Best CPU Coolers 2019: Air and Liquid

Best Closed-Loop Liquid CPU Coolers

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Best Liquid CPU Coolers

CoolerMaster MasterLiquid ML360R RGBCoolerMaster MasterLiquid ML360R RGB

1. CoolerMaster MasterLiquid ML360R RGB

Best 360mm Closed-Loop Liquid Cooler

Rating: 4.5/5 (Editor's Choice)

Thickness: 1.1” (2.3" w/fans) | Width: 4.8" (120.7mm) | Depth: 15.5" (393.7mm) | Fans: (3) 120 x 25mm | Socket Support: Intel 2066, 2011x, 1366, 115x, 775, AMD AM2(+), AM3(+) AM4, FM1, FM2(+) | Warranty: 2 years

Pros: Excellent cooling ability • Sleek design and aesthetics • Lower price than other 360 AIOs

Cons: Cable / controller management could be better

When it comes to keeping overclocked CPU load temperatures in check, Cooler Master’s MasterLiquid ML360R RGB is the new chilling champ. As the 360 variant of our previously reviewed MasterLiquid ML240R RGB, the newly available MasterLiquid ML360R adds 33 percent more radiator surface area for even more cooling prowess. The result? It cools even better than the mighty NZXT Kraken X72.

Power users, gamers, PC builders and overclockers in the market for a new, large CPU cooler should take note. The Cooler Master ML360R RGB is our current 360 AIO thermal performance leader. And while $160 isn’t exactly cheap, there are plenty of competing products that cost more while delivering less-impressive performance.

Read Review: CoolerMaster MasterLiquid ML360R RGB

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EVGA CLC 280EVGA CLC 280

2. EVGA CLC 280

Best 280mm Closed-Loop Liquid Cooler

Rating: 4/5

Thickness: 1.1" (2.2" w/fans) | Width: 5.5" (138mm) | Depth: 12.25" (312mm) | Fans: (2) 140 x 25mm | Socket Support: Intel 115x, 1366, 2011x/2066, AMD AM4, 4-bolt Legacy | Warranty: 5 years

Pros:  Excellent CPU cooling performance • Exceptional voltage-regulator cooling performance (when top-mounted) • PWM fans can be controlled by motherboard or onboard controller

Cons:  Somewhat noisy • Onboard controller adds to price

It's not exactly quiet, but EVGA’s CLC 280 combines tried-and-true cooler technology with high-speed PWM fans (which can be controlled via the motherboard or a controller on the cooler) to produce the ultimate-cooling 2x 140mm system.


Read Review: EVGA CLC 280

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Corsair H100i ProCorsair H100i Pro

3. Corsair H100i Pro

Best 240mm Closed-Loop Liquid Cooler

Rating: 4.5/5 (Editor's Choice)

Thickness: 1.1" (2.15" w/fans) | Width: 4.75" (120.7mm) | Depth: 10.88" (276.4mm) | Fans: (2) 120 x 25mm | Socket Support: Intel 2066, 2011x, 1366, 115x, AMD AM2(+), AM3(+) AM4, FM1, FM2(+), TR4 | Warranty: 5 years

Pros:  Great performance • Desktop UI control and customization • Powerful high-flow fans

Cons:  Might not provide adequate RGB lighting for some • High noise levels at full speed

The addition of the new 240mm H100i to Corsair’s Hydro Pro lineup provides impressive cooling performance, more akin to a larger 360mm model, with the benefit of leaving extra space in your case and spare cash in your pocket. Although the H100i Pro runs a bit light on now-ubiquitous RGB lighting effects, this understated marvel certainly makes up for it where CPU core temperatures are concerned.

By utilizing faster 2,400 RPM fans on the H100i Pro, Corsair delivers system builders the option of a great-performing liquid cooler with manageable noise levels. When paired with a smart fan curve, idle and lighter loads will allow for quiet operation. When your CPU cores roll up their sleeves and get to work, the powerful fans will certainly make their presence known. But our tests show that this cooler can keep your CPU temps cooler under load than some larger, pricier alternatives.

Read Review: Corsair H100i Pro

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NZXT Kraken M22NZXT Kraken M22

4. NZXT Kraken M22

Best 120mm Closed-Loop Liquid Cooler

Rating: 4/5

Thickness: 1.1" (2.25" w/fans) | Width: 4.75" (120.7mm) | Depth: 6.15" (156.1mm) | Fans: (1) 120 x 25mm | Socket Support: Intel 2066, 2011x, 1366, 115x, AMD AM2(+), AM3(+) AM4, FM1, FM2(+) | Warranty: 6 years

Pros: Great cooling for a compact AIO • Handsome, sleek design • CAM software is attractive & intuitive

Cons: $99.99 price is higher than other 120mm AIO solutions • RGB controls only apply to CPU block face • CAM software sends data to NZXT cloud services

The NZXT Kraken M22 is an incredibly compact, high-performance liquid cooler that delivers sleek styling and vibrant RGB lighting options, while offering support for current AMD and Intel CPU sockets. Specifically, if you're building a small home-theater PC or a compact gaming build, the Kraken M22 offers surprising cooling potential in a condensed cooling package.

Just don't try to strap one to your Threadripper system. The demanding thermals and massive surface of those high-end CPUs aren't supported by this cooler.

Read Review: NZXT Kraken M22

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Enermax Liqtech 360 OC TR4Enermax Liqtech 360 OC TR4

5. Enermax Liqtech 360 OC TR4

Best AMD Threadripper

Rating: 4/5

Thickness: 1.125" (2.25" w/fans) | Width: 4.75" (120.65mm) | Depth: 15.50" (393.7mm) | Fans: (3) 120 x 25mm | Socket Support: AMD TR4, SP3 | Warranty: 2 years

Pros: Excellent cooling performance • Aggressive pricing • Easy installation • Full coverage of Threadripper CPUs

Cons: No software UI for real-time management • No RGB or LED lighting on fans (might be a plus, for some)

In the Liqtech 360 TR4 OC, Enermax has graced the Threadripper world with a cooler that covers these large enthusiast processors in full, providing performance similar to custom liquid cooling with the easy installation and moderate cost of an AIO cooler. Enermax also keeps costs down by avoiding RGB lighting and the relevant software integrations. The lack of lighting might turn away some buyers who prefer millions of colors and a software UI. However, Threadripper fans seeking excellent cooling performance, and who wish to set up some simple fan-cooling curves, will find just that in the Liqtech 360 TR4 OC.

Read Review: Enermax Liqtech 360 OC TR4

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Alphacool Eissturm Hurricane Copper 45Alphacool Eissturm Hurricane Copper 45

6. Alphacool Eissturm Hurricane Copper 45

Best Custom Cooling Kit

Rating: 4.5/5 (Editor's Choice)

Thickness: 1.8” (45mm) | Width: 5.75” (146mm) | Depth: 18.5” (470mm) | Fans: (3) 140 x 25mm | Socket Support: Intel 2066, 2011x, 1366, 115x, 775, AMD AM2(+), AM3(+) AM4, FM1, FM2(+), TR4 | Warranty: 2 years

Pros: Great cooling performance • Professional-grade components • Very good value for a full watercooling kit

Cons:  Pricey compared to AIO alternatives

With an enormous 3x 140mm radiator, this kit allows for enough thermal expansion of the loop to include a graphics card waterblock (or even two), if desired. By using industry standard G1/4 threaded fittings for all components, the cooling loop almost begs you to add more components to the party. A radiator of this size and potential allows for this kind of load because of the quality design and engineering that went into building it. A pump of this pedigree pushes coolant like few others are capable. Quality-milled components and attention to detail are apparent on each and every piece within the kit.

For anyone looking for a complete, high-quality watercooling kit in a single box, this Alphacool Eissturm Hurricane Copper 45 kit is an excellent choice for those with room in their chassis for the monstrous 3x 140mm radiator and large pump/reservoir combo.

Read Review: Alphacool Eissturm Hurricane Copper 45

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14 comments
    Your comment
  • abryant
  • bit_user
    Thanks for including a down-draft cooler. I feel better having direct airflow on the VRM, which tower-style coolers don't provide. RAM temps also typically benefit.

    An interesting test would be to measure the difference that occurs when you reverse the fan direction of such a cooler. So, flip the fan and run it as an updraft cooler. The rationale is that case exhaust fans are often right next to the CPU, in which case they'd be fighting the airflow of a downdraft cooler. However, if you instead run it in the updraft direction, the airflow rate should benefit and more of the hot air should get exhausted.
  • Carsten_3
    I wonder why you link a 5 month old review, instead of reviewing the latest ENERMAX LIQTECH TR4 II serie?
    As the old Enermax LIQTECH TR4 360mm AIO Liquid CPU Cooler got 35% 1 star customer reviews on Amazon.
  • madymadme
    why is swiftech water cooler included here ?
  • fredfinks
    Should be stated that gunk builds up on the insides of liquid coolers. Also theres chance of pump failure & leaks.

    A big dumb block of metal, combined with a top notch fan (i.e. the noctua - guaranteed for 7 years) will function for a LONG time.
    The only thing stopping it being mounting kit obsolescence. (low & behold noctua will send out a mounting kit in future if you ever need it, for free anywhere in world)
    Indefinite lifespan. Eff liquid AIOs. (custom loops go ahead)
  • bit_user
    2103104 said:
    A big dumb block of metal, combined with a top notch fan (i.e. the noctua - guaranteed for 7 years) will function for a LONG time.

    The enemy of air is dust. Of course, this also applies (somewhat) to liquid cooling radiators.

    Bigger, slower fan = less dust buildup.

    I also run a positive-pressure case setup, with removable dust filters behind the intake fans. This has worked remarkably well at keeping the case clean.

    Of course, it also helps not to have pets.
  • medicjambi
    It would be nice to see stats on how much cooling each one provides. As in how many watts of energy it can dissipate or cool, etc. I've not been able to find the cooling capacity on these coolers. I understand the larger the radiator and more fans equal more cooling capacity, but it would be nice to see how much each is able to cool.
  • medicjambi
    I have the Liquid Freezer 240 and I was able to find the stats that it is able to dissipate 300 Watts TDP. Information like that should be listed in a review like this. That's quite the oversite there Tom's Hardware. You guys are slipping.
  • jill.and.molly.bff
    The most important aspect of a cooling system is its heat dissipation capacity, which CPU makers express as Watts TDP. If the cooler's TDP capacity does not at least equal the CPU's, the CPU will overheat under heavy load. Can't even imagine why this important fact is entirely omitted from the article...
  • Chupacabra69
    Err where are the cooling performance comparisons.. is this an opinion or marketing piece?
  • Chupacabra69
    nvm found the reviews... very weird how they chose to make nearly every clickable area in the products go to a page to sell it to you. and devoted very little area to allowing you to get to a review to see how it performed. i really hope they do not continue with this format. tom's is all about the reviews and performance tests, and when a roundup like this comes out, you shouldn't have to hunt around to find the review....
  • stdragon
    328798 said:
    2103104 said:
    A big dumb block of metal, combined with a top notch fan (i.e. the noctua - guaranteed for 7 years) will function for a LONG time.
    The enemy of air is dust. Of course, this also applies (somewhat) to liquid cooling radiators. Bigger, slower fan = less dust buildup. I also run a positive-pressure case setup, with removable dust filters behind the intake fans. This has worked remarkably well at keeping the case clean. Of course, it also helps not to have pets.


    The cooling capacity is based on the combination of surface area to be cooled and the CFM of air that passes through them.

    The reason you don't see filters on rack-mounted servers is because their design is predicated on the assumption they will be racked up in a data-center where the HVAC system has multiple layers of filtration and maintenance is done on routine to replace the filters. Have one at home, and you will be cracking that box open very often!

    As for PC cases, absolutely love the washable filters at both the PSU intake and front side of the case. But IMHO this should be standardized with a tab that makes removing and cleaning them as easy at pulling a lint filter from a cloths dryer. I often have to clean mine every 3-4 months in my office (it's not that bad, but very noticeable how much it collects). My case makes it rather a PITA. :(
  • jpe1701
    There's a review link at the bottom of each coolers little pros and cons section. It's not immediately noticable because they are in black like the rest of the text. I would love it if Toms would put all the data from previous tests on one chart and I think it would benefit the reader. I'm a little OCD I guess though because everytime I read a new cooler review I am compelled to go back and see how the coolers I use stack up or how the current cooler stacks up against popular ones like the nh-u14s and a big chart would be very useful. And one other point, is this list just the best of the coolers that Toms reviewed this year or overall? Just asking because I have the EVGA CLC 280 so I know that review was last year but it's on the list. Phenomenal cooler and I actually bought it from the recommendation on here.
  • jd31068
    The link for Amazon for the "be quiet! Dark Rock 4"


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