How To Choose A CPU Cooler

What About “Boxed Coolers”?

Called “boxed coolers” by our forum members, manufacturer-supplied CPU thermal solutions are not usually designed to deal with the added heat of overclocking or the tight confines of slim cases. The motherboard usually slows fans to reduce noise, and responds first to elevated CPU temperature by increasing fans to maximum speed. If maximum fan speed fails to lower the CPU’s temperature to acceptable operating levels, the system usually reduces CPU frequency and core voltage levels. We call this thermal throttling. The worst situation usually occurs when a screaming machine fails to produce an acceptable level of performance.

Aftermarket coolers usually have more surface area to reduce CPU temperature, as well as larger fans to deliver more air volume at lower sound pressure levels. Shown above are a 2x140mm liquid-based CPU cooler, a dual-radiator “Big Air” cooler of roughly the same size as the liquid cooler, Intel’s two previous generations of included (stock or boxed) CPU coolers, and a wide low-profile cooler designed primarily for home theater PC builds.

Included in its FX-8370, the AMD Wraith Cooler shows AMD’s latest attempt to provide at least some additional cooling capacity in a boxed cooler.

Yet the exclusive use of AMD in the above photo points to another potential reason buyers are forced to choose their own cooler: While the majority of retail-boxed CPUs include some kind of cooler, several high-end models don’t.

For a while, both AMD and Intel marketed compact liquid cooling systems to satisfy the cooling requirements of extremely hot processors, without forcing customers to select an alternative brand. The popularity of 120mm fan mounts on current cases allows liquid coolers this small to fit a wider variety of case shapes and motherboard component locations, compared to similarly-sized traditional coolers.

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  • HEXiT
    i always used air coolers.
    1)way less moving parts.
    2)less maintenance.
    3)less noise.
    4)if something does break its often way less costly to fix.
    5)i find liquid coolers aesthetically ugly unless your spending real money on ptg/glass tubing.

    i do see the advantages of liquid cooling but saying as i build most of the time for other people who dont have a clue about pc's. i just find it way less of a headache to use air.