The Best Liquid CPU Coolers [July 2019]
Everyone who has either owned or operated a computer at some point in their lives is familiar with CPU heat. Whether you’re working with your laptop on your lap and begin to feel that unmissable heat emirate from the bottom of the machine onto your legs, or you’re using a desktop in an already-warm room and feel the temperature rise with every click, computers getting hot is just a fact of life.
This is especially the case for those of us who work with pro-level applications and tasks—such as video editing, music production, or even gaming.
And if you’re constantly pushing your CPU to its limits, the repercussions can be more serious than a warm leg or a slightly heated room. Constant amounts of extreme processing that overheat your CPU to the point that your internal fan can’t help can permanently damage your processor and subsequently your computer.
Indeed, there have been several cases of both the CPU and surrounding circuitry melting away after prolonged periods of insufficient cooling, which can both ruin your work and lead to an expensive replacement board.
It’s for this reason that more and more people are turning to external cooling systems to keep their CPUs nice and happy even during their more extreme tasks. These systems not only prevent dangerous and damaging overheating, they also actually enhance the performance of the processor itself.
And although it may seem a bit counterintuitive, the latest and greatest CPU cooling technology is liquid-based—allowing for more efficient cooling across the board for people who are constantly pushing their processors to their limits.
So if you find yourself constantly fretting about an over-pushed and super-hot CPU, we highly recommend picking up one of these liquid cooling systems before it’s too late.
The most important element of any external CPU cooling system is safety. Not necessarily your safety as a user, but the safety of your processor. After all, what good is protecting a processor that becomes flooded with liquid and ends up crashing your entire system as a result?
That’s why our number-one pick offers a series of safeguards and failsafes that will let you sleep easy at night knowing that your processor is constantly in good hands, even when it’s being pressed to its maximum abilities.
This unit comes loaded with a fully customizable RGB backlit pump that provides vivid lighting effects to match your build, and you’ll be able to focus on your work while it does its work thanks to dual low-noise 140mm ML magnetic levitation fans that deliver incredible airflow and stunningly low noise levels (only around 20db at full-effect).
The software that powers this system is incredibly powerful, and allows you to quickly and easily adjust everything from the lighting to the individual fan speeds and beyond. You’ll even be able to adjust the pump speed in real-time as you monitor the CPU and coolant temperatures.
This unit also comes with a very useful Zero RPM mode, which allows you to stop all fan movement entirely at low temperatures—thus saving you a great deal of power and output.
And although we would never award our coveted number-one spot to a piece of gear based on aesthetics alone, we should point out that this cooling system is especially sleek and stylish, especially when it has its lights on in full force.
Claiming the runner-up spot on our list of super-cool liquid-coolers is this Cooler Master MasterLiquid Lite, which packs a series amount of punch and cooling power into a tiny-yet-mighty package.
Offering exclusive controls that allow you to toy with everything from the colors of the unit itself to its most detailed vent settings, this cooler is ideal for pro-level users who are constantly and consistently pushing their CPU to its limits.
Featuring a 100% in-house design and manufactured with a variety of seals to ensure that you never risk damaging your processor, this system comes loaded with a dual dissipation chamber that delivers sizable performance leaps over previous cooling technologies.
You get an RGB-enabled fan that can be illuminated with the click of a button, along with a super-quiet pumping system that won’t distract you even when it’s doing its most important work.
You’ll be able to illuminate both the fan itself and the air balance system, and your order even comes with a specialized RGB controller that allows you to customize everything from the lighting system to the pump flow.
This extensive, all-in-one cooling system is meant to last. It’s quipped with the most reliable and powerful pump on the market, which enables the maximum amount of water circulation in order to ensure that your valuable CPU stays cool at all times.
You get two 120mm PWM fans that offer a high-volume airflow system for the radiator itself—which provides more efficient cooling at lower noise levels—and the patented pump design keeps itself cool while white LED lights illuminate a see-through glass tube that actually shows the liquid circulation in real time.
This latest generation system also offers a flexible anti-explosion rubber pipe that makes for both easy maintenance and offers supreme durability—a major plus for high-powered users who aren’t looking to replace their tubing any time soon.
And given the extreme power that this system delivers, it’s incredibly easy to setup, and everything you need to get going is right in the box.
We’re the first to admit that these types of CPU coolers aren’t incredibly interesting to look at as a group. Most of them look practically identical, and unless you’re going for something that’s truly flashy, you’re likely to settle for something a bit bland when it comes to aesthetics.
Still, it’s worth looking over each type of unit individually, since there are indeed differences is both mechanics and control parameters that can be important.
This cooling system, for instance, uses specialized technology in order to allow you to manage the performance of the water flow with precise accuracy. You’ll be able to control every element of the pump via either a desktop or mobile app, and there’s an individual liquid temperature monitoring system that ensures you’ll never have to worry about overheating.
This unit also comes stocked with next-generation radiator fans that boast a near-silent operation, and they’re built to stand the test of time regardless of how hard you push them.
You’ll also be able to rest easy at night knowing that you’re dealing with reinforced extended tubing made from fine nylon sleeves that strengthen the rubber and act as a protective layer.
Although not quite as flashy as some of the other cooling systems on our list, this little guy packs a serious punch at an incredibly low price point.
Featuring a copper microfine water block and a smart cooling fan system, this water cooler ensures that your precious processor won’t fall victim to overheating, and it will increase your CPU’s performance across the board by helping to keep it at a consistently low temperature throughout the day (even when you’re not using it for pro-level tasks).
Compatible with virtually all available Intel chips, this cooler is also incredibly easy to install right out of the box, and you’ll be able to read through the brief instructions in order to quickly and easily mount it to your CPU.
The fans on this unit are also fairly quiet, and medical-grade rubber tubing means that you won’t have to scramble to find replacement tubes any time soon.
Taking things up a notch in terms of flashy aesthetics, this cooling system is ideal for gamers who want to show off that fact that they’re constantly pushing their CPU to its limits.
With support for every kind of modern chipset, this system utilizes no less than twelve separately-controlled RGB LEDs for unrivaled lighting control, and you’ll be able to use the included RGB software in order to change everything from the light modes to their colors, brightness, and beyond.
You get a 240mm High Efficiency radiator with push/pull monitoring support, along with an exclusive RGB LED water block that won’t interfere with the rest of the system when in use.
And much like the upHere unit at our number-five spot, this device is incredibly easy to install straight out of the box.
Not to be outdone or forgotten in any type of tech subcategory, ASUS has partnered up with some of the leading tube manufacturers in order to bring you this intrepid system, which features a 1.77” full-color OLED panel for real-time system stats and personalized logos.
You get an addressable RGB lighting system that features a nearly endless spectrum of colors with the ability to synchronize effects across an ever-expanding ecosystem of Aura Sync enabled products, and you’ll be able to control every element of the water flow and fan speed thanks to a specialized app.
This device also boasts the latest fan technology that offers optimal airflow and static pressure in order to improve your overall radiator performance, and the aluminum pump cover is fully reinforced for added security and peace of mind.