Best CPU Coolers For 2018 – Remastered Buying Guide For CPU Coolers

best cpu coolers 2018Almost all CPUs come with a stock cooler with the exception of for instance Intel Skylake K-series CPUs, where a third-party cooling system is needed. That’s really no surprise since no overclocker would want to use the stock HSF anyways. If you haven’t got a dedicated CPU cooler on your PC, then this is certainly the first upgrade that you will want to consider, and we highly recommend it if you want to overclock your CPU for higher performance.

But which CPU cooler is right for you and your budget? Do you want to achieve a lower noise, a higher overclock or just want it to look awesome if you have a window in your best PC case.

This buyer’s guide will aid you in the process of selecting your next CPU cooler. We have much experience in building PCs and we have tested out many CPU coolers on the market, including all the popular choices that seem to be mentioned everywhere we go. This guide is updated on a monthly basis to ensure that all the picks mentioned in this guide are up-to-date.

Best CPU Coolers Available In 2018

TypeCPUSize (W x D x H)Sound Level 
Best Budget Case FanCorsair Air Series AF120120mm x 25mm25,2 dBA
Corsair Air Series AF140140mm x 25mm25,5 dBA
Best Budget CPU CoolerDeepCool 12cm CPU Cooler119mm x 91mm x 111mm21 dBA
Best CPU Cooler For The MoneyCooler Master Hyper 212 EVO120mm x 80mm x 159mm31 dBA
Best CPU Air Coolers In 2018Noctua NH-U12S125mm x 45mm x 158mm22,3 dBA
Noctua NH-U14S150mm x 52mm x 165mm24,6 dBA
Best CPU Air Coolers For Overclocking Be Quiet! Dark Rock Pro 3140mm x 150mm x168mm24,7 dBA
Noctua NH-D15152mm x 163mm x 163mm29,7 dBA
Best CPU Liquid Cooler For The Money.Arctic Liquid Freezer 120R: 120mm x 155mm x 49mm
F: 120mm x 120mm x 25mm
30 dBA
Ultimate CPU Water Cooler SystemCorsair Hydro Series H100i v2R: 125mm x 276mm x 30mm
F: 120mm x 120mm x 25mm
37,7 dBA
Corsair Hydro Series H115i Extreme PerformanceR: 140mm x 312mm x 26mm
F: 140mm x 25mm
40 dBA

Disclaimer: Clicking on a product name link will bring to you to the appropriate Amazon.com (.co.uk, .de, etc) product listing, where you can check the price, customer reviews and more information about the product or similar products.

Best CPU Coolers – Buyer’s Guide

Some things to keep in mind when selecting the best CPU cooler for your needs are:

  1. Larger coolers will in most cases perform better, but keep size in mind, as you can run into some clearance issues with your graphics card, RAM and perhaps even the side panel of your case if the cooler is very large.
  2. Larger fans are less noisy because they run at a lower RPM to get the same cooling effect as smaller fans.
  3. Coolers that are taller than 160mm will probably not fit in a mid-size case. Coolers with 140mm fans are usually taller than 160mm but double-check to be sure.
  4. Tower-style coolers are better than downdraft coolers if they are the same size or price.

Air Coolers vs Liquid Coolers

Are you wondering if you should get a liquid cooler? We recommend them in the following use-cases:

  1. You are overclocking to a very high level on a quad-core, hexa-core or even octa-core processor with a lot of extra voltage.
  2. You need extra space in your case for components and your hands.
  3. You need a very good cooling setup for a build that does not offer much space for an air cooler of the tower-style.
  4. You move your PC very often so you need a CPU cooler that will not be dismantled in the process.

Keep in mind that liquid coolers are never quiet, even at idle work, because of the pump noise. Air coolers are quiet at idle work. Also, keep in mind that a CPU cooler is a PC component that doesn’t need to be changed every few years. They don’t really change over the years and they can be re-used again and again. The only thing you have to change is the thermal paste (thermal interface material, also known as TIM or TP) and the best products in this category are the Arctic Silver 5, Arctic MX4 and Noctua NT-H1. Learn more about the thermals paste here.

Best Budget Case Fan

We included this part for those of you simply looking for a cool case fan for some decent money. Whether you’re making a new PC build from scratch or are thinking about adding an extra fan to your PC case, the following two cases are the best PC coolers for the money.

Corsair Air Series AF120

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About the PC Cooler

First off, we have the best budget case fan of 2018, the Corsair Air Series AF120. Costing below $20, this small case fan, that can be bought in single or twin packs is a great choice if you want a small and budget-friendly case fan with LED lights.

This will add flair and will make your PC very cool-looking as well. Found in blue, purple, red and white LED colors, it allows great customization as well. You can add one, two or even more to your rig, and since they are very quiet and provide a decent airflow, they won’t bother you.

If you have a PC rig with just one PC fan at the rear of the case, adding an extra one to the front panel can decrease your CPU and GPU temperatures by ~5°C. You may want to add an extra one or two to that, but the cooling efficiency won’t be as noticeable. More on that in the embedded player below.

What We Loved

  • Silent
  • Inexpensive
  • LED lighting

What We Didn’t Like

  • None

Corsair Air Series AF140

fastest cpu in the world

About the PC Cooler

If you want a little bit more power, although not much, then we recommend the Corsair Air Series AF140 instead. This CPU air cooler is not available in twin pack, but has a significantly larger airflow. This air cooler can also be found with LED lights and this model has an airflow of 66,4 CFM.

It produces an unnoticeable amount of more noise than the LED version of the AF120 and is a little larger as well (140mm x 25mm), so if you have the clearance available in your case, you should definitely get the AF140 instead of the AF120.

What We Loved

  • Silent
  • Inexpensive
  • LED lighting

What We Didn’t Like

  • None

Best Budget CPU Cooler

Sick and tired of the constant noise and poor performance of your old CPU cooler? If you’re just looking for the best cheap CPU cooler, we’ve got you covered as well!

DeepCool 12cm Fan CPU Cooler

best value cpu cooler

About the CPU Cooler

The best budget CPU cooler in 2018 is currently the DeepCool 12cm Fan CPU CoolerIt outperforms the other CPU coolers in this specific price range and fits Intel LGA 775, Intel LGA 1156, Intel LGA 1155, AMD FM2, AMD AM2, AMD AM2+ and AMD AM3. This brilliant cooler for CPU costs roughly $20 and has a blue color to it.

More precisely, it features a 12cm blue PWM intelligent fan with high airflow and is very quiet as well. Furthermore, the DeepCool air cooler boasts dual heat pipes with aluminum fins for faster heat dissipation. The design is original DAC auxiliary cooling design and it has a great cooling rate as well. We’re sure that you will like this CPU air cooler.

What We Loved

  • Cheap
  • Easy to install

What We Didn’t Like

  • None

Best CPU Cooler For The Money

In case you want the best value CPU cooler which will give you the first-rate performance boost for an affordable price, the air CPU cooler below is just what you’ve been looking for.

Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO

top 5 cpu coolers

About the CPU Cooler

If you want the best value for the money CPU cooler, then the Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO is the obvious choice. This one really needs no introduction and there’s a reason that it’s the most popular CPU cooler on the market and has been for years now.

The Hyper 212 EVO comes with a 120mm pulse-width modulation (PWM) fan with easy access to speed control and it has direct-touch heat pipes to transfer the heat even better. Standing only 159mm tall, this great yet cheap CPU cooler is relatively compact and fits any standard ATX case and most micro ATX cases as well.

While the Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO is not the best CPU cooler on the market, but it sure is the best one for the money, costing only $30.

What We Loved

  • Great value for money

What We Didn’t Like

  • May be difficult to install for beginners

Best CPU Air Coolers In 2018

If you want the absolute best CPU cooling without having to fiddle with the expensive water cooling systems, the following air coolers have proven their worth and are very effective for overclocking.

Noctua NH-U12S

cpu cooler review

About the CPU Cooler

If you want the best overall CPU cooler, we’ve got two picks for you and they’re both from the same company. First off, we have the smaller Noctua NH-U12S, which is just under 160mm tall and should, therefore, fit in standard ATX cases as well. The Noctua NH-U12S (and NH-U14S for that matter) are very efficient and user-friendly CPU coolers.

You can literally install the CPU cooler in minutes and did I mention that they are both very quiet as well. The Noctua NH-U12S has a maximum acoustical noise of just 22,4 dB(A). That’s very quiet!

What We Loved

  • Silent
  • Easy to install

What We Didn’t Like

  • Not as appealing design as the other coolers

Noctua NH-U14S

cpu cooler amazon

About the CPU Cooler 

The Noctua NH-U14S is the larger model and it costs $10 more. This CPU cooler is more powerful and we believe it is the best CPU air cooler in 2018 available on the market for 60 USD, although it’s not the most powerful. Standing 165mm tall, this should be the tallest cooler you can fit in standard ATX cases.

At this size, you will most likely not be able to fit it in a micro ATX case, so keep that in mind. The ultra high-end NF-A15 140mm fan produces very little noise: only 24,6 dBA.

What We Loved

  • Easy to install
  • Premium quality

What We Didn’t Like

  • Not as appealing design as the other coolers

Best CPU Air Coolers For Overclocking

For those of you who wish to invest even more in the cooling system to really push the overclocking to its edges, the following are the best air coolers available right now and are therefore a bit pricier as well.

Noctua NH-D15

best cpu for gaming 2018

About the CPU Cooler

For those of you who are willing to spend a little bit extra, there are certain CPU coolers with dual radiators and fans as well as multiple heat pipes which will nicely complement overclocking even the latest CPUs. These are big (and heavy), so make sure you got enough room in your PC case.

The Noctua NH-D15 cooler features two PWM 140mm fans and six heat pipes which consequently ensures low temperatures even at high performance. Though its design may not be appealing to most people, it’s at least easily installable and practical.

What We Loved

  • Silent
  • Easy to install
  • Exceptional performance

What We Didn’t Like

  • Not as appealing design as the other coolers

BE QUIET! Dark Rock Pro 3

best cpu air cooler 2018

About the CPU Cooler

Another powerful and quiet CPU cooler is the BE QUIET! Dark Rock Pro 3 which offers 7 heat pipes and two PWM fans (135x22mm and 120x25mm). It’s compatible with the following sockets: Intel LGA 775, 1150, 1156, 1136, 2011 and AMD’s AM2 (+), AM3 (+), FM1, FM2, 754, 939, and 940.

Both the Noctua NH-D15 and the Dark Rock Pro 3 CPU coolers offer a great overclocking performance for the money. The Dark Rock Pro 3 is a bit more affordable and it’s actually the quietest high-end CPU cooler in 2018, but it’s outperformed by the Noctua NH-D15.

Therefore, our top recommendation for the high-end CPU air cooler is the Noctua NH-D15 unless you want a quieter cooler with a better design. If you need more cooling power, we suggest you take a look at liquid cooling solutions, which we will discuss next. Also don’t waste your money on a single-fan liquid CPU cooler, as they are not very efficient considering the size and price.

What We Loved

  • Silent
  • Great design

What We Didn’t Like

  • Not as easy to install as the Noctua

Best CPU Liquid Cooler For The Money

If you’re going the liquid route, then choosing a single-fan CPU cooler is not a good idea, since the Noctua air coolers above will outperform them and are much quieter. The product below is the best liquid cooler for CPU under 100 USD.

Arctic Liquid Freezer 120 

cpu water coolers 2018 reviews

About the CPU Cooler

If you’re looking for the best AIO water cooler (all-in-one) with two fans and a budget-friendly price tag, the Arctic Liquid Freezer 120 is the best budget liquid CPU cooler pick hands down. This dual-fan liquid CPU cooler is very compact and can fit most cases.

The Arctic Liquid Freezer 120 is the best CPU liquid cooler in 2018 costing less than $100. It comes pre-applied with MX-4 thermal paste and is compatible with LGA 1151, LGA 1150, LGA 1155, LGA 1156, LGA 2066, LGA 2011, AM2(+), AM3(+), AM4 (+), FM1, FM2, sTR4, and SP3. It also comes with a six-year warranty.

What We Loved

  • Inexpensive
  • Great performance

What We Didn’t Like

  • None

Ultimate CPU Water Cooler Systems

For the absolute best cooling performance we recommend none other than the Corsair Hydro series water coolers. Although a bit pricier, they are absolutely worth it for the hardcore overclockers. While all models are great, pick the one according to your budget, PC case, and RGB lighting preference.

Corsair Hydro Series H100i v2

best water cooler cpu

About the CPU Cooler

Do you want the best water cooler for overclocking? For this task, we have found the Corsair Hydro Series H100i v2 to be the best choice. This AIO liquid CPU water cooler is the best 240mm cooler on the market right now, not to mention also one of the most budget-friendly ones as well.

A liquid cooler of this caliber will outperform any air cooler you can find, but make sure that you really need it and that you have enough space for it. It’s easily installed and has a neat desktop application for LED lights and performance customization. Most modern cases have enough clearance for one 240mm liquid cooler but double-check with your specific case and if you are still unsure, ask us in the comments below.

What We Loved

  • User-friendly software to adjust RGB lightning, fan speed and to monitor temperatures

What We Didn’t Like

  • None

Corsair Hydro Series H115i Extreme Performance

best cpu water coolers 2018

About the CPU Cooler

Corsair really knows how to produce good liquid coolers. If you have space, then the Corsair Hydro Series H115i Extreme Performance liquid CPU cooler is for sure the best CPU cooler with a liquid system. The H115i Extreme has two 140mm fans running at 2100RPM and a super efficient 26mm radiator. It also comes pre-applied with thermal compound and has a fan airflow of 104.65 CFM.

Connect the CPU water cooler with via the provided USB cable and using the Corsair Link software, you can customize the performance, monitor the temperatures, and adjust the RGB lighting. The CPU liquid cooling kit makes installation quick and easy.

Once again, be sure to check if your case can fit a 280mm water cooler before purchasing this model. So there you have it. We hope we helped you find the best CPU cooler for your budget and your needs.

What We Loved

  • Best cooling performance

What We Didn’t Like

  • None

Conclusion

Whether you’ve been looking for the best am3+ CPU cooler or the best CPU cooler for i7 or just an affordable upgrade for your stock cooler, these are the best choices available right now. Hopefully, we’ve helped you and therefore your CPU. Happy overclocking!

We also invite you to check out the best gaming monitors currently available as well as our other buyer’s guides.