Trending December 2023 # The Best Smart Locks Of 2023 # Suggested January 2024 # Top 15 Popular

You are reading the article The Best Smart Locks Of 2023 updated in December 2023 on the website We hope that the information we have shared is helpful to you. If you find the content interesting and meaningful, please share it with your friends and continue to follow and support us for the latest updates. Suggested January 2024 The Best Smart Locks Of 2023

We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs. Learn more ›

Written By Jenna Glatzer

Updated May 5, 2023 2:50 PM

Smart locks are one of the best home security products of the last decade. Some of the best smart door locks fit over your regular manual door lock and some of them replace it, but instead of using a key to lock and unlock your door, you’ll use your smartphone or a special keyfob. Why would someone want such a thing? Well, for one thing, you can lock and unlock your door from anywhere. Instead of standing outside fumbling with your keys in the cold or rain, you can sit in your car and unlock the door before you get out. Some even have automated door-unlocking features that sense when you’ve arrived home—the best smart lock for you will fit the functions you want.

Another selling point is the fact that you can double-check to make sure your door is locked at any time. Ever been in line at the grocery store and wondered if your teenager remembered to lock the door after leaving on a bike ride? Your phone can tell you … and fix it if the door is open. In addition, you can use the best smart locks to let people in and out of your house when you’re not home. If you’re at work, but need the services of a plumber or housekeeping service, or you’re running late and your child just got off the bus, you can unlock your door for them from wherever you are and lock it up again when you’re ready. And even better, they may even get you a reduced home insurance rate.

Best smart locks: Reviews and Recommendations Best compact: Level Touch Keyless Entry Best for ease of installation: August WiFi Smart Lock

August is one of the forerunners of smart-lock manufacturing, and this is now their fourth-generation model. The August WiFi Smart Lock’s auto-unlock feature still gets mixed reviews (it sometimes stops working unexpectedly), but it works reliably to lock and unlock from your phone, and to provide access to guests.

Best with an alarm: Schlage Connect Smart Deadbolt

First things first, it’s imperative to mention you’ll need a Z-Wave hub (a mesh network for home automation) in order to use this Schlage smart lock; it doesn’t work on direct WiFi. The benefit to that is less interference and no competition with other devices on a WiFi network, so it should be more reliable. You can pair it with the Ring Alarm, Samsung SmartThings, Wink, Iris, Nexia, and others, and the built-in alarm sounds when someone tries to force open the door or tamper with the lock.

Best budget: Kwikset Halo WiFi Smart Lock

Remote lock and unlock from anywhere with WiFi access with this Kwikset Halo option, which can be programmed with up to 250 guest codes. It integrates with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. The Kwikset Halo notifies you each time your door lock is triggered and stores lock activity in the app, and you can also temporarily disable the Kwikset Halo keypad in secure mode. 

How do the best smart locks work?

The best smart locks will function as intended, which is to make life easier. Keyless door locks work using WiFi: When you set up your lock, you’ll connect it to your home network by following the included directions, either directly connecting or through a hub. You should only need to connect it one time and the authentication stays in memory. Then your lock can “communicate” with you via your smartphone or a special keyfob designed for the lock. Many can also be integrated with your smart hub to communicate with Amazon Alexa devices or Google Assistant. It is important to note, however, that smart lock deadbolts run on batteries, and most will last for about six months before needing replacement. 

Many smart locks also come with a keypad with numbers rather than a keyhole. Others allow you the ability to do both—just in case your batteries die or you have issues communicating with the smart lock, you can always go back to your tried-and-true physical key until you solve the problem. Still, others offer a fingerprint sensor in addition to a keypad. In any case, it’s always best to have more than one option just in case anything malfunctions—you don’t want to get stuck outside because your smart lock wasn’t smart enough!

Related: Break-ins happen. Here are products to secure your prized possessions.

Simple guest access to your keyless door locks

Most keyless door locks will allow you to provide access to guests on a temporary or ongoing basis. Depending on the model, you may text a link to your guests that allows them to open and lock your door with their smartphones the same way you do, you may assign them a temporary code, or you may provide a password. 

Smart locks get you the W: Who, What, When, Where, and maybe even Why

One of the coolest features of a smart lock deadbolt is that you can usually customize exactly how you want this guest access to work: You may allow each guest access to your keyless door locks indefinitely, or you may set up specific parameters (the code may expire in four hours, four weeks, or whatever time period you specify; it may be cyclic so that someone with a standing appointment—like a housekeeper—can access it every Monday morning but no other times; or it may be for one-time use). You may revoke access early if someone cancels, or remove someone’s code even if you had set it up originally for permanent access. And you can normally issue several guest codes at once.

Smart locks deliver convenience Budget doesn’t mean you can budge it

Going for a budget smart lock doesn’t mean a less reliable deadbolt, just fewer bells, and whistles. As it’s a budget pick, don’t expect fingerprint sensors or a touchscreen, and be aware that may be more complaints about short battery life and buggy software.

FAQs The final word on selecting the best door locks for your home

The best smart door lock for you will make your life simpler because it will allow you to lock and unlock your door from anywhere, even if you’re stuck at work or at a doctor’s appointment and someone needs access to your home (or needs to leave and doesn’t have a key to lock up). It can give you peace of mind to know that your house is locked up, and it can save you from having to rekey your door in case of a breakup or end of a friendship. Technology has already moved forward in the few short years since they’ve been introduced, so look at all your smart-lock options to see how they have evolved and get more reliable. 

Why trust us

Popular Science started writing about technology more than 150 years ago. There was no such thing as “gadget writing” when we published our first issue in 1872, but if there was, our mission to demystify the world of innovation for everyday readers means we would have been all over it. Here in the present, PopSci is fully committed to helping readers navigate the increasingly intimidating array of devices on the market right now.

Our writers and editors have combined decades of experience covering and reviewing consumer electronics. We each have our own obsessive specialties—from high-end audio to video games to cameras and beyond—but when we’re reviewing devices outside of our immediate wheelhouses, we do our best to seek out trustworthy voices and opinions to help guide people to the very best recommendations. We know we don’t know everything, but we’re excited to live through the analysis paralysis that internet shopping can spur so readers don’t have to.

You're reading The Best Smart Locks Of 2023

Best Budget Smart Locks 2023

The exact features that you want will, of course, vary from person to person. Likewise, the budget you’re willing to spend will vary, though it’s worth remembering that smaller budgets will likely reduce the available feature sets.

It’s also worth considering security. The physical security of a smart lock is generally similar to that of a traditional modern lock, however, the added complexity and software have resulted in a number of security issues. Some of these security issues are only an issue if someone has direct physical access to the lock, more worryingly, however, connecting these smart locks to the internet opens up the possibility of someone being able to remotely control your lock without your permission. There have also been issues where smart locks have included vulnerabilities that allowed hackers to use them to gain access to your home Wi-Fi network and to then attack your other devices. You should make sure to regularly check for and apply software updates to make sure that your smart lock is as secure as possible.

To help you find a good product, we’ve drawn up a list of the best budget smart locks in 2023.

August Smart Lock

Key Features

Guest keys


Can keep using your old keys


Lock Type: Interior Deadbolt Replacement

Connectivity Options: Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Via Bridge

Batteries: 4 AA

The August Smart Lock is an interior deadbolt replacement type lock. This means that it replaces only the inside face of your existing lock. From the outside, it’s impossible to tell that you have a smart lock, and you can still use your existing physical key if you want or if something goes wrong. By default, it only offers Bluetooth connectivity, so it has a limited range. A Wi-Fi bridge is available separately that can add Wi-Fi functionality so the lock can be controlled remotely, however, the connection distance from the lock to the bridge is low, which can be inconvenient.

The lock itself is easy to attach to your door and comes with a range of deadbolt adaptors to fit most locks. DoorSense, notifies you if your door is left ajar so you know when it can’t lock automatically. The auto-lock and unlock features use Bluetooth to automatically lock and unlock your door when your paired device is nearby so you don’t have to fumble with keys or opening an app. Some users have reported reliability issues with the smart unlock feature though. Guest keys allow you to allow other users to unlock your door via the app, you can configure time and date ranges for their access to be allowed so you can be confident that they can only access your home when you want them to.


Easy to attach

Only attaches to the inside of your door

Can track activity


Wi-Fi bridge is sold separately

Users report auto-unlock being unreliable in the real world

Wi-Fi bridges can only pair to one lock

Wyze Lock

Key Features

Included Wi-Fi bridge

Alexa integration

You can keep using your old keys


Lock Type: Interior Deadbolt Replacement

Connectivity Options: Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Via included Bridge

Batteries: 4 AA

The Wyze Lock is one of the few budget smart locks that includes Wi-Fi functionality by default at a budget-friendly price point. It comes with a Wi-Fi bridge giving you full remote access to your lock by default. Like with the August, the Wyze replaces the interior face of your existing deadbolt meaning you can continue to use your existing keys and don’t have your smart lock visible on the outside of your door.

Installation is very simple and is made easier thanks to the included walkthrough, with pictures, in the app. A built-in gyroscope lets the lock know when the door is open or closed, it can then beep to remind you that the door is left ajar. If you prefer to have the fall-back option of a keypad, one is available for just $20. The auto-unlock feature can be somewhat unreliable, especially if you’ve not gone far enough to leave the unchangeable geofencing range.


Installation walkthrough in the app

Beeps if you leave the door open

Affordable keypad available


Auto unlock can be unreliable

Can’t adjust the geofencing range

Ultraloq UL3 2nd Gen

Key Features

Finger print reader

Numeric keypad

Affordable Wi-Fi bridge


Lock Type: Single Latch Replacement

Connectivity Options: Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Via Bridge/Hub

Batteries: 4 AA

The Ultraloq UL3 2nd Gen is designed to replace door handle-based locks rather than deadbolts like most other smart locks. It comes with its own handle and everything should be a simple swap, however, the design makes it obvious that a smart lock is in use as it is both interior and exterior facing. There are five different ways to unlock the lock, the fingerprint reader, the keypad, via the smartphone app, with a backup key, and via the knock and shake functions. On iOS devices you can knock on your phone four times to unlock the door, on Android you can do the same by shaking the phone, though in both cases your phone needs to be Bluetooth paired.

The auto-lock functionality has a configurable timer between three seconds and five minutes. Temporary keys can be assigned to guests to allow them access during configured time and date ranges. The keypad has an anti-peep algorithm that means you can type as many digits as you like as long as it contains the real code at some point, making it harder for someone to watch the code over your shoulder or tell from how worn the buttons are. One of the few features missing is a proximity-based auto-unlock feature. The feature set and style of lock make this a great choice for a lock to a secure room. While it can still be used for a front door lock, it’s not quite as suited to this purpose.


Customisable auto-lock timing

Can share temporary codes

Anti-peep algorithm


No proximity-based auto-unlock

The fingerprint reader can be finnicky

Likely better suited for interior doors rather than the front door of a house.

Kevo Convert

Key Features

Invisible from the outside

Wide range of ekey options

Can purchase physical keyfobs


Lock Type: Interior Deadbolt Replacement

Connectivity Options: Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Via Bridge

Batteries: 4 AA

The Kevo Convert is a relatively early smart lock and so is less reliable than its more modern counterparts. The Wi-Fi hub is very expensive at just under $100. And the account creation process is painful, requiring you to sign up, verify your email address, and create three security questions. Unfortunately, this process is also required even if you only want to use a one-time ekey, making that functionality excessively complicated.

Longer-term ekeys, such as ones you might give to family members, are more reasonable and are configurable in how long they last and when they are valid for. You can also purchase physical keyfobs rather than using the app. If you lose your phone you can revoke its access to your lock via your account on the web.


Control the lock from the app

Can log which ekeys access the lock when

You can sign in to your account and deactivate your phone and ekeys if you lose it


Wi-Fi hub is very expensive

Account creation is excessive for one time use ekeys

Bluetooth connection can be unreliable

That was our roundup of the best budget smart locks in 2023. Have you recently bought a budget smart lock? What’s your experience with it been? Let us know down below.

The Best Extension Cords Of 2023

We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs. Learn more ›

Written By Tony Carrick

Published Feb 8, 2023 1:00 PM

Whether you’re operating a table saw or setting up outdoor lights, extension cords are vital for a variety of electrical needs. These power cables often offer the only means to extend the range of an electric device or lamp inside or outside the home. And though they may look very similar, not all extension cords are the same. In this piece, we’ll go over the factors you should consider when shopping for one and recommend the best extension cords on the market.

How we chose the best extension cords

Though extension cords may look the same, they aren’t. There are quite a few important factors that separate them. I’m a longtime tool user and reviewer and I looked at five crucial characteristics when making my selections:

Gauge: Perhaps the most crucial attribute of an extension cord is its ability to carry electricity. A cord’s gauge determines its ability to do that.

Length: Length is a critical aspect of an extension cord. Too long and the cord becomes cumbersome and begins to lose its ability to carry electricity. Too short and the extension cord fails to fulfill its purpose. For outdoor cords, the sweet spot was 50 feet, while 20 feet was ideal for indoor cords.

Construction: Extension cords take abuse. We drag them across the ground, step on them, pull them, trip on them, and drive over them. With this in mind, I only chose options constructed with thick jacketing, substantial rubber coatings around the plug ends, and reinforced collars on the connections between the plugs and cord.

Functionality: Features that make them more functional or easier to use, such as multiple female plugs or LED power lights, also affected my selections.

Value: Keeping in mind that few people expect to spend a large amount of money on one of these cords, I looked for models that offered quality construction and good maximum load capacities at a reasonable price.

The best extension cords: Reviews & Recommendations

Extension cords come in varying lengths, colors, and gauges. Light-duty extension cords are ideal for extending power to a lamp or computer, while high-wattage power tools and appliances require beefier heavy-duty cords. The following are our picks for the best of each.

Best overall: Clear Power Outdoor Extension Cord

Why it made the cut: Clear Power’s 50-foot cord is moderately priced and features 12-gauge wires that can deliver up to 15 amps, giving it the ability to serve power-hungry appliances and tools.


Length: 50 feet

Size: 12 gauge

Capacity: 15 amps


Stays flexible in extreme temperatures

LED power light


Only one female plug

LED light may seem too bright

Clear Power’s heavy-duty extension power cord sets itself apart from the rest thanks to its durable construction and heavy-gauge wiring. With its 12-gauge thickness, it’s capable of handling up to 15 amps—the maximum load offered by most household circuit breakers—making it usable with almost all household appliances and power tools.

This plug can endure being dragged across a garage floor or through a wet yard thanks to thick jacketing, which protects the internal wires, and corrosion-resistant nickel-plated brass prongs on the male plug. At 50 feet long, the cord can stretch well into a yard, across a two-car garage, or from room to room while remaining short enough to be manageable. In case that length isn’t optimal for your needs, Clear Power also makes this option in a more nimble 25-foot length, as well as a rangy 100-foot option.

In addition to coming in three different sizes, Clear Power also makes its cords in eight color options, many of which reduce tripping hazards by improving the cord’s visibility. An orange LED light in the female socket that illuminates when power is running through the cord is a nice additional safety feature. Though this cord is one of the best all-around extension cords on the market, it lacks the multiple female outlets that other extension cords offer, limiting its functionality in a workshop.

Best heavy-duty: Iron Forge Cable Extension Cord

Why it made the cut: With its 10-gauge construction, Iron Forge’s 50-foot extension cord can carry enough current for higher-wattage devices and tools, making it our top choice for heavy-duty needs.


Length: 50 feet

Size: 10 gauge

Capacity: 15 amps


Reinforced prongs add durability

LED power light


Thicker cord is heavier and less flexible than thinner gauges

Only one female plug

With its large gauge wiring, the Iron Forge 50-foot cable is an excellent pick for those bridging a gap between a 15-amp outlet and high-wattage appliances, such as an air compressor or rotary drill. Its thicker 10-gauge wiring will carry the maximum 15-amp residential electrical circuit with less resistance than thinner 12-gauge cords. This high output makes it a great option for connecting a generator to large home appliances such as a refrigerator or space heater.

Most heavy-gauge extension cords are pulled and dragged around workshops, garages, and yards. With heavy jacketing that protects its internal wires, ample collars around the joints between the plugs and the cord, and reinforced prongs, Iron Forge’s 10-gauge version is one of the more rugged options on the market. The Iron Forge Outdoor Extension Card is also water-resistant and has a grounded plug as an extra safety measure.

Best for indoors: Cordinate Designer 3-Outlet Power Strip

Why it made the cut: An attractive braided fabric cover, among other thoughtful design features, makes this a more attractive cord to use in a living space and one of the best indoor extension cords.


Length: 10 feet

Size: 16 gauge

Capacity: 13 amps


More stylish than a standard extension cord

Three plugs add capacity for multiple devices

Built-in surge protection


Thinner gauge cord can only handle a max of 13 amps

While there may be no such thing as an extension cord that complements a room’s decor, this cord from Cordinate certainly does less to detract from a room’s aesthetics than other options, which is why it’s on this list. While most indoor options come in either white or black vinyl, Cordinate wraps its cords in a braided fabric that comes in six different colored patterns.

In addition to being one of the more attractive indoor cords one can buy, this pick includes thoughtful design features. At 10 feet, it’s long enough to reach distant outlets while still short enough to maintain a tidy appearance. Three female sockets allow one to keep their collection of smart devices charged up without sacrificing the bedside lamp. A flat plug head fits flush to the wall, making it ideal for outlets located behind furniture, while the angled cord prevents it from blocking other outlets.

Cordinate’s extension cord also has something most others don’t, built-in surge protection that shields your smart devices in the event of a power surge.

Best design: Goodyear Extension Cord Reel

Why it made the cut: This retractable extension cord’s 40-foot, 12-gauge cord provides enough capacity to handle the higher-wattage tools found in a garage workshop.


Length: 40 feet

Size: 12 gauge

Capacity: 15 amps


12-gauge cord can handle 15 amps

Retractable case mounts to a wall or ceiling

Triple-outlet head


40-foot length may be too short for some applications

CostTriple-outlet head

Though more expensive than other retractable models, we like the Goodyear Extension Cord Reel because of its 12-gauge line. Cord reels are commonly used in home workshops and garages, so chances are it’s providing power for tools that need more juice than a house lamp or holiday lighting. With its 15-amp rating, the max power one can get out of a standard household outlet, the Goodyear extension cord reel will work with most power tools.

A thermoplastic jacket that’s oil-resistant, plus a swivel mount that attaches to a wall or ceiling, means this cord is tailor-made for garages. Its three female outlets are also ideal for a workshop, eliminating the need to plug and unplug while switching from tool to tool. Other thoughtful features include an LED light in the plug head that lets the user know when the cord is receiving power.

Best budget: Amazon Basics Extension Cord

Why it made the cut: This simple, well-built cord is affordable and offers ample length for indoor use at 20 feet long.


Length: 20 feet

Size: 16 gauge

Capacity: 13 amps


Sturdy construction

20-foot length ideal for indoor use



16-gauge cord can only handle a max 13 amps

Only one female end

This affordable extension cord from the Amazon Basics line of products is a good choice for those in need of a well-made extension cord for light-duty use. At 20 feet long, it can cover most indoor extension cord needs. This 16-gauge cord can carry a maximum of 13 amps, which is plenty of juice to power lamps or small appliances. Its jacket feels sturdy and substantial, with thick rubber molding around the end plugs that firmly hold its three prongs in place. The inflexible cord does make it a little tougher to go around corners or under objects. While it lacks additional features, such as multiple female outlets or a built-in surge protector, it’s hard to argue with its price. It’s less than half the cost of fancier extension cords.

Things to consider before buying an extension cord Power

Extension cords come in a variety of gauges. Choosing the right one depends almost entirely on how you will use it. For extension cords that will be supplying power to such high-wattage tools as a miter saw, table saw, or router, you’ll need at least a 14-gauge extension cord to handle the load. For lighter-duty jobs, such as powering a lamp or string of LED Christmas lights, a thinner 16-gauge extension cord will suffice. Extension cords that connect to heavy-duty appliances, such as an air compressor or generator, require a thick, 12-gauge extension cord.


While a longer extension cord may seem better, that’s often not the case. For indoor use, a longer cord can be unwieldy and unsightly, forcing you to find a place to hide all that unattractive and potentially hazardous excess cord. Also, as a cord gets longer, its ability to carry current gets weaker. A 16-gauge 50-foot cord can carry 1,625 watts, while a 16-gauge cord greater than 50 feet can only power appliances up to 1,250 watts.

Of course, an extension cord that’s too short won’t offer the range you need to trim the hedges or operate a sprayer to paint a backyard fence. An extension cord should be 10 to 20 feet long for indoor use. For a garage workshop, go with a 40- to 50-foot cord. For outdoor electric yard tools, such as a chainsaw or trimmer, purchase a 100-foot cord.


While standard extension cords have single female outlets, some feature two or three outlets. Whereas a single outlet may suffice for operating one tool or light fixture, consider purchasing an extension cord with multiple outlets for a workshop with numerous power tools. This will eliminate the need to constantly plug and unplug as you move from tool to tool. When using a cord with multiple female outlets, be aware of the cord’s load limits, which may not allow you to operate more than one power tool connected to the same cord at once without popping a circuit breaker.

FAQs Q: Can you use an extension cord permanently?

No. Extension cords are not designed to withstand constant use. An extension cord can deteriorate with continuous use, creating a fire hazard. Only use an extension cord temporarily. Install permanent wiring for connections that are not temporary.

Q: Which is better: a 10-gauge or 12-gauge extension cord?

A 10-gauge cord can carry more load than a 12-gauge cord. While a 12-gauge cord is adequate for most devices, some electric lawn mowers, power tools, and large machinery require a 10-gauge cord. Keep in mind that a 10-gauge cord will be thicker and, therefore, heavier and less flexible.

Q: What are the three wires in an extension cord?

Extension cords have green, white, and black wires that run through them. The black wire is the hot wire, the white wire is the neutral wire, and the green wire is the ground wire. Light-duty interior-use extension cords sometimes lack the green grounding wire, which is why they have only two prongs. Always try to use an extension cord with a ground wire, which serves as a means of safely discharging excess electricity, reducing the risk of electric shock or fire.

Final thoughts on the best extension cords

Whether you’re charging a smartphone on your nightstand or powering a 15-amp table saw in your garage workshop, choosing the right extension cord is key to safely getting the power you need to the device you’re using. While smaller 16-gauge cords are suitable for powering lights and smaller devices, use at least a 14-gauge extension cord and preferably a 12-gauge cord if you’re using power tools that require a higher wattage of 1,500 watts or more.

The Best Cpu Coolers Of 2023

We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs. Learn more ›

Written By Chris Coke

Updated Apr 23, 2023 8:31 AM

A CPU cooler can stop heat, the age-old nemesis of CPUs, in its tracks. If you don’t keep your computer cool, the heat it generates can put your hardware in an early grave. And your processor, the heart of your PC, is more susceptible to the lasting impact of overheating than any other component. High temperatures can shorten its lifespan and reduce its performance, even in day-to-day tasks. Whether you’re a hardcore gamer, building your own home theater PC, or just want to protect the system you’re working on every day, you shouldn’t underestimate the importance of adding one of the best CPU coolers to your system.

If you’re building or upgrading your PC, then you should consider buying a great CPU cooler to keep your system alive and running well. The best CPU coolers span a wide range of cooling systems and price ranges, so any builder can find something that fits their system and their budget.

How we chose the best CPU coolers

I’ve been building PCs since the early 2000s and have been professionally reviewing computer tech since 2023. During that time, I’ve researched and installed everything from affordable, single-fan heatsinks and cheap gaming PCs to showpiece liquid coolers with RGB lighting and LCD displays. As technology and hardware editor at chúng tôi I’ve professionally tested and retested coolers to see exactly how they stack up. I understand what it takes for a cooler to work well with different types of processors and just how much cooling you need for different computing tasks.

To pick the best CPU coolers, I sorted through dozens of potential coolers, picking parts that offered the best balance of cooling performance, price, and reliability. I created a long list of potential options across six categories, listing those that I was personally familiar with along with those that featured great on-paper specs and stellar reputations. I then compared that list with hard data from professional reviews and the impressions from real users, finding the best balance of price, performance, and reliability for each.

The best CPU coolers: Reviews & Recommendations

You have the basics of selecting and installing both air and liquid coolers, but now you need to apply that knowledge and check out some spec sheets for CPUs, coolers, and other components to figure out what to install in your system. If that sounds like a lot of work, we’re here to help you with a head start: These are the best CPU coolers to give you a good range of options that deliver strong performance and great value.

Buy it used or refurbished: eBay

Why it made the cut: The Noctua NH-D15S is a powerful air cooler that’s capable of taming even the most demanding CPUs.


Cooler type: Air cooler

Performance class: High performance

Size: Large

Additional features: Dual-tower design, two fans for efficient cooling, black instead of Noctua brown


High-performance cooling 

Quiet operation

Two fans for impressive cooling potential

Competes with liquid coolers


Potential memory interference

Very bulky

The Noctua NH-D15 may just be the best air cooler you can buy for your CPU. Its massive design allows it to shed an impressive amount of heat, making it competitive with many liquid coolers, while offering exceptional reliability and Noctua’s six-year warranty guarantee. It comes with everything you’ll need, including thermal paste, and uses a novel mounting system that’s both easy to install and works with just about any CPU released in the last decades. That includes Intel’s latest 12th-generation CPUs and even AMD’s upcoming Ryzen 7000 series.

Unlike older Noctua coolers, the NH-D15 is designed to fade into the background of your PC—as much as it can at its size. The all-black colorway looks much sleeker than the company’s usual beige and brown look, and it uses a dual-fan design so each can run quietly and not be a distraction while gaming or working from home. 

The biggest challenge facing this outstanding air cooler is its size. Measuring 150mm x 135mm x 160mm (WDH), it’s almost certainly big enough to block the nearest memory slot in most builds. If your memory is taller than 32mm, you can remove the outside fan to give yourself some more room. Without the second fan, you’ll still get incredible cooling, but your PC will be a bit louder.

Buy it used or refurbished: eBay

Why it made the cut: The Be Quiet! Pure Loop 240mm is a quiet cooler that’s made to last and won’t distract you from your game.


Cooler type: All-in-one

Performance class: Mid-to-high performance

Size: 240mm

Additional features: Quiet, minimalist design


Efficient cooling

Minimalist design

Replaceable coolant

Great cost-to-performance


Not large enough for Core-i9 and Ryzen 9 processors 

The Be Quiet! BW006 Pure Loop 240mm is the best cooler for gamers that want to focus on their game and not their PC. At 240mm, it’s big enough to chill up to Intel Core-i7 and Ryzen 7 CPUs with ease and won’t distract you while it does its thing. Its understated design is all black and uses a subtle white LED around the processor to let you know it has power. More importantly, it’s just as quiet as its name would imply. As a company, Be Quiet! focuses on building cases and components that fade into the background, and that’s certainly true of the Pure Loop 240mm. You’ll need to step up to a larger size for 9-series processors, but this will keep your CPU running at peak performance with any mid-high-tier processor.

The Pure Loop stands apart from other elite liquid cooling systems because it’s very easy to maintain. Most liquid coolers are completely closed systems, which means they can’t be maintained and will eventually fail. One of the biggest reasons this happens is by air making its way into the pump. The BW006 is one of the few all-in-one coolers that allows you to add coolant over time, increasing its lifespan. All you have to do is unscrew a fill port on the radiator and add coolant to ensure your system is always full and running its best. Do this once every two years, and your cooler should last as long as the CPU it cools.

Best high-end: Corsair iCUE H150i Elite LCD Liquid CPU Cooler

Buy it used or refurbished: eBay

Why it made the cut: The Corsair iCUE H150i Elite LCD is a high-performance cooler than brings the bling and is perfect for a showpiece PC build.


Cooler type: All-in-One

Performance class: High performance

Size: 360mm

Additional features: High-pressure RGB fans, built-in LCD screen, Commander Core lighting controller


Excellent cooling performance

Customizable LCD screen

Stellar, high-pressure RGB fans

Included fan and RGB controller

Outstanding software customization


Very expensive

Difficult installation

The Corsair iCUE H150i Elite LCD is the liquid cooler you turn to when only the best will do. Its stunning looks are rivaled only by its incredible performance. At 360mm, it has enough cooling ability to handle even the most demanding Intel Core-i9 and Ryzen 9 processors, even if you overclock them and turn up the heat. (Depending on what you need, Corsair also makes a less powerful version with a 240mm radiator and an ultra-powerful 420mm model.)

The iCUE H150i Elite features a gorgeous 2.1-inch LCD screen that you can customize to show everything from your current temperatures to custom animations. That colorful display is flanked by three high-performance fans with their own set of 48 customizable LEDs. You can set both performance and aesthetic settings via Corsair’s iCue configuration software. Customizing the system is for new builders, thanks to easy-to-select presets, but also offers deep customization for steady hands with particular tastes.

The H150i comes from a long line of highly regarded Corsair coolers but may just be its hardest to set up. The RGB lighting and LCD screen require extra wiring for power: They hook into the included Commander Core control box, which makes it easier, but it’s still a complicated process. We’d suggest watching and re-watching Corsair’s in-depth installation video before attempting it for yourself. The box includes extra ports for adding additional RGB fans and light strips, however, so you get the benefit of easier upgradability in the future.

Best low profile: Noctua NH-L12S

Buy it used or refurbished: eBay

Why it made the cut: With enough cooling potential for Intel Core i7 and Ryzen 7 CPUs, the Noctua NH-L12S proves that big things come in small packages.


Cooler type: Air cooler

Performance class: Low

Size: Small

Additional features: Low noise adapter for automatic speed control, wide compatibility


Great for small form factor PCs

Low noise

Effectively cools a wide range of CPUs



Not great for intensive tasks

Limited cooling potential with newer, higher-performance CPUs

If you’re building a small form factor PC, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better option than the Noctua NH-L12S. A perfect fit for home theater PCs, this tiny cooler has a surprising amount of cooling potential. Noctua said the NH-L12S is compatible and effective with many of Intel’s 12th-gen and Ryzen 5000 series CPUs. It also includes everything you’ll need for installation right in the box and even allows you to change which side the fan is mounted on for wider memory compatibility.

Buy it used or refurbished: eBay

Why it made the cut: When silence is an absolute must, the NoFan CR-80EH can keep your processor cool without any noise. 


Cooler type: Passive

Performance class: Low

Size: Medium

Additional features: Copper heatpipes


Patented, effective thermal design

Supports AMD and Intel CPUs

Completely silent

Designed to not interfere with memory or expansion slots


Potential case and motherboard compatibility issues

Limited heat dissipation (80 watts)

The NoFan CR80-EH is the go-to choice for completely silent PC builds. A fanless “passive” cooler, it uses a system of dozens of heat-absorbing pipes to pull warmth up and away from your CPU where it can dissipate into the air. NoFan’s proprietary copper “IcePipes” have liquid sealed within each arm to draw heat away from your processor and into its copper arms. 

Without any fan at all, the NoFan CR80-EH is able to dissipate up to 80 watts of heat. NoFan hasn’t updated its official compatibility chart in some time, so its recommendations (“Ryzen” and Intel “7th, 6th, 5th” generation) are a bit out of date. Lower spec CPUs, like Intel’s 11th generation or earlier Core-i3 and Core-i5 processors and AMD Ryzen 3 or Ryzen 5s, should be safe, but be sure to check that their required power won’t exceed the 80-watt limit before pairing them with this cooler.

You should keep a few things in mind if you decide to go with a passive cooler. The NoFan CR80-EH is necessarily large, and its circular design won’t play nice with some small form factor PC cases. You’ll need to compare the dimensions of the cooler to your motherboard to ensure it will fit, and also be sure there’s enough ventilation for warm air to escape. An 80W will work well with lower spec processors, like an 11th-gen Core-i5, or Ryzen 3 to Ryzen 5 series CPUs. If you need more cooling, the company also makes a 95-watt version, though it can be hard to find in stores.

Best budget: Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo V2 Black Edition

Buy it used or refurbished: eBay

Why it made the cut: The Cooler Master Hyper 212 has been a staple of budget PC building for years. Its balance of price to performance cements its place as a solid budget CPU cooler.


Cooler type: Air cooler

Performance class: Low-to-medium

Size: Medium

Additional features: None 


Affordable price

Effective cooling

Easily fits in most PCs

Easy installation


Not flashy

Not great for high-performance CPUs

Requires a special at-cost bracket for Intel 12th-gen processors

The Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo is a classic recommendation for PC builders on a budget, and an easy upgrade if you need more cooling for your processor. It’s a medium-sized cooler and won’t win any awards for flashy aesthetics, but it gets the job done and easily cools everything from current-generation Intel Core-i7s to AMD’s Ryzen 7 5000 series. It’s best reserved for low- or mid-range PC processors though, as it doesn’t quite mitigate enough heat to keep a high-performance CPU cool. If you’re willing to spend a bit more, you can upgrade to the Black Edition RGB, which adds an RGB fan for significantly more flair, or you can save a dollar and go with the basic silver version. 

No matter which option you choose, installation isn’t difficult following the included instructions. The cooler has been around for a long time, so there are also numerous free videos to guide you through every step of the process. Things get a little complicated with Intel’s 12th-gen processors, however, as you’ll need a special bracket that only comes with the Black Edition. (It’s only $5 to purchase separately, though.) With a little care, this is an excellent, budget-friendly air cooler.

What to consider when buying the best CPU coolers

Every computer upgrade or modification requires some planning. When it comes to cooling your CPU, you’ll need to find the right style of cooler, the right size for your system, and make sure that your choice will be compatible with the rest of your PC. Here are the most important things to consider when shopping for the best CPU cooler:

Do you actually need to upgrade your CPU cooler?

If you’re thinking of upgrading an existing PC, you should actually make sure you need a new cooling system before investing in one. If you notice your computer slowing down midway through a processing-intensive task, or even shutting down, there’s a good chance you could use a more powerful CPU cooler. (If you are building a new PC from scratch, you can skip this part as you will definitely need a cooling solution.)

That said, you can (and should) use temperature monitoring software to see whether your PC is running hot. We recommend MSI Afterburner, which is free and graphs your temperatures over several minutes. To get the best results, open the program and use your computer as you normally would for roughly an hour so it has time to heat up. Focus on the most intensive tasks your PC handles regularly—play a game, edit some video, etc. Switch to Afterburner mid-task and make note of your current CPU temperature. The graph you’ll get represents how hot your CPU runs at peak output and when using the computer normally.

Next, you should check your peak CPU temperature to see how hot it can get using your current cooler. Download Cinebench, one of our top CPU recommendations for the best benchmarking software. Allow this program to run completely, then check in with Afterburner again. This represents your peak CPU temperature. 

With those figures in hand, it’s time to see how those compare with the temperature guidelines for the processor you’re using. If you have an Intel CPU, locate your chip on this list of Intel desktop processors. For AMD, find it on this collection of personal desktop CPUs. Both companies list their maximum temperatures as T-Junction (TJMax) or Maximum Operating Temperature. If your CPU is approaching or reaching this figure, you may be in need of an upgrade.

Air or water?

One of the first questions many new upgraders ask is whether they should buy an air cooler or a liquid cooler. Both styles of cooler have their benefits, as well as a few drawbacks. Here’s what you need to know about each kind:

Air coolers: Air coolers are the most common type of cooler for desktop PCs, offering tried and true cooling since we people started building computers at home. An air cooler features two components: A large metal heatsink that draws heat away from your processor, and a fan that disperses that heat out into the air so your case fans can blow it out. They are the simplest solution, the most reliable. They’re usually more affordable than a liquid cooling system and, at their biggest and best, offer similar cooling potential. 

The downside to air coolers is that they can be bulky, especially if you have a high-performance CPU. Their size can be an issue if you’re building in a smaller case, and may even block memory slots on your motherboard. If you care about aesthetics, an air cooler may not be the best choice either as their bulk can often become the center of attention in an otherwise great-looking PC. They also tend to run a bit louder than liquid coolers during normal use.

Liquid coolers: Liquid coolers have become a popular choice for gaming PCs and systems with high-performance processors. These coolers, sometimes called all-in-one coolers (AiO) or closed-loop coolers (CLCs), combine a water pump, radiator, and fans to absorb heat and quickly whisk it away from the CPU for efficient cooling. They come in more sizes than air coolers, allowing them to better adapt to the size constraints of various PC builds. They also better balance cooling with fan noise, and usually result in lower temperatures (with rare exceptions like the top-of-the-line Noctua NH-D15). Because of their efficiency, liquid coolers often run quietly on standard settings. The RGB-laden tubing that weaves through your system looks very sharp in a showpiece gaming PC with glass or mesh side panels.

Liquid cooling is definitely the fancier choice and offers some nice perks, but a liquid cooler is much harder to install than an air cooler. You’ll need to ensure your computer case supports the radiator in the cooler you’re interested in installing. They’re also often more expensive, and more likely to fail over time as the water pump ages and deteriorates. (That said, the best of them come with 3-5 year warranties.) 

The biggest risk, of course, is the liquid itself: It’s possible for a liquid cooler to leak and damage your system. Of course, this rarely happens—people would not buy liquid coolers if it were a major concern—but it’s worth keeping in mind, especially if you aren’t updating your PC regularly.

How much cooling do you actually need?

It can be tempting to buy the biggest, highest-performance cooler you can find, but that’s usually not necessary. The easiest way to determine how much cooling power you need is to look at how much heat your processor will give off and find a cooler with a similar rating. All Intel and AMD processors feature a spec called Thermal Design Power (TDP), which indicates how much heat it will give at maximum output. Ideally, you want a cooler rated to handle slightly more than the heat your CPU gives off. (You can find the product specifications for your processor using Intel or AMD’s database and note the wattage listed.)

Sadly, it isn’t always so simple. Not all manufacturer’s actually list the TDP for their coolers. If you find yourself in this situation, you’ll have to estimate based on your processor’s performance. Higher performance parts usually generate more heat, which means a larger cooler is often necessary.

With air coolers, you simply scale the size of the cooler with the power of your processor. From Intel Core i3 and Ryzen 3, the lowest performing processors, through Core i9 and Ryzen 9, the highest performing ones. If you plan to overclock your system, pushing your CPU harder for better graphics in games or other performance boosts, consider buying a more powerful cooler than you technically need.

Liquid coolers also scale by size but it pays to be a little more precise. We recommend opting for at least a 120mm radiator for Core-i3 and Ryzen 3 CPUs; a 240mm radiator for Core-i5, Core-i7, Ryzen 5, and Ryzen 7 processors; or a 360mm radiator for Core-i9 and Ryzen 9 CPUs. That said, there is more wiggle room with liquid coolers and a 240mm radiator should cover most bases. Opting for a larger cooler doesn’t hurt anything more than your wallet, so if you’re on the fence, go one size up.

Will it fit or block your other components?

The final thing to consider is whether your new cooler will physically fit in your system. There are three things to consider here: Your CPU socket, case compatibility, and, for the largest air coolers, memory clearance.

CPU socket: Your processor plugs into your PC’s motherboard via a specific, square-shaped socket. Your CPU cooler must also be compatible with your motherboard’s CPU socket to attach to the processor.

The current CPU sockets are the Intel LGA1700 and the AMD AM4. These sockets change regularly. (Case in point, Ryzen 7000 processors will use a new AM5 socket later this year.) Most liquid and air coolers include compatibility brackets to match a wide array of sockets, but some require you to request a compatibility kit from the manufacturer. Be sure to make sure your new cooler matches your current CPU. 

Case compatibility: Case compatibility is an important factor for both air and liquid coolers. Larger air coolers can be quite large. If it’s too big, you may not be able to close the side panel of your case. Likewise, you’ll need to be sure that your case supports mounting the liquid cooling radiator size you’re currently considering. Be sure to check the specifications for your computer case, as well as any potential cooler, before making a purchase.

Memory clearance: With large air coolers, you may also find that the heatsink prevents you from installing RAM in some of your motherboard’s memory slots. If you’re considering a towering cooler like the Noctua DH-15S, look carefully at its dimensions and measure the height of the memory sticks installed in your system. If the slot directly under the heatsink is being used by a stick that’s too tall for its clearance, you’ll need to remove it in order to install the cooler, which can slow down your PC’s performance. 


PCs don’t come cheap, so maintaining them is an important step to ensuring they live a long, useful life. If your CPU’s getting too hot, it will perform poorly and you will need to buy a new computer. Whether you’re looking for a quick and easy air cooler to hide inside your case or a high-performance AiO with RGB to spare, adding or upgrading your CPU cooler is usually a wise investment.

The Best Dj Controllers Of 2023

We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs. Learn more ›

Written By Markkus Rovito

Updated Feb 2, 2023 1:48 PM

DJ controllers leverage the processing power and massive storage of laptops—and sometimes mobile devices and cloud services—so that DJs can spin sets from enormous music libraries at a fraction of the cost and hassle of using high-end DJ turntables, mixers, and media players. While DJ controllers cover a wide range of sizes, feature sets, software compatibility, and prices, they generally connect to host devices over USB and include audio outputs for sending your mix to a main set of speakers and your cued music to headphones. Some DJ controllers prefer standalone systems that allow self-contained mixing but can also connect to a computer when you want to see a larger screen and potentially access additional software capabilities. For both complete newbies and old-school turntablists, this handy hardware can unlock a new world of possibilities making DJing more creative and even more fun. Choosing the right one for you is where that fun begins, so let’s get into the best DJ controllers of 2023.

How we selected the best DJ controllers

I have been a performing DJ for more than 15 years and have covered DJ gear (such as the Pioneer DJ XDJ-RX3) for DJ Tech Tools, Electronic Musician, Remix, Popular Science, and other outlets. I’ve personally used half of the DJ controllers on this list for public DJ sets, livestreams, or extensive reviews, and the remaining choices are based on thorough research, the feedback of fellow DJs, and other expert reviews. This guide includes the best DJ controllers for a variety of needs, skill levels, and price points. 

The best DJ controllers: Reviews & Recommendations

Finding the perfect DJ controller may not spike your dopamine as much as laying down a perfect set for a hyped crowd, but it should be an enjoyable process. And it’s better to start spinning tracks rather than spin into a spiral of indecision, which is where our list comes in. There are many great options and, unless you want to invest in more than one for different situations, you may end up sacrificing some great features for portability, or vice versa. Or you may find the exact controller you want, but it doesn’t work with your preferred software. To make your search easier, here are our picks for the best DJ controllers available this year for many different situations and budgets. 

Why it made the cut: Gig-ready gear that comes the closest to mimicking the layout and workflow of Pioneer DJ’s club-standard media players and mixers in a 2-channel controller. 


Channels: 2 decks plus mic input channel

Inputs and Outputs: XLR and RCA stereo Master outputs; balanced ¼-inch stereo Booth output; ¼-inch and 1/8-inch stereo headphone outputs; two stereo RCA phono/line channel inputs; stereo RCA Aux input; one balanced XLR/1/4-inch combo Mic input; one balanced ¼-inch Mic input. 

Audio Resolution: 24-bit/44.1kHz

Software Native Compatibility: Pioneer Rekordbox


Has the layout and feel of Pioneer DJ’s high-end club gear in a smaller, more affordable package

Informative on-jog color displays

Unlocks a performance-ready version of Rekordbox DJ software

Excellent performance pad modes


High-level Rekordbox functions like DVS and cloud storage/syncing require a subscription

The Pioneer DJ DDJ-800 recreates the layout and features of Pioneer DJ’s professional club-standard CDJ-NXS2 media players and DJM mixers but in a single unit for controlling the company’s Rekordbox software. It also unlocks a performance-ready version of Rekordbox so that you don’t have to pay for a subscription to the software, unless you want to unlock extra features like the DVS (digital vinyl system) Plus Pack, or other subscription levels for music library cloud storage and syncing. The DDJ-800 gives you basically everything from the popular 4-channel DDJ-1000 except in a smaller, 2-channel version that weighs about 1.3kg less and costs about $400 less. 

Color LCD displays in the center of the jog wheels help you see the essential track information without staring at the computer screen, and you can customize them to show what you want to see, including BPM, cue and loop points, and the waveform with playback position. Another small display dedicated to the popular Beat FX from Pioneer’s DJM mixers shows the settings. If you scratch while DJing, the jog wheel’s resistance is also adjustable to your preference. The DDJ-800’s mixer has two stereo phono/line audio inputs, so you can use the controller’s channel faders, trims, and EQs for external turntables and media players, as well as using Rekordbox’s effects on the external sources. 

Best for scratching: Rane One

Why it made the cut: A controller that caters to scratch DJs with the dual motorized, vinyl-feel platters and pro-level crossfader on the Rane One. 


Channels: 2 decks plus 2 mic inputs

Inputs and Outputs: RCA stereo Master output; balanced XLR stereo Main output; balanced XLR stereo Booth output; ¼-inch and 1/8-inch stereo headphone outputs; two stereo RCA phono/line channel inputs; stereo RCA Aux input; two balanced XLR/1/4-inch combo Mic inputs 

Audio Resolution: 24-bit, 48kHz

Software Native Compatibility: Serato DJ Pro, Aloriddim Djay Pro AI, VirtualDJ


Dual 7-inch motorized turntable-style platters with real vinyl feel

Pro scratch DJ Mag Four crossfader with tension and contour adjustment

Two USB ports for seamless transition between two laptops


You must pay a price for this kind of quality

Serato DJ Pro license not included

Rane One’s mixer section has six FX buttons for calling up effects combinations within the DJ software, and the aluminum FX paddles give scratch DJs the effects control they crave—the ability to lock the effects on or to momentarily toggle the effects on with the paddle down. For the pure feel of a full-size turntable in a DJ controller, Rane also makes the Twelve MKII, which works like a full-size, vertically oriented, 12-inch motorized turntable controller for DVS-enabled Serato DJ Pro, Traktor, and VirtualDJ. However, for scratch DJs who want the best of both the DJ controller and vinyl-manipulation worlds in a single unit that—at about 27 by 14 inches—is much smaller than two turntables and a mixer, nothing beats the Rane One.

Best for beginners: Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2 MK3

Why it made the cut: This compact, beginner-friendly DJ controller works in lock-step with Native Instruments software and won’t be obsolete when you progress from beginner status. 


Channels: 2 decks plus mic input

Inputs and Outputs: Stereo RCA and stereo 1/8-inch main outputs; 1/8-inch stereo headphone output; ¼-inch mic input

Audio Resolution: 24-bit/44.1kHz or 48kHz (selectable in software)

Software Native Compatibility: Traktor DJ 2 (free download), Traktor Pro 3 (license included)


Approachable feature set with lasting appeal to higher skill levels

Very high-quality build and audio

Dedicated USB port for iPad connectivity

Includes Traktor Pro 3 license


No controls for Traktor Pro’s effects decks

Fewer performance pad modes than many DJ controllers

Best standalone system: Denon DJ Prime 4 

Why it made the cut: Compared to other standalone DJ systems, this setup does not hold back any functionality and offers the best touchscreen, connectivity, and overall feature set in its class. 


Channels: 4 decks plus two mic inputs

Inputs and Outputs: RCA stereo Master output; three balanced XLR stereo outputs; ¼-inch and 1/8-inch stereo headphone outputs; two stereo RCA phono/line channel inputs two stereo RCA line channel inputs; two balanced XLR/1/4-inch combo Mic inputs; four USB media inputs; SD memory card slot 

Audio Resolution: 24-bit/44.1kHz

Software Native Compatibility: Serato DJ Pro, VirtualDJ


Brilliant 10.1-inch color touchscreen with gesture control

Plenty of wired and wireless connectivity options

Built for both standalone and laptop use

Good value for what’s included


Rather large and unwieldy for transporting

Pioneer DJ standalone DJ systems like the XDJ-RX3 are home-setup mainstays, in part because you can use the same Rekordbox-prepared USB sticks from the standalone system on club gear like the CDJ-3000. However, the Denon DJ Prime 4 unequivocally packs the most features into its 4-deck frame at a lower price than its main competitors (less than $2,000). On first glance of the Prime 4, the eye goes immediately to its brilliant 10.1-inch touchscreen, which offers gesture control familiar to mobile device users powered by the system’s multi-core processing. You can play music files from four USB inputs and an SD card slot without the use of a laptop or hook it up to a computer loaded with Serato DJ Pro or VirtualDJ software. The Prime 4 also has built-in Wi-Fi and an Ethernet port for accessing music from your personal Dropbox collection or from four streaming services: Tidal, SoundCloud Go+, Beatport Link, and Beatsource Link (subscriptions required). 

The multi-view touchscreen can clearly show large scrolling waveforms for all four decks at once either horizontally or vertically, allows fast and easy track browsing and loading, lets you create playlists on the fly, and dynamically shows the relevant parameters as you play, such as looping, beat slicing, track roll, and other performance pad modes. 

A generous effects control section on each side includes its own mini displays for showing the parameters of the 14 internal DJ effects, in addition to the per-channel Sweep FX knobs. You also get full hands-on control over the two mic inputs and multiple audio outputs. 

To add visual elements to your DJ sets, the Prime 4 integrates with SoundSwitch for customized or automated light shows, and Resolume for live visuals and videos. All told, the Prime 4 impresses like no other standalone DJ system to date. 

Best compact controller: Numark DJ2GO2 Touch

Why it made the cut: Simple, straightforward, and very small, this controller includes core DJing necessities that can slip easily into a slim laptop case. 


Channels: 2 decks plus mic input

Inputs and Outputs: 1/8-inch stereo main output; 1/8-inch stereo headphone output

Audio Resolution: 16-bit/44.1kHz

Software Native Compatibility: Serato DJ Lite (included), Serato DJ Pro, VirtualDJ, Algoriddim Djay for iOS


Extremely compact for easy portability

Four pad modes

Touch-sensitive jog wheels allow both scratching and nudging

Low price


No track EQ controls

When used with the included Serato DJ Lite, you can DJ with streaming music from SoundCloud and Tidal. Track library browsing and deck loading round out the DJ2GO2 Touch to make it a very attractive option either as a starter DJ controller or an alternate second controller for when small size matters.

Why it made the cut: This excellent 2-channel DJ controller stands out for its included Serato DJ Pro license for U.S. customers and some unique music production-oriented features. 


Channels: 2 decks plus mic input

Inputs and Outputs: Stereo RCA main output; 1/4-inch stereo headphone output; ¼-inch mic input; MIDI output

Audio Resolution: 24-bit/48kHz

Software Native Compatibility: Serato DJ Lite, Serato DJ Pro (license for US customers only)


Solid all-around 2-channel DJ controller with 4-deck support in Serato software

Includes Serato DJ Pro license for US customers

Built-in drum machine and MIDI out for syncing external gear


May take some leg work to obtain the Serato DJ Pro upgrade

While the Roland DJ-202 measures up as a super-solid 2-channel controller for Serato software, it’s not the least expensive option out there. What makes it an irresistible prospect for serious DJs on a budget is its inclusion of an upgrade to Serato DJ Pro (for U.S. customers only). You may have to jump through some hoops with customer service to get the Serato DJ Pro license, but DJ-202 buyers are still getting it in 2023. 

Things to consider before buying the best DJ controllers

Some specialty DJ controllers do not include audio interfaces that let you monitor the cue mix in your headphones and send audio out to the main speakers. This guide only spotlights DJ controllers that include audio interfaces and also access to some level of DJ software, so you can get started DJing right away. The audio capabilities of the controllers on this list vary. Some of them have basic audio connections, so you can only plug in your headphones and one set of main monitors. Others have much more, including audio inputs for turntables and DJ media players, separate booth monitor outputs, and microphone inputs. 

DJ software

Many DJs prefer to decide which DJ software they want to use before picking their DJ controller, as this narrows down DJ controllers to the ones that support the software out of the box. Some DJ software, like Virtual DJ and Algoriddim DJ, supports many controllers with mappings that the software developers have made, but you won’t find many DJ controllers made specifically for those programs. Other DJ software, like Pioneer DJ Rekordbox and Native Instruments Traktor Pro, has a limited number of natively support DJ controllers made by the same maker of the software. Serato DJ has the largest selection of third-party DJ controllers that are made specifically for that software. Traktor Pro and some other DJ software options also have MIDI mapping built-in, so any DJ controller could be made to work with them. However, most DJs do not want to go through the trouble of creating their own MIDI mapping, and the user-made mappings available online are hit or miss.

Size Mixer channels and features Control features

DJ controllers also vary significantly in how many/what type of features they include. If they are made for scratch DJs, for example, they will probably have a professional crossfader, like a Magvel, made for smooth and accurate precision over a long life of extended use. They will also probably have larger jog wheels made to better simulate the response of turntables, which may include motorized platters and a vinyl piece on top to respond like a record. On the other hand, occasional controllers, like the now-discontinued Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S8, don’t have jog wheels at all, and others have much smaller jog wheels to save space. 


DJ controllers range widely in price from under $100 for some barebones yet highly portable gear to well over $2,000 for some of the largest, most deluxe pro controllers, some of which may also be standalone systems you can use without a laptop. While I recommend staying within your means, it’s also worth it to try to decide on a controller you really vibe with rather than compromising to save a few bucks. Quality DJing rests more on your musical choices and mixing skills than on the gear you use, but you should try to be as happy as you can be with your DJ controller. Frustration with your DJ gear can distract you from putting together a great DJ set. 


Several key factors play into your decision on the best DJ controller to buy: software compatibility, size, price, number of mixer channels, and the availability of performance features like pad modes and effects sections. It can be a challenge to find one that fits the exact profile you want but parse through our picks and you soon will be equipped with the perfect DJ booth companion.

The Best Paint Spray Guns Of 2023

We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs. Learn more ›

Written By PopSci Commerce Team

Updated Mar 3, 2023 1:53 PM

A professional paint spray gun will let you put aside brushes and rollers in favor of an efficient, effective, easy-to-use way to paint. These compact machines can help you tackle large paint jobs inside or outside the home, saving you time and undue joint pain. You can also use a paint gun to cover fences, furniture, and other objects with reasonably sized surface areas. While they may not be necessary for smaller tasks or rooms that are already filled to the brim with belongings (a paint sprayer can be pretty messy), the best paint spray guns will help you stay on schedule and make your recent home improvement renovations as easy as possible. 

The best paint spray guns: Reviews & Recommendations Best airless: Graco Magnum X5 Airless Paint Sprayer 

This Graco airless paint sprayer allows you to fully adjust the pressure settings for control over paint flow with a flexible suction tube that will enable you to pull paint directly from a 1-galloon to 5-gallon paint bucket. It can handle up to 125 gallons of paint per year and supports a hose that measures up to 75 feet. Best of all, this Graco paint sprayer comes with a power flush adapter that you can attach to an ordinary garden hose for an easy, efficient clean. 

Best HVLP: Wagner Spraytech Control Spray Max 

This HVLP paint spray gun from Wagner has a pressure control dial and material flow adjuster, so you can easily select your desired spray pattern for the perfect paint finish. The Wagner paint sprayer’s stationary base holds the heavier turbines and connects to a 20-foot hose with the lightweight spray unit attached. It comes with a 1.5-quart plastic cup and a 1-quart professional metal cup so you can choose what’s suitable for your particular project. This powerful Wagner paint sprayer works quickly and efficiently to paint cabinets, sidings, furniture, and more.

Best cart: Graco Magnum Prox19 Cart Paint Sprayer 

 Another great Graco paint sprayer, this cart sprayer will do the trick for any large paint job. It has fully adjustable pressure settings, a PowerFlush adapter, and an InstaClean pump filter to reduce clogs. This Graco paint sprayer can spray up to 500 gallons of paint per year and support a hose reaching 150 feet for multistory projects. You can spray practically any type of paint, including unthinned latex, and the suction tube can connect directly to a 1-gallon to the 5-gallon paint bucket.

Best for your car: Wagner Spraytech MotoCoat Complete Sprayer 

This HVLP paint spray gun was made for DIY auto projects. It can handle just about everything, from custom coatings for your truck bed to auto-finishing paints. This Wagner paint sprayer comes with two nozzles: the Detail Finish nozzle is designed for smooth, even surface coats, and the iSpray nozzle is meant for thick, textured coats for under beds and carriages. Volume flow, spray pattern, and spray width are all adjustable, plus the sprayer features a 39-foot hose, so you can easily maneuver around your vehicle. 

Best budget: Astro Pneumatic Tool 4008 Spray Gun With Cup 

This Astro spray gun has a 1.8-millimeter nozzle, adjustable fan, and 1-quart capacity dripless cup. It can spray a variety of paints and lacquers, including primers and topcoats, at various angles thanks to the anti-spill air feed line, which maintains proper suction at all times. This is a fantastic introductory paint spray gun; it even comes with detailed instructions specifically for beginners. Keep in mind this unit will require a separate air hose and a three-horsepower (3 hp) air compressor, double-check the specs on your other tools to make sure it is compatible. 

Things to consider when picking the best paint spray guns to cover walls, ceilings, furniture, and more

Whether you’ve never used a paint gun before, or you’re just looking to try a new model, finding the best paint spray gun for your needs can be a bit tricky. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to prep before you spray that first coat. You’ll want to make sure you can safely use one of these efficient machines in your space. Unlike brushes and rollers, you won’t be able to control the mess a spray gun can make fully. It’s a good idea to put down drop cloths, tightly cover any pieces of furniture with plastic sheeting, and remove all the objects you can from the room before painting. Spray guns also use a lot of paint, which means it’s a good idea to stock up before beginning your process. Finally, invest in protective gear, such as goggles and a face mask or respirator, to ensure your safety. (Oh, and book in time and a place to flush the system after use.)

Once you’ve gone through all the necessary preparations, you’ll be ready to choose the best paint sprayer for your needs. There are three different types of paint sprayers: airless paint sprayers, which use high pressure to shoot thick paint out of the tip; HVLP (High Volume Low Pressure), which have a better transfer efficiency so you’ll get more paint on the area you’re aiming for rather than in the air; and, finally, air-assisted (or pneumatic), which are hooked up to air compressors and make for a great affordable option. Each one is designed for different projects and paint types.  

You’ll also want to pay attention to the sprayer’s tips and spray patterns. For example, stains need a smaller tip and low pressure to be evenly distributed, while latex paints and primers thrive “under pressure” and require a wider tip. If you plan to use your paint spray gun for multiple projects, it’s a good idea to look for flexible tips or units that come with additional nozzles. Spray patterns describe the shape and direction the paint moves in when pushed out of the nozzle; many units have multiple pattern options, including horizontal, vertical, and round. This kind of flexibility will result in quick, complete coverage for numerous projects.  

In order to determine which one of these models is right for you, consider the size and scale of your project. Think about where your priorities lie in terms of budget, paint volume, time, and style. If you’re still feeling a little lost, keep reading while we dive into each models’ specificities and features.  

Related: You’ll nail your home improvement projects with these power tools. 

Using thick latex paints?

If you’re setting out to redo the color on your living room walls or other large, flat surfaces, we suggest going with an airless paint spray gun. They work by utilizing high pressure to atomize the paint and then shoot it out through a specially designed tip, meaning the gun will never incorporate air into your paint. They are incredibly efficient, so you’ll be able to finish most projects within minutes. Plus, an airless sprayer is equipped to handle unthinned latex paints and primers popular for homes or businesses, meaning you’ll spend less time refiling the gun or restocking your chosen color. The high-pressure tip will deliver a seamless spray to coat your walls evenly, but they are prone to clogging because of the undiluted paint viscosity. Never fear; simply select a unit that has a reversible nozzle, so you can blow out the clog and get back to work. 

Keep in mind, airless sprayers are subject to overspray because the paint shoots out of the gun with such intensity it can bounce back off of the surfaces. It’s a good idea to remove any furniture from the room you wish to paint and seal off any wall trimmings or moldings you want to keep clean. You’ll also want to take additional safety precautions: ensure proper ventilation, keep your hands away from the tip of the gun, and wear protective goggles. 

Working on furniture and other smaller projects?

If you want a paint spray gun to help you coat furniture items like tables, buffets, credenzas, and more, we recommend going with an HVLP model. 

High volume (the HV) means an increased air volume to carry the paint to the tip of the spray gun, so you’ll have more paint landing on the surface in a concentrated manner. This results in less waste when it comes to paint particles and fewer trips to the hardware store to re-up your supply. Low pressure (the LP) will reduce overspray and increase control, with a narrow nozzle that’s perfect for getting full coverage in cracks and crevices. 

HVLP nozzles can help you paint surface areas as small as bicycles, chair legs, or door frames while keeping surrounding furniture clean (though it never hurts to add a tarp or two, just in case). These spray guns are great for pretty much any project. You can use them to paint your walls too; however, HVLP sprayers will take more time to cover large areas than an airless gun, so prepare accordingly. They are also not equipped to handle thick latex paints; HVLPs are best for oil-based or thinned latex paints, varnishes, and stains.  

Need to cover a large area like the exterior of your home?

Are you planning on giving your entire home a fresh coat of paint? Or maybe you have a guest house in the back that could use a little re-touching? If this is the case, think about investing in a cart. While other paint spray guns, like the ones mentioned above, are suitable for projects of various sizes, a cart is the best way to eliminate refills so you can make the most of your time. Other handheld models can hold roughly 1 quart of paint, while a cart allows you to connect the spray tube directly to a paint bucket ranging in size. Carts will also allow you to connect extra-long hoses, so you don’t have to lug the unit up and down stairs or around the perimeter of your home. And wheels make moving them around a piece of cake. Plus, the pumps on cart models can typically handle well over 100 gallons of paint per year, so you won’t have to stop your project short for any replacement parts. 

A cart paint sprayer is generally more expensive than other handheld models, so we recommend investing in one if you foresee many/multiple renovations or paint jobs in your future. Or if the project is just too massive for a smaller paint spray gun to handle. They are a great tool to have around if your once DIY projects start turning into a new, fully-fledged home renovation business.   

Are you planning on painting your car? 

Giving your car a fresh paint job can go a long way when it comes to upgrading your ride. While it’s not the easiest task, a paint spray gun can give your car a new coat without taking it into the shop. In order to do this, you’ll want to grab a handheld paint sprayer that is easy to hold and designed with detail in mind. 

An HVLP gun will give you the sleek, smooth finish your car deserves, especially if it comes with a detailing nozzle for additional clean coverage. For heavier primers and surfacers, use a nozzle between 1.7 and 2.2 millimeters. Basecoats and sealers need 1.4- to 1.6-millimeter openings; clearcoats need a 1.3- to 1.7-millimeter nozzle. It’s essential to use the appropriate nozzle to avoid annoying clogs and ensure you get a texture-free coat without any orange peel, which is a pitted effect caused by low-quality paint spray guns and incorrect tip sizing. Additionally, double-check your spray gun’s specs to make sure it can handle lacquers and urethane paint. (We do not recommend using acrylic enamel paint in a spray gun, especially for your car; leave that one to the professionals.) 

Besides buying the right spray gun, there are a few other tips and tricks to make painting your car a little easier. Instead of moving the gun from your wrist, make sure you paint with your entire arm, moving from the shoulder so that the sprayer remains perpendicular to the vehicle at all times. This is the best way to get an even finish. Additionally, you want to make sure you seal off everything you do not want to paint: windows, windshields, handles, etc. Even though an HVLP gun does not produce as much overspray as other models, there will still be some transference, and you don’t need to waste your time scrubbing paint off your windows. 

Do I need to break the bank to find an excellent paint spray gun?

If you aren’t planning on using your new paint spray gun for multiple projects and you just need one great gun for something simple, you certainly don’t need to spend a lot to get the results you require. When looking for a more affordable model, go with a pneumatic gun. These units tend to be significantly less expensive than airless or HVLP models and will work just as well for smaller paint jobs. Pneumatic sprayers only need to be hooked up to an air compressor, and they are good to go. They do tend to have quite a bit more overspray, so just make sure you protect any surrounding furniture, walls, etc. Pneumatic sprayers work best with thinned or oil-based paints. 

FAQs Q: Does a paint sprayer use more paint?

Technically, yes, a paint sprayer uses, on average, around 33-percent more paint than a roller or other painting tool. It’s airless sprayers that use the most, while HVLP guns use about 20-percent more than your average roller. Gravity guns that rely on high pressure can need about 1.5 cups of paints for every one cup you need for a more analog method. 

Q: Can I leave paint in a sprayer overnight? 

In general, it is not recommended you leave any paint in your sprayer overnight. If you absolutely must, make sure you depressurize the sprayer and place the gun and intake tube in a bucket of water. Suppose the paint dries up inside the nozzle or canister. In that case, you’ll find yourself in a stressful cleaning situation that may require professional assistance to clear up or, even worse, cause permanent damage. 

Q: Can you run water through a paint sprayer? 

Yes, you can run water through a paint sprayer. This is the best way to clean the unit after using materials like latex-based paint. You can use paint thinner to clean up after oil-based paints and lacquers. It is recommended to clean out your paint sprayer after every use.

Related: Notice lots of odd jobs that need doing? Here are the best home maintenance tools. 

The final word on the best paint spray guns

Whether you’re starting your first DIY project or you are home improvement royalty, investing in a new paint spray gun is never a bad idea. The time you’ll save by getting rid of brushes and rollers will leave your schedule wide open, so you can tackle everything else on your to-do list. The best paint spray gun will be particularly formatted to fit the surfaces you are covering and the paint you are using without any extra hassle. Once you find a paint gun you love, we wouldn’t be surprised if suddenly every wall in your home just “needs” a new coat. 

Why trust us

Popular Science started writing about technology more than 150 years ago. There was no such thing as “gadget writing” when we published our first issue in 1872, but if there was, our mission to demystify the world of innovation for everyday readers means we would have been all over it. Here in the present, PopSci is fully committed to helping readers navigate the increasingly intimidating array of devices on the market right now.

Our writers and editors have combined decades of experience covering and reviewing consumer electronics. We each have our own obsessive specialties—from high-end audio to video games to cameras and beyond—but when we’re reviewing devices outside of our immediate wheelhouses, we do our best to seek out trustworthy voices and opinions to help guide people to the very best recommendations. We know we don’t know everything, but we’re excited to live through the analysis paralysis that internet shopping can spur so readers don’t have to.

Update the detailed information about The Best Smart Locks Of 2023 on the website. We hope the article's content will meet your needs, and we will regularly update the information to provide you with the fastest and most accurate information. Have a great day!