Whether for gaming, video editing, or other complex processes, modern CPUs from AMD and Intel are becoming more and more powerful. The complex microarchitecture of today's computers enables faster calculation and more complex processes than ever before. But the higher the computing power, the more important a proper cooling becomes.
To ensure long-term use, it is essential to adequately cool the processors with a suitable CPU cooler (or “processor cooler“).
Finding a suitable CPU cooler can quickly become confusing and frustrating due to many different sizes, shapes, and terminology. That where we from ARCTIC want to offer a hand.
What types of coolers exist and which CPU cooler is suitable when will be explained here.
1. How does a CPU cooler work?
Simply put, a CPU cooler cools the CPU by removing the heat generated during operation. For this purpose, a cooler has a contact surface that connects the cooler with the CPU. The heat is conducted into a heat sink and is thus conducted away from the heat source. This heat sink is typically made of metal with good thermal conduction properties such as aluminum or copper. High quality thermal compound, like ARCTIC’s MX-4 improved this contact again and significantly increases the cooling performance.
2. What are the different types of processor coolers are there?
CPU coolers can be constructed in different ways. A basic distinction is made between air and water coolers.
There are two types of air coolers: radial and tower. In the case of radial coolers, the heat sink sits directly on the processor (example: Alpine 12), in the case of tower coolers, (example: Freezer 34) the heat sink and base plate are connected to one another via so-called heat pipes. Inside is an extremely fast-boiling liquid that maximizes the speed of heat transfer within the pipe.
With liquid coolers, the heat generated by the components is pumped by means of a pump over water into a heat exchanger, which is cooled by fans. In the field of water cooling, a distinction is made between closed systems -- so-called "AIO coolers" such as our award-winning Liquid Freezer II series-- and complex "custom liquid cooling".
4. Which CPU cooler is the Best?There is no definitive answer to this question. Basically, the selected CPU cooler must be able to keep the CPU at moderate temperatures. The higher the temperature, the higher the power consumption, which also means higher potential loss of lifespan and performance. Keeping the CPU temperature as low as possible protects your components and ensures stability.
6. What should be considered when buying a CPU cooler?
Which applications are running on the computer?
In a pure office PC a small low-profile cooler or possibly even passive cooler is usually sufficient. However, if demanding tasks like gaming or video editing are intended, a powerful CPU cooler is essential.
What are the requirements regarding the cooling capacity and noise level?
Will the system be overclocked? Then a big tower CPU cooler or a water cooling is needed. If a silent PC is the goal, something like a multimedia HTPC in the living room? Then a passive cooling would be ideal or a low-profile cooler a good alternative.
What kind of PC case will be used?
With big- or midi- towers there is enough space for powerful tower CPU coolers or AIO water coolers. In a compact system with small dimensions, the space for bigger cooling solutions is probably missing.
How expensive may the CPU cooler be?
Depending on the available budget, more expensive solutions such as passive coolers or water cooling might be too expensive.