The 10 Best CPU Liquid Coolers

Updated November 02, 2017 by Jeff Newburgh

10 Best CPU Liquid Coolers
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 45 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Serious data crunching can cause the processor in your computer to overheat quickly, leading to compromised performance and longevity issues. Take care of both concerns with one of these innovative CPU liquid coolers. With powerful pumps, dedicated fans, and a smooth operation, they'll keep your multitasking capabilities running smoothly, while maintaining your components at optimal temperatures. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best cpu liquid cooler on Amazon.

10. Silverstone Tundra TD03-E

The Silverstone Tundra TD03-E features an alloy water block with a copper base and aluminum body, making it significantly more durable than its plastic-based competitors. Its brazing fins increase the rate of cooling efficiency by up to 40% more than traditional radiators.
  • patented screw-free design
  • integrated mounting bracket
  • the backplate is flimsy
Brand SilverStone Technology
Model TD03-E
Weight 3.7 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

9. UpHere All-In-One

The UpHere All-In-One has a sturdy radiator core at a mere 25 millimeters thick, allowing it to pair easily with particularly small computer cases. Both its pump and water block have been fully-optimized for superior flow and cooling performance over time.
  • factory sealed and pressure tested
  • very affordable price
  • no way to adjust led brightness
Brand upHere
Weight 2.3 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

8. EVGA CLC 120

The EVGA CLC 120 boasts an elegantly-curved housing designed to minimize excess noise, while its proprietary software gives you plenty of control over both its fan speed and color settings. Its fully-insulated tubing runs directly from the radiator to the CPU block.
  • teflon nano bearings
  • settings can be saved to firmware
  • less powerful than its competition
Brand EVGA
Model 400-HY-CL12-V1
Weight 2.6 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

7. Lepa AquaChanger LPWAC120-HF

Using its central diffusing passage cold plate, the Lepa AquaChanger LPWAC120-HF offers a protrusive underlying structure that enhances the overall sturdiness of its copper base, ensuring that large amounts of coolant are evenly circulated to prevent CPU hot spots.
  • anti-leak rubber tubing
  • powerful downforce air pressure
  • prone to occasional rattling sounds
Brand LEPA
Model LPWAC120-HF
Weight 3.1 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

6. DeepCool Captain 120 EX

The DeepCool Captain 120 EX is available in this sleek black and red color combination with a high-density water micro-channel and self-governed internal circulation system. Its array of 120-millimeter fins is optimized to provide dependable results at low fan speeds.
  • visible led liquid flow
  • corrosion- and rust-resistant
  • instructions are confusing
Model CAPTAIN 120 EX
Weight 2.7 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

5. Arctic Liquid Freezer 240

Eliminate the concerns associated with CPU overclocking by installing the Arctic Liquid Freezer 240. Its fluid dynamic bearing with oil capsule ensures low friction operation and helps to prevent the leakage of lubricant for an extended life.
  • push-pull fan configuration
  • flexible rubber pipes
  • a bit on the bulky side
Model Liquid Freezer 240
Weight 3.5 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

4. MasterLiquid Pro 140

The MasterLiquid Pro 140 leverages a two-chambered pump to spray liquid directly toward the center of its water block, which serves to increase overall flow speed, isolate heated liquid, and transport it away from your sensitive computer parts.
  • superior heat absorption
  • industrial-quality sealant
  • hose material is rather stiff
Brand Cooler Master
Model MLY-D14M-A22MB-R1
Weight 5 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

3. Thermaltake 3.0

Crunch mountains of data in style with the Thermaltake 3.0. Using the self-contained controller, its LED ring radiator fans can be programmed to cycle through 256 colors in 5 display modes. Its low evaporation tube decreases coolant loss, minimizing the need for refills.
  • relatively easy to install
  • high-performance copper base plate
  • universal socket compatibility
Brand Thermaltake
Model CL-W107-PL12SW-A
Weight 3.8 pounds
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

2. NZXT Kraken X61

Setting the NZXT Kraken X61 apart from the competition is its closed-loop design for superior noise reduction. Its variable-speed cooling pump can be conveniently controlled using the included CAM software suite right from your desktop.
  • black sleeved cables
  • extremely durable construction
  • extended 6 year warranty
Brand Nzxt
Model RL-KRX61-01
Weight 4.3 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

1. Corsair Hydro Series H115i

As a true powerhouse, the Corsair Hydro Series H115i utilizes a 280-millimeter dual-fan radiator to increase your PC's cooling surface area as rapidly as possible, which maximizes both your CPU's operating performance as well as its longevity.
  • customizable fan speed
  • very quiet operation
  • built-in temperature monitoring
Brand Corsair
Model CW-9060027-WW
Weight 5.1 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

Letting Your Computer Keep Its Cool

If you're a programmer, engineer, graphic artist, or any computer professional who requires fast and powerful processors, you're likely to hear the sound of a whirring fan from within your machine. In many desktop and laptop situations, an internal fan is usually good enough to prevent overheating and to keep your computer's components cool with heavy use. However, if you use a lot of fancy hardware and you believe in constant upgrades to allow the machine to run faster than it did before, then you will need additional power to maintain those components and keep them cool. This extra power may generate more heat than your fans can handle on their own. In such situations, liquid cooling solutions will come in handy.

The process of computer cooling is defined as the removal of wasted heat produced by the machine's internal components in order to maintain their optimal operating temperatures. Those components most susceptible to overheating include the computer's central processing unit, graphics cards, and hard disk drives.

A computer's heat comes from its microchips and transistors. A microchip is a set of interconnected electronic components imprinted onto a small chip made from semiconducting material (e.g. silicon). These interconnected electronic components are sometimes referred to as integrated circuits. A transistor is an electrical switch that is either on or off at a given time. As transistors change their status, electricity is moved around the microchip. The more transistors a microchip has, and the faster they change their state, the hotter the microchip becomes. This is where the liquid cooling concept becomes important.

Water has a high degree of thermal conductivity, meaning that it can move heat faster than air can. Water also has a high specific heat capacity, meaning that it can absorb more heat than air does before it starts to feel hot. For that reason, if you have a powerful computer with components that produce more heat than the air around them is capable of absorbing, a liquid CPU cooler will be more effective at preventing overheats. Liquid cooling will also allow your machine to run quieter than it would using traditional fan technology.

Heat Up Your Search For Cooling Down

Also referred to as water cooling, liquid cooling for a computer works in a similar fashion to how a car's cooling system works. Although a car's heat is generated by the burning of fuel (internal combustion) and a computer's heat comes from its microchips and transistors, both leverage the process of thermodynamics whereby heat moves from warmer locations to cooler ones.

A car's cooling system, for example, circulates water from the engine to the radiator. As the water approaches the radiator, that water's heat is drawn away, causing it to cool off as it heads back toward the engine. At the same time, the car's internal fan circulates air around the heated radiator. This air becomes warmer due to the radiator having expelled some of its own heat, ultimately cooling the radiator.

The components of a computer's liquid cooling system include a pump for moving coolant to the CPU, a radiator for dispelling heat, a fan for moving air over the radiator, a coolant reservoir that holds extra water, and a series of hoses that connect these parts together. The computer also uses a water block to cool the microchips. A water block is made of a heat-conductive metal (e.g. copper) and is filled with hollow tubes. Its flat metal bottom sits directly on top of the chip being cooled. Thermal paste (also known as thermal grease) is often sandwiched between the microchip and water block in order to improve heat transfer between both surfaces.

If the idea of searching for individual components for a liquid cooler doesn't appeal to you, ready-to-use cooling kits are certainly available on the market as well. These self-contained coolers will plug into your computer's expansion slots or power supply to provide cooling to a specific type of microchip. The kits also come with instructions for assembly. One may also be able to find companies that sell high-powered PCs with liquid cooling functionality already integrated into their systems.

Quiet operation is another key feature to look for in a CPU liquid cooling system, since the main point of the investment is to allow your computer to run more efficiently and quieter than it would with the use of its internal fans alone.

Some coolers also have variable speed settings for their pumps, which can be useful as the degree of processing power for a given task can fluctuate over time.

A Brief History Of CPU Liquid Coolers

The process of cooling hot computer components dates as far back as the early 1980s with the use of Fluorinert to cool the Cray-2 supercomputer. The popularity of water cooling powerful computer systems increased throughout the 1990s with most coolers being homemade during that decade. Many were constructed with car radiators, aquarium pumps, homemade water blocks, PVC and silicone tubing, and reservoirs using plastic bottles. It wasn't until Advanced Micro Devices released its Athlon processor in 2,000 that home-based liquid coolers became prevalent.

By 2011, custom computer retailers were manufacturing water-cooling components compact enough to fit inside most computer cases. The Apple Power Mac G5 was the first mainstream desktop computer to offer fully-integrated water cooling as a standard. This was quickly followed by Dell with their XPS machines leveraging thermoelectric cooling principles. As the CPU has become more powerful over time, the popularity of liquid cooling has continued to grow, though it is still a relatively small market.

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Last updated on November 02, 2017 by Jeff Newburgh

A dedicated writer and communications professional spending his days lost in the intricacies of both proposal and freelance writing. When not sharing the knowledge of both fully and self-insured medical benefits to employer groups of all industries within California, Jeff Newburgh can be found at home spending time with his family and 3 dogs, pondering the next chew toy to be thrown, while kicking back and relaxing with a nice glass of red wine.

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