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Processor coolers: How do you choose the right cooler for your system?

Processor coolers: How do you choose the right cooler for your system?

Coolant types

Are you planning to configure a new system or purchase a new cooler for your processor? There are many features to consider when choosing the right CPU cooler. In this article we look at the main criteria that can influence your choice, including type, performance, noise production, and compatibility.

air vs water

There are two main categories that processor coolers fall into: air coolers and water coolers. An air cooler uses a combination of heat sinks – often heat pipes – to absorb the heat generated by the processor, after which it is blown out by one or two fans. Air coolers generally offer better value for money than water coolers. However, the advantage of the last category is that it takes up less space on the motherboard. Since the fan is the only moving part, the air cooler has little chance of failure, but larger models can be difficult to install.


A huge air cooler like the Scythe Ninja 5 covers a large part of the motherboard. This is not the case with the Ph.D. water cooler as described above. (Photo: HWCooling

On the other hand, there are water coolers, in which a water block is installed on the processor. It is connected via a set of hoses to the radiator which is supplied with fresh air by one or more fans. PhD off-the-shelf water coolers usually offer the highest and quietest cooling capabilities, although they come at an affordable price. The chance of leakage is limited these days, but this is still a distinct risk factor. In addition, the pump is an additional moving part that can fail.

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If you want to go further, you can consider a file custom ring to set up. You supply the pump and tank yourself (combined or not), and in the necessary cooling blocks, fluid, pipes, fittings, radiators and fans. With this solution, you can create a real model of your system, although you have to pay a lot of money for it. There are ready-made solutions available for novice users, but they also cost hundreds of euros.

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2. Noise production and performance