How to assemble a PC: The Heatsink

Although often ignored, the heatsink function is very important within a computer. It not only keeps our processor cool, ensuring better performance, but allows us to have a better airflow and airflow inside our homes.

Let’s start immediately by defining what is a heat sink. This is a metal device to be mounted on the CPU that allows for better temperatures and greater longevity.

If you still do not understand the concept, just know that there are different types and different forms, each of which adapts a precise technology. There are various types of heatsink :

  • Passive : it is a simple metal piece (copper usually) very high and recess that dissipates the heat accumulating it through its protuberances. It is not a very efficient method of dissipation, but it is the most suitable solution for a low budget and for components that are not very powerful (to give an example: we certainly cannot dissipate an i7 8700k with this type of sink).
  • Air : the ” simple metal piece ” assumes a shape very close to that of a radiator, at whose ends are mounted one or more fans that extract the stored heat and cool the environment.
  • A liquid : in this case, the form factor becomes more complex: Together with the real radiator, on which the fans are installed, there is a ” waterblock “, to be installed on the CPU that will cool it through the liquid inside it. It will store heat and carry it through pipes to the radiator which, under the effect of the fans, will cool the liquid. In this case, we distinguish prefabricated AIO liquid coolers (All In One) and liquid coolers, which are assembled piece by piece.

Dimensions, adapted technology and materials obviously depend on the destination and price. We use liquid coolers for builds of a certain level, which allow ” overclocking “, while air sinks build in the average.

Because of the existence of various Intel and AMD platforms (1151, AM4, and so on), the sinks also have different adapters, so before choosing one, always check if it supports the architecture of your processor!

How to install a heatsink

How to install the heatsink? Very simple. First, we make sure we have the CPU surface completely clean (if it is the first assembly skip this step), otherwise we remove the previous thermal paste through special alcohol like this.

Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound 3.5 Grams with ArctiClean 60 ML Kit (D132)
  • Arctic Silver 5 3.5g is Non-electrically conductive. Will not separate, run,...
  • Thermal Conductance: >350,000W/m2 °C (0.001 inch layer)
  • ArctiClean 60ml kit, Includes both ArctiClean 1 (30ml) and ArctiClean 2 (30ml)
  • Easy to Use and Cleans heatsinks and other computer components in under a...

After that, we install the dissipation system in the case and the waterblock on the CPU after applying a thermal paste in the center. It may be necessary to add a backplate or screws around the socket, so we recommend that you follow the instructions in your heatsink manual.

To connect the dissipation system to the power supply, insert the 3 or 4 pin socket in the ” CPU FAN ” and ” CPU POWER ” space.

Now let’s analyze, which are the best heatsink by price range.

Best low-end heatsink

ARCTIC Freezer 7 Pro

ARCTIC Freezer 7 Pro - Compact Multi-Compatible Tower CPU Cooler, 100 mm PWM Fan, for AMD and Intel
  • GOOD COOLING PERFORMANCE: A 100 mm PWM fan, 45 fins, 3 double-sided copper...
  • LOW NOISE: Its low noise impeller and patented fan holder ensures the fan to...
  • WIDE AND MULTI-COMPATIBILITY: The Freezer 7 Pro features multi-compatibility...
  • EASY INSTALLATION: Installation is a breeze with Freezer 7 Pro, the quick and...
  • PRE-APPLIED MX-2: Thanks to the pre-applied MX-2 high performance thermal...

The Arctic Freezer 7 Pro is one of the best low cost heat sinks on the market. It supports a multitude of architectures, including FM2, FM1, AM3, AM3, AM2, AM2, 939, 754 (AMD) and 1366, 1150, 1151, 1156, 1155, 775 (Intel).

It has a 92 mm fan that allows a decent heat dissipation, and we already find the MX-2 thermal paste, always in Arctic’s home. The dimensions, of just 13.2 x 10 x 14.5 cm, it is possible to insert it in small houses.

Cooler Master Hyper 212

Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo CPU Cooler, 4 CDC Heatpipes, 120mm PWM Fan, Aluminum Fins for AMD Ryzen/Intel LG1151
  • Air flow: 82.9 CFM; Noise level: 36.0 decibels
  • Fan dimensions:120 x 120 x 25 millimeter (4.7 x 4.7 x 1 inches)
  • Heat sink dimensions: 116 x 51 x 159 millimeter (4.6 x 2 x 6.2 inch)

The Cooler Master Hyper 212 is the direct response to the Freezer 7 Pro, dimensions, sockets and price are very close to each other. We speak here of 11.9 x 7.6 x 16 cm, equipped with a 120 mm fan equipped with red LED lighting. It already has a pre-applied thermal paste, and allows superior performance to those of the Intel home stock dissipators.

Best mid-range heatsink

Cooler Master MasterLiquid Lite 120

Cooler Master MasterLiquid Lite 120 CPU Liquid Cooler '120mm Radiator, 1x MasterFan Pro 120 AB PWM Fan, White LED' MLW-D12M-A20PW-R1
  • Easy and Reliable - An easy install, reliable and low noise all-in-one liquid...
  • Dual Dissipation Pump - Its unique low-profile dual chamber pump design features...
  • Robust FEP Tubing - Robust and extra thick FEP tubing ensures kink-resistance to...
  • Air Balance Fan Design - 120mm Air Balance fan's silent driver IC smoothens fan...
  • Fits almost all cases - Fits almost all PC chassis with a 120mm fan mount near...

The MasterLiquid Lite 120 gives you access to the world of liquid dissipation at very low prices. With some compromise. The radiator provides a good fan to dissipate the heat. The copper waterblock is very easy to apply, but pay attention to the pipes, they are not very long!

In addition, performance improvements are minimal or non-existent compared to air coolers in the same price range. Also in this case the equipment is very rich, even if you speak of an entry level. Nice white LED present in the waterblock, which illuminates the ” Cooler Master ” logo.

Noctua NH-U12S

Noctua NH-U12S, Premium CPU Cooler with NF-F12 120mm Fan (Brown)
  • Classic 120mm slim-tower design combines outstanding cooling performance with...
  • Does not overhang the RAM or PCIe slots on most current motherboards
  • Highly optimised NF-F12 120mm Focused Flow fan with PWM support and Low-Noise...
  • Includes high-end NT-H1 thermal paste and SecuFirm2 mounting system for easy...
  • Renowned Noctua quality backed up by 6-year manufacturer’s warranty, deluxe...

We treat the sink Noctua par excellence. It is a great block, in height and thickness, which allows excellent performance at an affordable cost. Includes a backplate, supports various architectures, such as FM2, FM1, AM3, AM3+, AM2+, AM2 (AMD) and 1366, 1150, 1151, 1156, 1155, 775 (Intel). 5 x 95 x 125 mm the dimensions, is already equipped with two 120 mm fans and a tube of excellent Noctua thermal paste to be applied manually.

The only flaw? Fans with a very difficult color to match in a build. Resolvable problem using others.

Best high-end heatsink

Cooler Master V8

Cooler Master V8 GTS High Performance CPU Cooler, Horizontal Vapor Chamber, 8 Heatpipes, Aluminum Fins, Dual 120mm Fans, Red LED, AMD /Intel LGA1200/1151/2066
  • Cooler Master all-new horizontal vapor chamber technology minimizes CPU hotspots...
  • Triple tower heat sink with 8 high performance heat pipes maximizes cooling...
  • Dual high airflow PWM fans with Red LEDs for an aggressive look
  • Fan speed and noise can be fine tuned and customized for desired balance between...
  • Fans feature Cooler Master 4th generation Polyoxymethylene (POM) Bearing for...

The Cooler Master V8 is one of the best air coolers on the market. The second version, which we are taking into consideration, not only guarantees high-level performance, but is also very beautiful aesthetically, thanks to the various LED lights and aggressive style.

Supported sockets include AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, LGA 1366, FM1, FM2, FM2+, LGA 1156, LGA 1155, LGA 1150, LGA 1151, LGA 2011, LGA 2011-v3, LGA 775. Of this, sink are impressive, 15.4 x 15 x 16.7 cm and weighs well over a 1 kg. The two 140 mm fans guarantee excellent performance, but they are very noisy.


CORSAIR Hydro Series H100i v2 AIO Liquid CPU Cooler, 240mm Radiator, Dual 120mm PWM Fans, Advanced RGB Lighting and Fan Software Control
  • Customizable RGB pump head produces vivid lighting effects to match your build
  • Custom-designed SP120L fans deliver high static pressure and incredible airflow
  • PWM fan-speed control allows you to run your fans anywhere between 850 RPM to...
  • CORSAIR iCUE software allows you to customize RGB lighting, individual fan...
  • Compatible Sockets: Intel LGA 115x, 1366, 2011, 2011-3, 2066 and AMD FM1, FM2,...

We now arrive at one of the most accessible liquid dissipation systems. The Corsair Hydro H100i has a 240 mm radiator on which two 120 mm fans are mounted. The waterblock features a logo illuminated by RGB LEDs.

The dimensions are from 27.6 x 3 x 12.5 cm. It supports AM2, AM3, FM1, FM2, LGA 2011-v3 and a few others, but you can purchase other adapters on the Corsair website.

Product prices and availability are subject to change. Any price and availablility information displayed on Amazon at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of any products.

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