PC enthusiasts have relied on liquid cooling for decades to maximize performance while minimizing noise. The reason is simple: liquid can usually move heat away from the CPU faster than air and it requires less work from the fans, which makes less noise. Like any technology for enthusiasts, liquid cooling has had a high barrier to entry for years, with various components and the ubiquitous risk of leakage. That risk persists, but all-in-one liquid coolers (AIO) can make things easier for newbies. If you don’t want to hunt for faucets or bend hardline hoses yourself, the best AIO coolers can make installing a water cooling circuit a lot easier.
Before immersion, it should be noted that all of these coolers come in a variety of sizes. We’ve split our picks into different sizes, but to give you a few more options, we haven’t repeated the same cooler in a different size. For example, if you’re keeping an eye on the Arctic Liquid Freezer II 360, the 240mm variant is still an option.
Arctic Liquid Freezer II 360
Best 360mm AIO
|Socket compatibility||Intel: LGA1151, LGA1150, LGA1555, LGA1156, LGA2011-3, LGA2066
AMD: AT 4
|Dimensions (length by width by height)||398 mm x 120 mm x 38 mm|
|Including fans||Three Arctic 120mm fans|
|Fan speed||200 to 1,800 rpm|
The Arctic Liquid Freezer II is the best AIO cooler on the market. It achieves a similar performance as competing coolers from NZXT and Corsair and is very inexpensive. The 360mm option costs just $ 125 while the NZXT Kraken X73 – another 360mm AIO – costs almost $ 200. The price is even more impressive when you consider the features of the cooler. In particular, the pump is controlled by PWM so it can modulate with the workload rather than running at full speed all the time.
In addition to the pump, the Liquid Freezer II has a 40 mm fan that sits above the VRM chips on your motherboard. For more extreme overclocking sessions, this can improve stability.
This cooler is all about performance and price. It gets those two bits right, but not without a concession. It has no lighting whatsoever and the design may not suit all tastes.
Nevertheless, the Liquid Freezer II hits a sweet spot that other coolers cannot keep up with. Socket support is a bit limited, but the Liquid Freezer still supports the latest chips. AM4 CPUs are supported on AMD, and all LGA115x sockets as well as 2011-3 and 2066 with a square independent loading mechanism (ILM) are supported on Intel.
NZXT Kraken X53
Best 240mm AIO
|Socket compatibility||Intel: LGA1200, LGA1151, LGA1150, LGA1155, LGA1156, LGA1366, LGA2011, LGA2011-3, LGA2066
AMD: AM4, TR4, sTRX4
|Cooler dimensions (length by width by height)||230mm x 123mm x 30mm|
|Including fans||Two Aer P120 120mm fans|
|Fan speed||500 to 2,000 rpm|
The third generation Kraken X coolers from NZXT are significantly more expensive than the Liquid Freezer II, but worth their price. The design is much more appealing than what Arctic offers and at the same time achieves a similar thermal output. The infinity mirror pump cap of the Kraken X is a real eye-catcher. It reflects light in the cap to create the illusion of infinite LED rings. Like almost all NZXT products, the Kraken X53 is fully integrated with CAM so you can monitor temperatures and adjust your lighting settings. Via the X52, the X53 also has a NZXT Hue 2 connection on the pump, which provides power for up to six Hue 2 accessories.
Unsurprisingly, socket support is excellent, with support for TR4 and AM4 on AMD and LGA115X, 20XX and 1200 on Intel. NZXT rates the Kraken X63 for six years of continuous use – technically 60,000 hours – which is roughly what we would expect for most AIO coolers. However, NZXT offers a six-year guarantee so that you are protected from defects for the nominal life of the cooler.
Corsair H80i v2
Best 120mm AIO
|Socket compatibility||Intel: LGA1200, LGA1150, LGA1151, LGA1155, LGA1156, LGA1366, LGA2011, LGA2066
AMD: AM4 (requires CW-8960046 bracket), AM3, AM2
|Cooler dimensions (length by width by height)||154mm x 123mm x 49mm|
|Including fans||Two Corsair SP120L 120mm fans|
|Fan speed||2.435 rpm|
Difficult to find a decent 120mm AIO cooler. Without the correct surface area of the cooler, most 120mm coolers are simply incapable of sniffing in terms of cooling performance. The Corsair H80i v2 solves this problem. The cooler is twice as thick and measures 49 mm compared to 25 mm. The H80i v2 doesn’t match the cooling performance of a 240mm cooler, but it comes much closer than a standard 120mm cooler. To get through the extra-thick cooler, Corsair includes two SP120L PWM fans, making it easy to set up a push-pull configuration. But when assembling, you need to take into account the additional thickness of such a configuration.
To support this, the H80i is supplied with Intel mounting parts for socket 1366 to LGA1200 (Intel’s redesign of LGA1151 for Comet Lake CPUs). If you’ve introduced an Intel processor after 2008, you’re basically fine. AMD support is a bit sparse. The cooler technically supports AM2 to AM4, but the box only comes with mounting hardware for up to AM3. You need a separate AM4 bracket. Fortunately, Corsair sells them for just a few dollars. Again, there is no RGB, although you can control the fan speed and monitor temperatures through Corsair’s iCue software.
Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML240L v2
Best budget AIO
|Socket compatibility||Intel: LGA1200, LGA1151, LGA1150, LGA1155, LGA1156, LGA2066, LGA2011-3, LGA2011
AMD: Am4, Am3 +, AM3, AM2 +, AM2, FM2 +, FM2, FM1
|Dimensions (length by width by height)||157 mm x 119.6 mm x 27.2 mm|
|Including fans||Two Sickleflow 120RGB 120mm fans|
|Fan speed||650 to 1,800 rpm|
Cooler Master offers a range of “Lite” IIs, which are essentially earlier iterations of Cooler Master’s MasterLiquid line with increased base support and double FEP tubing. At around $ 80, it’s tough to complain about the ML240L v2. It comes with a 240mm cooler, two RGB fans and a small RGB controller. The heat output isn’t particularly good, and the noise level is higher than some of the more expensive options. However, the ML240L is around $ 50 cheaper than most other 240mm AIOs. Plus, you can always swap out the fans later for more lighting options and slightly better noise levels.
The ML240L also has an almost universal base support. On Intel, LGA1200, LGA20xx, LGA115x, and LGA1366 are supported, and on AMD, AM2 through AM4 and FM2 and FM1 are supported. For the price, the ML240L is hard to beat. However, if there is a little extra cash to spend, this is what you should do. There are many potential points of failure in an AIO cooler, and cheaper coolers are generally at higher risk.
EK-AIO 240 D-RGB
Best RGB AIO
|Socket compatibility||Intel: LGA1200, LGA1150, LGA1151, LGA1155, LGA1156, LGA2011, LGA2011-3, LGA2066
AMD: AT 4
|Dimensions (length by width by height)||275mm x 120mm x 27mm|
|Including fans||Two EK-Vardar S 120ER D-RGB 120 mm fans|
|Fan speed||550 to 2,200 rpm|
There are many AIOs with an RGB ring around the pump and even more with RGB fans. The EK-AIO 240 D-RGB starts from the deep end. Just before a small black stripe to which the tubes are connected, the mounting block has a translucent, slightly diffuse surface that washes out the lights inside into a beautiful color representation. EK is the Space for customer-specific water cooling, and the EK-AIO 240 shows why. When it comes to raw heat output, EK beats the corsairs and NZXTs of the world. It contains two EK-Vardar S fans with a speed of 550 rpm to 2,200 rpm and supports Asus Aura Sync, Gigabyte RGB Fusion, MSI Mystic Light and ASRock RGB Sync for the fans and the pump.
Better still, the EK-AIO 240 is inexpensive. It’s $ 10 cheaper than its 240mm counterpart at NZXT, and is on par with Corsair’s popular H100i. Like many other options on this list, it is also available in 120mm and 360mm variants. Under Intel, the EK-AIO 240 supports LGA115x and LGA20xx as well as LGA1200. At AMD it only contains an AM4 bracket. You can control the fans right from your motherboard. However, if you don’t have enough space, you can use an EK-Loop Connect controller for another six PWM connections.
Before you buy an AIO cooler
AIO coolers are an inexpensive and convenient way to cool your PC, but they still have risks. It doesn’t matter if you use a budget cooler or a completely custom loop: there is always a risk of damaging your components. It doesn’t mean that a mistake will happen, just that it is possible. Your water heater could explode as well, but the reward outweighs the risk (if you don’t want to take any chances, check out our guide to the best CPU coolers to find some great alternatives for air cooling). As with water heaters, failure is usually due to negligence.
Over time, the pump wears out and the coolant begins to penetrate the pipes. Basically, AIO coolers have a fixed service life. Five years is about the standard, but you can get a few more or a few less depending on temperature and other factors. Do not try to repair the AIO once it is up and running. Just buy a new cooler. Technically, you can deflate and refill the loop, but it’s more of a hassle than stringing together a custom loop of flexible tubing.