It isn't necessarily right or wrong to go with liquid or air in your PC build, but there are many factors to consider when you choose between the two. Some of the best air coolers are similarly priced to closed-loop liquid alternatives. There are certain scenarios, such as overclocking, where you might feel a liquid cooling solution will offer the best performance.

If it is a quality liquid cooler you seek, check out these great choices.

Corsair H110i

Corsair all-in-one looped water coolers are great options for people moving from air cooling to some form of liquid. The H110i unlocks great performance and allows for some degree of overclocking, though you'll still need to ensure your case and other cooling components are up to the task.

Should you be looking to use liquid cooling but don't wish to risk custom loops, the H110i is a superb place to start. The fans included with the cooler can be a little loud, though, especially if you unlock increased CPU performance. That's something to bear in mind if you're pushing it, but you'll get great performance nevertheless. You should be able to find one for around $110.

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NZXT Kraken X62

Kraken X61

This one could win out on the name alone, but it also does pretty darn well when it comes to performance. The X62 packs not only a 280mm radiator, but it does so without weighing much.

Throw in included support for the NZXT Hue lighting system and its CAM software for digital fan control and what you have is a cooler that will perform well and look good in your custom PC, all for a reasonable price of around $150.

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Thermaltake WATER 3.0

Thermaltake WATER 3.0

The WATER 3.0 all in one (AIO) from Thermaltake features the company's latest innovative Riing fans with a self-contained controller. The RGB lighting is integrated into the actual casing of each fan, as opposed to mear LED bulbs scattered around the surface, which makes for a continuous beam of light that shines throughout the case.

With up to 360mm of radiator surface, a high-quality pump and efficient copper base for optimal heat transfer from the CPU, the WATER 3.0 is designed to keep even the more power hungry processors well within safe operating temperature ranges, especially when under load and overclocked.

The 360mm RGB configuration will set you back around $150.

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Many of the AIO coolers out there look the same, or at least share similar designs, especially with the block that attaches to your CPU and motherboard. DEEPCOOL wanted to do something different with the Gamer Storm CAPTAIN series. There's a glass tube that runs liquid from the loop into the top of the CPU block, which enables you to see some of the movement.

The RGB version of the 120mm package is priced at $90, which isn't a bad deal if you're looking for a solution to keep your CPU cool. Pricing goes up to $149 for the 360mm model with RGB lighting (and two additional lighting strips to attach to a case). It's a great choice all around.

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Build a custom loop


Can't find one that suits your needs? Need a water-cooling setup that can not only handle the CPU but GPU as well? You'll want to consider building a custom loop. This isn't an easy or small project, but we have a helpful guide to get you started.

Your guide to water-cooling a PC

Updated on April 3, 2018: We added some newer AIO coolers and featured our custom loop guide to help get you started if you wish to DIY.

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