When it comes to your computer, one of the most important components is your CPU as it functions as the brain of your entire gaming PC. With CPUs becoming increasingly more powerful each generation, this improved performance comes with one major downside, and that downside is heat.
CPUs run hot, like really hot. With CPU temperatures left unchecked, they will start to greatly impact the performance of your computer and run the risk of permanent hardware damage. Thankfully, CPU coolers are there to help keep temperatures under control and keep everything purring along nicely, but the question is, what type of CPU cooler do you go for?
Well let;s take a bit of a look at what kinds of CPU cooling are available and some things to consider when making the decision on which cooler to go for.
Air Cooling or Water Cooling
When it comes to CPU coolers there are 2 popular options available to you, and that is air cooling and water cooling.
Air coolers are the traditional method of cooling your CPU. Quality air coolers are some of the best performing cooling options available today and offer great thermal performance.
One of the common draws to air cooling amongst gamers is that air cooling is often more affordable than water cooling options that are available. This is a good option for someone that is on a limited budget and they want an adequate cooler but don’t need the best performance possible.
There are a couple of downsides when it comes to air coolers however. There are countless options available to you when it comes to picking an air cooler, which means that it can be hard to find a cooler that is capable of cooling your CPU. All air coolers are not the same and they differ greatly in quality and performance.
If you do choose to go with an air cooler it is important to know that they can be quite large. This means that you may not have enough space available in your case to accommodate the cooler that you want to use. Lastly, the fact that they use fans to cool the CPU you will find that they can introduce a bit of noise into the case which may or may not bother you.
One of the most popular CPU cooler types is that of water cooling. Water cooling has grown in popularity in recent years thanks to the ease of use for all-in-one, also known as AIO, water coolers.
AIO water coolers offer some of the best CPU cooling available CPU cooling all while providing incredibly low noise levels.
AIO water cooling options are often more expensive than air coolers but they are worth the extra cost if your budget allows it. An AIO water cooler provides you with a much lower profile CPU cooler that provides you with better clearance in your computer case, allowing for airflow to pass through nicely. This is perfect for those that want to build a smaller form factor gaming PC.
AIO water coolers make use of a radiator and pump to pass water around the cooling loop and across your CPU to keep temps low. This system looks sleek in modern gaming PC’s with a glass side panel and the sound is kept at a minimum.
One of the best performing AIO coolers available is the Celsius+ S36 Prisma from Fractal Design. The Celsius+ S36 Prisma gives you a 360mm radiator with 3x 120mm fans that are able to cool even the most powerful 13th Gen Intel and AMD AM5 Ryzen CPUs.
This cooler offers stunning RGB lighting options that allow you to truly customise the look and style of your gaming PC and the included PWM fan hub with ARGB support puts you in complete control.
The Celsius+ S36 Prisma AIO cooler is fully compatible with LGA 1700 and AM5 CPUs.
Double check your CPU coolers clearance
When it comes to choosing your CPU cooler you need to check the clearance in your computer case. This is especially important for those that want to use air cooling for their CPU.
Due to the design of Air Coolers needing large heatsinks and fans, this often means that your cooler is going to be very tall. It is not uncommon for some CPU coolers to be too large for your computer case, in particular the height of the cooler.
Take the time to check the dimensions of the CPU cooler before you purchase it and compare that to the dimensions of your computer case.
There is nothing worse than installing your new cooler just to find that you can’t close the side panel on the case because the cooler is in the way.
You also want to double check the clearance that you need for your RAM. With RGB RAM becoming popular in recent years, it means that memory modules are often taller than they used to be in order to allow for the RGB lighting. Double check that your CPU cooler is not obstructing the height of memory.
Choosing to go for water cooling? Make sure your case is designed to suit
For those of you out there that are thinking of going the route of water cooling, you must ensure that your proposed AIO cooler can actually be installed in your case.
Although the heatsink of AIO water coolers are very low profile, it doesn’t mean that you don’t need to double check sizes. The radiators used for water cooling, although they are quite slim, can be quite long.
These radiators need to be mounted inside of your computer case, most commonly at the front of the case, but can be installed at the top and bottom as well. Whichever mounting location you choose, you need to make sure that your computer case will support the radiator.
The great thing about AIO coolers is that there are a number of configuration options. Plan your cooling configuration before you purchase the cooler. Determine whether you want a 240mm, 280mm or 360mm radiator.
Do you want to mount your radiator at the top of the case or the front of the case?
These are the things you need to decide on in order to limit any installation or compatibility issues.