Here is How to Choose The Right CPU Cooler

(Image credit: Arctic)

One of the areas where new PC builders struggle the most is when choosing a CPU cooler. As we all know, providing a good cooling solution to your processor is mandatory if you want to increase its lifespan and maintain its boost frequencies as long as possible. However, having such a crucial role doesn’t mean that you should go out there and buy the most expensive cooler. Most average users should be more than fine with a midrange cooler.

It’s indeed not rocket science, yet, there are some factors that you should consider. That’s why we tried to answer the most frequently asked questions among PC builders. These answers should help you choose the right cooler that will provide an adequate cooling solution to your CPU without overspending.

What happens if you run a CPU without a cooler?

A CPU cooler is a must in order to be able to utilize your gaming machine. The lack of a CPU cooler will lead to CPU overheating right after you start your PC, and consequently, your system will entirely shut down. Therefore, purchasing a cooler is an inevitable step.

Here are the factors that you should look for before choosing a CPU cooler


TDP (Thermal Design Power) should be your main focus when looking for a CPU cooler. Every CPU got a TDP rating which refers to the power consumption. And therefore, as a rule of thumb, you should always target a cooler with a higher TDP than your CPU.

However, please bear in mind that going with a cooler with a low TDP rating compared to your CPU may not provide an adequate cooling solution. In addition to that, running your CPU at high temperature may reduce its lifespan. It will also prevent it from performing at its maximum.

CPU socket

Even though most modern CPU coolers come with various brackets for different CPU sockets, you still have to check your CPU Cooler’s compatibility to ensure that your selected cooler supports your processor. You can check its compatibility by either looking at the manufacturer’s website or on the cooler’s box.

Sound Level

One of the most annoying issues that PC builders can face is a high noise level. Having a high sound level coming from your PC’s components will completely ruin your gaming experience. It will also prevent you from having sweet dreams in case you let the PC on all night.

And that’s not everything. The unwanted noise can also be very irritating for discord users or when giving the winning instructions to your team. Therefore, you should always look at the size and the noise generated by your selected cooler’s fans. The bigger the size of the fan, the quieter it will perform.

CPU Power Consumption

Knowing how much energy your CPU requires will help you know approximatively how much heat it will generate. This information will also serve you to choose the right CPU cooler since each one of these has a limit of TDP that it can handle.

Besides, as gamers, we all indeed love gaming. But, our PC utilization intent is another subject to discuss. While some of us want simply to have some enjoyable gaming moments, some others like to get every juice of performance out of their CPU by overclocking it.

Pushing your CPU beyond its stock speed will certainly offer you better performance. However, it doesn’t come at free cost. In other words, overclocking your CPU will push it to draw more energy which will result in a high-temperature level.

PC case specifications

Before shopping for any given cooler, make sure to check your PC chassis’ specifications first. By doing that, you will have an idea about which are the coolers that will be able to fit in. And this applies to both Air and AIO coolers.

RAM Dimensions

We have to admit that we all get attracted to powerful RAM that features an elegant design. One of these popular modules is the G.SKILL Trident Z. However, please bear in mind that these types of modules are taller than the typical ones due to the size of the heatsink and the top RGB bar. In other words, the bottom of some air coolers may impact them.


We all know that aesthetics won’t improve your system’s performance, yet, everyone considers it one of the major factors. And it’s completely normal, especially if you often share your gaming rig photo’s with your friends.

Also, having an eye-appealing PC does make gaming more enjoyable. It also helps in improving the look of your gaming room.

However, as we mentioned above, aesthetics should remain your last worry. You should always prioritize your essential PC components, such as processor, graphics cards…, over the aesthetics.

Air vs AIO cooling?

We know that this is the most difficult decision for you, PC builders. That’s why we are going to set it once and for all by giving you the information you are looking for to make the last call on one type of these CPU coolers.

Air Cooling

Typical air cooling has followed PC builders in their journey for a long period of time. This type of cooling is known for its high efficiency and quiet operation. What makes Air coolers good is the fact that they are budget-friendly and don’t have a high noise level.

On the other hand, big tower air coolers tend to be space consuming. And therefore, users with small form factor gaming PC won’t be able to take advantage of these coolers. Some of these popular big tower coolers are Noctua NH-D15, Be Quiet Dark Pro 4, DEEP COOL Assassin III…etc. All these air coolers deliver similar cooling performance to 360mm AIO coolers.

Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that you should hold every available space in your PC to get competitive air cooling performances. Actually, whether you got a small form factor build or simply didn’t want your CPU cooler to interfere with your RAM modules, a budget-friendly air cooler, such as the Noctua NH-L9, would be the perfect option for you.

We have recently reviewed some fantastic air coolers under $50. All these affordable coolers did provide us with excellent cooling performance. And lastly, unlike AIO coolers, if something goes wrong with an air cooler, it shouldn’t be a big deal as it won’t damage your PC.

AIO coolers

Looking to improve your gaming’s rig visual and performance? Search no more, because we got the solution for you. AIO coolers are gamers’ favourite option for improving aesthetics and maintaining their overclocked high-end CPU under good temperature. On top of their high-end cooling performance, these coolers often feature some stunning customizable RGB effects that make them eye-appealing.

Furthermore, AIO coolers are less space-consuming compared to air coolers. All you will have to do is see what your Pc chassis’ support in terms of AIO size, and then you are ready to purchase the one you like.

On the other hand, AIO coolers are usually noisier than air coolers. Indeed, they do not produce a noise that will disturb you during your tough gaming matches, but the noise will be higher than air coolers. And the reason for that on top of the radiator’s fans, you will also have the pump noise.

And lastly, AIO failure. And it’s indeed the scariest one. If somehow, the AIO cooler decides that it’s the time for him to go crazy, it may damage your entire machine by spreading all the liquid around. Fortunately, modern AIO coolers from reliable brands are made of high-quality materials, and there is a small tiny chance that this would happen.

Ok then, should you go with Air or AIO cooling?

So, before you make your final call on either Air or AIO cooler, you will have to identify your budget, case specifications, and your utilization.

Starting with the budget. If you have a limited budget and are looking to spend your money wisely, we recommend going with an Air cooler. You will come across a wide range of budget-friendly option that will be able to handle your CPU at its maximum speed.

However, as we have mentioned above, unless you are after a low profile air cooler, big tower coolers usually require a large amount of space. So, be aware of it.

On the other hand, AIO coolers do provide fantastic cooling performance, they are aesthetically beautiful, and they are not very demanding in terms of space. But, the only problem with these type of coolers is the cost. When comparing them with Air coolers, AIO coolers are way more expensive.

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