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Choosing the Best CPU Cooler for Intel's Core i5-12600

Found out how to choose the best CPU cooler for Intel's 12th generation Core i5 12600 processors.

Motherboard Timur Garifov / Unsplash

Last Updated: January 13, 2022

Written by Kevin Jones

This article will discuss choosing a CPU cooler for Intel's Core i5 12600 processor.

Check out our Recommended LGA 1700 Coolers below.

How to Choose the Best Cooler for the 12600

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Thermal Dissipation

A CPU cooler's TDP (Thermal Design Power) rating indicates how much heat it can dissipate in watts. If the cooler can't keep your CPU cool enough, your CPU may throttle (slow down), and your cooler will constantly run at full speed.

Intel CPU specifications indicate this power dissipation number as "Processor Base Power" and "Maximum Turbo Power."

Depending on the workload, the Core i5-12600 has a TDP of 65–117 watts.

A CPU cooler can still work with a lower TDP rating than the TDP of a CPU. However, the CPU will eventually throttle itself to a lower frequency to allow itself to cool.

Without adequate cooling, the CPU may not be able to achieve or maintain maximum turbo speeds.

Types of Coolers

Air coolers use a combination of heatsinks and fans. They are the cheapest, but also the loudest.

A Closed-Loop Cooler (CLC), also called an All-in-One (AIO) cooler, is a type of liquid cooler. All-in-one liquid coolers provide a more straightforward setup in a single pre-built package.

Liquid cooling can provide even better TDP performance at lower noise levels but are more expensive and take up more room. The noise level and ability to cool your CPU will depend on the liquid cooling solution's radiator size and the number and size of the fans.

Find LGA 1700 AIO Coolers on Amazon (affiliate link).

Open-Loop Coolers are also a type of liquid cooler, except you construct them yourself. They allow for more flexibility in building your perfect cooling solution but can also be more complicated to set up. Open-loop systems give you the flexibility to cool additional devices, such as your graphics card's GPU.

Noctua NH-D15, Premium CPU Cooler Noctua NH-D15, Premium CPU Cooler Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link

Noise

More fans typically mean better cooling. However, they also mean more noise.

Larger fans are typically quieter than smaller fans, as they can move the same amount of air at lower speeds.

If a cooler is struggling to cool a CPU, it will run at its maximum speed, which will be louder.

Fan noise levels are measured a dB. Lower dB values are quieter.

You can often configure your motherboard's BIOS to use specific fan speeds at particular temperatures. This configurable fan speed allows you to have a near-silent computer while your computer is idle.

Mounting Brackets

CPU coolers can have various mounting brackets to work with different socket sizes. Make sure that your cooler comes with a compatible mounting bracket.

The easiest way to find a CPU cooler that will work for your computer is to search by socket type. For example, the 12600 uses an LGA 1700 socket, so you would search for an LGA 1700 CPU cooler.

In some cases, such as when a new socket size is released, there may not be many compatible coolers. In these cases, you can often purchase a separate mounting/retention kit to work with the new dimensions.

Size

Before buying the biggest cooler possible, make sure that your case and motherboard configuration have room.

Also, ensure that other components on your motherboard won't interfere due to size constraints. For example, do your memory modules (DIMMs) have tall heat spreaders?

Dual-fan coolers often take up quite a bit of room. Liquid cooling solutions typically position fans at the top or bottom of the case.

Lighting

Some CPU cooler fans come with LED lighting. Similarly, liquid cooling pump heads can also come with LEDs or even LCDs!

If you want to turn off the lights when they get annoying, make sure your CPU cooler has that option.

Price

In general, air-based coolers will be lower cost than liquid cooling systems.

CPU coolers that support a higher TDP are also typically correlated with a higher price.

The more advanced lighting features tend to also come at an extra cost. You can decide between a practical, low-cost solution and a dazzling light show.

The distance between heatsink screw holes for the LGA 1700 increased to 78x78 mm from the 75x75 mm spacing typical of recent sockets. This new spacing means you'll need a new cooler/heatsink or upgrade kit that supports the new configuration.

Check out our Recommended LGA 1700 Coolers below.

Enermax Liqmax III 360 Enermax Liqmax III 360 Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link

What Is the TDP of the 12600?

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Intel CPU specifications indicate this power dissipation number as "Processor Base Power" and "Maximum Turbo Power."

The Core i5-12600 has a base TDP of 65 watts and a max turbo TDP of 117 watts.

What Is the Best Type of CPU Cooler for a Gaming PC?

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An air cooler can be adequate for a gaming PC if you don't plan to overclock your CPU. However, not all CPU air coolers can dissipate the same amount of heat. Coolers should indicate their supported heat dissipation (TDP) in watts (e.g., 180 W).

Games and other CPU-intensive tasks can keep your CPU at the higher end of their TDP ranges, so you'll need at least a larger air-cooled heatsink with one to two fans to avoid CPU throttling.

Even if you can't overclock the CPU, you could opt for a liquid cooling solution if you want to keep noise levels to a minimum.

Stock Coolers

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Locked Intel CPUs may come with a stock CPU cooler. These CPU models do not have a "K" in the name. While stock coolers will prevent your CPU from overheating, your CPU will throttle its performance during games and other intensive tasks. Higher TDP coolers will keep your CPU at turbo speeds for longer durations. Stock coolers are often quite loud at their maximum speed.

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The LGA 1700 socket will require a CPU cooler that supports the new socket size. Some manufacturers are releasing upgrade kits for LGA 1200 heatsinks to support the new size.

Best AIO Liquid Cooler: Enermax Liqmax III 360

  • This Enermax liquid cooler has an excellent cooling capability with a 360-watt TDP (Thermal Design Power).
  • Supports a variety of CPU sockets, including Intel LGA 2066, 2011-3, 2011, 1700, 1200, 1366, 1156, 1155, 1151, 1150 and AMD AM4, AM3+, AM3, AM2+, AM2, FM2+, FM2, FM1.
  • Quiet operation at 14-27 dBA.
  • You can request an LGA 1700 mounting kit via the LGA 1700 Mounting Kit Request Form.
  • Make sure your computer case dimensions support this, as it will take up a decent amount of space! Enermax Liqmax III 360 Enermax Liqmax III 360 Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link

Best Dual-Fan Air CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-D15

  • Dual 140 mm fans provide 220-watt TDP (183 NSPR) of cooling capability.
  • Supports a variety of CPU sockets, including Intel LGA 1700, 1200, 1150, 1151, 1155, 1156, 2011, 2066 and AMD AM4, AM3, AM3+, AM2, AM2+, FM2, FM2+.
  • Quiet operation at 24.6 dBA. Noctua NH-D15, Premium CPU Cooler Noctua NH-D15, Premium CPU Cooler Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link

Runner Up - Dual-Fan Air CPU Cooler: Thermaltake TOUGHAIR 510

  • This CPU cooler doesn't have any fancy LED lights, but the dual 120 mm fans do a great job of cooling LGA 1700 CPUs.
  • Suppose you think this cooler will take up too much space. In that case, Thermaltake has a few single-fan TOUGHAIR variants which use different orientations.
  • This CPU cooler has a 2000 RPM max speed for optimal cooling.
  • 180-watt TDP (Thermal Design Power). Thermaltake TOUGHAIR 510 Thermaltake TOUGHAIR 510 Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link

Learn More About the Intel Core i5-12600

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Look Up an Intel CPU

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Learn about another Intel CPU on TechReviewer:

Other Considerations When Building a PC

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