7 Best 120mm Radiators for Water Cooling in 2021 – For Every Budget!

best 120mm radiators

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If you’re in the market for a new 120mm radiator for your water cooling setup, then you’ve come to the right place.

On the surface, it may not seem like there is much to differentiate one radiator from another, besides size, but we want to examine each radiator in detail so that you can make an informed choice in your next build.

With that being said, take our rankings lightly as these are all great 120mm radiators. Without further ado, let’s look at the 7 best 120mm radiators for water cooling in 2021.

Best 120mm Radiators in 2021 Round Up

The table below will give you a quick look at our selections for the 7 best 120mm radiators currently available on the market. To read a full review, simply click on ‘review>>’ in respective row.

Product

Image

Rating

1. Alphacool NexXxoS V.2 XT45 120 mm

''Best overall 120mm radiator''

9.8

2. Corsair Hydro X Series XR5

''Most versatile 120mm radiator''

9.7

3. Alphacool NexXxoS V.2 ST30 120 mm

''Best in the 30mm class''

9.7

4. EKWB EK-CoolStream Classic PE 120

''Best value pick''

9.6

5. EKWB EK-CoolStream SE 120 Radiator

''Best thin 120mm radiator''

9.4

6. XSPC TX120 Ultra Thin Radiator

''The ultimate space saver''

9.2

7. AGPtek 12 Pipe Aluminum Heat Exchanger Radiator R120

''Best budget pick''

8.3


1. Alphacool NexXxoS V.2 XT45 120 mm

Materials: Copper, steel, brass | Color: Black | Dimensions (LxWxH): 154.5 x 124 x 45.5 mm | Connection Threads: 5x G1/4” | Mounting Thread Size: M3 | Pressure Tested: 1.5 bar | Weight: 571 g

Alphacool NexXxoS V.2 XT45 120 mmREASONS TO BUY

  • Pure copper components
  • Top-of-the-line performance
  • Reasonable price
  • Built-in protective screw plates
  • High quality build

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Bulky and heavy

Our Rating:   9.8/10

Starting off with our number one pick is the Alphacool 14163 NexXxoS XT45. Unlike most other radiators, the NexXxoS XT45 V.2 uses 100% copper for all components, save for the brass threads and steel side panels.

You will find copper used in the fins and tubing of many other radiators, but very few radiators make use of copper for the chamber walls as well. This dedication to copper means that it will be able to absorb and transfer the greatest amount of heat from your system. This alone earns it our Best Overall rating.

Equally important, the 45mm thickness of the XT45 ensures that there is greater space for heat displacement when compared to thinner radiators. Alphacool’s proprietary fin design allows for decent air movement combined with effective heat transfer. This ensures that you can use your existing fans without need for specialized fans or running your fans at louder and higher speeds.

When installing, you don’t have to worry about threading a screw in too deep. The XT45, like many other modern radiators, has built in protective screw plates. No more punctured radiator cores for you! Finally, it comes equipped with the standard G1/4” threaded ports to tie into the rest of your water cooling system.

Overall, the NexXoS XT45 is one of the best 120mm radiators currently available and it’s a great choice if you have enough room to squeeze in a 45mm thick radiator. And better yet, it comes with a reasonable price tag, so it will cool your system without burning up your paycheck.

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2. Corsair Hydro X Series XR5

Form Factor: 120mm | Materials: Copper, brass | Color: Black | Dimensions (LxWxH): 160 x 120 x 30 mm | Connection Threads: G1/4″ BSPP | Mounting Thread Size: M4xP0.7 | Weight: 345 g

Corsair Hydro X Series XR5 120mmREASONS TO BUY

  • Excellent heat dissipation
  • Fair price
  • Versatile application
  • Great overall quality
  • Universal compatibility

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Lack of 100% copper

Our Rating:   9.7/10

The Corsair Hydro X Series XR5 is one of the best 120mm radiators available. We chose it for the following reasons: price, cooling power, and ease of installation.

Price-wise, the XR5 is priced a bit higher than your usual 120mm radiator, but with a 3-year warranty and the overall quality of the product, it’s well worth your money. It is still an affordable option for 120mm radiators, that will more than meet your needs.

The XR5 makes use of an entirely copper core and 25 micron-thick cooling fins. The radiator has a high thermal transfer rate and will be able to displace an impressive amount of heat–keeping your system cool and functional.

On top of that, this 30mm radiator is easy to install in almost any configuration because of the ability to mount the 120mm fan on either side of the radiator. This is a feature not found in all radiators, and you are often stuck with the way the manufacturer designed the product. Not so with the XR5. If you have a tight space for the radiator or a custom application, then this may just be the radiator for you.

The use of standard G1/4” ports also ensures universal compatibility. Finally, like the NexXxoS XT45, the XR5 is designed with screw protection plates to prevent you from over tightening screws and damaging the radiator core.

Overall, the XR5 is a fantastic and popular 120mm radiator. It only lost out to the NexXxoS XT45 for our number one spot because of the lack of 100% copper components. However, the flexibility of installation make it a far more attractive option for many users.

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3. Alphacool NexXxoS V.2 ST30 120 mm

Form Factor: 120mm | Materials: Copper, steel | Color: Black | Dimensions (LxWxH): 154.5 x 124 x 30 mm | Connection Threads: 5x 1/4” | Mounting Thread Size: M3 | Pressure Tested: 1.5 bar | Weight: 386 g

Alphacool NexXxoS V.2 ST30 120 mmREASONS TO BUY

  • Pure copper components
  • High quality build
  • Universal compatibility
  • Excellent heat dissipation
  • Fair price

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Heavier

Our Rating:   9.7/10

Like the NexXxoS XT45, the ST30 V.2 offers the same benefits but with a 30mm thickness instead of 45mm. You can expect the same 100% copper interior of the XT45, but for a significantly lower price. We recommend this radiator if space is a concern, yet you don’t need an ultra thin radiator like the XSPC TX120 or the EKWB SE 120.

Like the XT45, the ST30 uses all copper fins, tubing, and chambers, with brass used only for the threaded G1/4” ports. You can expect a lower FPI than the XT45, so it would certainly be friendlier to lower speed fans.

Alphacool really hit the nail on the head with their latest line of radiators. It doesn’t matter if you pick the ST30 or the XT45 for your build, you will be happy with both. The only reason the ST30 lost out to the Corsair Hydro X Series XR5 is that the XR5 seemed to be easier to install for tight spaces and custom applications. Nonetheless, the ST30 is still a champion of the 30mm size.

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4. EKWB EK-CoolStream Classic PE 120

Form Factor: 120mm | Materials: Copper, steel, brass | Color: Black | Dimensions (LxWxH): 153 x 120 x 45 mm | Connection Threads: 2x G1/4” | Pressure Tested: 1 bar (g) | Weight: 650 g

EKWB EK-CoolStream Classic PE 120REASONS TO BUY

  • Great performance
  • Excellent for silent builds
  • Universal compatibility
  • High quality build

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Lack of 100% copper
  • Higher price

Our Rating:   9.6/10

The EKWB EK-Coolstream Classic PE is a fantastic 120mm radiator coming in with an even better price tag (for a 45mm radiator). With a thickness of 45mm and a low FPI, you can expect quality cooling with minimal obstruction. The combination of the price, performance and build quality easily earned it our best value ranking.

The EK-Coolstream makes use of copper fins and copper alloy tubing with a brass chamber and brass port threads. It has a low FPI (Fins Per Inch) of 13, so you can expect to run your fans without excessive noise or the need to run them at unnecessarily high speeds. This is a great radiator for those that truly want a silent system.

It also has a respectable 140ml liquid capacity–enough to guarantee that your cooling solution is cycling away from your heatsink at a regular rate (dependent on your pump of course). Featuring the standard G1/4” threaded ports, you can expect to use it for universal compatibility.

All in all, the EKWB  EK-CoolStream Classic PE is a great radiator for you if you want a heavy duty, quality radiator from a reputable company. There might be better radiators on the market, but you simply cannot go wrong with the PE 120–especially considering the price.

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5. EKWB EK-CoolStream SE 120 Radiator

Form Factor: 120mm | Materials: Copper, steel, brass | Color: Black | Dimensions (LxWxH): 160 x 120 x 28 mm | Connection Threads: 2x G1/4” | Pressure Tested: 1 bar | Weight: 440 g

EKWB EK-CoolStream SE 120 RadiatorREASONS TO BUY

  • Quality construction
  • Perfect for smaller cases
  • Universal compatibility
  • Great cooling capability

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Pricey

Our Rating:   9.4/10

Our fifth pick is the EKWB EK-CoolStream SE 120 Radiator, and it is another thin radiator designed with small spaces in mind. This thin 28mm radiator will allow you to maximize your space in a small or overcrowded case.

While the SE 120 is specifically built for the EK-Vardar high static pressure fans, it should work well with any similar 120mm fan. The copper fins are designed to provide maximum surface area while EKWB’s parallel flow cooling chambers are designed to reduce flow resistance to a minimum.

The radiator shroud is equipped with screw threads on both sides to allow for custom push-pull configurations. It also makes use of the standard G1/4” ports for universal fitting and has a liquid capacity of 85mL.

Coming in with a slightly higher price tag for a thin radiator, it is certainly on the higher end of radiators on our list, but it is a quality product in a small package. Copper fins, brass chambers, and an FPI of 22 all ensure that the SE 120 will be able to displace a high amount of heat from your system.

We found that systems with this radiator were able to maintain ambient air temperatures when at idle to low workload. As expected, temperatures rose under heavy loads, but they still remained within acceptable parameters.

All-in-all, if you’re specifically looking for a 30mm thick radiator, we would still recommend you to pick up the Alphacool ST30 (third on the list). However, EKWB has been in the water cooling game for quite some time and you simply cannot go wrong with their products.

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6. XSPC TX120 Ultra Thin Radiator

Form Factor: 120mm | Materials: Copper, brass | Color: Matte Black | Dimensions (LxWxH): 158 x 125 x 20.5 mm | Connection Threads: G1/4” | Weight: 308 g

XSPC TX120 Ultra Thin RadiatorREASONS TO BUY

  • Ultra thin design (only 20.5mm)
  • Still an excellent performance
  • Universal compatibility
  • Excellent for ITX builds

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Steep price for a 120mm radiator

Our Rating:   9.2/10

Next up is the XSPC TX120 Ultra Thin Radiator. This is the thinnest radiator on our list, only 20.5mm, so it is our top pick for those that need to save space in their case–whether due to a small form factor or too many components squeezed in that mid-tower you swore would be big enough. It’s earned our Space Saver title.

Just because the TX120 is thin, it doesn’t mean that it fails to provide cooling power. XSPC makes use of 13 tubes and 22 fins per square inch, allowing for impressive cooling performance for such a thin radiator.

In addition, due to its thin design, you can still make use of low speed fans in your build. This ensures that your system can stay quiet even under heavy loads. Also, the use of a copper and brass core ensures that heat will be displaced adequately.

Finally, the XSPC TX120 makes use of standard G1/4” ports and has a coolant capacity of 90ml, which is slightly more than the EKWB SE 120, even though it’s almost 8 mm thinner–truly impressive.

Even with all of its advantages, the price tag is slightly steep. This wouldn’t be unexpected for a 240mm or larger radiator, but it’s certainly high for such a small radiator. With that being said, the ultra thin design might more than make up for the price tag if you need to save space.

Overall, the TX120 is an excellent choice if you don’t have enough space in your case while still looking for top performance. The price is definitely a let down, but if you don’t mind paying a little bit extra, you will love what the TX120 can do for you.

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7. AGPtek 12 Pipe Aluminum Heat Exchanger Radiator R120

Form Factor: 120mm | Material: Aluminum | Color: Black | Dimensions (LxWxH): 158 x 120 x 30 mm | Connection Threads: 3/8” | Mounting Thread Size: M3 | Weight: 227 g

AGPtek 12 Pipe Aluminum Heat Exchanger Radiator R120REASONS TO BUY

  • Budget friendly price
  • Light and compact
  • Decent cooling capability

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Aluminum construction
  • Worse performance compared to others
  • Longevity issues

Our Rating:   8.3/10

Costing you only a fraction of price of the other radiators on this list, the AGPtek 12 Pipe Aluminum Heat Exchanger Radiator R120 is the best pick for those with a low budget yet still want a 30mm radiator. This is our best recommendation for a low budget build.

Unlike the other radiators on this list, the R120 uses aluminum fins instead of copper fins. There are two advantages to using aluminum over copper.

The first advantage is price. The other 6 radiators on this list are all pretty much within $20 of each other because they all make use of copper fins–aluminum is simply cheaper than copper.

The second advantage is weight. Aluminum is lighter than copper. Granted you may see a negligible difference in weight between the R120 and other radiators, but aluminum is lighter than copper per cubic inch.

However, there is a disadvantage to aluminum fins. Aluminum is not as good of a conductor of heat as copper, so this is why copper is more common in radiators and heatsinks. With that being said, the R120 makes up for this by making use of 12 pipes in 4 sets of 3. This allows the liquid to pass in front of the fan four times before exiting the radiator.

For a very affordable price, we recommend it for those on a tight budget, those not too concerned about extreme cooling power, or those who have a custom application outside of PC builds.

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Conclusion

All of these radiators are great options for anyone looking for a 120mm radiator. At the end of the day, there’s not always much to see with these easily overlooked pieces of PC hardware. However, a good radiator will silently do its job by keeping the rest of your PC cool and comfortable.

Next to the PSU, radiators might have one of the most thankless jobs in a computer, but we think that they are a worthwile investment for your water cooling build.

We hope you found value in this article. Feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions on your next radiator or any other question in the PC building world. We are your online resource.

About Richard Gamin 128 Articles
My name's Richard and over the years, I have personally built many PCs for myself and my friends. I love gaming, programming, graphics designing and basically anything that has to do with computers and technology. If you ever need a hand with anything, feel free to contact me and I will be more than happy to help you out.

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