Aftermarket CPU coolers are usually divided into Air and Liquid cooling. Air coolers use heatsinks made out of metal (usually aluminum) and copper heat pipes filled with vapor to transfer the heat. All-in-one liquid CPU coolers use a liquid (usually distilled water) to transfer the heat away from the CPU to an external radiator using a water pump and tubes. So, what is the quietest CPU cooler?
Some say that air coolers are quieter, others say liquid coolers. The truth is a bit more complicated. Both can be awfully loud or extremely quiet, depending on the make and model. The fans that you use on the radiators or heatsink are also very important as well as how many you have mounted. You can also adjust the temp curve on the fans so that they only kick up when they are needed. But what is the quietest CPU cooler out there?
One of the quietest air coolers is the Noctua NH-D15. It is also one of the best-performing coolers. The NH-D15 has two NF-A15 fans that are specially designed to be quiet and they are mounted using anti-vibration mounts. They also have SSO2 magnetic bearings that don’t get loud and the fans automatically adjust themselves. It is the best and quietest cooler that enthusiasts love. The only downsides are the huge size and polarizing esthetic with no RGB.
If you are interested in other quiet air and liquid CPU coolers at different budgets and both with and without RGB, keep on reading.
What Is the Quietest CPU Cooler?
If your budget is tight and you need to have a quiet CPU cooler, one of the best coolers under $30 is the Thermaltake Contac Silent 12. The cooler has four solid copper heat pipes that make direct contact with the processor. It has support for a wide range of different sockets, including AM4 and LGA 1151 (It should work on LGA 1200 too, but check the manufacturer’s website), as well as many older sockets.
The cooler has a 120mm PWM controlled fan that has great automatic controls optimized for acoustics. There is even a low-noise cable for better acoustics. You can use it with a chip that has a TDP of up to 150 W, which means that some overclocking is easily done on this cooler. If you want RGB, there is also a slightly more expensive version with an RGB fan.
But what is the quietest CPU cooler that uses liquid? The quietest AIO would be the Corsair H115i RGB Platinum. If you love RGB, you will love this cooler. Corsair is one of the pioneers in RGB gaming gear. Their experience has allowed them to make one of the prettiest AIO coolers out there. The cooler is also compatible with Corsair’s iCue software that will let you customize everything from the RGB to the fan speed.
The cooler is marketed towards enthusiasts and the high price tag shows it. Nonetheless, the large radiator with twin 140mm Corsair ML Pro Series RGB fans do a great job at keeping your CPU cool. High overclocks are easily achieved on this cooler while still staying quiet and frosty. Even the water pump features a low-noise design.
But what about something small that can fit into anything? The low-profile NH-L12S from Noctua will do a great job here! We all know that Noctua creates the best computer fans, period. If you don’t care about RGB and need a low-profile cooler for a small ATX build, then the NH-L12S is the best choice.
It costs under $50 and comes with a six-year warranty. It is a great deal and, with Noctua’s legendary quality and reliability, you will not be disappointed. It’s needless to say that the NF-A12x15 PWM quiet slim fan will keep your CPU cool without ever getting loud.
The Noctua NH-D15 is the one to get if you don’t care about the esthetics and can fit it into your case. If you want RGB and a liquid cooler, get the Corsair H115i RGB Platinum. For something low-profile, get the Noctua NH-L12S. And for a low budget, the Thermaltake Contac Silent 12 will keep your CPU cool without getting loud.