More than often, we come across cases where people are having issues with their CPU performance. Most of the time, it can be singled down to an inefficient CPU Cooler. If the cooler is not able to dissipate the heat generated by the processor underneath, the CPU will start getting throttled. If continued for extended periods, high temperatures might also cause permanent damage to the chip, motherboard or other parts around. Hence, it is essential to pick a good CPU Cooler. And just like every other PC component, there are a lot of options here too. So this is our list of the best CPU coolers 2020 to max out your performance. We have picked the best cooler for each category based on performance, value, noise, design, and aesthetics.
1. Best Air Coolers
Noctua has earned its repute for providing high-performance air coolers. 6 years after its launch, Noctua NH-D15 still remains the best performing Air Cooler.
Packed with six aluminum pipes and two 140mm fans, NH-D15 is not only a great performer but also very quiet. In our tests, it measured between 34 dBA and 43 dBA between varying loads. Noctua has perfected its easy-to-use mounting system, the SecuFirm 2, making installation as easy as it gets. It also supports most of the modern AMD and Intel sockets.
On the downside of things, this is a heavy (almost 3 pounds) cooling unit. With dimensions 160 x 150 x 135mm it takes up a lot of space too. So at a price point of $90, it might appear as a pricer option for those not willing to stretch that much. On the brighter side, it comes with a six-year manufacturer’s warranty.
So a cheaper alternative would be Scythe Mugen 5 Rev. B coming at $48 with some obvious sacrifices in cooling performance. Further down the price ladder, for $30 Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo is the most popular choice you’ll get.
2. Best Low Noise Cooler
Be Quiet! Dark Rock Pro 3
If you are looking for the quietest cooler that offers good performance as well, “Be Quiet!Dark Rock Pro 3” (yes that’s what it’s called) is just the thing for you. It is not that there aren’t cheaper or quieter options available on the market, but if you looking to overclock your CPU and maximize performance while still maintaining low noise, Dark Rock Pro 3 gets the job done!
It sports a 120mm and a 135mm SilentWing fans with support for an extra 120mm fan. This setup gives out just 26dBA at 100% operating power which is remarkably quiet. be Quiet! offers a three-year warranty. It also looks great with that dark metal finish.
3. Best Low-Profile Cooler
After picking a high profile heavyweight NH-D15 we are back to Noctua for the opposite, Low-Profile CPU Cooler. There is a large number of Low Profile CPU Coolers on the market which adds to the difficulty of picking one best. Fairly new to the market, the NH- L12S (a successor to NH-L12) fits almost every CPU socket. It can also be used to give extended clearance for RAM modules.
Highly optimized NF-A12x15 120mm fan steps in with PWM support and adaptive speed control for ultra-quiet operation. The wider form factor lets it maintain lower temperatures than the previous version’s 92mm model. Priced attractively at $50 the only thing to push people away is the unattractive beige color scheme.
Other alternatives in this segment include Thermalright AXP-200R($60) and the Silverstone Argon AR06 ($65).
4. Best All-In-One Liquid Cooler
NZXT Kraken X62
With an increasing liking for pushing CPU performance, more and more people are getting attracted towards all-in-one Liquid Coolers. Not only do they perform better but also fit in easily in custom loops.
NZXT Kraken X62 is a well known AIO Liquid Cooler. It offers the best performance among other AIOs with a 280mm radiator. Added Customizable RGB lighting combined with Infinity Mirror design, it looks really amazing! In our tests, even in high-performance and overclocked CPUs, there wasn’t any noticeable noise. Bundled with an easy to install design and compatibility with most of the popular sockets Kraken X62 is the best AIO Liquid Cooler available.
At $160 price tag, reports of problems with NZXT Kraken X62’s pump are a major deterrent for many people to choose this. But given the six-year manufacturer’s warranty and unmatched performance levels, it still makes it the top choice for an AIO in our list of the Best CPU Coolers.
A worthy alternative to mention here would be AlphaCool Eisbaer 240. This AlphaCool the model allows for customization in terms of adding other components while lacking the looks of NZXT’s Kraken X62.
5. Best Budget All-In-One Cooler
Corsair Hydro Series H60
It is a common misconception that opting for a liquid cooler is sure to set you back by over $100. Corsair steps in to disprove this belief. Corsair’s Hydro Series H60 steps in the Budget AIO category of our list of the best CPU Coolers 2020.
H60 is a well-known name in the AIO Liquid Coolers. And the price tag of $60 is definitely a major contributor to this popularity. We tested it extensively with an overclocked CPU. It always managed to squeeze decent temperatures without getting noticeably loud.
Our favorite thing about the H60 is the super easy installation process. This has by far been the easiest cooler to install in any of our tests. Thanks to the magnetic multi-platform mounting bracket kit and pre-applied thermal compound, the whole process is quick and easy.
But don’t get deceived by its expensive looks (it actually looks a lot more expensive than it really is), the Corsair Hydro is a Budget AIO Liquid Cooler. So don’t expect the kind of performance offered by other AIOs twice or thrice the budget. It is a great pick for most enthusiasts who are looking to overclock their machines. It looks sleek, works well and doesn’t cost too much. An acceptable conclusion to our list of best CPU coolers 2020.