The CPU water block is one of the most vital parts of your loop, transferring the heat from the processor into the liquid. The good news here is that manufacturers all simply have to follow the basic laws of thermodynamics to create effective CPU blocks, so the better brands out there all feature similar levels of performance. Liquid cooling has been shown to be very beneficial when dealing with high wattage components and thanks to the low temps this cooling solution can provide, the longevity of your CPUs life can be extended.
This means that when it comes down to choosing a CPU water block, all you have to concern yourself with is finding one that is compatible and has the desired aesthetics you are looking for.
Let’s take a closer look at the best.
Our Top Picks
Best CPU Water Block: First Look
The Quantum Velocity CPU water block is the flagship model from EKWB, offering excellent performance and unrivalled aesthetics.
With a nickel-plated copper base, this water block is going to handle the heat very efficiently. The top features a see-through acrylic layer that allows you to see the water flow through the block and is enhanced further with stunning D-RGB illumination.
Thermaltake’s Pacific W7 Plus CPU water block is one of the best the brand has ever released.
With the same circular design as the previous Pacific iteration, this has now been enhanced with a transparent chamber and RGB illuminating the lower half and top, making this look truly unique.
Watercool’s Heatkiller IV Pro needs little introduction but this is one of the best CPU water blocks currently on the market.
The Heatkiller marginally performs better than most other blocks but the difference is negligible. It is, however, the unique aesthetic that places this so high on many people’s list.
EKWB’s Lingum range offers something completely different in the world of water cooling.
This CPU block performs like any other, only it has been finished with a walnut top layer for some really unique-looking loops.
Our budget pick is only named as such as it offers excellent value. The performance is as good as the rest and the design from Corsair is superb.
The Hydro X XC7 water block features a transparent acrylic top and is illuminated in glorious RGB to transfer heat in style.
When it comes down to finding the best CPU water block, there are fewer things to concern yourself with than other areas of the loop. This is mostly because from brand to brand, the difference in performance is negligible (as long as you avoid the poorly designed blocks). This means we only really have to worry about compatibility with your socket and the overall aesthetics to the block, making sure it ties in with the design of your build.
What Is a CPU Water Block?
A CPU water block is the water cooling equivalent of, let’s say, a heatsink on an air cooler. It’s a plate that exchanges heat from the processor into the liquid of your loop, which is then dissipated through the radiator.
It works on a basic principle of thermodynamics, with heat moving from a warmer object to a colder object, and as the cooler object becomes warmer, the previously warmer object becomes cooler.
Can Water Cooling The CPU Make A Difference?
With water being a very efficient cooling solution, a CPU water block is going to easily take care of the high heat that comes from powerful processors. This means, with an adequate amount of radiator surface area, you can push your CPU further through overclocking or prolong its life thanks to the lowered temperatures.
While noise levels depend on a variety of factors, it has been shown that with the right configuration, liquid cooling your CPU is going to produce much less noise than an air cooler.
It is also worth noting at this stage that while liquid cooling yields some of the best thermal results available to us regular PC builders, there are a couple of drawbacks. The first is simply the cost, each component to the loop is quite expensive, especially a water block, which is composed mostly of solid metal, along with any additional features the manufacturer has included.
Other limitations around liquid cooling include the challenge of assembly and the extra maintenance required, but in either case, the CPU water block is the easiest component to install and should stand the test of time, lasting for years to come.
You need to check for compatibility issues when buying a CPU block, simply because they aren’t all designed to work for both AMD and Intel. This can sometimes be overlooked, as we have become used to most manufacturers offering up cooling solutions that cater to different socket types.
Don’t worry though, some of the bigger manufacturers are starting to simplify the process and now include universally compatible CPU water blocks, catering for both AMD and Intel. Regardless, as long as you check this before buying, there will be no issues when it comes to building.
The four main materials you are likely to see with CPU water blocks are:
Of course, metals are going to be taking care of the heat but the entire block can sometimes be made from either aluminum, copper, or nickel. Copper and aluminum are obviously subject to oxidation and discoloration from humidity in the air and feature less lighting options.
It is quite common to see metals used in combination with acrylic and/or acetal, creating some very interesting aesthetics.
Acrylic is fairly strong and gives a unique view into the CPU block, letting you see the water flow through it when the loop is running. Acrylic is quite strong but extra care is needed when tightening the block to the motherboard as it can fracture if over tightened.
Acetal is another durable material that is quite common on water blocks but it is immune to more chemicals than acrylic, making it much easier to clean.
Wood is a more recent edition into the world of CPU water blocks, introduced by EKWB, and adds extra aesthetic options for those looking to create something truly unique.
The Best CPU Water Block
Available for both AMD and Intel
Excellent cooling performance
EKWB is well known for its CPU water blocks, offering a wide variety of styles with impressive aesthetics. The performance is up there with the best but it is this CPU water blocks design that makes it so visually appealing.
The base is nickel-plated copper, allowing for efficient heat transfer into your loop. While this model is specifically for Intel sockets from LGA1150 all the way up to LGA 2066, and while it isn’t universally compatible, it is also available for AMD’s AM4 socket too but you would have to purchase the specific model. The RGB cable is 30cm long and has a 3-pin 5V digital LED header connector.
The all-acrylic top plate allows you to peer into the block and see the water flow but this really comes to life when the D-RGB illumination is operational.
Built-in temperature sensor
The Thermaltake Pacific W7 Plus is an absolutely superb CPU water block. This model comes with plenty of features that are only going to enhance the visual aspect of your next build.
The block now features a transparent chamber to see the liquid doing its thing and this comes with 12 customizable RGB LEDs that make this block look unreal. This block is universally compatible, which means it comes with different brackets to get this working for both AMD and Intel systems. The nickel-plated copper base is designed, like the others, for efficient heat transfer and antic corrosion protection, plus this features a built-in temp sensor.
This narrowly misses out on the top spot, simply because EKWB are a prefered brand but with the universal compatibility, this is a highly sought-after CPU block.
3°C temperature decrease compared to its predecessor
High flow design
The Heatkiller IV Pro is an excellent CPU water block and a favorite for many, with excellent performance and a really attractive aesthetic. While the difference in performance to other top CPU blocks is negligible, this comes with a 3°C temperature decrease compared to its predecessor.
The one we have here is for AMD but the block is available for Intel too, just be sure to buy the correct one. The pure copper construction doesn’t really add anything in terms of performance but it looks absolutely sublime.
This is thick, heavy, and can easily make your next water cooled PC look incredible.
Has fittings to match
The EKWB EK-CPU Lingum has a unique aesthetic that many are going to love. The walnut finish makes this a masterpiece and works well with the Lingum fittings to produce some quality-looking loops.
This CPU water block is universally compatible, meaning it comes with the needed brackets to fit this with your AMD or Intel setup. The performance, like the others, is exceptional, with a nickel-plated copper base providing efficient heat transfer.
Try something different and go Lingum, it is pricey though.
Transparent flow chamber
Efficient heat transfer
Not as visually appealing as other models
Corsairs Hydro X range has brought water cooling to the masses and one of the best components in the range is their XC7 CPU Water block.
The XC7 is universally compatible, so you can make this part of your loop regardless if you are going for an AMD or Intel build. The performance is up there with the others, with a negligible difference in temperatures. The base is nickel-plated copper and features more than 60 efficient micro-cooling fins that will easily draw the heat away from the processor.
The XC7 block looks fantastic and RGB illumination makes use of Corsairs iCUE software, making it ideal for Corsair lovers.
When it comes to finding the best CPU water block you just need to ensure you buy from a reputable manufacturer. Every block in this round-up has been hand-selected as they all offer efficient heat transfer, with very stylish aesthetics.
The CPU block is a very important part of your loop, so you should always aim to buy from a well-known brand, giving you the reassurance you need to push your CPU to its limits.