Best CPU Cooling

Best Closed-Loop Liquid Coolers

Best Closed-Loop Liquid Coolers

Liquid cooling attempts to circumvent heat sink size limits by moving the largest portion of the cooler away from the CPU socket to a dedicated spot on the case. Relocating the radiator to the case also allows it to accept cooler air from outside the case, particularly when it's mounted to the front panel. Even a radiator mounted to the top panel to serve as an exhaust system usually benefits from the unit's larger size. Furthermore, displacing cooler weight from the CPU socket to the case decreases the damage risk associated with rough handling of the complete system, making closed-loop liquid coolers a better choice for those who must transport or ship a machine.


The performance of open-loop coolers varies widely depending on the builder's configuration choices, and most are sold as individual components or base kits designed for further customization. Reliability of these systems is dependent upon installation skill or, as was the case with newsman Niels' first installation, making sure everything fit and was connected properly.

Closed-loop designs seal the liquid inside to prevent leaks and reduce maintenance, while open loops allow builders to cool multiple components from a single radiator. Beyond being suitable to more builders for the lack of leaks, a lack of customization makes closed-loop coolers easy to rate. While larger coolers tend to provide better performance, different models of the same or similar radiator size can perform dissimilarly based on materials, cooling fin and water channel design, fan design, pump design and the speed of those moving parts.

Combining the flexibility of removable hoses with integrated reservoirs, hybrid loop kits ship sealed from the factory, but can be opened by enthusiastic builders to add additional components. We test these in the same manner as closed loop coolers.

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