Best CPU cooler in 2023: Overall, budget, and premium
Need a new CPU cooler in the year 2023? Well, you can’t go wrong with some of our top recommendations on air and AIO liquid coolers.
With CPUs getting even hotter, and critical temperatures becoming the norm, it might be time to begin investing in a much better cooler than before. Older or less powerful CPUs didn’t require as intensive cooling, with Intel and AMD offering ‘stock’ coolers in the box, the current upcoming offerings from both companies might need you to go a little heavy-duty this time around.
There’s also the fact that sometimes, these top-end CPUs don’t even come bundled with a cooler anymore, meaning you’d have to go with one of the options below. We think this is because bog-standard coolers just wouldn’t be able to do the job right.
Here are the best CPU coolers to get in 2022, and most likely, going into 2023.
Best overall CPU Cooler: Be Quiet! Silent Loop 2
The Be Quiet range of coolers is a phenomenal option to go with. Yes, the products actually do live up to the name as well. While there are certainly more expensive options that have a whole range of different features, sometimes the most subdued options are the best.
Featuring a slick, understated look and plenty of size options, the Silent Loop 2 from Be Quiet offers up tremendous performance for those serious about their PC’s health.
Going all the way up to 360mm, the Silent Loop 2 is an AIO, All-in-On
Now, yes, liquid in your machine sounds terrifying but is actually just a water mixture contained within the heatsink itself. You can’t accidentally open it either.
The addition of a liquid cooler means it can do things that your regular air cooler can’t. Instead of just relying on the airflow inside, the liquid is passed around the various tubes and inner workings to move the heat away, before circling back again to repeat the process.
The price and performance on offer, with the delightful absence of RGB, make it our top pick of 2022 – so far.
Best budget CPU cooler: Deepcool, Noctua, and Cooler Master
Going the budget route isn’t always the best choice in a lot of PC-building scenarios. If, for instance, you’ve gone super budget with your build – maybe building a retro gaming machine or something similar – you’d want to go with something under the usual gaming rig cost.
For these PCs, we’d recommend going with something that’s air-based, rather than liquid.
CPU coolers like the Deepcool Assassin III, or the Noctua NH-L9i low profile cooler, would probably be the best options. You want simplicity, but you also want something from a brand you know that’s reliable.
We’d also recommend Cooler Master’s Hyper 212 Evo V2, which provides excellent air cooling even at the low price it clocks in at.
If you’ve got yourself a decent system, we’d probably just recommend you look elsewhere out of the budget range. Cheaping out here, when you’ve just fitted in a 7950X or the upcoming Raptor Lake high-end chips, could lead to bigger problems down the line.
- Get the Deepcool Assassin III on Amazon
- Noctua NH-L9i from Amazon
- Grab the Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo V2
Best premium CPU cooler: NZXT Kraken Z73
NZXT’s Kraken Z73 is one of those fancy coolers that comes with its own LCD screen to display things like the temperature or show a funny GIF.
What it does do though, is provide one of the best in the business when it comes to cooling. There’s a reason for its high price, as it provides you with up to 360mm across three large fans, as well as an excellent all-in-one cooling device. The liquid cooling, combined with the large rack holding the fans will be more than enough to keep your gaming PC chill through those intense sessions.
Asus ROG Ryujin II
If you’re more in the market for an alternative, you might also want to look at the Asus ROG Ryujin II 360. This cooler provides a similar service to the Kraken, but comes with a 3.5 LCD screen, on top of the ultra-wide mount that holds up to three fans.
While the prices are bumped up a little more than usual due to the LCD screens embedded on each, if you’re serious about your PC build staying cool, it might be one of the easiest ways to keep tabs on it.
Do you need a CPU cooler?
Yes, even on the most basic of systems. For Raspberry Pis, for instance, a small CPU cooling fan can make the world of difference on an embedded project. Meanwhile, on those massive gaming rigs we all dream about, it can mean avoiding getting throttled by the heat being generated, as your parts try to save themselves from a potential fire.
What is AIO cooling?
AIO literally stands for All-in-One cooling and is often the combination of air and liquid cooling in one device. The fans push the hot air out, while the liquid moves the heat away from the CPU.
What is liquid cooling?
Liquid cooling is plain as it sounds, with the liquid used to dissipate heat as it circles around.
Those just looking for the simplest option aren’t those massive pipes running water around the system anymore. While those still exist, they’re mainly for show and do the exact same thing as the consumer-level ones.
Now, the liquid is contained within the heatsink area above the CPU, which is then pushed around the pipes, driving the heat away.
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