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You could have the most powerful CPU currently available in the market, but it’ll be useless if it overheats. One of the best ways to cool your CPU is by using an AIO water cooler. AIO (all-in-one) water cooling solutions come with a closed-loop between a radiator with fans and a pump. The coolant is already inside the system, so all you have to do is mount it, connect the pump head to your CPU, and you’re good to go.
Top Rated AIO Water Coolers in 2021
An AIO water cooler is a significant investment in your PC building process, especially if you’re looking for larger ones. Closed-loop all in one water coolers are considerably more expensive than air coolers, but they provide superior thermal performance and are far more convenient to use than building your own custom loops.
We’ve reviewed the best AIO water coolers available today for purchase, considering products from companies like NZXT, Thermaltake, Cooler Master, Corsair, and many others.
The chart topping performance and a variety of different sizes make the NZXT Kraken the ideal pump for everyone with a good budget for a reliable water cooler. And did we mention it has one of the best RGB lighting implementations out there?
Quick Review: NZXT Kraken X62
- Socket Compatibility: Intel 1150-1156, 1366, 2011, 2011-3, 2066; AMD TR4, FM1-FM2+, AM2-AM4
- Sizes: 120mm, 140mm, 240mm, 280mm, 360mm
- Fan Speed: 500-1800 RPM
- Noise Levels: 21-38dBA
- RGB: On Pump
Corsair and NZXT are considered the two pioneers of all-in-one liquid coolers. They’re one of the first manufacturers to release AIO coolers that have made life easier for overclocking enthusiasts and PC gamers. The NZXT Kraken has gone through a few iterations, but the reliability and performance has largely remained the same.
The news line of NZXT Kraken AIO coolers continues providing consistently great results. It’s still the go-to AIO cooler for anyone who has a $150 budget for CPU thermal solutions alone. Even if you don’t need a large radiator, there are 120mm and 140mm versions of the NZXT Kraken available that perform just as well.
There are quite a number of things that make the NZXT Kraken so good. Let’s start with performance first before we move on to the aesthetics. The performance will obviously vary on which size you choose, but the most commonly bought is the NZXT Kraken X62. Boasting two 140mm fans on its radiators, this version has the same pump as what you’ll find in other models (except the 120mm, which doesn’t have a brushed metal pump). For this review, we’ll be using the Kraken X62 as the reference model.
The NZXT Kraken X62 has phenomenal thermal and noise performance, and that’s exactly what you need functionally from a high-quality AIO cooler. Two modes, Silent, and Performance, greatly dictate how well the Kraken performs in the charts. On average, you’ll find it well above the 90th percentile in both thermal performance and noise levels. Noise levels can reach a max of 38dBA and can be further pushed with additional voltage, but in all but the most stressful conditions, the Kraken X62 won’t go beyond the 26dBA mark, which is excellent.
Expect the thermal performance difference between the silent mode and the performance mode to be 3-4 degrees Celsius. That’s a significant difference, so we recommend running the Kraken at performance modes if you’re a heavy PC user.
Coming to the aesthetics, that’s where the NZXT Kraken is arguably unbeatable. While taste varies from individual to individual, the Kraken’s pump design is almost unanimously adored. It’s simple, it’s gorgeous, and it looks so good in any build. Whether you’re obsessed with the tackiness of RGB or the modern minimalism of single colors, the pump will accentuate your PC in a way few others can match.
The infinity mirror isn’t just an advertising gimmick – it truly feels like you’re staring into an abyss through a glossy window, with only the NZXT logo and the gorgeous lighting on the outer rim of the pump emanating light. It’s a bold yet fantastic design that just works with any build. The fans have no RGB LEDs in them, but it does little to affect the overall look and appeal of this AIO cooler.
The pump relies heavily on NZXT’s CAM software for functioning and RGB controls. CAM software was a convoluted mess not too long ago and we’d have suggested you avoid it like the plague, but NZXT has improved it massively over the years. It’s now relatively more reliable, has an easy UI, and gives you a plethora of different options to control the pump’s performance and RGB lighting.
We also love that NZXT offers a 6-year warranty on the Kraken, which is more than what you’d get with any others. This is more of a testament to the company’s confidence in the safe and reliable operation of its product than anything else, and there are little to no cases of any leaks or mishaps with the Kraken.
If there are two complaints we have with the NZXT Kraken lineup, it’s that they’re quite pricey and they don’t fit every PC case. You’ll have to go through the supported cases in their manual and see whether the Kraken will fit as a vertical or horizontal top mount. Regardless, for those who have the right money and the right case, this is one sensational pump that we wouldn’t recommend anything over.
The Thermaltake Floe Triple Riing is inundated with RGB LEDs all over the place. The pump and the fans have an insane amount of RGB LEDs, so it’s truly appealing to those who want to make their PC a mini disco club. There’s also a separate fan control system that gives users direct access to the pump speeds and RGB. However, the Thermaltake Floe Triple Riing is more expensive than our top pick and isn’t as reliable, with tons of user complaints. A great product when it works, but we can’t recommend it over the NZXT Kraken because of its flaws.
The design of the Magnetic Levitation or maglev fans allows them to not only be able to increase their durability that lasts longer than any other bearing type.
Quick Review: Corsair H115i RGB Platinum
The Corsair H115i RGB Platinum uses ML140 Pro RGB fans, which are the company’s top of the line fans using maglev technology.
When Corsair announced their Magnetic Levitation fans back in the day, we were all skeptical at how would they implement this complex system into a bearing system for the fan. But when they did it left almost all bearing types behind in friction resistance and improved vastly on the durability of their fans.
Another benefit of the maglev tech bearing and the fan design that utilizes that technology is how silent these fans are.
The airflow on the fans is 97 CFM and their noise levels are 37 dBA, which to be honest is one of the highest airflows in fans we have seen so far along with a max speed of 2000RPM. The airflow of the fan sits at the top along with other fans like Noctua with their own patented bearing design and companies like Arctic.
With the iCUE software, you can adjust the RGB and the fan speed of the Corsair H115i RGB Platinum, the block itself has an RGB illuminated Corsair logo on it. You can use the iCUE software to change the colors of the head as well.
You can turn the fans completely off if you feel like it under when the CPU is on idle, this allows for a noise-free environment. You can set various profiles if you would like to quickly access them later on, for instance when you are gaming you could turn the fans on high speed along with some game-centric RGB lighting. But while its idle some soft and soothing colors along with low fan speed or fans turned off for zero noise.
We compared this IO Cooler with many other CPU coolers, the only cooler that topped it in terms of cooling by just a centigrade or two was our value pick, the Cryorig A80, and that was only thanks to the pump header fan that was cooling the motherboard and VRM. But it does not have RGB and let us be honest, if you want a gaming rig, RGB isn’t a compulsion, but when you are setting up a gaming rig, RGB just enhances your gaming experience.
The Cooler Master MasterLiquid is a very good cooler that is simple to install. It has more RGB stuff happening in it than the Corsair’s. It’s a fantastic buy if you’re into all the RGB goodness on both the pump and the radiator fans. However, the MasterLiquid has had quality control issues, and it generally doesn’t perform well when mounted vertically up front.
The bonus thermal compound addition makes this a very convenient choice for anyone willing to invest in an AIO liquid cooler. That is why the Lian Li Galahad is one of the best AIO liquid coolers right now.
Quick Review: Lian Li Galahad
When it comes to coolers for your rig, you can either go for the traditional air cooler or a liquid cooler that is much more effective than the former. Liquid coolers are taking over and it’s no surprise as they are better than the air coolers in every way. In fact, a liquid cooler is even easier to set up than an air cooler.
However, there are a ton of options to choose from that range from premium water coolers to more budget-friendly ones. Lian Li steps up to the plate and presents the Lian Li Galahad: an affordable AIO (All-in-One) RGB water cooler.
The Lian Li Galahad is all that you would expect out of your water cooler and then some. It comes with a fantastic 240mm radiator and dual 120mm addressable RGB fans. With the aRGB fans, you can not only get maximum cooling and optimal airflow but also add a sense of style and cool to your PC.
The water pump also features RGB lighting. The Galahad packs some serious performance stats. It can generate 2.79 mm H2O of air pressure and 72 CFM of optimal airflow, keeping your PC cool at all times for maximum performance.
The Galahad is also optimized to make it last longer than a standard liquid cooler. The fans and the pump have a life span of 40,000 and 70,000 hours, respectively. What’s more, is that the Galahad comes with a free thermal compound for convenient application. This way, you don’t have to spend separately on it.
The Thermaltake Water 3.0 Extreme S is another great 240mm AIO cooler with great performance. It also runs a lot quieter than our value pick. However, it is not the most appealing looking AIO cooler out there, with a bland radiator design and a dated pump chassis. There are also some quality control issues associated with this cooler, but if you can find a reliable dealer and want to save up a little more, it’s an alternative worth consideration.
Things to Look for When Buying AIO Liquid Coolers
Air Coolers vs Liquid Coolers
AIO liquid coolers are significantly more expensive than air coolers, so when it comes to Air coolers vs liquid coolers, why should you buy AIO coolers? The answer is simple: they provide much better cooling and are ideal for when you want to overclock your CPU heavily. AIO coolers are also useful if you have tall RAM modules that make it difficult to mount certain air coolers. Lastly, we think AIO water coolers are more aesthetically pleasing. However, AIO coolers are generally a little noisier than air coolers, especially if you buy ones with multiple fans.
Size, Compatibility, and Budget
AIO coolers aren’t compatible with every PC case either, so you’ll have to be mindful of which case you have. Finally, some radiators are so large that they become difficult to mount. There’s also the small risk of a spill that could fry your essential components.
If you have the budget and compatibility for one, we’d recommend a reliable AIO liquid cooler over an air cooler every time. If you aren’t going to push your CPU hard with overclocking, a 120mm AIO cooler is perfectly adequate. For those pushing their CPU to crazy limits and wanting the best temperatures, consider the 360mm radiators, provided your PC case can handle one. 360mm radiators are usually used in full towers instead of the more commonly used mid towers.
AIO coolers can be either mounted vertically or horizontally. When mounted vertically, the air intake is from the front of the PC case. Horizontal mounted is restricted to the top of the case. When mounted horizontally, you can choose to have the fans either push air out from the case or pull cooler into the case.
There you have it. AIO coolers are the best choice out there for cooling solutions for most high-end PC builders. Custom loop coolers can perform better, but they’re a hassle to design and setup, and they’re mostly used by overclocking enthusiasts.