While it’s not hard to get acceptable performance from most consumer-grade CPUs, a Threadripper’s huge core counts and high power draw offer a much bigger challenge. If you’re building a high-end Threadripper rig, it’s crucial to get the cooling right. That’s where our list of the best Threadripper coolers comes in.
Whether you prefer air CPU coolers or need the improved thermals of all-in-one (AIO) liquid coolers, our list has something for you. And if you’re unsure, we even discuss the pros and cons of each later in our article. Let’s get to it.
Our Favorite Threadripper Coolers
If you want excellent cooling performance without the risks of liquid cooling, Noctua’s NH-U14S TR4-SP3 is the best cooler for the job. Based on Noctua’s classic NH-U14S cooler, the NH-U14S TR4-SP3 is a single-tower, single-fan cooler that performs much better than you might expect given its size.
The NH-U14S TR4-SP3 can keep even the monster 64-core Threadripper 3990X cool, managing 76 degrees Celsius in its standard single-fan guise. Adding another fan will bring the temperatures down even further to 72 degrees, arguably worth the extra cost of a second Noctua NF-A15 PWM.
Fan noise is relatively low, too. TechSpot measured 39 dBA of total system noise in the stock single-fan configuration. Adding the second fan increased the noise level to 41 dBA, but that’s still relatively quiet compared to the other coolers in their review. The Arctic Freezer 50 TR, for example, measured 47 dBA, which is significantly louder than the Noctua.
Another point in the Noctua NH-U14S TR4-SP3’s favor is its high compatibility with RAM and PCIe expansion cards. Unlike dual-tower coolers, the NH-U14S TR4-SP3 is narrow enough that RAM compatibility for taller modules simply requires you to move the intake fan up. Just be sure that your case has enough clearance for the increased cooler height once you do this.
Noctua also designed the NH-U14S TR4-SP3’s mounting system to have three different offsets to improve PCIe compatibility. The cooler can be mounted in the center or with a three or six millimeter (0.11 or 0.23 inches) vertical offset. Moving the cooler towards the top of the motherboard can help with clearance for cards in the first PCIe expansion slot.
Overall, the Noctua NH-U14S TR4-SP3 is easily the best air cooler for Threadripper. It combines excellent thermals, low noise, and maximum compatibility into a solid all-around package. If you want to keep your expensive CPU and investment running perfectly for a long time to come without worrying about potential liquid cooling failures, this is the cooler for you.
The Dark Rock Pro TR4 is be quiet!’s Threadripper variant of its classic silence-focused dual-tower Dark Rock Pro 4. With its dual Silent Wings fans and dual-tower construction, the Dark Rock Pro TR4 is designed to cool high-core-count CPUs as quietly as possible.
In Tom’s Hardware’s testing, the Dark Rock Pro TR4’s average noise level of 22 dBA offers an appreciable improvement on the Noctua cooler’s 23.8 dBA. If minimizing noise is your main priority, the Dark Rock Pro TR4 is easily your best option.
There are a few caveats, though. Firstly, the dual-tower design may lead to some clearance issues with taller RAM or particularly thick PCIe expansion cards. The Dark Rock Pro TR4 will overhang most of your RAM slots and eat into some of the free space above your first PCIe expansion slot.
Cooling performance is also a bit of a mixed bag compared to the Noctua. KitGuru tested the Dark Rock Pro TR4 with a first-generation Threadripper 1950X and found that it performed slightly better than the Noctua NH-U14S TR4-SP3, even with a 4.0 GHz overclock.
In contrast, Tom’s Hardware tested with a Threadripper 2990WX and found that the Dark Rock Pro TR4 posted 84.8 degrees Celsius delta. This lags significantly behind the Noctua’s 70.7-degree delta in the same test. Not ideal, but it’s on par with most of the competition at much lower noise levels.
So your mileage will vary with the be quiet! Dark Rock Pro TR4. If you’re updating an older Threadripper CPU with a new cooler or sticking to 32-core or fewer parts, you’ll probably be fine. But that’s not the end of the story, as the Dark Rock Pro TR4 has some issues cooling a heavily-overclocked Threadripper 3990X.
Even without an overclock, the Dark Rock Pro TR4 results in slightly lower clock speeds (3275 MHz) compared to the Noctua NH-U14S TR4-SP3 (3550 MHz). So there’s definitely something holding the Dark Rock Pro TR4 back here.
It seems to be due to the Dark Rock Pro TR4’s heat pipe layout, which doesn’t adequately cool down components located around the edge of the CPU. The 3990X has more CCDs (core compute dies, the building blocks of Ryzen CPUs) situated towards the edge of the CPU PCB than lower-core-count models.
When cooled with the Dark Rock Pro TR4, these overclocked CCDs can eventually overheat and crash the system.
While this is a significant drawback, it’s also not something that applies equally to all CPU pairings. As long as you don’t plan to use it with an overclocked 3990X, the Dark Rock Pro TR4 will perform well and be next to silent in your rig. So while it’s overall not a cooler we’d recommend over the Noctua NH-U14S TR4-SP3, it’s still a reasonable option as long as you’re aware of its limitations.
Both the Noctua NH-U14S TR4-SP3 and be quiet! Dark Rock Pro TR4 are all business, sacrificing bling in the name of cooling performance. But if you want a high-end desktop (HEDT) PC that doesn’t sacrifice RGB and aesthetics, you’ll want the Arctic Freezer 50 TR.
Amongst the best Threadripper air coolers, the Freezer 50 TR fills two roles. For one, it’s one of the few Threadripper air coolers with RGB lighting. It’s also cheaper than the competition, which will appeal to anyone looking for a more affordable Threadripper CPU cooler.
But price and RGB alone aren’t good enough to land a spot on our list. What makes the Freezer 50 TR worth a look is its impressive cooling performance. Despite costing $20 to $30 less, the Freezer 50 TR offers lower CPU temperatures than the be quiet! and comes respectably close to the Noctua.
However, it does this at much higher noise levels than the competition. Tom’s Hardware’s measurements indicate an average 27 dBA noise level vs. 23.8 dBA for the Noctua NH-U14S TR4-SP3. TechSpot’s measurements (discussed in the Noctua review) have the Arctic cooler contributing to a total noise level of 47 dBA compared to the Noctua’s 39 dBA.
While the testing methodology of the two sites differs, the conclusion is the same: the Arctic’s impressive performance is achieved by running the fans at higher speeds, which in turn generates more noise. How big of a negative this is will depend entirely on your standards.
If you’re considering the Freezer 50 TR aesthetics, though, you’ll be pleased to know that it sports 13 ARGB LEDs in two strips across the top. You can control these LEDs with standard motherboard RGB software suites such as ASUS Aura Sync. And if you don’t have a free ARGB header, Arctic also sells a version with an included ARGB controller at a slight premium.
While The Arctic Freezer 50 TR isn’t a class-leading performer in noise or thermals, it’s definitely worth considering because of its wallet-friendly price. If you want a cheaper air cooler for a used Threadripper CPU or need a stopgap to keep your rig running, the Arctic Freezer 50 TR might just be what you need.
And even if you don’t, it still performs decently enough that we’d perfectly understand choosing the Arctic over the Noctua or be quiet!.
The main selling point of SilverStone’s relatively new IceGem series of AIOs is that it’s explicitly designed for AMD Ryzen Threadripper and its larger-than-average IHS. Unlike many AIO coolers for standard consumer CPUs, the pump block and cold plate (the part that contacts the CPU) of the IceGem AIOs fully cover Threadripper CPUs.
SilverStone has three AIO coolers in the IceGem line: the 360, 280, and 240P. We’ve chosen the IceGem 360 since it’s the best performer overall. All three are worth considering if you’re in the market for a Threadripper water cooler, though.
Testing with a simulated Threadripper-esque 340-watt load shows that the IceGem 360 can compete with the big boys of liquid cooling such as Corsair and NZXT. Maximum fan speed testing shows the IceGem 360 recording a delta of 24.2 degrees Celsius above ambient at a relatively tolerable 40.8 dBA noise level.
The IceGem 360’s temps aren’t the lowest, but it is the quietest out of all the 360 mm AIOs tested at maximum speed. That’s already notable enough, but the IceGem 360 really comes into its own when you reduce the fan speeds to more reasonable levels.
Sure, the temperature delta climbs to 32.1 degrees Celsius, but you get a significant 6 dBA reduction in noise. 34.9 dBA in AnandTech’s measurements makes the IceGem 360 one of the most efficient 360 mm AIOs in its testing in terms of a noise-to-cooling ratio.
Beyond performance, the IceGem AIOs feature ARGB pump blocks compatible with RGB control software from the usual motherboard manufacturers. The included controller has 10 built-in lighting modes with adjustable color intensity and changing speeds.
The SilverStone IceGem 360 strikes a nice balance between cooling performance and noise, making it one of the best TR4 AIOs you can buy right now. If you need a smaller AIO, check out the IceGem 240P. Performance is surprisingly close to the IceGem 360 without sacrificing much in terms of noise.
If you want the absolute best cooling performance without any concern for noise levels, then Corsair’s H150i Elite Capellix is for you. The Elite Capellix is an updated version of its old H150i AIO cooler with updated aesthetics and new radiator fans.
The new pump head has 33 ARGB LEDs for even better RGB lighting than the H150i. There’s also a swappable pump cap for more customization. Beyond the new pump cap, the Elite Capellix now has a built-in iCUE Commander CORE for RGB and fan control, perfect for controlling the upgraded PWM ML-series fans on the Elite Capellix.
The new fans run faster than the ML fans on the old H150i, offering a maximum of 75 CFM and 4.2 mm-H2O of static pressure vs. the 47.3 CFM and 1.78 mm-H2O static pressure of the old fans. This improves the Elite Capellix’s performance at high fan speeds, albeit at the cost of significantly higher noise than the old H150i (37 dBA vs. 25 dBA).
So the H150i Elite Capellix is noisy if you crank it up. But you do get class-leading performance for high-power CPUs like AMD Ryzen Threadripper:
It is, however, one of the noisiest AIOs in AnandTech’s testing, producing 43 dBA of noise as measured from 3.2 feet away. Turning the fans down raises the CPU temperature delta to 27.4 degrees Celsius, which is still impressive for a 340 W load and good enough to top AnandTech’s charts. 36 dBA at low fan speeds is still quite noisy, however.
The NZXT Kraken X73 is neck-and-neck with the Elite Capellix in all of AnandTech’s testing at both high and low fan speeds. NZXT’s liquid cooler turns in almost identical numbers to the Corsair, making it a strong alternative.
However, the Corsair H150i got our pick due to the slimmest of margins, namely its slightly lower 36 dBA noise level at low fan speeds vs. the NZXT X73’s 37.4 dBA.
Want the best of the best in liquid Threadripper cooling regardless of noise? If that’s the case, the Corsair H150i Elite Capellix is one of your best options.
Air or Liquid?
Choosing between air and liquid coolers (AIOs) is one of the most common stumbling blocks when buying a new CPU cooler. Most experienced users will prefer one way or the other and stick to it no matter what. But if you’re still undecided, this section is for you.
As a rule, a good AIO liquid cooler will perform better than an air-cooled counterpart. The gap in cooling performance becomes more apparent the hotter and more power-hungry your CPU is. For example, here’s a chart showing cooler performance with an Intel HEDT system:
The Noctua NH-D15 and Deepcool Assassin III are both high-end air coolers, yet both are soundly beaten by all the 360 and 280 mm AIOs in the list. Only the 120 mm AIOs post worse results than the air coolers, which is to be expected.
So, if you’re after the best cooling possible, liquid cooling is your best bet. Component compatibility is also better with AIO liquid coolers since the pump block is small and won’t conflict with RAM or PCIe slots. You also won’t have to worry about your case’s maximum CPU cooler height.
That said, the best air CPU coolers do have a few advantages that may sway you in their favor. Firstly, air CPU coolers can be significantly quieter than AIO coolers due to the lack of pump noise and fans located more centrally in a case. While you can reduce AIO fan speeds to match those of air coolers, pump noise is a lot harder to eliminate.
The second advantage of air CPU coolers is better long-term reliability. All AIO liquid coolers will eventually succumb to the effects of permeation, which is where the cooling liquid gets into the tubes themselves and allows more air to enter the system. This will increase pump noise and eventually lead to failure within four to six years.
On the other hand, air CPU coolers only have one (or two) points of failure: the fans. Even then, these are easily replaced. You can keep transplanting an air cooler into new rigs for a long time, provided the manufacturer continues to offer new mounting hardware for new CPU sockets.
AIO coolers also have more catastrophic failures than air coolers. While failure rates are low, it can be terrible if an AIO does fail. If an AIO cooler springs a leak while your rig’s on, for instance, chances are that the liquid might end up causing a short-circuit and frying some components. A pump failure will also cause temperatures to skyrocket immediately instead of the more gradual climb when a tower air cooler fan fails.
Want to build an AMD Ryzen Threadripper system that’ll be left running unattended for extended periods? In that case, an air cooler might be safer. After all, you won’t be around to shut off your system if your AIO cooler does end up leaking or failing in other ways.
We don’t think the risk is significant enough to avoid AIO cooling. Still, it is something to factor in when choosing between the two. If you want maximum safety, though, air cooling is definitely the better option.
Need more info? Check out our comparison of air vs. liquid cooling.
Choosing the best Threadripper cooler for your new HEDT rig isn’t a walk in the park. While a custom water cooling loop is often considered the best option for AMD Ryzen Threadripper, that isn’t always practical or feasible. So the standalone coolers on our list remain viable, even if they’re not necessarily the peak of cooling performance.
If you’re undecided about air or liquid cooling, we’d recommend starting with the Noctua NH-U14S TR4-SP3. It’s capable of cooling even a Threadripper 3990X and will run quiet and fuss-free for years to come. But you can make a case for every cooler here, really.
Need more buying suggestions for your AMD Ryzen Threadripper rig? Check out our list of the best Threadripper motherboards. All the best with your search!