6 Best CPU Liquid Coolers | March 2017

We spent 33 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 get hot quickly, leading to slower performance and longevity issues. These CPU liquid coolers offer much greater capabilities than a regular fan and can keep things humming along nicely at a safer temperature. Skip to the best cpu liquid cooler on Amazon.
6 Best CPU Liquid Coolers | March 2017


Overall Rank: 3
Best Mid-Range
★★★★
Overall Rank: 1
Best High-End
★★★★★
Overall Rank: 4
Best Inexpensive
★★★★
6
The Deepcool Gamer Storm CAPTAIN 120 CPU liquid cooler is made with external glass pumps and a super soft gum hose, so you can easily move its components around to fit into or onto your hardware as need be.
5
The Thermaltake 3.0 Dual Ring CPU water cooling system is a beast of a machine, easily cooling computers tasked with crunching mountains of data. Its pre-refilled coolant means no stress from liquid replenishment issues.
4
The Lepa AquaChanger LPWAC120-HF 120 CPU cooling unit features an elastic anti-leak rubber tube that provides exceptional durability and protection against water damage, which would be a much larger issue than overheating.
3
The Cooler Master V8 GTS is one mean-looking machine, but don't worry, it's here to help. This high-performance CPU cooler has a horizontal vapor chamber and eight separate heat pipes that help draw warmth away from your hardware.
  • variable fan speed settings
  • rated to last 160,000+ hours
  • dual high airflow pwm fans
Brand Cooler Master
Model RR-V8VC-16PR-R1
Weight 3.5 pounds
2
The Corsair H60 Hydro Series High Performance liquid CPU cooler is a best-seller for two good reasons. First, it gets the job done, reliably keeping your computer cooler. Second, it costs half as much as other CPU cooling units.
  • tool-free magnetic mounting
  • copper cold plate with thermal compound
  • wide range of compatibility
Brand Corsair
Model CW-9060007-WW
Weight 2.7 pounds
1
The NZXT Technologies Kraken X61 280mm "All-in-One" liquid cooling system is big and powerful, featuring a radiator surface that's more than 35% larger than that of most other such units, yet it's still quite quiet to operate.
  • premium black sleeved cables
  • integrated variable speed pump
  • backed by 6 year warranty
Brand NZXT Technologies
Model RL-KRX61-01
Weight 4.5 pounds

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 (CPU), 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 (i.e. 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 gets. This is where the liquid cooling concept becomes important.

Water has a high degree of thermal conductivity, which means 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, then 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 where 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 also becomes warmer due to the radiator having expelled some of its own heat, which thereby cools 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 (i.e. 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. 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 with a given project fluctuates 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 (AMD) released its Athlon processor in 2000 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 CPUs have become more powerful, the popularity of liquid cooling has continued to grow, though it is still a relatively small market.



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Last updated: 03/22/2017 | Authorship Information

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