Watercooling kits or liquid cooling systems are increasingly popular with gamers. It is an ideal solution to keep your machine cool, and it is a more efficient and compact alternative to conventional coolers. In addition to being easy to install, the water cooling kit is stylish and adapts to almost all computers.
Here, I offer you a comparison of the best water cooling kits on the market. You will find our complete tests on the site. To make the best possible choice, a detailed buying guide is available at the bottom of the page. Finally, we give you some tips for use.
Best AIO cooler for CPUs Reviews
Corsair Hydro H60: The best cheap watercooling kit
We no longer present Corsair, which generally offers good quality gaming-oriented computer hardware. At the entry level, the Corsair Hydro H60 is probably the best. The fan and the radiator are 120 mm wide, so it’s a cooling system rather suited to compact machines. It is compatible with the vast majority of AMD and Intel sockets.
Its installation is incredibly simple and is done without tools. In a few minutes, your watercooling will already be cooling your processor. The build quality is very serious, with a robust aluminium radiator, a powerful fan, and a sober but elegant pump. For the price, you can’t find better!
Here, no frills and no bright LED, but excellent performance for 120 mm. If you have never used a water cooling system, you will immediately see the difference with a simple cooler. In addition to being efficient, this Corsair Hydro H60 is very discreet, it makes little noise, even at full power. In short, it’s great equipment, at a very correct price!
Corsair Hydro Series H115i Pro: The quietest
We stay at Corsair, but we go upmarket with this Hydro Series H115i Pro. Here again, installation is very simple. The materials are of excellent quality, with two 140 mm fans with magnetic levitation bearings, an aluminum radiator with a large density of fins, a pump with beautiful finishes and pipes in a fabric sheath, resistant and flexible at a time.
The design is modern, with RGB LEDs whose color you can choose, but it’s not too flashy. Personally I really like the look of this kit when mounted on my machine. A rather complete software allows to manage the ventilation, the temperature and the colors of the LEDs. It’s quite comprehensive and easy to use.
The performances are incredible. It is one of the most efficient systems on the market. Your processor and all the components of your computer will remain at a relatively low temperature. Cooling is optimal, and in cathedral silence. It is clearly one of the quietest watercooling kits I have had in my hands. The price remains quite correct compared to the quality of the material.
Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML240R RGB
It is one of the best-selling watercoolers today. It owes its success to its excellent quality/price ratio, but also to its performance and complete customization. The design is very serious, including a fiberglass pump that will resist humidity without any problem. All the parts are solid and the installation should not cause you the slightest problem.
It is fully customizable, LED by LED. You can manage the colors of course, but also the effects, and program scenarios. An external box allows you to make some adjustments directly, but it is via the software that you will be able to completely configure this Cooler Master MasterLiquid.
Its performance is excellent. It keeps your CPU cool and efficiently exhausts hot air from your case. The results are very good, on par with some much more expensive watercoolers. On top of that, it makes very little noise. Even at full power, the fans remain relatively discreet. For the price, it’s just perfect! It’s my favourite!
NZXT Kraken X62
Direct competitor of the Corsair above, the NZXT Kraken X62 watercooling kit is clearly a favourite. The manufacturing quality is above average, with good quality materials, but above all a fairly exceptional level of finish. If the fan is a powerful rather high-end model, it is especially the radiator with its particular fins with the logo inlaid in the case which is magnificent.
The pump with an infinity effect mirror finish, is rather amazing, and LEDs ensure the enhancement of all this. Your machine will change its face with this kit, which is both original and modern. The software is excellent, very complete, it allows us to manage all the functionalities of our cooling system and to control different key points of our computer. We will always have an eye on the temperature.
The cooling is done without any problem, and it is even the most efficient watercooling kit that I have tried. My computer even asked for a little wool… Kidding aside, you really control the temperature wonderfully, even on a machine that heats up easily. The fan is a little noisy at full power, but it’s still very decent. The price is a bit high, but that’s the price of quality!
What is water cooling?
Watercooling is simply a method of cooling computer components. Indeed, processors, motherboards, graphics cards, etc., everything is more and more powerful in a computer. Generally, the more powerful it is, the more it works and the more it heats up. We therefore need high-performance cooling systems to maintain adequate heat at the heart of our computers.
This is all the more important in times of great heat. If when it’s very hot, your machine languishes or stops completely unexpectedly, it’s probably that your cooling system is not doing its job properly. There are two methods for cooling a computer, Air-cooling, with one or more coolers (fan + radiator), or Watercooling, which adds a pipe and liquid system.
Aircooling or watercooling?
The vast majority of machines operate only in aircooling and therefore simply with coolers. This is very often enough to run a computer correctly, powerful or not, overclocked or not. Aircooling is also less expensive and is, therefore, the ideal solution for small budgets.
That said, you immediately see the difference when you connect a watercooling kit. The performance is much better, with components that heat up much more difficult. We can then control the temperature of our machine more precisely. It is a very good thing.
The second strong point is discretion. To ventilate powerful machines that heat up a lot, you need powerful fans and sometimes you need several. Result of the races, it makes a lot of noise. It is for this reason that geeks, spending whole days in front of their computer, tinkered with the first watercooling kits with aquarium pumps and car radiators…
Today, manufacturers offer really discreet watercooling systems and the higher up the range, the more silence there is. On a powerful and completely silent computer, it’s really great!
Finally, it must be admitted that a water cooling kit brings style to your machine. The pipes carrying the water, the pump often with LEDs, it’s really nice. In short, the cooling performance is better, the computer is less noisy, and in addition, the design is stylish. It costs a little more, but we obviously like watercooling!
Watercooling: How does it work?
On a cooler, the heat produced by the processor passes through copper heat pipes to reach the radiator, to be then extracted by the fan in place on the block. With water cooling, it’s different. There is a closed liquid circuit which passes and returns in 4 main elements.
The water block: This is the pump that attaches to the processor socket on the motherboard. It is this module which will allow the liquid to circulate without stopping, and it is also he who will give information to the software to know the temperature of the liquid or the processor. Its primary role is obviously to cool the processor.
The radiator : It is fixed to one of the fronts of the box and it serves to recover the heat which gradually accumulates in the liquid. It will help to lower the temperature of the water before it goes back into the water block. There are different sizes of radiator.
The fan : As with a cooler, the fan will allow the extraction of the heat that accumulates inside the radiator. The fan will be adapted to the size of the radiator. On large radiators, there will be several fans.
The pipes : These are the ones that will circulate the liquid from the radiator to the water block, and from the water block to the radiator, to close the circuit.
How to choose your watercooling kit?
A few criteria must be analyzed before ordering a watercooling kit. Here is a short buying guide to help you see more clearly and choose the model best suited to your needs.
The size of the radiator
There are 4 different sizes of the radiator. In general, the larger the radiator, the more efficient it will be. It will allow more heat to be stored, and the liquid will cool more easily inside. So there are 120 mm, 240 mm, 280 mm and 360 mm.
120 mm: These are the most compact watercoolers. They will be sufficient to cool medium-power computers. It is also an interesting solution for Mini-ATX or Micro-ITX cases.
240 mm: This is a kit with a radiator twice as large as a 120 mm. This is perfect for cooling medium towers. Generally, their size is suitable for most enclosures, and valid for all configurations.
280 mm: This is the kit favored by passionate amateur players, who are looking to build a machine that is both stylish and silent. Here there are two fans, which only rarely turn to maximum. It cools well, without making too much noise.
360 mm: Here, we are talking about large equipment that is not compatible with all towers. It will be necessary to make sure that this kind of kit can enter your configuration. It is to this type of watercooling kit that big gamers with overclocked computers generally turn.
Here, there is no secret, the more you go upmarket, the more efficient you will have AIO (all-in-one) water cooling kits. Generally, we will choose according to our configuration. If you have a decent computer, with a total assembly between 400 and 600 €, then you are not going to invest in high-end water cooling. We will be content with a 120 mm or 240 mm kit which will be more than enough.
On the other hand, if we have something very heavy in our case, then we know that it will heat up, and we especially know that we want to take care of it. In this case, we will have to turn to more efficient kits, in 280 mm or 360 mm to cool our CPU as efficiently as possible. If you have a €1,500 machine, then a €150 watercooling kit will be a good investment.
Before ordering, make sure the watercooling kit is compatible with your bike. The fan(s), as well as the radiator must obviously find their place inside the tower of your PC.
The water block must also be compatible with your socket. That said, if a few years ago, we could regularly encounter compatibility problems, this is less and less the case. Now, most manufacturers offer products easily adaptable to AMP or Intel. Unless your computer is a relic, the watercooling systems mentioned above should fit just fine.
This is obviously a fairly important criterion, since we hope to keep our watrcooling kit for a long time, and above all we want it to never leak on our motherboard… Here, there are no real surprises, the more you go up in range and the more the level of finish and the quality of manufacture are pushed.
This is particularly true for the screws, but also for the pipes which will necessarily be more robust covered with a fabric sheath. We obviously appreciate that the assembly is as simple as possible.
All the models offered above are of very good quality. These are sure values, which you will keep for a long time. Their installation will not take you more than ten minutes, without rushing you.
How much does water cooling cost?
The first thing to understand is that a watercooling kit will always be more expensive than a classic cooler. At the entry level, we will find kits at 50 €, but which will not necessarily be more efficient, nor even quieter than a cooler of the same price.
Approaching 100 €, we will approach the cooling performance of high-end coolers. They will be a little more discreet, but nothing really significant.
It’s around 150 € that we start to have very good gear, with cooling performance superior to that of a high-end cooler, and rather quiet use. You can find 140 mm or 280 mm, which will offer very satisfactory performance.
Finally, you will have to pay around 200 € to buy a high-end watercoolong kit in 360 mm. Here, everything is perfect, your machine will be perfectly cooled to maintain high performance, and noise will be perfectly contained. You will therefore benefit from a very powerful and silent machine. Generally, this type of model incorporates RGB lighting to add a little style to the whole.
How to properly mount your water cooling kit?
For an AIO kit, the installation is usually not complicated. An explanatory note guides you step by step, for an optimal assembly. However, here are some tips that you may find useful. The first is to work in a clean and flat space, with enough room to install all the different elements to be mounted.
Check before you start that the manufacturer has not forgotten a few screws, a pipe, or any other mounting element. There’s nothing worse than getting to the end of the installation and realizing that something is missing…
The radiator is usually fitted first. It can be placed on most of the facades of our PC case. Everything will depend on your configuration, and the mounting possibilities you will have on your lathe and of course the size of the radiator you have chosen.
There are different possibilities for the mounting direction of the fans. We talk about “Push”, “Pull” or “Push/Pull”. Here are the differences between each type of mounting:
- Push : The fans push the airflow towards the radiator.
- Pull : The fan draws in hot air coming from the heatsink, to blow it out of the case.
- Push/Pull : It is a mix of the two systems, therefore with two fans minimum. One takes care of bringing cool air to the radiator and the other exhausts hot air.
We know that the Push / Pull is the most efficient in terms of ventilation and cooling. However, there are more fans, assembly is not always possible, not necessarily very aesthetic, and the result can be noisy.
For a gaming PC, we generally prefer the Pull configuration, to efficiently extract the hot air from the case. Some kits impose a specific layout on you, others leave you more leeway. You are free to test the different possible configurations, and find the right compromise between cooling performance and discretion of use.
What maintenance for a liquid cooling kit?
Watercooling kits require very little maintenance. In any case, nothing more than a simple cooler and the other components of your machine. Regularly, it will be necessary to dust the inside of the computer, using a brush, a small feather duster or a static cloth.
Thoroughly check all hose connections to ensure there are no leaks. Otherwise, everything will have to be dismantled. Apart from this case, your watercooling kit must always remain in place. Excessively regular dismantling and reassembly runs the risk of causing watertightness problems.
What is custom watercooling?
If I’m mainly talking about All In One watercooling kits, which are much easier to install and often safer for your machine, you also have the possibility of making a completely personal assembly.
It is therefore possible to choose a suitable watercooling radiator, to mount it to a waterblock, to choose the pipes and to have other modules to cool different elements of your PC, such as the hard disk, the RAM bars, or even the graphics card.
Thus, we can design a totally personalized system, which will meet our needs very precisely. The installation is however much more complicated, and the price will depend on the components that will be installed. It’s a cool solution for those who really like to get their hands dirty, but it requires regular maintenance and real know-how.