With the Ryzen series of CPUs from AMD, overclocking has become widely available these days. But overclocking will raise the thermals of your CPU severely, the stock CPU cooler does not hold. Whether it is Intel or AMD, you need the best CPU coolers if you want to overclock.
Coolers are widely available these days, you can find many types of coolers. There are low profile coolers for small form factor systems. You also have liquid coolers, which are more popularly used for overclocking purposes. You can also use a tower cooler for overclocking purposes as well.
What we did was, compile a list of the best CPU coolers that can be used for this purpose. We reviewed them and checked the thermals on idle and then during stress testing and found these to be best.
We took temperatures using various methods and compared them to find an average for this purpose. Everyone knows that once thermals reach a certain point, your CPU ends up thermal throttling.
Buyer’s Guide for the Best CPU Coolers
It is important that your cooler efficiently cools the processor if you plan on overclocking. Always accompany your cooler with a proper thermal grease so that there is proper conductance of heat. You should always apply enough but never apply too much thermal compound.
If you are relying on air to cool your CPU, then make sure you have good airflow. Choose a case that promotes good airflow inside. Also, installing a few case fans also helps in getting more inside for cooler to blow on.
The more the number of heat pipes on a cooler and its conductance, the more it will cool the processor. There are also fins that absorb heat and spread it around so that the fan can cool it.
In water cooling, a radiator is used to cool down water that cools the water-block. A water-block is placed in direct contact with the heat-spreader of the CPU. It cools it down with flowing cold water that is pumped with a motor in the radiator.
There is also a coolant used in most liquid coolers along with the water. This helps in cooling down the radiator faster than normal. But do not neglect a good airflow just because you have a water cooler on your CPU.
VRMs and even your RAM needs cooling as well, so having proper airflow keeps your whole system cool. That is why most tech channels either recommend a case that promotes airflow or normal CPU cooler.
Best CPU Coolers from Low Profile to Water Coolers Reviewed
If you are not too big on RGB lighting and care about performance, Noctua is for you. Based on the award-winning design of NH-D14, the NH-D15 is the go for most enthusiasts.
While many people have often complained about the color scheme of the Noctua coolers, the company states it focuses most on the performance. An added coat of paint might hinder the maximum potential of a cooler.
But due to wide feed-back company released the Black Chromax version of their fans as well. So if you want you can opt for that instead of the normal one.
As far as thermal performance goes, Noctua uses its best fans in the NH-D15. On max loads, you can expect temps around 80-85 Centigrade on the hottest of CPUs.
But that is not the only thing Noctua is famous for, their fans are also very quiet. In fact, during max loads, there was minimal audible noise during stress testing.
The Noctua NH-D15 comes can be used with a single fan or double fan setting for push and pull configuration. It is not the most affordable cooler out there, but its performance is worth the cost.
Best Low Profile Cooler
Noctua being the leading manufacturer of CPU coolers in the world, it’s no surprise that it also has the best low profile cooler. While there are other smaller CPU coolers but they cannot handle the heat like this one.
While the Cyrorig C7 feels like it is a tad bit smaller than the NH-L9X65, it cannot outperform it. But do not expect to be able to overclock on an ITX build without a water cooling solution.
It is due to the fact that ITX builds are small and do not have much airflow. So overclocking might not be stable unless you have built a good airflow solution in the case.
You can expect around 40-60 centigrade in idle depending on the room temperature. If you are from a colder environment, you might get around 45-50 centigrade. In hotter places, it can go up to 65 degrees.
It is clearly a great low-profile CPU as it is performing twice as better as stock coolers. It gives around 9-10 centigrade difference compared to the C7 making it the clear winner.
Best Water Cooler
The Arctic Liquid Freezer II is a hybrid CPU Cooler that has a small 40mm fans reserved to blow air on the motherboard VRM chips.
The CPU is not the only thing that heats up, anything that consumed electricity will heat up. Keeping that in mind, the Arctic Liquid Freezer II has put a small 40mm fan on the water-block to blow air on VRM chips.
This allows for the motherboard to stay in safe temperatures along with the CPU. Also, Arctic Liquid Freezer II is super affordable compared to brands like NZXT and Corsair. The 120mm CPU cooler costs under $80 which is the best price per performance you will get.
Unlike the other water-based CPU coolers, it does not have any flashy RGB, its plain and simple. Though the fan might feel like a gimmick, it actually does work to keep VRM temperatures low.
It performed well on our tests, even under stress the temperature did not go over 60 centigrade. When we tried to OC the temperatures did rise but were still under control.
This makes the Arctic Liquid Freezer II one of the best coolers in the market, that too for an affordable price. You can find bigger versions as well, so if you feel like 120mm is not enough, go big.
The name of this cooler can be a mouthful, but so is the price. But if you have money to spare, you can bask in the greatness of this AIO liquid cooler which will allow overclocking without issues.
First of all, as the name suggests, there is some beautiful RGB lighting on this liquid cooler. The water-block and the fans both have RGB that can be controlled for different effects.
It really keeps the temperatures of the CPU low, at low-noise mode on the full load we saw temps around 55 centigrade. While on full throttle the temperatures were even lower than this.
The water-block also has RGB lighting, which gives a really good gamer aesthetic to your system. If you have a tempered glass case, then this AIO Cooler will make people jealous of your rig.
Lastly, since it is expensive, thus our top contender for the premium pick. It will cost you around the $300 mark for the 240mm version, which is not bad as there are more expensive options out there.
With great RGB lighting and a black look, the Hyper 212 RGB from Cooler Master is a great budget CPU cooler. It will give you 25-30% better performance than a stock cooler at full loads.
This cooler has 4 heat pipes that are used to transfer heat from the heatsink to the fins for cooling. The RGB lit fan is a good addition if you want aesthetics and cooling performance.
Though there is also a red LED version available for a little cheaper, but we threw in the extra money for the RGB, because why not? Gamers love their RGB after all.
The noise level of the fan was not as good though, it was a bit louder compared to other coolers we reviewed. But for the price point, you can hardly find a better CPU cooler with RGB.