Best CPU Cooler for i9 9900K: Keep things Cool while Overclocking

Dylan Howe

Despite being two years old, the Intel i9 9900K is still a force to be reckoned with. Offering 8 cores, 16 threads, and a Max Turbo Frequency of 5.00 GHz, it can handle high-end gaming and most other processor-intensive activities with ease.

The Intel i9 9900K, like any powerful processor, tends to generate a lot of heat when you push it to its extremes. So if you plan to do any gaming, video-editing...etc. with this CPU, it's a must to pair it up with a capable CPU cooler.

What's the best CPU cooler for i9 9900K?

That’s exactly what we’re going to be looking at in this blog post.

Preview Product
Noctua NH-D15, Premium CPU Cooler with 2X NF-A15 PWM 140mm Fans (Brown) Noctua NH-D15, Premium CPU Cooler with 2X NF-A15 PWM 140mm Fans (Brown)
be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4, BK022, 250W TDP, CPU Cooler be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4, BK022, 250W TDP, CPU Cooler
Corsair iCUE H150i RGB Pro XT, 360mm Radiator, Triple 120mm PWM Fans, Advanced RGB Lighting and Fan Control with Software, Liquid CPU Cooler Corsair iCUE H150i RGB Pro XT, 360mm Radiator, Triple 120mm PWM Fans, Advanced RGB Lighting and Fan...
NZXT Kraken X72 360mm - RL-KRX72-01 - AIO RGB CPU Liquid Cooler - CAM-Powered - Infinity Mirror Design - Performance Engineered Pump - Reinforced... NZXT Kraken X72 360mm - RL-KRX72-01 - AIO RGB CPU Liquid Cooler - CAM-Powered - Infinity Mirror...
EVGA CLC 280mm All-In-One RGB LED CPU Liquid Cooler, 2x FX13 140mm PWM Fans, Intel, AMD, 5 YR Warranty, 400-HY-CL28-V1 EVGA CLC 280mm All-In-One RGB LED CPU Liquid Cooler, 2x FX13 140mm PWM Fans, Intel, AMD, 5 YR...
Scythe Big Shuriken 3 CPU Air Cooler, 120mm Low Profile(69mm Tall), Intel LGA1151, AMD AM4/Ryzen Scythe Big Shuriken 3 CPU Air Cooler, 120mm Low Profile(69mm Tall), Intel LGA1151, AMD AM4/Ryzen

Contents

Product Reviews - Best CPU cooler for i7 and i9 Processors

Noctua NH-D15

This dual-fan cooling unit from Noctua comes with NF-A15 140mm fans. The most standout feature of these fans is that their blades feature 'flow acceleration channels'.

Flow acceleration channels are special grooves that prevent the air from becoming turbulent, going off in several directions. These channels are like 'guides', keeping the air flowing in one direction, increasing the rate of heat dissipation while also lowering the noise output.

The NF-A15 fans have an RPM of 1500 which I found to be good enough for overclocking an i9 9900K. Despite the relatively high RPM, they don't get louder than 24dB - a nose level that is easily drowned out by a pair of headphones.

The Noctua NH-D15 is a fairly large cooler because each of its fans comes with its own heat sink.

The heat sinks feature a recessed fin design which was probably intended to allow more clearance for RAM. However, I found that it didn't afford me enough space to fit taller RAM modules underneath it. Hence, if you're thinking of getting this cooler, be aware of the fact that it'll only support standard-height or low-profile RAM modules. 

There are 6 heat pipes located on the top surface of the cooler, which allows for faster heat dissipation.

Notcua includes a free tube of their NT-H1 thermal paste plus a splitter cable with each purchase of the NH-D15. The latter can be used to connect both fans to the same PWM header, leaving more of them vacant for future additions.

Pros:

Cons:

be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4

As you might have guessed, be quiet is a company that builds silent coolers. The Dark Rock Pro 4 dual fan unit is no exception because it simply refuses to get any louder than 24.3 dB, even while its fans are spinning at a max RPM of 1500.

The Dark Rock Pro 4 comes with Silent Wings PWM fans, each containing a funnel-shaped inlet. This helps to raise the air pressure, causing the hot air that is produced to be blown out much faster.

Each fan comes with its own heat sink, featuring cut-outs to offer more clearance for RAM modules. Unfortunately, there still isn't enough room to fit the tallest RAM modules (64mm in height). It supports any modules up to 40mm in height just fine.

On top of the unit, you'll find seven heat pipes that are made out of copper. They increase the surface area available for dissipating heat.

Each purchase of a be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4 includes a free small tube of thermal past and a Y-splitter cable which you can use to connect both fans to one PWM header on your PC case.

Pros:

Cons:

Corsair iCUE H150i Pro XT AIO Cooler

The iCUE H150i Pro XT from Corsair is quite an expensive all-in-one cooler. However, I think it packs enough features to justify the price tag.

Starting off, this cooler features three 120mm fans, capable of spinning at 2400 RPM. Having three fans of this caliber can be very beneficial when you're overclocking a powerful processor like an i9 9900K. In my experience, it allowed me to do processor-intensive tasks like gaming and video-editing for much longer than I usually could while having my processor overclocked.

The Corsair iCUE H150i can get a bit loud, which is understandable. With all three fans spinning at 2400 RPM, the noise output reached around 37dB.

The H150i includes Corsair's iCUE software which is an interface that lets you tweak the RGB lighting on the water block as well as the fan and pump speeds. It features a Zero RPM mode which can be activated in low temperatures. This mode forces the fans to stop spinning altogether, reducing the noise output drastically.

The Zero RPM mode is handy when you're doing some light tasks on the computer. With the pump working, you wouldn't need to engage the fans as well. If you want to reduce the noise even further, you also can lower the pump speed as well.

As you might expect, the H150i does take up a lot of space due to the number of fans. Therefore, you'll most probably need to have an ATX PC case to accommodate it.

The Corsair iCUE H150i is a fantastic water cooler for i7 9700k, i9 9900K, and other similarly powerful processors.

Pros:

Cons:

NZXT Kraken X72 360mm

Like the Corsair iCUE H150i, the NZXT Kraken X72 is another AIO cooler featuring three fans. It's an expensive cooler so it's more suited for high-end PC builds.

Each of the three fans is capable of reaching 2000 RPM, which allows them to fully keep up with an overclocked processor. Combine this with a liquid pump that can operate at 2800 RPM and you've got a truly effective cooling system.

As with the Corsair H150i, the Kraken X72 does get a bit loud, reaching around 36dB when all three fans are in operation. However, this isn't so loud that you can't drown most of it out with a decent pair of headphones.

The Kraken 72 features some advanced controls via its CAM software. Using CAM, you can fine-tune things like a pump, fan, and radiator speeds, setting up profiles for different use cases like gaming, rendering...etc. You can also toggle between a variety of LED modes available for the cooling block.

The cooling block operates pretty quietly thanks to some advanced engineering by NZXT. It's quite pleasing to look at as well, thanks to the well-designed LED lighting on the top surface.

The tubes extending from the block are quite sturdy since they've been reinforced with nylon coating. At the same time, I found them to be quite flexible so you're very unlikely to damage them and cause leaks even if you twist them around to fit them inside a cramped PC case.

 Pros:

Cons:

If you want a cheaper alternative to the X72, check out the Kraken X52. It's pretty much the dual fan version of the former, including the same cooling block with reinforced tubing.

EVGA CL28 All-In-One Cooler

The CL28 is a dual fan AIO unit in EVGA's Cooler Series. Each 140mm in the unit has a maximum RPM of 2400 which means that they'll complement a powerful processor like the i9 9900K quite well even through extreme overclocking.

An RPM of 2400 allows these fans to each push out 75 cubic feet of air per minute so they'll support you through extended gaming marathons and renders that take several hours. The only drawback is that the fans can get a bit noisy.

Each fan comes with its own copper base heat sink and they're quite fast at heat dissipating. It also helps that thermal paste comes pre-applied to the bases, making installation much easier.

The CL28 ships with EVGA's Flow Control software which gives you control over the fans, the pump, and the RGB lighting present on the cooling block. Using Flow Control, you can create your own fan presets and then toggle through them on the fly.

This unit's cooling block is quite large which means that it has more surface area for transferring out the heat. It contains sleeve tubes which are known for their strength and durability.

Pros:

Cons:

Scythe Big Shuriken 3 CPU Air Cooler

If you've got a smaller PC case that doesn't have room to accommodate dual or triple fan units, then the Scythe Big Shuriken 3 might be a good choice for you. Don't let the 'big' in its name fool you because it's a low-profile cooler that's small enough to fit in Mini-ITX cases.

It measures just 69mm in height, meaning it provides a lot of space for RAM modules. The Shuriken 3's single fan comes with very thin blades (15 mm in thickness) causing it to be lightweight. It can rotate at a max RPM of 1800, allowing it to blow out up to 50 cubic feet of air each minute! The only drawback with the fan is that it does get a little bit noisy when operating at max speed.

This air cooler unit features a heat sink attached to the rear of its fan. It's got an offset design and cut-outs which are a big part of why it provides enough room for tall RAM modules. The top surface contains 5 heat pipes, extending the surface area available for dispelling heat.

The Shuriken 3 is quite easy to install thanks to the spring-loaded mounting system it ships with.

Pros:

Cons:

What do I think is the Best Cooler for i9 9900k?

I’m always partial to AIO coolers since you get the best of both worlds with them. In my opinion, the NZXT Kraken X72 is the best AIO cooler for i9 9900k so I’d go with it. Having three fans that can spin at 2000 RPM and a highly efficient liquid pump is quite beneficial when overclocking a powerful Intel 9th generation CPU. Plus it features very solid construction and the LED lighting is quite pleasing to look at.

If I were to pick out an air cooler, then my choice would the Noctua NH-D15. It’s by far the best air cooler for i9 9900k that I’ve come across so far in terms of efficiency, features, and build quality.

Buying Guide for CPU Coolers

Coolers play a major hand in creating the right overclocking environment for your processor. If you aren't able to get rid of the extra heat that is generated at a fast enough rate, then your CPU may suffer irreversible damage. In addition, but less importantly, CPU coolers impact how much noise is outputted from your PC.

As a result, it is very important to consider certain things before you buy yourself a cooler. Let’s take a look at what these considerations are:

Liquid CPU Cooler vs Air Cooler: What should you buy?

Air coolers

Air coolers are pretty simple. They make use of spinning fans to push out hot air and they usually have copper base plates and heat sinks to aid heat transfer from the CPU. Air coolers can be quite effective at dissipating, depending on the number of fans they contain. If you’re someone who has to perform processor-intensive tasks continuously then I'd recommend getting at least a dual fan unit.

There are a couple of downsides to air coolers. For instance, their heat sinks make them quite bulky. Therefore, if you've got a small PC case, you might have a hard time with installation. In addition, they can get loud too, especially during overclocking when their fans have to work extra hard.

Liquid coolers

Since water is a better heat conductor than air, liquid coolers are typically better at cooling CPUs. Purely liquid coolers are also quieter because they don't contain any fans while the same cannot be said for All-in-One units.

The biggest downside to liquid coolers is that if their tubes become damaged then water can leak out and harm the processor. Fortunately, the All-in-One coolers mentioned in the unit all feature sturdy construction so they're very unlikely to leak.

Is the Cooler compatible with your CPU?

You can't just buy any cooler and install it on your CPU. They have to be compatible with each other. CPU-cooler compatibility is easy to determine.

 Simply go through the product specs for your processor and find out what kind of socket it uses. Then go through the cooler's product specs and check if it supports the same socket. Core i9 9900K, Core i7 9700k, and other similar Intel CPUs require an LGA1151 socket.

Can the cooler fit inside your Case?

Once you've confirmed that the cooler is compatible with your processor, then check if you have enough space to house it inside your PC case.

All the coolers mentioned in my reviews have a heat sink attached to them and so you'll need to see if the case gives enough clearance for them. Go through your PC case's product specs and see if there's a maximum cooler height listed. Then compare that to the cooler's dimensions.

RAM Clearance

RAM clearance is also another concern because the DIMM slots (where RAM modules are mounted) are typically located right under where the cooler's heat sink would be placed. If you've got standard-height or low-profile RAM modules this shouldn't be a problem but if yours are taller, check to see if the cooler provides enough clearance.

If you’re buying a liquid cooler…

If you're buying a liquid cooler you need to make sure that it can fit too. Check your case's product specs and look for the maximum radiator dimensions it can accommodate. Compare this with the cooler's dimensions.

Hopefully, this information helps you with your buying decision. Always make sure that you've ticked off these considerations before you buy a new cooler.

Dylan Howe

Author
Dylan’s obsession with tech began at the early age of seven, when he built his first gaming PC with his Dad as a summer project. That was the start of a long-enduring, expensive passion that would keep him perpetually happy…but also broke. Fast-forward to today and Dylan is a freelance video-editor but also occasionally dabbles in other things like 3D modeling and game development. He still loves ‘nerding’ out on the latest hardware and software; so much so that he decided to start his own blog where he can talk about all the cool gear he gets his hands on.
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