The Best CPU cooler in 2021

The Best CPU cooler in 2021
RyDesk

The Best CPU cooler in 2021

The best PC cooler is one of the best PC investments you’ll ever make. That graphics card, processor, and motherboard you’ve just spent a lot of money on need to be looked after and kept running at their peak efficiency, after all. And, only a quality cooling solution can keep them in that condition.

Whether it’s your first time building a PC or you’re looking to upgrade the specs in your existing one, be sure to allocate some of your budgets to getting one of the best CPU coolers below to keep that internals nice and cool, and working optimally. After all, no one wants to see their gaming PC throttle when performing demanding tasks or worse, catch fire because they got too hot.

With Prime Day 2021 just around the corner, it’s likely that Amazon will drop some Prime Day deals on some of the best CPU coolers. We’re keeping an eye out for them from now until June 22 so check in regularly.

The best CPU cooler at a glance

  1. Noctua NH-D15
  2. Cooler Master Hyper 212 RGB Black Edition
  3. Noctua NH-L9
  4. NZXT Kraken Z-3
  5. Corsair iCUE H115i Elite Capellix
  6. Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML240P Mirage
  7. Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML120R RGB
  8. Arctic Liquid Freezer 120
  9. Corsair Hydro Series H5 SF
  10. NoFan CR-95C
  11. MasterLiquid ML360 Sub-Zero

Noctua NH-D15

Image Credit: Noctua

1. Noctua NH-D15

Best CPU cooler

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 one of the best CPU coolers you can buy in 2019 simply because it performs just as well as – if not better – than some liquid coolers while costing a fraction of the price. You might not be too familiar with Noctua’s name, as they’re relatively small in the CPU cooler world, but its business revolves 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. On top of delivering a fantastic cooling performance, the NH-D15 is nearly silent as well.

Cooler Master Hyper 212 RGB Black Edition

(Image credit: Cooler Master)

2. Cooler Master Hyper 212 RGB Black Edition

Better than ever before

Type: Fan and heatsink | Compatibility: Intel LGA 1150 – LGA 2066; AMD AM2 – AM4, FM1 – FM2+ | Rotation frequency: 650 – 2,000 RPM | Noise volume: 8 – 30 dBA | Dimensions (W x D x H): 120 x 79.6 x 158.8 mm | Weight: 1.54 pounds (700g)

Improved performance
Easy installation
Quiet fan
RGB lighting just ok

Cooler Master’s Hyper 212 CPU RGB cooler is back with a vengeance, and sporting a sleek gun-metal black brushed aluminum finish to boot. It’s not only the jet black look that’s upping this CPU cooler’s cool factor – though it does help with that aluminum top cover and nickel-plated jet black fins to complete the look. It’s also easily one of the best CPU coolers on the market with its stacked fin array that ensures the least airflow resistance, four heat pipes that boast Direct Contact Technology to better battle the heat, and a wide speed range for fine-tuning cooling performance and silent operation.

Noctua NH-L9

Image Credit: Noctua

3. Noctua NH-L9

Best low-profile CPU cooler

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

Noctua is an Austrian manufacturer that does one thing, and one thing only: make the best CPU coolers and fans. What this means is that even though the Noctua NH-L9 is tiny, it is still more than capable of insane cooling with no compromises. This is a fantastic cooler for anyone with a smaller build, or even if you’re using a ton of large components, and you’re not comfortable with liquid cooling.

NZXT Kraken Z-3

(Image credit: NZXT)

4. NZXT Kraken Z-3

Personalize your all-in-one liquid cooler

Type: Fan and heatsink | Compatibility: Intel Socket LGA 1151 – 2066, Intel Core i9 / Core i3 – i7, AMD Socket AM4, TR4, AMD Ryzen 3 – Ryzen Threadripper | Rotation frequency: 500-1,800 + 300 RPM | Noise volume: 21-38dBA | Dimensions (W x D x H): 143 x 315 x 30mm

Total customization
Superior performance
Premium price

Whether you’re going for 360MM or 280MM, the NZXT Kraken Z-3 is an excellent choice if you’re looking for liquid cooling. First of all, thanks to its vibrant 2.36-inch LCD screen that’s capable of displaying 24-bit color, this liquid cooler allows total customization so you can fine-tune settings as well as display your favorite images and animated gifs. More importantly, it delivers impressive liquid cooling performance and is easy to install.

Corsair iCUE H115i Elite Capellix

(Image credit: Corsair)

5. Corsair iCUE H115i Elite Capellix

Brighter is better

Type: Liquid cooling system | Compatibility: Intel 1200, 1150, 1151, 1155, 1156, 1366, 2011, 2066, AMD AM4, AM3, AM2, sTRX4, sTR4 | Rotation frequency: Up to 2,000 | Noise volume: 36dBA | Dimensions (W x D x H): 322 x 137 x 27mm

Insane performance
Brighter RGB lighting
An only minor improvement over the predecessor

The Corsair iCUE H115i Elite Capellix continues Corsair’s tradition of outstanding liquid coolers. It couples excellent cooling, thanks to its split-flow copper cold plate and its low-noise centrifugal pump, with bright RGB lighting, due to the use of Capellix LEDs. And, the RGB lighting is, in true Corsair style, customizable through the company’s proprietary iCue software. If you want a powerful liquid cooling system that looks good too, the Corsair iCUE H115i Elite is a perfect choice.

Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML240P Mirage

(Image credit: Cooler Master)

6. Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML240P Mirage

Cool and hypnotic

Type: Liquid cooling | Compatibility: Intel LGA 775 – LGA 2066; AMD AM2 – AM4, FM1 – FM2+ | Rotation frequency: up to 2000 ±10% RPM | Noise volume: 27dbA | Dimensions (W x D x H): 277 x 120 x 27 mm | Weight: 2.11 pounds (1,237g)

Threadripper support
Gorgeous RGB lighting
Pricey

With the Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML240P Mirage in your gaming rig, you won’t only end up playing for hours on end without worrying about thermal throttling or overheating. You might just an hour or so admiring your CPU, especially if you have one of those glass-window cases, as this CPU cooler is indeed hypnotically pretty. It’s mostly thanks to its transparent pump design that lets you see the impeller spinning while bathed in different RGB lighting, like a colorful spinning wheel at a funhouse. Performance-wise, it definitely deserves a spot in our best CPU coolers list, with its PPS+ glass fiber housing and nozzle that provides temperature and liquid resistance, EPDM rubber O-Ring that helps eliminate liquid emission, and a low-resistance radiator that increases flow rate, heat exchange efficiency and cooling performance.

Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML120R RGB

Image Credit: Cooler Master

7. Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML120R RGB

The best compact liquid cooler

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 improved through RGB, and Cooler Master is well aware – 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 – 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, which is why it’s made our best CPU coolers list.

Arctic Liquid Freezer 120

Image Credit: Arctic

8. Arctic Liquid Freezer 120

Best budget liquid-cooler

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 noisy
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 makes our best CPU coolers list as it 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

Image Credit: Corsair

9. Corsair Hydro Series H5 SF

Best low-profile CPU liquid-cooler

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 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’re able to use this CPU cooler to keep your CPU chilled, even if you have some beastly overclocks happening. Plus, 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

Image Credit: NoFan

10. NoFan CR-95C

Best fanless CPU cooler

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

Rounding out our best CPU coolers list is the NoFan CR-95C. You’ve probably never heard of NoFan – unless you’re already neck-deep into the rabbit hole that is silent PC assembly. The South Korean component company specializes in helping enthusiasts reach that 0dBA silent sweet spot. In doing so, of course, will severely limit your set-up in terms of power, with its CR-95C fanless solution being limited incompatibility to processors whose TDP fall below 95W. Still, the NoFan CR-95C is worth a shot if you want to build a low-power computer that completely blends into the background.

  •  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

MasterLiquid ML360 Sub-Zero

(Image credit: CoolerMaster)

11. MasterLiquid ML360 Sub-Zero

Best CPU cooler for overclocking

Type: Liquid cooler | Compatibility: LGA1200 | Noise volume: < 35 dBA pump, 8 – 26 dBA fan | Dimensions (W x H x D): 394 x 119.6 x 27.2 mm radiator, 57.3 x 57.3 x 92.2 mm pump, 120 x 120 x 25 mm fan

For Intel’s high-TDP chips
Has a condensation barrier
Loud pump

Powered by Intel’s Cryo Cooling Technology, the MasterLiquid ML360 Sub-Zero from Cooler Master allows increased performance for Intel’s high-TDP chips by letting them reach higher frequencies at lower voltages. This liquid cooler boasts a 360mm radiator and fans that are able to spin at low rpm while delivering high air pressure to airflow ratio. Whether you’re a hardcore gamer who loves to overclock or a content creator with demanding processing needs, this is the best CPU cooler for you.