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Tower vs Downdraft CPU Air Coolers: Which one should you choose?

When it comes to the third-party CPU Air-Cooling solutions, you always have two options in hand. The first type of CPU air coolers are Tower coolers and the second one are the downdraft (top-flow) coolers. So, which one should you choose between them both?

Well, the answer is different for different users. The tower air coolers are known for their impressive cooling capability because they are bigger in size with highly-spaced cooling fins. On the other hand, you will see denser fins on the downdraft CPU coolers which may end up in some drawbacks.

But, these both have applications for different users. In this article, we are going to know everything about it.

So, a tower CPU air cooler is a perfect choice when your CPU has a high TDP i.e around 200. However, the downdraft air coolers are compact in size and they are good to use with the Low-TDP CPUs. Because of the compact form factor, the downdraft (top-flow) CPU air coolers tend to occupy less space inside the case. But, the tower CPU coolers can’t just fit inside the slimmer PC cases. So, this is a big disadvantage of tower CPU coolers over the downdraft coolers.

The applications could be different depending on the kind of system you are building. If it is going to be a compact system with a smaller motherboard, you are better to go with the downdraft air cooler. Otherwise, a tower CPU air cooler is best for builds with a bigger size and high performance.

Let’s know some more about these both CPU air coolers and know which one should you buy? But, before that, let’s do a simple comparison by considering all the key offerings from these both kind of CPU coolers.

Tower CPU Air CoolerDowndraft CPU Cooler
Bigger in sizeComparatively smaller in size
ExpensiveComparatively cheaper
Designed for high CPU TDPDesigned for lower CPU TDP
Good for bulky buildsGood for compact builds
Some people may not like the looksGenerally considered good-looking
Does not interrupt the case airflow when installed properlyMay interrupt the case airflow

Who should use a Tower CPU Air cooler?

First of all, the tower CPU air coolers are bigger in size and are not compatible with most of the slimmer cases out there. So, if you are about to build a computer with a mid-tower or full-tower case, you should then think about using a tower CPU air cooler.

The tower air coolers are great in terms of reducing the excess heat as compared to any stock cooler offered by Intel or AMD. But, the only consideration should be that you should use it when you know your case has enough room for it. As long as the PC case has enough space for this big tower cooler, you can go for it if you want.

The next thing is the TDP. The tower air coolers can cool down the high-TDP CPUs effectively because they have a bigger surface area for heat dissipation. So, if you are going to overclock your CPU and you think you need a much more effective cooling solution, you can go for a tower air cooler. Don’t expect the same overclocking results just like you see with the liquid coolers, but the tower air cooler will be better as compared to the downdraft and stock CPU coolers.

Also Read: Does CPU Tower Cooler’s orientation matter for cooling?

Case Airflow considerations with a tower air cooler

Generally, the tower CPU air coolers are set up in a way that they take the cool air front the front and then push it to the back through its fins. So, if you have cooling fans on the front, they should suck the cool air inside your case. The fan on the back will be there to exhaust that hot air out from the case. If you are following this strategy, you are good to go.

However, some people may set up the tower cooler in the wrong direction and this can lead to disturbed airflow which will then result in a poor cooling performance inside the case.

The main point here is to always create a single airflow inside the case and then install the tower cooler to adhere to that flow.

Good Tower CPU cooler airflow
Bad Tower CPU air cooler configuration

Who should use a downdraft (Top-Flow) CPU air cooler?

If you think your PC can’t accept a tower Air-cooler but you need something better than a stock CPU cooler, you should definitely think about getting a downdraft cooler. These coolers are great to handle a lot of heat because of their bigger and denser heat sinks. However, make sure to check the higher TDP-rating of your downdraft cooler before you install it on your CPU.

The main advantage of the downdraft CPU coolers is that they can properly dissipate the excessive heat from your system without occupying a lot of space. They can be a good option if you are looking for a little better option than the stock CPU coolers and something to choose before an AIO liquid cooler.

Also, a downdraft cooler can offer some cooling advantages to the VRMs on the motherboard. Along with that, a downdraft cooler is better aesthetically.

Case Airflow considerations with a downdraft CPU cooler

The downdraft coolers generally work better when you push the air through the fins down to the bottom. But, this can result in other components on your motherboard getting the hot air without any needs. So, you can set your cooler in the reverse direction where it will suck the air from the bottom to the top.

There are a ton of use cases for a downdraft cooler. You will have to check different configurations and see how well it serves you.

Which type of cooler produces the best cooling results?

Actually, there are no big differences when it comes to the cooling results from downdraft and tower CPU air coolers. However, if we see the numbers, the tower coolers are capable to produce a little better cooling results as compared to the downdraft coolers.

I have found an amazing video from Hardware Canucks where they have tested mid-range and high-end coolers from both categories.

Which one should you buy? Downdraft or Tower CPU cooler

Well, the answer is pretty simple. The cooling performance will vary as per the kind of product you are choosing. But, generally, you will see very little difference in cooling results when you install the cooler with similar specifications and TDP ratings. So, it is better to go with a downdraft CPU air cooler because it will look better inside your case.

On the other hand, if you have enough space in your case and you are going to overclock your system, you may want to choose a tower cooler. Another reason to choose a tower CPU cooler over the downdraft cooler is that it will not heat up other components on your motherboard but pull the hot air down.

In simple words, a tower cooler is good in terms of creating a good airflow inside the case without heating up other components. However, a downdraft cooler is better when you have lesser space and also lower cooling requirements.

Thanks for reading!

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