Best AIO cooler for CPUs

Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML360R and EK-AIO Basic 240 CPU coolers on a two-tone grey background
(Image credit: Cooler Master, EKWB)

The best AIO cooler does it all in one. It keeps your CPU down at an appropriate temperature and saves you the hassle of setting up a liquid cooling solution yourself. A low-temperature gaming PC is essential if you plan on pushing it with high-graphics settings in the latest games. An AIO cooler can handle toasty CPUs and help you hold onto any overclocks you plan to do. A good quality AIO cooler not only keeps your rig cool and quiet, it can also directly impact the performance of your system. 

What follows is a list of our favourite AIO coolers, all of which have been tested by us. We know our readers have different wants and needs, so we’ve picked a range of options to suit all budgets and use cases. Which one you go for will depend on your particular needs. There's a lot to consider; there's the radiator size and case compatibility, the cooling capacity, value for money, noise levels, reliability, and yes, looks are important too. 

Perhaps the most important consideration of all is choosing one that will fit your case. Can it house larger radiators? You’ll also want to choose a cooler that can handle the TDP of your processor. A 120mm cooler is a no-no with an AMD Ryzen 9 5950X (opens in new tab) or Intel Core i9 12900K (opens in new tab). Do you overclock? Are low noise levels a priority or is cooling ability your main concern? You’ll want to look at the fan specifications and noise ratings. 

Once you’ve settled on a list of criteria, then you can consider whether you want RGB or not or whether you have other components from the same manufacturer (so you don’t have to install yet another control app). Some AIOs even come with LCD or OLED screens atop the pump, so you can really tailor your own unique look. They’re pretty, but pricey. If AIO doesn't seem to be for you, our all-encompassing Best CPU coolers (opens in new tab) list might be more up your street.

Best AIO coolers

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1. EK-AIO Basic 240

A step up from even the best air coolers

Specifications

Socket support: Intel LGA: 1150, 1151, 1155, 1156, 1200, 2011, 2011-3, 2066, AMD AM4 compatible
Scale: 240mm
Full radiator dimensions: 275 x 120 x 27mm
Fan speeds: 550–2200RPM
Noise level: Up to 33.5dB(A)

Reasons to buy

+
Cooling performance nips at the heels of 360mm coolers
+
Good value for money
+
No RGB

Reasons to avoid

-
If cooler aesthetics bother you at all, it is rather plain-looking

In the world of liquid cooling, EK is a name that needs little introduction. The EK Basic series focuses on value for money and performance. Plus, it doesn’t feature any RGB at all, which helps to keep the pricing down too. If this appeals to you then the EK AIO Basic 240 is well worth a look.

The EK Basic 240 really stands out thanks to its build quality. It's hefty and well built. The included EK- Vardar fans are very good and have a wide operating speed range. It’s good to have some high-speed headroom on tap if you need it. Most of the time it stays essentially silent.

What really impresses us is the cooling performance on offer. We find it goes very close to 360mm levels of cooling capability, It does get noisy if you try to push an overclocked Rocket Lake CPU, but then pretty much every other cooler does too.

The EK-AIO basic 240 is perfect for builds with a stealthy focus or closed case builds where lighting doesn’t matter. With its build quality and high performance, it's a cooler that you can surely set and forget, out of sight, out of mind and out of earshot.

2. Deepcool Gammaxx L240 V2

Awesome bang for buck 240mm liquid cooling

Specifications

Socket support: Intel LGA20XX, LGA1366, LGA1200, 115X, AMD AM4, AM3, AM2, FM2, FM1
Scale: 240mm
Full radiator dimensions: 282 x 120 x 27mm
Fan speeds: 500–1800RPM
Noise level: Up to 30dB(A)

Reasons to buy

+
Terrific value
+
Good cooling ability
+
Effectively silent at idle

Reasons to avoid

-
Can get loud under significant CPU load

Deepcool is well known for its capable AIOs at affordable prices, and the Gammaxx L240 V2 is one of the cheaper 240mm coolers on the market. That makes it a great option for users looking to step up from air cooling into the world of AIO cooling.

The Gammaxx 240mm features basic RGB lighting on the pump head and fans. There’s a more expensive ARGB version should you really want it. Deepcool likes to talk about its ‘Anti leak technology’ which seeks to maintain an optimal pressure balance inside the loop. Which certainly can’t hurt.

The Gammaxx 240 is capable of cooling most processors, too, though like many of the chip chillers on this list it draws the line at AMD's Threadripper beasts. But it keeps the rest running with remarkably low noise levels, which is one of the main reasons we recommend it. 

At idle the L240 is effectively silent. As you’d expect, you will start to see an increase in temperatures and noise levels with high TDP processors, especially when overclocking. Our 5800X CPU with PBO enabled is about the maximum we’d consider appropriate for a 240mm cooler. Under load, the fans can and do ramp up quite a bit.

If you’re after a 240mm AIO that’s inexpensive and quiet under less demanding loads, then the Deepcool Gammaxx L240 is a great choice. Sure, it’s noise levels can get high if you push it hard, but at this price it comes highly recommended.

3. MSI MAG CoreLiquid P240

A quiet and discrete 240mm option

Specifications

Socket support: LGA115x,1200,1700,1366,2011/2011-3, 2066, AMD AM4, AM3, AM2, FM2, FM1
Scale: 240mm
Full radiator dimensions: 276 x 120 x 27mm
Fan speeds: 500 ~ 2000 RPM
Noise level: 14.3 to 34.3 dB(A)

Reasons to buy

+
Great value AIO cooling
+
Low idle noise levels
+
No RGB frills

Reasons to avoid

-
If you're after an attention grabber, you'll need to look elsewhere
-
Can get noisy under a heavy load

Many AIO coolers come with fancy screens or ARGB fans, but those features usually push up the cost and add exactly zero to the actual cooling capability of the unit. Enter the MSI MAG CoreLiquid P240. It won't win the local AIO beauty pageant, but it will cool your CPU and do it at a great price.

The P240 is a newer model which means it comes with LGA 1700 compatibility right out of the box. It will fit pretty much any socket from the last 10 years, with the exception of AMD's Threadripper models.

The P240 features a slightly unusual design. The pump isn't located inside the head unit as you might expect, but is inside the radiator itself. MSI claims that this can extend the life of the pump by moving it away from the rapid temperature changes experienced by the CPU block.

The noise levels of the P240 are very good, though when stressed by the demanding all-core load of our PBO-enabled Ryzen 5800X test system, the fan speeds and noise levels ramped up. A hot CPU like a 12900K will be beyond it, especially if you overclock it.

Sometimes, less is more. If unicorns dancing on rainbows isn't your thing or you're looking for a capable and quiet AIO cooler that you can install and forget, then the MSI CoreLiquid P240 is an easy recommendation.

4. Asus TUF Gaming LC 240 ARGB

A 240mm for those who want their PC to be seen but not heard

Specifications

Socket support: Intel LGA 1200, 1150, 1151, 1152, 1156, 1366, AMD AM4
Scale: 240mm
Full radiator dimensions: 272 x 121 x 27mm
Fan speeds: 800–2000RPM
Noise level: Up to 29.3dB(A)

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent low noise performance under load
+
Good value for money
+
Strong warranty offering

Reasons to avoid

-
Low noise means slightly higher temps under load

Asus wouldn't be the first name on most people lips when it comes to affordability, but the TUF Gaming LC 240 offers great value for money and, thanks to its support for addressable RGB, it's a good way to add colour and capable cooling at the same time, all without having to spend a whole lot of your hard earned cash.

As an Asetek-built unit underneath, it is in many ways similar to a lot of other coolers, but Asus has chosen to include fans that are tuned for low noise operation, with a maximum noise rating of just 29dB(A). Even when it's running at full speed, it stays very quiet, though this also means that it won't deliver the low temperatures of some other 240mm units. But unless you're loading up a high core count processor for long periods, this won't be a concern.

If you're looking for an affordable AIO with ARGB support that's also quiet and affordable, then the LC 240 ARGB is well worth a look. Install it and you'll forget you’re even running a liquid cooler. One of the other key characteristics of the TUF brand is reliability, and the LC 240 ARGB comes with a six-year warranty for that little bit of extra peace of mind.

5. Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML360R RGB

An old favourite that still impresses

Specifications

Socket support: Intel LGA20XX, LGA1366, 1200, 115X, 775, AMD AM4, AM3, AM2, FM2, FM1 compatible
Scale: 360mm
Full radiator dimensions: 394 x 119 x 27mm
Fan speeds: 650–2000RPM
Noise level: Up to 30dB(A)

Reasons to buy

+
Value for money
+
Cooling performance

Reasons to avoid

-
Large radiator means you will have to check your case for scale

The Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML360R RGB isn't the newest cooler on the market, but it's been one of our favourites for a long time. It offers a good blend of cooling performance and ARGB customisable good looks. It just so happens to be one of the better value RGB-supporting 360mm coolers on the market. What's not to like?

The ML360R comes with its own RGB controller, which is great if you hate installing too much software on your system. There might be a bit of cable spaghetti, but with some careful routing, this shouldn't be a problem.

Performance-wise, the ML360R is very good,  though AIO manufacturing has come a long way and it's no longer the class-leading performer it once was. That probably sounds too harsh, because the ML360R is certainly no dud and it will handle a modern high core count processor with ease.

The Cooler Master ML360R is a very good all rounder. If your case can handle a 360mm rad, you'll find it offers a great blend of cooling ability, good noise levels, ARGB good looks, and as it is now a mature market entrant, offers very good value for money. The ML360R is an oldie but goodie, and it remains a favourite AIO of ours.

6. NZXT Kraken Z73

High end cooling with a touch of luxury

Specifications

Socket support: Intel LGA 1200, 115X, 1366, 2011, 2011-3, 2066, AMD AM4, TRX40 and TR4 compatible
Scale: 360 mm
Full radiator dimensions: 394 x 121 x 27mm
Fan speeds: 800–2800RPM
Noise level: Up to 36dB(A)

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent cooling ability
+
Customisable pump head unit

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive compared with other 360mm chip chillers

Sometimes only the best will do, and short of a fully custom loop, it's hard to go past the NXZT Kraken Z73. It's pricey to be sure, but is oh-so-pretty, and has awesome performance to go with it.

The highlight of the Z73 is its head mounted LCD. It can display monitoring info in conjunction with NZXT’s CAM software, or you can use your own custom GIFs. It adds a lot of cost to the unit, but it really does look great. Do note that the fans don’t have any lighting at all. This one is all about the pump head.

The Kraken Z73 can tame pretty much any chip you care to throw at it. Its fans can run as high as 2800 RPM, which means it can get loud, but we don’t mind having some optional headroom for times when you want outright performance—noise levels be damned. Under normal circumstances, it is very quiet indeed.

The Kraken Z73 is pricey, no doubt about it, but it’s the kind of cooler you’ll want to show off. It provides great cooling performance, there’s a lot of headroom for OC and once you’re done with that, you’ll spend ages playing with the LCD display on the way to creating a truly unique look for your rig.

Best AIO cooler

Is an AIO cooler worth it?

If you really want to go all out, you’re maybe better off with a fully custom water-cooling loop, but they are complicated, expensive, require maintenance, and have far more points of failure. AIOs are simple, they’re all but maintenance free, they're cheaper, and cool almost as well, at least the 360mm ones do anyway. 

Is an AIO better than an air cooler?

The first question people have is usually this: Air or water? Air cooling is generally cheaper and simpler. High end air coolers are better than ever but they're very bulky, and good quality AIOs generally outperform them. Water cooling is more efficient, as water is a better thermal conductor, which means it's better at transferring heat away from your CPU. There remains a tiny risk of leakage, but this is becoming exceedingly rare. 

Noise levels are highly dependent on the fans used, but other than outliers, such as comparing a 120mm AIO to a twin tower/fan combo, a good quality AIO will be quieter than an air cooler when presented with a high heat load.

In terms of actual peak cooling performance there's not a lot in it between the best of each category, but AIOs are generally quicker at getting from peak to idle temperatures than a straight air cooler is.

Do you need to refill AIO coolers?

The reliability of AIO coolers has come a long way. AIO leaks are exceedingly rare. Like any other mechanical device, there’s always the low possibility of a pump failure but luckily modern CPUs have protection built in should it get too hot. The bottom line is that you can run an AIO in your system with peace of mind. Coolers can 'degrade' over time, as coolant very slowly evaporates or falls out of solution but these kinds of things are becoming less of a concern as manufacturers learn new tricks and methods after years of testing and feedback. A modern AIO should serve you well for many years.

Can you use an AIO on any CPU?

As we move towards late 2021, an important thing to consider is socket support. LGA1700 compatibility is only just becoming a topic of discussion. So, if you're planning on building a 12th Generation system, pay close attention to the list of supported sockets. Stock from earlier in 2021 will lack support. You can expect manufacturers to offer compatible mounting kits and updated SKU's but if you're in doubt, make sure to check with the retailer or manufacturer to ensure your choice of cooler includes LGA 1700 support.

Chris Szewczyk
Hardware Writer

Chris' gaming experiences go back to the mid-nineties when he conned his parents into buying an 'educational PC' that was conveniently overpowered to play Doom and Tie Fighter. He developed a love of extreme overclocking that destroyed his savings despite the cheaper hardware on offer via his job at a PC store. To afford more LN2 he began moonlighting as a reviewer for VR-Zone before jumping the fence to work for MSI Australia. Since then, he's gone back to journalism, enthusiastically reviewing the latest and greatest components for PC & Tech Authority, PC Powerplay and currently Australian Personal Computer magazine and PC Gamer. Chris still puts far too many hours into Borderlands 3, always striving to become a more efficient killer.