We’ve made it folks! AMD’s initial Zen 3 lineup has been revealed, and it’s a doozy. The long and short of it is: Zen 3 has the same or lower TDP than Zen 2, a new architecture, and the benefit of their new unified eight-core CCXs (core complexes) with shared 32MG L3 caches which all allow it to boost performance up to 19% over Zen 2. That’s not insignificant by any stretch of the imagination. Especially when considering that AMD may have just finally caught up to Intel in single-threaded performance. Which means Intel’s last vestige of superiority might have finally been destroyed until they’re able to finally strike back and get off of their ancient 14nm process!
Again, AMD’s achievement with Zen 3 should not be understated. While Intel has had to resort to every engineering trick in the book with their 14nm process to improve performance, AMD continues to refine and maximize their chiplet design and process architecture, all while keeping power efficiency and consumption identical to their previous generation! That’s a marvellous prospect for any would-be adopter of Zen 3, because it means that your entire system is just a CPU swap away from being entirely finished and ready to rumble until it’s time to build a completely new rig.
Thanks to AMD keeping it’s promise to support the same socket until Zen 3, as well as it’s ability to flatline their TDPs, members of Team Red can start looking to save money for the next generation of hardware like DDR5 memory and whatever new CPU socket AMD develops for Zen 4 right after they upgrade to a Zen 3 processor. This is incredibly important to understand, since the AM4 socket is now end-of-life outside of any refreshes AMD might provide for Zen 3. We’re on the cusp of a new type of RAM (which means a new pinout), and the eventual standardization of PCIe 4.0. So if you’re not terribly keen on building a completely new computer anytime soon, get the best one you can now with Zen 3, because things are going to change pretty drastically starting next year.
Today, we’re going to show you the best air and AIO coolers to pair with AMD’s latest Ryzen 5 5600X – ensuring that you’re extracting as much performance from this powerful CPU as possible.
Best CPU Coolers for Ryzen 5 5600X – Our Recommendations
|Best Liquid Cooler for Ryzen 5 5600X||EVGA CLC 240 RGB|
|Best Air Cooler for Ryzen 5 5600X||Noctua NH-U12A|
|Best Entry-Level Cooler for Ryzen 5 5600X||Cooler Master Hyper 212 Black Edition|
|Best Low-Profile Cooler for Ryzen 5 5600X||Noctua NH-L12S|
Best Liquid Cooler for Ryzen 5 5600X
For those of you willing to opt for closed-loop AIO coolers for the Ryzen 5 5600X, we recommend the $120 EVGA CLC 240 RGB. EVGA is a renowned name in the GPU market, at least for US customers, but they’ve greatly expanded into other markets over the years, including CPU liquid coolers. The crucial elements of EVGA’s stellar reputation are their consistently high build quality, fantastic performance, extended warranties, and their exceptional customer service. All of these qualities extend to the CLC 240, making it one of the best-reviewed AIO coolers in direct competition with the mega-popular Corsair H100i Pro RGB ($140).
With its competitive $120 price point, the EVGA CLC 240 RGB sports a 240 x 12 x 27mm aluminum radiator, sleeved tubing, EVGA’s custom 120mm low-noise 2500RPM fans with Teflon bearings, and an RGB pump block. Now, you’re not going to want to run your fans anywhere near max RPM, because, despite the fact they’re “low-noise,” they can get exceptionally loud above ~2000RPM. However, at around 1250RPM (which measures about 40dBA), you can expect phenomenal thermal and noise performance on par with, or better than, the majority of other available 240mm AIOs. If you’re looking to liquid-cool your new 5600X, it’ll be challenging to find a better price-to-performance value than EVGA’s CLC 240 RGB.
Best Air Cooler for Ryzen 5 5600X
For most enthusiasts, the name Noctua means one thing: quality. Noctua has built itself a nearly unrivaled reputation compared to any other PC component manufacturer by consistently offering the best CPU air coolers and fans for many years. Whatever your opinion of Noctua’s, uhh, striking brown color scheme, you cannot deny the level of overall build quality, performance, and extraordinary design that they’ve offered the DIY PC market for such a long time. Better yet, they’ve recently been giving many of their products long-awaited black iterations with their Chromax series, except our pick for the best air cooler for Ryzen 5 5600X builds: The Noctua NH-U12A… At least so far.
It’s almost ironic that the sort of innovation and competition the U12A brings to the premium tower air cooler market comes from Noctua. It must truly take the best to rival the best because this 120mm single-tower cooler directly competes, within a few degrees, with not only the significantly larger Noctua NH-D15 140mm dual-tower cooler but even many 240mm AIO liquid coolers (with normalized noise levels). Of course, larger air and liquid coolers can brute force their way to better thermal results, but it comes at the cost of potentially unbearable fan noise.
The critical factors lending to the performance of the U12A are the included NF-A12x25 fans with Sterrox blades, and the seven heat pipes Noctua managed to cram through the cold plate and fin stack. Sterrox is a unique material developed by Noctua, which allows for the distinct curve of the fan blades, as well as their remarkable 0.5mm clearance from the frame. Thus, the NF-A12x25s can achieve higher RPMs at equivalent noise levels to other fans while moving more air over a larger surface area compared to similarly-sized heat sinks, giving the NH-U12A the ability to punch well above its weight class. If you’ve avoided more premium CPU tower coolers due to concerns with size and compatibility, the NH-U12A is an extremely compelling choice for your new Ryzen 5 5600X build.
Best Entry-Level Cooler for Ryzen 5 5600X
The Cooler Master Hyper 212 BlackEdition is an all-gunmetal black rendition of the legendary Hyper 212 EVO. Say what you will about some of their cases, Cooler Master has been the undeniable king of entry-level CPU coolers for ages since they released the Hyper 212 EVO. Now they’re offering the same incredible value in a much more visually pleasing package that competes with even the ultra-sleek looks of be quiet!’s Dark Rock line – a perfect match for the Ryzen 5 5600X.
More specifically, the Cooler Master Hyper 212 BlackEdition’s thermal and noise performance are identical to that of the be quiet! BK024 Dark Rock Slim, while costing nearly half as much! The Hyper 212 Black is currently $36 (regularly priced at $40), where the Dark Rock Slim comes in at a whopping $65. That’s a rough price differential to try and justify when be quiet! can’t even claim better aesthetics in comparison anymore, especially when you consider the possibility of taking those savings and putting them towards an additional Cooler Master Silencio FP 120mm fan for even better CPU thermals.
With such a tried and true design getting such an excellent face-lift, it’s rough to try and justify any entry-level cooler over the Hyper 212 Black. If it fits in your case, and you’re only looking for a slight upgrade over a stock Wraith cooler, you cannot go wrong with the Hyper 212 Black Edition.
Best Low-Profile Cooler for Ryzen 5 5600X
For builders keen on downsizing their next rig to a Ryzen 5 5600X small form factor (SFF) PC, we suggest the Noctua NH-L12S. Four heat pipes and Noctua’s NF-A12x15 slim 120mm fan translate to some of the best CPU cooling performance for extra-small PC builds on the market. One of the only ways to achieve superior air cooling with the same footprint as the NH-L12S is by slapping a Noctua NF-A12x25 on the Scythe Big Shuriken 3. However, the Scythe/Noctua combo only nets you a few extra degrees and brings your total cost up to about $77, where the L12S is only $50. When it comes to the ultimate in SFF air cooling out of the box for a 5600X, you cannot beat the NH-L12S.
Speaking of the NH-L12S, we have an exciting twist to announce; Noctua has just launched a new version! This latest iteration has been custom-tailored for the LOUQE Ghost S1, which is terrific news for anyone who’s been eyeing (or already owns) the coveted enclosure but hasn’t wanted to risk bending the standard NH-L12S to get it to fit correctly. For the luxury of a guaranteed, hassle-free fit for the Ghost S1, the NH-L12 Ghost S1 Edition will only run you an additional $5, and you can also opt to replace the included NF-B9 fan with an NF-A9 for even better cooling. Whatever tiny SFF cases you want to build in, the NH-L12 is a powerhouse pick for even the most top-tier CPUs on the market.
With the reveal of AMD’s initial Zen 3 lineup, this might just be as good as it gets for PC builders until new memory and sockets are revealed. There couldn’t be a better time to start preparing for your next upgrade or build, because everything is going to change starting at the end of next year. We have some incredible memory, display, and storage technology on the horizon, especially with the advent of PCIe 4.0, but that isn’t to say what we’ve access to now is anything short of exceptional. AMD truly is changing the market for the better, and we can only hope that their meteoric rise with the Zen architecture continues and puts companies like Intel’s and Nvidia’s feet to the fire. Competition is a beautiful thing, and AMD could be the match that lights the fire for a golden age of consumer electronics!
Best Liquid Cooler for Ryzen 5 5600X: EVGA CLC 240 RGB – EVGA extends its premium touch to the mid-range all-in-one liquid cooler market. With a five year warranty, competitive price, and outstanding performance, the CLC 240 is arguably the premier closed-loop CPU cooling solution on the market.
Best Air Cooler for Ryzen 5 5600X: Noctua NH-U12A – Noctua: A name that signifies rock-solid performance, simple but elegant design, and pure reliability for the vast majority of DIY PC enthusiasts. Never has this notion been proven more true than with the recent NH-U12A. Thanks to its seven heat pipes and the specially designed NF-A12x25 Sterrox fan blades (a material developed by Noctua), Noctua has brought serious competition to even their massive 140mm dual-tower, the NH-D15, with a 120mm model. If you’re looking for the ultimate thermal and noise performance in a reasonably sized air cooler, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything better.
Best Entry-Level Cooler for Ryzen 5 5600X: Cooler Master Hyper 212 BlackEdition – Cooler Master’s entry-level goliath, the Hyper 212 EVO, now has the option for a coat of gunmetal black paint! When it comes to affordable CPU air cooling, the Hyper 212 series is second only to Noctua in terms of reputation, popularity, performance, and reliability. The Hyper 212 Black Edition brings the tried and true performance of the 212 EVO with a level of sleek visual design that’s on par with even a company like be quiet! Additionally, if you’re looking for even better thermal performance with the 212 BE for a 5600X, consider snagging an additional Cooler Master Silencio FP 120mm fan for a push/pull configuration!
Best Low-Profile Cooler for Ryzen 5 5600X: Noctua NH-L12S – If you want the best out of the box performance for SFF cases that can’t fit anything taller than 70mm, this is your best option. While you can achieve better CPU thermals by securing a Noctua NF-A12x25 fan on the Scythe Big Shuriken 3, doing so costs significantly more money while also completely wasting the stock Scythe fan. Additionally, Noctua has just released a new NH-L12 designed explicitly for the extremely popular LOUQE Ghost S1, so builders no longer have to bend the heat pipes on the original L12S.