Cooling is a critical subject for most computer hardware. Cooling solutions are especially important if you are operating an AMD processor. This is because their temperatures rise faster than the NVidia processor when placed under a high-stress load.
It is important that your CPU remains cool, and finding the right cooler is crucial. With the growing surge of lightweight, compact CPUs recently, AIOs are becoming a preference for many. The 120mm AIO is especially favored for small-built PCs.
The main cooling system’s main parts are the pump, radiator, and fans. Your pump is the core of your AIO. The radiator serves to dissipate heat within the CPU. The fans ensure that cold air reaches the radiator to maximize heat transfer.
The 120mm AIO coolers are a great option if you are short on cash or do not have enough space to cater to a large AIO cooler for your processor. They have a very tiny configuration and can fit into almost every PC case.
In a hurry? Here are our top 3 favorite picks when it comes to the best 120mm AIOs in 2023!
Related: Best Cheap PC Cases
Their cooling capabilities are also quite a shocker for their size. However, the configuration and installation of a 120mm AIO cooler may be quite challenging. It, however, displays superb performance and works well to ensure that it does not overheat.
All-in-one coolers offer a perfect upgrade from the 120mm fans and are easily accessible in the market. They are designed to provide great performance, produce less noise and eliminate maintenance costs if well taken care of.
It can get tricky to pick the best 120mm AIO cooler. To make things a little easier, we have reviewed the top 7 120mm AIO coolers you can purchase today.
Let’s take a look at this trending technology.
What Are AIO Coolers?
An AIO cooler is a cooling system that pumps water or fluid through sealed tubing, usually in a closed-loop system design. This helps to cool the CPU block because the warm water continues to flow through a radiator with cooling fans to cool the liquid for the process to begin again.
An AIO doesn’t require water maintenance. However, the liquid remains sealed until the need for a replacement arises. They work to ensure that the processor does not overheat.
Are AIO Coolers Worth It?
Yes, AIO coolers are definitely worth it. While this matter may be subjective, we will examine some objective analysis that will prove important when trying to pick the best cooling solution for your built-in PC.
AIO is especially suited for you if you need overclocking headroom regularly and would appreciate a quiet processor that requires more space for your PC casing.
These coolers are characteristically slimmer in design, allowing you more room to work with. It is also important that you fit an AIO cooler in your system if your PC is in a work area with restricted airflow.
They don’t suffer a hot box effect in cramped areas because they provide consistent cooling due to their liquid coolant. This cooler proves its worth when it comes to overclocking.
Overclocking is when you push PC hardware beyond its designed configurations to get the most performance. AIOs have proven to be more efficient in ensuring that motherboards do not shut off due to the high temperature and work to ensure a steady temperature and give you room to continue your work.
1. NZXT Kraken M22 – Best Overall
This cooling solution has a fast-speed Aer P fan and a 6-year warranty. It works well with both AMD and Intel processors. The NZXT has an excellently crafted exterior that will leave you awe-struck.
The fans attached to this cooler are quiet, which is a preference for many. This cooler offers stiff competition to the 360mm AIO and the 240mm AIO. It boasts a greater fan output of up to 3000 revolutions per minute.
The fans in this cooler run quietly, which is something many people prefer. The Kraken is compatible with the NZXT cam. This software allows you to adjust the fan’s RPM and reconfigure the RGB lighting.
This allows you enough control over your processor.
The software, however, needs you to sign into your google or Facebook account to save the settings. If you are uncomfortable with this, it allows you to run it in guest mode. This function, however, does not allow you to save your settings.
Why Is The NTXT Kraken M22 The Best AIO Cooling Solution In 2023?
The Kraken M22 has a great cooling capacity and a great build. Its design makes it ideal for compact gaming and home cinematics. The Kraken M22 comes with inbuilt CAM software. It is designed to ensure that your processor does not overheat even when handling heavy-duty tasks such as machine learning or video editing.
It is appropriately designed to provide the needed cooling to your game console while in use.
The M22 is widely known as a great liquid cooling solution that eliminates the need for expensive installs, leak testing, and coolant refilling that regular water cooling solutions require.
It requires zero maintenance and ensures you do not have to worry about your processor and increasing its longevity. The Kraken M22 also includes a single 120mm NZXT Aer P120 fan with a 2000 RPM rating.
2. EVGA CLC 120 – Runner Up
This is the cheapest cooler on this list with a purchase price of less than $55. This cooler, however, is only compatible with Intel processors. If you are using an AMD processor, we recommend looking at other coolers within this review.
The low price of the cooler does deem its performance considerably well compared to air coolers within the same price range. The cooler boasts a minimalistic design that lacks RGB lighting.
The EVGA CLC 120 fans are of superior quality. This is especially true for the top bearings that make it long-lasting. This is not a stylish AIO. However, the build of this cooler is its greatest competitive advantage.
The build features a curved fan housing with Teflon bearings. It also boasts an excellent wiring system that helps keep your work area clutter-free. You will surely appreciate its pristine cable management if you have a small space.
This cooler has been tested and proven to significantly reduce temperatures in the CPU at an average of 8 degrees Celsius.
3. Cooler Master Master Liquid ML 120L – Premium Pick
If you are on the hunt for an AIO 120mm cooler with RGB lighting to add to your machine, this cooler is a great option. Considering its price, you can currently purchase the cooler master for an average price of $ 89.
This cooler is quiet as its noise levels range from 7-25 dBA. The quality and design of the cooler master are superior compared to the Kraken M22. The cooler master employs a factory-grade liquid coolant solution to keep temperatures low.
It is ideal for all Ryzen processors and is also compatible with the Intel 9th and 10th generation processors. The cooler can handle high temperatures with minimal effort. Installing the cooler master is very quick and easy.
You just need to fasten a few screws. The manufacturer even provides you with a tube of thermal paste to aid in this process. This cooler is also compatible with most CPU sockets. This is a solid market product that you will surely love.
4. DEEP COOL Captain 120 EX
This cooler, for the most part, features a white design. It is, therefore, a suitable pick when you choose to build within a white PC casing. The cooler captain 120 EX comes with fans with a maximum of 1800 rotations per minute.
However, this cooler lacks RGB lighting on the AIO. The pump on this cooler has high density and a micro-channel design that allows the cooler to distribute the heat from the CPU significantly.
5. Corsair H60
This cooler costs the same as the Kraken M22. However, the model’s fans do not match up to the Kraken M22. The Corsair comes with a five year warranty.
The cooler’s black and white may not be compatible with all machines. It offers effective heat distribution, reducing processor temperatures even when overclocking.
The Corsair H60 is more suited to setups with no RGB lighting. It uses a PMW fan. This means that you can control the fan’s speed at the end of the dual closed chambers.
The best feature of the corsair Hydro Series 60 is that the fan will not get noisy even when under strain. This is a dream come true for silent gamers. The cooler is fitted with a high-density radiator which performs remarkably well without spending too much.
The all-in-one cooler is easy to install and works well with many modern processors. The radiator is resistant to both dust and water, which improves durability.
6. ASUS ROG Strix LC 120
This is a high-end cooling solution and comes in quite pricey. If you plan to overclock your CPU, this is the cooler you should go for. The Asus ROG Srix LC 120 features RGB lighting on the pump with Asus logo branding and is attached to the dual chamber tubes and the PWM fans.
This cooler allows you to customize the fans and the pump with the aid of FanExpert whenever you feel the need. It is compatible with a number of processors, such as the TR4 and the LGA 1150.
The cooler is futuristic, comes with a 5-year warranty, and gives you peace of mind. The pump head comes with a rubber design. This makes it look like gear. This speaks to the robust design of this AIO cooler.
The pump is made out of aluminum while its cold plate is made out of copper. The quality of this cooler is made to impress.
7. Thermaltake TH120
The Thermaltake TH120 is the perfect choice for anyone who owns a compact PC and is looking to lower the temperatures. It has a low-profile design that allows for your cooler’s easy installation.
The Thermaltake TH120 is very efficient and powerful in its function. The cooler is fitted with RGB lighting and an RGB lit fan. This helps to maximize airflow within the unit and prevent overheating. The RGB-lit fan can be customized using RBG software applications.
This cooler is easier to operate and lighter than many high-end air cooling solutions. The RGB lighting gives flair to this cooling solution setup. The most amazing feature of this all-in-one cooler is its build quality.
If you are on the hunt for a durable and powerful cooler, the Thermaltake TH120 takes the crown.
How To Choose The Best AIO Cooler Cooling Solution In 2023?
There are various key features that you should look at when you want to buy an AIO cooler. We have listed these features for you and hope you can settle on the best cooler for you.
AIOs come in varying sizes. The name of a specific cooler tells you how large the radiator and fans are. There is no definite size on what AIO cooler size is best. However, most modern cases have multiple 140mm and 120mm slots.
We recommend you carefully check the manual for the case number and size of fans that are compatible with your case. This will help you avoid damage and repair costs.
Length Of tubing
The larger the AIO, the longer the tubing. This, in turn, affects the size of AIO that can be mounted onto the case. We recommend that you always go with the biggest AIO that you can fit onto the PC casing.
CPU Optimal Thermal Limits
A processor can easily overheat and cause lagging if a poor cooling system is connected. Overheating reduces the lifespan of any hardware.
It is important that you keep this in mind when choosing the size and number of radiators you need for your processor.
A larger AIO is better if you plan on overclocking, as it generates more heat that the CPU may be unable to handle.
At this point, you must have already figured out the cooler size you need for your processor. Liquid coolers offer superior aesthetics, especially when it comes to RGB lighting.
It is important to know how much cash you are ready and willing to part with when considering the purchase of a new AIO cooler. You do not want to splurge too much on a cooling system and then realize it is not working for your computer.
Hardware components usually need upgrading after some time, and you do not want to find yourself unable to do so when you have spent all the cash on an ineffective AIO cooler.
Thermal Dynamic Power
You will have a hard time protecting your CPU from overheating if you buy a cooler with low thermal dynamic power. This is because it will not have the capacity to cool your processor.
It is important always to ensure that the AIO cooler you purchase has a TDP rate that surpasses that of your processor. This is especially critical if you need to have a high overclocking headroom.
Most coolers will fit into your CPU sockets. However, that is not always the case. We recommend that you ensure that the CPU cooler you want to purchase matches that of your processor. You can find this information on your CPU specification sheet.
Most people prefer to have a silent PC. Cooling solutions are one of the noise generators in a CPU. This is a result of the fans attached to the cooling system.
Larger fans produce less noise as they typically have fewer revolutions per minute. We recommend settling on a build with larger fan sizes if you prefer a silent workspace.
So, coolers featuring 140mm fans will generally be quieter than coolers using 120mm fans. Coolers with several fans can also operate at lower speeds since there are more fans working to keep the cooler cool.
The size of the AIO cooler may be too large for the RAM slots in your PC. You may find that the CPU block or fan may overhang the RAM when this happens. This limits their compatibility with taller memory modules. You must carefully check all specifications to avoid this issue because it could cost you a lot of money.
Large AIO models may not fit into some processors and overhang the PCle slots. This, however, depends on the cooler size and the placement of the CPU socket and top PCle slot on the processor. 120mm AIO cooling fans are compatible with ATX motherboards but may overhang on ITX processors.