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Anyone with a computer or smartphone knows the instinctive fear of spilling something on the keyboard or screen. This concern is hardly unfounded. Water can destroy the delicate connections that are the basic part of any computer, rendering your device inoperable in a flash.
On the list of things that can damage your computer, heat is not far behind moisture. The components in a computer tend to be made of delicate silicon wafers or plastic chips; either one can be destroyed by overheating.
Computers tend to overheat from the central processing unit, or CPU, thanks to the millions of microscopic switches that comprise a computer’s RAM. The continual fluctuations in power, coupled with the natural resistance to electric current, cause some of the electricity to move through the CPU to be converted to heat.
When high load tasks would otherwise mean the CPU heating to a dangerous degree, a computer’s first fear can come to the rescue. The same conductive properties that make water so destructive to a computer also make it an excellent heat receptor. A liquid cooling array can keep a computer cool even under unusually heavy workloads.
If you are planning on any serious processing or gaming, you are probably considering a liquid cooling array as well. Here are five of the best liquid coolers to keep your computer frosty while you work.
Best Liquid CPU Cooler – Comparison Table
|EDITOR’S CHOICE||1. Corsair Hydro
|RUNNER UP||2. DEEP COOL Captain
|3. NZXT Kraken X52
|4. Thermaltake Water 3.0
|5. EVGA CLC
Our Best Liquid CPU Cooler Reviews and Comparisons
1. Corsair Hydro
This unit brings tens of years of excellence in computer accessories to bear with reliable components and software.
- 240mm fan width
- 37 dB
- Radiator measures 276mm x 120mm x 27mm
- Compatible with Intel and AMD
What We Like About Corsair Hydro
The Corsair’s magnetic fans can be slowed or stopped completely at lower temperatures to reduce noise and save energy.
What We Don’t Like About Corsair Hydro
This unit comes with many presets that can be difficult to change, especially with the instructions as sparse as they are.
- Trusted manufacturer
- Magnetic levitation fans run more quietly than traditional models
- Thorough control software allows for for more complete information of your system
- Fans can be stopped at low temperatures to save energy
- Striking LED decorative lighting
- Confusing instructions
- Troublesome presets
2. DEEP COOL Captain
This cooler can keep your computer and your bank account from going over their limits.
- Unit measures 290x120x27mm
- Compatible with Intel and AMD2
- Fan noise 30 dB
- 5-port RBG hub
What We Like About DEEP COOL Captain
This unit is a relatively inexpensive way to keep your hardware frosty when your software heats up.
What We Don’t Like About DEEP COOL Captain
The dimensions can be problematic for some standard-sized computer casings.
- Strain relieving piping ensures no cracks or leaks
- Impressive LED visual elements
- Two header options
- Low fan noise
- 3 year warranty
- Unit may not fit in standard casings
- Does not run as cold as other units
3. NZXT Kraken X52
This name has topped the field in PC radiators for a while with superb performance and reliability.
- 120mm fan width
- Unit measures 152 x 120 x 32mm
- Compatible with most Intel computers
- Fan speeds up to 2000 rpm
What We Like About NZXT Kraken X52
This fan is relatively strong and aesthetically impressive, with a lurid LED display that is sure to catch the envy of those around you.
What We Don’t Like About NZXT Kraken X52
The supporting software for this unit has not been updated since early models from the same brand and can be difficult to work with on newer computers.
- Broad control options to manage all aspects of the unit’s function
- Quiet pump and fan
- CAM management software on mobile or desktop
- Infinity mirror lighting
- Impressive six year warranty
- Clunky CAM package
- Hard to configure the unit
4. Thermaltake Water 3.0
This cooler wicks away heat in a hurry with a trio of powerful turbines and a great heat exchanger.
- Three cooling turbines
- Unit measures 5.91″(W) x 3.39″(H) x 6.30″(D)
- 140mm fan width
- 360 square millimeter radiation surface
What We Like About Thermaltake Water 3.0
Use this unit to get a number of large thermal exchange surfaces that can get rid of excess heat in a hurry
What We Don’t Like About Thermaltake Water 3.0
This unit is somewhat pricier than its comparable products.
- Triple turbines
- Large échange surface
- Superior pump and pipe engineering
- Easy to set up
- Universal socket compatibility kit included
- Relatively expensive
- Does not always alert the user of errors
5. EVGA CLC
Although new to the field, this manufacturer has still managed to produce a top-shelf cooling system
- Unit measures 312 x 139 x 27mm
- Fan width 280mm
- Pump volume 20dB
- Intel and AMD compatible
What We Like About EVGA CLC
This unit comes with an impressive software package that lets you control the cooling from desktop or mobile.
What We Don’t Like About EVGA CLC
Instructions are unclear, especially regarding installing socket adapters
- Exceptional control software
- Quick and simple setup
- Sleeved tubing for added safety and insulation
- Teflon fan bearings increase lifespan
- Innovative fan blade shape improves airflow
- Liquid tubes and reservoir are somewhat thin
- Shoddy adaptability options
Heavy computer usage puts out a surprising amount of heat for a machine in which absolutely nothing is supposed to be burning. A liquid cooler sucks that heat away far faster than trying to blow it away with air currents.
If your computer requires additional cooling, or the unit is not lowering temperatures enough, take a look at the area around the computer. If papers or desk walls are obstructing the radiator vents, they will trap the heat inside the radiator and drastically reduce its effectiveness.
For both your own safety and that of your computer, it is worth checking closely to see if the reservoirs or piping have any leaks in them before installing the unit. Leaking coolant can instantly disable your computer and presents a serious risk of electric shock to someone touching the wet area.