May 23, 2022

Best 120mm AIO – Reviews, Tips, and Buying Guide

Video Best 120mm aio

AIO coolers have been gaining in popularity lately as people look for ways to reduce the noise and heat output of their systems. Today, we’re going to take a look at the best 120mm AIO coolers on the market to help you decide which is right for you. While there are many great options available, we’ve narrowed it down to our top three picks. Read on to see why they made the cut!

What is a 120mm AIO?

An all-in-one liquid cooler (AIO) is a self-contained cooling solution that combines a CPU water block, pump, and radiator into one unit. This type of cooler is easy to install and doesn’t require any maintenance other than the occasional refill of the coolant. A 120mm AIO is a good choice for mid-sized cases and can provide adequate cooling for most CPUs.

How does a 120mm AIO work?

An all-in-one liquid cooler works by circulating coolant through a water block that is in contact with the CPU. The water block uses a copper or aluminum plate to transfer heat from the CPU to the coolant. The pump then circulates the coolant through the radiator where the heat is dissipated into the air.

What are the benefits of a 120mm AIO?

There are several benefits to using a 120mm AIO:

They are easy to install and don’t require any maintenance other than occasional refills of the coolant.

A 120mm AIO can provide adequate cooling for most CPUs.

They are a good choice for mid-sized cases.

They are relatively affordable.

What are the drawbacks of a 120mm AIO?

There are a few drawbacks to using a 120mm AIO:

They can be noisy.

They require regular maintenance and refilling of the coolant.

They can be difficult to install in some cases.

What should I look for when buying a 120mm AIO?

When buying a 120mm AIO, you should look for a unit that is easy to install and comes with clear instructions. You should also consider the noise level and make sure that the unit you select is appropriate for your CPU. Finally, you should compare prices to get the best value for your money.

Factors to consider before buying a 120mm AIO:

Size:

Make sure that the 120mm AIO you select will fit in your case.

Number of Fans: More fans generally means better cooling, but more noise as well. Consider how many fans you are willing to tolerate.

Noise Level:

Some 120mm AIOs can be quite noisy. If noise is a concern, look for a unit with low noise levels.

Price:

Compare prices to get the best value for your money.

Installation:

Make sure that the 120mm AIO you select is easy to install and comes with clear instructions.

Compatibility:

Make sure that the 120mm AIO is compatible with your CPU.

The Pros and Cons of 120 mm AIOs

Pros:

Easy to install

Can provide adequate cooling for most CPUs

Good choice for mid-sized cases

Relatively affordable

Cons:

Can be noisy

Require regular maintenance and refilling of the coolant

Can be difficult to install in some cases

The Best 120mm AIO

The table below will give you a quick look at our selections for the best 120mm AIO CPU coolers currently available on the market. To read a full review, simply click on ’review>>’ in respective row.

Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML120R RGB

Radiator Dimensions: 157 x 119.6 x 27mm / 6.2 x 4.7 x 1.1” | Fan Dimensions: 120 x 120 x 25mm / 4.7 x 4.7 x 1” | Fan Speed: 650 ~ 2000 RPM +/- 10 % | Noise Volume: 6 ~ 30 dBA | Warranty: 2 years

Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML120R RGB

  • Excellent cooling performance
  • Double-fan setup
  • Quiet
  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Easy installation
  • Awesome RGB lighting

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Premium price
  • Only a 2-year warranty

Our Rating: 9.8/10

The Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML120R RGB is an enthusiast’s dream.

It comes dripping with addressable RGB LEDs that look incredible. This cooler is not shy about its appearance, and it boasts some of the best cooling performance in its class. This is the top-of the-line choice, as it combines high-performance with all the bells and whistles enthusiasts love.

However, premium things come with a premium price tag as the ML120R is one of the most expensive AIO coolers in its class. Of course, you’ll get a lot of features at this price point and Cooler Master includes a 2-year warranty as well. If you think of it as competing against coolers with larger form factors, and you should because of its performance, then this cooler is actually great value.

Aesthetically, the ML120R leans heavily on its RGB integration. The RGB LEDs cover both fans and the pump head and integrate with all major motherboards. You can also control the RGB lighting via the included controller. Aside from the flashy lights, the rest of the cooler is painted a glossy black, which helps reflect the light and adds to the RGB experience.

As for quality, this Cooler Master AIO is exactly what you’d expect at this price point. All the components are sturdy and well-made. Hoses are even sleeved to improve their longevity and eliminate kinks. The radiator boasts a copper cooling plate, similar to most other AIO coolers. It shares a lot of its components with the highly-rated ML120L, another offering from Cooler Master.

The ML120R is one of the most compatible coolers out there, and it matches with most modern AMD and Intel machines. It supports LGA2066, 2011-3, 2011, 1366, 1200, 795 and 115X; as well as supporting the AMD AM4, AM3+, AM3, AM2+, AM2, FM2+, FM2, and FM1 sockets.

The selling point of the ML120R is its performance. It is one of the best performing 120mm AIO cooler on the market. Its dual-fan setup allows it to cool more efficiently than some larger coolers and will easily keep the highest performing CPUs, like the Ryzen 9 5950X, incredibly cool even under heavier load.

One test showed an impressive 1-degree C increase over ambient temperatures at idle and a 29-degree difference under load, marks most 120mm coolers only dream of getting. When the clock speed was increased, those numbers only went up to 2-degrees and 45-degrees respectively, which is still very impressive and proves that high performance can come in smaller packages.

Overall, the Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML120R RGB is likely the best 120mm AIO cooler on the market. If you can stomach the high price, you’ll be getting your money’s worth, with the incredible RGBs and amazing cooling performance. The dual-fan setup is relatively unique and dramatically improves its cooling abilities.

All in all, this cooler is highly recommended and you won’t be disappointed by it in the slightest. It’s worth every penny, even though some will likely balk at the high price for such a small cooler. As stated, this is not your typical 120mm AIO and it leads off the list as the top pick for an 120mm AIO cooler in 2021.

 ARCTIC Liquid Freezer II 120

Radiator Dimensions: 157 x 120 x 38mm / 6.2 x 4.7 x 1.5” | Fan Dimensions: 120 x 120 x 25mm / 4.7 x 4.7 x 1” | Fan Speed: 200 ~ 1800 RPM +/- 10 % | Noise Volume: N/A | Warranty: 2 years

ARCTIC Liquid Freezer II 120

  • Impeccable quality
  • Superb cooling capabilities
  • Super quiet
  • Compact and easy to install
  • Fair price

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Only 2-year warranty
  • No RGB LEDs
  • No software

Our Rating: 9.7/10

Dressed in all black with just a chrome logo, the ARCTIC Liquid Freezer II 120 AIO cooler looks stately, like a man in a tuxedo. With no RGB to speak of, this cooler is all business.

While the lack of RGB may be a negative for some, it allows ARCTIC to go all-out with regard to it component quality. In fact, the ARCTIC Liquid Freezer II 120 is one of the best-quality 120mm AIO coolers on the market today.

Its hoses are fiber-reinforced and made of EPDM, an industrial rubber that lasts upwards of 50 years in most applications. The Liquid Freezer II also boasts an incredibly robust radiator compared to other AIO coolers in its class. The radiator is 38mm thick, a few millimeters thicker than others. This allows for more water volume and even more efficient cooling.

Additionally, the ARCTIC Liquid Freezer II 120 features an optimized water pump for more efficiency and better acoustics. This pump is able to run at lower than usual speeds when at idle, and scales up depending on cooling requirements. Because of this, the Liquid Freezer II is silent at idle and uses less power than other pumps. This is one of the quietest 120mm AIO coolers on the market today.

Installing this ARTIC cooler is similar to installing many other AIO coolers. ARCTIC doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel here or anything, it’s just some simple screws and applying bit of thermal paste. The included thumbscrews mean your screwdriver can stay in your bag while you install this cooler, and its small footprint will help it find a home in just about any tower.

Performance-wise, the ARCTIC Liquid Freezer II performs admirably and punches well above its weight class. It offers comparable performance to many much larger 240mm coolers. It’s incredibly efficient at idle and under load. In fact, it offers such stable performance that it’s even suitable for overclocking, and it handles those heavy loads while remaining very quiet.

Coming at more than a fair price and featuring a 2-year warranty, this cooler is an incredible bargain given its price and performance.

This cooler is compatible with most modern sockets from Intel, like the 1200, 115X, 2011-3, and the square ILM 2066. It’s also compatible with the AMD AM4 CPUs.

Overall, the ARCTIC Liquid Freezer II 120 is an amazing AIO cooler. Its only downsides are the lack of RGB and the lack of supporting software. However, those are relatively minor details. Its performance is incredible, especially given its price point, and its build quality is undeniable. All things considered, this cooler represents incredible value and is one of the very best 120mm AIO coolers on the market.

Corsair Hydro Series H80i v2

Radiator Dimensions: 154 x 123 x 49mm / 6.0 x 4.8 x 1.9” | Fan Dimensions: 120 x 120 x 25mm / 4.7 x 4.7 x 1” | Fan Speed: Up to 2435 RPM | Noise Volume: Up to 37.7 dBa | Warranty: 5 years

Corsair Hydro Series H80i v2

  • Superb cooling performance
  • Extra thick radiator for better cooling
  • Dual-fan setup
  • Quality, Durable build
  • 5-year warranty
  • Comes with Corsair Link software

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Premium price
  • No RGB lighting
  • Louder

Our Rating: 9.6/10

The Corsair Hydro Series H80i v2 takes aim at coolers with much larger form factors. With its extra-large radiator and dual-fan combination, this 120mm AIO certainly punches above its weight class. If you don’t have the space, but need the cooling performance, you’ll love this Corsair cooler.

Unfortunately, you’ll have to make do without RGB LEDs, but for many that won’t be a dealbreaker. Coming at a premium price, you’ll notice this is on the high end for a cooler of this form factor. But to make things better, Corsair offers a 5-year warranty should something go awry with it.

What sets the Corsair Hydro Series H80i v2 apart from other 120mm coolers is the size and quality of its components, mainly the radiator and hoses. The radiator is 49mm thick, significantly thicker than the radiators that ship with other 120mm AIO coolers. This allows for more efficient heat transfer and better cooling capabilities. The beefy parts of this cooler are what makes it so special, and are what make it such a good value despite the higher price.

Additionally, the hoses are much thicker than other coolers of this form factor and are similar to hoses one would find on a 280mm cooler. It also boasts a dual-fan setup for quicker heat dissipation. Of course, the quality of these components is great and befitting of the high price point.

As for compatibility, you’ll have no issues if you’re running a modern machine. This cooler supports the Intel LGA 1200, 115X, 1366, 2011, and 2066; as well as supporting the AMD AM4, AM3 and AM2. It also supports the AMD TR4, but you’ll have to purchase a separate bracket from Corsair.

Installation of the Corsair is incredibly simple. It offers the usual assortment of mounting brackets and thumbscrews, and you won’t even have to apply the thermal paste yourself. The only hiccup you could have is if you’re running the TR4 socket and neglected to purchase the separate mounting bracket. Otherwise, this cooler is very easy to install, thanks to the easy-to-read manual.

Performance-wise, the Corsair Hydro Series H80i v2 lives up to the hype and achieves its goal of matching the cooling performance of larger coolers. One test showed the Corsair perfectly kept pace next to the Silverstone TD 02 Slim, a 240mm AIO cooler, with both coolers posting the same numbers at idle and under load. When overclocked, the Corsair fares even better than its contemporaries and posted results that blew away its 120mm competition.

One downside of this cooler is its lack of RGB lights. It does, however, feature the usual Corsair LED light on the pump head and is compatible with Corsair Link software. At this price point, the lack of RGB could be seen as a sizable negative, as most enthusiasts with money to spend will likely be looking to customize their builds and want components that match the rest of their RGB setup.

All in all, the Corsair Hydro Series H80i v2 is one of the top 120mm AIO coolers on the market. It keeps pace with many larger coolers due to its over-sized radiator and hoses. While the price is steep, the Corsair is a great deal and is perfect for someone with a powerful machine but limited space in their tower.

Asus ROG Strix LC 120

Radiator Dimensions: 150 x 121 x 27mm / 5.9 x 4.8 x 1.1” | Fan Dimensions: 120 x 120 x 25mm / 4.7 x 4.7 x 1” | Fan Speed: 800 ~ 2500 RPM +/- 10 % | Noise Volume: Up to 37.6 dBA | Warranty: 5 years

Asus ROG Strix LC 120

  • Great cooling performance
  • High quality construction
  • 5-year warranty
  • Easy to install
  • Nylon-sleeved hoses
  • Ellegant RGB lighting

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Louder
  • Premium price

Our Rating: 9.5/10

The Asus ROG Strix LC 120 is a robust, high-performance AIO with customizable RGB lights on the pump head. It looks stylish and modern and its cooling abilities are amazing, but it gets just a little bit too loud to take the top spot as the best 120mm AIO cooler.

As usual with the ROG product line, this cooler also comes at a premium price. However, it’s worth the money, given its performance and RGB integration. To be fair though, it’s slightly more affordable than the rather pricey MasterLiquid ML120R RGB. Asus also offers a 5-year warranty, beating CoolerMaster in another department.

The Asus ROG Strix LC 120 scores high marks for its looks. The RGB lights are very tastefully done, and decorate only the pump head. Another interesting feature of the pump head is its tabbed design, making it look like a gear. It’s a nice touch that speaks to the hardiness of this AIO cooler.

The Republic of Gamers logo is printed on the pump head and illuminates when the RGB lights are turned on. The rest of the components are coated in a glossy black paint. The paint job looks stunning and really complements the RGB lighting as it catches and reflects the light.

Quality-wise, this ASUS AIO is great. The pump is made completely out of aluminum, while the cold plate is highly-conductive copper. Its hoses are sleeved in nylon and are incredibly durable. You’ll be very impressed with the quality of the Strix LC 120.

Installing the Asus ROG Strix LC 120 takes only about ten minutes and is incredibly straightforward. Like many other AIO coolers, it only takes a few thumbscrews to mount. The only two caveats with this cooler are that you’ll have to apply the thermal paste yourself, and AMD AM4 users will be required to leave the backplate in place. While the thermal paste application means installation isn’t quite as beginner-friendly as some other coolers on the market, it’s still a painless process.

As far as socket compatibility goes, you’ll be set if you’re running a modern processor. It supports the Intel LGA 115x, 1200, 1366, 2011, 2011-V3, and 2066. AMD support includes the AM4 and TR4, which is notable since many of the listed 120mm AIO coolers don’t support the Threadripper platform. If you’re running a TR4, this is the cooler for you.

The Asus ROG Strix LC 120 buries most of its fellow 120mm AIO coolers in performance metrics. One test even showed this cooler stacking up next the Lian Li Galahad, a 360mm cooler. In that test, the Asus cooler only ran 3-degrees warmer than the Galahad under stock load and 4-degrees warmer when overclocked. That is mighty impressive for a cooler with such a small form factor. Unfortunately, the fan was working overtime during these tests and was quite loud.

Altogether, this cooler offers looks and performance, but comes at a relatively high price when compared to other 120mm coolers. However, if you look at its performance, it’s mostly comparable to larger coolers, and is therefore quite a bargain. It falls just short of the incredibly high bar set by the Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML120R RGB. You’ll love Asus ROG Strix LC 120 AIO cooler if you have a powerful machine, but are hard-pressed to make space for a cooler with a larger form factor.

Thermaltake TH120 ARGB Sync

Radiator Dimensions: 153 x 120 x 27mm / 6.0 x 4.7 x 1.1” | Fan Dimensions: 120 x 120 x 25mm / 4.7 x 4.7 x 1” | Fan Speed: Up to 1500 RPM | Noise Volume: Up to 28.2 dBA | Warranty: 3 years

Thermaltake TH120 ARGB Sync

  • Vibrant RGB lighting
  • Good cooling capabilities
  • Interfaces with different softwares
  • Incredibly quiet
  • Budget friendly
  • Slim design

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Shorter hoses
  • No second fan

Our Rating: 9.4/10

If dazzling RGB is your thing, you’ll love the Thermaltake TH120 AIO cooler. This cooler is absolutely dripping with RGB LEDs, and also boasts great cooling performance at an affordable price. In fact, its comparatively low price point makes it one of the most attractive options on the list for a bargain hunter.

The first thing anyone will notice about this cooler is obviously the RGB lighting. The 120mm fan and pump are both covered in them. Thermaltake also provides a controller with 7 light modes and 8 preset colors. The light system also interfaces with ASUS Aura, Gigabyte RGB FUSION, MSI Mystic Light Sync, and ASROCK polychrome, so no matter your setup, you’ll have full control over these lights. This is an ideal pump for an enthusiast show-piece build.

The Thermaltake TH120 also is highly compatible with almost all modern sockets. Pretty much everyone sees support aside from those sporting a TR4 socket. This means support for the Intel 1200, 1150, 1151, 1155, and 1156 as well as the AMD AM4, AM3+, AM3, AM2+, AM2, FM2, and FM1.

Installing the Thermaltake TH120 is an incredibly easy affair. Those who have experience with PC building will likely have it up and running within 10 minutes. Those new to building or installing coolers will be thankful for the easy-to-read manual and toolless installation. It’s so simple that swapping between AMD and Intel brackets doesn’t even require a screwdriver.

The TH120 boasts an incredibly slim profile, making it ideal for a smaller tower. Despite its smaller size, this cooler still packs a big punch. It has been shown to perform as well as much larger coolers in stress tests and at idle. Additionally, the single fan is nearly silent, which is surprising for a small cooler.

The TH120 also scores high marks for quality. There are virtually no complaints to be made about it, aside from the length of the hoses. They are just a little bit shorter than you’d like them to be, but the quality of the components is top-notch, especially the incredibly quiet TT-1225 fan.

As far as price is concerned, the Thermaltake TH120 is an absolute bargain. It costs only $66.99 and comes with a 3-year manufacturer warranty.

Altogether, this Thermaltake 120mm AIO is an incredible cooler. You won’t find a cooler with more RGB LED support, if that happens to be your thing. You’ll have tons of customization options for those lights as well.

Additionally, this cooler also is highly compatible with almost all modern sockets and is totally painless to install. Its cooling performance is also impressive, as it goes head-to-head with some larger coolers, and does it at an absolute bargain of a price, while staying quiet.

FAQs

What are some things to consider when shopping for a 120mm AIO?

Some things to consider when shopping for a 120mm AIO include the cooling capacity (measured in TDP), the noise level, the warranty, and the price.

What are the benefits of using a 120mm AIO?

Some benefits of using a 120mm AIO include improved cooling performance and lower noise levels. Additionally, an AIO can often offer a longer warranty than air coolers.

What are some things to keep in mind when using a 120mm AIO?

Some things to keep in mind when using an AIO cooler include ensuring that the radiator is properly mounted and that the fan(s) are compatible with the radiator. Additionally, it is important to ensure that there is adequate airflow in the case and that all cables are properly routed. Additionally, it is important to periodically check and clean the radiator and fans to maintain optimal performance.

How can I get the most out of my 120mm AIO?

To get the most out of a 120mm AIO, it is important to ensure that the radiator is properly mounted and that the fan(s) are compatible with the radiator. Additionally, it is important to ensure that there is adequate airflow in the case and that all cables are properly routed. Additionally, it is important to periodically check and clean the radiator and fans to maintain optimal performance. Additionally, overclocking the CPU may help to improve cooling performance.

Why is my 120mm AIO not cooling as well as I expected?

There are several potential reasons why a 120mm AIO may not be cooling as well as expected. First, it is important to ensure that the radiator is properly mounted and that the fan(s) are compatible with the radiator. Additionally, it is important to ensure that there is adequate airflow in the case and that all cables are properly routed. Additionally, it is important to periodically check and clean the radiator and fans to maintain optimal performance. Additionally, overclocking the CPU may help to improve cooling performance. Finally, if the cooler is still not performing up to expectations, it may be necessary to replace the coolant or contact customer support for further assistance.

What are some other things to consider when shopping for a 120mm AIO?

Some other things to consider when shopping for a 120mm AIO include the cooling capacity (measured in TDP), the noise level, the warranty, and the price. Additionally, it is important to ensure that the radiator is properly mounted and that the fan(s) are compatible with the radiator. Additionally, it is important to ensure that there is adequate airflow in the case and that all cables are properly routed. Finally, it is important to periodically check and clean the radiator and fans to maintain optimal performance.

What are some tips for using a 120mm AIO?

Some tips for using a 120mm AIO include ensuring that the radiator is properly mounted and that the fan(s) are compatible with the radiator. Additionally, it is important to ensure that there is adequate airflow in the case and that all cables are properly routed. Additionally, it is important to periodically check and clean the radiator and fans to maintain optimal performance. Additionally, overclocking the CPU may help to improve cooling performance. Finally, if the cooler is still not performing up to expectations, it may be necessary to replace the coolant or contact customer support for further assistance.

How can I get the most out of my 120mm AIO?

To get the most out of a 120mm AIO, it is important to ensure that the radiator is properly mounted and that the fan(s) are compatible with the radiator. Additionally, it is important to ensure that there is adequate airflow in the case and that all cables are properly routed. Additionally, it is important to periodically check and clean the radiator and fans to maintain optimal performance. Additionally, overclocking the CPU may help to improve cooling performance. Finally, if the cooler is still not performing up to expectations, it may be necessary to replace the coolant or contact customer support for further assistance.

Why is my 120mm AIO not cooling as well as I expected?

There are several potential reasons why a 120mm AIO may not be cooling as well as expected. First, it is important to ensure that the radiator is properly mounted and that the fan(s) are compatible with the radiator. Additionally, it is important to ensure that there is adequate airflow in the case and that all cables are properly routed. Additionally, it is important to periodically check and clean the radiator and fans to maintain optimal performance. Finally, if the cooler is still not performing up to expectations, it may be necessary to replace the coolant or contact customer support for further assistance.

How can I get the most out of my 120mm AIO?

To get the most out of a 120mm AIO, it is important to ensure that the radiator is properly mounted and that the fan(s) are compatible with the radiator. Additionally, it is important to ensure that there is adequate airflow in the case and that all cables are properly routed. Additionally, it is important to periodically check and clean the radiator and fans to maintain optimal performance. Additionally, overclocking the CPU may help to improve cooling performance. Finally, if the cooler is still not performing up to expectations, it may be necessary to replace the coolant or contact customer support for further assistance.

How can I troubleshoot my 120mm AIO?

If a 120mm AIO is not pe&rforming as expected, there are several potential troubleshooting steps that can be taken. First, it is important to ensure that the radiator is properly mounted and that the fan(s) are compatible with the radiator. Additionally, it is important to ensure that there is adequate airflow in the case and that all cables are properly routed. Additionally, it is important to periodically check and clean the radiator and fans to maintain optimal performance. Finally, if the cooler is still not performing up to expectations, it may be necessary to replace the coolant or contact customer support for further assistance.

How often should I clean my 120mm AIO?

It is generally recommended to clean a 120mm AIO every 6 months or as needed. However, it is important to refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations for specific cleaning instructions. Additionally, it is important to ensure that the radiator is properly mounted and that the fan(s) are compatible with the radiator. Additionally, it is important to ensure that there is adequate airflow in the case and that all cables are properly routed. Finally, if the cooler is still not performing up to expectations, it may be necessary to replace the coolant or contact customer support for further assistance.

How can I improve cooling performance on my 120mm AIO?

There are several potential ways to improve cooling performance on a 120mm AIO. First, it is important to ensure that the radiator is properly mounted and that the fan(s) are compatible with the radiator. Additionally, it is important to ensure that there is adequate airflow in the case and that all cables are properly routed. Additionally, overclocking the CPU may help to improve cooling performance. Finally, if the cooler is still not performing up to expectations, it may be necessary to replace the coolant or contact customer support for further assistance.

Conclusion:

A Best 120mm AIO is a good choice for mid-sized cases and can provide adequate cooling for most CPUs. They are easy to install and don’t require any maintenance other than the occasional refill of the coolant. However, they can be noisy and may require regular maintenance. When buying a 120mm AIO, you should look for a unit that is easy to install and comes with clear instructions. You should also consider the noise level and make sure that the unit you select is appropriate for your CPU. Finally, you should compare prices to get the best value for your money.

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