How Does a CPU Cooler Work?

CPU Cooler
Cooling device for computer processors

When you buy a computer processor, it normally comes bundled with a cooler. This helps keep your system from overheating. But how does a CPU cooler actually work?

A CPU cooler uses a fan to blow cool air over a heatsink, a metal device that absorbs and dissipates heat away from the hardware. This helps keep the CPU at a stable temperature, preventing it from overheating and potentially damaging the system.

We know you still have a lot of questions in mind. So let’s take a closer look at how coolers work.

What Does a CPU Cooler Do? 

The CPU can generate a lot of heat when operating, even while doing simple tasks. The cooler’s job is to dissipate heat away from the processor to keep it at a safe temperature. 

A cooler typically consists of a heatsink and a fan, or sometimes just a heatsink. The heatsink is made of metal and has a large surface area to help disperse heat. The fan blows air over it to move the heat away faster. 

Does a CPU Cooler Actually Work? 

Yes, a CPU cooler does work. Without it, the CPU can become too hot and suffer from thermal throttling, slowing down the computer’s performance. A cooler helps prevent this and allows the CPU to function at its optimal level.

The CPU is a critical component of the computer. It performs many important tasks, so it generates a significant amount of heat as a result. If It becomes too hot, it can cause the computer to shut down or malfunction.

Does a CPU Cooler Improve FPS?

FPS is largely determined by the graphics card’s performance, not the CPU. But if the CPU is overheating or not running at its optimal temperature, it can affect the overall performance of the system and lower FPS. 

A CPU cooler can help reduce the temperature of the CPU, allowing it to run more efficiently and potentially improve FPS. So it does help improve the computer’s frame rate to a certain extent.

How Hot is Too Hot for the CPU?

Thermometer showing low temperature for computer

You should keep your CPU’s temperature below 80°C as much as possible. Some CPUs may be able to handle higher temperatures without experiencing any issues. But it’s best to err on the side of caution and try to keep the temperature as low as you can. If your CPU is constantly running at high temperatures, you should look for ways to improve its cooling. For example, you can use an aftermarket cooler or add more ventilation to your computer.

Can the Cold Damage the CPU?

If overheating is bad for your computer, overly cold temperatures can also damage it. When a CPU is exposed to ambient temperatures below 1.7°C, it can become brittle and more susceptible to cracking or breaking. Cold temperatures can also cause the CPU to operate at a slower speed. 

But it’s very unlikely that you’ll ever reach this temperature unless you put your computer in a freezer. Even during overclocking competitions where people use liquid nitrogen to cool their PC, there have been no reports of CPUs being too cold. But that doesn’t mean you should use liquid nitrogen in your system. There’s a proper way of doing that without damaging your PC.

Do You Need Case Fans If You Have a CPU Cooler?

Case fans help improve the overall airflow in your computer. Good airflow doesn’t just keep your system cool. It also helps reduce the amount of dust that accumulates inside the case. As a result, you get to prolong the lifespan of your CPU. 

If you’re using a high-performance cooler, it may be able to keep your CPU cool on its own. But having case fans can still be beneficial for the overall cooling of your system, especially if you’re using your computer for demanding tasks such as gaming or video editing. 

2 intake case fans at the front of the pc

It’s a good idea to have at least one case fan in the front of the case to bring in cool air and one in the back to expel hot air. You can also add more fans if your PC tower has enough room for them. This is especially true if you’re using particularly hot components or you live in a hot climate.

You should also check out: “How Many Cooling Fans Do I Need?”

Air Cooling Versus Liquid Cooling: Which is Better?

Air coolers and liquid coolers are two types of cooling systems. Each has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. 

For example, air coolers are good at dissipating heat away from the CPU. But it gets released inside the case. This can quickly raise the ambient temperature of your system. Liquid coolers, on the other hand, are better at keeping your system cool. But they’re more expensive and are difficult to install.

The best choice for a particular system will depend on various factors, including the computer’s size and design, the CPU used, and the user’s specific cooling needs and preferences.

Air Coolers

Air coolers use a combination of a heatsink and a fan to dissipate heat from the CPU. The heatsink is a block of metal with a large surface area designed to absorb heat from the CPU. The fan blows cool air over it to keep the CPU at a safe temperature. Air coolers are relatively inexpensive, easy to install, and don’t require much maintenance. You just need to dust the fans and clean the heatsink regularly.

But they’re generally less effective at cooling high-performance CPUs than liquid coolers. This is because air coolers rely on fans to dissipate heat, a relatively slow process compared to the more efficient heat transfer process in liquid coolers. As a result, air coolers may not be able to keep up with the cooling needs of CPU-intensive tasks, such as gaming and video rendering.

Liquid Coolers

Nothing beats liquid coolers when it comes to cooling efficiency and overall visual appeal. As its name implies, it works by using liquid to absorb heat. The pump then circulates the heated liquid through a radiator. The radiator disperses the heat, and the cooled liquid is returned to the heat source to absorb more heat.

Liquid coolers are better at heat management than air coolers because liquids have a higher heat capacity than air. They can absorb more heat before the temperature of the liquid starts to rise. This makes them particularly useful for high-performance computers that generate a lot of heat and require effective cooling to prevent overheating.

But liquid coolers tend to be more expensive and difficult to install than air coolers. They also require more maintenance, as the coolant needs to be replaced periodically to keep it functioning properly.

Regardless of the type of CPU cooler being used, they all work by providing an additional thermal pathway to help dissipate the heat generated by the CPU and keep it operating at a safe temperature.

Does a Hot Room Affect the CPU?

Yes, a hot room can affect the CPU. The heat generated by the CPU can get worse because of the room’s ambient temperature. This can lead to thermal throttling or even permanent damage to the CPU if the temperature becomes too high. 

It’s essential to keep the room at a comfortable temperature. Make sure there’s proper airflow to prevent the CPU from overheating. It’s highly advisable to turn on your air-conditioner whenever you use your computer if you live in a place where the weather can get scorching hot.

How to Keep Your CPU Cool Without an Air Conditioner

It’d be nice if we could turn on our AC 24/7. But sometimes we also need to cut costs. Here are some ways to keep your CPU cool without using an AC.

  • Improve airflow in your case: Good airflow inside the case helps keep the CPU cool. You can use a case with good ventilation and add more case fans. Ensure the fans are correctly positioned to move air effectively through the PC tower.
  • Clean the computer regularly: Dust and debris can accumulate over time and block airflow. This can cause the CPU to overheat. Regularly cleaning the inside of your computer helps improve airflow and keep the CPU cool.
  • Use a high-quality thermal paste: Thermal paste is used to fill the gap between the CPU and the heat sink. A good-quality paste can help transfer heat more efficiently.
  • Place the computer in a well-ventilated area: If possible, keep your computer in a cool, well-ventilated area where there’s a consistent supply of cool air. 
  • Use power management settings: Using the power management settings is another way to reduce the amount of power your CPU uses.
  • Upgrade to a liquid cooling system: If all else fails, using a liquid cooler may just be what you need. A liquid cooling system uses a pump and radiator to circulate coolant around the CPU. This is the most efficient way to cool your system. But it requires a bit more setup and maintenance than other cooling systems.


CPU coolers play a crucial role in ensuring the processor’s proper functioning and longevity. Whether you’re a gamer, a video editor, or just an everyday user, it’s important to choose the right CPU cooler for your needs. With the right cooler, you can enjoy stable and reliable performance from your computer for years to come.

Lucas Coulson

I first got into building my own computer when I was around 12 or 13. The first computer I had ever built didn't work. So I kept researching to figure what I did wrong. I really enjoyed researching, learning, and building computers, so I decided to turn it into an online business, and here I am.

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