Whether you’re after higher sustained clock speeds with your shiny Core i9-13900K, or you just a system that remains quiet under load, there are a few key things to consider when choosing the best AIO (all-in-one) cooler for your new build or an upgrade. AIO coolers are far more convenient and affordable than custom liquid cooling loops, and they can generally deliver lower CPU temperatures with less fan noise than air coolers–although that’s not always the case.
You’ll need to make sure there’s room to install an AIO cooler in your case as well, preferably in the top or rear, exhausting your CPU heat out of the case. AIO coolers typically come in three sizes, defined by the dimensions of the radiator and the fans the radiator is designed to fit: 120 (one 120mm fan), 240 (two 120mm fans), or 360mm (three 120mm fans). There are some 140 and 280mm AIO coolers as well, but they are far less common. As you might suspect, the larger the radiator, generally, the greater the cooling potential, although things like radiator thickness, materials, and fan and pump performance factor into cooling capability as well.
If you aren’t running a flagship CPU with lots of cores and 5-6 GHz speeds and you don’t plan on overclocking, a 120mm AIO, which you can usually mount in the rear exhaust fan area of your PC case, should suffice. That said, Intel’s 12th and 13th Gen CPUs are generally more demanding on coolers. And AMD’s Ryzen 7000, while less thermally demanding than Intel’s chips, isn’t exactly easy to cool either. So if you want better temperatures and slower-spinning fans, a good 240mm AIO cooler is a better choice, but won’t fit in as many cases. Generally, a 360mm AIO is your best bet for high-end, overclocked CPUs, to make sure your processor stays reasonably cool while running above its specced speed. But of course, those larger coolers fit in even fewer cases. Be sure to check your system or PC case manual to make sure your AIO cooler of choice will fit before buying.
If money isn’t a major concern and silent operation and low temperatures are important to you, you may want to consider a custom cooling loop. For more on how these tend to perform (and how good they look), check out our Blue Shift build feature. Just know that custom loops are always much more expensive than all other typical cooling alternatives, exponentially more complicated to assemble and install, and they can make future component upgrades much more complicated–especially if you add your GPU into the cooling loop.
Also, don’t forget to consider thermal paste or another thermal interface material (TIM) to use with your AIO cooler. Most coolers will come with some kind of paste, either in a small syringe or pre-applied to the metal cold plate. But to make sure you’re getting the most efficient thermal transfer between your CPU and cooler plate, check out the many products we thoroughly tested to find the best thermal paste for your CPU.
11/3/2022 update: We’ve tested some interesting cooling products in recent weeks, including Thermalright’s Contact Frame, designed to correct and protect against the established issue of CPU bending on LGA1700 platforms, and Arctic’s solidly performing and reasonably priced Liquid Freezer II 240 AIO. But at the moment we have hunkered down testing coolers with Intel’s latest flagship, the Core i9-13900K. So stay tuned for a slew of new reviews as we find out what coolers are best for Raptor Lake.
Best AIO Coolers You Can Buy Today
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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, system 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.
If you want to squeeze the best sustained performance possible out of your new Core i9-13900K CPU, DeepCool’s LT720 AIO is the best we’ve tested yet using Intel’s latest flagship CPU. The 360mm AIO managing to keep our CPU running at an impressive 315 Watts during our Cinebench tests.
It also has a unique infinity mirror CPU cover, and will stay out of the way of your RAM. The main downside? This cooler can get a bit loud when running at full speed. But if you bought a Core i9 and are running it full-bore with the power limits removed, a bit of extra fan noise probably isn’t your biggest concern. The price of the LT720 is also quite nice, with multiple outlets selling it for around $130 and some as low as $120. If you need lots of cooling for your overclocked flagship CPU and you don’t want to spend several hundred dollars on custom cooling, this is the best option we’ve tested with Raptor Lake.
The Alphacool Eisbaer Pro Aurora 360 features a full-cover CPU block sizable enough to fully cover Threadripper’s ample surface area, although it supports mainstream sockets like AM4 as well. There’s also a powerful, fast-flowing pump with built-in reservoir and an all-copper radiator, allowing the Eisbaer Pro Aurora 360 to morph into a custom cooling loop, one piece at a time.
Priced around $217, it’s more costly than some other solutions, but does provide hands-down the absolute best cooling potential. And power users building high-end AMD Threadripper or Intel HEDT desktop workstation or gaming systems will have higher budgets, with a different focus than those looking for a more frugal desktop gaming or mainstream PC build.
Considering the cost associated with most of the CPUs and motherboards alone supported by the Eisbaer Pro Aurora, system builders in this realm of performance usually draw from a unique set of criteria, which a frequent aim for ‘the best at any price.’ And that, quite simply, is what the Alphacool Eisbaer Pro Aurora 360 exemplifies. Whether you intend to run it as is, or expand into a custom cooling loop, you won’t be let down by this versatile piece of cooling kit.
MSI’s MEG CoreLiquid S360 delivers top-notch cooling performance, quiet(er) cooling fans and an excellent implementation of a simple-to-use MSI Center UI and a brilliant display above your CPU to deliver system performance stats, or even your favorite photo or animated GIF. At $280, it’s definitely a premium cooler, but MSI backs up that price with some real performance clout.
For those without concern for the high price, looking for excellent cooling and endless customization options via the display, the MSI MEG CoreLiquid S36 is worthy of serious consideration. Its toughest competition may come from Corsair’s H150i Elite, although we haven’t had a chance to test that cooler yet.
While our thermal measurements indicate that it’s integrated voltage regulator fan is little more than a gimmick, great CPU temperatures at ultra-low noise levels prove the Liquid Freezer II 280 far-more-valuable than its far-costlier rivals.
The Corsair H100i RGB PRO XT takes over where the H100i Pro left off by providing enthusiast levels of thermal load management from a 240mm AIO and making use of Corsair’s iCUE software suite for RGB lighting control, fan curve configuration and pump performance settings. Paring the capability of the cooler with a set of user-friendly software tools provides a great deal of value for system builders of any technical proficiency, in real time.
Best 240mm Closed-Loop Liquid Cooler Alternate:
Deepcool Gamer Storm Captain 240 Pro
The Gamer Storm Captain 240 Pro makes up for in low noise what it lacks in cooling power compared to Corsair’s H100i Pro, to the point that the Captain 240 Pro has a significantly better cooling-to-noise ratio. We favor it for anyone who needs virtual silence at 50% fan speed, where most users in most environments won’t hear it. Even those able to push a CPU hard enough to require 100% fan speed will find its hushed murmur less than half as noisy as the H100i Pro.
With Alder Lake’s increased cooling demands, many coolers that performed well on older platforms literally take the extra heat. But in our testing with Intel’s Core i9-12900K, DeepCool’s LS520 delivered incredible cooling performance for its compact package. It handled our Alder Lake CPU without power limits in most situations. While it lacks software for its RGB lighting and fans, at just $109 its value is currently unbeatable.
Read: DeepCool LS520 review
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 processor 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: NZXT Kraken M22 review
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.
Alphacool’s Eisbaer is a factory-filled hybrid design, featuring a closed-loop-style pump and CPU cold plate with open-loop style fittings that including an anti-leak, in-line quick connector. Alphacool offers wide range of factory-filled companion parts, from additional radiators to GPU blocks, to suite nearly any expansion need. It’s perfect for buyers who lack the time to assemble, purge, and leak test their own scratch-built component systems, as well as those who have more cash than self-confidence.
Other AIO Coolers We Tested:
We test dozens of PC coolers a year and while many AIOs offer pretty lights and slick software and some bring quiet fans or solid cooling performance, not all the coolers we test can make the best list. Below are some of the recent AIO coolers we’ve tested that didn’t quite make the cut. It’s possible that one of these may still be a worthwhile option for you, just know that the better options for most people are in the list of Best AIO Coolers above.
9/19/2022: Cooler Master MasterLiquid PL240 Flux
Cooler Master’s 240mm PL240 Flux may have been released before the launch of Alder Lake, but it managed to tame the Core i9-12900K at up to 200W, while running quietly compared to other coolers. It couldn’t quite handle the 12900K when power limits are removed, but many coolers can’t.
The primary downside of this cooler is the price. It’s much more expensive than similar competing coolers, some of which perform better. But its thin radiator makes Cooler Master’s PL240 Flux ideal for small cases, so long as there is mounting space for the radiator and two 120mm fans.
9/10/2022: Corsair H100i Elite
Corsair’s 240mm H100i Elite stands out for its extremely silent performance and its robust software controls (via iCue). It handled our Core i9-12900K at up to 200W in our testing, but was one of the many coolers that couldn’t keep up with the CPU when power limits were removed. It’s not the strongest in terms of cooling capabilities and is best paired with a mid-range CPU if you’re going to attempt overclocking. Also, its fan speeds are tied to coolant temp by default, rather than CPU temperature, which seems odd.
Saving on the Best CPU Coolers
Whether you’re shopping for one of the products that made our best CPU coolers list or one that didn’t, you may find some savings by checking out our list of Newegg promo codes or Corsair coupon codes.
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