PC Components

You want the best CPU cooler you can get, whether you’re aiming for  world-record overclocks or just a PC that doesn’t get loud under load. Choosing the right cooler for your best CPU is an important decision in any PC build or upgrade. It can make a big difference in temperatures, noise and performance — particularly if you’re overclocking. If your existing cooler can’t keep your chip’s heat under control, that could mean slower performance and / or a shorter lifespan for your precious processor, and no one wants that.

Best CPU Coolers For You

If you’re unsure whether you want air cooling or a liquid-cooled AIO, there are a few things to consider. Big air coolers tend to take up more internal space in your PC case, particularly when it comes to vertical clearance off your best motherboard. They can also be louder and less efficient at moving heat away from your choice of CPU and out of the chassis, though that’s not always the case. Air coolers also tend to cost less than AIOs, though that line is blurring as well. AIO coolers are getting more affordable, while high-end air coolers reach toward the $100 range.

If money isn’t that much of an object and quiet operation and low temperatures are important to you, you may want to consider a custom cooling loop. For more on how these can perform (and how good they look), check out our Mirror Maze build feature.

When choosing the best CPU cooler for your needs, consider the following:

For much more detail on how to choose the right cooler (and cooler type) check out our CPU cooler buying guide

The Best Air Coolers You Can Buy Today

Best Big Air CPU Cooler: Deepcool Assassin III (Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

1. Deepcool Assassin III

Best Big Air CPU Cooler

Dimensions: 171.5 x 139.7 x 133.4mm | Base Height: 38.1mm | Weight: 42.7oz (1210g) | Fans: (2) 140 x 25mm | Socket Support: 115x, 1366, 2011x, 2066; FM2( ), FM1, AM2( ), AM3( ), AM4 | Warranty: 5 years

Budget friendly

Silent operation

Excellent thermal performance

Lack of RGB lighting options

Incomplete AMD and Intel CPU socket support

With twin cooling towers, seven heatpipes and two 140mm fans, the GamerStorm Assassin III from Deep Cool brought us the lowest temperature of big-air coolers. Pairing that thermal performance with low noise makes it our choice for air-cooling big CPUs, with great looks and easy installation qualifying as bonuses.

Read: Deepcool Assassin III review

Best Big Air CPU Cooler Alternative: See Noctua NH-U12A

With slightly better cooling and slightly lower noise than the above Arctic model, Noctua’s NH-U12A becomes the premium choice for buyers who aren’t afraid to pay big dollars for small gains.

Note that DeepCool’s AS500 is also an excellent alternative for those who don’t quite have the room or the budget for a true big air cooler. It punches above its cooling class, delivering excellent temps for its $59.99 MSRP. But while it has been released in the UK, we’re still waiting for stock to show up here in the USA.

Best Mid-size Air CPU Cooler: Cooler Master MasterAir MA410M

2. Cooler Master MasterAir MA410M

Best Mid-size Air CPU Cooler

Dimensions: 158.8 x 132.4 x 58.2mm | Base Height: 37.88mm | Weight: 43.87oz (1247g) | Fans: (2) 120 x 25mm RGB | Socket Support: AMD FM2( ), FM1, AM2( ), AM3( ), AM4, Intel 7115x, 1366, 2011x, 2066 | Warranty: 5 years

Excellent cooling performance

Mid-size cooler occupies less space

Thermal probe provides thermal load display via RGB lighting

Fans kick up a bit more noise than others by comparison

The Cooler Master MasterAir MA410M is our pick for an excellent performing mid-size air cooler, especially considering the aggressively designed exterior shell and the inclusion of addressable RGB lighting from within the cooling tower itself. Sitting on the upper range of the affordable pricing tier, $67 (£60) might cause budget system builders to balk a bit, but considering the features and performance, it definitely deserves those few extra dollars.

Read: Cooler Master MasterAir MA410M review

Best AMD Threadripper Air CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-U14S

3. Noctua NH-U14S

Best AMD Threadripper Air CPU Cooler

Dimensions: 171.45 x 151.4 x 52.3mm | Base Height: 25.1mm | Weight: 36.5oz (1035g) | Fans: (1) 140 x 25mm | Socket Support: AMD TR4, SP3 | Warranty: 6 years

Excellent performance

Very low noise levels

Simple, secure installation

Premium price

Tall cooler height poses compatibility issues in smaller cases

The Noctua NH-U14S TR4-SP3 provides whisper-quiet cooling with big league thermal performance – the kind of overclocked Threadripper performance that sneaks into quality 360 AIO cooling performance. Armed with six nickel-plated copper heatpipes and a NF-A15 140mm PWM fan, the AMD-friendly NH-U14S TR4-SP3 is a silent thermal assassin. For Threadripper air cooling, this cooler checks all the boxes for enthusiasts and overclockers alike.

Read: Noctua NH-U14S review

Best Threadripper Cooler Alternative: Arctic Freezer 50TR

Neither as cool nor as quiet as Noctua’s NH-U14S, the Artice Freezer 50 TR got our attention for its lower price. The value advantage could be important to current builders hoping to save money by using AMD’s previous generation 2000-series parts.

Best Budget Air CPU Cooler: be quiet! Pure Rock 2 (Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

4. be quiet! Pure Rock 2

Best Budget Air CPU Cooler

Dimensions: 158.8 x 120.1 x 63.5mm | Base Height: 38.1.1mm | Weight: 20.8oz (590g) | Fans: (1) 120 x 25mm | Socket Support: AMD AM3( ), AM4, Intel 115x, 2011x, 2066 | Warranty: 3 years

Budget price

Silent operation

Attractive design

Thermal performance trails off at low fan speeds

The Pure Rock 2 represents the same passion around thermal design, silent operation and manufacturing / build quality that has made be quiet! a reputable force of the PC industry. As hardware enthusiasts, we’re often faced with some sort of compromise when decisions must be made around the purchase of specific components, although the Pure Rock 2 keeps those to a minimum.

The company’s pedigree, deeply rooted in performance and quality, are alone enough to draw the gaze of the enthusiasts. But be quiet! delivers on that pedigree at such a pleasing price point with the Pure Rock 2, it’s an undeniable recommendation for serious system builders on any budget.

Read:  be quiet! Pure Rock 2

Best Budget Air Cooler Alternative: Arctic Freezer 34 Esports Duo

We also recently took a look at revamped old favorite in the budget air cooling realm, Cooler Master’s Hyper 212 Evo v2. It’s a solid low-priced, low-noise cooler at around the same price as the Pure Rock 2, with a simplified installation compared to previous models.  But it struggles with high-core count CPUs, especially when overclocked. Unless you see it on sale, the Pure Rock 2 and Arctic Freezer 34 Esports Duo are both better options at about the same price.

MORE: Best Liquid CPU Cooling

MORE: How To Choose A CPU Cooler

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