Picking the best budget CPU cooler out of the loads of options that are available can be a bit of a challenge. Budget 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 AiO 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.
Best Budget CPU Cooler – Our Picks
|1||Cooler Master Hyper 212 Black Edition||Best Overall Budget CPU Cooler|| |
|2||Be Quiet! Pure Rock 2 Black||Best Performing Budget CPU Cooler|| |
|3||DEEPCOOL GAMMAXX GT A-RGB||Best RGB Budget CPU Cooler|| |
|4||Noctua NH-U12S Redux||Best Value CPU Cooler|| |
|5||DEEPCOOL GAMMAXX400||Best Entry-Level CPU Cooler|| |
|Product Name||Cooler Master Hyper 212 Black Edition|
|Award||Best Overall Budget CPU Cooler|
|Product Name||Be Quiet! Pure Rock 2 Black|
|Award||Best Performing Budget CPU Cooler|
|Product Name||DEEPCOOL GAMMAXX GT A-RGB|
|Award||Best RGB Budget CPU Cooler|
|Product Name||Noctua NH-U12S Redux|
|Award||Best Value CPU Cooler|
|Product Name||DEEPCOOL GAMMAXX400|
|Award||Best Entry-Level CPU Cooler|
Last Update on 2023-12-01 at 01:00 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Budget CPU coolers are the best way to keep your CPU’s temperatures in check without breaking the bank. Over the past few years, this market has really blossomed due to competition and now there are a lot of great options that can be had within a bracket of $30-60. While you won’t be getting fancy AiO water coolers in this budget, you can certainly get a decent air cooler that would perform well and would also allow you to try your hand at CPU overclocking. For more guides and information on CPU coolers, you may visit our cooler review section. Here are our picks for the best budget CPU cooler options you should consider.
1. Cooler Master Hyper 212 Black Edition
Best Overall Budget CPU Cooler
- Great Bang-for-the-Buck
- High Cooling Performance
- 4 Heatpipes
- Nice Black Aesthetic
- Quiet Fan
- Not for Serious Overclocking
- No Lighting
Fans: 1 | Fan Connector: 4-pin PWM | Heatpipes: 4 | Height of Cooler: 159mm | Noise Level: 26 dB | Lighting: None
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 considered the best overall budget CPU cooler on our list.
Helpful Read: Air Cooling vs Water Cooling
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.
Related Read: Best Passive Air Coolers
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 heat pipes and the embossed Cooler Master logo printed on a black top plate. Sure it does not have any RGB 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. Be Quiet! Pure Rock 2 Black
Best Performing Budget CPU Cooler
- Relatively Affordable
- Clean Aesthetics
- Superb Performance
- Very Quiet Operation
- Black Heatsink
- Lack of Lighting
- Very Tall Cooler
Fans: 1 | Fan Connector: 4-pin PWM | Heatpipes: 4 | Height of Cooler: 155mm | Noise Level: 27 dB | Lighting: None
For our next pick, we recommend the Be Quiet! Pure Rock 2 CPU cooler which is an affordable option for just under $50 at the time of writing. The Pure Rock 2 uses a tower-style design with one 120mm fan at the front, in order to provide the best balance of thermal performance and acoustics.
Primarily, the Be Quiet Pure Rock 2 CPU cooler is an excellent candidate when it comes to thermal performance. It is capable of handling high-end processors with ease and can keep temperatures in check even during intense workloads. The cooler uses 4 copper heatpipes that make direct contact with the base plate in order to maximize the heat dissipation capabilities of the cooler.
Furthermore, the Pure Rock 2 cooler operates very quietly, even under load. It uses a 120mm Pure Wings 2 fan that operates at low noise levels while still maintaining excellent cooling performance. This makes it an excellent choice for those who value silence while working or gaming. Acoustics are certainly a strong point of Be Quiet! products, as can be deduced from the company name.
As for the design, the Pure Rock 2 cooler has a simple and clean aesthetic with a black heatsink that looks great in most PC builds. However, it lacks any lighting, which may be a downside for some users who want to add some RGB to their builds. The only other downside is that it is a relatively tall cooler, which may cause compatibility issues with some cases.
The lack of RGB lighting can be appealing to people who like their system to look clean and simple. This cooler is also an ideal candidate for all-black PC builds that are quite popular nowadays. The cooler is also easy to set up and works with a wide range of computers, thanks to its mounting kit and clear instructions.
You may want to double-check the compatibility of the Pure Rock 2 with your particular case before making the purchase decision. Even though it’s not the biggest air cooler on the market, it’s still quite tall at 155mm and may hit the side panel of your case. You might also want to make sure it will work with your memory modules.
Of course, the Pure Rock 2 cooler is priced very competitively compared to other coolers in its class. Its excellent performance and quiet operation make it a great value for the price. It may not be the ideal cooler for extreme overclocking on premium CPUs, but it certainly gets the job done in most scenarios without breaking the bank.
All in all, the Be Quiet! Pure Rock 2 CPU cooler is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a high-performance and quiet cooler at an affordable price point. Its thermal performance is superb, it operates quietly, and its design is simple and clean. The lack of lighting and its tall profile may be a downside for some users, but overall it is a great value for money.
3. DEEPCOOL GAMMAXX GT A-RGB
Best RGB Budget CPU Cooler
- Good Cooling Performance
- Nice RGB Lighting
- Black Top Cover
- Decent Acoustics
- A Bit More Expensive
- Only One Set of Fan Clips Included
- Quite Tall
Fans: 1 | Fan Connector: 4-pin PWM | Heatpipes: 4 | Height of Cooler: 155mm | Noise Level: 26 dB | Lighting: A-RGB
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.
More Deepcool Coolers: DeepCool Castle 360RGB V2 Review
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 heat pipes that make direct contact with the CPU heat spreader. 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.
Related Read: Best Airflow Cases in 2021
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. It presents itself as the best RGB budget CPU cooler on our list.
Noctua is quite popular among enthusiasts for its premium cooling products, and the NH-U12S Redux is a continuation of that trend. It is a high-performance option that comes with a relatively affordable price tag, aimed at mid-range and value-oriented PC builders. The Redux is a slight revision over the normal U12S that makes it a bit better in every aspect.
The Noctua NH-U12S Redux CPU cooler is an excellent performer when it comes to thermal performance. Its slim form factor doesn’t compromise on cooling performance, making it a great choice for high-end processors. It’s capable of keeping temperatures in check even during intense workloads. The cooler uses a direct contact approach with regard to its four heatpipes, which is excellent for heat dissipation.
In addition to the thermals, the Noctua NH-U12S Redux also operates very quietly, thanks to its silent fan. It uses the 120mm NF-P12 Redux fan that operates at low noise levels while still maintaining excellent cooling performance. The fan can hit a maximum noise level of 25 dB according to Noctua, which is very competitive with the other CPU coolers in this price bracket. It is certainly a very well-tuned cooler in this regard.
Aesthetically, the Noctua NH-U12S Redux CPU cooler has a simple and clean aesthetic with a silver and gray color scheme that looks great in most PC builds. It doesn’t have any lighting, which may be a downside for some users who might want a splash of lighting to spice up their build. However, its slim form factor is a plus for those who have limited space in their cases.
The only downside is its height, which may cause compatibility issues with some PC cases. It stands at around 158mm tall, which may prove to be a nuisance if you have a relatively compact PC case. It is wise to cross-check the compatibility of your CPU cooler with your case as well as your memory modules before you finalize your purchase decision.
The Redux variant of the NH-U12S ditches the awful brown and cream color scheme that is so telling of Noctua products, in favor of a much more subtle and sophisticated gray. The heatsink still remains as is, without a layer of powder coating as we have seen in many recent CPU coolers. Still, the overall design is quite inoffensive and modern.
In addition to its features, the Noctua NH-U12S Redux is also priced competitively compared to other coolers in its class. Its combination of excellent performance and quiet operation makes it a great value for the price. It also comes with the reliability and reputation of Noctua, which is not to be taken lightly in the cooling category when it comes to PC building.
Conclusively, the Noctua NH-U12S Redux CPU cooler is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a competitive CPU cooler from Noctua at an affordable price point. The NH-U12S delivers superb cooling performance in most scenarios while operating quietly even under load. However, its lack of lighting and its height compatibility issues may be a downside for some users. Additionally, the installation process can be a bit tricky.
Nevertheless, it’s still an excellent value for money. You may want to shortlist the NH-U12S Redux if you are in the market for a CPU cooler that would maximize your bang for the buck factor.
5. DeepCool GAMMAXX AG400
Best Cheap CPU Cooler
- Low Price Point
- Jet Black Fan
- Decent Performance
- Wide Compatibility
- Not for Serious Overclocking
- Lack of Lighting
- Mediocre Acoustics
Fans: 1 | Fan Connector: 4-pin PWM | Heatpipes: 4 | Height of Cooler: 151mm | Noise Level: 31 dB | Lighting: None
Our last pick of the day is the DeepCool GAMMAXX AG400 CPU cooler, which is a mid-range option that delivers solid thermal performance for high-end processors. It features a 120mm PWM fan that operates quietly while still providing efficient cooling, making it a great option for those who prioritize both performance and noise levels.
One of the standout features of the GAMMAXX AG400 is its four copper heat pipes with direct contact technology. This design allows for efficient heat dissipation and better thermal conductivity, resulting in lower CPU temperatures. The AG400 is great for cooling most modern desktop CPUs at stock settings, provided you have good airflow in your case.
While the AG400 is a solid option for most regular consumers, it is not ideal for enthusiasts who prefer to overclock their CPUs. This is a budget-oriented CPU cooler with limited thermal performance. It does not provide a lot of headroom for overclocking, especially if you plan to pair it with a high-core count CPU from recent AMD or Intel generations. You might want to optimize the airflow in your PC case as well if you want to maximize the performance of this cooler.
The single 120mm fan does a good job of moving air through the heatsink array. It can go as high as 2000RPM and offers 75.89 CFM airflow volume, which is a pretty healthy combination for an air cooler in this price class. However, the peak noise level of this cooler is rated at 31 dB which is a bit higher compared to the competing options in this price bracket. The acoustic performance of this cooler can be a bit mediocre overall.
Judging by the looks of the GAMMAXX AG400, it has a modern design with a black and silver color scheme. The fan’s black frame and blades create a stylish contrast with the silver heatsink, and the cooler’s overall design is sleek and minimalistic. It doesn’t have any RGB lighting, which may be a downside for some users who prefer a more colorful and customizable build.
Apart from the lack of RGB lighting, some consumers may also be disappointed with the lack of powder coating on the heatsink itself. Recently, it has become quite popular to match the color of the heatsink with the fan, but DeepCool has avoided that approach in this particular model, probably to save a bit of production cost.
The installation process of the GAMMAXX AG400 is relatively easy, with a universal mounting kit that supports most current CPU sockets. However, it is worth noting that the cooler’s height is around 151mm, which may cause compatibility issues with some smaller cases. It is recommended to check the dimensions of your case before purchasing this cooler.
Overall, the DeepCool GAMMAXX AG400 is a solid mid-range CPU cooler that offers excellent thermal performance, quiet operation, and a stylish design. Its direct contact heat pipes and color scheme add to its value proposition, and its relatively affordable price point makes it a great option for those on a budget.
How To Buy The Best Budget CPU Cooler
Budget CPU coolers are often the way to go when you want to lower your CPU’s temperatures without completely breaking the bank. In a reasonable budget under $50, you would not be able to find any fancy AiO water coolers like beQuiet! Pure Loop 240mm AiO, but that is fine since plenty of good air coolers can be found in this space. For this reason, you should take a look at some of the factors that you should consider in order to purchase the best budget CPU cooler for your build.
The first one is pretty obvious. You have to judge the thermal performance and capability of the cooler in question. This can be done in a couple of ways. Reading professional reviews online is a pretty surefire way to judge the performance of a CPU cooler, and this can give you plenty of benchmark data as well. In addition to this, you can take a look at user reviews for the particular cooler that you’re looking at. Be sure to search for the performance of that cooler with the CPU that you plan to run with it since every CPU puts out different amounts of heat in real life.
Value For Money
Of course, being budget CPU coolers, you have to judge the value proposition as well. Before pulling the trigger on a purchase, be sure to check out other CPU cooler options that cost a bit more or a bit less than the one you picked. It is often the case that a better-performing CPU cooler can be found for not a lot more money, and it would make sense to purchase that cooler to maximize your bang for the buck instead. In this segment, staying away from frills like RGB lighting would be beneficial, since those features often come with a caveat.
And so concludes our guide for the best budget CPU cooler options you should consider. The market for budget CPU coolers has come a long way over the past few years, and you are sure to find a good option for your particular build with a bit of research and value hunting.
Best Budget CPU Cooler - FAQs
The Intel stock cooler is essentially one of the most basic cooling solutions out there for CPU cooling. While it may be usable for some mid-range CPUs at stock settings, it even has a hard time running high-end CPUs without any overclocking whatsoever. The stock cooler should be replaced by a decent aftermarket CPU cooler as soon as feasible because anything is bound to be an upgrade over the Intel stock cooler.
While CPU cooling does not necessarily have a direct impact on performance, it can’t be said that there is no effect of better cooling whatsoever. You can definitely see an increase in your FPS number if you use the aftermarket CPU cooler as a means to cool down an overclocked CPU. Overclocking increases the heat output of the CPU so, in order to take advantage of the extra performance, you should be using an aftermarket cooler to keep temperatures in check.
CPU coolers can vary widely in terms of pricing but a value-oriented air cooler should generally cost around $30-50, a premium air cooler around $80-100, and good quality 240mm AiO Water Cooler around $100-150. This pricing is not set in stone, however, as many companies such as Noctua often charge premium pricing for their products due to their pedigree and popularity in the market of CPU cooling.
Typically, premium water coolers and premium Air Coolers perform very similarly in terms of raw thermal performance. A high-end air cooler such as the Noctua NH-D15 can even outperform similarly priced AiOs in certain situations, so it is just a choice based on preference. Air coolers do have a bit of an advantage in terms of longevity and reliability, while AiO water coolers typically have the upper hand in terms of aesthetics.