Best CPU coolers for i7–9700K (Air and AIO) in 2023
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The Core i7-9700K is the penultimate offering in Intel’s current gaming CPU lineup. The eight-core/eight-thread processor is a powerful gaming beast. It’s great for any type of gaming and is usable for productivity-related tasks. If you need a machine that will be used only for gaming and light tasks, feel free to get this one. Regardless of which category you fall under ,though, you’re gonna need a good cooling setup to compliment it!
The i7-9700K is powerful, but it can get pretty hot. With that said, if you’re planning on using the CPU exclusively for gaming, it will run at pretty low temperatures even when playing the most demanding games available. There are lots of capable coolers, both air, and liquid, out there that can keep the Core i7-9700K thermals under check. And below, you can find the best CPU coolers for i7-9700K.
Getting an air cooler for your i7-9700K over an AIO system doesn’t mean settling for less. Top air coolers are pretty capable. With a top-of-the-line air cooler, you can overclock the CPU and run it without issues, all that while paying way less than for an AIO solution.
Air coolers are also much easier to set up. They also cannot leak and ruin your machine. Finally, if you’re moving your rig all the time, the only real choice is to get an air cooler.
The Noctua NH-D15 is the best air cooler for Core i7-9700K, period. This mythic beast is still the best air cooler around. And remember, Noctua released this one way back in 2014.
This cooler is great both for running stock clocks and for OC. There’s also a black version of Noctua’s brown and beige color palette that doesn’t suit your gaming rig. If you want an even sleeker look, you can opt for some heatsink covers specially made for them.
The NH-D15 can come very close to AIO systems while keeping the noise lower than any AIO cooler out there. Under load, it can reach about 35 decibels. It’s a complete package with its price being high but completely worth the performance.
The thing is, though, the NH-D15 is pretty massive. This can cause problems with RAM sticks that feature tall heatsinks. Check out our list of the best low-profile RAM, so you know which RAM kit to pick in case you end up with the NH-D15.
2. Thermalright Le Grand Macho: Best budget air cooler for i7-9700K
Thermalright Le Grand Macho is a sound alternative to the Noctua DH-15. It’s a bit cheaper while providing almost the same performance. This one is a bit quieter, which is a definite plus. Under load, it can reach up to 33 decibels. A great result when we introduce performance into the equation.
Further, Le Grand Macho has a bit smaller footprint compared to the NH-D15. Overall, this is another superb air cooler that will be capable of keeping thermals under control even if you plan on overclocking.
3. be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4: Best silent air cooler for i7-9700K
be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4 is the best silent air cooler for the i7-9700K. It’s quieter than the two heatsinks mentioned above. Under load, it barely goes over 30 decibels, which is amazing.
Thermal performance isn’t at the same level as our previous picks, though. However, while the Dark Rock Pro 4 is not as good at cooling the CPU as the NH-D15, it’s capable enough to provide solid thermals for both stock clocks and moderate OC.
4. Scythe Big Shuriken 3: Best low-profile air cooler for i7-9700K
If you’re building a mini-ITX rig, get the Scythe Big Shuriken 3. This low-profile cooler provides outstanding performance in its category and is the best SFF cooler for the 9700K.
It won’t get near the performance of top air coolers, but for a low-profile one, it rocks. You will be able to overclock your Core i7-9700K; just make sure your case has good airflow. We have a list of the best airflow PC cases if you need a buying advice.
While not being the thermals champion, the Scythe Big Shuriken 3 is exceptionally quiet. Again, not the best compared to regularly sized air coolers, but great for a mini-ITX build. With noise levels never going north of 35 dB(A), this is one quiet low-profile cooler.
The cooler has some clearance issues with RAM sticks featuring high-profile heatsinks. If you’re planning on getting this one, definitely read our low-profile RAM guide found above. You could also try rotating the cooler 180-degrees.
5. EVGA CLC: Best budget AIO RGB cooler for i7-9700K
AIO liquid cooling kits have a few advantages over air coolers. While both AIO and air coolers provide a solid job of cooling the CPU while idle and under stock clocks, the best AIO coolers achieve better results under load and when the CPU is overclocked.
On the other hand, contrary to popular belief, AIO coolers can be louder than an average air cooler. If they’re running with fans and the pump at high speeds, the noise can be very perceptible, distracting even. Also, liquid AIO coolers are noticeably more expensive than air coolers.
You also need lots of room for them. 240mm and 360mm models demand space, not all PC cases offer. So, make sure you have enough room for one before pulling the trigger. If you plan to overclock your Core i7-9700K from day one and don’t plan to move your rig around all the time, getting an AIO CPU cooler is completely justified.
The EVGA CLC is an excellent liquid cooler that won’t break the bank. It provides excellent results even under low fan speeds, in line with much more expensive models. The noise can be distracting, but only when fans are running at top speed. At 1050 RPM, which is high enough for most workloads, the noise will reach around 37 decibels.
The cooler offers a great performance to price ratio. It’s pretty cheap compared to the competition while trading blows with top choices, such as the NZXT Kraken X62. If aesthetics are important to you, this model comes with full RGB support. Overall, this is an excellent choice that performs amazing, isn’t too loud, supports RGB, and sports a competitive price.
6. Fractal Design Celsius S24: Best budget AIO cooler for i7-9700K
The Fractal Design Celsius S24 is another budget choice on the market and the best budget AIO cooler for the Core i7-9700K. The Celsius S24 achieves excellent thermal results, in line with more expensive models.
Noise levels are also pretty impressive. At 50 percent fan speed (which provides excellent cooling), noise reaches 37 decibels. The same as the EVGA CLC 280. The Celsius S24 is the right choice for those who’re not looking for fancy RGB coolers. This one looks kinda boring but still provides excellent performance for the price.
The NZXT Kraken X63 is arguably the best liquid cooler for the 9700K. It isn’t too large with its 280mm radiator, which means the X63 can fit most regular-sized PC cases. Next, the Kraken X63 achieves superb thermal results no matter if you’re running your CPU at stock or OC clocks.
Next, the performance is pretty solid at low RPM while keeping the noise low. At 1050 RPM, you can expect about 35 decibels. At 1500 RPM, the noise can go north of 45 decibels. Not perfect, but even 1050 RPM can provide more than satisfying thermal results, even when overclocking.
8. Corsair H150i Pro: Best silent AIO cooler for i7-9700K
The Corsair H150i Pro isn’t the best AIO cooler around. It’s huge and very expensive. It doesn’t offer the best thermal results. But if you have the money and want to build a silent PC, go for it.
Since it’s so large, it performs excellent at both stock and OC clocks, even with low fan (800 RPM) speed. That means noise lower than 35 decibels, which is an impressive result.
This isn’t a price to performance champion, but we have to recommend it since it is very silent while achieving lower temperatures than smaller and equally sized coolers. And yes, this one is full-on RGB.
To delid or not to delid?
This procedure includes removing the CPU heat sink and then removing the IHS (integrated heat spreader). You would then coat the CPU with a thermal material that would better cool the PC.
Deliding the Core i7-9700K isn’t worth it in most cases. First of all, Intel made deliding the latest Core CPU generation much harder than before. The process is now very complex and can take hours of work.
If you aren’t extremely careful, there’s a high chance of ruining your CPU. Further, Intel returned to using soldered metal instead of thermal paste on its 9th gen Core CPUs. This means better thermals.
So, if you’re thinking about deliding the CPU, don’t. It’s complex, it can go south in many ways, and it won’t bring any major improvements. The only scenario where deliding is advisable is if you want to enter extreme OC waters. If you don’t care about overclocking and just want to have lower thermals under load, read our guide on CPU & GPU unvervolting instead.
Frequently asked questions
Does the i7-9700K come with a cooler?
No. Its cousin, the i7-9700, comes with one, but it’s lackluster and shouldn’t be used. As the i7-9700K is meant for overclocking, Intel left it up to you to decide how crazy you want to go with it.
Do I need a CPU cooler for the i7-9700K?
Absolutely. It doesn’t come with one, but even if it did, you should replace it with something more serious, as the stock coolers you get with Intel CPUs aren’t anything to brag about.
How hot does the i7-9700K get?
As the CPU is meant for overclocking, it can get pretty hot if your system isn’t optimized for airflow and you’re stressing it. Still, the i7-9700K runs cooler than the i9-9900K, for example, as it doesn’t draw as much power. In the end, it’s always safer to have more cooling than too little and have to deal with throttling.