Now that overclocking is back in fashion, silent cooling solutions are becoming more popular. If you want to build a quiet PC without compromising performance too much you’ll need either an excellent heatsink or a cooling setup, but there are lots of heatsinks on the market which still offer good performance without making much noise. Here’s our round-up of some high-quality and the quietest CPU coolers!
Types of CPU Coolers
Here are the types of CPU coolers that you might want to consider:
|1. Air Cooling Route||The most common type of CPU cooler is a big metal heat sink with a fan attached to the top. That means you’ve got a chunk of metal doing the actual cooling while another fan blows air across its fins, and it’s this airflow that keeps your CPU cool. It’s not the best method for dissipating heat but it works pretty well because there are no liquids used that could leak out and damage components in your rig.|
|2. Liquid-Cooled AIO||The newest craze in CPU cooling is the AIO or “All-in-one” liquid cooler. This is basically exactly what it sounds like, a small radiator with an attached pump and fan. It works on the same principles as the air cooler but instead of blowing air across your heatsink to cool things down, you have a sealed system of tubing that draws heat away from your CPU into a radiator where it’s dissipated by fans pulling air through.|
Quietest CPU Coolers: Myths
CPU cooler installation is straightforward, but it’s easy to get confused by some of the more unusual designs. And with that, here we debunk some myths about CPU coolers.
1. Air coolers are worst than liquid coolers
False! The vast majority of high-performance CPU coolers use a heat pipe design that keeps noise levels to a minimum. Some all-in-one water coolers like those from Corsair and NZXT can be very loud because they’re not as good at transferring heat as a traditional heatsink and fan combos. You’ll need to weigh up the pros and cons if you want an AIO!
2. You need an advanced liquid cooling solution
False! There are lots of excellent air coolers that offer good cooling performance, but they’re also pretty quiet. Most liquid cooler pumps are fairly quiet but there’s no guarantee that you’ll get a silent performer unless you do your research.
3. There is no difference in the installation of air or liquid CPU coolers
False! Liquid coolers have more tubing, which can make fitting them in a case much trickier. The Corsair H100i GTX is one of the most popular liquid CPU coolers around but it’s also one of the hardest to fit in some cases.
4. There is no difference in case compatibility of air or liquid CPU coolers
False! Liquid coolers need a case with a rear exhaust fan and some don’t even have mounting brackets for the radiator so you might need to remove the HDD cage to fit them.
Quietest CPU Coolers: How to Choose
Choosing the right CPU cooler can be a tricky process and is dependent on several factors.
|1. Type of Case||Big high-performance air coolers like the Noctua NH-D15 won’t fit in most cases, so you’ll need to research what kind of cooler will fit your case before you buy one.|
|2. Cold Plate Size||Some CPU heatsinks have large contact plates with lots of surface area for heat transfer, while others don’t cover the full IHS (integrated heat spreader) which limits heat dissipation.|
|3. Bearing Type||Most modern fans use either sleeve or rifle bearings, but ball-bearing fans are still available if you want something that lasts longer.|
|4. Noise Level||Some CPU coolers are super quiet at idle but get loud during serious gaming sessions, while others have a very high airflow but are annoyingly loud. Some are both quiet and cool well.|
|5. Cooling Performance||Many people don’t think about this when buying a CPU cooler but it’s important if you want your system to perform at its best for as long as possible. If you’re overclocking, keeping things stable will be easier with more cooling power on hand.|
|6.Installation||Most coolers are easy to install but some can be a right pain to fit in cases. Liquid coolers often need more clearance than air coolers and sometimes require that you remove the motherboard or HDD cage to get them into place.|
|7. Price||You can find CPU heatsinks priced from less than $30 to more than $300, but you often get what you pay for. Cheaper coolers don’t perform as well and might not last as long as a top-end model so think about how much your system is worth before you buy a CPU cooler.|
Video: Quiet PC – How to Choose a Quiet CPU Cooler
Quietest CPU Coolers: FAQ
What is liquid cooling?
Liquid cooling involves using a special sealed system of tubing called a closed-loop to draw heat away from your CPU into a radiator where it’s dissipated by fans pulling air through. Some liquid coolers need mounting brackets for their radiator, while others like Corsair’s H100i GTX are self-contained units with everything included in the box (including spare fan).
What is air cooling?
Air cooling uses a heatsink and fan to pull heat away from your CPU into the surrounding air, where it’s dissipated naturally. This is the same principle that applies when you blow air across hot food with a hairdryer for example. Air coolers are much cheaper than liquid coolers but they don’t offer as much performance because there’s less surface area for heat transfer, plus higher ambient temperatures will affect their ability to dissipate the heat. The Noctua NH-D15 is an excellent traditional heatsink/fan combo that outperforms all-in-one liquid coolers at lower temperatures.
What should I do if my PC freezes or crashes after installing a new cooler?
Most modern CPUs with metal mounting bars like Intel’s LGA115x platform and the AM4 socket on AMD boards run at very low voltages (even when overclocked) which means they’re not as dangerous to them if you accidentally bump the voltage settings. If your PC freezes or crashes with a powerful cooler fitted, it might be overloaded so back off the overclock speeds until you resolve the problem.
What should I do if my CPU gets too hot?
If your system stays at 90°C (194°F) for more than 10 minutes without stopping, it will damage itself irreversibly. You need to apply less voltage or fit a better cooler to keep temperatures down. If you don’t know overvoltage means there is probably a cause like insufficient thermal paste between the CPU and cooler for heat transfer which you can solve by repasting it.
What should I do if my fan speeds up and slows down at random?
This is usually caused by dust and dirt accumulating around your PC case, causing issues with fan bearings or restricting airflow. Clean out all the vents and make sure you don’t have any loose wires or cables touching hot components inside your case which could also be causing overheating problems. You might need to remove the cooler’s blades after taking it off to clean them properly so dust won’t fly back into your system when you reattach it.
Quietest CPU Coolers: Comparison Table & Main Features[amazon table=”2351″]
1. Cooler Master Hyper 212 Black Edition CPU Air Cooler – Precise Air Flow[amazon box=”B07H25DYM3″]
Cooler Master Hyper 212 Specifications
|CPU SOCKET||LGA2066, LGA2011-V3, LGA2011, LGA1151, LGA1150, LGA1155, LGA1156, LGA1366, AM4, AM3+, AM3, AM2+, AM2, FM2+, FM2, FM1|
|DIMENSIONS (L X W X H)||123 X 77 X 158.8 MM / 4.78 X 3.0 X 6.3 INCH|
|HEAT SINK MATERIAL||4 HEAT PIPES, ALUMINUM FINS, DIRECT CONTACT|
|FAN DIMENSIONS (L X W X H)||120 X 120 X 25 MM / 4.7 X 4.7 X 1 INCH|
|FAN QUANTITY||1 PCS|
|FAN SPEED||800-2000 RPM (PWM) ± 10%|
|FAN AIRFLOW||42 CFM (MAX)|
|FAN AIR PRESSURE||2.9 MMH2O|
|FAN MTTF||160,000 HOURS|
|FAN NOISE LEVEL||6.5 – 26 DBA|
|FAN POWER CONNECTOR||4-PIN (PWM)|
|FAN RATED VOLTAGE||12VDC|
|FAN RATED CURRENT||0.08A|
|FAN SAFETY CURRENT||0.16A|
|FAN POWER CONSUMPTION||0.96W|
|COOLER TYPE||AIR COOLER|
Smart Fan Sensor for Jam Protection
The Hyper 212 Black Edition CPU cooler is perfect for keeping your system running smoothly. It features a smart fan sensor that protects your cables and components from getting snagged or mucked up. Plus, it comes with a Silencio FP120 fan that keeps things quiet while you work.
This incredible piece of engineering is perfect for keeping your CPU running cool and quiet. The Cooler Master Hyper 212 Black Edition CPU Air Cooler has a stacked fin array that ensures the least airflow resistance, which in turn allows cooler airflow into the heatsink.
Keep your system cool and quiet with the Cooler Master Hyper 212 Black Edition CPU Air Cooler. The smart fan sensor keeps your components safe from getting snagged or damaged while keeping noise pollution to a minimum. Check price at Coolermaster.com.
Video: Cooler Master Hyper 212 Black Edition Review
2. NZXT Kraken Z53 AIO RGB CPU Liquid Cooler – Powerful Cooling[amazon box=”B08N5D31XF”]
NZXT Kraken Z53 Specifications
Material Aluminum, Plastic
Fan Control Yes
NZXT RGB Channel Connector 1
Rotation Orientation Software adjustable Default, +90, +180, and -90 Degrees
|LCD Display Panel||Active Area 2.36” (60mm) Diameter
Color 24-bit True Color LCD
Resolution 320 x 320px
Brightness 650 cd/m²
|Water Block||Material Copper, Plastic|
|Pump||Motor Speed 800 – 2,800 ± 300 RPM
Power 12V DC, 0.3A
|Radiator||Dimensions 123 x 275 x 30mm
Material Rubber with Nylon Sleeve
|Fan Specs||Model Aer P120mm
Speed 500 – 2,000 ± 300RPM
Airflow 18.28 – 73.11 CFM
Static Pressure 0.18 – 2.93 mm-H₂O
Noise 21 – 36 dBA
Fan Connector 4-pin PWM
|Compatible Socket & CPU||Intel
Socket LGA 1200, 115X, 1366, 2011, 2011-3, 2066
AMD Socket AM4, sTRX4*, TR4* (*Threadripper bracket not included)
|General||Warranty 6 Years
Model Number RL-KRZ53-01
With a thickness of 53mm, the Kraken Z53 fits most modern CPU sockets without interfering with motherboard components or large heatsinks. A thick 92mm radiator allows heat dissipation even when using weaker air coolers. Coupled with the slim pump, the Kraken Z53 gives users a great solution to resolve CPU overheating issues.
RGB LED Lighting
The new Kraken Series features Aer P 120mm RGB fans and a light loop for endless customization possibilities. It’s easy to control with CAM or via fan buttons on your motherboard thanks to USB compatibility, or through Corsair LINK software for more advanced configurations. There are millions of colors and several pre-installed lighting effects, so it’s easy to set up a unique ambiance in your room.
The Kraken Series is a non-intrusive and totally silent AIO solution for those seeking to resolve heat issues. It features customizable RGB lighting effects that will fit any build. Check price at NZXT.com, Walmart.com.
Video: NZXT Kraken Z53 AIO RGB CPU Liquid Cooler Review
3. be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4 – Inaudible Operation[amazon box=”B07BY6F8D9″]
be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4 Specifications
|Dimensions (L x W x H), (mm)||146 x 136 x 163|
|Total Weight (kg)||1.13|
|Socket Compatibility AMD||AM2(+) / AM3(+) / AM4 / FM1 / FM2(+)|
|Socket Compatibility Intel||1150 / 1151 / 1155 / 1156 / 1200 / 1366 / 2011(-3) Square ILM / 2066|
|Fan Model, Number||1x Silent Wings 3 120mm PWM / 1x Silent Wings 135mm PWM|
|Decoupled Fan Mounting||✓|
|Overall Noise Level (dB(A)) @ 50/75/100% (rpm)||12.8 / 17.9 / 24.3|
|Features||Two virtually inaudible Silent Wings PWM fans
Funnel-shaped frame of the front fan for high air pressure
Achieves only 24.3dB(A) at maximum fan speed
Seven high-performance copper heat pipes
Airflow-optimized cooling fins; cutouts enhance the RAM compatibility
Easily installable black installation kit can be mounted from above
Brushed aluminum top cover with diamond cut finish
3-year manufacturer’s warranty
German product conception, design and quality control
Integrated Silent Wings
With two virtually inaudible Silent Wings PWM fans, this cooler can keep your CPU running smoothly even under heavy loads. Plus, it has a 250W TDP rating, so it’s perfect for CPUs with high power requirements. So if you’re looking for an effective and ultra-silent cooling solution.
Optimized Cooling Fan and Design
be quiet!’s Dark Rock Pro 4 is perfect! Its airflow-optimized cooling fins help keep your processor running smoothly, and the easy install kit makes it simple to get set up. Plus, with its black finish, it’ll look great in any system.
When you need an effective and powerful cooling solution for your high-end systems, be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4 is a perfect choice. With its two silent fans and 250W TDP rating, it’ll keep even overclocked CPUs running smoothly under heavy loads. It’s easy to install with an advanced mounting system. Check price at bequiet.com, Sears.com.
Video: Noctua Killer?? Be Quiet Dark Rock Pro 4
4. Corsair Hydro Series H60 AIO Liquid CPU Cooler – Efficient Cold Plate and Pump[amazon box=”B079NXZQBC”]
Corsair Hydro Series H60 Specifications
|Cooling Warranty||Five Year|
|Cold Plate Material||Copper|
|CORSAIR iCUE Compatibility||No|
|Radiator Dimensions||157mm x 120mm x 27mm|
|Fan Dimensions||120mm x 25mm|
|Fan Speed||1700 RPM|
|Number of Fans||1|
|Cooling Socket Support||Intel 1200, 1150, 1151, 1155, 1156, 1366, 2011, 2066
AMD AM4, AM3, AM2
|Fan Model||SP Series|
|Fan Airflow||57.2 CFM|
|Fan Static Pressure||2.08 mm-H2O|
|Noise Level||28.3 dBA|
With its low height of just 27mm, the Corsair Hydro Series H60 fits easily into almost any system. The 120mm radiator has a thickness of 45mm, providing outstanding cooling potential in compact cases or where space is limited. And with no pump noise or excess heat to worry about, it keeps your PC nice and quiet.
Advanced SP120L PWM Fan Control
The two included fans connect to your motherboard via standard four-pin connectors for precise speed control through the BIOS. The low-profile design reduces the airflow gap between fan and radiator, helping to improve thermal efficiency.
The Corsair Hydro Series H60 is a great choice if you’re looking for a powerful, silent AIO cooling solution with an easy installation process. It’s perfect for overclocked CPUs and compact cases with its 27mm height and no pump noise. The included fans are ultra-quiet right out of the box! Check price at Corsair.com, Sears.com.
Video: CORSAIR HYDRO SERIES H60 Review
5. Noctua NH-D15 Premium CPU Cooler – For the Highest Demands[amazon box=”B00L7UZMAK”]
Noctua NH-D15 Specifications
|Socket Compatibility||Intel LGA1200, LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA1151, LGA1150, LGA1700 (included since Q4 2021, older coolers require NM-i17xx-MP83), LGA2066, LGA2011-0 & LGA2011-3 (Square ILM) & AMD AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, FM1, FM2, FM2+ (backplate required), AM4 (since 2019)|
|HeightxWidthxDepth (without fan) (mm)||160x150x135|
|Weight (without fan)||1000 g|
|HeightxWidthxDepth (with fan) (mm)||165x150x161|
|Weight (with fan)||1320 g|
|Material||Copper (base and heat-pipes), aluminium (cooling fins), soldered joints & nickel plating|
|Fan Compatibility||140x150x25 (with 120mm mounting holes), 140x140x25 (with 120mm mounting holes), 120x120x25|
|Scope of Delivery||2x NF-A15 PWM premium fan
2x Low-Noise Adaptor (L.N.A.)
NT-H1 high-grade thermal compound
SecuFirm2™ Mounting Kit
Noctua Metal Case-Badge
|FAN Specification||Model 2x Noctua NF-A15 PWM
Max. rotational speed (+/- 10%) 1500 RPM
Max. rotational speed with L.N.A. (+/- 10%) 1200 RPM
Min. rotational speed (PWM, +/-20%) 300 RPM
Max. airflow 140,2 m³/h
Max. airflow with L.N.A. 115,5 m³/h
Max. acoustical noise 24,6 dB(A)
Max. acoustical noise with L.N.A. 19,2 dB(A)
Voltage range 12 V
MTTF > 150.000 h
Impressive Cooling Efficiency
When paired up with Noctua’s NT-H1 thermal compound, this cooler can increase your overclocked CPU’s performance by up to 10%! And it does so while being extremely quiet too. The dual NF-A15 fans have NE-FD1 ICs that run at 1200RPM for incredibly silent operation when running idle or doing light work.
State-of-the-Art Dual-Tower Design
This impressive dual-tower design has six heat pipes and two powerful NF-A15 fans, ensuring that your CPU stays ice-cold even under the most extreme conditions. Plus, it’s practically silent when operating at low speeds, making it perfect for near-silent systems. So whether you’re a hardcore gamer or just a regular PC user, the Noctua NH-D15 is sure to meet your needs.
If you’re looking for top-quality, all-purpose cooling that’s easy to install and won’t break the bank, Noctua NH-D15 is an excellent choice. Plus, its dual NF-A15 fans are virtually silent during idle or light loads. This cooler will keep your overclocked CPU running nice and cool even under heavy use. Check price at Noctua.at, Walmart.com, Sears.com.
Video: Noctua NH-D15 Review
6. ARCTIC Freezer 11 LP CPU Cooler for Slim PC Cases – Quick Installation[amazon box=”B0037AKXKM”]
ARCTIC Freezer 11 LP Specifications
|Compatibility||Intel Socket: 1700 (since Rev. 2), 1200, 1156, 1155, 1151, 1150
Ram Clearance: unlimited
Warranty: 6 Years
Operating Ambient Temperature: 0 – 40 °C
|Heatsink||Heat Pipes: 2
Fin Material: Aluminum
Number of Fins: 50
Fin Thickness: 0,3 mm
Thermal Paste: MX-4 pre-applied
|Fan||Impeller Size: 88 mm
Fan Speed: 900 – 2000 rpm
Fan Bearing: Fluid Dynamic Bearing
Noise Level: 0.3 Sone
Current: 0.13 A
|Size & Weight||Lenght: 106 mm
Width: 115 mm
Height: 53 mm
Weight: 255 g
At just 37mm tall, the Freezer 11 fits nicely in small PC cases and doesn’t require much space above the motherboard. Even better, it provides excellent cooling performance with its 53 aluminum fins and two 6mm high-performance copper heat pipes.
High Cooling Capacity
The Freezer 11 performs very well in compact PC cases or when paired up with low-profile RAM modules due to its ultra-slim design. The dualmm PWM fans can be adjusted for maximum cooling efficiency or whisper-quiet operation.
ARCTIC Freezer 11 is a perfect choice if you’re looking for an affordable, high-performance mini cooler with low noise output. Plus, it’s extremely compact so will fit nicely in small PC cases without blocking RAM modules. Just make sure your case can accommodate its 37mm height! Check price at Arctic.de, Walmart.com.
Video: Arctic Freezer 11 LP Review
The best CPU coolers that will fit your budget and needs. This is great for those who are looking for a cheap option but also have no problem spending more money on their cooling needs.
All of these are excellent choices, depending on your motherboard type or case size. While it may be easier to find them online, you should try your local computer shop first so you can physically test which one fits. Getting one that doesn’t fit would just be a waste of time and effort when you could have saved yourself from the hassle in the first place. Thanks for reading this article! Feel free to leave feedback in the comments section below!