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120mm vs 240mm vs 360mm AIO Coolers – Which is Better?

There are three sizes of AIO coolers available, all complementing each other. Smaller models like the 120mm provides enough thermal headroom for stock speeds and moderate overclocking on even the most demanding CPUs, where larger models like the 240mm make them easy to tame; with plenty of room for high overclocking and additional cooling performance if you want to push your CPU further. Additionally, 360mm ones provides even more thermal headroom for extreme measures.

Corsair is very famous for its successful AIO coolers. It’s 120mm version cost about $99 on the Corsair website, while 240mm one costs about $119 and 360mm cooler costs about $159, all three support AMD socket and Intel socket.

120mm AIO Cooler – Better for Most Users

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The Corsair Performance Pro 120mm AIO CPU Cooler is designed to easily fit smaller cases while delivering powerful cooling performance and an easy-to-install Hydro Series dual bearing pump kit.

Noise, size and layout are the main advantages with a 120mm AIO cooler. The lower depth is easier to manage when mounting. It sits lower to the ground compared to a 240mm or 360mm AIO cooler which sits taller from the back wall.

120mm AIO Coolers take up a small footprint and a compacted space, yet still manage to fit powerful heat-conductive blocks and a unique cooling system that comprises a pump attached to the CPU, all in one unit. It performs 13-21°C better than conventional tower coolers and provides the same cooling performance as 240mm AIO Coolers.

A 120mm All-in-One CPU Cooler is a lot smaller and quieter than the 240/360mm AIO coolers. The 120mm AIO cooler fits in most HTPC and desktop cases with ease and requires a lot less space. It can be used in both Intel and AMD sockets easily depending on which bracket one uses. Check the socket compatibility list below for more details.

For most consumers, a 120mm AIO cooler will be a good solution to their water cooling needs. 120mm coolers fit well into most cases, even smaller and low-cost builds, and offer good performance for most users. The three main advantages of a 120mm AIO liquid cooler over other options are better performance than air coolers, more convenient maintenance and more flexibility in case setups. Let’s take a closer look at each of these points.

A massive 240mm radiator provides far more surface area than a 120mm cooler allowing it to dissipate heat faster. Incorporating a full-size 240mm radiator into the AIO allows for superior cooling at lower noise levels, and the semi-fanless design reduces sonic vibrations generated from operation.

H80i’s asymmetric, low-profile dual-fan bracket allows the fans to be positioned directly over the CPU without the obstruction of a drive cage, which improves airflow and air pressure for exceptional performance.

We think you should have an easier way to compare the internal dimensions of your case with the high performance coolers designed for them, so we’ve gathered profiles from some of the most popular models along with selected Corsair cases.

120mm AIO
Corsair iCUE H60i 120mm Liquid CPU Cooler

Corsair iCUE H60i 120mm Liquid CPU Cooler

  • Noise, size and layout are the main advantages with a 120mm AIO cooler.
  • The lower depth is easier to manage when mounting.
  • It sits lower to the ground compared to a 240mm or 360mm AIO cooler which sits taller from the back wall

240mm AIO Cooler – Best of both worlds

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When it comes to choosing which size AIO cooler is best for you, there are several things to consider. The first decision is if you want a 240mm or 360mm AIO cooler. Both will perform without any issues on most systems as long as the proper fans and radiator are used.

A 240 mm All-in-One (AIO) liquid CPU cooler is an excellent choice, given that the radiator can be much thicker and it will have less operating noise. It can be used for a powerful gaming rig with its top cooling performance and lower noise level. The only drawback is that it has a little larger height than 120mm and 280mm AIO coolers.

240mm AIO coolers offer the best of both worlds (size and aesthetics) while sacrificing some performance. Choosing a 240mm AIO cooler will depend on what types of parts you want to overclock/how much you want to spend, and how well your computer case utilizes airflow, getting a 240mm AIO that fits nicely in a large case can allow for more airflow inside the case as well as inlet and exhaust fans, maximizing cooling efficiency.

The 240mm AIO cooler measures up to the competition with serious size and smart design. Inside, it features a 560ml reservoir, 100W high-speed fan, and a unique pump that is powered off of the 12V DC power supply from the computer. The heat exchanger comes heavily protected in order to prevent damage during shipping.

240mm AIO
Corsair iCUE H100i 240mm Radiator Liquid CPU Cooler

Corsair iCUE H100i 240mm Radiator Liquid CPU Cooler

  • 240mm AIO coolers offer the best of both worlds (size and aesthetics) while sacrificing some performance
  • The lower depth is easier to manage when mounting.
  • The 240mm AIO cooler measures up to the competition with serious size and smart design. 

360mm AIO Cooler – Better for Most Users

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For those who are planning to go for a bigger AIO liquid cooling solution that is more efficient than 120mm coolers or 240mm coolers, 360mm (diameter) and above is the preferred choice most of the time.

Basically, you get double the cooling with a 360mm AIO cooler compared to a 120mm version. You double the surface area which directly translates into more cooling, and getting more cooling means that you will have to run your fans less, and as an added bonus you can push more air when you do run them. The other really big advantage that a larger cooler has over a smaller one is that it runs quieter because of less vibration.

The 360mm AIO is the largest AIO on the market, offering a large 240mm and 120mm radiator in a compact package. This cooler is ideal for those looking to keep their CPU cool.

The main difference between 120mm vs 240mm vs 360mm AIO coolers is in volume/capacity. You can look at the same cooler with less capacity and actually fit more no matter what the size of the radiator is. This could be a good thing if you have a smaller case and need more radiator space to exhaust, as most 240mm coolers are too tall for most cases.

If you want to compete with other water cooling enthusiasts and build the best rig with performance in mind, there are only two options. You can pick a 240mm All In One (AIO) cooler or you can upgrade to a 360mm AIO.

360mm AIO
Corsair iCUE H150i 360mm Liquid CPU Cooler

Corsair iCUE H150i 360mm Liquid CPU Cooler

  • Basically, you get double the cooling with a 360mm AIO cooler compared to a 120mm version
  • The 360mm AIO is the largest AIO on the market, offering a large 240mm and 120mm radiator in a compact package.
  • The main difference between 120mm vs 240mm vs 360mm AIO coolers is in volume/capacity.

120mm vs 240mm vs 360mm AIO Coolers – Final Thoughts

In the previous section, we talked about the main differences between a 120 mm vs 240 mm vs 360 mm AIO CPU cooler. Before making your final decision, you should find out about the advantages and disadvantages of each specific size.

Cooling for your CPU was not so easy few years back. For many, bigger is better. That brought forth the enormous 240mm and 360mm AIO liquid coolers. It delivers well, as long as you have space and cash for it. However, a lot of people simply don’t want something that big sticking out of their case. Which gives rise to the 120mm AIO liquid coolers.

120mm vs 240mm vs 360mm AIO Coolers Which is Better

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