Do You Need a CPU Cooler? (Necessity & Consequences)

A processor cooler is one of the most important devices for the computer to work correctly. It performs the task of cooling the processor chip, which is one of the most heating components in the computer. But is a processor cooler required, without it possible? Let’s figure it out.

Why do You Need a CPU Cooler? Its Necessity

The processor generates a huge amount of heat during its operation. If the processor cooling is not efficient enough or absent altogether, this can lead to overheating. An overheated processor such as more than 90 °C package core temp can lead to numerous problems, such as:

  • Decrease in computer performance due to automatically reducing processor clock speed to prevent damage.
  • Turn off the computer due to the protective mechanisms that are turned on to prevent processor damage.
  • Damage to the processor and other computer components may require expensive repair work or even replacement.

Therefore, a device called “CPU cooler” was introduced to cool the CPU physically.

However, CPU coolers do not directly cool the CPU. The heat from the CPU is absorbed by cooling the metal plate connected to the CPU and has good heat conversion efficiency, further dispersing heat into air. The robust the cooling of the metal plate, the more efficiently it can absorb heat from the CPU.

Are there Alternatives?

A stock CPU cooler that uses air is the most standard type of CPU cooler. In addition, because air CPU coolers are easy to install, many users incorporate them into their PCs, and their low price is also attractive.

In some cases, the cooler can be replaced with other type of cooling systems, such as water cooling systems or heat tubes. It involves using cooling water to lower the temperature of the metal plate that absorbs the CPU’s heat. The water, once heated, is then circulated through a radiator, allowing it to cool down and be used again to bring down the temperature of the metal plate.

Such systems can be efficient and quieter than conventional air coolers. However, they also usually cost much more and are often built into computers that perform heavy processing.

Is a Custom CPU cooler Really Necessary?

The heat dissipation of the stock CPU cooler is not necessarily lower. However, in the case of high TDP, they became less efficient than custom CPU coolers like those of liquid cooling systems or other robust aftermarket CPU coolers with heat pipes.

If you own a CPU with a TDP (refers to the power consumption) over 100W, it won’t be easy to survive high load conditions with a stock CPU cooler.

Stock CPU coolers focus on the balance between cost and performance, so to put it simply, they are at a “necessary and sufficient” level.

This “necessary and sufficient” can be thought of as “the line at which thermal throttling does not occur even if the afterload condition continues for a short period of time.”

Also, the fan of the stock CPU cooler is far from being quiet and generates a little bit of noise. Since the size of the fan is small, about 8 cm, wind noise is inevitably generated at high rotation speeds.

Mainly considering the hot summer, customizing the CPU cooler is almost essential if you want to “operate a CPU with a TDP of 100W or higher under high load for a long period of time.”

On the other hand, don’t consider getting a custom CPU if the TDP is low, around 65 TDP. The CPU cooler is OK as well as necessary as long as you use it normally.

By the way, “normal” means “used within the rated operating range from the base clock.” 

For example, the Core i7 12700’s PBP (range from base clock without boost = rated TDP) is only 65W. It falls into the category of low heat generation for a high-end CPU. However, MTP (TDP during boost operation) jumps to a whopping 180W. As you can imagine, the cooling requirements differ significantly between 65W and 180W. Simply put, 65W is within the range of the stock CPU cooler, but once it hits 180W, a custom robust cooler comes into play. 

The stock CPU cooler was designed with the PBP range in mind. In other words, if you do not use MTP (= rarely reach the boost clock), you will not need a custom CPU cooler like an aluminum pipes heatsink and a water cooling system.

Is a Processor Cooler Required?

The answer is simple – yes, the processor cooler is required. In most cases, computer shops install a cooler on the processor while building a PC. 

Most Intel and AMD CPUs come with their own air cooler. Unless they are part of the K or X series, unlocked for overclocking and need more advanced cooling solutions. For such CPUs, it is recommended to get a custom CPU cooler.

A processor cooler is a necessary component for the normal operation of a computer. It provides efficient cooling of the processor, preventing it from overheating and protecting other components from damage. Therefore, make sure that the cooler is installed correctly and functioning properly.


Is it OK to not have a CPU cooler?

It’s not advisable to run a PC without a CPU cooler or with fan turned off because it will make hit temps like 90 or 100°C instantaneously, leading to performance issues and potential damage.

How hot is a CPU without a cooler?

A CPU without a cooler can quickly reach high temperatures, up to 90 to 100°C or even higher. This can be damaging to the components and cause performance issues.

Do I need a CPU cooler if my case has fans?

Case fans are meant for overall system airflow, and they can’t replace a dedicated CPU cooler’s need for heat dissipation.

Can I go into BIOS without a CPU fan?

You can access the BIOS without a CPU fan, but not for an extended span of time, as it can lead to overheating. Always use a cooler when running your PC.

Is it essential to buy a good CPU cooler?

A stock CPU cooler is enough for regular tasks, but spending on a good CPU cooler is wise, specifically for gaming or demanding tasks. It helps maintain optimum temperatures and better performance.

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