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Definition: CPU cooler

A component that draws heat away from a CPU chip and other hot-running chips such as a graphics processor (GPU). See heat pipe and notebook cooler.

Heat Sink
The simplest cooler is an aluminum heat sink, which absorbs and disperses the heat.

Fans and Heat Sinks Together
This Chip Coolers fan sits on top of a heat sink to cool a hot-running CPU chip. Fans and heat sinks are widely used in combination. (Image courtesy of Tyco International, Ltd.)

A Closed Water Loop
A Zalman water cooler was used to make this PC quiet. By directly cooling the chips, the case fan runs very slow. Water is pumped from the external radiator to the CPU, to the graphics card GPU, to the flow indicator in front of the case and back to the radiator.

Built Into a Graphics Card
This PNY graphics card comes with its own cooling system that also cools the CPU. The radiator and fan (left) cool the water coming from the card, and the center unit is placed over the CPU. (Image courtesy of PNY Technologies.)

A Lot Colder
Below this tower case is a phase change cooler that uses a refrigeration unit to create subzero temperatures. For more details, see phase change cooler. (Image courtesy of Cooler Express International Technology Co.)