PC water cooling has always made you curious. But you don’t want to grapple with the cost, installation, and maintenance of a homemade CPU water cooling system. We understand you very well!
Therefore, in this article, we show you the 7 best AiO water coolers for your gaming PC because an all-in-one water cooling (WaKü) offers many of the same advantages of an individually built cooling system.
So when you’re ready to take the plunge to a water-cooled PC, dive in with us now!
What is the best water cooling system for PC?
- Thermaltake Water 3.0 Riing RGB 360 | Best 360mm water cooling
- EVGA CLC 280 RGB | Best 280mm PC water cooler
- Corsair Hydro Series H100i Pro | Best 240mm water cooling
- NZXT Kraken M22 120 RGB | Best 120mm for compact systems
- Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML240R ARGB | RGB choice and alternative to the Corsair
- Enermax Liqtech 360 OC TR4 | Best AiO for TR4 Threadripper CPUs
- Alphacool Eissturm Hurricane Copper 45 | Best high-end with custom design
The Best PC Water Cooling 2021 in the Individual Review
In the following, we will detail our 7 topwater coolers and explain the advantages and disadvantages and special features of the individual models.
1. Thermaltake Water 3.0 Riing RGB 360
- Volume: 26 dbA
- Compatible Intel: LGA 2066 / 2011-3 / 2011/1366/1156/1155/1151/1150
- Compatible AMD: TR4, AM4, FM2, FM1 / AM3 + / AM3 / AM2 + / AM2
- Warranty: 3 years
- Dimensions: 392 x 120 x 27 mm (LxWxH)
If you have room in your case for a larger 360 mm AIO cooler, then the Thermaltake Water 3.0 Triple Riing water cooler is one of the best options. Although the Water 3.0 is also available in a 280 mm version, we recommend the larger version. But only if you have an extreme budget and want to take your cooling to the next level.
Because the Thermaltake Water 3.0 can actually accommodate up to six 120 mm fans (three on each side of the cooler). The part is also available in different versions: ARGB, non-RGB, Floe and Riing RGB.
- ARGB: Offers three fully lit RGB fans
- Non-RGB version: Does not have RGB-illuminated fans
- Floe version: Offers more powerful fans
- Rising RGB version: Comes with Thermaltake Riing RGB fans
For this larger 360 mm AIO cooler, however, you pay a lot. However, if that’s exactly what you’re looking for, the Thermaltake Water 3.0 is one of your best alternatives for 360mm water coolers.
2. EVGA CLC 280 RGB
- Volume: 39.5 dbA max.
- Compatible Intel: LGA 115x, 1366, 2011x / 2066
- Compatible AMD: AM4, AM2 / AM3 / FM1 / FM2 / TR4
- Guarantee: 5 years
- Dimensions radiator: 312 x 139 x 27 mm (LxWxH)
The EVGA CLC 280 is one of the best 280mm water coolers on the market. Because it is characterized by excellent cooling and an outstanding price-performance, although the other EVGA CLC are also neat, the 280mm version offers hardware according to Tom the best cooling.
The factory-filled aluminium cooler with mounted fans is sealed to the pump or water block unit with a 14.5-inch nylon hose with a rubber sleeve. Mounting hardware includes a factory-installed bracket for LGA115x / 20xx (2011-2066), an AMD rectangular bracket, a USB controller cable, screws and washers for cooler installation.
Instead of relying on the motherboard firmware for fan control, the CLC 280 is connected to the motherboard using a classic mini-USB to 9-pin header cable. Only four of these pins are connected.
Who is the EVGA CLC recommended for? Anyone who really needs a lot of cooling power and does not mind a little extra volume will do nothing wrong with this. Therefore, we recommend the CLC 280, especially for tinkerers with processors that get hot and space for a 2x 140mm cooler.
3. CORSAIR Hydro Series H100i PRO RGB
- Volume: 37 dbA max.
- Compatible Intel: 2066, 2011x, 1366, 115x
- Compatible AMD: AM2, AM3, AM4, FM1, FM2 (+), TR4
- Guarantee: 5 years
- Dimensions radiator: 276 x 120x 27 mm (LxWxH)
The addition of the 240mm H100i to the Corsair Hydro Pro range offers impressive cooling performance that is more like a larger 360mm model. This gives you the advantage that you have more space in the case and more coal in your pocket.
Although the H100i Pro neglects the now ubiquitous RGB lighting effects, it easily makes up for low CPU core temperatures.
By using faster fans with 2,400 rpm, Corsair offers us, tinkerers, with the H100i Pro a mighty PC water cooler with an acceptable noise level. In combination with an intelligent fan curve, idling and lighter loads enable quiet operation. However, if your CPU accelerates, the powerful fans will certainly make themselves felt.
Nevertheless, with the H100i Pro, Corsair shows that a high-quality 240mm AIO water cooler can be just as strong as a larger or more expensive 360mm model. And it costs a lot less. Therefore, the H100i Pro from Corsair is probably one of our top recommendations for price performance.
4. NZXT Kraken M22 120 RGB
- Volume: 36 dbA max.
- Compatible Intel: 2066, 2011x, 115x
- Compatible AMD: AM2, AM3, AM4, FM1, FM2
- Warranty: 3 years
- Dimensions radiator: 152x 120x 32 mm (LxWxH)
The NZXT Kraken M22 is an incredibly compact high-performance water cooler that combines elegant design with great RGB lighting options. It also offers support for current AMD and Intel CPU sockets (except TR4).
Especially if you want to build a small home theatre PC or a compact gaming system, the Kraken M22 offers surprising cooling potential in a compact cooling package. Because the M22 can according to the test of Tomshardware, easily keep up with large air coolers like the be quiet Dark Rock 4.Just, don’t try to use it to cool a Threadripper system. This cooler does not support the demanding thermals and the massive surface of these high-end CPUs. Simple assembly makes this AIO perfect for smaller m-ATX cases.
5. Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML240R ARGB water cooling
- Volume: 30 dbA max.
- Compatible Intel: 2066, 2011x, 115x, 1366, 775
- Compatible AMD: AM2, AM3, AM4, FM1, FM2
- Guarantee: 2 years
- Dimensions radiator: 275x 119x 27 mm (LxWxH)
The ML240R RGB is the perfect alternative to the Corsair Hydro H100i Pro. It offers enough quality, performance and cool design to be at the forefront with the 240mm water coolers.
In a direct comparison with some 360mm coolers, the MasterLiquid often keeps up with the cooling performance. When you consider that the good one costs just around 100 € and is more compact, you quickly get into raptures. Compared to our budget tip (Kraken M22), the ML240R even cools 7.5 ° C better, according to Tomshardware’s test. You have to know whether this is worth the 20 € to you. In any case, the MasterLiquid from Coolermaster is a hot tip!
6. Enermax Liqtech 360 OC TR4
- Volume: 28 dbA max.
- Compatible AMD: TR4
- Guarantee: 2 years
- Dimensions radiator: 394x120x 28 mm (LxWxH)
With the Liqtech 360 TR4 OC, Enermax has equipped the Threadripper world with a cooler that fully supports and covers these giant processors.
Here you get a performance that comes very close to custom water cooling, but offers the advantages of easy installation and the moderate cost of an AIO cooler. Also, extras such as RGB lighting and the corresponding software integrations are dispensed with here. Still, the Enermax Liqtech is one of the more expensive water coolers out there.
Threadripper enthusiasts who want to create excellent cooling performance and simple fan cooling curves will find exactly that in the Liqtech 360 TR4 OC. A recommended cooler for all Threadripper workstations.
7. Alphacool Eissturm Hurricane Copper 45
- Volume: 27.7 dbA max.
- Compatible Intel: 115x, 775, 1366, 2011, 2066,
- Compatible AMD: AM2, AM3, AM4, FM1, FM2
- Guarantee: 2 years
- Dimensions radiator: 400x124x45 mm (LxWxH)
With an enormous 3x140mm cooler, this AiO kit even enables integrating up to two graphics card coolers. Using industry-standard G1 / 4 fittings for all components, this set literally prompts you to add more components to the circuit.
A radiator of this size and with such a cooling potential enables this type of load due to the high-quality design and excellent manufacturing. The Eissturm-Hurricane pump pumps your coolant around the circuit as few others can. High-quality components and attention to detail can be seen on every single part of the kit.
Practical: The delivery scope includes a litre of coolant, 3-way fan splitter, thermal paste, a handy funnel and a 24-pin ATX bridging module.
The Alphacool Eissturm Hurricane Copper 45 AiO water cooler is the perfect choice for everyone looking for a complete and very high-quality PC water cooling kit. With this, you can really push your system to the limit.
PC Water Cooling Purchase Advice – All Questions about AiO clarified
Now that you know which are the best water coolers for your PC, we would like to give you some tips and clarify some frequently asked questions.
What is AiO water cooling?
An AiO water cooling contains, as the name suggests, all the necessary components to operate a water-cooled gaming PC. An AiO kit does about the same as an individually built PC water cooling, only without the stress of chaotic installation. These AiO water cooling sets come pre-sealed and the pump is usually integrated into the cooling plate.
A custom water cooling system can look like this – stylish, yes, but very demanding in terms of assembly
So you install the radiator in your PC case, screw the water block onto the processor, and you’re ready to go. It’s not much different than installing an air cooler and (usually) provides better cooling and less noise.
For whom is a CPU water cooling suitable?
In most gaming PCs, regular CPU air coolers keep the electronic components cool (and do it pretty well). But for people who use high-end hardware or want to overclock their PCs to the limit, a regular CPU fan may not have enough power for the job.
Therefore, when a computer generates too much heat, water cooling (also called liquid cooling) can sometimes be a better solution. While it may seem less intuitive to bring liquids near sensitive electronic PC parts, cooling with water is often far more efficient than cooling with air.
We admit that we also mostly prefer an inexpensive air cooler over a high-end water cooler. This is mainly because most of us aren’t trying to overclock our CPU like crazy (ok, except maybe Till).
However, that doesn’t mean you should do the same. Because if you intend to overclock your CPU to the utmost and are looking for something that underlines your case’s aesthetics, then a water cooler is more likely to meet your requirements. Often such a water cooling looks much cooler than such a bulky CPU cooler.
Advantages: Why can water cooling on the PC be better than air cooling?
Water has a higher thermal conductivity than air – it can move heat faster than air. Water also has a higher specific heat capacity. It can absorb more heat before it feels warm.
There are two reasons a gaming PC needs the increased thermal conductivity and heat capacity of water:
- Its components produce more heat than the air around them can absorb
- The installed fans are making too much noise or using too much power to cool the components
In other words: There are several reasons why you might want or even need to equip your PC with water cooling instead of an air cooler:
- The components in your build require more cooling than an air cooler can provide
- You want your system to run quieter
- And You want to overclock your system
- You want to save space in the housing
So you can see that PC water cooling has so many advantages. Switching from air to water cooling is a personal milestone in a gamer’s life who assembles their own PCs. You are a desktop Jedi now.
How does water cooling work in the PC?
A water cooling system for a PC works similarly to a car cooling system. Both use a basic principle of thermodynamics :
- Heat moves from warmer to colder objects
- As the cooler object gets warmer, the warmer object gets cooler
You can experience this principle up close by placing your hand flat on a cool spot on your desk for a few seconds. When you raise your hand, your palm becomes a little cooler, the place where your hand was, becomes a little warmer.
PC water cooling’s sole purpose is to release heat (energy) from critical computer components to the environment as quickly and effectively as possible by dissipating the heat through the radiators.
The water cooling process in detail
How exactly does the PC water cooling work now? First, let’s look at the components of the cooling system:
- A pump that moves coolant through the system
- A radiator that releases heat into the air
- A fan that blows air over the radiator
- A coolant reservoir that holds additional liquid and allows coolant to be easily added
- Hoses that connect the different parts of the system
The following graphic illustrates the process of the cooling circuit optically:
Legend: 1. Reservoir, 2. Pump, 3. Cooling block, 4. Radiator with fans, 5. Hoses or tubes, 6. Connections
- The coolant is poured into a reservoir or container (also Reservoirs called), connected with a pump unit. The water tank level must be checked and topped up from time to time as the water evaporates due to the heat. It is advisable to empty and clean the whole thing every six months.
- The pump then moves fluid through a network of pipes or hoses to a highly conductive metal block, usually copper or aluminum. This block has a finely milled side that attaches to the CPU’s top (or GPU). This water block usually has narrow channels through which the water flows and absorbs heat from the remaining material. Thermal paste between the chip and the block improves the heat transfer between the two surfaces. The chip heats the block, and the water absorbs the heat as it flows through all the channels.
- The water then leaves the CPU block on its way to a radiator cooler.
- At the cooler, the water is pushed through a network of even narrower channels.
- These ducts are cooled by a fan (or several) using an air blower.
- The water then flows back into the water tank and begins its journey again
What do I need for a PC water cooling
We have already mentioned the components of a water cooling system above. Here we want to explain this to you in more detail. For a simpler and uniform illustration, we use product examples for custom Waküs from the manufacturer EKWB.
The pump is one of the most important parts of the circuit. The strength of the pump determines how fast the coolant moves through the pipes and blocks. If the water moves too fast, it doesn’t have enough time to absorb heat. If it moves too slowly, too much heat can build up around sensitive components. The complexity of the system affects the overall flow rate. The more resistance the liquid has in the blocks and the cooler, the slower the overall flow rate.
The pump must also be powerful enough to move the liquid from the lowest point in the system to the highest. This is known as head pressure or vertical pressure and is especially important when very tall enclosures are being cooled with water cooling.
Radiator and fan
The main function of the radiator is to cool the liquid flowing in the circuit. As the liquid flows through a copper pipe, the cooler fins absorb the heat from the water. The fins are then cooled by the fans attached to the radiator.
The radiator fans should generate enough static pressure (ideally at low speed) and be matched to the radiator type. With AiO water coolers you don’t have to worry about that. However, if you want to build a custom wakü, then be particularly fussy when choosing the radiator fan.
CPU / GPU block
Cooling blocks (also called water blocks) are used to transfer heat from the source (most commonly the CPU) into the liquid flowing through the water block. Micro fins that improve the cooling surface and channel design make the water block a crucial part of the cycle. This also enables the highest overclocks.
The cooling block is mounted directly on the CPU and absorbs the emitted heat. Caution: The cooling block only cools the processor, not the voltage converter. Therefore, you have to ensure that your housing is well ventilated.
Expansion tank (reservoir)
A reservoir (also: expansion tank or cooling tank) is supposed to keep adding water in a circuit so that air bubbles can be slowly replaced by circulating water.
It also serves as a filling point for liquid coolant. Reservoirs can be stand-alone units or, on smaller models, supplied as a pump and reservoir combination. Without an expansion tank, the water cooling system would burst.
This can be used to vent the circuit if necessary. The reservoir is extremely popular with case modders, as you can put an individual note on your own WaKü.
Tubing: hard or soft
Hoses connect every component in the circuit. Logically, the size of the hose must match the size of the connections and vice versa.
Each tube or hose element is marked with two numbers, the smaller number being the inside diameter and the larger number being the outside diameter. Thicker hoses usually do not offer a better flow rate. Rubber hoses offer greater durability and are less flexible, which prevents kinks.
There are also rigid, hard pipes for the professionals among the case modders, which means that the water cycle can be designed very individually.
Special connecting parts are used to connect and fix pipes or hoses to other components in the cooling circuit.
There are numerous sizes and shapes and a distinction between connections for soft and hard hoses. You always need two connections for each component of the water cooling.
Screw connections offer greater reliability than quick-release fasteners. The circuit should be tight and without leaks.
The final component of a PC water cooling system is the liquid itself. Many use distilled water for this, as tap water contains impurities that can clog the channels in the water blocks and cooler, or make the hoses cloudy.
Special additives can even add colour to the liquid to make it look even more appealing. Also, certain coolant additives can lower the water’s surface tension, making it a more effective coolant. Finally, some additives have antimicrobial or corrosion-inhibiting components that can extend the water cooling system (keyword: rust protection and algae prevention).
Conclusion: How To choose the right PC Water Cooling?
Choosing a PC water cooling system can prove a bit daunting as most of them appear to be the same.
If you need a small 120 mm cooler AIO for your CPU and already have sufficient case air circulation, the NZXT Kraken M22 is more than suitable for moderate overclocking.
If you have a powerful multi-core processor with serious heat problems, you should go for something bigger. And you also want to include your high-end graphics card in the cooling circuit. You should take a closer look at the largest 360mm solutions.
To keep things safe and simple, we always recommend an all-in-one water cooler at the beginning, which offers all the advantages in a practical overall package.AiO sets include everything you can get out of a custom water cooling system. But without having to bend any pipes, adjust connections or drill holes in your PC case. All-in-one water coolers are also available in different sizes, so you can always find exactly what you need.