Buyers Guides CPU Coolers

Best Liquid CPU Coolers to Buy Under $300

Best Liquid CPU Coolers Under $300

Introduction

For gamers looking to build a gaming PC full of power-hungry components, finding a solid cooling system is crucial. Whilst it’s easier for budget or mid-range builds to operate without a sufficient CPU cooler attached to it, high-end systems are bound to overheat if they’re lacking in the thermal regulation department.

Therefore, anyone looking to build a high-end gaming PC should be picking up a premium liquid CPU cooler in order to accompany it. But how much should you expect to pay for a cooling solutions that can support a high-end system? Here at GeekaWhat, we’d say you don’t need to spend any more than $300 to get a premium CPU cooler capable of keeping temperatures low.

Suggested Article: Best CPU Coolers to Buy for Overclocking

This buyers guide will be looking at the best liquid CPU coolers under $300, with plenty of recommendations to suit the various needs of gamers across the board. Along with these recommendations, we’ll be offering some advice on how to find the best CPU cooler for your gaming PC.

Our Recommendations

1. Thermaltake TOUGHLIQUID Ultra 360

👑 The best CPU cooler under $300 for workstations

Thermaltake TOUGHLIQUID Ultra 360 CPU Cooler

Introduction

Our first option comes from Thermaltake, with their TOUGHLIQUID Ultra 360. This 360mm CPU cooler is well-equipped to handle the heat thanks to its triple-fan layout and powerful water pump. With the included TOUGHFAN 12 Turbo fans boasting a max speed of 2500RPM, they will have no issues pushing heat away from your system during intense gaming sessions.

In terms of appearance, the black and grey colour combination on the TOUGHLIQUID Ultra 360 offers a fairly sophisticated look. But for those wanting a touch of flair, the 2.1″ rotational screen on top of the water pump allows users to display system information or custom animations. The blend of the smart aesthetic and ability to control demanding workloads makes this cooler a great option within workstations.

Key Specs

Key SpecsThermaltake TOUGHLIQUID Ultra 360
Max Fan Speed2500RPM
Connector Type3-Pin PWM
RGBYes
Number of Fans3
Socket CompatibilityIntel – LGA 2066/2011-3/2011/1700/1200/1156/1155/1151/1150
AMD – AM5/AM4/AM3+/AM3/AM2+/AM2/FM2/FM1

Things We Like

Optimal airflow: As far as 360mm CPU coolers are concerned, the TOUGHLIQUID Ultra 360 is one of the most powerful designs on the market. Because of this, anyone with a powerful system will benefit from the cooling performance this cooler provides.

Sophisticated look: With the included TOUGHFAN 12 Turbos and the LCD display, the design of this cooler will slot nicely into any productivity-based system.

Things We Don’t Like

Very expensive: Most of the options on this list are going to sit above the average price for a CPU cooler. However, Thermaltake’s offering is one of the most expensive and gets fairly close to the $300 limit.

Not ideal for gamers: Some gamers might enjoy the more reserved design this cooler adopts, but the lack of RGB and uninspired colour-scheme won’t inspire most consumer to throw it into their high-end gaming rig.

Summary

Overall, the Thermaltake TOUGHLIQUID Ultra 360 is an extremely powerful CPU cooler that will have no problems keeping your high-end PC build nice and cool. With three 2500RPM fans and a 360mm radiator, this cooler can disperse heat comfortably, even during the most demanding scenarios. On top of this, the sophisticated look makes it a perfect fit for an office environment.

Features: 4.2/5
Design: 4.2/5
Performance: 4.5/5
Value for Money: 4/5

GeekaWhat Rating:

Pros

  • Powerful fans & pump
  • Can display real-time information
  • Great for workstations

Cons

  • Very expensive
  • Design isn’t ideal for gamers

Where to Buy

Buy the Thermaltake TOUGHLIQUID Ultra 360 on:

$179.99 at Amazon
Last updated: 2024-05-18 16:45:26 ET

3. ASUS ROG Strix LC II 360

👑 The best CPU cooler under $300 for stealth-lovers

ASUS ROG Strix LC II 360

Introduction

Moving onto the other end of the lighting scale, the ASUS ROG Strix LC II 360 presents a more reserved look that is ideal for stealth-lovers. Whilst this design does include a hint of RGB lighting on the pump head, the predominantly matte black colour-scheme means this CPU cooler will easily blend into the background on a black PC case. Despite the lack of vivid colours, the LC II 360 manages to create a futuristic design that will appeal to a large group of PC gamers.

In terms of performance, the LC II 360 competes with the best CPU coolers on the market thanks to the three fans capable of reaching speeds up to 2500RPM. In addition, the Asetek pump allows heat to be transferred away from the system quickly without making lots of noise in the process.

Key Specs

Key SpecsASUS ROG Strix LC II
Max Fan Speed2500RPM
Connector Type4-Pin PWM
RGBYes
Number of Fans3
Socket CompatibilityIntel – LGA 1700, 1200, 115x, 1366, 2011, 2011-3, 2066
AMD – AM5, AM4, sTR4, sTRX4

Things We Like

Stealthy design: Nowadays, it can be hard to find parts for a gaming PC that aren’t plastered with RGB lighting across the design. Because of this, fans of a stealthier build will be happy to see the incognito aesthetic on this cooler.

Affordable 360mm AIO: In a similar fashion to the previous entry on this list, the LC II 360 is available at a relatively low price point for a premium 360mm AIO cooler. Whilst it is still beyond the budget of most gamers, high-end builders can pick up this cooling solution to save some cash.

Things We Don’t Like

Lack of customisation: Due to the subtle approach taken with this cooler’s design, some customisation options have been limited compared to other premium options. For example, the lack of customisation on the LCD display makes it harder to track the temperature of your system.

Difficult to install: Like any liquid cooler with a large radiator, the installation process can be quite tricky due to the additional steps required to attach the fans and radiator pump. Therefore, less experience may need some help or should consider a different cooling solution.

Summary

Nowadays, it’s pretty rare to find a stealth-based CPU cooler design that isn’t targeted towards workstations instead of a gaming-oriented gaming PC. However, the ASUS ROG Strix LC II 360 is one of the few premium designs to fill this quota for stealth-lovers. Plus, this AIO cooler also offers stellar thermal regulation at a price that is well below the $300 mark.

Features: 4.2/5
Design: 4.5/5
Performance: 4.5/5
Value for Money: 4.2/5

GeekaWhat Rating:

Pros

  • Stealthy appearance
  • Optimal airflow
  • Relatively cheap 360mm AIO

Cons

  • Limited customisation options
  • Difficult to install

Where to Buy

Buy the ASUS ROG Strix LC II 360 on:

4. NZXT Kraken X73 RGB

👑 The best minimalist CPU cooler under $300

NZXT Kraken X73 CPU Cooler

Introduction

For PC builders that are fans of the minimalist style, then the NZXT Kraken X73 RGB is worth paying attention to. All NZXT products adopt a clean and minimalist design, but their Kraken coolers are perhaps where this philosophy is most apparent. Even though this CPU cooler includes RGB throughout, its unique implementation allows this design to remain sleek and sophisticated whilst boasting a splash of flair.

As a result, this cooler is a solid choice for a workstation and gaming hybrid thanks to its perfect balance of colour and subtlety. In addition, the infinity mirror screen on the water pump adds a premium touch to the inside of a custom build. Whilst the cooling capabilities of the Kraken X73 RGB struggles to keep up with other premium coolers, its distinct design makes this CPU cooler an intriguing option for many builders.

Key Specs

Key SpecsNZXT Kraken X73 RGB
Max Fan Speed1800RPM
Connector Type4-Pin PWM
RGBYes
Number of Fans3
Socket CompatibilityIntel – LGA 1700, 1200, 115X
AMD – AM5, AM4, sTRX4, TR4

Things We Like

Luxurious design: With the minimalist look combining with the innovative RGB rings surrounding the fans, this cooler looks very sophisticated, making it a ideal choice for a workstation and gaming hybrid.

NZXT CAM compatibility: Like many NZXT products, the Kraken X73 RGB is compatible with their CAM software, allowing users to monitor key information such as temperatures and fans speeds, as well as customise the RGB lighting.

Things We Don’t Like

Performance limitations: As this CPU cooler comes with fans which boast a significantly lower fan speed, as well as a weaker pump, it’s not an ideal cooling solution for gamers wanting to overclock their system.

Very expensive: Considering the limited thermal regulation of this cooler compared to the other picks featured in this roundup, it’s surprising to see such a hefty price tag attached to it. Therefore, anyone looking for good value for money should avoid this CPU cooler.

Summary

With a clean and sophisticated appearance that includes a dash of brightness, the NZXT Kraken X73 RGB is a worthy cooling solution for gamers that are fans of the minimalist approach. Whilst the cooling capabilities do lag behind the competition at its price point, it will be able to handle the demands of most high-end systems without any problems.

Features: 4.2/5
Design: 4.5/5
Performance: 4/5
Value for Money: 3.8/5

GeekaWhat Rating:

Pros

  • Minimalist design
  • Distinct RGB lighting
  • Compatible with NZXT CAM

Cons

  • Not great value
  • Limited airflow

Where to Buy

Buy the NZXT Kraken X73 RGB on:

$279.99 at Amazon
Last updated: 2024-05-18 16:45:26 ET

5. MSI MEG CoreLiquid S360

👑 The best CPU cooler under $300 for enthusiasts

MSI MEG CoreLiquid S360

Introduction

Rounding off our list in style, we have the MSI MEG CoreLiquid S360, a premium cooling solution which will add a touch of class to any PC build it is thrown into. Despite this design featuring a darker tone with a lack of RGB lighting, this CPU cooler doesn’t look out of place inside a gaming-oriented system, but also has the subtlety and suave to slot into a powerful workstation without any further questions.

As for the performance, the powerful water pump and MSI’s SILENT GALE P12 fans work in conjunction to ensure that temperatures remain low while also keeping the noise levels to a minimum. This results in a very quiet system that causes less distractions in the midst of battle, for both you and the people around you.

Key Specs

Key SpecsMSI MEG CoreLiquid S360
Max Fan Speed2000RPM
Connector Type4-Pin PWM
RGBNo
Number of Fans3
Socket CompatibilityIntel – LGA 1700, 1200, 1151, 1150, 1155, 1156
AMD – AM5, AM4, sTR4, sTRX4, SP3

Things We Like

Quiet & stealthy: Anyone looking for a CPU cooler that does the job without kicking up a fuss, then the CoreLiquid S360 has no issues being left to deal with power-hungry components in a quiet manner.

LCD Display: Like many of the other options featured in this roundup, MSI’s cooling system comes with a custom LCS display, allowing users to track temperatures in real-time, or show off a custom animation.

Things We Don’t Like

Some performance limitations: Compared to some of the other CPU coolers featured in this roundup, the MSI MEG CoreLiquid S360 configuration is slightly less powerful. However, it should be enough to handle most gaming and workstation systems.

Lack of RGB lighting: Whilst the LCD adds some flair to this design, the lack of RGB lighting will make less appealing to a vast majority of gamers. As a result, the audience for this particular CPU cooler will be more niche.

Summary

Overall, the MSI MEG CoreLiquid S360 is a versatile premium CPU cooler that will fit naturally into most gaming PCs or workstations. With a stealthy appearance, efficient noise-reducing fans, and a custom display for real-time monitoring, this silent cooler allows users to relax knowing that their system is in good hands.

Features: 4.3/5
Design: 4.3/5
Performance: 4.2/5
Value for Money: 4/5

GeekaWhat Rating:

Pros

  • Good for gaming and workstation PCs
  • Very quiet
  • Custom LCD display

Cons

  • No RGB lighting
  • Better cooling options available

Where to Buy

Buy the MSI MEG CoreLiquid S360 on:

$256.55 at Amazon
Last updated: 2024-05-18 16:45:26 ET

Do I Need a Large AIO CPU Cooler?

Ultimately, the size of the cooler you need depends on the type of PC you plan on building. Whilst a larger AIO cooler will generally lead to improved efficiency when transferring heat away from your system, there are plenty of factors that could make anything larger than a 240mm liquid CPU cooler less than ideal for your gaming PC.

First of all, the size of your build is a key factor when picking a CPU cooler, as your choices can be limited by other parts. The best example of this is the PC case because they need to have the capacity and infrastructure to support a certain radiator size if you are to use it for your system.

Ryzen 7000 Launch Build 1 Gallery 3

Therefore, anyone building a compact gaming PC will probably need to rule out a larger CPU cooler immediately, as most mini-ITX PC cases won’t have the space to support a 360mm or 420mm radiator. On the other hand, those rocking a full-tower chassis will need a larger AIO in order to fill the space and make their gaming rigs look less barebones.

Another key factor to consider is money. As is often the case with any purchase, there is a point where limiting funds to prevent overspending on a product is the sensible solution. Considering that larger coolers come with a heftier price tag, most budget or mid-range consumers are likely to be priced out of these more powerful coolers.

So before you decide to pick up a liquid CPU cooler with a large radiator such as 360mm or 420mm, be sure to consider whether these coolers will fit within your build, and if it fits within your budget.

Are Liquid CPU Coolers Difficult to Install?

One of the major concerns that novice PC builders have with liquid AIO coolers is the installation difficulty, as the additional steps compared to an air CPU cooler can be quite daunting. Whilst it is true that installing a liquid cooler is more complex than an air cooler, it is not as complicated as you may think. With the steps for attaching the water pump being very similar to the brackets on air coolers, as well as the process for installing the radiator being quite repetitive, putting a liquid CPU cooler into your system is not as bad as you might have first imagined.

Ryzen 7000 Launch Build 2 Gallery 2

On top of this, most manufacturers will try their best to streamline the installation process for their coolers. Not only does this make the product more appealing to consumers, but it also helps to avoid any manual errors, which can result to complications and damage to other components.

Why You Can Trust Us

When scrolling through our recommendations for this this buyers guide, you may be wondering why our thoughts and opinions on this subject should be trusted? Our team of PC hardware and gaming experts are non-stop testing a variety of PC gaming products to see how they perform within different gaming and general daily scenarios. After benchmarking and using the product for an extended period of time, we then configure a general overview, which is then presented to our audience through YouTube videos and written content.

If you are interested in learning more about our testing and evaluation methods, as well as details on our editorial promise, head to the about us section.

How We Tested the Best Liquid CPU Cooler Under $300

In order to test and evaluate the best CPU cooler under $300, there are a number of factors that we take into account, these are:

  • Performance
  • Noise levels
  • Size & Compatibility
  • Aesthetic
  • Value for Money

Conclusion

ASUS ROG Strix LC II 360

Best CPU Cooler for Under $300: ASUS ROG Strix LC II

Whilst we’d recommend all of the CPU coolers featured in this guide, our number one pick to suit all purposes would have to be the ASUS ROG Strix LC II. Possessing a stealthier design that includes a hint of flair, this cooler will look great in most high-end gaming PCs. On top of this, the exceptional airflow capabilities means this system will have no issues keeping a power-hungry system nice and cool.

GeekaWhat Rating:

Read our full Best Liquid CPU Coolers to Buy Under $200, or Buy the ASUS ROG Strix LC II on Amazon

Frequently Asked Questions

RR-Question-Mark New

What Liquid Coolers are Good for Overclocking?

Generally, larger CPU coolers such as 360mm or 420mm AIOs are the best options for those planning on overclocking their PC, as the additional fans and surface area allows it to dissipate more heat at once.

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Do Old CPU Coolers Worth With a New CPU?

As long as they come with a bracket that supports the latest hardware, then an older CPU cooler will be able to attach to a new processor. Currently, any coolers with an LGA 1700 or AM5 bracket will be able to support both Intel 13th Gen and Ryzen 7000 CPUs.

RR-Question-Mark New

Is $300 Enough for Money to Buy a CPU Cooler?

Definitely. $300 will be enough to pick up most liquid CPU coolers on the market, which means you’re lucky enough to have a wide range of options to choose from.

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Do I Need RGB on a Liquid CPU Cooler?

No. RGB lighting on a CPU cooler is purely for aesthetic purposes, which means the performance of a cooler without RGB isn’t limited. Therefore, the inclusion of RGB on a design is up to personal preference.

editor
Aled Wheeler is part of our technical writing and reviews team, focussing on PC components, console gaming and peripherals such as keyboards and monitors! With a degree in journalism and experience working for publications in the sports and gaming sectors. Aled is our in-house news and gaming writer, with his finger on the pulse of game devs around the world. Aled is currently rocking a solid mid-range gaming PC build, with a Ryzen 5000 processor and RTX 30 series graphics card.