Best CPU Water Cooler 2018

So we recently released an article which features the Best CPU Air Coolers which goes over the benefits of using air cooling over water cooling with a list of the absolute best CPU Air Coolers.

In this article we will cover the benefits of water cooling your CPU and why you may want to consider it over air cooling.

One thing to note here also is that we are only going to cover closed loop water coolers. Obviously you could go off and build your own water loop with a massive radiator and 20 fans, but that just wouldn’t be practical for most people. We may do another article on building your own water loop in the future though so make sure to subscribe for updates!

What Makes a Good CPU Water Cooler?

So to pick the best water coolers we need to cover what goes into making a water cooler good.

So just like an air cooler, a CPU water cooling loop utilizes a heatsink to dissepate the heat generated by your CPU and a fan to get the airflow flowing over the heatsink fins.

Where a water cooler differs from an air cooler though is that the heatsink is separated from the main block. Which is where the water comes in. The water serves to transfer the heat from the block to the heatsink.

The benefit you get from separating the heatsink from the block is that you can reposition the heatsink to anywhere in your case and scale it up to a size that would be impractical with an air cooler.

Generally the bigger the heatsink/fans, the better the cooling. This also pushes up the price though and may get to a point where the heatsink won’t fit in your case. So you will want to size up what your cooling needs are and stack it up against your budget and whether or not it will actually fit.

Absolute Best CPU Water Cooler – Thermaltake Floe Riing RGB 360 TT

This triple 120mm CPU water cooler combines fantastic cooling with some of Thermaltake’s best low noise LED fans to provide the absolute best performance of any sealed water cooling loop.

Not only are the fans extremely quiet but so is the pump. So if you are looking for a loop that can be both quiet and keep things super cooled then this is the cooler for you.

Being the only triple 120mm heatsink on this list may mean that this wont fit in a lot of smaller cases out there. So you will want to make sure that this will fit before you drop some serious dolla on this cooler.

All this performance comes at a price though and is the most expensive cooler on this list. Check the link below to find out the latest price.

Pros:

  • Best performance on this list
  • Super quiet fans
  • Super quiet pump
  • Configurable LED’s

Cons:

  • Triple 120mm fans may not fit in all cases
  • Quite expensive

Best Double CPU Water Cooler – Arctic Liquid Freezer 240

This cooler has an extra thick heatsink and fans on both sides which helps to provide the absolute best cooling you can get from a double 120mm water cooler.

The downsides of this extra thickness will be that it won’t fit in smaller cases quite as easily as coolers with a single row of fans and thinner heatsinks.

Providing that you can fit this inside your case though, this CPU water cooler presents excellent bang for buck and is cheaper than some of its competition which doesn’t offer the same level of cooling.

Pros:

  • Best performance of a double cooler
  • Fantastic value for money
  • Quiet opperation

Cons:

  • Much thicker than other coolers so may not fit.

Runner Up CPU Water Cooler – Corsair Hydro Series

The heatsink on these Corsair coolers arent as thick as the Arctic Liquid Freezer 240 and only has one row of fans, but the performance comes very close. This means it will be a much better solution for the majority of users who can’t fit either a tripple fan unit or the very thick Artic Liquid Freezer.

These Corsair CPU liquid coolers also come in different sizes. For the double fan coolers there is a 240mm and a 280mm variant which will make it easier to get one that fits your needs… Bigger is obviously going to be better for most though!

Value for money isn’t quite as good as the Arctic Liquid Freezer, but Corsair is a well known brand and will are some of the highest performers for the size.

Pros:

  • Great value for money
  • More appropriate sizing to fit more cases
  • Quiet

Cons

  • None!

Best Bang For Buck Single Fan Liquid Cooler – ARCTIC Liquid Freezer 120

The Arctic Liquid Freezer 120 is the little brother to the Arctic Liquid Freezer 240 which we listed above and like its larger brother it comes with a double fan configuration which maximises the amount of cooling that can be achieved on a smaller footprint.

The downsides to using a double fan configuration with a thicker radiator though is that it could interfere with components on some smaller cases. We think this should fit for most people, but it’s certainly something to be aware of when buying.

Obviously if space isnt a concern then bigger is almost always going to be better and we would recommend going with its bigger brother, the Arcic Liquid Freezer 240. But this CPU liquid cooler really cannot be beaten for price vs performance and if space is limited then we would highly recommend it.

Pros:

  • Fantastic value for money
  • Quiet operation
  • Best performance for size

Cons:

  • None!

Best Single Fan CPU Water Cooler Runner Up – Deepcool Gamer Storm Captain 120EX

 

So if space is at a premium then you will want to downsize to a single fan CPU water cooler and this offering from Deepcool is about as good as it gets.

The new dual-blade fan included with the Captain 120EX allows it to maintain almost the same amount of static pressure as the previous model. This keeps things quiet while the performance remains top notch.

Unfortunately, this performance comes at a price. Although this cooler is cheaper than the larger coolers on the list, it is still more expensive than its competitors which only slightly less performance.

Pros:

  • Best single fan performance
  • Duel-blade fan means quiet opperation
  • High compatibility and compact size

Cons:

  • Expensive for it’s size.

Water Cooling vs Air Cooling

When should you choose water cooling over air cooling and should you ever opt for air cooling instead?

This really depends on your budget and your requrements.

Water Cooling Pros:

  • Higher limit for performance
  • Can be quieter
  • More flexible for space requirements

Air Cooling Pros:

  • Generally Cheaper
  • High-end air coolers can be cheaper and have better performance than low-end water coolers

One thing we can see is that unless you have restrictive space requirements then a high-end air cooler is going to be cheaper and have higher performance than a low-end single fan liquid cooler.

The problem with high-end air coolers though is that they can interfere with high ram modules. In this case, if you will want something like an Arctic Liquid Freezer 240 which is a great bang for buck water cooler on our list.

If money isn’t an issue then water cooling is going to give the best results. But bang for buck air cooling is going to be better… providing they fit in your case without interfering with other components.

Conclusion

So with water cooling there is scope to scale things way pas what can be done with air cooling and we have listed products at different sizes and price points to fit everyone’s needs.

The only step up from these would be a custom water loop, but those are expensive, harder to maintain, have a higher margin for error (pc go boom boom) and are generally just unnecessary, unless of course you absolutely need the extra performance… or just like looking at pretty glowing fluid!

Let us know in the comments if you agree with this list or if you think we have missed something out.

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