CPU coolers come in different sizes. Some have a single heatsink, while others have multiple ones. But is the more, the merrier when it comes to your processor’s cooling unit?
Users upgrading to a newer PC or buying a new cooler can ask this question. The answer is actually simple. It all depends on whether you are running a powerful CPU or plan to overclock it later on.
Want to know more in detail? Then go through this article which dives into the performance of each cooler to clear your confusion.
Let’s get started.
What are Single and Dual Tower CPU Coolers?
Single-tower coolers come with one heatsink, while a dual-tower cooler comes with two heatsinks. This aids with better cooling and lower fan noise during operation. You will get lower temperatures which can run your PC cooler for longer periods of time.
Due to an increased surface area, dual tower coolers can accommodate more heat pipes and renders a more effective air cooling system. Single-tower coolers can fit six heat pipes, while most high-end dual towers use 8. More heat pipes should translate into better heat transfer away from the processor, in theory.
As expected, you will have more metal fins on a dual-tower CPU cooler. The fins cool the CPU by conducting the heat away from the heat pipes. Then the fans blow the hot air near the heatsink to keep them cool.
Coming to the fans now. Single tower coolers can fit up to two fans, one on each side of the heatsink. As for dual towers, there is an option of integrating a third fan between the heatsink. If you set the case’s airflow correctly, you will get better cooling with this setup.
Do Single and Dual Tower Coolers Fit on all PC Cases?
Single-tower coolers have better compatibility with most motherboards and cases. This is due to a small footprint. They also support large memory modules with heatsinks attached to them. You can move the fan to the other side of the cooler or shift them upwards if the cooler does not have enough clearance with the RAM.
But due to increased size, you will have difficulty installing a dual cooler in a compact case. Just looking at the Noctua D15 mounted on a small ITX board reveals this. It is almost as big as the motherboard itself.
This can interfere with the height of memory banks, the I/O shield, and the motherboard’s VRM heatsink.
Sometimes the PCI-e slot is too near, and that causes clearance issues with the graphics card as well.
So, keep the dimensions of your case in your mind and consider the clearance of your case and memory before purchasing either of the two. Refer to the CPU cooler manufacturer’s website, and this should give you the exact dimensions to work with it.
Does Dual Tower CPU Cooler Give Better Performance?
In theory, yes. You get a greater surface in the heatsink to spread out the heat and more fans to lower the CPU temperature.
So, let’s do a simple test. We will put the Noctua U12s and D15 against an Intel i9 13900K. We will be running a Cinebench R23 test at stock speeds to see how the temperatures stack up.
Both coolers are equipped with two fans. But the U12 has 120mm fans attached to it while the D15 has 140 mm.
Time for results, then.
|Test||Noctua D15||Noctua U12A|
|Cinebench R23 - Stock||72 ℃||77 ℃|
|Cinebench R23 - Overclock||92 ℃||98.5 ℃|
|Doom Eternal - Stock||70 ℃||77.5 ℃|
The results are as expected.
The dual tower cooler gives more space for the heat to dissipate. The single-tower cooler performs admirably but shows its limits when we bump up the CPU clock speeds. Considering how power-hungry the 13th gen i9 is, the D15 is still able to cool it down despite breaching 90 degrees in the OC test.
This simply shows just how the extra heat sink helps the D15 to cool down even when extra workloads are thrown at it.
As for acoustics, the D15 with two heat sinks was more silent than the U12A. As the heat was spread out more, the fans had to work a bit less on the dual tower cooler.
Dual vs. Single Tower CPU Cooler: Which is the Best For You?
The answer to this lies in what your PC’s specs are and what you would run on it.
Single-tower coolers are perfect for CPUs that do not have a high TDP. If you do not want to overclock the system and game on the stock clock speeds, these are just perfect. For systems with an iGPU, this is great for keeping the temperatures under control.
Single-tower coolers excel when paired with compact cases. This is because they are generally smaller than dual-tower coolers.
Since there is no additional heat building up, you do not need any extra fans. But in case you think of hooking up an extra fan, there is the option to do that. Just make sure you have the fan clips with you.
Dual tower coolers come in handy when you are rocking a high-end CPU such as a Core i9 or Ryzen 9. Once you attach three fans, you will get some additional headroom to boost the clock speeds even further.
There is additional heat present in this case, and you need to dissipate them. That’s where more fans come in handy. Also, with more fans, the workload is divided between them, so fans will be spinning at low speeds. That ensures a quiet PC even when running the most demanding of workloads.
Dual tower coolers are generally larger. So consider your case height and memory clearance when buying this type of cooler.
Both single and dual coolers are used on PCs today. You can get any one of them, and they will perform just fine. Just make sure you are keeping the balance between the CPU’s power requirement and the cooler’s rated thermal dissipation capacity.
That is all for today. I hope this article helps you decide on which CPU cooler to get for your system.
Goodbye for now.