CPU cooling is always an interesting step in the process of building a gaming PC. This is one of the areas where you have to be really smart about your decision because the product can affect both the performance and the longevity of your machine. CPU cooling can also have a hit on your wallet as we have several expensive liquid coolers and big air coolers on the market nowadays. Under-buying your cooling solution is another problem that should be avoided as it can lead to severe performance issues as well as longevity issues down the road.
If you are buying a mid-range CPU like a Ryzen 5 or a Core i5 then it does not make sense to buy a really expensive air cooler like a Noctua NH D15 or a high-performance liquid cooler like the EK-AiO Elite 360mm radiator because the heat output of these processors is generally low. Smaller air coolers are the best match for processors of this price range because they are easy on the wallet, have a bigger compatibility window, and deliver a decent thermal and acoustic performance which is important. Following are some of the best budget CPU air coolers for midrange CPUs to buy in 2021.
One of the best budget CPU heatsinks on the market right now is the legendary Cooler Master Hyper 212. Not only is this CPU efficient in its thermal and acoustic performance, but it is also one of the cheapest aftermarket air coolers on the market. The Hyper 212 Black Edition is an upgrade over the standard Hyper 212 and it now features a new black fan with a black colored heatsink which looks very nice. This is a seriously good air cooler that can be purchased without breaking the bank.
The name of the game for the Hyper 212 has always been the price-to-performance ratio. The Hyper 212 Black Edition is no exception as it delivers great cooling performance for most modern CPUs out there. This budget-oriented air cooler will have no problem running the latest Core i5 or i7 chips from Intel, or similar Ryzen 5 or Ryzen 7 processors from AMD. The Hyper 212 also offers decent overclocking headroom when paired with these CPUs but that will be dictated by the power draw of the CPU itself. The cooler is 159mm tall which should be a consideration when buying.
Another great thing about the Hyper 212 series has been their acoustic performance and the same holds true for the Hyper 212 Black Edition. The fan on this air cooler is surprisingly quiet, and peaks at 26 dB at 100% fan speed. This is a quiet and bearable sound level especially inside a closed chassis and that is another positive point for this cooler. Many other heatsinks in this price range have loud, whiny fans that can be annoying when the CPU is put under load but this is not the case with the Hyper 212 Black Edition.
Aesthetically, the Black Edition of the Hyper 212 looks miles better than the standard Hyper 212. Not only does the fan look beautiful when painted in this matte black color, but the actual fins of the heatsink also look really good in black. Moreover, the top of the cooler looks beautiful and stealthy with the tops of heatpipes and the embossed Cooler Master logo printed on a black top plate. Sure it does not have any lighting, but at this budget, we can’t really complain.
Overall, the Hyper 212 Black Edition is one of the best budget air coolers on the market right now. Combining great thermal and acoustic performance with beautiful aesthetics, you can’t really go wrong with this cooler from Cooler Master.
2. Cryorig H7
A Good Alternative to Hyper 212
- Another Affordable Option
- Nice-Looking Fan with White Blades
- Good Thermal Performance
- Low Noise Levels
- Has Fewer Heatpipes Than Hyper 212
Fans: 1 | Fan Connector: 4-pin PWM | Heatpipes: 3 | Height of Cooler: 145mm | Noise Level: 14 dB | Lighting: None
The Cryorig H7 is another great budget aftermarket cooler that can be considered for mid-range CPUs. This is a fairly decent alternative to the Hyper 212 Black Edition and does provide a lot of similar features. The Cryorig H7 also falls in a similar price bracket to the Hyper 212 so it is also similarly light on the wallet.
The H7 from Cryorig is a decent performer in terms of thermals. The cooler has 3 copper heatpipes that make direct contact with the CPU and take the heat to the heatsink for dissipation. While it does have one less heatpipe than the Hyper 212 Black Edition, the thermal performance of both of these coolers is very similar. The Cryorig H7 is also perfectly suited to Core i5s and i7s as well as Ryzen 5s and Ryzen 7s of today. Minor overclocking can also be done with this cooler although one should not expect really high all-core overclocks with the Core i7 and Ryzen 7 parts.
One of the best features of the Cryorig H7 is its acoustic performance. While it does perform similar to the Hyper 212 in terms of thermal performance, its noise levels are even lower than that of the Hyper 212. The Cryorig H7 measures in at 14 dB under load which is quite an impressive number for a budget air cooler. This noise level is one of the lowest we have seen for air coolers in this price category.
If we talk about the aesthetics of the Cryorig H7, there is not a lot that sets this cooler apart from the competition. The heatsink is silver like we have come to expect from most air coolers, and the fan is not particularly impressive either. Its white blades do have a distinct look to them and the white fan can be a good fit for white-themed builds on a budget. Overall, the Cryorig H7 does not have particularly extraordinary looks but that is one area where personal preference takes charge so it is good enough for us.
All in all, the Cryorig H7 is a great alternative to the legendary Hyper 212 Black Edition. Not only does it perform similarly in terms of raw temperature numbers, but it also manages to beat the Hyper 212 in its acoustic performance. The aesthetics of this cooler are nothing to write home about, but it gets the job done really nicely on a budget.
If you are looking for beautiful RGB lighting in a budget air cooler, then look no further than the DEEPCOOL GAMMAXX GT A-RGB. This is a really good cooler that can be paired ideally with mid-range CPUs while having that dash of RGB that your build craves. The GT A-RGB is a little bit more expensive than the Hyper 212 Black Edition or the Cryorig H7 but that can be worth it if you are looking for an improvement in terms of the aesthetics of the cooler.
Coming in at 155mm tall, the GT A-RGB is a tower cooler that can pose some problems for budget cases in terms of case clearance. Performance-wise the GT A-RGB is another excellent budget air cooler that can be used to keep mid-range processors cool while still offering a bit of overclocking headroom as well. This cooler performs just like the Hyper 212 Black Edition thanks to its 4 copper heatpipes that make direct contact with the CPU heatspreader. Acoustically, the cooler measures in at 26 dB which is a fairly quiet operating temperature for a tower heatsink such as the GT A-RGB.
The main feature of this cooler is definitely its A-RGB fan. The 120mm fan on the cooler uses the newer 5V 3-pin standard which is known as “aRGB” rather than the older 12V 4-pin standard called “RGB”. This newer standard allows the GT A-RGB to show an even wider spectrum of colors. The aRGB also means that the fan can display a lot of different lighting patterns and animations that can’t be possible with normal 12V RGB signaling.
In terms of aesthetics, the GT A-RGB definitely delivers on multiple grounds. Its 120mm RGB fan is a huge bonus especially with modern PCs being focused on personalization and aesthetics more than ever. This fan allows the user to have a bit of lighting inside their build that they can customize to their liking and can even match with the color scheme of their build. Apart from the fan, there is nothing really special about the cooler’s fin array as DEEPCOOL has opted for a standard silver fin stack. However, the top of the CPU cooler is black and that is a nice touch.
The GAMMAXX GT A-RGB is one of the best budget air coolers out there due to its RGB implementation and good cooling performance, however its price is a bit higher too. It is up to the buyer to decide whether or not the extra premium is justified for some RGB lighting.
4. Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO
A More Affordable Hyper 212
- Even More Affordable
- High Cooling Performance
- Great for Entry-Level Builds
- Not for Serious Overclocking
- Not Aesthetically Pleasing
Fans: 1 | Fan Connector: 4-pin PWM | Heatpipes: 4 | Height of Cooler: 159mm | Noise Level: 36 dB | Lighting: None
The original Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO is still a great option if you are looking for decent performance on a very tight budget. Sure, it does not have the slick looks of the Black Edition but it does perform very similarly and more importantly, is cheaper. These savings do become really crucial if you’re planning to build an entry-level or mid-range PC on a very tight budget and in those situations the Hyper 212 EVO might just be the cooler for you.
The Hyper 212 EVO performs nearly identically to the Hyper 212 Black Edition and this is simply because the core design of the fans and the heatsink is basically the same. The EVO also has 4 copper heatpipes that make direct contact with the CPU heatspreader in order to dissipate heat efficiently. The cooler is 159mm tall just like the Hyper 212 Black Edition. The fan is a bit louder under load and is rated at 36 dB which is audible but not too annoying when the cooler is mounted inside a PC case.
The major drawback of the Hyper 212 EVO is the look of the cooler. The fan seems flimsy with cheap-looking blades and a huge black housing frame, while the heatsink itself is also the standard silver you find on all other air coolers. The top of the Hyper 212 EVO does not look all that great itself and the cooler overall feels a bit less premium than the other coolers mentioned so far in this list. That is for a good reason though, since the Hyper 212 EVO can be had for quite a bit cheaper.
All in all, the Hyper 212 EVO is still a great option for budget builds if you want decent performance for cheap, and you can live with its below-average looks. It still punches way above its weight in terms of its thermal and acoustic performance, and while it does fall short in the category of aesthetics, you can’t really go wrong with a Hyper 212 EVO at this price point.
The DEEPCOOL GAMMAXX400 rounds off our list as the cheapest, most barebones option in our lineup and we recommend this cooler if you are looking for the most basic heatsink on the market for an entry-level chip. This cooler will pair nicely with Core i3 and i5 processors if you do not wish to overclock. Similarly, Ryzen 3 and Ryzen 5 processors will stay under operating temperature limits at stock settings with this cooler.
The GAMMAXX400 is 154.5mm tall which is fairly reasonable for a cooler like this and it should fit into a lot more cases than the other options we have mentioned before. In terms of thermal performance, this cooler is a bit better than stock coolers you might find with newer Ryzen processors from AMD. It does have 4 copper heatpipes and it can be used to cool mid-range CPUs at stock settings fairly well, however, we will advise against overclocking with this cooler. The acoustic performance of the fan is also average which measures at 30 dB under load.
Speaking of the fan, the 120mm fan on the DEEPCOOL GAMMAXX400 has blue LED lighting which is more of a negative point than a positive one. The lighting looks very uneven and harsh, and the only option available is blue which might clash with a lot of PC build themes. Safe to say that aesthetics are not really the focus of the GAMMAXX400.
The biggest advantage of this cooler is its really cheap price. Cheap does not have to be of poor quality as proven by the GAMMAXX400. Its thermal performance rivals many of the more expensive options in this lineup which makes it a great value for PC builders looking to build an entry-level or mid-range PC build and are looking to maximize the value for their money. The GAMMAXX400 may not be the most aesthetically pleasing of the bunch but it gets the job done and that is all that is needed at this price point.