Here at TBG, we have a thing for coolers, we've tested well over 60 at this point, which gives us a whole lot of experience knowing what works, what doesn't, and what is clearly just a bunch of marketing! In this review, we've selected three of the very best coolers we've ever tested and show how they compare, keeping in mind that they are at very different price points.
Here's what's in this roundup:
- Scythe Fuma 2 ($60)
- Noctua NH-D15S ($80)
- Noctua NH-D15 Chromax.black ($100)
- Arctic Liquid Freezer II 360 ($125)
And here's the system setup:
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 3900X
- MB: Asus X470 Crosshair XI Hero
- Case: be quiet! Silent Base 802
- Thermal Paste used for all coolers: Noctua NT-H2 10g
As with all of our reviews at this point and going forward, this review appears exclusively on YouTube, which you can see below. Not only do we show you what comes in the box and share some benchmarks, but we give you a good look at what it's like to use each product!
And if you decide to go with the Noctua NH-D15, we actually a full installation video for you as well!
Don't forget to like the video and subscribe to our YouTube channel to get in on all our content as soon as it goes live!
Well, in the end, we do have a winner, and its nearly all the coolers we tested! We included the Noctua NH-D15S for the sake of completeness, but we don't think it's as strong a contender as our three favorites, the Fuma 2, the NH-D15, and the awesome Liquid Freezer II 360. Each of these is unrivaled at its pricepoint, so just choose which one fits your budget (and your case!).
If we were to choose one of these coolers to be our universal recommendation, however, it would be the Fuma 2. It fits in nearly all cases (including many of the latest ITX cases!), it's exceptionally easy to install, and it offers just enough performance to keep any CPU regardless of price or TDP out of the red zone. All this and it's quite inexpensive as well. We love it! The NH-D15 is of course the reference for air coolers, but we know on good authority that Noctua will be replacing it with an updated model, hopefully by the end of 2021, but more likely in early 2022. It will probably showcase the same offset heatsink design as the NH-D15S model, or perhaps we'll see an even bigger offset (not just vertical but horizontal as well), and of course it should have some new fans as well, likely an upsized version of Noctua's popular NF-A12x25.
Now, which of these coolers would we choose in our own system? Well, that honor goes to the LFII 360 from Arctic. Without a doubt, it is a next-gen liquid cooler, and we've been using liquid long enough that we have total confidence in this approach to cooling. With the LFII, you not only get better cooling, you also get quieter cooling and better access to your PC's components than with big air. What's not to like? Oh, well, there is the matter of fitting a 360mm AIO in your case, hence the reason it's not our universal recommendation!
As always, check out our CPU Cooler Buyer's Guide, updated quarterly, for all our latest recommendations.