In this post, you are going to learn what is the best CPU cooler under 50 dollars that fit your needs and why this component is so important to keep your computer safe and healthy for a long period of time.
If you already know the basis of CPU coolers, you can jump straight to the recommendation list.
Should You Care About CPU Coolers?
The cooling system of any computer plays an important role in its overall performance. When a computer is not properly cooled, all the components (CPU, PSU, GPU, storage devices, motherboard, …) will suffer pretty harmful consequences as they all have an optimum working temperature. An overheated computer will waste (and therefore, consume) more electrical power, will perform under its optimal levels and the part’s lifespan will be dramatically reduced.
CPU Coolers are a critical component of ANY gaming computer. They are so important to keep your core parts safe and healthy as long as possible
In fact, some CPUs have a critical temperature that once it’s reached, the computer will shut down itself automatically. As you can see, the CPU cooler is a critical component when it comes to design a balanced gaming computer.
Now it’s time to dig a little deeper on what are the most important features you must look for when choosing a cooling fan system, so you can optimize your budget while keeping the CPU temperatures as low as possible.
How To Choose The Best CPU Cooler
There are a couple of things I would like to emphasize:
- There are only two ways to refrigerate a computer: CPU coolers and Cabinet coolers.
- Both air and liquid cooling systems imply the use of at least one fan to extract the inner hot air or insert fresh air from the outside.
- If you want to overclock your CPU, you can use either a good quality Air cooling system or a Liquid one. You don’t necessarily need liquid refrigeration for this purpose.
- All the CPU cooler systems compatible with the Intel’s 1150 Socket are also compatible with the Skylake/Kabylake socket (1151).
This is the most common type of CPU cooling systems. Why? Simply: they are cheaper and easier to install than liquid systems. They are usually built from a heat conductor metal block which dissipates the residual heat generated by the CPU through some heat pipes and then a fan dissipates the heat from the heat sink to the computer case’s air exit.
There is a wide variety of air cooling systems, covering all imaginable needs. Either you want a cheapie cooler for your low-end gaming computer or an enormous cooling system to refrigerate your highly overclocked CPU, you can find an appropriate model for you.
Here are some things you need to know before buying any air CPU cooler:
- The maximum CPU Cooler height that your case supports.
- The cooler dimensions. Be sure to check out if your RAM’s heat pipes could be in contact with the cooler or if they could interfere the cooler space requirements.
Liquid coolers are not a magic solution that refrigerates your entire computer without any noise. There is a lot of magic involved, that’s for sure, but you won’t get rid of the fans. Liquid cooling systems have fans and they can be as noisy as air coolers.
The difference lies in the refrigeration process. The CPU heat is extracted by the coolant and driven to the fans, which are usually located at one of the computer case’s air exits, commonly located at the top or rear sides.
Liquid systems are more popular among “pro gamers” just because they are more customizable. They are also used just for aesthetics purposes, as the computer case interior will look much cleaner and emptier, which also helps to reduce the overall temperature as there are fewer obstacles blocking the air flow.
This is how an air CPU cooler looks (left) VS a liquid cooling system (right):
The Best CPU Cooler Under $50
Now that you know the basics about computer cooling systems, it is time to see what are the best models available in the market for mid-range computers (up to 800 dollar builds).
For EATX/ATX/mATX Cases
Cooler Master Hyper T4launch
The Hyper T4 is the best air CPU cooler for entry-level builds, delivering great cooling performance thanks to the 4 specially shaped direct touch heat pipes. This is actually the model I use in the $500 Gaming Build and I highly recommend it.
- 4 Direct Contact heat pipes for seamless contact between the cooler and CPU
- 120mm wide range PWM fan. RPM can be fine-tuned for maximum airflow or whisper quiet operation
- Snap-on fan brackets to quickly and easily install, remove, clean, or replace the fan or heat sink
Cooler Master Hyper D92launch
This is my preferred CPU cooler for any high-end gaming builds (from $800 to $1500). The Cooler Master Hyper D92 is a dual-fan beast specially designed for mid-size towers (mATX).
- Direct contact heat pipe
- Fan Crossover Setup design to enhance airflow
- Dual 9cm fan to generate more airflow
- Universal mounting bracket to support the latest Intel and AMD sockets
The cooler is an excellent choice for mATX cases, featuring a low-noise / low-speed fan that will dramatically reduce your CPU temperatures thanks to its unique radiator design, the Hive Fin structure.
The Cryorig H7 fan features four strategically placed aerodynamic air inlet that allows for extra air intake, which helps to reduce the total temperature even more. Its compact design provides an optimal RAM compatibility, non interfering the RAM’s space.
For ITX/SFF Cases
Cooler Master Vortex Pluslaunch
The Cooler Master Vortex Plus is one of the best sellers compact cpu coolers for the lowest budgets, with hundreds of positive reviews on Amazon! Its unbeatable price and awesome features make of this cooling system a true winner.
- Suitable for the lowest budgets, costing around $26
- Compact profile design for HTPC chassis and LAN box chassis
- 4x direct contact heat-pipes for seamless contact between CPU surface and cooler
- 2 rear cable clips, side handles for cable management.
Cooler Master GeminII M4launch
Once again, here we have an awesome compact CPU cooler from Cooler Master, the GeminII M4, the ultimate answer to space-constrained setups such as mini-ITX, HTPC, and any small-sized desktop PC, thanks to its super slim fan. The total cooling system height is just 59mm.
The NH-L9x65 is a taller, performance-enhanced version of Noctua’s NH-L9 low-profile coolers. The perfect choice for high-end compact builds:
- 100% RAM and PCIe compatibility on ITX motherboards
- Super fast fan ranging between 1800 and 2500 rpm
- Quiet cooler, keeping the noise levels between 15 and 24 dBa
- 6 years manufacturer’s warranty
- Highly-compact low-profile quiet cooler designed for use in small form factor cases and HTPC cases
Liquid systems can be installed in every case’s size type as long as there is enough room for the radiator. Single-fan liquid coolers are known to be worst and noisier than air coolers. If you are on a tight budget (less than 100 dollar), I wouldn’t recommend you to buy a liquid cooler as you won’t find any double-fan model within this price range.
upHere Liquid CPU Coolerlaunch
This is the cheapest liquid CPU cooler I could find in the market with enough positive ratings to be recommended. Although “upHere” doesn’t have the brand authority that Corsair or Cooler Master have, they are proving to be worthwhile with products like this, with dozens of 5-star reviews on Amazon.
Corsair Hydro Series H55 Quiet Ed.launch
This low-profile single-fan liquid CPU cooler is very compact and can fit most cases. If you have enough space in your rig to get a dual-fan liquid cooler, then you certainly should.
The Corsair Hydro H55 Quiet Edition is the best budget liquid CPU cooler, costing around $60 and is the best selling water cooler on Amazon. It comes pre-applied with thermal paste and it’s compatible with the most common processor sockets: Intel’s LGA 115x, 1366; and AMD’s: AM2(+), AM3 (+), AM4, FM1, FM2(+). It also comes with a five-year warranty.
Applying The Thermal Paste
Remember that everytime you break the seal between the CPU cooler and the CPU itself, you will have to replace the thermal paste. In case you never did this before, don’t be afraid, it is not that difficult, but you have to take some considerations to maximize the cooling performance:
- Choose a thermal paste based on your needs: for overclocking CPUs, you will need a thermal pasted with gold, silver or copper as base compounds. For not-overclocking CPUs, there are cheaper options based on silicone or zinc oxide.
- Make sure you have completely removed the previous thermal paste. You can do this with a piece of cotton dampened with alcohol.
- Applying the thermal paste is as easy as placing a tiny drop in the center of the cooler base. Tiny = grain of rice.
- Once you seal the CPU and the cooler, you won’t have to do this again unless you upgrade either the cpu or the cooler
Here you have some good examples of the different types of thermal pastes available. As you can see, the price difference between a silicone-based compound and a silver-based compound is really low. I would personally go for the Arctic Silver 5 AS5-3.5G even for a $400 build.
Arctic Silver 5 AS5-3.5Glaunch
Cooler Master HTK-002-U1launch
Arctic Silver Ceramiquelaunch
If you have any doubt about how to apply the thermal paste, ask in the comments or visit a more in-depth guide like this one from Wiki How.
Which One Will You Choose?
In this post, I’ve given you some guidelines that hopefully will help you identify your needs.
I’ve presented you the most common CPU coolers for all kind of case sizes (SFF, mATX, ATX, …) and both air and liquid technologies, covering a wide range of prices from 25 to 50 dollars. Now it is time for you to make the final decision and as always, if you have any question you can just leave a comment below 🙂