how to choose a cpu cooler

Whether you’re building a new gaming PC or upgrading your existing setup, choosing the right CPU cooler is crucial. But if you are new, the process can be daunting.

But fear not, we are here to help! In this ultimate guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about how to choose a cpu cooler for your gaming PC.

How To Choose A CPU Cooler

CPU coolers are an essential component of any system but they need to be compatible for it to be effective.

Here are the factors you need to take into consideration before choosing a CPU cooler that suits your system:

Also Read – Is 90c safe for cpu while gaming?


The first thing you need to do is to figure out how much you hope to spend. You need to settle on a budget that is realistic in terms of your finances, but be aware of the consequences of under spending.

Although the least expensive cooler may seem like the easiest option, it may not necessarily be suitable for your CPU – a factor that will lead to the additional expense of new purchases. 

Similarly, overspending can leave you in a tough position if you need to upgrade other components or have sudden personal expenses. That being said, if you are looking to simply upgrade your cooler, the amount you need to spend is unlikely to be flexible.

The bottom line is to ensure you are open to spending a reasonable amount for the most suitable unit.

How Much Heat Does Your CPU Generate?

The answer to this question will help you figure out whether you need a small, medium or large CPU cooler. The Thermal Design Power(TDP) of a CPU is the indication of how much heat can be generated in watts.

How Much Heat Does Your CPU Generate

Although the number of watts/TD will be mentioned on the box it came in, it’s highly unlikely that most of us hold on to it. Fortunately, you can simply visit PC Hardware links, type in the model number of your CPU and hit search!

If you do not know the model of your CPU, visit CPUID and download ‘’CPU-Z”. Running this tool will tell you everything you need to know about your CPU. Once you know the number of watts generated, use it as a vital factor in your decision-making process.

Relatively cheaper and smaller coolers are generally well suited for CPUs that generate between 40 to 70 watts. However, if it generates over 70 watts, a cooler that is larger in size will be more efficient.

Simply put, make sure that your cooler will have a TDP rating that is much higher than the rating of your processor.

Socket Type

Although the majority of CPUs are created to be compatible with most sockets, there are exceptions. As some units can only fit certain CPU sockets, ensure you select a cooler that will fit the motherboard and processor that you currently have (or hope to purchase).

socket type

Aside from the socket type, taking a look at the layout of your motherboard will give you an idea of the cooler you need to purchase. If your motherboard has a neat and uncluttered outlook, you should be able to fit most coolers.

However, if it includes multiple heat pipes for example, it could be relatively less compatible.

Buying a CPU cooler that has different brackets for various common sockets is the best decision in this case.

Air Cooler vs AIO/Liquid Cooler

The most common types of CPU coolers are air coolers, liquid coolers, and all-in-one coolers. While all of these options have their pros and cons, here’s a rundown that should give you an understanding of which one is better for you:

An Air Cooler uses both heatsinks and fans to function. While this is the relatively affordable option, it is unfortunately also the loudest. On the other hand, an All-in-one (AIO) cooler is a liquid cooler that provides great performance with reduced sound.

Air Cooler vs AIO Liquid Cooler

It is obvious that the AIO cooler is the better option in terms of performance, but it is quite expensive.

Open-Loop- Coolers are an additional option. This liquid cooler gives you the freedom to build a cooling solution with the added advantage of cooling other components as well (e.g. your graphics card’s GPU).

However, the only setback is the fact that it is comparatively complicated to set up. Fortunately there are Closed-Loop-Coolers that come sealed, which are much easier to set up as all you need to do is screw them. Plus, they are cheaper.

While an air cooler will not be too heavy on your wallet, it will also eliminate the potential hazard of water/liquid being associated with your electrical devices. Therefore, if you are on a budget and prefer avoiding water-related hazards at all costs, opting for an air cooler is likely to be the best option.

Other Factors

Here are a couple of other factors that can be taken into consideration, but are not as important as the ones we talked about.

Also Read: GPU is 80 degrees.


Some people like a quiet system, and the noisiest part of a CPU cooler is the fan. Coolers with smaller fans tend to be louder than coolers with larger fans.

Because spinning faster = more sound and smaller fans will spin a lot faster than larger ones.


A CPU cooler with a visually appealing design may not necessarily provide better cooling than one with a basic design so this is more of a personal preference.


But some people may have a higher priority on the appearance of their system and its components, while others may be more concerned with the performance of the CPU cooler.

Final Thoughts

If you’re a gamer hoping to overclock your processor, you will undoubtedly need a cooler that can accommodate the highest levels of performance. A high-end (liquid) cooler will be better suited in this case.

However, if you do not plan on pushing your processor to such limits and need to stick to a lower budget, an air cooler is the best option for you.


Does Any Cooler Work With Any CPU?

No, not all coolers are compatible with all CPUs. You need to take into account the TDP and the cooler needs to have a higher rating than your processor. Additionally you need to check the socket type to see if it’s compatible and you need to check if it fits your motherboard layout.

Is It Okay To Not Have A CPU Cooler?

You NEED a CPU cooler or otherwise your CPU will overheat, which can reduce performance and even damage all the components. A cooler will dissipate this heat from the CPU.