- A CPU cooler pulls heat away from the computer’s CPU and GPU to keep them at safe temperatures.
- To determine if a CPU cooler will work with your PC, check the CPU socket type, TDP rating, and available space.
- The CPU socket type must match between the cooler and the motherboard.
- The TDP ratings of the CPU and cooler should also match to ensure proper cooling.
- Consider the dimensions of the CPU cooler to ensure it will fit in your PC.
In this era of DIY PCs and custom home computer setups, it’s hard to know exactly which parts work with which. Consider this alongside long delivery times, supply chain disruptions, and backorder inventory, it’s a real pain to have to wait weeks (or even months) for a part that doesn’t even end up fitting with your PC anyway. It helps to know whether the part will be compatible before you buy. With this in mind, here’s how you can know if a CPU cooler works with your PC before you check out.
What Is a CPU Cooler?
Before we talk about CPU coolers and PC compatibility, we should answer another question first: What is a CPU cooler? It’s this simple: A CPU cooler pulls the heat away from the computer’s central processing unit (CPU) and graphics processor (GPU). In other words, the part cools the CPU. Pretty straightforward, right?
CPU coolers come in many different shapes and sizes (and go by several different names, too). There’s the heat sink, the fan, the closed water loop, and the lot cooler, just to name a handful. Each of these four types accomplishes the same thing: keeping the CPU and GPU chips at safe temps to protect them from heat damage.
Ways to Know If a CPU Cooler Will Work With Your PC
So, how can you know if a CPU cooler will work with your PC? It’s all about socket type, TDP rating, and available space. These three things will help you find out about the part’s compatibility before you buy. Any one of these steps could be enough to answer your question, but it’s best to check all three for the most certainty.
Step One: Verify CPU Socket Type
The best and easiest way to know if a CPU cooler will work with your PC is to check your CPU socket type. This socket connects the CPU to the motherboard. If you know your CPU socket type, then you can compare and contrast it to the part’s. Common types include Pin Grid Array (PGA) and Land Grid Array (LGA). PGAs go with other PGAs, and LGAs go with other LGAs. Think of it like checking the USB type on your phone charger. If the USB types don’t match up, then it’s not going to charge your phone.
Step Two: Check the TDP Rating
Even if your sockets match up, you’ll need to double-check the TDP ratings of both your CPU and cooler. Thermal Design Power (TDP) measures the total watts a part can handle safely. Both the CPU and the CPU cooler have their own TDP ratings. If the two TDP ratings don’t match up, then they won’t make a good pair. That’s because a CPU with a higher TDP rating than its cooler can cause some serious heat damage to the setup. What’s the point of buying the part if it can’t actually cool your CPU?
Step Three: Measure the CPU Cooler
Lastly, let’s think about how much space the CPU cooler will take up. The cooler and the CPU could be a perfect match based on sockets and TDPs, but it’s all for nothing if you don’t have enough room for the part. Look for the part’s length, width, and height. Then, compare those specs to the amount of space you have to work with. If the part is too big, then it’s not worth your time or your money. You need one with the right socket type, a high TDP rating, and the proper dimensions instead.
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