The best CPU coolers 2020

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(Image credit: Corsair, Noctua)

Having one of the best CPU coolers can prevent catastrophic issues caused by your CPU overheating. If you want your PC to stay working, especially if you plan to try overclocking, it needs to be operating at a safe temperature. For that, you’ll need to ensure you’re running one of the best CPU coolers you can get in your rig. The good news is that you don’t have to spend a huge amount of money on this absolutely vital component.

Silicon dreams

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These are the current best CPUs for gaming to build your rig around.

CPU coolers generally come in two varieties. The first is an air cooler, which comes with a big metal heat sink that pulls heat away from the CPU, then blown away by a fan. Before you pick an air cooler, you need to consider your CPU socket type, RAM clearance, your PC’s case dimensions, and the airflow in your machine.

The other, more extravagant option is liquid cooling, with the most common being the AIO (all-in-one) variety. The coolant passes through a closed-loop via a plate attached to your CPU, and in combination with the attached radiator and fan, cools the CPU. Liquid cooling is often a more efficient choice and can lead to some flashy-looking components with wild RGB lighting options and even OLED screens.

If you’re feeling especially courageous, you could also create a full custom water cooling loop, which can include GPU as well as CPU cooling, but that way lies tube-bending and a whole lot of installation effort—though the result of all that work is pretty cool.

We’ve listed our favorite air, and AIO coolers below, which cater to high-end and budget builds. If you’re looking for other ways to help increase your system’s ventilation, you can check out our guide to the best PC fans.  

Best CPU coolers

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1. Corsair H115i RGB Platinum

The best liquid CPU cooler.

Type: Liquid cooling | Compatibility: Intel 1366, 115x, 2011, 2066; AMD AM2, AM3, AM4, sTR4 | Fan speed: 360-2,200 RPM | Noise volume: 28-50 dBA | Dimensions: 280 x 120 x 30 mm | Weight: 1.8 lbs (830 g)

Prime$167.68 View at Amazon$169.99View at CORSAIR$184.21View at Walmart2 Amazon customer reviews☆☆☆☆☆

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2. Noctua NH-D15

The best air cooler in 2020.

Type: Fan and heatsink | Compatibility: Intel LGA 1150 – 2066; AMD AM2 – AM4, FM1 – FM2+ | Fan speed: 300-1500 RPM | Noise volume: Up to 24.6 dBA | Dimensions: 165 x 150 x 161 mm | Weight: 2.91 lbs (1.32 kg)

$78.99 View at Newegg$103.78View at WalmartPrime$107.59View at AmazonSee all prices (8 found)602 Amazon customer reviews☆☆☆☆☆

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3. EVGA CLC 240

Liquid cooling at an affordable price.

Type: Liquid cooling | Compatibility: Intel LGA2066/2011/2011-v3/1150/1151/1155/1156/1366 AMD AM2-AM4, FM1-FM2, TR4 | Fan speed: 500-2400 RPM | Noise volume: 16-40 dBA | Dimensions: 276 x 122 x 53 mm | Weight: 1.8 lbs (820 g)

Prime$90.93 View at Amazon$94.80View at Walmart$119.99View at Monoprice.comSee all prices (6 found)190 Amazon customer reviews☆☆☆☆☆

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4. Corsair H60

All-in-one liquid cooling for the price of air.

Type: Liquid cooling | Compatibility: Intel 115x, 2011/2066; AMD AM2-AM4 | Fan speed: 600-1700 RPM | Noise volume: Up to 28.3 dBA | Dimensions: 157 x 120 x 52 mm | Weight: 1.32 lbs (600 g)

$79.99 View at NeweggCheck Amazon

 Excellent performance  Compatible with most cases 

Corsair was one of the first manufacturers to bring all-in-one liquid cooling to the masses. Nearly a decade after the company first launched its Hydro series, Corsair is once again leading the charge with the updated H60 as our top choice for liquid cooling on a budget.

Often priced $20 cheaper than our best high-end air cooler, the 120mm H60 offers nearly identical thermal and noise performance at a fraction of the cost. The updated cooler features a white LED illuminated pump head, 120mm radiator, and one of Corsair’s latest 120mm PWM fans. Our tests put the performance of the new H60 far ahead of its other 120mm competitors and even in line with a few 140mm and 240mm coolers.

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5. Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO

Longtime king of budget air cooling.

Type: Fan and heatsink | Compatibility: Intel LGA 775 – 2066; AMD AM2 – AM3+, FM1 – FM3+, AM4 | Fan speed: 600-2000 RPM | Noise volume: 9-36 dBA | Dimensions: 120 x 79.7 x 158.5 mm | Weight: 1.3 lbs (590 g)

Prime$34.99 View at Amazon$34.99View at Newegg$34.99View at Office DepotSee all prices (7 found)26 Amazon customer reviews☆☆☆☆☆

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6. Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML360R

A giant radiator for extra-quiet cooling.

Type: Liquid cooling | Compatibility: Intel LGA2066, LGA2011 v3, LGA2011, LGA1151, LGA1150, LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA1366, AMD AM4, AM3+, AM3, AM2+, AM2, FM2+, FM2, FM1 | Fan speed: 650-2000 RPM | Noise volume: 6-30 dBA | Dimensions: 394 x 119 x 27 mm | Weight: 5.6 lbs (2.56 kg)

Prime$137.99 View at Amazon$137.99View at Walmart$179.91View at Amazon397 Amazon customer reviews☆☆☆☆☆

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7. GamerStorm Deep Cool Assassin III

Best Budget Big Air Cooler.

Type: Fan and Heatsink | Compatibility: AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, AM4, FM1, FM2, FM2+, LGA 2011, LGA 1150, LGA 1151, LGA 1155, LGA 1366, LGA 2011-v3, LGA 2066 | Fan speed: 400-1400 RPM | Noise volume: 34.2 dBA | Dimensions: 165mm x 138mm x 25 mm | Weight: 3.2 lbs (1.45 kg)

Prime$89.99 View at Amazon$89.99View at BHPhoto$99.99View at Newegg

Thermal performance QuietPrice

The GamerStorm Deepcool Assassin III may sound like someone’s terrible username, but it’s an impressive big-air cooler. This big boy houses twin cooling towers, seven heat pipes, and a pair of quiet 140mm fans. 

For less than $100, you can get yourself a quiet CPU cooler with exceptional thermal performance. Surprisingly, there’s no RGB lighting, making the Deepcool Assassin III a rather tame looking piece of hardware despite the flashy name.

CPU cooler buying advice

Like most components, choosing the right CPU cooler depends on several variables, including performance requirements, case compatibility, budget restrictions, and aesthetics. To find the best CPU coolers, we test performance using Prime95 and a mixture of modern PC games for extensive stress testing. Our top selections were made based on thermal performance, noise, value, and overall feature sets.

If you aren’t sure whether you need an air cooler or a liquid cooler, it comes down to budget and compatibility. Until AMD released its Wraith coolers (and then took them away again), we’d never recommend a stock cooler to any PC gamer. Still, now those on tight budgets don’t necessarily need to consider an aftermarket air cooler. If you have a little more spending room, liquid coolers can offer a whole lot more—from advanced RGB lighting to intelligent software control.

Some of you may be wary about putting liquid near your expensive components, but rest assured all of the coolers recommended in this guide are backed with excellent warranties that will cover you in the event of a manufacturer failure—a colossal leakage is an infrequent occurrence, anyways.

Round up of today’s best dealsCorsair H115i RGB Platinum…Corsair H115i RGB PlatinumAmazon$167.68ViewSee all pricesNoctua NH-D15S 140mm SSO2…Noctua NH-D15Newegg$78.99ViewSee all pricesReduced PriceEVGA CLC 240mm All-In-One RGB…EVGA CLC 240Amazon$119.99$90.93ViewSee all pricesCorsair Hydro Series, H60…Corsair H60 (2018)Newegg$79.99ViewSee all pricesCooler Master Hyper 212 Evo…Cooler Master Hyper 212 EvoAmazon$34.99ViewSee all pricesReduced PriceCooler Master MasterLiquid…Coolermaster MasterLiquid ML360R RGBAmazon$169.99$137.99ViewSee all pricesDEEP COOL Assassin III CPU…Deepcool Gamer Storm Assassin IIIAmazon$89.99ViewSee all pricesWe check over 130 million products every day for the best pricespowered by PC Gamer

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