With the release of the Zen 2 Ryzen 3900X AMD has made workstation core counts available to enthusiasts and gamers, yet this 12 core 24 thread CPU retains the AM4 socket fitment and a relatively tame 105W TDP (Thermal Design Power). In order to maintain performance in heavy workloads, the CPU requires adequate cooling and thankfully there are coolers available to suit any need. In this article Premium Builds will run through the options and make some recommendations to keep this exceptionally capable CPU performing optimally.
Background: TDP, PBO and XFR…. With ZEN2
AMD revolutionised the CPU market with Zen and then Zen 2 Architecture. This family of CPUs ship unlocked, allowing the end-user to take command of clock speeds and core voltages to boost performance. But AMD went a step further introducing features to automate this process and ensure that it didn’t take an expert end-user to get full value from the product. These technologies go by the name of ‘XFR’ meaning eXtended Frequency Range and PBO – Power Boost Overdrive. AMD describes them as ‘opportunistic algorithms’ that seek out stable overclocks on a per-core basis and then apply them automatically. And it works: Even experienced overclockers struggle to beat the results these algorithms deliver. As usual with AMD their ‘power to the people’ mantra ensures that this technology is available to anyone who opts for a B450, X470 or X570 motherboard – so you don’t need to spend big to take advantage of their hard work.
Overclocking, whether automatic or manual, affects temperatures. A rising CPU die temperature will see the CPU throttle back to protect itself. With the algorithm seeking to maintain boost as high and long as possible, the capacity of the cooler will dictate to a degree the success of the process and the performance of the CPU. Testing with additional cooling capacity has indicated boost clocks 100Mhz higher, and of course lower silicon temperatures aid chip longevity as well. So, with the AMD Ryzen 3900X packing 12 cores into a tiny AM4 die area thanks to its 7nm manufacturing process, carrying away heat is essential. Thankfully that 7nm process also increases efficiency meaning that despite its prodigious capability the CPU needs to dissipate just 105W TDP. This opens up a wide range of coolers for the enthusiast to choose between. Whether a compact build, high-performance workstation, or a show build, the options outlined below enable any user to make the most of this incredible CPU.
Best CPU Coolers for Ryzen 9 3900X Builds – Our Recommendations
Best Performance Cooler for Ryzen 9 3900X – NZXT Kraken X62
Given the cost and performance of the Ryzen 9 3900X it’s likely to feature in some seriously impressive builds. When cost is no object and performance the objective, plenty of people will opt for a high capacity AIO. Several stops short of a custom cooling loop in cost, complexity and expertise required to set up, an all in one cold plate, pump and radiator can offer serious cooling capacity but minimal headaches. The Kraken X62 takes the slick NZXT design ethos to CPU cooling. A slick mirror backed RGB Pump housing adds visual impact to any build, whilst the 280mm radiator and 97CFM fans ensure the 105W output of the processor is dispatched with ease. It runs quiet in normal use and can integrate with CAM software to provide synchronised lighting effects to your build. For it’s slick minimalism and excellent cooling capacity, the X62 is PremiumBuilds performance pick. NZXT offer a range of coolers so if a 240mm radiator or even the beastly 360mm X72 is more to your liking, they have you covered there too.
Best Quiet Cooler for Ryzen 9 3900X – Dark Rock Pro 4
BeQuiet! Have an extensive range of coolers offering good value and great performance for most use cases. Top of the tree is the Dark Rock 4 Pro. This cooler utilises seven heat pipes and a pair of fin stacks as well as a pair of 140mm PWM fans to carry heat away from the CPU. With a 250W TDP it’s heavily overspecified, meaning you can lower fan speeds and still achieve fantastic cooling performance. But even at full speed the use of BeQuiet!’s silent wings fans means the cooler is rated at a barely audible 24dB(A) so in general use, you can count on this cooler remaining unobtrusive.
The all-black finish keeps it classy. The fitting mechanism is simple using a cross bar to hold the cold plate in place and BeQuiet! even go as far as supplying a long screwdriver with a magnetic tip to aid fitting – you can use that for the rest of the build. The main downside of the Dark Rock Pro 4 is its prodigious size overhanging the first ram slot – If you intend on filling all four ram slots or using high profile or RGB RAM modules, the Dark Rock 4 may be a better option. In exchanging the twin fan and fins set up for a single cooler structure, it sits behind the RAM to prevent interference. It’s 200W TDP is still ample for the 3900X and it retains near-silent operation.
Best Looking Cooler for Ryzen 9 3900X – ASUS ROG Ryujin 360 AIO
We live in interesting times. Alongside fully electric cars, Advanced AI, Crypto Currency and Spacecraft that drop bits of themselves onto boats waiting below, technology has brought us to a point where CPU coolers have inbuilt OLED Screens. The Asus ROG Ryujin is a cast 360mm radiator equipped cooler that can display animations, logos or system stats on the cooler backplate. It also has a strip of traditional RGB LED’s to help it integrate into a lighting theme – we’d recommend sticking to Aura Sync compatible components to ease set up and enable synchronisation. As part of an RGB themed build or simply for bragging rights, there are few coolers that can claim this level of customisation and ‘wow’ factor. It’s not just a pretty face however: It utilises industry-standard Noctua fans to force air through the radiator and has additional fans in the backplate that blow air over your VRM and M.2 heatsinks – Asus claim 30% lower temps due to this feature. Do we need it? No – but that doesn’t stop us wanting it!
Best Value Cooler for Ryzen 9 3900X – Scythe Mugen Rev B
If you’re building a budget workstation and every dollar counts – but not if it costs performance – then the Scythe Mugen Rev B is an exceptional choice. Despite costing $40 less than the Dark Rock 4 Pro, it packs six heat pipes and 2 fans into its oversized cooling stack. The 50CFM fan throughput ensures quick heat dissipation and dual fans not only improve cooling but provide redundancy should one fail – not that that’s likely with Scythe’s claimed 120,000 hour mean lifespan. With rugged industrial looks and exceptional performance per dollar, Scythe takes the value crown CPU cooler for pairing with the Ryzen 9 3900X.
Best Low Profile Cooler for Ryzen 9 3900X ITX Builds – Cryorig C7 Cu
Yes, the Ryzen 9 3900X can even be shoe-horned into an mITX build. Whether you’re building a portable render rig or editing workstation, or just want a compact gamer, with the right cooler this CPU can travel with you. The mITX case scene is constantly shifting, with new and ever smaller cases coming to market. Many require very low profile coolers, but thankfully companies such as Cryorig cater to the market. As ever with compact builds, careful checking of dimensions is required before settling on the correct cooler for your needs and you may have to accept some compromises on noise or thermals to make your dream build a reality:
Cryorig have reworked their diminutive C7 cooler into a stone-cold copper classic: The Cryorig C7 Cu. With just 47mm height and adhering to the standard ATX/mITX keep out zone, there’s almost no case this cooler won’t fit into. It will even clear the tiny 7.3 litre Dan A4. The update retains the 4 heat pipes of the original but brings TDP up to 115W, exceeding the specification required by the Ryzen 3900X. If the copper aesthetic (or price) isn’t your thing, there’s a discreet blacked-out version on offer with a 125W TDP.
AMD have brought incredible power and value to the consumer market with the 3900X. Because they opted to continue support for the AM4 socket there’s already a wealth of compatible coolers to choose from. It’s worth remembering that AMD ship even this high-end part with an included Wraith Prism RGB Cooler – and that it’s perfectly adequate for general use and it does negate the need to scour the bottom end of the market because it’s simply not worth replacing it with anything similar or worse.
However, we suspect that most users will opt to customise their build and optimise the performance of this $500 component with a superior quality cooler. All of the coolers recommended above (with the exception of the compact Cryorig C7’s) will outperform the AMD supplied cooler in performance and sound profiles, and represent the best cooling options currently available for the Ryzen 3900X.