How to Pick a CPU Cooler

Expert Contributor

Rose Annemarie

Are you sick of constantly having to send your PC into maintenance? Are you forced to shut down your background application and close browser tabs due to fears of high CPU temperatures? Then you may be interested in purchasing one of many coolers on the market.

When it comes to upgrading your PC and ensuring that your internal components are working as well as they can, a CPU cooler may be just the thing you need. Most people may consider choosing a new graphics card or processor, but perhaps a CPU cooler may be a better choice for your system. This is especially true if your CPU has a constant overheating problem or you are just wanting to ensure the best CPU performance you can get.

Whether that’s a host of air coolers or a single liquid CPU cooler, finding the right CPU cooler for you can make a world of a difference. With such air coolers on the market as the Hyper 212, it can be hard to find the right one for you, which is why we have come up with this coolers article to help you make sure you are making the most informed decision. Read on to discover why adding a CPU cooler to your PC can rapidly improve your system performance and keep your components lasting a very long time!

Picking a CPU Cooler FAQS

How do I choose a CPU cooler?

Trying to deduce what cooler, whether that is an air cooler or a liquid cooler, will suit your needs can be a fairly tricky process. There a multitude of models on the market, some only compatible with a few motherboards others built specifically with Intel in mind. This can make choosing the right coolers for you fairly tricky. Below are just a few things you should consider when it comes to coolers regardless of whether your are wanting a budget system or a high end pc.

Cooler Type

The type of cooler is also something that should be considered. There are two main forms of cooler available on the market, Liquid cooling system and air cooling units that use fans.

Air cooling systems utilize different sized fans to make sure your CPU heat output is as low as they can be when under full load. Air cooling units have been around for as long as desktop builds have existed, so you can be certain that they are both tried and tested. CPU fans tend to be extremely effective at keeping the CPU temperature low, but they do have one main caveat. Air coolers, especially when the fans are running at top speeds, can tend to have fairly high noise levels. A fans noise can be reduced by limiting the fan speed that they run at, but this will reduce its overall heat cooling prowess and run the risk of your CPU reaching high temperatures. This is also fairly dependant on fan sizes, but we will cover that in the size section below. There are however air coolers on available today that almost completely negate fan noise, so keep your eyes peeled such a model.

If the idea of your aftermarket air cooler being fairly loud when running at high fan speeds might frustrate you then you may want to choose a liquid cooler. These work by passing liquid throughout heat pipes, to a built in cooling radiator that will cool the heated liquid that surrounds the CPU. This will rapidly lower any high CPU temperatures and keep the performance of your processor high. Liquid coolers are rapidly becoming one of the most popular heat coolant options, however they do have some drawbacks. Due to their employment of a radiator alongside a collection of heat pipes, liquid coolers tend to take up a large section of space within your PC case. They also tend to cost a lot more than air coolers, thus they aren’t commonly chosen as a budget choice. But if your sole reason for purchasing a cooler is for the best heat control, then a liquid cooler may be the option for you.

Another thing just to be wary of is what CPU socket types are available on your motherboard. Some coolers will have a specific CPU socket type that they aren’t compatible with. Check both your motherboard and manufacturers website to find out what works best for you and your cheap processor for gaming. This is especially true when it comes to AMD and Intel CPUs as you may find a coolers socket choice isn’t compatible with the other.


When it comes to choosing which CPU cooler is best for your machine there are a few things you always need to consider. One of the very first things you will need to consider is the physical dimensions of your desktop itself. This is especially important when it comes to high profile fans and liquid coolers.

A large number of fan CPU coolers come with an additional brackets that are used to mount the cooler above the CPU itself. These coolers tend to involve a cooling tower, which as you can guess, increases the height of the CPU cooler substantially. If you have a thin system or a small factor midi build, you may struggle to correctly install this cooling system inside the case itself. Although these cooling towers can provide the best cooling performance, if you don’t have the space for them, then you may not be able to install on insure your computer. The height of a heatsink is also something to consider as taller air coolers may block any memory slots or ram modules.

A larger PC also means that the air flow of the system will be much larger, reducing any potential clearance issues and keeping your processor as cool as it can be. Heat clearance is an essential part to most air coolers, so reducing any potential obstructions can keep your components cool and ensure your hardware provides the smoothest gamer experience.

This is also the case with liquid designs as they tend to take up the most room inside a computer case. Due to their utilization of heat pipes spread throughout the case to disperse any built up heat from the CPU, they tend to be fairly large. How much room it takes up is also dependant on the radiator size of the chosen cooler, a larger radiator may mean faster cooling for you processor, but will also hog up a lot of precise space. A large radiator size can also cause potential clearance issues and obstruct a memory slot on your motherboard.

CPU coolers that feature heat sinks also take up quite a large amount of physical room inside your gaming PC case, so once again always ensure you know your case compatibility before purchasing a larger CPU cooler. You also have to consider how much overlapping there will be for your chosen budget CPU coolers, as not only is a case’s dimensions a limiting factor but you don’t want to cover up any potential RAM slots.


Although this is not an incredibly large consideration, some PC users do tend to want a good looking CPU cooler that they can flaunt. This is especially true for panels that are translucent as RGB fans can go a long way in creating your own unique aesthetic. A lot of modern air cooler systems will utilize RGB LED fans to add an extra feature to the product. This is also true amongst a lot of modern liquid cooling systems, you just have to check out the Cooler Master MasterLiquid range to see how stylish CPU coolers can be.

If style is on your agenda, then make sure to look around throughout the world of liquid and air coolers to find the best products that will compliment your build.

Brand and Warranty

An often overlooked rule when it comes to deciding the top heat coolant technology for your computer is how reliable your new component is and whether or not it is covered by some form of warranty. Most electronical goods these days tends to offer a selection of warranty plans to maximize their efficiency and prevent constant maintenance. As a result you will find a majority of companies will compete for the best warranty plan to cover any component you may have purchased. Factors such as the materials used in the coolant radiator and how durable the design of the product is can separate a great manufacturer from an average company.

Finding the best models and what part of the system is covered by the warranty, such as the fans or the heat clearance tower, can reduce the long term cost for PC builders. If you are ever unsure of what warranty you are covered by, then always check out the brands website for more information, a products specifications and other related content!

Does it matter what CPU cooler I get?

This depends entirely on what you expect to get from your CPU cooler and what your selected budget is. There are a whole host of different cooling models available to ensure your processor functions as well as it can, but they all have a mix of both positives and negatives. Air coolers are the most common as they fit within most cases and are one of the most popular choices for heat dissipation throughout any cooling methods. A large amount of stock coolers tend to be low profile air coolers, but it is probably a good idea to purchase an aftermarket cooler to ensure you get the highest thermal design power. Air coolers also tend to be much easier to install than liquid cooling methods due to their simple screw-in installation and only taking up a single PWM power connector.

If you are willing to pay a slightly higher price, for perhaps a more efficient cooling method, then a liquid cooling set up could be the best option for you. A large amount of computer builders will opt for a liquid cooling component if they plan on overclocking their processor. High end set-ups will usually feature a liquid cooler, but this is not always necessary. A CPU fan can be just as effective as long as you upgrade from a stock cooler as they tend to lack premium features. Expect this style to take up more surface area from inside your case however.

The bottom line is that there isn’t too much of a comparison between the effectiveness of the different cooling options as long as you find the one that suits your PC. A tech enthusiast may swear by liquid CPU coolers for cooling a CPU but if you are planning on using your CPU on it’s stock settings, then an air cooler will be more than apt.

Do you need to buy a CPU cooler?

Whether or not you need a cooler for CPU depends entirely on what you plan on using your computer for. If you are a tech enthusiast planning on overclocking your processor for maximum performance, then most stock coolers just wont cut it. A heat sink or heat spreader will only go so far as keeping your CPU cool when it comes to every day use. If your PC is being constantly used, especially under heavy workload then you should perhaps consider rifling through the many coolers that are available today.

If your are planning on installing a high end best CPU into your PC then you should also consider pairing it up with an effective aftermarket air cooler to make sure the heat of your CPU block never gets too high. This is especially true when it comes to overclocking your processor. Due to the increased energy output and pushing your CPU to the limit, the heat inside your computer tends to rapidly increase thus putting your PC at risk of overheating. AMD processors tend to get a little hotter than Intel processors so an all in one cooler might help you increase the life span of your computer components.

Final Thoughts

Computer hardware has never been as powerful as it is today, but larger power means a higher heat so choosing a cooler for your system is an incredibly important part of any gamer build. A components lifespan can fluctuate incredibly depending on both he manufacturers build quality and the overall temperature of such hardware. If you have just bought the latest CPU and GPU combo then you will agree with us that overheating is a constant worry.

Whatever the reason may be, we fully recommend purchasing yourself a CPU cooler as we are certain that you will instantly see the their effectiveness!

About This Expert

Rose Annemarie
Full-time writer. Blogger. Dedicated wife. Mother of 3 amazing kids. I love learning about everything from the latest tech gadgets, innovative new home designs and can be found regularly reading up on parenting tips. There is always room to grow!