We all know that PC builds are pretty complex with a bunch of different components that need to be handled extremely carefully and all slotted in the right place. There’s also a bunch of additions and tweaks that improve the performance of your rig with one of these being the introduction of a water cooling kit.
The traditional cooling method is air cooling via fans but for those builds that will be under intense stress pumping out that heat, a more robust cooling method is required. Now don’t fret, everyone knows that water and electronics don’t mix but water cooling kits are fully sealed and certainly shouldn’t be leaking into your probably expensive machine.
In this article, we’ll be providing you with all of the information around water cooling kit along with giving you the best water cooling kit around so you can secure the top selection for your high-performance PC.
There are a surprising number of water cooling kits available on the market and with it being a more technical component, it’s a little tricky to separate the best water cooling kits from the rest. So, for how we picked out these stellar selections, we looked at features like durability, water cooling power, and aesthetics in which we think separate the cream from the crop and provide you with the best overall experience.
Best Water Cooling Kit in 2021
Number of radiator sizes
Plenty of RGB lighting
Maybe too much lighting for some
First up on this list of best water cooling kits is the Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML240R and what a choice it is. Before we get into the specs of this water cooling kit, let’s start with the fact that you can pick from a number of different sizes – 120mm, 240mm, and 360mm meaning that no matter how many components you want to be max cooling, you can select the right one for you. We’ll mainly be talking about the 240mm variant here but most, if not all of the features are shared between models so don’t worry about that.
Now, let’s look at those specs and features. The tubing showcases black, durable sleeves over the inner FEP tubing in which in itself is flexible, high-quality, and of a premium nature, ensuring they’ll be no damage with no leaks having the chance to occur. Moving to the pump, it boasts a dual-chamber that maximizes efficiency by isolating heated coolant, putting less of a strain on the kit overall while still providing stellar cooling. Finally, the fans. They’re clearly large and offer that Cooler Master quality we all know and love, maximizing your build’s air intake and combining with the water cooling to keep your components icy cold. These fans are compatible with your favorite CPUs whether you sit on the side of Intel or AMD.
We can’t leave the MasterLiquid ML240R without talking about the aesthetics. Obviously, it’s clear to see that it looks fantastic with strong, vibrant RGB lighting that’ll surely slot right into your top-tier build. The lighting is featured on both the fans and pump which is certainly welcomed as other manufactures usually either implement this on one or the other. You can customize this RGB lighting too completely free of your PC with the included controller and splitter which is again a great addition and one that makes your life that little bit easier.
New cooling plate tech
RGB is a little lackluster
Coming in as our runner-up pick in the best water cooling kits is from ASUS’ ROG STRIX range – the LC 240. Again, this is the 240mm kit which will be the choice for most but if you have a little bit less room or simply don’t need it of this size, there’s also a 120mm option for you.
The whole kit offers up extremely optimized cooling performance with the latest manufacturing tech built into its cooling-plate, featuring micro-channels that provide more thermal dissipation area for processor heat. This innovative feature reduces thermal resistance for more efficient performance and cooler temps. Moreover, the fan design is second to none generating 81CFM/5.0mm H2O for superior cooling efficiency.
The aesthetics of the LC 240 mainly offer a stealth black look with the traditional ROG STRIX logo accents coming in to play as you would expect. There’s no RGB lighting on the fans themselves which is a little disappointing for those wanting to add more illumination to their PC, but the pump has a lit logo allowing for a little flair. As you would expect it also has AURA Sync built-in enabling you to fully match up your other lighting if you have some already.
RGB lighting on fans and pump
Excellent heat dissipation
Not a well known brand
A brand that you may not have heard of unless you’re built water-cooled machines before is Lian-Li but just because it’s not one of the most popular names out there doesn’t mean their products are inferior. This is especially true for their ARGB CPU water cooling kit which offers up some serious water cooling power at a very respectable price point.
The radiator itself utilizes 14 rows of aluminum tubes, allowing a maximum amount of liquid to pass through and transfer the heat out of the system efficiently. Moreover, thanks to the high-density fin folds between the aluminum tubes, the surface area providing heat dissipation is significantly increased. These two aspects combine to bring you icy cold cooling for your system, ideal for those pushing it to the max.
As you can see from the product image above, the aesthetics of the Galahad are second to none boasting RGB throughout the water cooling kit. Lighting is placed on both the pump and the fans providing you with full illumination for your build. The colors are extremely vivid and will certainly give you that ‘gamer’ feel if that’s what you’re aiming for.
RGB limited to the pump
We all know that Corsair produces some of the best gaming peripherals around but what about their water cooling kits? Well, they can’t be too shabby as one makes our best water cooling kit list. The model in question here is the Corsair Hydro Series H150i PRO which boasts some top tier cooling with the aesthetics to boot.
If you want the largest selection, you’re looking at a trio of PWN Magnetic Levitation 120 mm fans mounted on a chunky 360 mm radiator. Operational noise levels don’t go over 25 dB even under heavy loads, including modest overclocking, and CPU temperatures are kept well in check. This makes the Corsair Hydro H150i Pro one of the quietest liquid coolers out there.
One other excellent feature is the ease of installation thanks to Corsair’s modular, tool-free mounting bracket. However, the radiator’s size necessitates a large chassis and appropriate mounting real estate, so check dimensions before purchasing.
There is of course RGB elements incorporated into this water cooling kit but suddenly it is only limited to the pump rather than being included on the fans also. While this might be a bit disappointing to some, the more subtle lighting might be a welcome addition to those wanting a less garish custom build.
Things To Consider
PC Case Space
As PC components and cases themselves are getting smaller and smaller, many consumers are opting for smaller builds that still pack in high-performance tech. However, what this does is limit the amount of room available for cooling and in this case, the full water cooling kit.
Before you even think about whether you want to put water cooling into your machine, you’re going to want to measure up to see if there’s enough room in your rig. Luckily, the best water cooling kits come in different sizes such as 360mm or 240mm which could be crucial in finding one that simply fits. As a rule, we’d recommend that you use a full tower case to ensure you’ll be able to install it, especially if you’re new to the whole water cooling field.
We’ve just spoken about the PC case size and how the size of your water cooling kit can be impacted but let’s delve a little deeper, and take a look at why you need to consider the size of the radiator.
Essentially, the bigger the radiator and reservoir, the more cooling power the kit has but, if you don’t have the components to cool, a 360mm kit for example could be wasteful. What most water-cooled builds go for is a 120mm radiator per component you want to cool. For example, if you have a CPU and one GPU, you’ll need a 240mm election to cover both.
All in all, in our opinion, the best water cooling kit that money can buy has to be the Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML240R. This cooling solution will keep your high-performance PC icy cool even under the most intense stress, essential if you’re going to be pushing it to the max for hours on end. It’s also the water cooling kit that has stellar RGB lighting throughout, definitely handy to illuminate your build even further and perfect for you gaming fanatics.