal you can’t pass up if you’re on the prowl for a liquid cooler that won’t break the bank. While it lacks the bells and whistles of pricier, more extravagant liquid coolers, like the NZXT Kraken, the Arctic Liquid cooler is enough to get you by, not to mention it’s still a massive step up from the classic fan and heatsink pairing. So, while you can’t expect RGB lighting or software – or even hardware-based fan control, the 120mm variant of the Arctic Liquid Freezer will keep your system refrigerated at a (mostly) quiet volume. 

  • This product is only available in the US and UK at the time of this writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Corsair Hydro Series H5 SF 

Corsair Hydro Series H5 SF

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)

Guaranteed leak-free tubing

Compact, all-in-one form factor

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 should able to use this CPU cooler to keep your CPU chilled, even if you have some beastly overclocks going on. And, 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

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)

You won’t hear a peep

Works well with low-power CPUs

Exorbitantly massive

95W TDP limitation

Unless you’re already neck deep in the rabbit hole that is silent PC assembly, you’ve probably never heard of NoFan, a South Korean component company that specializes in helping enthusiasts reach that 0dBA silent sweet spot. In doing so, of course, you can count on severely limiting yourself in terms of power, with its CR-95C fanless solution being limited in compatibility to processors whose TDP fall below 95W. Still, the NoFan CR-95C is worth a shot for those sporting low-power rigs that prioritize tranquility over raw horsepower. 

  •  This Product is only available in the US at the time of this writing. UK and Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Noctua NH-L9 
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