When it comes to cooling your CPU, there are multiple cooling solutions which include air coolers (active and passive), All-In-One (AIO) coolers also closed loop coolers, and open loop (also called custom loop) cooling solution. Each solution has its own pros and cons though it is safe to assume that air coolers are safe to use as compared to the other solutions due to fear of leakage which is a single most factor abstaining the users from going all hands down to the liquid cooling. The counter argument would be the bulky weight of the high end air coolers that may put stress on your motherboards.
We are back with yet another round-up content based on the community’s feedback. Earlier we did a round-up content on high-end air coolers and it was appreciated with some suggestions which we have incorporated in this round-up content. This time we are doing a round-up on 240mm CLC/AIO coolers for which we reached out to some 30 brands. The overall response was good and we were able to obtain 17 coolers for this content. We appreciate and are thankful to the brands for joining us.
Some of the coolers are relatively new and some are old. It would be interesting to observe if those old coolers are still packing the sucker punch. We have particularly included the REEVEN NAIA 240 in this content as at the time of its release in 2017, we were of the view that this cooler is underdog based on its performance. We leave the choice of cooler to the brands except where the cooler(s) was already in our inventory. Here is the list of the coolers included in this content:
|ARCTIC Liquid Freezer II 240||https://tinyurl.com/y4e4j44j|
|CORSAIR H100i RGB Platinum *||https://tinyurl.com/y3cnxdf2|
|Fractal Design Celcius+ S24 Prisma||https://tinyurl.com/y4jwpzbn|
|EK-AIO 240 D-RGB||https://tinyurl.com/yxv6dp6j|
|Bequiet! Pure Loop 240||https://tinyurl.com/yy265a93|
|Cooler Master ML240L V2 A-RGB||https://tinyurl.com/y5la6ghp|
|ANTEC Neptune 240||https://tinyurl.com/y4k32w52|
|XPG Levante 240 *||https://tinyurl.com/y5glxzcs|
|ASUS ROG RYUO 240 *||https://tinyurl.com/y2k4pz3s|
|REEVEN NAIA 240||https://tinyurl.com/y5qdojfu|
|DeepCool Castle 240EX White||https://tinyurl.com/yyxefecc|
|AeroCool Pulse 240||Nil|
|SilverStone iCEGEM 240P||https://tinyurl.com/yyz7d8vm|
|Lian Li GALAHAD 240 Silver||https://tinyurl.com/y6lbd674|
|Enermax Aquafusion 240 White||https://tinyurl.com/y29v24g4|
|AZZA Blizzard 240||https://tinyurl.com/y43wfjo3|
|ID-COOLING Auraflow X 240||https://tinyurl.com/y3ha8ha3|
*Content links from Tech4Gamers with their permission since author is the same person.
Since we have done a dedicated review of these coolers, they are linked as well and we will not be going into details. You may check the detailed reviews of them by clicking the links above. There is no dedicated content of the AeroCool Pulse L240F. We were expecting Mirage 240 but it still has not made to the local market.
Test Bench Configuration
Following configuration is used for the coolers testing:
- Intel i7 10700k @ 5.1GHz
- MSI MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK
- T-FORCE NightHawk RGB DDR4 16GB @ 3200MHz CL 16
- GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 1060 6G Gaming G1 [For Display]
- bequiet! Straight Power 11 850W Platinum PSU
- Open-air Test Bench
- CORSAIR ML140Pro for airflow on the motherboard area
Following table mentions some important settings which were used during the testing:
|Fan Headers||CPU, Pump Header, System Fan Header 6|
|Thermal Paste||Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut Extreme|
|Thermal Paste Application||Even Spread using spatula|
|Run Time per test||30 minutes|
|Idle Time per test in OS||10 minutes|
|Fan Speed||100% PWM Cycle
|Independent Fans||2x Noctua NF-F12 iPPC 3000 PWM @ 100% PWM Cycle|
|Normalized Noise||44 dBA|
|Ambient Noise||33~34 dBA|
|Stress Software||AIDA64 Extreme 6.30 [FPU]|
|OS||Microsoft Windows 10 x64|
|Temperature||Delta temperature is reported in the graphs. The ambient temperatures were in the range of 13°C to 15°C.|
Thermal paste was evenly spread using the spatula.
There are many parameters in the UEFI/BIOS that could impact the testing and it may be beyond us setting each and every parameter manually. We have tried to keep those parameters in check manually which are generally used/required to be set when overclocking. Since all the coolers will be tested on same settings under same configuration, the margin of error will be the same for all the coolers. There are total of 4x tests per cooler depending upon the PWM duty cycle. These are as under:
- Test at 100% PWM Duty Cycle set from UEFI/BIOS
- Test on Auto PWM duty Cycle
- Noise Normalized Fan Speed
- Test at 100% PWM Duty Cycle using Noctua NF-F12 iPPC 3000 PWM fans
Our main focus here is the thermal performance and our pick of the ultimate winner will also be based on the thermal performance and noise level. RGB lighting is of secondary importance for this content as they may add augmentation to the overall features but there are more variables at play than simply going for RGB lighting after the thermal performance itself. I would like to bring in the price, warranty and ease of installation into the equation as well much like how we did the last round-up content.
Before moving on, we would like to thank our sponsors; Intel, MSI, bequiet!, Texon-Ware (T-FORCE), Noctua, and Thermal Grizzly.
Thermal Grizzly has provided their Kryonaut Extreme 9ml pack for this content. The thermal paste was evenly spread on the IHS for every test. Since the ambient temperature was in the range of 13~15°C, the container of the paste was put in a cup of warm water which makes the application easier.
Noctua has provided 2x NF-F12 iPPC 3000 PWM fans for independent testing of the cooling solution (pump and radiator). We have incorporated this idea based on the community’s feedback for the last round-up content. We wanted to have the fans with almost 0 compromise on the performance. Naturally, our pick would be the fan with high airflow and static pressure rating. We reached out to Noctua and discuss with them our idea. In no time, these powerful fans showed up at our place.
MSI has sponsored our new test bed with MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK motherboard. You can click here to read my take on this motherboard.
Intel has sponsored our new test bed with Core i7 10700k. Click here to read my take on the Intel CPU.
Texon-Ware has sponsored our new test bed with T-Force NIGHTHAWK RGB DDR4 2x8GB @ 3200MHz CL 16 kit. You can click here to read my take on this kit.
bequiet! has sponsored us with their straight power 11 850W Platinum PSU which has powered our new test bed.
I had wanted to test these coolers inside the chassis to make our results closer to the real world usage. Unfortunately, my doctor has not yet allowed me to lift or move heavy items owing to my hip joint injury and its complication which is why I had to drop this idea and stick to the open-air bench setup. Apology for that! Yup, things are not settling well with Necrosis on the femoral head!
The following aspects of every cooler are covered in this content:
- Thermal Performance at 100% PWM Cycle
- Thermal Performance at Auto PWM function
- Noise Normalized Thermal Performance
- Thermal Performance with Independent Fans
- Ease of Installation
- Aesthetic and Looks
Let’s start with the Installation section.
Ease of Installation
Below is our reference guide in determining the installation steps. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to the installation steps hence anyone can differ from our opinion. Since we will evaluate all coolers according to this guide, the standardization will be ensured.
- Placing Standoffs on the backplate will be one step.
- Securing Standoffs will be one step.
- Passing the backplate through motherboard socket’s mounting holes will be one step.
- Placing washers will be one step.
- Placing the spacers will be one step.
- Placing the brackets on the standoffs will be one step.
- Securing the brackets using thumb nuts/screws will be one step.
- Applying thermal paste will be one step.
- Placing and installing the block on the CPU will be one step.
- If mounting bracket needs to be placed or installed on the block, it will be one step.
- Installing fans on the radiator and connecting their power cables to the fan headers will be one step.
- Connecting Pump’s power cable will be one step.
- Connecting RGB cables will be one step.
- If any additional cable is to be connected to the block, it will be one step.
The coolers are in the range of 7-10 steps. 1x cooler requires 7 steps. 6x coolers require 8 steps for the installation, 8x coolers require 9 steps for the installation and 2 coolers need 10 steps for the installation.
Almost, all of these coolers can be installed with motherboard already installed in the chassis but you would want to install the block of the SilverStone iCEGEM 240P outside of the chassis due to its weight and particular angle of the fitment. I tried to install the block in the traditional laying with tube ends facing the DIMM slot but the block was never a proper fit. It was an easy fit with tubes side facing the top of the motherboard. As strange as it sounds, this is what it is.
Personally, I don’t like pasting any mounting hardware on the motherboard PCB. There are a few coolers in the list where you would have to use the self-adhesive tape to secure the backplate with the motherboard like XPG LEVANTE 240, Cooler Master ML240L V2 A-RGB. The ARCTIC Liquid Freezer – II 240 needs 8x washers to be placed on both sides of the PCB at mounting holes. Guess what, they have one sticky side and needs to be pasted on the mounting holes.
Out of all these coolers, the blocks of 2x coolers are secured using two screws as compared to generally 4x screws mounting. These are REEVEN NAIA 240 and bequiet! Pure Loop 240. While this is not a complaint but placing the block and installing it could leave a feeling of improper installation. 4 screws mounting in a diagonal manner would apply proper pressure though in our case this observation is secondary as the thermal paste is already evenly spread on the IHS.
AZZA and AeroCool need to improve their mounting hardware in particular. I am still seeing the mounting brackets not snuggling in right on the AeroCool Pulse L240F which makes the installation of the block inconvenient and a matter of guessing. With AZZA, the installation of the block is a total guess game as we would need to align the holes (large size) on the mounting brackets with the holes of the backplate. This could easily make the improper fitment of the block on the CPU. I got it right in second attempt.
Generally, I have found the installation of the Asetek based coolers convenient. I would like to mention the ARCTIC Liquid Freezer – II 240 here in particular. This cooler has the fans’ PWM power cables cut-to-size and pre-routed around the mounting corners (integrated cable management). This cooler comes with the fans pre-installed with only 1x cable to be connected to the fan header making this cooler making this cooler a winner of this section.
Let’s take a look at the listed price of these coolers. We have tried to find the current prices of the coolers primarily from AMAZON. Where we could not find the pricing on AMAZON, NewEgg was used to establish the pricing. Where NewEgg was of no help, European online stores were checked and prices were converted into US Dollar equivalent.
The prices are in USD. I have sorted the graphs based on the lowest price to highest one. Please, keep in mind that this factor is relevant as we need to take into consideration the other factors like performance, warranty etc during evaluation. The ID-COOLING AURAFLOW X 240 is sitting on the top with the lowest price of $72.99. It is closely followed by the Cooler Master ML240L V2 A-RGB. The price categories follow as under:
|Price Range||Number of coolers|
|Sub $100 Category||6x|
|$101 ~ $120||6x|
|$121 ~ $150||2x|
I would expect coolers over $120 to have that good thermal performance with adequate set of features to warrant such high price tag. Personally, I may not spend my money on the cooler with RGB lighting/Infinity Mirror/OLED Display taken over the thermal performance but for those who do there are many options out there. We have just listed the pricing and categorize them for information. There is no winner solely on the pricing as there is thermal performance or noise performance included.
Warranty is important variable when it comes to a product. The number of years in the warranty period shows the confidence of the manufacturer in their products and shows that there coolers are expected to last this long while maintaining the thermal performance optimal level as per the specifications.
5x coolers are offering the maximum warranty period of 5 years. Two of these coolers namely Lian Li GALAHAD Silver 240 and EK-AIO 24 D-RGB have a price tag of $119.99. The XPG Levante 240 falls in the price bracket of $121 ~ $150 whereas the remaining two coolers namely Fractal Design Celcius+ S24 Prisma and CORSAIR H100i RGB Platinum are priced above $150 tag. This category is favoring the Lian Li and EK coolers from the price and warranty perspective.
5x coolers have 2 years of warrant including the ARCTIC Liquid Freezer – II 240. The ENERMAX AQUAFUSION 240 is in the price bracket of $101~$120 whereas the XPG Levante 240 falls in $121~$150 price bracket. I would want to see more warranty period on these coolers. The black version of the ENERMAX AQUAFUSION 240 is retailing around $94 which would sit correctly in graph for this price bracket.
6x coolers come with 3 year warranty. Take a note on SilverStone iCEGEM 240P as this cooler has a warranty of 3 to 5 years depending on the region. We have mentioned the 3 years as it is the minimum guaranteed on this cooler. Surprising to see the most expensive cooler in the list ASUS ROG RYUO 240 offers only 3 year of warranty for charging $189! ID-COOLING is definitely doing a better job as their cooler is least expensive of all in the list yet it offers at-least 3 years warranty with decent performance and yes it comes with RGB lighting (not digital) with a dedicated controller.
Below table summarizes the coolers warranty in each price category to further elaborate the case.
|Price Bracket||Cooler||Warranty Period|
|Under $100||ARCTIC Liquid Freezer – II 240||2|
|Cooler Master ML240L V2 A-RGB||2|
|AeroCool Pulse L240F||2|
|ID-COOLING AURAFLOW X 240||3|
|bequiet! Pure Loop 240||3|
|AZZA Blizzard 240||4|
|$101 – $120||ENERMAZ AQUAFUSION 240 White||2|
|REEVEN NAIA 240||2|
|DeepCool Castle 240EX White||3|
|Antec Neptune 240||3|
|EK-AIO 240 D-RGB||5|
|Lian Li GALAHAD 240 Silver||5|
|$121 ~ $150||SilverStone iCEGEM 240P||3|
|XPG Levante 240||5|
|Over $150||ASUS ROG RYUO 240||3|
|CORSAIR H100i RGB Platinum||5|
|Fractal Design Celcius+ S24 Prisma||5|
AZZA Blizzard comes with 4 year warranty and is priced at $89.99. This cooler could have improved by simply replacing the Hurricane-II A-RGB fans with some high-performance edition fans as the Hurricane-II A-RGB are more suitable for the case airflow.
Thermal Performance at 100% PWM Cycle
In our evaluation of these coolers, the first test was run with both fans set to run at their full speed. The setting was made in UEFI/BIOS. No software was used to control the speed of the fans from Windows. MSI Dragon utility was completely un-installed. Here are the results:
Ever since 2017 when the REEVEN launched their NAIA 240 cooler, it has been my impression that this cooler is under dog based on its performance. This was the reason I have included this cooler in this testing and it has performed that well. The CORSAIR H100i RGB Platinum has taken a top spot in the graph. The coolers falling within 1°C will be taken as performing similar due to the margin of error. In The ARCTIC Liquid Freezer – II 240 and SilverStone iCEGEM 240P are in the same range. Both coolers have 38mm thick radiators.
Taking the raw cooling potential of the coolers in consideration without other factors, the CORSAIR H100i RGB Platinum is the winner here.
Now, let’s add the Noise level in the equation and see at 100% PWM duty cycle, what was the noise level of the coolers.
The above graph shows the noise output of the coolers at 100% fan speed. The graph is sorted from lowest to the highest. No surprise there as ARCTIC Liquid Freezer – II 240 is on the top.
The top performance from the CORSAIR cooler is coming at the price of high noise output of 61 dBA. Even the Reeven NAIA and the third contender SilverStone iCEGEM 240P are operating at higher noise output of 57 and 61 dBA respectively. The ARCTIC Liquid Freezer – II 240 is operating at 48 dBA with fans running at full speed. This is quite impressive performance from the ARCTIC Liquid Freezer – II 240.
Now, let’s sort the graphs on the Noise level starting from lowest sound level to higher sound level.
Now, the picture is totally reversed in terms of low noise output at full speed. The ARCTIC Liquid Freezer – II 240 is sitting at the top with the 48 dBA output level. Surprised that top 4 contenders are all under $100 price bracket! Keep in mind that this is not a noise normalized performance so pros and cons are very much in play here. If you want the best of the best without caring about the noise then CORSAIR H100i RGB Platinum is your go with cooler and if you are in the camp where you would want silent performance, the ARCTIC Liquid Freezer – II 240 is your go with cooler.
As mentioned above there are multiple factors which play important role when deciding a cooling solution and they also play role in overall evaluation of the cooling solution at hand. Let’s add pricing and warranty of the coolers in the graph and see how the equation evolves.
Interesting figures for sure! Now, we are taking a combined look at the thermal performance, noise level, pricing, and the warranty. Ideally we would want a cooler with good thermal performance at reasonable noise output with a better warranty and friendly pricing given the features set. Too much to handle! Right?
We have 5x coolers with the 5 years warranty but all of them have relatively higher noise output with varying price level. My pick for this category would be Lian Li GALAHAD 240 Silver. Next we have 6x coolers with 3 years warranty. ID-COOLING AURAFLOW X 240 would be a nice choice here given the performance level and the pricing. Next we have 5x coolers with 2 years warranty. Here ARCTIC Liquid Freezer – II 240 would be my pick. Overall, the ARCTIC Liquid Freezer – II 240 based on its excellent thermal performance all around, pricing, noise level, convenient installation steps is the favorite cooler in the list with one caveat of 2 years warranty which should have been at-least 3 years to make it more compelling.
Last, let’s take a look at the maximum speed that the fans on these coolers achieve at 100% PWM cycle.
The orange color bar is showing the attained or actual speed of the front fan whereas the blue color bar is showing the rated speed of the fans. Almost all the fans were within their specified rated speeds except a few exceptions where the fans fall behind the rated speed. Keep in mind that many of these fans have speed rating mentioned with ±10% range.
The above graph shows the speed of the pump at 100% running. 0 in the graph indicates the lack of data where we could not find the rated speed or where it was simply not possible like Antec Neptune 240 has pump powered by the SATA connector leaving no room to measure its speed. The orange bar is showing the manufacture listed speed of the pump whereas the blue bar is showing the attained/actual speed as taken from the AIDA64 run.
Thermal Performance on Auto PWM
Our second test on these coolers was to test their Auto PWM function and see how capable their fans are on Auto PWM. The MSI UEFI/BIOS has different approach for Auto PWM which they called Smart Fan Mode.
The above picture shows the picture of the UEFI/BIOS setting for the Smart Fan Mode. Same settings were used for all the coolers testing.
The REEVEN NAIA 240 is sitting on the top this time with CORSAIR H100i RGB Platinum coming on second slot with a marginal difference. Surprisingly, all 4 top coolers are the same from the graph of 100% speed.
It is important to know what speeds these fans were getting at during the Auto testing. These are the maximum figures recorded after the test run.
We have included the rated speed of the fans in the comparison so that one can have an idea about the PWM regulation when comparing the attained speed with the rated speed.
Noise Normalized Thermal Performance
The real test of steel is the noise normalized performance of these coolers as keeping other variables constant, we get to test these coolers on a set 44 dBA sound level. The sound meter was placed roughly 12” from the cooler to record the sound level. The sound meter has 1.5± error of margin which applies to all the coolers. We have used the System Fan Header 6 of the MSI motherboard to manual control the speed of the fans. The speed of the fans was lowered till the reading on the sound meter reached and stabilizes at 44 dBA. I will be showing the speed of the fans to achieve this sound level as well.
No surprise there as the ARCTIC Liquid Freezer – II 240 comes on the top. This is mainly due to the fact that this cooler out of the box is operating at 48 dBA hence dialing down to 44 dBA saw reducing the speed a notch down. REEVEN NAIA 240 is still kicking solid. This time we are seeing DeepCool Castle 240EX making it to the ranks.
The above graph shows the speed of the fans on each cooler set to achieve the 44 dBA sound level.
Testing with Noctua NF-F12 iPPC 3000 PWM
One of the feedback from our last round-up content was to check the coolers with an independent set of fans. We took this idea to max out the performance figure of the fan to show the true cooling potential of the coolers. Noctua hooked us up with their iPPC range NF-F12 fans. The salient specifications of these fans are:
|Static Pressure||7.63 mmH₂O|
Clearly, these fans are best suited for our need as would not want to compromise from any factor which is why Noctua suggested these fans after we discussed with them the requirement at hand. So, here is the graph with these fans installed on the coolers. These were set to run at 100% speed. Boi! They do reach 3000 RPM mark!
No surprise there as ARCTIC Liquid Freezer – II 240 comes on the top followed very closely by the CORSAIR 100i RGB Platinum. There is a marginal difference among the next 4 coolers.
Our next graph shows the comparison of thermal performance using the stock fans and the Noctua NF-F12 iPPC 3000 PWM fans. Load time temperatures are shown in the graph. The graph is sorted on the difference between both temperatures. From the radiator’s efficiency and pump’s performance perspective, the lower difference indicates that the given cooler has near optimally balanced cooling solution out of the box.
Finally, the time has come to wrap it all up. Unlike the previous round-up content, this time, we will be using more categories before picking up the winner of the round-up content which is not an easy task by any mean and I would like mention that any of these coolers would get the given cooling job done but I am required to pick a winner. This round-up content is on the 240mm CLCs. The 240mm size is still popular and goes to with choice of the users hence we decided to pick this size coolers in the CLC segment and round it up. That is why there is no 120mm, 140mm, 280mm, or 360mm cooler in the testing.
We get a chance to test various coolers from their respective manufacturers using multiple factors like pricing, warranty, ease of installation, Aesthetics, and thermal performance. The coolers included in this content are:
- ARCTIC Liquid Freezer II 240
- CORSAIR H100i RGB Platinum
- Fractal Design Celcius+ S24 Prisma
- EK-AIO 240 D-RGB
- Bequiet! Pure Loop 240
- Cooler Master ML240L V2 A-RGB
- ANTEC Neptune 240
- XPG Levante 240
- ASUS ROG RYUO 240
- REEVEN NAIA 240
- DeepCool Castle 240EX White
- AeroCool Pulse 240
- SilverStone iCEGEM 240P
- Lian Li GALAHAD 240 Silver
- Enermax Aquafusion 240 White
- AZZA Blizzard 240
- ID-COOLING Auraflow X 240
Each of these coolers comes with 2x 120mmm fans, radiator and pump/block unit along with a plethora of mounting hardware. Evaluation of these coolers is not primarily done on the basis of just sheer performance by setting the fans and the pump at 100% speed rather we need to look at the complete picture by incorporating pricing, warranty, noise output, ease of installation in the equation. My aim is to provide a broader picture to the readers so that they can make a conscious decision when purchasing their cooling solution. Honestly speaking any of all the contestant coolers would do the job at the end of the day. Of course, one can differ from my opinion and that is ok. Let’s start with the categories.
Aesthetics and Looks
It is said that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. This makes the selection of the coolers (yes two) a purely my personal opinion. This time I will be selecting two ends of the spectrum with one end going all out on the RGB lighting and the other end being neutral/stealth tone. My pick for the RGB and stunning looks is Lian Li GALAHAD 240 SILVER as I love the look on the unit, particularly on the block. I just wish they had done the cabling on the block in the white as well for the Silver edition. My pick for neutral build yet with stunning looks is bequiet! Pure Loop 240. I admire bequiet! for doing a spectacular job in the block’s design by keeping the minimalistic lighting without compromise on the outlook.
Feature Rich Solution
There are some coolers in the list with a different feature set as compared to a simple CLC design. The Fractal Design Celcius+ S24 Prisma has integrated fan and RGB hub, integrated cable management, thermal sensor, and knob design on the block for speed control. Another option is bequiet! Pure Loop 240 with its refil port making the cooler a practical cooling solution for long term use. bequiet! has also provided a coolant bottle for the user’s convenience. ARCTIC Liquid Freezer comes with integrated cable management, integrated silent fan on the block for VRM cooling, thicker radiator. The REEVEN NAIA 240 comes with two refil ports; one is on the block and the other is on the radiator. They have also provided a coolant bottle as well as three color dyes (Red, Green, Blue) allowing the user to change the color of the coolant. This was a strange implementation as the tubes are not transparent and the only way to show the colored coolant is the block which itself has a white static LED. My pick here is Fractal Design Celcius+ S24 Prisma for its better overall build quality and features set making it quite a different cooling proposal. The SilverStone iCEGEM 240P has the full-length block for the AMD Threadripper CPU making it a truly compatible cooler for all sockets. This is the only cooler in the list to have full-length block.
Ease of Installation
Almost all of the coolers require same number of steps for the installation. My pick here is ARCTIC Liquid Freezer – II 240 with 7 steps involved in the installation. This is due to the fact that the fans come pre-installed and pre-integrated cables. The user would need to connect only one cable coming out of the block. Also based on my comfort I would mention Fractal Design Clecius+ S24 Prisma and EK-AIO 240 D-RGB as well for relatively convenient installation.
Best Budget Cooling
This is rather an easy picking. The ID-COOLING Auraflow X 240 RGB with its $72.99 pricing and comparative performance is our pick for the best budget cooling solution. This is further augmented with subtle RGB lighting on the block and the fans though not digital. ID-COOLING is also offering 3 years warranty on this cooler. I would like to honorable mention here the Cooler Master ML240L V2 A-RGB which is also a complete package on its own plus comes with digital RGB lighting. There is like $7 difference in the pricing of both these coolers.
Best Noise Performance
Here, I will pick the cooler which runs silent out of the box with a good thermal performance. The ARCTIC Liquid Freezer II 240 is the winner of this category for the 48 dBA sound level out of the box at full speed of the fans, the pump unit, and the VRM cooling fan.
Just for once, let’s ignore the pricing, warranty, noise output, features and focused on which cooler can give the best of the best with everything set to run at full speed. The CORSAIR H100i RGB Platinum is rocking on the top slot in our 100% speed graph. With Noctua NF-F12 iPPC 3000 PWM the top slot was taken by the ARCTIC Liquid Freezer – II 240.
King of the Ring
Finally, we have come to the point where we have to pick a winner. This has multiple factors in consideration like, pricing, warranty, noise output, thermal performance. My pick here is ARCTIC Liquid Freezer II 240 with one caveat. This cooler has best noise level out of the box even at full speed which gives this cooler an edge in the noise-normalized performance. This is further augmented with the integrated cable management and silent fan for VRM cooling. Total of 7 installation steps are needed for this cooler which is the lowest number in the graph. This cooler does not have any RGB lighting which definitely is not a caveat for me but may be for others. The only caveat in my eyes is the 2 years warranty. In our dedicated content on this cooler, I have suggested ARCTIC to consider increasing the warranty period. More warranty period shows the confidence of the manufacturer in the product and this is an important criteria. This cooler is also on top of the Noise Normalized graph which is important criteria here. Also, this cooler is rocking on top with Noctua NF-F12 iPPC 3000 PWM test. Traversing in the noise-normalized graph would see the thermal difference going over 3°C difference with other contributing factors. It definitely was not an easy pick but this is my take. REEVEN NAIA 240 is my honorable mention here along with the CORSAIR H100i RGB Platinum and SilverStone iCEGEM 240P.
Update: ARCTIC as on 23-Mar-2021 has informed that they have increased the warranty period of Liquid Freezer – II series coolers from two to six years. Glad to know they listened to the feedback. Hoping they would address the mounting hardware related input as well!
We are thankful to the sponsors namely Intel, MSI, bequiet!, Texon-Ware (T-FORCE), Thermal Grizzly, and Noctua for supporting us in undertaking this activity and we are equally thankful to the brands who joined us with their coolers for this content. We are also thankful to the brands who could not join this content for one reason or other.
Interested in Air CPU Coolers? Check out our Round-up of High-End CPU Air Coolers: CLICK HERE