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How to choose a CPU cooler in 2024

Never construct a computer without making sure a suitable cooling system is in place. The processor at the center of your computer produces heat, which CPU coolers are made to remove. These cooling systems’ fans, radiators, and other components allow the built-up heat energy to dissipate away from crucial functioning areas without endangering the hardware. Although there are various CPU coolers on the market, each one is made with a certain objective in mind.

Air Cooling vs AIO Coolers

System builders must make a huge choice between air cooling and liquid cooling, and each cooling method has advantages and disadvantages that we have discussed in detail in this post. However, to assist you in determining which choice is best for you, listed below are the key benefits and drawbacks of each cooler style:

Pros of Liquid Cooling

The best liquid coolers and specialized liquid cooling configurations may achieve higher temperatures.
Liquid coolers normally don’t cause clearance issues with memory, case fans, and other components adjacent to the motherboard’s CPU socket because they have lower profiles than air coolers.

Cons of Liquid Cooling

Compared to air coolers, liquid coolers offer a better price-to-performance ratio.
The risk of leaking and increased maintenance are associated with liquid coolers.

Pros of Air Cooling

Air coolers typically provide excellent performance for the amount you spend.
Air coolers often last longer and require little to no maintenance.

Cons of Air Cooling

Extreme cooling configurations often don’t work well with air coolers.
Some expensive air coolers might be very large and interfere with clearance (memory, case fans, motherboard components, etc.)

TDP Rating

One of the most crucial elements in assessing whether a particular cooler is the correct choice for your system is its TDP rating. Both the processor and CPU cooling that you purchase will have a TDP rating. In the simplest terms possible, if you buy a CPU cooler with a lower TDP rating than your processor, it won’t be able to adequately cool it.

Of fact, even if your cooler’s TDP rating is a little lower than that of your processor because your processor won’t always generate the maximum amount of heat, it might still work reasonably well. As a general guideline, it is wise to make sure the cooler you purchase has a TDP rating higher than the TDP rating of your processor. And this is particularly true if you intend to overclock.

However, it’s vital to keep in mind that stock coolers (for CPUs that come with them) often have a TDP rating to account for the TDP rating of their CPU. Additionally, the bulk of third-party CPU coolers (whether they are AIO liquid coolers or air coolers) will outperform the TDP rating of the vast majority of processors available today. Nevertheless, for the reasons outlined above, it is still a crucial parameter to be aware of and confirm before making your CPU cooler purchase.

On their spec sheets (available from the retailer you are buying them from or the manufacturer’s website), your processor and cooler’s TDP ratings can both be discovered.


You should also make sure that your CPU cooler is compatible with the following components in addition to the socket on your motherboard.


The height of some CPU coolers prevents them from fitting in some cases. Therefore, before making a purchase, be sure to check the height of the CPU cooler on its specification sheet and then the specification of the chassis you are contemplating to ensure that the cooler will fit inside of that case.


Due to their mass, the majority of high-end air coolers on the market may have clearance problems. They may also dangle over the top PCIe lane, causing you to install your GPU in a lower lane, or their weight may conflict with the DIMM slots on the motherboard you have chosen and with taller memory kits. Check to see if choosing a large air cooler would affect your other components, so doing so is a smart idea.

Radiator size

The radiator size of the cooler will be the main deciding factor in clearance for liquid cooling, and more specifically, AIO coolers. AIO cooler radiators are available in a wide range of sizes. Not every casing, though, can fit every size of radiator.


When picking a CPU cooler, aesthetics play a significant role. AIO coolers’ streamlined, low-profile design is preferred by some builders. The radical aesthetic of custom liquid cooling setups appeals to other builders. While some people enjoy the appearance of a large, expensive air cooler.

My recommendation if you’re unsure which option you prefer is to look at some photographs of completed projects that other people have done and decide which type of CPU cooler you think looks the best. And if every other aspect of that cooler style is appropriate for your needs, choose that one.

CPU Socket

There are some CPU coolers available that will only fit with a particular CPU socket, despite the fact that the majority of CPU cooler manufacturers design their coolers to fit with the majority of CPU sockets (often by providing multiple brackets for several popular sockets). Check to see if the CPU cooler you are contemplating is compatible with the motherboard and processor you currently have or intend to purchase.