The Best PC Air and Liquid Cooling Systems By Price (Oct 2018)

Adrian B Updated on Oct 07, 2018

The cooling system of any PC plays an important role. It can be as cheap as $30 for a standard CPU fan or you could pay $140 for a liquid cooling system.

In any case, if a computer is not properly cooled, all the components (CPU, PSU, GPU, storage devices, motherboard, …) will suffer negative effects as they all have an optimum working temperature. An overheated computer will consume more power, will perform worse and the components lifespan will be reduced dramatically.

In fact, some CPUs have a critical temperature that once it’s reached, the computer will shut down itself automatically. The temperature is a critical aspect when it comes to design a Gaming Build. With this guide, you will learn how to choose the proper cooling system for your computer.

Here you will learn what are the most important features you must look for when choosing a cooling fan system, so you can optimize your budget while not putting in danger your whole computer.

If you see errors, misleading information, or you just don’t agree with me I would really appreciate your comments so we all can improve this post together. Try to be nice with each other and be collaborative.

How To Choose The Best Cooling Fans

So what’s this about? How do you refrigerate the computer case? What kind of coolers are there? These are some of the questions I’ll try to answer in this part of the guide.

There are a couple of things I would like to emphasize before starting to dig in:

  • There are only two ways to refrigerate a computer: with CPU and Cabinet coolers.
  • Both air and liquid cooling systems involve 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 socket (1151).

CPU Coolers

Air Systems

This is the standard type of CPU cooling system. 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.

Air cooling systems cover low to mid-high computer builds. So, unless you want to highly overclock your CPU or want your computer case’s inside to look cleaner, you will be fine with this type of coolers.

Here are some things you need to know before buying any Air Cooling System:

  • 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 Systems

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.

Remember that liquid systems are needed only if you want to overclock your processor and keep it safe. They are also used just for aesthetic purposes, as the computer case interior will look much cleaner and empty, which also helps to reduce the overall temperature.

Buying Guide

CPU Coolers

Air Systems

From $20 to $60
Cooler Master Hyper T4

Cooler Master Hyper T4launch

chevron_right12V, 2.64W
chevron_right152.3 x 131.6 x 72.5 mm
chevron_right600 / 1800 rpm
chevron_right15 / 31.6 dBa
chevron_rightIntel: 775, 115x, 1366, 2011(-3). AMD: AM2(+), AM3 (+), FM1,  FM2(+)
Market Price: $24.26
Available on:
Amazon USA
Jonsbo CR-201

Jonsbo CR-201launch

chevron_right12V, 4.2W
chevron_right160 x 93 x 129 mm
chevron_right600 / 1600 rpm
chevron_right18 / 26 dBa
chevron_rightIntel: 775, 155x. AMD: AM4, AM3
Market Price: --
Available on:
Amazon USA
be quiet! BK008 Pure Rock Slim

be quiet! BK008 Pure Rock Slimlaunch

chevron_right12V, 3.8W
chevron_right124 x 97 x 56 mm
chevron_right2000 rpm
chevron_right13 / 25 dBa
chevron_rightIntel: 775, 155x. AMD: AM4, AM3
Market Price: $27.99
Available on:
Amazon USA
Cooler Master Hyper D92

Cooler Master Hyper D92launch

chevron_right12V, 2.88W
chevron_right128.9 x 96.6 x 146.4 mm
chevron_right800 / 2800 rpm
chevron_right18 / 33 dBa
chevron_rightIntel: 775, 115x, 1366, 2011(-3). AMD: AM2(+), AM3 (+), FM1, FM2(+)
Market Price: $44.99
Available on:
Amazon USA
Cryorig H7

Cryorig H7launch

chevron_right12V, 2.5W
chevron_right99 x 50.8 x 20.3 mm
chevron_right330 / 1600 rpm
chevron_right10 / 25 dBa
Market Price: --
Available on:
Amazon USA
Cooler Master GeminII M4

Cooler Master GeminII M4launch

chevron_right12V, 2.5W
chevron_right137 x 122 x 59 mm
chevron_right500 / 1600 rpm
chevron_right8 / 30 dBa
chevron_rightIntel: 775, 115x, 1366, 2011(-3). AMD: AM2(+), AM3 (+), FM1, FM2(+)
Market Price: $29.99
Available on:
Amazon USA
Cooler Master Vortex Plus

Cooler Master Vortex Pluslaunch

chevron_right12V, 2.5W
chevron_right116 x 100 x 58.5 mm
chevron_right800 / 2800 rpm
chevron_right17 / 35 dBa
chevron_rightIntel: 775, 115x, 1366, 2011(-3). AMD: AM2(+), AM3 (+), FM1, FM2(+)
Market Price: $26.99
Available on:
Amazon USA
Noctua NH-L9x65

Noctua NH-L9x65launch

chevron_right12V, 2.5W
chevron_right92 x 14 x 92 mm
chevron_right1800 / 2500 rpm
chevron_right14.8 / 23.6 dBa
chevron_rightIntel: 775, 115x, 1366, 2011(-3). AMD: AM2(+), AM3 (+), FM1, FM2(+)
Market Price: $44.22
Available on:
Amazon USA
From $60
Noctua NH-U14S

Noctua NH-U14Slaunch

chevron_right12V, 0.6W
chevron_right158 x 45 x 125 mm
chevron_right300 / 1700 rpm
chevron_right22.4 dBa
chevron_rightIntel: 775, 115x, 1366, 2011(-3). AMD: AM2(+), AM3 (+), FM1, FM2(+)
Market Price: $63.75
Available on:
Amazon USA
Cryorig H5 Ultimate

Cryorig H5 Ultimatelaunch

chevron_right12V, 2.5W
chevron_right99 x 50.8 x 20.3 mm
chevron_right700 / 1300 rpm
chevron_right20 / 24 dBa
chevron_rightIntel: 775, 115x, 1366, 2011(-3). AMD: AM2(+), AM3 (+), FM1, FM2(+)
Market Price: $46.99
Available on:
Amazon USA
Noctua NH-D14

Noctua NH-D14launch

chevron_right12V, 1.08W
chevron_right160 x 140 x 158 mm
chevron_right900 / 1300 rpm
chevron_right12.6 / 19.8 dBa
chevron_rightIntel: 775, 115x, 1366, 2011(-3). AMD: AM2(+), AM3 (+), FM1, FM2(+)
Market Price: $67.99
Available on:
Amazon USA
Phanteks TC14 Premium Edition

Phanteks TC14 Premium Editionlaunch

chevron_right12V, 2.8W
chevron_right216 x 165 x 190 mm
chevron_right700 / 1300 rpm
chevron_right13.4 / 19.6 dBa
chevron_rightIntel: 775, 115x, 1366, 2011(-3). AMD: AM2(+), AM3 (+), FM1, FM2(+)
Market Price: $84.97
Available on:
Amazon USA
Noctua NH-D15

Noctua NH-D15launch

chevron_right12V, 1.08W
chevron_right150 x 161 x 165 mm
chevron_right300 / 1600 rpm
chevron_right19.2 / 24.6 dBa
chevron_rightIntel: 775, 115x, 1366, 2011(-3). AMD: AM2(+), AM3 (+), FM1, FM2(+)
Market Price: $89.94
Available on:
Amazon USA
Be Quiet! Dark Rock TF

Be Quiet! Dark Rock TFlaunch

chevron_right12 V
chevron_right163 x 140 x 131 mm
chevron_right1400 rpm
chevron_right11.9 / 26.7 dBa
chevron_rightIntel: 775, 115x, 1366, 2011(-3). AMD: AM2(+), AM3 (+), FM1, FM2(+)
Market Price: $79.90
Available on:
Amazon USA
Cryorig R1 Ultimate

Cryorig R1 Ultimatelaunch

chevron_right12 V
chevron_right140 x 140 x 25.4 mm
chevron_right700 / 1300 rpm
chevron_right19 / 23 dBa
chevron_rightIntel: 775, 115x, 1366, 2011(-3). AMD: AM2(+), AM3 (+), FM1, FM2(+)
Market Price: $89.98
Available on:
Amazon USA

Liquid Systems

Corsair Hydro Series H55 Quiet Ed.

Corsair Hydro Series H55 Quiet Ed.launch

chevron_right12V, 5W
chevron_right120 x 120 x 25 mm
chevron_right1700 rpm
chevron_right30.3 dBa
chevron_rightIntel: 115x, 1366. AMD: AM2(+), AM3 (+), AM4, FM1, FM2(+)
Market Price: $59.99
Available on:
Amazon USA
Corsair Hydro Series H60

Corsair Hydro Series H60launch

chevron_right12V, 5W
chevron_right120 x 152 x 27 mm
chevron_right1700 rpm
chevron_right30.2 dBa
chevron_rightIntel: 775, 115x, 1366, 2011(-3). AMD: AM2(+), AM3 (+), FM1, FM2(+)
Market Price: $128.70
Available on:
Amazon USA
Corsair Hydro Series H75

Corsair Hydro Series H75launch

chevron_right12V, 5W
chevron_right120 x 152 x 27 mm
chevron_right2000 rpm
chevron_right31.4 dBa
chevron_rightIntel: 775, 115x, 1366, 2011(-3). AMD: AM2(+), AM3 (+), FM1, FM2(+)
Market Price: $121.87
Available on:
Amazon USA
EVGA CLC 120 RGB LED

EVGA CLC 120 RGB LEDlaunch

chevron_right12V, ?W
chevron_right120 x 120 x 25 mm
chevron_right600 - 2200 rpm
chevron_right16 / 39 dBa
chevron_rightIntel: 775, 155x. AMD: AM4, AM3
Market Price: $59.43
Available on:
Amazon USA
EVGA CLC 240 RGB LED

EVGA CLC 240 RGB LEDlaunch

chevron_right12V, ?W
chevron_right240 x 120 x 25 mm
chevron_right500 - 2400 rpm
chevron_right16 / 40 dBa
chevron_rightIntel: 775, 155x. AMD: AM4, AM3
Market Price: $79.99
Available on:
Amazon USA
Corsair Hydro Series H100i v2

Corsair Hydro Series H100i v2launch

chevron_right12 V
chevron_right140 x 322 x 27 mm
chevron_right2100 rpm
chevron_right43 dBa
chevron_rightIntel: 775, 115x, 1366, 2011(-3). AMD: AM2(+), AM3 (+), FM1, FM2(+)
Market Price: $89.99
Available on:
Amazon USA
Thermaltake Water 3.0 Dual Riing RGB

Thermaltake Water 3.0 Dual Riing RGBlaunch

chevron_right12 V
chevron_right270 x 120 x 25 mm
chevron_right400 / 1500 rpm
chevron_right18.5 / 26.4 dBa
chevron_rightIntel: 775, 115x, 1366, 2011(-3). AMD: AM2(+), AM3 (+), FM1, FM2(+)
Market Price: $109.99
Available on:
Amazon USA
Corsair Hydro Series H115i

Corsair Hydro Series H115ilaunch

chevron_right12 V
chevron_right140 x 312 x 26 mm
chevron_right2000 rpm
chevron_right40 dBa
chevron_rightIntel: 775, 115x, 1366, 2011(-3). AMD: AM2(+), AM3 (+), FM1, FM2(+)
Market Price: $139.99
Available on:
Amazon USA

Changelog

Products Added

  • March 19, 2018: EVGA CLC 120, EVGA CLC 240, Jonsbo CR-201, be quiet! BK008
  • June 10, 2017: Cooler Master GeminII M4, Cooler Master Vortex Plus, upHere Liquid CPU Cooler, Corsair Hydro Series H55 Quiet Ed.

Products Removed

  • August 1, 2017: Cooler Master Hyper TX3 EVO

 

How did you find this guide? What coolers are you using in your badass build? Are liquid cooling systems as cool as they seem? What problems did you face installing CPU fans?

Comment Below!
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