Best CPU Cooler (Oct. 2017) – Reviews and Buyer’s Guide

Whether you are an avid gamer or a miner, you simply can’t rely on stock cooling of your processor.

Heavy load on PC makes the processor heat up and that creates some unwanted noise which is simply not tolerable.

Furthermore, temperature rise makes a direct impact on performance and efficiency of the computer.

For overclockers like me, it becomes even more necessary to get rid of thermal problems.

An easy solution to this issue includes CPU cooler into the system. 😉

It not only removes the heat at faster level but also improves the stability and reliability of the system. The market is saturated with hundreds of coolers that claim better heat transfer and solid designs.

But that saturation creates an additional problem.

  • What exactly should we look in a cooler?
  • How does an average cooler perform with average PC?
  • How a premium cooler works better than a normal one?
  • Is temperature drop the only function of these coolers?

And the list goes on. 🙂

Here at GadgetSkull, we know how irritating this process is.

Especially when a product comes with hefty price tag.

That’s why we came up with this buyer guide to help you pick up the best cooler based on your preferences.

We discussed all major factors and answered all above question in this guide.

A comparison table is also designed to help you make a quick decision. Hopefully, it will move you out of hassling process without getting frustrated.

If you have limited time no worries just check this table out 😉

NameManufacturerMultiple Colors 
be quiet! BK002be quiet!Yes Check Price
Silverstone Argon AR06SilverstoneYes Check Price
PHANTEKS PH-TC14PE 5xPHANTEKSYes Check Price
MasterAir Maker 8MasterAirYes Check Price
Noctua NH-D15 NoctuaYes Check Price
Cooler Master Hyper T2Cooler MasterYes Check Price
Cryorig R1 Ultimate CR-R1A CryorigYes Check Price
DeepCool CPU CoolerDeepCoolYes Check Price
Be quiet! Shadow RockBe quiet!Yes Check Price
Cooler Master Hyper 212Cooler MasterYes Check Price

There are many types of air cooler are available in the market to solve your PC heat issue, but in this article, we have selected top 10 amazing and best air coolers that will definitely resolve your any type of issue of heat.

1. Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO

Best Cpu CoolerQuality and performance are two such parameters which all big companies take care of.

They know their customers value quality first and any other factor after that. That has pumped us to take Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO into consideration.

Cooler Master has built its name on quality coolers and Hyper 212 is just another example.

It offers an excellent combination of economics and functionality.

Specs:

NameCooler Master Hyper 212 EVO
BrandCooler Master
Dimensions9 x 6.2 x 3.5 in
Weight1.3 lbs.

It is the successor of Hyper 212 Plus and both of them have a base as a major difference. Many fans criticized the base of Hyper 212 Plus and that made Cooler Master come up with something different. Other improvements include redesigning of tower fins and heat pipe layout. We have four heat pipes supported on the base. Each pipe is 6 mm in diameter. These pipes pass through aluminum fins and extend up to six inches in height. Top most fin has the logo of Cooler Master on it.

On the front, we have 120 mm fan that works very smoothly. CM claims that it produces noise up to 31 dB only. The base utilizes Continuous Direct Touch technology that transfers heat even more efficiently. That is basically the design of EVO 212.

Aluminum fins are optimized for both slow and fast operations. Life expectancy of the cooler is 40000 hrs and it is somewhat enough for normal use. The blades of the fan have a wave-like design for maximum airflow.

The installation process, however, creates a hassle. The holes exist at odd points and they are hard to tighten. CM designed this structure to get rid of vibrations but it makes the installation difficult. I found no significant noise even at higher loads. Hyper 212 EVO may not be the best cooler in terms of performance but it really pays off.

Pros

  • Balanced cooling performance
  • Quietest air cooler on test
  • Heat pipes ideal for conduction

Cons

  • AM4 bracket sold separately

 

2. Be quiet! BK010 Shadow Rock Slim Review (Best CPU Cooler for Gaming PC)

Best CPU CoolerAnother outstanding cooler by be quiet, Shadow Rock Slim is as slim as its name.

Slim is also part of Shadow Rock series just like BK002. It has a code name and that is BK010.

There’s no such improvement in design as it comes with tower structure along with the large fan. So what’s special in it?

Let’s dig into it to find out.

Specs:

Namebe quiet Shadow Rock Slim
Brandbe quiet.
Dimensions7 x 5.1 x 7.1 inches
Weight2.5 pounds

Now I must sort out this confusion first that this cooler just doesn’t mean to save space as implied by the name. That’s just the design feature but we are more concerned with performance and noise-free operation. We have a base made up of copper-nickel supporting four heat pipes. It is a general idea that all heat pipes have a diameter of 6mm and same is the case here. It is slim enough to get itself adjusted into the system without any hassle. We have 135 mm large fan that works silently. This cooler has a capacity of 160 W TDP which is higher than BK002.

Clearly, BK010 outspeeds BK002 both in terms of design and performance. At 160 W, it carries on cooling operation at a faster rate. I must say that using Copper-Nickel plate is a wise idea because it carries heat in more efficient way. Fan clips are also provided in the box in case you wish to add another fan to the system. The additional fan is a little bit smaller but will surely do its job. The interesting thing about the fan is the number of blades it has. Total of nine blades helps the air to move faster in a lenient manner.

I won’t question its capabilities here but the warranty. Be quiet provides on three years of warranty which is almost the half of other coolers in competition. Furthermore, it creates frustration while mounting it into the system.

Not a bad choice after all. If you are looking for an upgradation over BK002, this one is for you.

Pros

  • Slim Design
  • Improvement over predecessor

Cons

  • Low warranty and Mounting issues

 

3. DEEPCOOL GAMMAXX 400 CPU Cooler

best cpu coolerDeepcool is Chinese manufacturer that deals with thermal products.

Founded in 1996, it has its headquarters in Beijing.

Deepcool just like many other manufacturers focuses on an average class of gamers with their economic products.

Gammaxx 400 is just another addition to its family.

Specs:

NameDeepcool Gammaxx 400
BrandDeepcool
Dimensions6.9 x 6.5 x 4.8 in
Weight1.5 lbs.

Compared from Gamer Strom II, another cooler from Deepcool, Gammaxx seems to have reduced number components to keep the value under budget. For example, there’s only one cooling tower instead of two. The design is pretty much basic. You got a large 120 mm fan on the front. Gammaxx comes with extra fan clips to adjust the second fan into the assembly. Total of four heat sinks pipes is there for conduction. Fans have been accompanied by blue LEDs.

As far as performance is concerned, it is an entry level cooler so I don’t expect any sharp functionalities. At normal usage, it works without irritating sound and at a lower temperature. However, I do not recommend it for overclocking. You can hear the visible noise after 700+ RPM. Other than overclocking, it works pretty much fine.

It carries a reasonable price tag with above average performance card. It will carry out most of your everyday tasks without any hassle unless you are looking for extreme overclocking.

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Robust Design

Cons

  • Won’t carry on overclocking and even Lacks backplate

 

4. Cryorig R1 Low Budget CPU Cooler:

best cpu coolerCryorig is the newest boy in the town and company presented its first product to consumers in 2013.

Formed by former employees of Phanteks and Thermalright, Cryorig quickly grabbed the attention of overclockers and PC enthusiasts due to the monster cooler is known as Cryorig R1.

Cryorig R1 is a large cooler with beautiful glossy design and is based on air cooling system.

Specs:

NameCryorig R1
BrandCryorig
Dimensions5.5 x 5.6 x 6.6 inches
Weight2.8 pounds

R1 is one of the largest air cooler in the market with fan size up to 140 mm. There are a total of two fans accompanied by two cooling towers. Fans can rotate at a maximum of 1300 RPM which is quite fine for normal overclocking. Unlike Noctua, you can add a cover of your own color scheme. We have seven heat pipes for heat transfer efficiency. The base is made up of copper to which heat pipes are attached. Overall color scheme is black but you can customize it using CUSTOM MOD.

Keeping the performance aside for a second, CUSTOM MOD is something really interesting. I mentioned the odd color scheme used by Noctua back, well there’s no such problem here. You have a choice of six colors: White, black, orange, green, blue and red. Choose the cover which resembles with your system. Cryorig has introduced DirectCompress soldering to replace the normal soldering which means more surface contact (10% as claimed by the company), hence the faster heat transfer. Furthermore, Jet Fin acceleration system compresses the airflow and increases the flow rate at exhaust for faster cooling. A typical concept of fluid dynamics but Cryorig has effectively engineered it into their cooler.

The installation process is easy and takes no more than ten minutes. Fans work quietly even at overclocking. There are no significant thermal issues here. Size of the fan is a little bit large in my opinion. And yes, it is a high-end model and thus the higher rates. To me, it looks very similar to Noctua D15 with the improvement of customizable covers.

Pros

  • Faster Exhaust
  • CUSTOMOD

Cons

  • Fan size and even this cpu cooler is expensive

 

5. Cooler Master Hyper T2 Review:

best cpu coolerCPU cooler market isn’t limited only to some big names but the fact is that Cooler Master has proven its worth many times.

Same is the case with Hyper T2 and this time, the targeted consumers are budget conscious people.

Simple design and basic features, that’s exactly what I can comment on this cooler.

Specs:

NameCooler Master Hyper T2
BrandCooler Master
Dimensions3.1 x 3.7 x 5.5 in
Weight0.75 lbs.

So you see it’s a very small and lightweight cooler with a compact design.

Overall all body color is black supported by metallic fins. We have dual loop pipe design that makes direct contact with the surface for better heat transfer and that too at a fast rate. The patent design, termed as Continuous Direct Contact Base, provides minimum thermal resistance.

Being a lower end model, I do not expect it performing well at overclocking. But still, it fulfills some basic needs. It has a life expectancy of 40k hours, a number more than enough. Dual loop mechanism has helped the cooler to perform better at reasonable or I should say limited price. Moreover, it is very easy to install thanks to snap on brackets. At this size, you won’t be getting any problem in mounting it into the system.

Quality of material is a matter of discussion here. Not that the body isn’t strong, the problem exists with push pins. They are made of plastic and aren’t sturdy enough to absorb the stress. Other than that, no serious issues at the basic level performance. Best in terms of price and basic functioning, that’s all I can say about it.

Pros

  • Reasonable Price
  • Compact Design

Cons

  • Not Suitable for overclocking
  • Weak push pins

 

6. Noctua NH-D15 Review

best cpu coolerBased on silenced operations, Noctua holds the position of best coolers in the industry.

Started as a small Austrian company ten years back, Noctua targeted the premium technology and premium audience.

Noctua NH-D15 is the latest iteration which comes with fancy design and handsome performance.

Specs:

NameNoctua NH-D15
BrandNoctua
Dimensions5.9 x 6.3 x 6.5 inches
Weight3 pounds

Being an elite class product, NH-D15 comes with the fancy and innovative design. It has basically two towers which align parallel to each other. There are six heat pipes for heat dissipation across the system.

The base is made up of nickel-copper and fans have dark brown color as part of Noctua’s signature color scheme. Although it looks weird to use metallic brown color with a black surface, that’s how Noctua has been doing in the past.

D15 seems to be an improved version of D14 when we take design into consideration. For example, now heat pipes have been distanced for even heat distribution and greater efficiency. To minimize the noise, maximum speed of fan has been limited to 1200. I know most of coolers stand at some 2000 RPM but normally we don’t get to that level and anything beyond 1500 RPM starts producing irritating noise. D15 works pretty fine even through overclocking.

I must praise their excellent customer service here. If a new socket design makes it way to market and your Noctua cooler is lacking its kit, simply mail them and they will send you the suitable kit. Performance was up to mark and fans worked flawlessly without making any considerable sound. We better not complain about the price because Noctua has trend of producing pricey products. Color scheme however doesn’t suit as brown color isn’t the best choice to go with.

Pros

  • Flawless Fan Operation
  • Best Customer Service

Cons

  • Odd Color Scheme

 

7. MasterAir Maker 8 CPU Cooler Review:

best cpu coolerIt wouldn’t be wrong to say that most of us name Cooler Master when it comes to recommending best CPU cooler.

In fact, Cooler Master was one of the first companies to produce coolers at a commercial level.

Superior and innovative designs have led CM to win iF Product Design Award.

In this list, we have included three coolers from Cooler Master.

MasterAir Maker 8 is an air type cooler with enormous size and huge capacity. Despite being a water cooler, it has clear upper hand in performance over other air coolers but at the cost of extra dollars.

Specs:

NameMasterAir Maker 8
BrandCooler Master
Dimensions5.7 x 5.3 x 6.8 in
Weight3 lbs.

It’s a huge cooler with solid design and comes in black color. Interestingly, it has a large vapor chamber for heat transfer.

Vapor chamber seems to be an odd component of water cooler but still, Maker 8 employed it due to its enhanced properties of removing heat at higher rates.

We have four heat pipes adjusted in a vertical position inside the chamber and six heat pipes mounted at the top. It makes the total of 10, one of the extensive networks of heat pipes.

In a surprising move, Maker 8 takes the cooling capacity to 250 W TDP. I do agree that it has oddly large size but at this capacity, it looks fine to me. Cooler Master has employed Silent Driver IC technology to keep the fans quiet. The looks are good and you can replace the top cover either with LED one or simple aluminum one. The best thing about this cooler is the life expectancy of 160k hours.

There are no serious problems in terms of performance with this cooler. However, I do feel that it carries a whopping price tag and not a good option for the normal user. There are some other water type alternatives available for little lag in specs but still, they offer the very same results. So price is really the issue here.

Pros

  • Customizable Top Cover
  • Higher Life Expectancy
  • Quite Fan operation

Cons

  • Expensive

 

8. PHANTEKS PH-TC14PE 5x Review:

best cpu coolerPhanteks is a Dutch company that started its operation in mid-90’s.

It worked on various thermal solutions before and is a well-reputed name in the market.

PH-TC14PE is the latest iteration from Phanteks and it is the successor of D14.

It brings many changes in design and performance as compared to its predecessor.

An interesting fact about the company is that they only target the high-end devices and extensive users. That means you won’t be getting any low profile cooler branded as Phanteks’.

Specs:

NamePhanteks PH-TC14PE
BrandPhanteks
Dimensions6.6 x 7.5 x 8.4 in
Weight2.8 pounds

So you see this cooler has a huge size and great weight and simply means your low-end PCs are out of the race. I won’t say it has a compact design but still nice geometry and color scheme.

We have total 88 cooling fins, each having 8 mm diameter. Moreover, two fans are part of the structure and there’s room for third one at the back. All nuts and bolts are supported by rubber pads to minimize the vibration and noise. A number of heat pipes, in this case, is 5 and they are U shaped for uniform heat dissipation.

Talking about the features, you might be surprised to know that this cooler can withstand temperature up to 200 C. Thanks to larger yet faster fans, airflow has been increased manifolds. We have maximum flowrate of 78CFM. Phanteks claims that patented thermal shield PATS improves the thermal conduction at higher rates and dissipates the heat faster.

There are no visible drawbacks in the design and performance. It works very smoothly and you won’t hear any significant noise anytime soon. The only issue is the size and the weight. I think 2.8 pounds is not a good number when it comes to cooler. But after all, it was designed for high profile PCs so we really can’t make an excuse for it.

A simple description for this device can be “Expensive yet durable”. You have to pay some extra bucks for extraordinary performance.

Pros

  • Beautiful Design
  • Outstanding Performance

Cons

  • Extensively Large Size

 

9. Silverstone Argon AR06 Review:

best cpu coolerSilverstone has entered the coolers’ market quite late but critics have praised it for its quality and value.

Last year, Silverstone came up with AR05 which had efficient cooling capacity but at cost of size.

Realizing its mistake, now company introduced an improved version known as AR06 which has reduced design and made some other basic improvements to compete with modern day coolers.

Specs:

NameSilverstone AR06
BrandSilverstone
Dimensions6.5 x 5.5 x 2.5 in
Weight1 pounds

These are some specs detail of this cooler. AR06 is a low profile cooler that basically targets the budget-oriented customers. Body is made up of aluminum to keep the weight as low as possible.

We have two 6mm heat pipes to for heat transfer and fan of 92 mm diameter for quite an operation. AR06 utilizes HDC technology that features the heat-pipe direct contact. Installation of cooler is quite easy thanks to the manual provided.

I am impressed by the design of this cooler. At height of 58 mm, it adjusts itself into the system very effectively. For low profile systems, it really is a sign of hope. Using aluminum not only keeps the weight but also gives outstanding heat conductance. Fan size is also small and works without any major noise. It rotates at some 2500 RPM and that’s a huge number.

Mounting, however, creates some problems. In this case, you have to remove the motherboard to fix it from the underside. Furthermore, there’s no backplate for bracing which means we have an option left for rubber washers only. I don’t recommend it for overclocking because it doesn’t hold that much power to cope with it.

A minimal design focused at low profile system and under-budgeted consumer, that is basically how I define this cooler.

Pros

  • Quality material
  • Designed for low profile systems
  • Minimal design

Cons

  • Difficult installation

 

10. Be quiet! BK002 SHADOW ROCK Low Profile CPU Cooler:

best cpu coolerBe quite has introduced some of the best coolers in the market such as Dark Rock TF which have proved to be a market success.

Most recently, we have come across BK002 which is from the Shadow Rock series and has the very similar properties to that of Dark Rock TF.

The company claims about the compact design and quietness of the cooler as seen on the slogan written on the box, “Compact Cooling, Significantly Quiet”.

Specs:

NameBe quiet BK002
BrandBe quiet
Dimensions6.3 x 5.5 x 6.7 inches
Weight1.8 pounds

BK002 is relatively large as compared to other coolers in the market with a height of 75mm. It comes with four heat pipes, 6mm each, to move heat out. Other than that, we have a thin base plate with a glossy surface.

Despite being a lightweight device, BK002 has a cooling capacity of 130 W TDP which is enough to counter any major heating problem.

The design looks fairly fine with exception of height of course. The major problem here is its installation for which you have to consult the manual provided in the box.

As far as features are concerned, BK002 comes with a great cooling capacity of 130 W TDP. For a normal gaming use, this much usage is rarely achieved, hence making it a suitable choice for above average gamer.

Then we have heat pipes that are extremely thin to keep the design minimal. They have a diameter of 6mm only and carry heat out quickly and effectively. Two fans operate at the negligible voice and that’s one of the main things we look for when we buy a CPU cooler. Fan blades have optimized pitch for better airflow at less noise.

There are some shortcomings which I must inform you. You see the size isn’t well optimized. It will create problems in adjusting itself due to large size. Another minus point is the short length of cord.

But still, it performs its operation very well and keeps the system very cool. Being an air type cooler, it has a reasonable price tag for average consumers.

Pros

  • Outstanding performance
  • Quite Performance

Cons

  • Bulky Size

 

Things you must know before choosing your CPU Cooler:

Building a gaming PC or mining rig is a hassling process and it requires some additional cost to make the things work perfectly.

But the problem is that the gaming is a heavy business and using normal computer components will make the process noisy and busy.

Temperature rise is another issue in this regard.

So basically we need a cooling device to keep the system efficient and noise free. A CPU cooler keeps the processor at a lower temperature even if you are overclocking.

Keeping it simple, we basically need CPU cooler for enhanced stability and improved efficiency.

Need of CPU cooler?

Most of us think that CPU coolers have the role of noise reduction and efficiency improvements only. It is true to some extent but our major concern is the rising temperature.

Do you understand what does overclocking mean?

The manufacturer of a product usually mentions the limitations of product in specs sheet so the consumer doesn’t overload the usage. That limitation is actually the factor of safety and all of us know that the product can perform more than its factor of safety. So basically operating the product more than its normal capacity is known as overclocking.

Overclocking although gives upgraded performance at bearable load but it steadily rises the temperature.

Higher temperature means heat loss and thus it results in performance disturbance of system.

To counter this problem, we need a CPU cooler. Cooler dissipates the heat and runs the system noise free.

Air Cooling or Water Cooling?

There are basically two methods for the cooling processor.

  • Air cooling is conventionally used for some time and it is economical as well.
  • Latest coolers now use water as cooling agents. They are also termed as liquid coolers sometimes.

Both of them have different cooling capacities and components.

Let’s dig into the comparison before moving to a conclusion.

Air CoolingWater Cooling
Air Cooling basically use air as a medium of heat dissipation and system cooling. It doesn’t have as many components as a liquid cooler. We have a heat sink and then the fan to blow the air. Whole heat transfer mechanism is controlled by just these two components. Fewer components mean less cost. It has been considered as an efficient and economical method for cooling the system and is relatively simple. And finally, it is low cost and effective. You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollar to cool the system because air cooling isn’t a complex phenomenon.
On the other hand, we have a liquid cooling system which has been adopted for some time for being a better cooling method. The thing is that the water has more heat absorption capacity than air which means it can work even better than air in the hotter environment. That is why it is preferred over air cooler. Furthermore, it utilizes series of components to perform the cooling function. The water cooler has a radiator, fan, pump, reservoir and of course water. All these components make it a little bit bulky too. In perfect working condition, water coolers have higher efficiency than air cooler based on performance. But that enhanced performance doesn’t come free. Nothing in this world is free and at this point, better performance is associated with cost. Liquid coolers carry a hefty price tag and there is little bit disadvantage too.

Let me draw a comparison table before going deep into the subject.

Air CoolingWater Cooling
Uses air for coolingUses water as cooling agent
SimpleComplex
Less ComponentsMore Components
Less efficientMore efficient
Easy to set upTime consuming
No problem with leakageVulnerable to water leakage

Which One is Better?

Let’s take the example of gaming PC here. 😉

The major component of gaming PC is the graphics card and it is the one to get the highest temperature rise.

They may even generate 2–3 times more heat as compared to the standard processor and that is alarming.

In this scenario, the liquid cooler has a good scope and advantage.

It has better performance ratio and efficiency. In comparison to it, air cooler may take some extra time to lower the system temperature.

So when we talk about performance, liquid cooler is the winner by miles.

We have only one issue here water leakage. Water being a liquid can get leaked anytime and this clearly means the disruption of the system. Modern-day coolers although take this factor very seriously but still it remains as a risk factor.

Keeping all these things in mind, we have gone through the list of best CPU coolers. We took four factors into consideration while testing the performance.

  1. Airflow rate
  2. Cost
  3. Noise Damping
  4. Temperature

Conclusion:

So that concludes our top ten best CPU coolers.

We had four major criteria when we started reviewing structure, cost, performance, quietness.
  • If you are looking for a best inexpensive cooler, I suggest you go with CM Hyper T2. It works very fine for the average user and that too at economic rate.
  • Noctua has a premium price tag but unmatched performance. If you are an overclocker, this one is obviously for you.
  • In between them lies Cryorig R1 which gives the performance very same as Noctua but also offers customization.

Not everyone is the fan of brown color. Out of these, Cooler Master Hyper 212 is an affordable solution that values both costs and working at the same time.

What are your recommendations? Drop it in the comments section below! 😉

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Written by Addison Aiken

Addison Aiken is a reporter at GadgetSkull focused on diversity, inclusion and social justice. He previously spent two years at Business Insider covering tech startups focused on the shared economy, IoT and music industry. He is graduated from the University of Southern California in 2011 with a degree in Broadcast and Digital Journalism.

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