How To Check CPU Cooler Compatibility

How To Check CPU Cooler Compatibility

In Hardware by AdamLeave a Comment

All right, so you have finally been convinced that you should get a new cooler for your CPU. You want to get the maximum out of your CPU either by overclocking or from the CPU’s integrated boost option. But, how to check CPU cooler compatibility?

All motherboards have the same basic layout. The CPU is always on the top half of the board and the cooler sits on top of it. While CPU coolers can be attached in many different ways, all of them have four points that connect them with the CPU and motherboard, one in each corner. This is true for all motherboards and coolers.

So, how to check CPU cooler compatibility before buying a new cooler? You first want to find out what your socket is. You can do that by Googling your CPU or motherboard model and checking the manufacturer’s website. The fastest way to check it is to go to Start – type “System Information” and click on it. You will see some data here. On the right, you can find “System Model” and “Processor” with your motherboard and CPU model respectively.

Googling either one of them will easily lead you to find the socket name. Another option is to download and install CPU-Z. It will show your socket name under “Package”. Let’s take AM4 from AMD as an example. The next thing you want to check is to see if the CPU cooler you are interested in has support for the socket. Again, checking the manufacturer’s website is easy, but most retailers will already have it listed under the specs list.

There are some other things that you want to take into consideration when buying a CPU cooler. Continue reading for more details.

How Do I Know If my CPU Cooler Is Compatible?

Once you have verified that your CPU cooler has the right brackets for your socket, the next thing you want to take into consideration are the dimensions.

So, how to check CPU cooler compatibility with your specific system? If you are buying a water cooler, you will be fine as long as you have somewhere to mount your radiator. Once again, always check the manufacturer’s websites to make sure that the radiator’s dimensions line up. However, if you are not buying a water cooler, but instead a beefy air cooler, things get a touch more complicated.

Some case manufacturers list CPU cooler compatibility either on their website or in the manual. Sometimes it is model names, other times they just say the dimensions. You need to take RAM clearance into account. Most CPU coolers take the average RAM clearance into account, but it is worth double-checking nonetheless.

Look for the CPU cooler’s dimensions and then use a ruler to check if it can fit into your case. If you have extra-large RAM sticks, then you must do some research for the specific CPU cooler model and see how it fits for other people. The last thing you want is to start installing a CPU cooler just to realize that it will not fit because your RAM is too tall.

Are CPU coolers Universal?

In general, CPU coolers are universal. The vast majority of aftermarket coolers are designed to fit as many sockets as possible. This increases the number of available customers for them, so it only makes sense to do so. However, there are some caveats.

First, the heat spreader on the CPU should not be significantly larger or smaller than the cooler’s contact surface. Unless you are using a workstation CPU, this is not an issue. Nonetheless, you should look for a good-quality CPU cooler, not something that will hardly be an improvement over the stock cooler. Also, if you are using an older system or are buying an older cooler, always check if your socket is on the cooler’s compatibility list.

Final Thoughts

CPU Coolers are usually a very simple upgrade for your system. They will increase your airflow, lower temperatures, increase efficiency, and boost clock speeds. Most CPU coolers are designed to be compatible with many different sockets and layouts, but it is always easy to check if the cooler you are planning to buy can fit onto your socket. And always check for RAM clearance!


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