Last updated: September 10, 2020

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The Earth is almost 100 million miles away from the Sun – the perfect distance. Any closer and we would burn; any further and our planet would completely freeze. In its great wisdom, Nature has found the right balance. It is precisely this balance that we must seek in our computers.

Without a power source, a computer is nothing more than a piece of scrap technology. On the other hand, this very source of energy that reaches all the components can cause our device to overheat. Liquid coolers are excellent options to prevent this from happening. Are you ready to learn everything there is to know about them?

Key Facts

  • The larger the radiator and fans are, the more efficient the cooling will be. Since a larger fan can move more air, it will need to make fewer turns than a smaller model. This has a direct influence on the performance and the noise of the liquid cooling system.
  • Noise certainly isn’t a factor you want to overlook. Traditional ventilation systems – heat sinks – are generally louder than liquid coolers, which is partly why many people are turning to the latter.
  • You may also want to pay particular attention to the design of these components. Specific models integrate a number of colored LEDs. That way, you can personalize your computer with stylish lighting while preventing overheating issues.

Our Selection: The Best Liquid Coolers on the U.S. Market

A quality cooling system is essential if you want to keep high temperatures at bay, especially for intensive uses such as gaming or video editing. In the following section, you will discover our very own selection of the best liquid coolers currently on the American market. That way, you can learn more about the options available to you.

Best Liquid Cooler: Amazon’s Choice

When it comes to cooling systems, few can match the firepower and overall quality of Cooler Master. The MasterLiquid LC240E RGB has become Amazon’s Choice in the category by combining performance, affordability, and style. Integrating two 120-millimeter fans, it is compatible with a wide range of CPU sockets. In addition, you can personalize the color and light effects of this cooler. This model can reach noise levels of 31.5 decibels.

Best Liquid Cooler by Noctua

Austrian brand Noctua has been on the market for 15 years now, and it has built itself a solid reputation thanks to the quality and affordability of its hardware. The NH-D15 has received hundreds of positive reviews from past buyers, who have praised its efficiency and low noise levels. One thing we particularly like about this liquid cooler? The manufacturer offers an incredible 6-year warranty with it, so you know the quality is there.

Best High-End Liquid Cooler

Corsair is another major manufacturer of cooling systems whose product quality you can rely on. Part of the famed Hydro Series, the H115i PRO RGB is a high-performance liquid cooler that will keep the most demanding systems at adequate temperatures. With noise levels that won’t pass 25 decibels when operating at full speed, this model also features an attractive Zero RPM mode that will turn it off when it isn’t needed.

Best Value-For-Money Liquid Cooler

Last but not least, here is a fantastic option if you want a quality liquid cooler at a more affordable price than most models on the market. The H60 is a no-frills component that is very easy to install in all compatible CPUs. This model automatically regulates the fan speed to find the perfect balance between cooling capacity and noise levels. Here’s a liquid cooler that offers real bang for your buck!

Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Liquid Coolers

Some of your computer’s components can often be fairly expensive, especially if you are looking for customized parts for high-performance activities. This is why being familiar with these parts is essential. It will allow you to make a more informed decision and avoid unpleasant surprises. In the following section, we have answered the most frequently asked questions regarding liquid coolers.

A quality liquid cooling system will keep your device safe from overheating issues.
(Source: Thodonal: 44671492/ 123rf.com)

How does a liquid cooler work?

Just like any other electric equipment, your computer requires a power source. Performance-wise, specific activities, such as video and photo editing or video games, can be very demanding with your device. This means that it will have higher use of energy. This causes the temperature of your computer to increase as well, in particular in components like the processor or graphics card.

To prevent these parts from being damaged, fans are generally used to dissipate the hot air produced by the increase in energy and, therefore, in temperature. But this isn’t always good enough, and liquid coolers offer enhanced performance. The liquid coolant circulates driven by a pump passes through a closed circuit to absorb heat, before being fed into a radiator. There, a fan cools the liquid before the process starts over again.

The larger the radiator and fans are, the more efficient the cooling will be.
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What parts does a liquid cooler have?

Please note that this may actually vary from one model to the next. That being said, there are naturally different components that can be found in the vast majority of products, such as the coolant. Here is a list of the key parts, as well as their purpose:

  • Coolant liquid: It is usually distilled water or a mixture of water with some other component. This is more efficient than air-based cooling systems, but using tap water is not recommended.
  • Water circuit: It consists of the pipes through which the coolant travels.
  • Hydraulic pump: This is the mechanism that makes the liquid pass through the circuit.
  • Radiator: Once the coolant has absorbed the heat, it heads to this component of the circuit.
  • Fans: Their primary goal is to cool the liquid that arrives hot in the radiator. Once the fans complete this task, the coolant is ready to go through the circuit again.
Isaac AsimovAmerican Writer & Professor of Biochemistry

“I do not fear computers. I fear the lack of them.”

What maintenance does my liquid cooler need?

In principle, it shouldn’t require much work. However, you must still be careful and check some aspects from time to time. Some computer experts recommend changing the coolant every now and then. The frequency of this change will depend on how easily you can assemble and disassemble your cooling system.

In addition, you must pay attention to the hot air outlet and keep it clean of dust and dirt particles to facilitate air circulation. If you want to go a step further, you can also make sure that there are no leaks in the ducts through which the coolant passes. Besides, you should always check the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding maintenance.

What are the advantages of liquid coolers?

Setting up a new liquid cooling system in your computer is a decent financial investment. Besides, it can turn out to be a challenging process if you aren’t a technology expert. So, what are the real benefits of a liquid cooler? Why should you complicate your life by installing this component instead of leaving the one you already have?

The main advantage of a liquid cooling system is that it dissipates more heat than air cooling. If you tend to use your computer intensively by playing video games or editing videos and photos, you will certainly find this type of cooling handy. Not to mention the fact that it produces less noise than standard cooling systems.

Type of coolant  Advantages Disadvantages
Air cooling It is a simpler system.
Often installed as standard in devices.
It doesn’t require any maintenance.
It is more affordable.
An air cooler is generally noisier.
It dissipates less heat.
Liquid cooling It is more efficient at keeping the temperature of the device down.
All computer components can be cooled.
It is usually quieter.
Some models integrate a LED system as an aesthetic touch.
You need to install it.

For which devices are liquid coolers recommended?

This cooling system is designed for desktop computers. More experienced users often build their device by piece by piece and always include a dedicated space for a powerful cooling system. Otherwise, the lack of space is often an obstacle when installing this component.

However, it isn’t all about physical and technical matters; you also have to think about the use you want to make of your computer. If you use it intensively, some of its components – such as the processor – are exposed to overheating. In that case, you are advised to install this type of system.

Are liquid coolers safe?

In theory, mixing a liquid with electricity may not seem like a great idea. Leakage is the leading risk that this component faces. This is why you must check the system regularly to ensure that the liquid isn’t leaking. Otherwise, your entire device could potentially be damaged.

However, while it is good to exercise caution, liquid coolers aren’t particularly dangerous elements. You are encouraged to opt for reliable manufacturers, read user reviews, and, above all, install the component correctly. If you have any doubts during this process, please contact the manufacturer or an expert.

You should always check the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding maintenance.
(Source: Natalya: 82024039/ 123rf.com)

Shopping Criteria

A good liquid cooling system will keep your equipment safe from high temperatures. This will improve the performance of your CPU and extend the life of certain components, such as the processor or graphics card. However, before deciding on one system or another, there are some criteria to consider. Here are the most important ones.

Size of Components

On one side, the size of the fan is a key aspect of picking the right liquid cooler. As we explained earlier, a smaller model will have to spin more times to move the same amount of air as a larger fan. Besides, the fact that it has to work faster can also influence the noise levels it produces.

On the other hand, the larger the size of your radiator is, the more capable it will be in keeping the temperature down. However, both the size of the radiator and that of the fan will impact the amount of space the liquid cooler requires to fit inside your computer. In that regard, finding the right balance is up to you!

Liquid cooling systems are generally less noisy than traditional heat sinks.
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Noise

As mentioned briefly, liquid coolers make less noise than conventional heat sink systems. However, this doesn’t mean that they are entirely silent. You can check the manufacturer’s specifications, which should indicate the noise levels in decibels (dB).

The majority of liquid coolers on the market will produce between 15 and 30 decibels. The quietest models can even go as low as 8 to 10 dB. In that regard, ask yourself how much noise bothers you in general. Depending on your answer, you will know what decibel range to look for. Once again, it’s all about balance.

Power

What we refer to when discussing power is the cooling capacity of a particular system. As you now know, the size of the radiator and the fan will significantly determine this essential aspect. However, the fan’s power itself is also an influential factor. The more revolutions per minute (rpm) it can make, the greater its power will be and, therefore, the more efficient it will be at cooling your device.

The main advantage of a liquid cooler is that it dissipates more heat than air cooling systems.
(Source: Golubovy: 54302123/ 123rf.com)

Design

Of course, aesthetics are not the primary purpose of this component, whose job is to keep the temperature of your computer down. However, many users also value the appearance of their device – especially if they are building it piece by piece. This is why manufacturers have started producing liquid coolers with a LED system that allows you to customize your device for a unique look.

Budget

Don’t worry; we weren’t about to overlook this fundamental criterion. How much will it cost you to get a liquid cooler and keep overheating issues at bay? As you may have noticed, there is a wide range of models and prices on the American market, with most products costing anywhere between 70 and 200 dollars. If you’re really on a tight budget, you can find more affordable models still.

Our top recommendation is that you opt for a liquid cooler from a reliable manufacturer. Some brands have built themselves a solid reputation over the years by developing quality products. Keep in mind that the other components of your computer may have already cost you a decent sum of money. Don’t jeopardize this by letting heat damage them over time.

Summary

Some of the tasks we do on our computers can lead to an increase in energy use, which causes the temperature of our equipment to rise. In fact, this seemingly small issue can be a serious threat to certain components. For this reason, you should pay attention to the cooling system of your device.

Traditional heat sink cooling systems are often inadequate to prevent particularly high temperatures. Liquid coolers are the perfect alternative. Before you make your purchase, don’t forget to check the compatibility of the product with your computer. And if you have any concerns regarding noise, don’t forget to check the manufacturer’s specifications!

We hope that you found our shopping guide on liquid coolers useful and informative. If it has helped you find the perfect model for your needs, feel free to let us know by leaving a comment in the section below. You can also share this article on your social media!

(Source of featured image: Andriklemencho: 59144545/ 123rf.com)

Why you can trust me?

Brett Holmes Technology Geek
Brett is a keen observer of the latest technology trends and knows his way around the industry because he runs an electronics store. He writes about it in his spare time and wants to help others learn more about the technology industry.