Browser through our list of best 120mm aio coolers, with the most cheap and most budget options available.
Not everyone wants or even needs an all-in-one (AIO) liquid cooler with a large radiator for their system, some might be looking for best low profile cup cooler. Some mini-ITX and best micro-ATX cases simply don’t have room for them, and you can save yourself some money by going for a 120mm cooler as well. Not only that, but 120mm AIO coolers can also keep some of the most powerful best CPUs out there in check.
We’ve been pleasantly surprised at how well some 120mm AIO liquid coolers have coped with the likes of Intel’s Core i9-12900K, for example, which has a total of 16 cores (eight P-Cores and eight E-Cores). This CPU makes for a tough test, though, so every cooler on test will need to deal with this CPU to make the cut.
We’ll also be checking each cooler’s compatibility with Intel’s LGA1700 socket, using adaptor kits where possible or checking performance with the LGA115x/1200 mounting holes on our motherboard on coolers where an LGA1700 adaptor isn’t available.
We used an Asus ROG Maximus Z690 Apex in our Intel test system, along with 32GB of Corsair DDR5 Dominator memory, while our AMD test system used an MSI MEG X570 Unify and 16GB of Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro DDR4 memory, along with a Ryzen 7 5800X overclocked to 4.6GHz with a 1.25V vcore. Alongside these components sit a 256GB Samsung 960 Evo SSD and Corsair CM550 PSU. Both systems are housed in a Fractal Design Meshify C case and use the latest versions of Windows 11, plus the latest BIOS and driver versions.
We use CoreTemp to measure the CPU temperature before subtracting the ambient air temperature from this to give a delta T result to allow us to test in a lab that isn’t temperature controlled. We run the Prime95 smallest FFT test with AVX instructions disabled to load the CPU, and we then take the temperature reading after ten minutes.
To iron out any abnormally hot-running cores that might skew the results in our Intel system, we take an average temperature reading across the all-important P-Cores for the performance data, and take note of the E-Core delta T as well. AMD CPUs only list a single temperature reading, so we record what’s reported in CoreTemp. Finally, we calculate scores based on cooling performance, noise, features, ease of installation and value, with a weighted calculation giving an overall score.
Also See: Best 280mm AIO
List of Best 120mm AIO CPU Coolers
- Aerocool Pulse L120F ARGB AIO Liquid Cooler
- Antec Neptune 120 Advanced ARGB 120mm Liquid CPU Cooler
- Be Quiet Silent Loop 2 120mm AIO CPC Cooler
- iCUE H60i RGB PRO XT Liquid CPU Cooler
- DeepCool GAMMAXX L120 V2 AIO Liquid Cooler
- EK 120mm AIO Cooler D-RGB
- GameMax Ice Chill 120mm ARGB AIO Water Cooling System
- NZXT Kraken M22 120mm AIO RGB CPU Liquid Cooler
- SilverStone SST-PF120-ARGB Permafrost 120mm All in One
1. Aerocool Pulse L120F ARGB AIO Liquid Cooler
With its pump located in the radiator, the Aerocool Pulse L120F’s radiator unit is a fair bit longer than those of most other AIO liquid coolers, stretching to 176mm. As a result, you’ll need to make sure your case has space for it before you consider purchasing it. On the flip side, the water block that would normally hold the pump section is comparatively quite small, so you shouldn’t have any trouble trying to fit it in your motherboard’s CPU socket area.
The whole setup is also very thin, with the radiator and fan together only measuring 52mm thick, which is about as slim as you can get. A single 120mm fan is included in the box, with both the fan and waterblock unit sporting 3-pin digital RGB lighting, with a spinning propellor in the pump that looks snazzy.
We were initially confused by the RGB lighting’s cables, though, so follow the instructions carefully. There are two connectors on the CPU section, and both are for lighting control and power. You can daisy-chain the pump and fan to your motherboard, an external RGB controller or just have them sat in colour cycle mode, although the lighting isn’t as vivid as the best-looking coolers on test.
At affordable price, this bundle is relatively expensive too, especially given its lack of software control and the fact it only comes with a single fan. Aerocool’s website is also devoid of LGA1700 compatibility information, but the cooler’s long spung screws and adjustable backplate meant enough pressure was applied with our Core i9-12900K’s heatspreader.
The included sachet of thermal paste spread well and the radiator got warm during testing, so we’re confident that the cooler can at least get enough heat transferring from the CPU to the coolant.
Meanwhile, installation is easy, if a little involved, with the kit coming with Intel and AMD mounting plates and thumbscrews, although you don’t get a spare set of fan mounting screws to use a second fan. The fan and radiator-mounted pump are controlled using separate 4-pin PWM cables, so you can control the speed of each part separately. However, given that the pump proved to be very quiet in testing, we recommend running it at full speed all the time.
Unfortunately, despite the cooler appearing to make good contact with our Core i9-12900K, the delta T of 79°C onlyjust prevented our CPU from throttling and was significantly warmer than all the others with this CPU.
It was more competitive on our AMD Ryzen 5 5500 motherboard cooling an overclocked Ryzen 7 5800X, but even here it had the second warmest result on test of 69°C, and the only warmer result was from the Corsair iCUE H680i RGB Pro XT running at low speed. The Aerocool does have a particularly quiet pump, though, and its fan was no louder than the likes of the be quiet! Silent Loop 2 120mm and Deepcool Gammaxx 120 V2.
With a comparatively high price and lacklustre cooling results, especially when dealing with our Core i9-12900K, we can’t recommend the Aerocool Pulse L120F. It even failed to perform well in our AMD system, so while we had our doubts about it fitting Intel’s new LGA1700 socket, its clear that it doesn’t perform well in general.
Thats a shame given its quiet operation and funky design, but you can get better cooling power for less money elsewhere.Poor cooling all round – it might look good, but you can get better cooling power for less cash elsewhere.
2. Antec Neptune 120 Advanced ARGB 120mm Liquid CPU Cooler
We loved the 240mm model in Antec’s Neptune ARCB range of AIO liquid coolers, so we had high expectations for the 120mm version. As with the bigger model, you get a fan and lighting hub thrown into the bundle, giving you the ability to control five fans from one PWM input from your motherboard, with a similar arrangement for RGB connectors – that’s a really great inclusion for a cooler.
Despite Antec not listing any kind of LGA1700 socket compatibility on its website, we managed to get the Neptune 120 ARGB installed on our Asus ROG Maximus Z690 Apex motherboard using its LGA115x/1200 mounting holes. Bear in mind that not all z690 motherboards have these holes, though, and you’ll be out of luck if your motherboard only has the newer LGA1700 holes.
The Antec’s RGB lighting is bright and vibrant on the pump, but while the same can also be said of the lighting on the fan, it didn’t diffuse much across the semi-transparent blades. Comparatively, EK’s effort does a better job of fan lighting, getting more kudos if good looks are a priority for you. Still, the ability to control the pump and fan lighting, as well as several LED strips, with the included hub is very useful, and you can synchronise their colours as well.
Installation is a little fiddly, with the Antec forcing you to deal with more components than other coolers on test, but the process is straightforward. While there’s no LGA1700 compatibility listed, the cooler worked well cooling our Core i9-12900K with the aforementioned LGA115x/1200 mounting holes, hitting a delta T of 70°C under full load.
That s a full 9°C cooler than the result from the Aerocool Pulse L120F, and also lower than the SilverStone PF120 ARGB and GameMax Ice Chill 120 ARGB. However, the be quiet! Silent Loop 2 120mm knocked a further 10°C off that temperature, and the Deepcool Gammaxx 120 V2 costs a bit less money than the Antec and offers slightly better cooling too.
On our AMD system, which features an overclocked Ryzen 7 5800X, the Antec achieved a delta T of 62°C. This was much more competitive, beating the Corsair iCUE H60i RGB PRO XT and Deepcool Gammaxx 120 V2, with only the be quiet! Silent Loop 2 120mm and EK AIO 120 D-RGB able to match or better this result. The Antec’s fan is also slightly quieter than the fans with most other coolers on test, and the pump is exceptionally quiet too, even at full speed.
With a quiet pump and fan, as well as a lighting hub and decent performance – the Antec Neptune 120 ARGB is still a decent offering for cheap price, despite its aging design. It keeps up with other more expensive coolers, its easy to install and it still represents great value.
However, it struggled when dealing with our Core i9-12900K, even if its lack of official LGA1700 support didn’t ruin its thermal performance, unlike the Aerocool Pulse L120F. As a result, we can’t really recommend the Antec for an Intel Alder Lake system where the Deepcool Gammaxx 120 V2 is a better buy.
However, it remains a great option for AMD Socket AM4 systems – it effectively cooled our overclocked Ryzen 7 5800X, and you have to pay more money to get better AM4 cooling performance.Great cooling on AMD systems, but there are better options for Intel’s 12th-gen Alder Lake CPUs.
3. Be Quiet Silent Loop 2 120mm AIO CPC Cooler
Adding a second row of fans isn’t always worth it with some radiators, but any extra airflow is welcome with the high heatloads our bunch of AIO liquid coolers have to handle. Thankfully, the extra fan here doesn’t mean the only dual fan cooler on test costs the earth, with the be quiet! Silent Loop 2 120mm.
According to be quiet!, the Silent Loop 2’s all-new pump design, with a six-pole motor, three chambers and high-density cold plate fin stack, all combine to offer better cooling, lower noise and less turbulence. We can confirm that the Silent Loop 2’s pump was indeed inaudible unless we put it to our ears, so it gets top marks for low-noise operation, even at full speed.
The fans are a tad louder, hitting 2,200rpm at full speed and being among the loudest spinners on test, although both fans are PWM- controlled, so they can spin down to inaudible levels when needed. At low to medium loads, this cooler will also get away with lower fan speeds, thanks to its increased grunt in the airflow and static pressure departments.
The pump section is the only part of this cooler’s arrangement to feature RGB lighting, but it’s bright and extremely vivid – it’s ideal if you like a touch of class from your lighting without going overboard. A digital RGB controller is included should you not wish to hook it up to a 3-pin RGB header on your motherboard, and you can also turn off the lighting completely. The fans and pump have their own power cables, with the fans benefiting from a 4-pin PWM splitter cable, so you only need a single header to power them.
The pump only has a 3-pin power connector, so if you want to control its speed, you’ll need to switch the control system for that header to voltage or DC mode. However, given that the pump is extremely quiet at full speed, we doubt anyone will feel the need to do that.
Our sample didn’t offer LGA1700 compatibility out of the box, but be quiet! can supply an adaptor kit. Installation on all sockets is also straightforward, although you have to deal with quite a lot of components. We’d like to see fewer parts involved in the installation of future be quiet! coolers, although we appreciate the inclusion of a tube of thermal paste, so you can remove this cooler and reinstall it without having to buy new paste.
Having two fans on a 120mm AIO liquid cooler is clearly a good idea, because the Silent Loop 2 120mm posted the best results in both our test systems. Its delta T of 60°C cooling our Gore i9-12900K was a degree cooler than the EK AIO 120 D-RGB and 8°C cooler than the Corsair iCUE H60i RGB PRO XT. It recorded a delta T of 60°C with our Ryzen 5800X too, where it was 5°C cooler than the Corsair iCUE H60i RGB PRO XT and 2°C cooler than the EK AIO 120 D-RCB.
The be quiet! Silent Loop 2 120mm is the best-performing 120mm AIO liquid cooler we’ve tested, so if you can warrant the outlay and want a powerful, compact cooler with a smattering of RGB lighting and quiet pump, this is the cooler for you. However, the cheaper EK AIO 120 D-RGB looks better and is only slightly off the paceFantastic cooling on both Intel and AMD’s latest sockets, although it’s a tad expensive.
4. iCUE H60i RGB PRO XT Liquid CPU Cooler
as you’d expect given Corsair’s propensity for light-up products, Corsairs iCUE H60i RGB Pro XT includes RGB lighting, but only on the pump housing. On the plus side, however, this cooler does feature full software control of the pump and lighting, allowing you to customise the cooling and lighting to your own needs.
Only one 120mm fan is included in the box, but the cables have a spare port available to power a second fan, and Corsair includes the necessary screws for another fan in the bundle too, which is handy. Seeing as the be quiet! Silent Loop 2 was the best-performing cooler on test with its two fans, an extra fan could be a good upgrade to this cooler, although you’re already paying enough for just a single fan here, with Corsair instead prioritising software control.
You’ll need to buy Corsair’s LGA1700 mounting kit if you want to use the iCUE H60i RGB Pro XT with Intel’s 12th-gen Alder Lake CPUs; this uses a new backplate and shorter mounting pins to cater for the lower heatspreader found on the latest range of Intel chips. That said, Corsair is already shipping some of its other AIO liquid coolers with LGA1700 mounting equipment, and the H60i RGB Pro XT may follow suit.
Thankfully, installation is painless and you won’t even have to remove the standard mounting clips on your motherboard if you have a standard AMD system, as the cooler clips straight onto them.
Delving into the software revealed a trio of speed presets, as well as a custom mode. The quiet mode aggressively skewed the fan and pump speed in favour of low noise, and saw our Core i9-12900K hit its thermal limit after five minutes under full load. This won’t be an issue unless you do a lot of video editing, encoding or rendering or other heavily multi-threaded tasks.
With the pump and fan running at full speed, the Corsair’s CPU delta T of 68°C wasn’t bad considering it was cooling Intel’s current 16-core flagship mainstream CPU, but this result was still 8°C warmer than the result from the be quiet! Silent Loop 2 120mm.
Likewise, in our overclocked AMD Ryzen7 5800X test rig, the Corsair’s result of 65°C at full speed was again several degrees warmer than that of the be quiet! Silent Loop 2 120mm and EK AIO 120 D-RGB, and our CPU also became very hot when the fan and pump speeds were set to quiet mode, hitting a delta T of 79°.
However, the Corsair was also quieter than most other coolers on test at full speed, and the software sensibly monitors the coolant temperature (rather than just the CPU temperature) to slow the fan and pump ramp up times, making the noise easier still on your ears.
Corsair’s iCUE H60i RGB Pro XT is better suited to mid-range CPUs such as Intel’s Core i5-12600K and AMD’s Ryzen 5 5600X, rather than top-end chips. While it might not offer the best cooling on test, the Corsair’s flexible software, quiet operation, RGB lighting, extra fan screws and official LGA1700 support mean that it still comes highly recommended to those who want software-controlled RGB lighting and cooling, as well as a quiet liquid cooler – you just need to be aware of its limitations.Reasonable cooling and excellent software, although it’s also expensive and you’ll need an LGA1700 adaptor kit for Alder Lake systems.
5. DeepCool GAMMAXX L120 V2 AIO Liquid Cooler
Giving you change, the Deepcool Gammaxx L120 V2 is one of the cheaper AIO liquid coolers, yet it still manages to include RGB lighting on its pump and a single 120mm fan. The lighting is fairly simple, though, with no fancy diffusing effect or flow indicators. There are also no extra fan screws included for mounting an additional fan, although you do get a sachet of thermal paste instead of it being pre-applied on the contact plate – handy if you ever need to remove and reinstall it.
Despite having a slightly longer radiator than some other coolers on test, the Gammaxx L120 V2 has its pump located above the contact plate as normal, rather than housing it in the radiator like the Aerocool. The waterblock/pump unit is very compact too, so it should fit in the CPU socket area of any i9-12900K compatible motherboard.
The barbs for the tubing also rotate, allowing you to point the tubes in your chosen direction without putting pressure on them to turn through tight angles. Meanwhile, the pump and fan have separate 4-pin PWM cables, but their RGB cables can be daisy-chained together to connect to a single RGB header.
Deepcool says the Gammaxx L120 V2 will include an LGA1700 adaptor in the near future (and you can order one for free too). Our older review sample came without one, but we were still able to mount it to the LGA115x/1200 mounting holes on our Asus ROG Maximus Z690 Apex motherboard without any problems.
The installation process was mostly trouble-free, but like several other coolers on test, it involves dealing with an excessive number of components. For example, the pump mounting plates require four tiny screws to install, rather than slotting into place, while the backplate installation procedure could pass as a Meccano set.
On our LGA1700 system dealing with a mighty Core i9-12900K, the CPU delta T of 67°C was better than half the other coolers on test, but still 7°C adrift of the lowest result achieved by the more expensive be quiet! Silent Loop 2 120mm. The EK AIO 120 D-RGB was also much better in this respect. The Deepcool can handle Intel’s latest best top-end CPUs, but they get hot.
In our AMD system cooling an overclocked Ryzen 7 5800X, the Deepcool’s CPU delta T of 64°C was much closer to the competition, with its result bettering those of the Corsair iCUE H60i RGB Pro XT, NZXT Kraken 120 and Aerocool Pulse L120F. The pump proved to be extremely quiet at full speed as well, although the fan was fairly loud (although not disastrously so), with several other coolers offering lower fan noise levels.
As the cheapest cooler on test to offer reasonable temperatures in our LGA1700 Core i9-12900K test system, the Deepcool Gammaxx 120 V2 offers better value than lots of the coolers on test for LGA1700 cooling, and its pump is also fairly quiet.
The competition is a little stiffer when it comes to cooling an AMD AM4 system, so even though the Deepcool is cheaper than the other coolers on test, you’ll be better off paying a bit more money for a better performing cooler that’s easier to fit. Overall, the Gammaxx L120 V2 is a good cooler – it’s well priced and its compact pump eliminates CPU socket compatibility issues, but it requires a lot of parts to fit, and you can get better cooling for a bit more money.Decent cooling for a reasonable price, although it requires a lot of parts to fit.
6. EK 120mm AIO Cooler D-RGB
Better known for its huge range of custom water-cooling components, EK has produced numerous top-end all-in-one liquid cooler designs over the years, but it’s now turning its focus to surprisingly affordable mainstream cooler designs. The AIO 120 D-RGB we’re reviewing here, which is cheaper than both the Corsair iCUE H60i RGB PRO XT and the be quiet! Silent Loop 2 120mm.
Both those coolers have advantages though. The be quiet! model has two fans compared to the EK’s single fan, and the Corsair cooler has software control, which the AIO 120 D-RGB lacks. The EK cooler has the best-looking RGB lighting, and it has the most premium-feeling build quality in this Labs test as well.
The RGB lighting is controlled by a 3-pin digital connection and the fan emits a beautiful diffused glow. The pump and fan lighting cables can be daisy-chained as well, so you only need to connect one cable to your motherboard.
What’s more, the pump is extremely quiet at full speed and was practically inaudible from more than a foot away, while the fan running at full speed was a little quieter than the fans with the Deepcool Gammaxx 120 V2 and be quiet! Silent Loop 2 120mm.
Intel’s new LGA1700 for its latest 12th-gen Alder Lake CPUs isn’t supported by the EK cooler out of the box, but EK offers an adaptor kit including shipping, which we used for our testing. The cooler is easy to fit on all its supported sockets, although the pump section is quite large, which could be an issue on some motherboards that have a cramped CPU area.
You also get a separate tube of thermal paste, rather than having it pre-applied to the contact plate, meaning you can remove and reinstall the cooler without having to buy a new tube of paste – you get enough for at least two mounts on mainstream CPUs. While you only get the one fan with this cooler, the EK box does also includes screws to fit a second fan if you want to upgrade it.
Even with the one fan, though, performance was excellent on both our CPUs, with the delta T of 6TC with our Core i9-12900K being the second lowest on test and only a single degree cooler than the be quiet! Silent Loop 2 120mm with its two 120mm fans. The AMD delta T of 62°C was the joint second result on test with the Antec Neptune 120 ARGB, and second only to the be quiet! cooler again.
The EK AIO 120 D-RGB combines fantastic looks with easy installation, an exceptionally quiet pump and a quiet fan at full speed too.
It also costs less money than many other coolers on test and it’s easy to get hold of EK’s LGA1700 adaptor kit for Alder Lake CPUs as well.
While its cooling performance is just pipped by the be quiet! Silent Loop 2 120mm, which managed to knock an extra degree or two off the temperatures thanks to its twin 120mm fans, the EK AIO 120 D-RGB’s other advantages make it our top pick, plus it gives you the option to add a second fan in the future.
Fantastic cooling on both our test systems, an easy installation process, a quiet pump and great-looking RGB lighting.
7. GameMax Ice Chill 120mm ARGB AIO Water Cooling System
Despite cheapest costing, the GameMax Ice Chill 120 ARGB manages to cram RGB lighting for both its fan and pump block into its package. It looks great too, with an infinity mirror effect on the pump and individual points of light on the single 120mm fan. The cables for the fan and pump can be linked together as well, allowing you to use a single 3-pin RGB header to power both of them.
There’s no mention of official LGA1700 compatibility on GameMax’s website, but the GameMax Ice Chill 120 ARGB installed fine on our Asus ROG Maximus Z690 Apex motherboard, with its lengthy sprung mounting screws seemingly offering enough pressure to make solid thermal contact with our CPU. The GameMax’s mounting plate and backplate can cater for both LGA1700 and LGA115x/1200 mounting holes as well, so the design will be compatible with any LGA1700 motherboard, even if there’s no mention of official support.
Installing the Ice Chill 120 ARGB is incredibly easy, without the silly number of parts we’ve had to use to install some of the other coolers on test, such as the be quiet! Silent Loop 2. The GameMax’s backplate is pre-assembled and on AMD systems, and the cooler clips to the existing plastic mounts on your AM4 motherboard, so it can be installed in seconds.
While there are no screws in the box for adding an extra fan, GameMax at least includes a tube of thermal paste, so you don’t need to worry about damaging a pre-applied layer, or having to buy more paste if you need to change your CPU or motherboard.
In terms of cooling performance, the Ice Chill 120 ARGB hit a delta T of 73°C when cooling our Core i9-12900K, which was the second warmest result on test, but the radiator did get warm, so we can only suspect that the GameMax’s pump isn’t particularly powerful, or that its fan design isn’t as efficient as the others on test. Still, this result was 6°C cooler than the Aerocool Pulse L120F and a match for the Silverstone PF120 ARGB, but 13°C warmer than the more expensive be quiet! Silent Loop 2 120mm.
The GameMax’s cooling power was far more competitive when it sat on top of our overclocked Ryzen 7 5800X, resulting in a delta T of 64°C, which is only two degrees warmer than the result from the EK AIO 120 D-RGB. While the GameMax’s fan was reasonably loud at full speed, its pump was surprisingly quiet for such an affordable liquid cooler – only the pumps on the pricier be quiet! Silent Loop 2 120mm and EK AIO 120 D-RGB were quieter.
Given that the GameMax’s mount seemed to apply enough pressure in our LGA1700 system to cater for the low heatspreader height on Intel’s new 12th-gen CPUs, we suspect its poor performance here is related to the pump or radiator and fan combination, but all the above could have had an impact.
That said, there’s no mention of LGA1700 support, so we can’t be too harsh here, as it was a shot in the dark. The GameMax was much better at cooling our Ryzen 7 5800X, where it bettered more expensive coolers and often with less noise too. It’s a shame we can’t recommend it for Intel Alder Lake CPUs, but at budget, it’s a great choice for AMD AM4 systems.Not great for Intel’s 12th-gen CPUs, but it’s a bargain for AMD AM4 systems.
8. NZXT Kraken M22 120mm AIO RGB CPU Liquid Cooler
While NZXT’s more expensive coolers are lavishly endowed with RGB lighting and software control, the Kraken 120 is only equipped with an RGB pump, sporting NZXT’s familiar infinity mirror hologram effect. The waterblock section is significantly smaller than the one on NZXT’s larger coolers too, which have had compatibility issues with some mini-ITX motherboards, including the Asus ROG Strix Z690-I Gaming WiFi we reviewed recently.
The reason the waterblock section is smaller is because this cooler’s pump is actually located within the radiator fins rather than the waterblock, with a separate 3-pin power cable protruding from it, making it the only AIO liquid cooler to incorporate this type of design. This does mean there’s a matchbox-sized area of the radiator that doesn’t cool anything, although this area sits behind the fan’s rotor, so it shouldn’t impact too much on cooling.
Sadly, the Kraken 120’s pump is also noticeably louder than that of some other coolers, although the fact that it will likely be placed at the rear of your case should mean the extra noise isn’t too noticeable. You get a premium AER P120 fan in the box, and more recent models shipping from NZXT should also have LGA1700 mounting kits included, although these are available to buy separately as well.
Meanwhile, the RGB lighting for the waterblock needs to be powered by a 3-pin RGB header, but the included 20cm cable means this should be simple to do with your motherboard, or with a separate controller hidden behind the motherboard tray. Installation is simple, especially on AMD Socket AM4 motherboards, as the cooler makes use of AMD’s stock mounting clips, using brackets that hook to them on either end, so you can install the cooler in a matter of seconds.
Sadly, there’s no extra thermal paste in the box, as the paste is pre-applied to the contact plate, so you’ll need to make sure you don’t touch it before you mount the waterblock. There are no screws for mounting an additional fan either, and the only notable extra is the ability to control the lighting using NZXT’s CAM software, albeit via your motherboard.
The fan proved to be powerful, yet quieter than a lot of others on test, including those included with the be quiet! Silent Loop 2 120mm and GameMax Ice Chill 120 ARGB, but this didn’t seem to impact its cooling performance much. Its CPU delta T of 65°C when cooling our Core i9-12900K was second only to the be quiet! Silent Loop 2 120mm and EK AIO 120 D-RGB, while the CPU delta T of 67°C from our Ryzen 7 5800 test rig was a little less competitive, being the second warmest result on test.
If it had a slightly lower price tag, we’d definitely recommend the NZXT Kraken 120 as a compact liquid cooler capable of taming Intel’s 12th-gen CPUs, but the problem is that similarly priced coolers such as the be quiet! Silent Loop 2 120mm and EK AIO 120 D-RGB either offer cooler temperatures or more features.
There are plenty of better, cheaper options when it comes to AMD’s Socket AM4 too, which is a shame given the prowess of NZXT’s other coolers. Its a solid effort as far as LGA1700 cooling goes, and we commend NZXT forgetting to grips with adaptor kits too, unlike some manufacturers. However, there are better options available for the same or less money.Good cooling on LGA1700 CPUs, but it’s pricey for its limited feature set.
9. SilverStone SST-PF120-ARGB Permafrost 120mm All in One
The web page for the SilverStone PF120 ARGB is packed with impressive details about the cooler, and with its top-end price, we were hoping for a cooler that matched the likes of the EK AIO 120 D-RGB and the quiet! Silent Loop 2 120mm, but for slightly less cash.
It gets off to a good start with the inclusion of addressable RGB lighting on the pump block and fan, and a lighting controller is included as well, if you want to have physical control over the lighting colour and modes rather than using your motherboard’s software. The lighting itself is vibrant and accurate, and the semi-translucent fan blades did a good job of diffusing the light as well, so the lighting appears as a solid block of colour rather than separate pinpoints.
Meanwhile, the contact plate uses 0.2mm micro channels for improved heat dissipation, while the waterblock/pump unit uses a multi-chamber design to limit heat from the contact plate warming up the rest of the block, reducing performance. A sine wave generator also controls the pump, which is meant to keep electrical noise and vibration to a minimum.
Installing the SilverStone PF120 ARGB was easy in our test systems, with the fitting process just requiring sprung screws and clips for AMD systems, using the stock mounting brackets found on AMD motherboards, while there’s a backplate with mounting pins for Intel’s mainstream sockets.
We were also pleased to see that the box includes enough fan screws to mount a second fan if you want one, and you get a tube of thermal paste rather than a pre-applied layer as well, so you can remove and reinstall the cooler without needing to buy more paste.
Unfortunately, though, in testing, the SilverStone PF120 ARGB’s pump was one of the loudest models on test, producing a medium-pitched whine that was noticeable outside our case when the fan was running at on low speed. This is a shame, as the included fan is powerful and also one of the quietest on test when at full speed.
Sadly, there were no impressive temperatures to be seen from the SilverStone either. The CPU delta T in our LGA1700 system sat at 72°C when cooling our Core i9-12900K, which was 12°C warmer than the result from the be quiet! Silent Loop 2 120mm after our lengthy stress test. Only the cheaper GameMax Ice Chill 120 ARGB and Aerocool Pulse L120F offered worse cooling than the SilverStone on this socket.
The SilverStone fared much better when we pitched it against our AMD AM4test system, with the CPU delta T sitting at 64°C when dealing with our overclocked Ryzen 7 5800X. This was only 4°C off the top spot, but even then, three coolers on test still performed better than the SilverStone, albeit by only a few degrees.
On paper, the SilverStone PF120 ARGB seems to offer decent credentials for a well-priced AIO liquid cooler. If it had the cooling chops, it could have picked up an award thanks to looking great once illuminated, as well as including an RGB lighting controller, extra fan screws and a tube of thermal paste.
Sadly, though, its performance is average at best, and you’ll get more features and better cooling from the EK AIO 120 D-RGB, and far better cooling for just an extra tenner if you go for the be quiet! Silent Loop 2 120mm.Despite looking good, the SilverStone struggles to justify its price, with average cooling performance across the board.