How To Choose CPU Cooler | 17 Factors to Consider

how to choose cpu cooler
how to choose cpu cooler

Particularly under repeated loads, the cooler can be a significant bottleneck in your overclocking ability. Your option of more excellent will also have a significant impact on noise production. Buying a cooler that can withstand your most robust CPU’s thermal output/heat is essential for eliminating throttling and maximising the processor’s maximum potential while maintaining the system quiet.

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How To Choose CPU Cooler | 17 Factors to Consider

We’ll go into how to pick a CPU cooler that fits with your processor and your needs in this guide. When choosing a cooler for your machine, we’ve broken it down into different aspects to remember.

1. How Much You Can Pay

The first thing you can think about is your spending. In particular, air coolers are less costly than AIOs, starting at about $25 (£19), but even the most expensive air coolers (approximately $100 or £78) will be less expensive than many equivalent AIOs. In short, an air cooler can typically have more cooling performance per dollar spent. 

AIO coolers are more expensive than air coolers, starting at around £45 and going up to well over $150 based on the model, size, and specifications. The bigger the radiator, the more RGB leading fans and lamps, the more expensive it would be. AIO coolers usually fit well in RGB LED environments, with fans that help their own brand’s ecosystem/software and software from other board manufacturers. 

Ultimately, creating a unique liquid loop would be the most expensive choice. The net cost would be considerably higher than a closed-loop package due to the heater, compressor, tubing, fittings, and CPU block. This added cost gets you improved results and the ability to fully configure the rig with various coolant or tube colours and apply cooling to other parts, such as the graphics card, depending on the design.

2. Your Specific Use Case

If you go with air, an AIO, or a custom water loop, make sure it isn’t too big. The CPU port and any possible chassis limits for items like the more extraordinary height of radiator capacity are both factors to consider. The majority of air coolers and closed-loop coolers back all AMD and Intel processors and sockets. The most common models typically support the Intel 1200, 115x, 2066, and 2011-v3 sockets. On the AMD hand, AM2/AM2+, AM3, AM3+, and AM4 are often supported. 

These devices usually come with mounting hardware for multiple sockets, allowing them to work with a wide variety of sockets. Threadripper processors use their mounting and cold plate areas to help cool the acreage on the integrated heat spreader. Still, assistance is limited to coolers made explicitly for them, which also have the socket (TR4) name in the product.

It’s crucial to check the specs to see what should use size heat sink or radiator. Heat sink manufacturers will often list the specifications of their coolers, and chassis manufacturers will typically list the highest cooler height permitted. Another factor to remember for air coolers is the amount of space available under the cooler for RAM slots. If you’re going to use DIMMs for tall heat spreaders, keep this in mind. 

When using top-mounted radiators, keep in mind that the overall height of the radiator, as well as the fans you choose, can conflict with the motherboard’s top and its 8-pin power connector. Even if you have enough room, you’ll want to double-check that the power connector is connected before mounting your radiator and fans.

3. Socket Compatibility

The first thing you can do is figure out what kind of motherboard you have. 775, AM2, and the recent, up-and-coming 1336 are the most common socket models right now. In addition to selecting a more relaxed, you must ensure that it is consistent with your specific socket form. Currently, most CPU coolers are compatible with a wide range of common socket types, although others only accept one socket type. Aside from the socket style, the motherboard shape will also influence which coolers will or will not match.

If your motherboard’s CPU region is relatively uncluttered, you should be able to fit just about any appropriate CPU cooler on it without difficulty. Which are shown below figure;

Socket compatibility
Socket compatibility

In today’s motherboards, the CPU is surrounded by a large number of heat pipes. That’s shown in the figure;

Socket compatibility
Socket compatibility

So it’s up to you to decide what would fit which is the most likely to fit? Many coolers tend to be very big have fins that are only far enough away from the cooler’s base to clear the heat pipes inside it. Few vendors also have a list of standard compatible motherboards for each of their CPU coolers on their websites, but these are rare and far between and aren’t maintained regularly.

4. Heat Sink Material

A heat sink is a part that helps to transfer heat away from a hot system. It does this by increasing the device’s operating surface area and the volume of low-temperature fluid that flows through it. Natural conduction transports heat from the source to the heat sink in direct heat sink-contact applications. The thermal conductivity of the heat sink material has a direct effect on this process. 

As a result, high thermal conductivity materials like copper and aluminium are often used in heat sink design. In computers, heat sinks are most commonly found in CPUs. The Jetson Nano, for example, has a massive heat sink to help cool the onboard Quad-core ARM A57 CPU and 128-core NVIDIA Maxwell GPU, which both generate a lot of heat and need outstanding cooling to prevent thermal throttling. Sizes can cool most typical chip with stock heat sinks. Some heat sinks are specially built to accommodate the thermal loads of a particular chip or unit.

5. TDP Rating

The TDP rating of a cooler is one of the most critical considerations in deciding whether it is suitable for your machine. The thermal design power (TDP), sometimes called thermal design point, is the maximum heat generated by a computer chip or component (often a CPU, GPU or system on a chip). The cooling system in a computer is designed to dissipate under any workload.

Both the processor and the CPU cooler will have a TDP value when you purchase them. To put it as clearly as possible, if you buy a CPU cooler with a lower TDP rating than your processor, it would not be able to keep your processor cold enough. Of course, if your cooler’s TDP rating is marginally lower than your processor’s TDP rating, it could still do a good job because your processor won’t always produce the whole heat.

 It’s a bright idea to make sure the cooler you purchase has a TDP ranking that’s higher than your processor’s. IT is particularly valid if you want to overclock your computer. Both the processor’s and cooler’s TDP ratings can identify on their spec sheets.

6. CPU Cooler Clearance

In addition to ensuring that your CPU cooler is consistent with your motherboard’s port, you can also ensure that it is compatible in the following areas:

Height:

Specific CPU coolers are too tall to fit within some instances. So, before you buy a CPU cooler, double-check the height of the cooler on the spec sheet, then double-check the spec sheet of the case you’re considering to make sure the cooler can fit inside.

Bulkiness:

Because of their bulk, the majority of high-end air coolers have clearance problems. Their weight will get in the view of the DIMM slots on your motherboard, causing taller memory kits to fail, or they can hang over the top PCIe lane, requiring you to mount your GPU in a lower lane. As a result, it’s a brilliant idea to see if a large air cooler can compete with the other components.

Radiator Size:

The radiator size of a liquid cooler, and more precisely, an AIO cooler, is the most crucial deciding factor in clearance. AIO cooler radiators are available in a variety of sizes. Not all cases, though, can handle each radiator scale. Again, scan the spec sheet of the device case you’re considering to ensure it can match the radiator size of the AIO cooler you choose.

7. Aesthetics

When it comes to selecting a CPU cooler, aesthetics are critical. AIO coolers have a low-profile design that some builders favour. Custom liquid cooling setups are popular with other builders because of their outer appearance. Others favour the appearance of a big, heavy high-end air cooler.

If you’re unsure which choice you want, look at any pictures of completed builds and see which type of CPU cooler you think looks the best? And, if anything else in the more relaxed look meets the requirements, go with it.

8. Fan Compatibility

To check out the fan compatibility, you should know that Standard motherboards use a 4-pin fan header for PWM, but if you have case fans that run continuously at 12V, you can use 3-pin fans on them (which is quite common). Fans with Molex power connectors operate at a constant 12V and cannot be adjusted.

9. Fan Bearing

When used to its full extent, active air cooling can be incredibly efficient; in reality, in many cases, case fans are more cost-to-temperature effective than liquid cooling.

The variations in case fan bearings, sleeve vs ball bearings, “fluid” (hydro) dynamic, and magnetic bearings are covered in this section of our ‘The Basics of Case Fans’ guide. Due to their affordability and simplicity, eve bearing fans have been the go-to choice for gaming success. When it comes to buying fans, the bearing category is frequently overlooked. While sleeve bearings are the most cost-effective, spending a few extra bucks (well worth it in this case) will result in a quieter gaming rig with a longer lifespan. Or, at the very least, longer life for your fan.

10. Fan Speed

If you have a stock CPU fan, the recommended CPU fan speed range is 70 per cent RPM or higher. Setting RPM to 100 per cent is the perfect CPU fan speed for gamers whose CPU temperature approaches 70 degrees Celsius. The standard CPU fan speed from 50°C to 55°C should be about 50% of total RPM. Customers who want to see how much a fan spins should look at the RPM of the fan (Rotations per minute of the blades). The primary 1200 mm (48) fan spins at 300/350 RPM, while the Hi-Speed spins at about 380/390 RPM. A ceiling fan should be 7-9 feet off the ground to be effective.

11. Airflow

Air passes into a fan in one direction and out the other. A fan may be used as an intake or exhaust by adjusting the direction in which it is installed. You should also pay attention to where the fans are mounted.

The air should be able to flow freely through the situation. In general, the case fans in front of the case should suck in air while the fans in the back should blast it out. Since hot air rises, if you have vents at the roof, they can be used as exhaust fans. Can do an intake with side-mounted fans, which also do not have air filters. It would help if you customed fabricate your filters to avoid dust problems.

12. Fan Noise

There are many designers out there who focus on making a PC that is as quiet as possible. The CPU cooler and, more importantly, the fans connected with the CPU cooler are among the loudest elements in a device. More giant fans on coolers are usually louder than smaller fans on coolers. The explanation for this is that more giant fans don’t have to rotate as quickly (which means they’ll be quieter) to achieve the same amount of cooling as smaller fans. 

As a result, coolers with 140mm fans are usually louder than coolers with 120mm fans. Since more fans are working to keep the more excellent cold, coolers with several fans will spin at lower speeds.

13. Fan Power Consumption

Case fans are usually rated at 12 Volts and use 1.8 Watts. The Molex connector, commonly used on case fans, is 12 Volts by default (same as your Hard Drive and Optical Drives usually use). I doubt you’ll need to think about the power source because you’re installing 50 fans. With the 500 Watt PSU, you’ll be perfect.

14. Fan Mounting Types to Heat Sink

A fan is often used in conjunction with a heat sink to maintain a comfortable temperature for both the CPU and the heat sink. A “heat sink and fan,” or HSF, is a clever term for this mix. The fan pushes hot air away from the CPU by moving cold air over the heat sink. Each CPU has a built-in thermometer that monitors the processor’s temperature. When the temperature rises too high, the fan or fans near the CPU can speed up to cool the processor and heat sink.

For intake fans on the front or bottom, the open side of the fan should face outside the frame, while for fans on the back or top, it should face inside. The majority of cases are designed with a specific airflow orientation in mind–usually front to back and bottom to top.

15. 3-Pin Fan or a 4-Pin (PWM) Fan

4-Pin (PWM) Fan:

A 4-pin CPU fan header is used on most, if not all, motherboards these days. It allows you to adjust the temperature/speed ratio of the CPU cooler in the BIOS or through the utility applications that most motherboards have. For example, suppose the target CPU temperature is 70 °C. In that case, you might set the BIOS to allow the CPU fan to operate at its lowest speed before the temperature reaches 65 °C, then increase the speed to medium or high as the temperature rises too high.

 You will see the fan revving up and down with his system, so you will need to experiment with the temperature/speed ratios before finding the right combination. Also, the amount of power you have over the fan speed can vary from slight to a lot. The more costly a motherboard is, the more power you have over it. The fan speed will be between 40% and 100% of maximum speed on a solid board. On a less expensive board, you might have the option of slow, medium, or hard!

3-Pin Fans:

Because of the amount of power they have, many people also like 3-pin fans. If you have a 3-pin fan, it means that the fan turns at a steady speed or that you can adjust the speed of the fan (by using a fan controller). Can also use it with a 4-pin fan header. A typical misunderstanding is that you must constantly monitor the temperature and change it at frequent intervals. It isn’t the case. 

However, you must set the fan speed when all of your CPU’s cores are fully loaded. Look for those services on the internet. CPU Burn-in is a typical example of this kind of utility at the moment. If the processor has four cores, run four instances of the software and set the fan speed so that the CPU temperature does not exceed the limit (but is 5 – 10 degrees cooler than the maximum). That way, no matter how much stress your CPU is under, you can be assured that it can handle it. When you’re done, the fan will run at a lower and smoother pace than it does at maximum speed.

16. Cooling Type

Air Cooling:

Heat is transmitted from the CPU’s IHS by the thermal paste and onto a conductive base plate, typically made of copper or aluminium, in an air cooler. The thermal energy is transferred from the baseplate to the connected heat pipes. Heat pipes are used to transport heat from one place to another. The heat is transferred to a heat sink lifted off the motherboard in this situation, freeing up space for other elements like RAM. The energy is sent to the thin metal fins that comprise the heat sink through these pipes in the form of heat.

The efficiency of an air cooler depends on a variety of variables, including the materials used in manufacturing (copper is more conductive than aluminium, for example, but aluminium is less expensive) and the size and number of fans connected to the CPU heat sink. It is why air-based CPU coolers come in a variety of sizes and designs.

Pros
  • Air coolers, on average, have excellent value for money.
  • Air coolers are low-maintenance and last for a more extended period.
Cons
  • Air coolers aren’t typically suitable for setups that need extreme cooling.
  • Some higher-end air coolers can be very bulky and cause clearance issues.

Liquid Cooling:

Much like air coolers, there are several choices, but the majority fall into one of two categories: all-in-one (AIO) coolers or personalised cooling loops. While the basic rules of how liquid cools the CPU are the same in all, we’ll concentrate on All-in-One (AIO) coolers here. The process begins with a baseplate attached to the CPU’s IHS with a sheet of thermal paste related to air cooling. As a result, the heat flow between both two surfaces is improved. 

The water block, which is intended to be filled with coolant, is made up of the metal surface of the baseplate. When it flows through the water block, the coolant receives heat from the baseplate. It then travels through the device and through one of two tubes that lead to a radiator. The radiator allows the liquid to be exposed to air, which makes it cool, and the radiator’s fans then transfer the heat away from the cooler. The coolant is then re-introduced into the water block, and the loop starts all over again.

Pros
  • Custom liquid cooling configurations and high-end liquid coolers can reach higher temperatures than the best air coolers.
  • Liquid coolers have a smaller profile than air coolers, so they don’t interfere with memory, case fans, or other parts near the CPU socket on the motherboard.
Cons
  • The price-to-performance ratio of liquid coolers is smaller than that of air coolers.
  • Liquid coolers are more challenging to maintain and have a higher chance of leakage.

17. Warranty 

The chip’s warranty is invalid whether it’s been “misused” or “changed or run independently of Intel’s publicly available standards, even when clock frequencies or voltages have been altered,” according to the warranty. Different Manufacture Company give the warranty based on their excellent performance.

For example, the majority of Intel® Boxed Processors come with a three-year Intel-backed warranty. The warranty eligibility begins on the date of purchase and is not reset whether or when Intel replaces the device.

Which Cooler is Right for You?

You may like a specific CPU cooler, but looking at your motherboard, it’s not clear whether one would suit, and you’d rather have one that fits the first time, so you don’t have to waste time shipping it back and finding another more possibly cooler.

There are 17 criteria to consider when selecting the best CPU cooler for your needs. Hopefully, the details provided you in determining which choice is best for your scheme.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I figure out which CPU cooler I require?

The height of somebody. Specific CPU coolers are too tall to fit within some instances. So, before you buy a CPU cooler, double-check the height of the cooler on the spec sheet, then double-check the spec sheet of the case you’re considering to make sure the cooler can fit inside.

Do you want a certain number of CPU coolers?

For gaming consoles, we still recommend buying cases with at least three fans (or slots for installing them yourself), except the power supply, CPU, and GPU fans. You don’t want to skimp on cooling, which we say about many things (especially power supplies).

Is it worthwhile to invest in liquid cooling?

If money were no object, liquid cooling would be a no-brainer. Keeping the components’ temperatures down is wise to keep them working smoothly and potentially extend their lives.

Is it true that liquid cooling is preferable to fans?

Liquid cooling, according to Mark Gallina, “more effectively distributes heat over a larger convection surface area (radiator) than convection and conduction, allowing for lower fan speeds (better acoustics) or higher overall power.” To put it another way, it’s more effective and, in some instances, louder.

Is it true that a computer with more fans is better?

More fans = more RGB, which means you’re mistaken. For constructive pressure, I still have at least one more fan blowing in than out. You’d have much more results if you balanced the intake/exhaust with equilibrium or negative pressure rather than removing the intake fans, so you’d get both ventilation AND negative pressure.

Conclusion

You must pay careful attention to your CPU cooler if you want to overclock your PC to its maximum capacity or avoid throttling at stock speeds. If you don’t have big plans for your computer and are using a Ryzen processor, you may be able to save money by using the stock cooler that came with your system. However, before selecting the best solution for your device, make sure you review the space and TDP criteria. I hope that this article has assisted you in selecting the suitable CPU cooler for your PC and ensuring that it runs as quietly and efficiently as possible.

Avatar of Muhammad Nadeem

I am a computer science graduate, and I love to play games. As an offline and online marketplace seller of computer hardware, I have the opportunity to help people make informed decisions about what they can use for their needs.