To non-gamers, a liquid cooler probably sounds like a place to keep beers and sodas. In the world of PC gaming though, a liquid CPU cooler is something entirely different. When building a gaming PC, making sure there are enough fans creating proper airflow is crucial. Air fans will do the trick for many people, but more advanced builds require more advanced cooling technology. That’s where liquid coolers come in.
As the name suggests, they consist of a liquid coolant that regulates your computer’s temperature. One major benefit of a liquid cooler is that it’s a lot quieter. Gone are the days when powering up your PC sounded like an airplane taking off. Another benefit of liquid cooling is that it’s a lot more efficient; it’s more powerful, uses less energy, and in many cases, takes up less space.
Now, the drawbacks. A liquid cooler is considerably more expensive. You also have to make sure you choose your liquid cooler wisely. The risk of an air fan malfunctioning is that your computer overheats; the risk of a liquid cooler malfunctioning is coolant leaking into your system. Fortunately, we’ve made it easy with these several great picks for the best CPU liquid coolers.
1. NZXT Kraken All-In-One RGB CPU Liquid Cooler
In terms of design, NZXT is hard to beat. Their liquid cooler features sleek RGB lighting, and it comes with software to monitor performance. Reinforced tubing protects the cooler and your other equipment.
Pros: Sleek design, good temperature control, easy installation.
Cons: CAM software can be clunky and hard to use.
2. Corsair HYDRO Series Liquid CPU Cooler
Corsair’s included software allows you to adjust the colors of the lighting and precisely control the temperature. When cooling isn’t needed, the fans can be shut off, allowing for quiet operation.
Pros: The unit runs quietly and is effective at cooling.
Cons: Fairly large, so may not fit all builds.
3. EVGA CLC 120mm All-In-One CPU Liquid Cooler
If you’re looking for an affordable, no-frills option, consider this fan from EVGA. It has a single fan and a closed-loop setup. The fan is 120mm. The closed-loop setup makes it easy to plug and play. Unlike many of the other options, this one does not have RGB lights, so it’s a good option for builds without transparent cases or those who prefer a more low-key setup.
Pros: Affordable option. Closed-loop setup.
Cons: Included installation instructions could be better.
4. DEEPCOOL Captain AIO CPU Liquid Cooler
This stylish option from DeepCool is built with sturdy tubes to resist leaking, and it has dual 240mm fans. The fans have an RGB display that will upgrade the look of any build, and the RGB lights can be controlled using the wired remote or the software. The unit is designed to be easy to install.
Pros: Stainless steel pipe for durability, easy installation, RGB lighting.
Cons: Could be quieter.