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Are you looking for the best budget CPU cooler you can get your hands on? Then look no further. Whether you’re after impressive CPU overclocks, or looking for silence even under heavy loads, you should choose your CPU cooler carefully.
Also, don’t forget to consider thermal paste to make sure you’re getting the most efficient thermal transfer between your CPU and cooler plate – check out our list of the best thermal paste for CPU.
That’s right, the best CPU cooler can make a big difference with regards to your rig’s temperatures, noise, and even performance – especially if you’re overclocking. If your CPU cooler can’t keep up, you’ll get worse performance and possibly even shorten the lifespan of your processor.
So picking the best CPU cooler for your processor is a big decision during any CPU upgrade or new PC build – but what are your options if you’re on a budget? Let’s have a look.
Best budget CPU cooler
Best overall budget CPU cooler – BeQuiet Pure Rock 2
BeQuiet Pure Rock 2
Intel 115x, 1200, 1700, 2011x, 2066 and AM3(+) or AM4
- Low noise
- Very efficient heat dissipation
- Assymetrical design
- Limitations with Intel 2011x series
When we started putting together this guide, we were hoping to find a really great budget cooling option that would suit any high-performance PC, regardless of the use case. We’re very pleased to be able to tell you that the Pure Rock 2 from BeQuiet ticked every box, and even a few which we weren’t expecting.
As the name would suggest (the “BeQuiet” part, anyway), this is a very subtle cooling option that won’t make a whole lot of noise. The 120mm PWM fan can be rapidly cycled on an off, making it much more durable than a DC fan (which run at a constant speed) and capable of scaling its performance according to your usage.
The actual build of the Pure Rock 2 is also really nice. It has 6mm heat pipes, which have been designed to extract as much heat from your processor as possible and feed it towards the heatsink’s cooling fins, allowing for very efficient heat dissipation.
For compatibility, the Pure Rock 2 is designed to work with Intel 115x, 1200, 1700, 2011x, and 2066 sockets, (although, with the 2011x series, only the square ILM mounts will work). Any AM3(+) or AM4 board will also work. In terms of the actual benchmarks, this thing will keep even a fifth-gen i7 in the mid-60’s, even under a full load.
One of the other design adjustments we really appreciate is the fact that it has an asymmetrical design. This will allow you to avoid the unfortunately fairly common occurrence of a heatsink taking up unnecessary real-estate on your motherboard, making it difficult to use certain RAM slots on your motherboard.
Lastly, the fact that the Pure Rock 2’s mounting kit allows it to be mounted from above the motherboard is a cool touch. We all know how finicky installing a heatsink can be at times, so this is another great feature we wouldn’t have expected within this price bracket.
We really love the BeQuiet Pure Rock 2 for all of its functions, and wouldn’t have expected this kind of product to be priced so reasonably. Even if all you’re looking for is the cheapest possible cooling option, we’d recommend picking it up for an easy-to-use and extremely quiet heatsink.
Best silent budget CPU cooler – Noctua NH-U14S
Intel LGA1700 (LGA17xx) LGA1200, LGA115x, LGA2011, LGA2066 and AMD AM4 & AM5.
165x150x78mm (Radiator and fan)
- Very quiet
- Sturdy design
- Effective, aerodynamic design
- Best to avoid combining with memory modules of 32mm or higher
When it comes to the world of CPU coolers, the budget options often have their drawbacks; one of the most common is their poor noise-suppression. What it might lack in bells and whistles, the Noctua NH-U14S more than makes up for in its sturdy design, reliability, and very quiet operation.
As with the Pure Rock 2, the NH-U14S has been designed to accommodate for most memory module sizes. The 52mm slim design is actually symmetrical in this case, but it’s still recommended that you avoid combining this heatsink with memory modules higher than 32mm (which should be fine for most of you, but we’d recommend double-checking first).
In terms of its actual socket compatibility, this model works fine with the following sockets: Intel LGA1700 (LGA17xx) LGA1200, LGA115x, LGA2011, LGA2066 and AMD AM4 & AM5.
The standout feature here is the NF-A15 140mm PWM round fan, with a unique aerodynamic design and flow acceleration channels. This is a pretty neat design concept which directs airflow towards the end of the fins in a way that allows them to make as little noise as possible.
The NF-A15 is also provided with a Low-Noise Adaptor, which means that the fan speed can be easily reduced from 1500rpm to 1200rpm, allowing for noise to be dampened even further.
It can be difficult to find a silent cooling option for a reasonable price these days, but we think that the Noctua NF-A15 provides the build quality and feature set needed to make it the perfect option for anyone seeking minimal noise without breaking the bank.
Best budget CPU cooler for gaming – Deep Cool GAMMAXX L240 V2
Deep Cool GAMMAXX L240 V2
Intel LGA20XX, LGA1366, LGA115X and AMD AM4, AM3+, AM3, AM2+, AM2, FM2+, FM2, FM1
- Great for overclocking
- Liquid cooling
- Nice RGB aesthetics
- Suited for slightly older motherboards
If you’re trying to put together a gaming PC on a tight budget, it can be difficult enough to find decent components within your price range, let alone managing to track down affordable liquid cooling accessories. Luckily for you, however, the Deep Cool GAMMAXX L240 V2 is a cooler which provides excellent value for money.
If the design of this cooler looks a little unconventional to you, that’s because it is. A closed loop water cooler, it combines an easy-to-mount circular CPU block which is where the water pump lies. Using the provided tubing, hot air is transported to the aluminium radiator which has two fans installed.
In terms of its actual performance, we’ve seen this thing take a Skylake (6th generation) i7’s temperatures down to the mid-40’s, even under load. At idle, it could drop down significantly further, so this should also be a great option for anyone out there looking to overclock their processor.
In terms of its compatibility, it’s suited for some slightly older motherboards: Intel LGA20XX, LGA1366, and LGA115X should all be fine. For AMD boards, it’s compatible with AMD AM4, AM3+, AM3, AM2+, AM2, FM2+, FM2, and FM1 products.
Those fans are both 120mm PWM fans, which will adjust their performance according to how heavy the tasks you’re currently performing are. Each of the fans has RGB LEDs around their perimeter, which provides a really sleek and modern aesthetic, especially if you have a transparent pane on your PC case.
All in all, this really is a spectacular liquid cooler that can be picked up on a budget. If you’re fixing up an older machine with one of the above-listed chip sockets, we can’t recommend it enough. Not only is it a great performer, but it’s also a beautiful unit to look at.
Frequently Asked Question
Do you really need a CPU cooler?
In short, if you are not on a prebuilt PC, then yes you really do. It is essential to keep temperatures in your rig down to avoid destroying it.
How many fans should a gaming PC have?
In a gaming PC you want at the very least one intake and one exhaust fan.