With newer, more powerful CPUs coming out every day, the need for a good cooling solution is increasing pretty much daily. And if DIY liquid cooling and custom loops are too much, something like the best AIO coolers is what you need.
AIO, or all-in-one coolers, take everything that’s complicated about a custom loop and put it together in one closed system. This basically eliminates any need for you to do anything else except mounting the system and enjoying the benefit.
The main thing about them, and why they’re better than air coolers, is cooling performance and noise levels. The liquid cools much better than air, especially when it’s in an optimized system like this. To add to this, a good AIO cooler needs to move much less air than an air cooler. This allows it to run the fans at lower RPM and get lower noise levels. But let’s not waste any more time and look at our options, shall we?
When you’re looking at the options below, there are a few things you’ll want to take note of, so let’s see what they are.
The first one is the radiator size. The radiator size indicates how many fans you have, and how big they are. For example, you can have a small radiator with a single 120mm fan. Or, you can have a massive one with three 140mm fans. This all depends on two things. The first one is what’s the biggest size your case can fit. If it fits two 140mm fans next to each other, that’s room for a 280mm radiator right there. But you’ll find this in your case manual. The second one is what kind of CPU you’re cooling. If you have a powerful CPU with a high TDP, a larger radiator provides better cooling.
The other thing you want to note is basically all the extras. The radiator size dictates performance. However, you could have nice things like RGB, braided hoses, or even something like NZXT’s pump display which is a neat addition. You can also consider the fans that are included here because some AIOs will come with outright bad fans. With an AIO, you want fans optimized for static pressure. This lets them move larger amounts of air, even if that’s at a lower RPM.
With that out of the way, let’s take a look at picking the best AIO coolers for your needs and requirements.
NZXT has long had some of the best premium AIO coolers, but the Z73 takes things to the next level. The three 120mm Aer P fans do a great job at keeping things cool, and the massive radiator can cool liquid very quickly.
The braided tubing adds rigidity and durability, and you have plenty of length. You can put it both at the front, or the top of your build, regardless of the case.
But arguably the highlight here is the display on top of the pump. It’s CAM-compatible, and it can display things like temperatures or performance. Or, you can just have it display a random GIF or animation. That’s completely up to you. And overall, the combination of performance and aesthetics makes this one of the best AIO coolers.
Cooler Master’s cooling products have always offered a great combination of price and performance, and the ML360R is no exception. This 360mm AIO performs admirably without costing an arm and a leg and comes with a few nice things.
The fans are all optimized for static pressure, and they push a lot of air. They’re also ARGB, and so is the circle in the pump, so you can customize the looks, too. There is also a controller included, so you can adjust it even if you don’t have a supported header.
To add to this, the dual-chamber pump does a great job at keeping your CPU cool. The FEP tubes are covered with black sleeves to improve durability, which is something we’re used to seeing only on high-end coolers. A great midrange pick if you want RGB and good performance.
If you don’t want to spend too much, DEEPCOOL’s Castle 360EX is the perfect budget 360mm AIO. It won’t set you back too much, and it still comes with all the nice things you’d need from one of the best AIO coolers.
The AIO comes with anti-leak tech. There are also braided tubes that are a rarity on a cooler that costs as much as this one. It’s obvious DEEPCOOL played the durability game and did a great job. The large copper base on the pump and the increase in skived fins on the backside make for a large heat absorption area, and overall, the cooler does a great job with pretty much any CPU.
Factor in the RGB on the pump itself, which you can control with most popular motherboard software options, and you’re looking at an excellent choice for a budget AIO.
Corsair has been around and part of the AIO game for a while. The H115i RGB Platinum is a great choice for people who want the best, but can’t fit anything over a 280mm radiator in their case. It takes two of Corsair’s ML Pro magnetic levitation fans and adds a thermally optimized, near-silent pump for the best possible performance.
In addition to this, you’re looking at sleeved tubes for durability. Also, RGB on both the fans and the pump itself, so you can customize the looks of the entire system as you see fit. You can control it with the iCUE software, which is simple enough.
Now, the H115i Platinum is definitely expensive. But it is certainly one of the best AIO coolers of this size if you can fit it in your case.
If you don’t want the fancy display of the Z series AIOs, the X53 is a pretty great alternative. Oh, and it will also save you a few bucks. It comes with their well-known high-performance pump and two 120mm Aer P fans. The combination results in some pretty great temperatures on any processor.
The braided tubes are a nice addition, and you also get RGB LED on the infinity mirror pump cap. A nice addition is the ability to rotate the pump head. This means you can set the pump in any orientation and still have the logo oriented upright.
The tip of the iceberg is the complete integration with NZXT CAM. This gives you total control over temperature, pump speeds, fan RPM, and everything else. Overall, if you want a 240mm AIO, this is probably the best price-to-performance model.
We never thought we’d be recommending EVGA as a budget-oriented brand, but the CLC 240mm is one of their AIOs that gets you excellent performance at a price that’s more than reasonable. You get two FX12 120mm fans, which perform admirably and come with PWM to regulate speeds, as well as a near-silent pump.
The fans themselves are made to reduce the noise without sacrificing performance. This means you can run them at lower RPM and still get great performance compared to other AIOs. This is nice, and with the airflow you get, you will get an almost-quiet AIO and rather low temperatures. The pump also has an RGB logo that you can customize, which is a nice touch.
The one thing we didn’t love was the tubes. While braided, they were a bit too thin. Honestly, this isn’t really confidence-inspiring in terms of how much coolant they can move. But they did do a good job.
It’s easy to see why this is our pick for a premium choice – it’s built like a tank, and it performs very, very well, for an actually reasonable price. It also does something few others do – it comes with two fans that go on both sides of the radiator, in order to get you even better performance.
And oh boy, is that performance great. Temperatures are as low as they could be, and with Corsair including two SP120L fans, you get quiet operation as well. Of course, you’ll need q bit of room to fit it, but if you have that extra room, it’s more than worth it.
Factor in the massive pump surface, as well as the braided tubes and extra-thick radiator, and it’s easy to see why this is one of the best AIO coolers.
The Kraken M22 is NZXT’s “small kid” in the lineup. It comes with a single Aer P 120mm fan and a compact radiator, but it’s still an excellent choice. At a reasonable price, you get great cooling and NZXT’s infinity mirror design on the pump.
The main idea behind the design of the M22 was to create a design that’s as compact as possible, which is why you only have a 120mm Aer P fan, and a radiator that’s incredibly compact. The pump itself is small, too, which is nice. You get enough of a length with the tubes, and you also get the ability to rotate the pump as you see fit, while still keeping the logo upright.
All things considered, if you want excellent performance and a bit of nice-to-have aesthetics, this is a great choice.
Another MasterLiquid AIO, but this time as a budget pick, it seems like Cooler Master really knows what they’re doing. The ML120L takes one of Cooler Master’s SickleFlow fans and adds a high-performance pump to provide excellent cooling at a rather reasonable price.
RGB makes an appearance on both the fan, as well as the logo on the pump, so you have a bit of customization. And even if you don’t have a header on the motherboard, you get an included controller. The sleeved tubes are really well made, and Cooler Master boasts EPDM material on the inside to strengthen the seal and get you improved longevity.
All things considered, if you don’t want to spend too much, but still want a bit of customization and don’t want to compromise performance, this is one of the best AIO coolers out there.
One of the main things about people who steer clear of custom cooling loops is the complications of getting everything together. If you’d still want to play around a bit, you can go for Corsair’s Hydro X series XH305i kit, which gets you all the components you need for guaranteed compatibility. All that’s left for you to do is put everything together.
The kit includes pretty much everything you might need. You get a pump, radiator, tubing, tools to bend and cut the tubes, coolant, and fittings. What’s also nice is that you also get three QL120 RGB fans, as well as the Commander Pro RGB controller, and a fan speed controller, too. The XR5 radiator does a great job, and so does the XD5 pump and reservoir combo which is made to save you a bit of space. Last but not least, the XC7 RGB water block gets you a nickel-plated copper construction that you won’t find with many AIOs.
Now, there’s no denying that it will be complicated to put together. You’ll have to be careful, and you’ll have to know what you’re doing. But if you’re down to play around a bit, and figure a few things out on your own, you’re going to have a lot of fun with the HX305i hardline kit.
Best Capture Cards for Gaming in 2021
Best Analog Headsets for Gaming
Best External DACs for Gaming
Best Alternatives for a DualShock 4 Controller
The Ultimate Buying Guide for Gaming Routers
Gaming Mice Terms and Their Meanings
Best Controllers for PC Gaming
Best Gaming Mouse Bungees