Stay frosty with our pick of the best air coolers on the market

Best CPU Air coolers

29 Dec 2021

Keep your chip cool and quiet with one of PC Gamer’s recommended air coolers.

By Chris Szewczyk

These days all-in-one liquid coolers seem to get all the attention. I get it, they look awesome and really add some personality to your rig. But let’s say you don’t have the budget for a liquid cooling solution but still need to cool your CPU. Here’s where the best CPU air coolers come in. Even the most expensive air cooler is nowhere near the cost of an AIO liquid cooler, and they offer simplicity and reliability.

Following the bigger is better mantra is a good start towards finding your ideal air cooler, but you need to make sure it fits in your case. Noctua’s NH-D15 is a mighty beast, to say the least. There’s also some leeway on style here. While maybe not as flashy as some liquid coolers, some air coolers do come with RGB lighting to add some pizzazz to your rig.

Update - 2022.10.15

1

DEEPCOOL AS500 Plus Review

DEEPCOOL AS500 Plus Review

A fantastic all-round cooler

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DEEPCOOL AS500 Plus CPU Air Cooler, Universal RAM Height Compatibility, Two 140mm...

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Last update was on: 2021-12-29 6:19 am

The Deepcool AS500 received worthy attention when it was released, but the AS500 Plus with its additional fan elevates it to the point where it can compete with any single tower cooler on the market. At the same time, it undercuts competitors in price. Even if you spent double the money on a premium single tower cooler, your cooling performance won’t be a lot better.

Its cooling ability belies its compact dimensions. Only more expensive dual tower coolers beat it, but not by a lot. Its dual fan design no doubt helps, though it’s also quiet. Cooling and low noise levels are welcome, then add to that great build quality and subtle ARGB good looks and there’s nothing to complain about. It even comes with its own ARGB controller, and there’s a white version too if you like. The Deepcool AS500 Plus punches above its weight. Short of stressing it with an overclocked high-end processor, the AS500 Plus ticks all the boxes.

Positive
  • Great value
  • Low noise levels
  • Efficient cooling
Negatives
  • Nothing
spec
SOCKET SUPPORT: INTEL 1200. 1150,1151,1155,2011,2066, AMD AM4,AM3,AM2,FM2&FM1 COMPATIBLE / FANS: 2X140MMPWM / FAN SPEEDS: 500-1200 RPM I DIMENSIONS (LX WXH): 140 MM X102 MM X164 MM INOISE LEVEL: MAX 31.5 DB(A)
2

BE QUIET! Pure Rock 2 Review

BE QUIET! Pure Rock 2 Review

An affordable and effective cooler that’s very quiet

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be quiet! Pure Rock 2 Black, BK007, 150W TDP, CPU Cooler, Elegant...

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Last update was on: 2021-12-29 6:19 am

If the brand name didn’t already give it away, the Be Quiet Pure Rock 2 really is quiet! It’s a single tower cooler equipped with the company’s highly regarded Pure Wings 2 PWM fan which carries a low 26.8 dB(A) noise rating. That means it’s very quiet indeed. It feels really solid too, an indicator of good build quality, even at its low price. We wouldn’t describe the Pure Rock 2 as the most beautiful cooler on the market. But if you do have a windowed case, you could consider the smarter black version for a more polished look instead. The Pure Rock 2 is primarily designed to cool, unseen and unheard.

Though perhaps its 15OW TDP is a touch optimistic, and at least an Intel Core i5 11600K or AMD Ryzen 7 5800X won’t present a problem for the Pure Rock 2. For anything other than high-end CPUs the Pure Rock 2 will keep your chip cool and quiet. If you’re not interested in bling and want something that’s a step up from bundled coolers, this is great.

Positive
  • Very quiet operation
  • Great price
  • Good build quality
Negatives
  • Nothing
3

NOCTUA NH-D15 Chromax Black Review

NOCTUA NH-D15 Chromax Black Review

Air cooling at its best

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Noctua NH-D15 chromax.Black, Dual-Tower CPU Cooler (140mm, Black)

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Last update was on: 2021-12-29 6:19 am

The Noctua NH-D15 3 Chromax Black is considered by many to be the best air cooler on the market. We really love it too. It performs brilliantly, it’s got excellent fans that are a welcome black color, and its build quality is fantastic. Really only 360mm AIO coolers outperform it. If you want an air cooler that can handle any consumer CPU on the market, you might find one to match the Noctua flagship, but you won’t find any that truly beat it. Under normal operation the NH-D15 can be considered silent, but when pushed hard it becomes louder than you might expect. Though we don’t mind having some optional cooling headroom when needed.

Its expense, and sheer size, are the only things that count against it in my eyes. Notably, though, Noctua has a tradition of support for new sockets, and LGA 1700 support will either be included in the box or available to you as a free kit, depending on when that NH-D15 was made.

Positive
  • Excellent fans
  • Optional cooling headroom
  • Can handle any consumer CPU
Negatives
  • Nothing
specs
SOCKET SUPPORT: INTEL LGA 1150,1151,1155,1156,1200,2011,2011-3,2066, AMD AM4, AM3, AM2, FM2 & FM1 COMPATIBLE IFANS: 2X NF-A15 HSPWM / FAN SPEEDS: 300-1500 RPM / DIMENSIONS (LX WXH): 161 MMX 150 MMX 165 MM / NOISE LEVEL MAX 24.6 DB(A)
5

NOCTUA NH-P1 Review

NOCTUA NH-P1 Review

Quiet computing enthusiasts, look here

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Noctua NH-P1, Passive CPU Cooler - Fanless Heatsink for 100% Silent Cooling

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Last update was on: 2021-12-29 6:19 am

Noctua’s NH-P1 passive cooler is very much a niche product, and one that fans of quiet computing have been looking forward to for some time. It’s expensive, bulky, and generally limited to CPUs in the 65W range. Sounds like a dud? Hell no. Its appeal may be limited, but if you’re a user who values silence above anything else, then the NH-P1 will be exactly what you’re looking for. The NH-P1 is a great match for something like an AMD 5700G. That way you could omit a discrete GPU and play esport titles in silence. The NH-P1 will keep this class of CPU boosting to its max, but only if you have at least some airflow. The chances are you have a rear case fan that’s not far away from it anyway. If you want, you can still opt to attach a fan, too.

The NH-P1 is built for a specific purpose. If you sleep near your PC or run a lounge room media center, the NH-P1 will go a long way to ensuring that your PC is truly silent. Clearly it’s not meant for everyone though.

Positive
  • Silent
  • Every aspect of it is premium You can add fans if you want
Negatives
  • Nothing
WHAT CPU SOCKETS DO AIR COOLERS WORK WITH?
Not all coolers support all CPU sockets. Cooling for AMD Threadripper CPUs can be tricky, for example, as the sheer size of these chips mean you’ll want proper coverage for optimum cooling. Similarly, Intel 12th Gen LGA 1700 compatibility is now a topic of discussion, so pay close attention to the list of supported sockets if you’re investing in one of those. Stock from earlier in 2021 will definitely lack support, but you may be able to find a compatibility kit.

When it comes to AMD Ryzen desktop CPU support, things get a little easier. Aside from the aforementioned Threadripper chips, all other Ryzen CPUs use the same AM4 socket. That means that any CPU cooler that lists AM4 support is good right the way up to the current Ryzen 5000-series CPUs.
6

CRYORIG C7 Review

CRYORIG C7 Review

A great choice for a truly tiny system

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CRYORIG C7 Cu - 47mm Tall, SFF Mini ITX Full Copper CPU...

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Last update was on: 2021-12-29 6:19 am

The Cryorig C7 has 5 been on the market for sometime, but it’s been updated to support newer sockets. It’s perfect for a truly compact small form factor system thanks to its 47mm height and adherence to ‘keep-out’ zones, where it will not interfere in any way with other system components.

The C7 destroys the stock Intel cooler. It’s rated for up to 100W but is better suited to 65W class CPUs. This leaves it a bit of headroom for Turbo bursts. If you’re overclocking, or using a high core-count processor, you can give it a pass, but that’s to be expected. With the right CPU it will stay surprisingly quiet for its compact size. Its top flow design will help to cool the VRM and M.2 SSD, too, something that can be neglected in compact systems.

The Cryorig C7 is a niche cooler, but for the tiniest builds, the C7 does an admirable job. If you want a little bit of extra TDP headroom, there are copper and graphene coated versions, too.

Positive
  • Truly tiny size
  • Cools well considering its size
  • Quiet low load operation
Negatives
  • Nothing
specs
SOCKET SUPPORT: INTEL 1200,1150,1151,1155,1156, AMD AM4,AM3,AM2, FM2&FM1 COMPATIBLE /FANS: 1X 92MM QUAD AIR INLET / FAN SPEEDS: 600-2500 RPM / DIMENSIONS (LX WXH): 97 MM X97 MM X47MM / NOISE LEVEL: MAX 30 DB(A)
7

BE QUIET! Dark Rock TF 2 Review

BE QUIET! Dark Rock TF 2 Review

Cooling for your whole system

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be quiet! BK031 Dark Rock TF 2, 230W TDP, CPU cooler, Intel-1200/2066/1150/1151/1155...

Last update was on: 2021-12-29 6:19 am

Keeping your CPU cool 6 is vital, but so is overall system cooling. A cooler like the Be Quiet Dark Rock TF 2 blows air downwards, which helps to keep hot running M.2 drives, and your vital motherboard VRM, running cool. This is something that can often be overlooked in AIO cooled systems that lack good airflow over the motherboard, particularly if you have a GPU heating up everything around it. The Dark Rock TF2 performs much like other single tower air coolers, and though it’s on the pricey side, it’s not unreasonably so given the inclusion of two high-quality fans. Its ability to mount a fan above or below the heatsink (or both) adds a lot of installation flexibility. You can use it in all kinds of systems from powerful gaming PCs through to compact SFF systems.

In the Be Quiet tradition, the Dark Rock TF 2 is very quiet, particularly under low loads and with a rating of up to 230W, it can handle all modern CPUs, though overclocking will be beyond it.

Positive
  • Downward blowing for more cooling
  • Quiet operation
  • Good build quality
Negatives
  • Nothing
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Bình Phan Đức

Bình Phan Đức

Hello, I'm the founder of this blog and a part time blogger. Find more information about me at here. You can also connect with me via Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.

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