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6 Best 120mm AIO CPU Coolers Recommended By Experts – 2024

Liquid CPU coolers, or AIOs, are popular among gamers and enthusiasts who demand high performance from their computers. They are also commonly used in overclocking. Liquid CPU coolers are generally more expensive than air coolers, but they offer superior cooling performance and are worth the investment. You can also save up some money if you go with the best 120mm AIO CPU coolers.

Most CPUs from Intel and AMD come with inadequate stock coolers that fail to provide effective cooling. This can cause the CPU to run at high temperatures, which can reduce its lifespan. Other coolers and heat sinks are available, but they often run at high RPMs, which can be noisy.

All-in-one, or AIO, liquid CPU coolers are essential for a high-end computer system. They provide effective cooling with minimal noise, making them a great long-term cooling solution. AIO liquid coolers are a good option to consider If you are looking for a reliable and efficient way to cool your CPU.

AIOs come in different sizes and compatibilities. We decided to list the Best 120 mm AIOs. 120 mm is a very common size when it comes to liquid coolers. So, you will easily find a cooler that will fit your build.

#PreviewNameAwardDetails
1B09GKQ4KYPEditor's Choice
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2ASUS ROG Strix LC 120Premium Pick
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3CoolerMaster MasterLiquid ML120LBest Value
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4Corsair Hydro Series H60Most Reliable
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5Thermaltake Water 3.0 ARGB 120mmBest RGB CPU Cooler
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6EVGA CLC 120mmEntry-Level Pick
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#1
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NameB09GKQ4KYP
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#2
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NameASUS ROG Strix LC 120
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#3
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NameCoolerMaster MasterLiquid ML120L
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#4
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NameCorsair Hydro Series H60
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#5
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NameThermaltake Water 3.0 ARGB 120mm
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#6
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NameEVGA CLC 120mm
AwardEntry-Level Pick
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Last Update on 2024-02-28 at 07:00 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Why you should trust us

We at appuals.com are enthusiastic about all types of PC hardware, but CPU coolers are particularly appealing to us. Our team enjoys testing them and collecting data to broaden our understanding of the most recent CPU architectures.

Hassam Nasir, our leading expert, has extensive experience in CPU cooler reviews dating back to the days of the Zalman flower coolers. Hassam excels at analyzing a CPU cooler’s features and separating marketing gimmicks from the actual value of the product.

Under Hassam’s guidance, our team of specialized hardware experts puts every CPU cooler through a rigorous testing process. We analyze all the important metrics without bias and rank the coolers based on a variety of factors. Whether you’re looking for a value-oriented option or the best CPU cooler on the market, we can help you find what you need.

In addition to providing unbiased reviews and rankings, we also offer valuable information and buying advice for those interested in purchasing a CPU cooler. Our team has a wealth of knowledge about the different types of CPU coolers, including air coolers, liquid coolers, and hybrid coolers. We can help you understand the pros and cons of each type and provide recommendations based on your specific needs and budget.

Additionally, we regularly update our reviews and rankings to reflect the latest developments in the world of CPU coolers. This ensures that our readers have access to the most accurate and up-to-date information available. So, if you’re in the market for a CPU cooler, check out our reviews and rankings to find the perfect option for your system.

1.  NZXT Kraken 120

Editor's Choice

Pros

  • Great performance
  • Sleek design
  • Near-silent performance

Cons

  • No RGB on the fan

Dimension: 10.51 x 8.46 x 5.39  | RGB: Yes | Compatibility: AMD and Intel | Voltage: 12V

NZXT is known for producing high-quality and durable cooling systems, and the Kraken 120 is no exception. It has a sleek design and nine customizable LEDs that illuminate the NZXT logo and the ring around it. The Kraken 120 works with most ARGB ecosystems, including AURA Sync and Razer Chroma.

The Kraken 120 excels in terms of performance. It outperforms most 120mm AIOs and is even comparable to some 240mm AIOs in terms of cooling. The pump and AER P radiator work together to keep your CPU cool under heavy loads. The fan speeds range from 500 to 2000 RPM and use fluid dynamic bearings to operate quietly.

Best 120mm AIO
NZXT Kraken 120

The Kraken 120 also features rubber tubes with nylon sleeves for added durability. It also has a custom fan curve for customizable fan speed. Overall, the Kraken 120 is a great choice for those looking for a high-performing and durable cooling system.

Fun fact, you can buy a cheap aftermarket cooler for your GPU as well. This may come in handy if you care about keeping your video card thermals low. Check out our selection of the best aftermarket GPU coolers. 

Related: Best Airflow Cases For Your PC.

Additionally, the Kraken 120 is easy to install and comes with user-friendly software that allows you to control and monitor your cooler’s performance. The software also allows you to customize the lighting and fan curves to your liking.

We also recently covered a similar NZXT CPU cooler in our roundup of the best LGA1700 CPU coolers. However, that one was a 360mm version. 

Related: Best Motherboards For Core i7 12900K.

Furthermore, the Kraken 120 is easy to install and comes with user-friendly software that allows you to control and monitor your cooler’s performance. The software also allows you to customize the lighting and fan curves to your liking.

2. ROG Strix LC-120 mm RGB

Best Premium 120mm AIO

Pros

  • ARGB support
  • Good Airflow
  • Aluminum Radiator

Cons

  • Can get a bit noisy

Dimension: 12.2 x 7.8 x 5.4 | RGB: Pump only | Compatibility: AMD and Intel | Voltage: 12V

The ROG Strix LC-120 mm RGB is a top-of-the-line all-in-one liquid cooler from ASUS’ Republic of Gamers brand. The LC-120 lives up to ROG’s reputation with its clean pump design and programmable ARGB lighting. ROG is known for its sleek and stylish designs. ARGB lighting allows for complete customization, with six different color modes to choose from.

Aside from its attractive appearance, the Strix LC-120 provides excellent thermal performance thanks to its improved pump design and advanced cooling plates. These characteristics allow for maximum heat absorption, resulting in cooler temperatures and better overall performance. The LC-120 also comes equipped with an ARGB fan with a speed range of 800 to 2500 RPM. The high RPM provides improved airflow and heat dissipation.

Best Premium 120mm AIO
ROG Strix LC120

The only potential downside of the LC-120 is its noise level, which at 37.6 dB may be too loud for some users. However, the LC-120 is a great AIO cooler that offers impressive performance and stylish looks.

This is a sleek and stylish 120mm cooler, and will work with high-end Z690 motherboards as well, if you’re going for Intel this generation. 

Related: Best Motherboards For Ryzen 5 5600X.

In addition to its impressive thermal performance and customizable lighting, the ROG Strix LC-120 also comes with many other useful features. The LC-120 also comes with a built-in fan controller, allowing you to adjust the fan speed and lighting effects directly from the pump unit.

Another unique feature of the LC-120 is its ROG Intelligent Cooling software. This software allows you to monitor the temperature of your CPU and adjust the fan speed and pump speed accordingly. This ensures that your system stays cool and stable even under heavy loads. The software also allows you to customize the lighting effects and create your unique color profiles.

More Components: Best B550 Motherboards.

In terms of installation, the LC-120 is relatively easy to set up thanks to its simple mounting mechanism. It has compatibility with a wide range of CPU sockets. The cooler also comes with a set of high-quality thermal paste pre-applied to the CPU contact plate, making the installation process even easier.

All in all, the ROG Strix LC-120 RGB is a great pick for a 120mm AIO. It comes with great features and offers good value for money.

3. Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML120L

Best Value

Pros

  • Impressive Pump
  • Solid Performance
  • Affordable price

Cons

  • Poor Acoustics
  • Buggy Software

Dimension: 6.2 x 4.7 x 1.1  | RGB: Yes | Compatibility: AMD and Intel | Voltage: 12V

The Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML120L is a 120mm all-in-one (AIO) cooler that offers impressive RGB lighting and excellent performance. Without a doubt, it is one of the most visually appealing 120mm AIO coolers on the market. However, there are a few drawbacks to consider before making a purchase.

One of MasterLiquid ML120L’s standout features is its RGB lighting. It adds a touch of style to any computer setup. Because of its 120mm radiator and high-quality fans, the cooler is also very effective at keeping your CPU cool. However, there are a few potential drawbacks to consider. Some users have complained about the cooler’s software, which can be difficult to use and buggy at times.

Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML120L

Fortunately, it is great in terms of compatibility and will work well with older CPUs. It’s a good fit and of the best CPU coolers for processors like the 7700K.

Related: Best Motherboards for Core i7 8700K.

In conclusion, the Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML120L is a top-notch AIO cooler that offers impressive RGB lighting and excellent cooling performance. While it may be on the expensive side and have some potential software issues, it is worth considering if you’re in the market for a high-quality cooler. Be sure to follow the tips above to ensure that you get the most out of your ML120L.

4. Corsair Hydro iCUE H60

Most Reliable

Pros

  • Great price
  • Impressive thermal performance
  • Long-lasting durability

Cons

  • Lack of RGB
  • Generic design

5,054 Reviews

Dimension: 14.17 x 6.29 x 4.72 | RGB: No | Compatibility: AMD and Intel | Voltage: 12V

Overclocking has become increasingly popular among PC enthusiasts who want to get the most out of their components. To overclock safely and effectively, an excellent cooling solution is necessary to prevent high temperatures and extend the life of your components.

Our pick for the best 120 mm AIO with overclocking potential is the Corsair iCUE H60 AIO. It offers excellent cooling performance and allows users to safely and reliably maximize their CPU’s performance.

Corsair Hydro H60 120mm AIO
Corsair Hydro H60

The Corsair iCUE H60 AIO is a high-quality addition to the Corsair Hydro series. It has a sleek and visually striking design, with an octagonal-shaped pump and the Corsair logo. It’s also built to last, with improved construction for consistent cooling performance.

This compact cooler also works well for micro-ATX cases, as well as the best mini-ITX cases. So, compatibility between different cases and processors should not be too much of an issue. 

One potential downside of the Corsair iCUE H60 AIO is that it doesn’t have RGB support. However, its performance and quiet operation make it a great choice for those in need of a high-quality all-in-one cooling solution.

All in all, the Corsair iCUE H60 is a high-quality option for those in need of an all-in-one cooling solution. Its efficient cooling performance and quiet operation make it a solid choice for PC enthusiasts.

5. Thermaltake Water 3.0 ARGB 120mm

Best RGB CPU Cooler

Pros

  • Excellent RGB implementation
  • Durable tubes
  • Economical price

Cons

  • Poor acoustics

Dimension: 7.4 x 5.7 x 9.2 | RGB: Yes | Compatibility: AMD and Intel | Voltage: 12V

Next on our list is the Thermaltake Water 3.0 AIO. When it comes to pure looks and aesthetics, this AIO is hard to beat. It comes with an ARGB LED ring on the pump and RGB radiator fans. There are 16.8 million colors to select from. This makes it easy to match any system theme. Additionally, the fans can be controlled via the motherboard RGB software, making it easy to adjust the lighting to match your system’s theme.

However, this AIO is not all looks. It is designed for optimal cooling and performance. This is due to several key features, including a large surface radiator, a copper base plate on the water block, and reinforced-sleeved tubing.

Best 120mm AIO with RGB
Thermaltake Water 3.0 120mm

This is a cheaper option and will work well fit some of the best budget PC cases out there. Remember, cheap doesn’t always equate to lower quality, and this cooler is proof of that.

The large surface radiator increases the overall cooling efficiency of the system and provides exceptional heat dissipation. This ensures your CPU remains cool even under high stress. The copper base plate on the water block improves the heat conductivity of the water block and pump, further improving the system’s cooling performance.

The reinforced-sleeved tubing ensures durability and reduces the loss of coolant, allowing the system to maintain its cooling performance over time. Overall, it is well-equipped to keep your system running at its best.

In conclusion, the Thermaltake Water 3.0 AIO is a top-notch choice for those looking for both aesthetics and performance. Its RGB lighting options and customizable colors make it easy to match any system theme, while its large surface radiator, copper base plate, and reinforced-sleeved tubing ensure efficient and effective cooling for your system.

Whether you want to show off your system’s lighting or just keep it running at its best, the Thermaltake Water 3.0 AIO has you covered.

6. EVGA CLC 120mm

Best Entry Level

Pros

  • Reasonably priced
  • Simplistic design
  • Solid performance

Cons

  • Poor acoustics
  • No RGB lighting

Dimension: 9.06 x 7.48 x 5.91 inches | RGB: No | Compatibility: AMD and Intel | Voltage: 12V

It can be difficult to transition from a standard CPU cooler to an AIO, as there are numerous options on the market. It can be difficult and expensive to switch without having any knowledge.

So, the EVGA CLC 120 is our choice for the best entry-level 120 mm AIO. If you want to upgrade to an AIO cooler, the EVGA CLC is a great choice because it performs well and is reasonably priced.

Best Entry-Level 120mm AIO
EVGA CLC 120

EVGA is a well-known brand in the gaming industry that manufactures computer components such as graphics cards and power supplies. They have recently started making cases and laptops. The CLC series is their first attempt at making an all-in-one cooling system for computers. It will be interesting to see how these products compare to others on the market.

The EVGA CLC 120 is priced competitively. It has a similar design to other all-in-one cooling systems, with a thick radiator, braided cables, and a small base. It comes with a fan that can operate at a speed of 600-2200 RPM. Though, there are some minor complaints about this product.

This cooler is out entry-level pick, but it can still keep processors like the Core i5 12600K under ideal temperatures. So, you can easily pair it with the best motherboards for i5 12600K without any real issues.

Related: Best Motherboards For Core i7 12700K.

The EVGA CLC 120 has received some criticism for the noise it produces when running at high load, with some buyers finding the overall acoustics to be annoying. However, it is still considered a significant upgrade over budget CPU heatsinks. Secondly, the CLC 120 does not have any RGB, which can be a deal breaker for some people.

More Components: Best High Capacity SSDs.

Despite these issues, the CLC 120 has excellent performance, making it a strong choice for almost any processor. While the noise and fan rattling can be problematic. But, it is still considered to be one of the best entry-level 120mm all-in-one coolers available.

How We Picked and Tested the Best 120mm AIOs

When it comes to any sort of hardware, we always make sure you get the right component. We rigorously and intensively check all the choices and give you an unbiased opinion.

There are numerous cooler options available on the market, particularly in terms of size. We decided to limit ourselves to 120mm AIOs for this list. The reason behind this is that switching from a stock cooler to an AIO is an expensive and sometimes difficult choice. As a result, 120mm is a good starting point for AIOs. They are usually fairly inexpensive, do the job, and can be easily upgraded to a 240mm or 360mm AIO later.

As a result, our Appuals tech team decided to compile a list of the best 120mm AIOs. We investigated the market and tried out various options. We put them through various tests and compared them. There are some factors that we kept in mind while selecting our picks

It is vital to pick your CPU cooler from a reputable brand. Therefore, all the AIOs on this list are from known brands such as EVGA, Corsair, NZXT, etc. All of these are established and trustworthy brands to buy AIOs.

The second thing we tested was the compatibility of the AIOs across different CPUs. We made sure to pick the ones that are compatible with most of the latest CPUs from AMD and Intel. So, you don’t have to worry about compatibility in this list, as most of them will fit on your CPU.

We also stress-tested all our picks on the latest Intel and AMD CPUs and checked how they perform under load. Finally, we also made sure to check the noise level, as you don’t want your PC to be loud while you are playing games or working.

In conclusion, if you’re looking for a reliable AIO cooler that won’t break the bank, any of the options on our list are worth considering. Our tech team at Appuals has done the research and testing to ensure that you get the right hardware for your computer.

120mm AIOs vs Air Coolers: What’s The Difference?

There are two main types of CPU coolers: liquid and air. Both types have their advantages and disadvantages, and the one that’s right for you will depend on your specific needs and preferences. Here is a detailed comparison of liquid and air CPU coolers:

Performance

In general, liquid CPU coolers tend to be more effective at cooling than air coolers. This is because the liquid has a higher thermal conductivity than air, allowing it to transfer heat more efficiently. As a result, liquid CPU coolers are often more effective than air coolers at keeping CPUs cool, especially under heavy workloads.

However, this doesn’t mean that air coolers are always inferior – some high-end air coolers can perform just as well as liquid coolers, and they may be a good choice if you don’t need the extra cooling power.

Noise

Air coolers are generally quieter than liquid coolers. This is since the only moving part in an air cooler is the fan, whereas a liquid cooler has a pump in addition to the fan. The pump can generate noise, especially when it’s working hard to cool the CPU. However, there are some quiet liquid coolers on the market, so noise levels will vary depending on the model.

Installation

Air coolers are generally easier to install than liquid coolers. They simply require you to mount the cooler to the CPU and attach the fan, which is usually accomplished with a few screws. On the other hand, liquid coolers require you to install a radiator and attach it to the CPU with hoses. This process can be more time-consuming and may require you to remove other components from your computer, such as the motherboard, to access the CPU.

Price

Air coolers are typically less expensive than liquid coolers. This is because they have fewer parts and are easier to manufacture. This results in air coolers having less cost to manufacture and making them more affordable. However, some high-end air coolers can be just as expensive as liquid coolers. 

Overall, liquid CPU coolers tend to offer better performance than air coolers, but they can be louder and more difficult to install. On the other hand, air coolers are quieter and easier to install, but they may be less effective at cooling.

Ultimately, choosing between a liquid and air cooler will depend on your specific needs and preferences. If you want the best cooling performance and don’t mind a little extra noise, a liquid cooler may be the right choice for you. If you want a quieter, more affordable cooler that’s easy to install, an air cooler may be the better option

Best 120mm AIOs – Is A 120mm Radiator Enough For CPU?

A 120mm radiator can be sufficient for cooling a CPU, but it depends on the specific heat output of the CPU, the ambient temperature of the environment, and the cooling capacity of the rest of the system.

We recommended using a radiator that is at least as large as the size of the fan you are using, as this will allow for sufficient airflow and heat dissipation. For example, if you are using a 120mm fan, a 120mm radiator would be a good choice.

In addition to the size of the radiator, the efficiency of the radiator and the overall design of the cooling system will also play a role in its effectiveness. If you are building a new system and want to ensure that your CPU is adequately cooled, it’s a good idea to research the cooling requirements of your specific CPU and choose a radiator and fan combination that will be sufficient.

Buyer’s Guide – 120mm AIO Coolers

An all-in-one (AIO) water cooling system is a popular choice for CPU cooling because it is easy to install and requires minimal maintenance. A 120mm AIO is a good size for cooling a CPU, but there are a few key factors to consider when shopping for one.

Compatibility

It is essential to make sure that the AIO is compatible with your specific CPU socket and motherboard. Most AIOs will specify which sockets they are compatible with, but it is still a good idea to double-check. Some AIOs may also come with mounting hardware for multiple socket types, while others may be limited to a single socket. In addition to the socket compatibility, check that the AIO will fit properly in your system. Make sure there is sufficient clearance around the CPU and that the radiator will fit in your case.

Cooling performance

The primary purpose of an AIO is to cool your CPU, so it is essential to consider its cooling performance. Look for an AIO with a high TDP (thermal design power) rating, which is a measure of the maximum amount of heat that the best 120mm AIOs can dissipate. 

A higher TDP rating means that the AIO is capable of cooling more powerful CPUs. In addition to the TDP rating, you should also look for reviews or testing data that demonstrate the AIO’s cooling performance.

Fan speed and noise

The fan on an AIO plays a significant role in its cooling performance and overall noise level. Pay attention to the fan speed and noise level, as well as the overall design of the fan and radiator. Some AIOs use high-quality fans that are designed to be efficient and quiet, while others may be louder and less efficient. In addition to the fan itself, consider the fan mounting system and whether it is designed to reduce vibrations and noise.

Ease of installation

AIOs should be relatively easy to install, but some may be more straightforward than others. Look for an AIO with a well-designed mounting system to make the installation process as smooth as possible. Consider whether the AIO comes with all the necessary mounting hardware. You also want to look for any features that make it easier to install. A self-contained mounting system or pre-applied thermal paste are good examples.

Price

AIOs can vary significantly in price, depending on their features and performance. Determine your budget and look for an AIO that offers good value for the price. Keep in mind that a more expensive AIO is not always better, and it is essential to consider the overall performance and features of the AIO rather than just the price.

Brand and warranty

Consider the reputation of the manufacturer and the warranty they offer. A good warranty can provide peace of mind and protect your investment in case of any issues. So, when on the hunt for the best 120mm AIO CPU coolers, look out for something from a reputable brand.

If this buyer’s guide was helpful to you, also consider checking out our motherboard buying guide if you also plan to purchase a new motherboard.

Best 120mm AIOs - FAQs

What is the best 120mm AIO cooler?

For most people, we recommend going with the NZXT Kraken 120. It’s the perfect blend of value, performance, and looks.

Is 120 AIO cooler enough

A 120mm AIO cooler is infinitely better than the stock cooler included with most CPUs. While you might not get the best overclocking support, a 120mm CPU cooler gets the jobs done, looks good, and won’t break the bank.

How long does a 120mm AIO last?

A good 120mm AIO from a reputable brand can last anywhere from 5-7 years. If the pump is good, it might even go up to 10. Of course, proper care and maintenance are vital for a longer lifespan.

Is a 120mm AIO good?

120mm AIOs are efficient, cheap, and usually quite reliable. They also take up very little space and are ideal for most micro-ATX and mini-ITX cases.

Is AIO better than air cooling?

AIOs are better than air cooling provided the CPU cooler uses a decent pump and radiator combo. They are better at handling sustained heatloads compared to air coolers. Of course, some beefy air coolers like the Noctua NH-D15 are exceptions in this case.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Asad Khan


I've been an enthusiastic follower of both the tech and gaming industries for as long as I can remember. This passion for both fields and a curiosity that drives me to learn new things every day are the two things that allow me to provide readers with my insights. When you don't find me writing or researching about games, you'll find me building PCs, hunting for new components, or naturally, playing games.