AMD has officially announced their new Zen 2 Refresh lineup which will be launching on July 7th. If you are in the market for an upgrade and want to target these new CPUs which are an improvement over the original Ryzen 3000 generation, then stick around because we will be recommending air coolers and liquid coolers at any price range. You may be confused as to why an aftermarket cooler is necessary for the new CPUs and the explanation is that AMD will now include a box cooler just for the 6 core 12 threads Ryzen 5 3600XT; the Ryzen 7 3800XT and the Ryzen 9 3900XT will now be shipped without a stock cooler. This is AMD’s decision and they are backing it up with thermal performance reasons. You will need a good air or water cooler in order to extract all the performance out of these high-end CPUs.
Don’t be worried though as many great air coolers can be found at very competitive prices and we’re here to compile a list of these; doing the research is our pleasure and so, you don’t have to! We can start by looking at coolers that are in the same league of cooling performance as the Wraith Prism ones that AMD shipped with the previous generation, very capable air coolers that managed to keep the chip cool, let it boost properly and be fairly silent during the process. Because the new Ryzen 7 3800XT and Ryzen 9 3900XT and 8 core and 12 core CPUs with higher clocks than the previous ones, we will need to carefully choose coolers for each price point in order to allow you to benefit from the extra performance these new chips give.
We will mainly be looking at air coolers (heatsink and fans) from as little as $40, AIO coolers (enclosed liquid loops that use a radiator, pump and fans) from as little as $90 and low profile air coolers destined for builders who want their Ryzen 3800XT or 3900XT PCs in a Small Form Factor.
Best CPU Coolers for Ryzen 7 3800XT & Ryzen 9 3900XT – Our Recommendations
Best Budget Air Cooler for 3800XT & 3900XT
The Cooler Master Hyper 212 air cooler has got a few revisions along the years and it now comes in an awesome gun metal matte black finish that looks absolutely gorgeous with the brushed aluminum texture on the front. We just love the way it looks and we’ve seen exponential growth in terms of computer components receiving the RGB treatment but not this one! It’s always refreshing to see companies go back to the drawing board and perfect some of their very popular components from you know 5 or 10 years ago to make them even better and that’s exactly what defines the Hyper 212 Black Edition.
The best part is that this thing only costs $35 so if you are actually wondering what kind of performance can you expect when you decide to upgrade to a cooler of this caliber from your traditional stock
cooler that comes out of the box with your CPU or from none, in our case, the answer is pretty straight forward. During testing, this air cooler provided great results while proving that it does have what it takes in order to cool overclocked last generation Ryzen 7 and Ryzen 9 CPUs. That’s enough of a test in order to set your eyes on this cooler if you are short on money after buying these incredible new processors.
Switching over to the Hyper 212 Black Edition from the Wraith Prism stock coolers saw an idle temperature around 33 degrees Celsius and under load, it only got as far as 65 degrees Celsius with fan speeds set to 1,400 rpm. All these testings were done with a Ryzen 7 3700X in a well-ventilated case. The best part was the acoustic performance which was phenomenal for this price, the Hyper 212 improving the silent aspect of the build by a few notable decibels. When overclocking the 3700X, the cooler still handled it well at 37 degrees Celsius idle and 85 degrees under load after a good 10 minutes of Prime95 stress testing; and remember, this was with the fans set to about 1,400 RPM which was silent in our ears. When we modified the fan curve in order to get 2,000 RPM during load, the overclocked Ryzen 7 3700X CPU maxed out at 85 degrees during stress testing which is a very good result from such a cheap CPU cooler.
For the performance this cooler gets in the stock and overclocked testing that we mentioned, it makes a good recommendation to pair with the new 3800XT and 3900XT CPUs due to the lack of a stock cooler. We love this little guy here for the phenomenal value, good looks and good acoustics it offers. You’ll have to pay much more money in order to drastically improve over the results of the Cooler Master Hyper 212 Black Edition.
Best CPU Cooler for Overclocking the 3800XT & 3900XT
Going up a tier from the previous air cooler, we arrive around the $60 price point where we can start looking at the best coolers that can be had for the Ryzen 7 3800XT and Ryzen 9 3900XT. Noctua is an old player in the PC enthusiast market and has forged a solid reputation that sticks out from the rest. The support and quality of the solutions they offer are second to none. The customary beige color and dark brown highlights is the color scheme that most of you will certainly recognize Noctua from. That said, the company’s popularity is only growing as the support, quality, and exceptional performance are proven again and again with each cooler they release.
Introducing the Noctua NH-U12S, a traditional tower-style heatsink with fins made out of aluminum; heat pipes/base are out of nickel-plated copper. It certainly does not scream unique but the quality of the product and mounting system is remarkable. The simple design is there to benefit both the CPU cooler and user. Noctua is also claiming extensive memory compatibility with 100% of motherboard and RAM module setups in both single and dual fan mode. The biggest selling points of this Noctua cooler is the quality, support and silent performance that it offers. There’s no better air cooler that provides this balance at this price point, making the Noctua NH-U12S strike well above its price.
Noctua chose an NF-F12 PWM fan for the NH-U12S which features fan speeds ranging from 300 to 1500 RPM. The fans will max out at 1,200 RPM with Noctua’s included L.N.A (low noise adaptor). This tower style heatsink makes use of five heat pipes that are made out of nickel-plated copper which extend up through the heat sink’s fin stack and are spaced to provide even heat distribution from the heat pipes to the aluminum cooling fins. The base of the cooler is very smooth and levelled, but it is not a mirror finish as some machine marks can still be seen. During testing, we were unable to find any gaps between the heat pipes and the aluminum fins, which is a sign of quality and nice to see.
The Noctua NH-U12S certainly lives up to Noctua’s reputation of exceptional build quality and can be had for the price of $60 which is not cheap but a bargain for what this product offers. It will handle both the Ryzen 7 3800XT and Ryzen 9 3900XT CPUs not only at stock but also when overclocked and pushed to the increased boost clock speeds than they have over the previous generation Zen 2. We always like what we see from Noctua and from this point on, you really need to spend much more on cooling performance, sometimes even double, in order to get a few less degrees and slightly better acoustic performance. Well done Noctua!
Best AIO Cooler for Ryzen 7 3800XT & Ryzen 9 3900XT
NZXT provides this 3rd revision of their popular Kraken series, the Kraken X63, an AIO Liquid cooler for cases with 280mm radiator mounts. The new revision has subtle changes to the LED ring which is larger now and can be rotated independently of how you install the block. Fans are now directly controlled by your motherboard’s fan controllers as opposed to the older version’s CAM infrastructure but other than that, the cooling performance remains absolutely solid; its also more silent than due to the optimized airflow of the fan blades.
The software this cooler comes with allows you to customize all visual and performance aspects of your all in one solution. It is a cooler series that is easy on the eyes and stress-free to install, something which is valued in the Liquid Cooling community. The cooling is all around top-notch and properly good even with lots of reserve and capacity. When idle, this cooler provides normal noise levels and temperatures but what impresses us the most is how this device handles overclocking loads on the processor; even during stress testing, the temps remain great. When up to 4.4GHz and 1.4V on the same Ryzen 7 3700X CPU, we stay under 75 degrees Celsius with an untouched fan profile. Setting it to more aggressive (and noisy) fan profiles, we can take the temperature even lower but that’s not needed if this cooler performs that well at stock.
We have been pleasantly surprised by the NZXT Kraken X63 with their stellar 6-year warranty, performance even in a tweaked state of the processor and impressively customizable visuals. There is also plenty of cooling capacity on tap if you want to access it during actual stress and increased voltage situations; increased noise levels will follow through and you’ll need to tweak the fans RPMs in order to strike a good balance.
The Kraken X63 launched and is currently retailing at the $150 price point, which may be a lot of money for those of you looking for a two fan LCS (liquid cooling system) for the 3800XT or 3900XT. We can see where the money went though as this is one of the top-performing CPU cooling units available on the market. You can set it up manually in NZXT’s software or use one of the automatic modes in the form of Silent Mode or Performance Mode. User friendly to install and proper capacity for any load you want to put on your high-end CPU, this liquid cooler has enough power to cool the Ryzen 7 3800XT and Ryzen 9 3900XT in their 100% state with no issues.
Overall, we can recommend the NZXT Kraken X63 with no hesitation but if you are in the market for a very good liquid AIO cooler and can’t afford the $150 marker, there is also the option of going with the Arctic Liquid Freezer II 280mm which is also a new product that came out in the last half of 2019 which punches well above its price point of $95. Even though it’s $50 cheaper than the Kraken X63, this cooler has almost identical cooling performance to the one we recommended and noise levels are kept well under control with their cleverly designed fan blades that rotate very close to the frame, similar to how Noctua innovated them. The Arctic Freezer may not have the great looks and customizability of the Kraken but if you want a powerful liquid cooler for the 3800XT/3900XT that performs as the top end ones and is not crazy expensive, then we warmly recommend the Arctic Liquid Freezer II as a solid alternative to the Kraken X63.
Best Air Cooler for Ryzen 3800XT & 3900XT
Yes, we know that it has just a letter difference from the previously recommended Noctua NH-U12S but hear us out on this one; the Noctua NH-U12A might just be the best air cooler on the market for its whole package of benefits. So this rather new product claims to offer the performance of a 140 mm sized cooler like the legendary and colossal NH-D15 but in a 120 mm form factor. It’s the fifth generation of their ever-popular NH-U12 series and today we’re going to explain why someone would choose to go with this instead of a liquid cooler like the beautiful Kraken X62.
This cooler is a new kid on the block and there has been much hyper surrounding its thermal and noise performance. The most noteworthy feature is that this cooler comes with Noctua’s newly designed NF A12x25 fans which are as quiet at 2,000 RPM as other 120mm fans are at 1,500 RPM; they are the ultimate fans for a silent setup and the amount of air they manage to move through the heat sink is simply remarkable. The fan blades are made of a special plastic developed by Noctua which allows the blade tips to rotate extremely close to the cooler frame without touching. This means less turbulent air surrounding the blades and in turn, a better noise profile while moving a ton of air.
The form factor of this cooler is so small that it offers 100% compatibility with any board and RAM configuration and this is why we prefer it to the might Noctua NH-D15 which is a much more massive product. Another performance improvement over the previous generation is the seven heat pipes that have been jammed onto the bottom of the NH-U12A which are a lot when compared to the six on the much larger NH-D15; also due to these heat pipes’ orientation, no issues with tall memory DIMMs will occur.
Cooler compatibility is stellar and we can put that aside and focus on some performance numbers we got out of this CPU cooler. The CPU we used for testing is the Ryzen 3700X because we don’t have a 3800XT or 3900XT on our hands so we need to use available data. This 8-core 16-thread CPU does require a decent amount of cooling and we’re also running it overclocked. We are not going to bore you with all the thermal information but during a full load blender render, we discovered that this CPU cooler actually outperforms a 240mm AIO water cooler by keeping the CPU steady at 70 degrees Celsius as opposed to the 71 of the Kraken X52 @2,000 RPM. This is mighty impressive for such a small air cooler because it was also much more silent during the process.
Overall, this cooler is based on innovation and Noctua’s drive for quality. You can choose the $10 cheaper Noctua NH-D15 instead of this one for slightly better cooling performance and higher noise levels but only do so if you have enough space in your case for the RAM slots and other fans. The NH-D15 is a very large cooler, almost double the size of this NH-U12A one so it’s your choice and you can’t really go wrong with either if you understand the compatibility and space requirements in your case.
Best Low Profile Cooler for 3800XT & 3900XT ITX Builds
We will never forget about our fellow SFF PC lovers so we’ve included these two excellent contenders in our recommendations for the 3800XT & 3900XT. You’re probably thinking; damn, so much Noctua in here, they’ve been probably paid for this – and you’d be wrong. Noctua is always innovating and has everything you need to be covered; they have all around performers near the top in each form factor category.
These two air coolers, the Noctua NH-L9i and Noctua NH-L9a-AM4 will do wonders in HTPC cases like the InWin Chopin or similar. They are engineered with a common purpose to push as much air as possible out of tight areas and they will be able to handle powerful CPUs such as the new 3800XT and 3900XT with some modifications. If you desire to have such powerful CPUs in an SFF PC then these coolers will allow you to make it work with some max TDP tuning; this is because these coolers will be at their best between 47 and 65 W. The new Ryzens without included coolers are both rated at 105W but thanks to these CPUs incredible efficiency and some tweaking on your part you’ll be able to get under 65W TDP with minimal performance loss.
With a total height of 37mm on both the L9i and L9a-AM4, this is as low a profile that you will find on a cooler; it is a niche product for SFF builders with this specific need. The 37mm height is made up of a 23mm thick heat sink and a 14mm thick fan; a standard fan is 25mm thick so Noctua has managed to shave off 11mm here by fitting a faster, slimmer PWM fan.
Some low profile coolers will use a flat fin stack that extends over the memory slots and can make accessing some fan headers difficult; not these two though, thanks to the 114mm x 92mm footprint. That isn’t large when you look at the AM4 socket/mounting layout, allowing unobstructed access to fan headers, memory modules and the first PCIe slot. It also doesn’t get in the way of the 8-pin CPU power connector. The socket clearance is the best you will see and although similar in footprint to a water cooler CPU block there are no hoses to deal with.
If you’re building a compact 3800XT or 3900XT SFF system with a CPU/APU that matches the Noctua TDP guidelines, the L9i or L9a-AM4 could be just what you need.
AMD’s decision of not including stock coolers with two of their new Matisse Refresh processors is definitely questionable. People might have appreciated the use of the decent stock coolers that were previously bundled with Ryzen 3800X and 3900X because they allowed to get you up and running with your system. Even though you couldn’t push the limits of the CPUs on the Wraith Prisms, the CPU coolers were definitely able to handle the stock load which is enough to get around 90 to 95% of the chip performance.
Ryzen 5 3600XT owners are lucky to still get the Wraith Spire bundled with the processor but it’s not the end of the world for future Ryzen 7 3800XT and Ryzen 9 3900XT buyers. This is because, as you could already figure out from this article, great options exist on the market whether you’re looking for good value or all-around capable coolers.
For decent noise levels and performance slightly above the previously included stock coolers, you have the Cooler Master Hyper 212 Black Edition which is the value king in his price range; nice aesthetics and quietness at mid-range RPMs are great selling points. One step further and you can get the Noctua NH-U12S for around $60. The thing about Noctua is that they never leave quality on the table; the mounting brackets are excellent, materials are well polished and sturdy and their warranty/support is second to none. With the NH-U12S you’re already approaching stellar cooling performance and noise levels for the accessible $60 price.
We’ve also included coolers for large budgets that come with some extra benefits and features but they’re not such a big jump cooling wise from something like an AMD Stock Wraith Prism to a Noctua NH-U12S. Don’t get us wrong though, the higher end Noctuas, NZXT’s Kraken X63 and the new kid on the block, the Arctic Liquid Freezer II is excellent and should be considered for enthusiast users!