Updated: June 2018
If you’ve ever been curious about liquid CPU cooling, but don’t want to deal with the expense, installation, and maintenance of a DIY setup (as well as the possibility of a gusher), a Closed Loop Cooler (CLC) provides much of the same benefits as “open-loop” cooling, but without most of the drawbacks. They come pre-sealed and the pump is integrated into the cold plate typically, so you just bolt on the radiator and water block and you’re good to go.
It’s not much different than installing an air cooler, while providing better cooling and less noise (usually). If you’re ready to take the plunge, these are five of the best closed loop coolers for your PC gaming system:
Thermaltake WATER 3.0
Thermaltake’s WATER 3.0 is the Cadillac of closed loop cooling, if your Cadillac has LED ground effects and flashy rims. At around $150, Thermaltake’s offering is slightly pricier than other options, but you’re getting top-shelf cooling thanks to its 360mm high efficiency radiator, three thermal design power fans, and a highly reliable pump. Plus, just look at it!
Corsair Hydro Series H100i v2
If you don’t have room for a 360mm radiator in your case, and most people don’t, Corsair’s righteous H100i v2 is a slight step down from the Thermaltake Water 3.0, but it comes with a bit of a drop in price as well. The Hydro series is very popular for a variety of reasons, including easy installation, excellent performance, low-noise, and a pretty reliable pump. Its subtle design is also a welcome addition to many builds since it doesn’t distract from your pre-existing lighting.
EVGA CLC 280mm
Evga has recently been breaking into all kinds of new hardware territory, and is a newcomer to the closed loop cooling market. Still, the company obviously knows how to craft some sweet hardware, and its new 280 CLC is one of the best bang for the buck models available. It utilizes a 280mm radiator with twin whisper-quiet fans, and also has beautifully designed LED integration on the water block. Topping it all off is its Its killer software dubbed EVGA Flow Control, which allows you to control the fans, RGB lighting on the block, and the pump RPM as well. The pump is built with Asetek’s Gen5 pump technology, which is known for its reliability and efficiency. At around $115, the performance, noise, and quality are well worth it, and it is one of the best values in the market right now.
DEEPCOOL CAPTAIN 240
If you have a white case like the stormtrooper-inspired NXZT Phantom, you’re probably looking for a cooling solution that will match your rig’s color palette. Or maybe you just want a great dual-fan closed loop cooler with a ton of great features, like visible liquid circulation and breathing-effect LEDs. Coming in at a staggeringly low $79, the DEEPCOOL Captain 240 is an incredible deal, and it looks like nothing else on the market too.
NZXT Kraken X62
The popular Kraken series’ 280mm offering is well-made and certainly a good representation of the quality you’d expect from NZXT. However, at $160, you’re paying a bit for the name brand along with quality construction, superb performance, a very long six-year warranty, and of course the RGB infinity mirror on the water block.
Anyone made the jump to a liquid cooling system recently? Share your story in the comments below!