The ideal CPU cooler makes no compromise on silence or performance.
Nobody wants their processor operating at higher temps than it needs to be, however, the same can be said about loud, distracting fan noises running 24/7.
Those with poorly designed components installed will know how just how annoying that can be!
In this post, we will cover the best CPU coolers that achieve an excellent performance-to-noise ratio.
5 Quietest AIO coolers
5 Quietest air coolers
2 Passive coolers
What is the quietest CPU cooler?
|Name||Max Fan Speed (RPM)||Max Volume (dBA)|
|Li Galahad AIO 360||1900||32|
|Cooler Master MasterLiquid||2000||30|
|DEEPCOOL Castle 360EX||1800||30|
|Corsair Hydro Series H150i PRO||1600||25|
|Thermaltake Floe Triple Riing||1400||24.7|
|be quiet! Shadow Rock 3 BK004||1600||24.4|
|be quiet! Dark Rock BK022||1500||24.3|
|Noctua NH D9L||2000||22.8|
|Noctua NH-U12S Chromax||1500||19|
|Scythe Ninja 5 CPU Cooler||800||14|
|ARCTIC Alpine 12 Passive||-||0|
|Noctua NH P1 Passive CPU Cooler||-||0|
Quietest AIO CPU Cooler
5. Li Galahad AIO 240
Radiator Sizes: 240mm, 360mm
Fan Speed: 800～1900 RPM
Max Volume: 32 dBA
Those after a elegent AIO cooler that looks like it was developed by the folks at Apple, will love the Galahad by Lian Li. Available in white or black, it stands out for its modern, triple chamber design that exchanges heat far more efficiently than other similar products.
The high static pressure fans are capable of between 800 and 1900 PWM while putting out 72 CFM of maximum airflow. All of that cooling power doesn’t mean the inside of your case is going to sound like a tornado, though. Even at the highest speeds possible, they only crank out 32 dBA.
At just 20 decibels, the low pump noise is also very competitive. A unique thing about this pump is that it comes with two removable, magnetic metal caps. As a result, you can easily switch them over to match the interior of your setup.
Thanks to the native software, it’s possible to sync the RGB lighting to your motherboard. Getting the lights dialed-in in takes no time at all and can be done with just a couple of quick configurations. Alternatively, choose from several preset profiles, ranging from static colors to rainbow effects.
Not only does the Lian Li Galahad look great, but the sound levels from the pump and fans are also dead quiet.
4. Cooler Master MasterLiquid
Radiator Sizes: 120mm, 240mm, 360mm
Fan Speed: 650～2000 RPM
Max Volume: 30 dBA
It should surprise no one that Cooler Master manufacturer such an efficient AIO cooler like the MasterLiquid. The company has been producing quality cooling components for years, taking advantage of the dual dissipation and low-profile chamber pumps that they helped to pioneer.
When running at top speed, these fans can produce 66.7 CFM of airflow (pumping out 2.34 mm of air pressure as well). Impressively, the max decibel levels hover at around 30 dB or so. Therefore, you won’t ever have to worry about your PC sounding like a jet engine when they are spending up.
As far as the RGB lighting is concerned, you can either synchronize the lights with your motherboard to work alongside any other RGB hardware you have, or customize the lighting profile yourself. The included software gives you the “keys to the castle” for it to look just the way you like.
All in all, if a moderately quiet PC build is important to you, the MasterLiquid performs just fine under a light load.
3. DEEPCOOL Castle 360EX
Radiator Sizes: 240mm, 280mm, 360mm
Fan Speed: 500 ～1800 RPM ±10%
Max Volume: 30 dBA
Gamers serious about temperature control (and noise control) will want to take a closer look at the DEEPCOOL Castle 240EX. By introducing 25% more skived fins on the backside; it dramatically improves the cool down performance, all while benefiting from a clean, minimalist aesthetic.
With adjustable speed control from 500 ～1800 RPM, the dual 120mm fans are plenty capable of moving a ton of air all on their own. Pushing 69.34 CFM of airflow, you can expect for fan noise levels of below 30 dBA. That’s about as quiet as it gets from a modern AIO CPU cooler.
Thanks to DEEPCOOL optimizing the flow root, the dual-chamber pump is whisper quiet too. It puts out just 17.8 dB, during max pump speeds of 2550 RPM. Providing there’s just a little bit of ambient noise in the background. It’s likely that you won’t even notice when it’s operating.
2. Corsair Hydro Series H150i PRO
Radiator Sizes: 240mm, 280mm, 360mm
Fan Speed: 500～1600 RPM
Max Volume: 25 dBA
The Corsair Hydro Series H150i PRO leverages magnetic levitation technology to improve efficiency and cut down on noise in a big way. The result is a PC setup that can push gaming hardware harder, without compromising on core component temperatures inside the case.
Exhausting the heat are three 120 mm magnetic levitation fans. The loudest they will get is about 25 dB – and that’s after cranking them all the way up to max. Another option is to shut the fans off completely (by activating Zero RPM mode) to eliminate fan noise altogether.
As for the pump, this is one of the quietest around, even when in Extreme Mode. In “Extreme”, it runs at 2800 RPM, which intuitively seems high for longevity purposes. Therefore, setting it in Balanced Mode (at 2000 RPM) is the more logical, sound efficient option.
In short, those after an advanced AIO CPU cooler that favors quietness over extreme performance have their answer in the Corsair Hydro Series H150i PRO.
1. Thermaltake Floe Triple Riing
Radiator Sizes: 120mm, 240mm, 280mm, 360mm
Fan Speed: 500～1400 RPM
Max Volume: 24.7 dBA
The Floe Triple Riing combines RGB configurability, great cooling, and low noise. Like most Thermaltake products, the top-tier components and cooling technology on show is some of the best in the business. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s the quietest AIO coolers that money can buy.
The high-static pressure fans run at speeds between 500 RPM and 1400 RPM. Although this isn’t necessarily the fastest fan-speeds, it still moves plenty of air to keep things cold. More importantly, the slower fan speeds facilitate quieter operation, maxing out at around 25 dB or so.
With this hardware, you’ll have almost unlimited freedom to customize the RGB lighting. The patented Ring Plus software allows you to change modes like the colors, speeds, and brightness. You can even use voice commands from your iOS or Android devices to change these settings instantly.
Overall, those wanting to water-cool their setup won’t find a quieter AIO CPU cooler than the Floe Triple Riing!
Quietest Air CPU Cooler
5. be quiet! Shadow Rock 3 BK004
Dimensions (LxWxH): 6.5 x 5.75 x 8 inches
Fan Speed: 1600 RPM
Max Volume: 24.4 dBA
TDP: 190 W
The Shadow Rock 3 offers impressive air performance at a quiet operation. It’s compatible with chipsets from Intel and AMD and works with all popular motherboards. Moreover, the asymmetrical design makes it easy to fit into any space without blocking the memory slots.
Operating at 1600 RPM, the high-speed fans produce effortless cooling power. The fans pitch creates lower air resistance levels, improving cooling capabilities without adding a lot of noise. What’s great is that the fan can run at maximum power and it will still only produce 24.4 dB of sound.
The nickel-plated copper heat pipes help absorb heat directly from the CPU as well as efficiently remove heat from the case. This results is an impressive cooling performance of up to (190W TDP). Overall, the Shadow Rock 3 is a quiet and effective solution for most medium-powered CPUs.
4. be quiet! Dark Rock BK022
Dimensions (LxWxH): 5.7 x 5.35 x 6.40 inches
Fan Speed: 1500 RPM
Max Volume: 24.3 dBA
TDP: 210 W
Shaped like a funnel, the Dark Rock BK022 utilizes two 120mm Wings PWM fans to move heat efficiently through (and out of) the heatsink. Although it may appear a bit blocky, the cooling fins are air-optimized, and the asymmetrical design guarantees enough chip memory clearance.
Two high air pressure fans handle the temperature control by creating extra air pressure. Both fans only produce 24.3 dB running at full power and operate even quieter at normal speeds. To improve cooling efficiency further, the fans work alongside 6mm copper heat pipes.
Gamers are going to love the Dark Rock CPU cooler. The twin fans maintain fridge-like temperatures even when the CPU starts to spike. Together they can handle a TDP of about 200-210 W. However, by adding a third fan it’s possible to achieve the max 250 TDP marketed range.
That’s great news for CPU-intensive games, multitasking, and any other applications that require multiple cores to be active.
3. Noctua NH D9L Premium Cooler
Dimensions (LxWxH): 3.74 x 3.74 x 4.33 inches
Fan Speed: 2000 RPM
Max Volume: 22.8 dBA
TDP: 105 W
The Noctua NH D9L is a premium CPU cooler that operates at quiet temperatures with or without any fans. Specifically engineered for ITX, HTPC, and SFF builds, the dual-tower design does not overhang the RAM or PCIe slots. This makes it a versatile choice for a wide range of systems.
A single, NF-A9 92mm fan is included with the unit and slots between the heatsink to keep things extra cool. Operating noise levels can be anywhere between 5 – 10 dB. At peak performance, though, the fan can reach 22 dB. Apart from that, there is no noise coming from the heatsink itself.
Those with mini-PCs, compact builds, and home servers will like this cooler the most. Measuring 3.74 x 3.74 x 4.33 inches, it’s not quite optimized for larger builds. Instead, compact PCs built to replace gaming consoles or entertainment centers will be able to utilize this cooler the most.
The Noctua NH D9L offers 105 watts of TDP dissipation and is compatible with both Intel/ AMD CPUs (and their motherboards).
2. Noctua NH-U12S Chromax
Dimensions (LxWxH): 2.8 x 4.92 x 6.22 inches
Fan Speed: 1500 RPM
Max Volume: 19 dBA
TDP: 105 W
This quiet CPU cooler by Noctua is a real looker! Minimalist, featuring a lot of nickel and chrome, it fits perfectly in any case design and configuration. Combine that with the numerous customizable color-heatsink covers and it’s effortless to match this cooler to your build.
At just 6.2 inches tall, the NH-U12S sits low enough to fit inside most ATX or m-ATX cases without any headroom issues. A 120mm cooling fan moves air efficiently through the box without adding a lot of noise, too. This is thanks to the fans’ “focused flow technology” that eliminates static pressure.
Gamers, looking to get the most out of their computer will love the NH-U12S. The automatic speed controls kick in promptly before approaching maximum temperatures. That keeps your components nice and frosty, stopping heat degradation before it can do any damage.
The Noctua NH-U12S is ideal for mid-range CPUs with moderate power e.g. the 6-core Ryzen 5 3600x or 8-core Ryzen 7 5800x.
1. Scythe Ninja 5 CPU Cooler
Dimensions (LxWxH): 5.31 x 6.1 x 7.09 inches
Fan Speed: 800 RPM
Max Volume: 14 dBA
TDP: 95 W
The Scythe Ninja is a beasty CPU cooler geared for absolute silence. As you can see, the design features an oversized heatsink with dual 120mm fans stuck back to back. This creates a push/ pull kind of configuration that successfully keeps temps low without adding a lot of noise.
The Kaze Flex 120 PWM fans have maximum speeds of 800 RPM to produce whisper low noise levels of 4 – 14.5 dBA. Impressively, if your CPU does not require that much power, the oversized heatsink can manage to keep things cold on its own by running the cooler 100% fanless.
In terms of the design, the heatsink consists of six copper pipes and a huge copper base. The cut-out provides 2.1” of extra clearance under the heatsink so there’s no overhang above the memory slots. With the fans installed, the clearance stays the same because it’s possible to raise them up.
Overall, the Scythe Ninja is an extremely quiet CPU cooler that has no problems cooling an 8-core 5800x or below.
Quietest Passive Cooler
2. ARCTIC Alpine 12 Passive
Dimensions (LxWxH): 3.74 x 3.74 x 2.72 inches
Max Volume: 0 dBA
TDP: 47 W
The ARCTIC Alpine 12 looks a bit like the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Chunky, minimalist, and built with function in mind first, this is a great “stock-cooler replacement” that keeps temps low. Keep in mind that it’s specific for Intel sockets (1200), meaning it won’t work with AMD.
Even though this passive cooler has no fans, it’s still capable of keeping Intel CPUs (up to 47 W) operating at sufficient temperatures. This is in part thanks to the optimized heat exchange that sits between the aluminum plates and the surrounding air. Thermal paste is also directly applied.
The beautiful thing about this passive cooler is that it requires zero maintenance whatsoever. It doesn’t have to be checked on, unplugged, or touched up. Instead, it just does its thing without any trouble. All while working 100% fanless for an inaudible operation.
1. Noctua NH P1 Passive CPU Cooler
Dimensions (LxWxH): 5.98 x 6.06 x 6.22 inches
Max Volume: 0 dBA
TDP: 65 W
The NH P1 is Noctuas’ first passive CPU cooler. Everything about the design of this unit has been custom-engineered from the ground up. This includes the development of the massive heatsink, the compact heat exchanger, as well as the deliberately spaced-apart aluminum cooling fins.
Clearly, this is not your average heatsink. The thicker, more widely spaced cooling fins achieve extra thermal cooling mass while minimizing airflow and resistance. The result is effortless, natural, convection-cooling capabilities that have no problems keeping a CPU chilly.
To accommodate larger GPUs, RAM modules, and other hardware components, the NH P1 has an asymmetrical design. Not only does the form look awesome, but gamers will be able to squeeze their hardware into position, without worrying about this cooler blocking their upgrades.
In terms of performance, the NH P1 is suitable for processors with low to moderate heat dissipation. Although Noctua doesn’t rate it with a TDP, we’ve found it capable of cooling mainstream CPUs up to 65W TDP. It’s worth noting that like most passive coolers, it’s not intended for overclocking.
To enhance performance even further (or semi-passive setups that only fire up their fans when necessary), the NH-P1 can also accommodate an ultra-quiet 120mm fan. With the (1200-rpm) NF-A12x25 installed, the NH P1 can achieve an improved 100W TDP with as low as 12.1 dB of noise.
Overall, you won’t find a better quiet CPU cooler than this innovative passive option from Noctua.
Are Liquid CPU Coolers Quieter?
Liquid CPU coolers aren’t always quieter than their air counterparts. Most modern liquid coolers use cheap, noisy fans, and when you combine that with the noise from their pumps, things can get quite loud. You can usually achieve a quieter build with an air CPU cooler that has optimized fan blades.
Although poorly designed air coolers have a reputation for being noisy, modern versions from companies such as BeQuiet and Noctua take advantage of optimized fan blades. These companies put a lot of work into optimizing their blades for cooling performance while also focusing on noise reduction.
The combination of noise-conscious bearings and motors along with optimized airflow allow these fans to operate at a lower noise level than most consumer liquid CPU coolers.
For a liquid cooling CPU to be quieter you need to have a larger radiator that allows you to dissipate heat over a greater surface area. This would allow you to run the included fans at a lower RPM, efficiently cooling the CPU while reducing the level of noise.
How to Choose the Best Quiet CPU Cooler
Whether you want a silent PC build or just want to keep the sound on the lower end, these factors play a major part in finding a quiet CPU cooler.
Max Fan Speed
A higher max fan speed can protect your CPU by keeping it cooler, but it will operate louder. Moreover, higher RPM equates to higher power usage, which can reduce the lifespan of your fan.
A lower fan speed is usually less efficient, but it uses less power and protects the lifespan of your fan.
An alternative to this dilemma is choosing a fan with higher RPM but capping it at a lower speed. You can adjust this if you find it does not cool your CPU properly.
Max Volume Decibels
Most fans list a decibel rating on the box or list of specifications, but there is no guarantee that this is scientific or accurate information from the manufacturer. You’re better off looking for reviews that test the max volume of the fan (n decibels).
Keep in mind that a single fan produces a lower level of noise than two fans, and your case may dampen some of this noise.
Liquid, Air, or Passive CPU Cooler
Liquid cooling systems are more expensive but offer more efficiency for cooling.
Air-cooling is cheaper and more straightforward, but you might run into issues controlling the ambient temperature inside your PC case.
Passive CPU cooling is not recommended for high-performance CPUs or overclocking. It may reduce the noise level, but it does not operate sufficiently,
Consider how much heat your CPU generates.
The cooling systems you look at should list a TDP or the maximum amount of heat generated by your CPU that the system can handle under any conditions.
You can look up this stat in the form of watts of heat generated using the model number of your CPU and/or the cooling system.
Make sure your quiet CPU cooler is compatible with the size of your CPU and case. Pay attention to connection details such as sockets.
For a cooling system to operate efficiently, it should have a TDP higher than the CPU. Instead of a one-for-one match, compatibility requires more juice.
Coolers come in a variety of sizes. Consider that larger fans rotate more air at slower speeds than smaller fans.
Liquid cooling systems take up more space overall, but they can cool more efficiently and offer a certain aesthetic appeal.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are liquid CPU coolers quieter?
Liquid CPU coolers tend to run quieter than air CPU coolers, and can do so with even greater cooling performance. That said, there are specific air coolers with specifically designed fans that produce lower noise decibels than the pumps of some liquid CPU coolers at a similar cooling performance.
Are air coolers loud?
Air coolers are known for being loud, especially when running at faster revolutions per minute (RPM). This is because high airflow generates noise and there are moving parts. Not all air coolers are the same, though. Those with poor designs/ aerodynamics will get louder than others.
Are CPU coolers loud?
Some CPU coolers are loud, some are completely silent. For instance, AIO CPU coolers that cool by pumping coolant tend to be quiet. On the whole, air CPU coolers that use a high-speed fan generate more noise. Passive CPU coolers that use heat pipes however produce no noise.
We hope you found a quiet CPU cooler on this list.