Best CPU coolers for i9–10900K (air and AIO) in 2022
The Intel Core i9-10900K is still one of the best CPUs for gaming. 10 cores, 20 threads, and high working frequencies allow for top-of-the-line gaming performance but also solid productivity performance. But, being the flagship CPU also means high power consumption and high operating temperatures compared to other CPUs. It also means you’ll need that when it comes to cooling, the 10900K demands a high-quality solution.
Below you’ll find the best CPU coolers for i9-10900K CPU. The list includes both air and AIO solutions. While the 10900K can be adequately cooled with a high-quality CPU heat sink, we recommend an AIO if you want to overclock the CPU.
Also, make sure to get a quality motherboard to pair with the 10900K. You should pair this CPU with the best air and AIO cooler systems in order not to be thermally throttled. You can check our article that features the best motherboards for i9-10900K; it has a nice assortment of quality Z490 motherboards. Also, we recommend reading our list of the best airflow PC cases to find a suitable, high-airflow case. Finally, take a look at our guide for the best 140mm case fans and improve your airflow further still.
You can’t go wrong by picking up this legend. This is still the best air cooler on the market, and the best air cooler for the 10900K, period. The NH-D15 has better performance than some AIO cooling systems, being beaten only by the best 280mm and larger liquid coolers.
If you opt for the DH-D15, remember that this cooler is huge. It cannot fit inside every case, and it can have issues with tall RAM sticks. But if your case can host it, and if you don’t plan on reaching the maximum possible overclock with the 10900K, the Noctua NH-D15 is the best air cooler for the 10900K on the market.
If you want to make sure to have RAM sticks compatible with this hulking monster, read our list of the best low-profile RAM kits.
2. DeepCool Assassin III: Best alternative to Noctua NH-D15
Another immense air cooler, the Assassin III from Deep Cool is an air cooler closest to the NH-D15’s performance. That means impressive performance for an air cooler. That also means an impressive size and weight. The Assassin III is yet another air cooler that looks like a brick and weighs like one.
You will have a hard time mounting this one inside your case, so get ready for some sweating and swearing. But once (and if) it fits, it’ll provide excellent and relatively silent cooling for the 10900K.
We would pick the NH-D15 because it’s tried and true solution for almost a decade now, but no matter which one you end up with, you won’t make a mistake. Both are superb air coolers.
3. Scythe Fuma 2: Best budget air cooler for i9-10900K
The Scythe Fuma 2 is a superb air cooler for the price and the best value cooler for the Core i9-10900K. It sells for noticeably less than high-end air coolers while providing almost the same performance. If you’re in the market for a budget air cooler to cool down your 10900K, the Fuma 2 is an excellent choice.
You’ll be able to run the CPU on stock clocks, even apply a humble overclock. Just remember that this cooler’s TDP rating is lower compared to Assassin III and NH-D15. You can use the 10900K at stock clocks, even light OC, without issues. Just don’t enable MCE and go wild with OCing the CPU.
The cooler’s pretty large. You might have certain issues while installing it. But once you install it, the two fans will provide excellent performance and should keep the 10900K pretty cool, as long as you don’t OC it and do not use MCE in combination with extreme loads over long periods.
4. be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4: Best silent air cooler for i9-10900K
If you want that silent bliss, get the Dark Rock Pro 4 from be quiet! Also, you could get one of the cases featured in our guide for the best quiet PC cases. Anyway, the Dark Rock Pro 4 is a very capable air cooler, another model within spitting distance of the NH-D15. The Dark Rock Pro is also very quiet during normal workloads. It has almost the same noise levels as the NH-D15 while providing equally impressive results.
The catch is that even when the fan RPM is set to maximum, Dark Rock Pro 4 stays virtually inaudible, quieter even than the NH-D15. Dark Rock Pro 4 also has, arguably, a better design, and the cooler is a bit smaller than our first two recommendations. The only thing to remember is that this cooler is tricky to install. Be ready to spend some time cursing at it while trying to hook it up to your motherboard.
5. Scythe Big Shuriken 3: Best SFF air cooler for i9-10900K
If you want to build an SFF rig housed inside a Mini-ITX case, the Big Shuriken 3 is your best choice. Just remember to turn off the MCE setting because the CPU will melt if you don’t limit its power draw. Also, just don’t overclock the CPU; low-profile air coolers aren’t made for that.
Performance-wise the Big Shuriken 3 is excellent for a low-profile cooler. If you plan on using an SFF PC build for gaming and media consumption, the CPU will run at safe temps, even during long gaming sessions.
Best AIO coolers for Core i9-10900K
If you plan on using the flagship 10th gen Intel CPU for work and if you plan on overclocking it while running the CPU with MCE setting enabled, get an AIO cooling system. They are more expensive but have more thermal room to run the 10900K even when it gulps more than 200W of power.
Since the 10900K can be very power hungry when overclocked, we’re recommending 280mm and 360mm AIO coolers. Get a 280mm model if you need the performance but don’t care much about noise.
If you want excellent performance combined with low noise, get a 360mm AIO cooler. There are plenty of powerful AIO coolers on the market, and we’ve found the five best AIO coolers for the 10900K.
6. Arctic Liquid Freezer II: Best AIO cooler for i9-10900K for most users
The Arctic Liquid Freezer II is an interesting product. Arctic is known for solid budget coolers, and this AIO system provides amazing performance for the money. It can keep the 10900K under check in case you want to reach and go above the 5.1GHz limit.
The LF II also comes with a small, 40mm VRM fan that can lower VRM temperature for a couple of degrees. It looks like a gimmick, but hey, it provides a noticeable benefit, so we are fine with it.
This AIO cooler is selling for a highly competitive price. It doesn’t have RGB lighting, but it costs much less than premium AIO systems while providing the same, if not better, performance. Get this one if you want great performance for an affordable price and if you don’t care about RGB.
Now, the EVGA CLC AIO cooler series is more expensive than the ARCTIC Liquid Freezer II, but it does come with RGB lighting. Look at the recommendation like this – if you want excellent cooling for a budget price, then get the Arctic Liquid Freezer II; if you want excellent cooling for a budget price but also want RGB, get the EVGA CLC.
Do note that there isn’t much RGB with the EVGA CLC. You get the EVGA logo on the CPU cover, and that’s pretty much it. Performance-wise the EVGA CLC is an excellent AIO cooler.
It has better performance than higher-priced solutions from NZXT and Corsair, and for most users, that’s all that matters. Overall, this is an excellent AIO cooler for the Core i9-10900K that should allow excellent OC results.
8. Corsair H115i RGB Platinum: Best RGB AIO cooler for i9-10900K
Users who love RGB effects should check the Corsair H115i RGB Platinum AIO liquid cooler. It’s shiny like a New Year’s Eve and supports all kinds of RGB effects. The performance is pretty solid. Nothing groundbreaking but more than sufficient even for those who plan to overclock the 10900K.
Price is higher than for AIO solutions that come without or with limited RGB functionality, but that’s the price to pay for all that shiny stuff. If you’re looking only at performance, get the ARCTIC Liquid Freezer II or EVGA CLC 280mm or 360mm model. But when it comes to RGB features, the Corsair H115i RGB Platinum is the best on the market.
9. Corsair H150i PRO RGB: Best silent AIO cooler for i9-10900K
The Corsair H150i PRO RGB cooler is expensive, but it offers excellent noise levels. If you need a silent AIO cooler and you don’t care about the price, this is the best choice right now. Cooling performance isn’t great, mind you. For the money, you can get a much more powerful AIO cooler.
But the silence is golden for some, and this AIO cooler is one of the quietest coolers on the market, both in air and AIO segments. If you have the money and if you want to run an overclocked 10900K without hearing the cooler, get the Corsair Hydro Series H150i PRO RGB.
If you’re looking for more RGB components, you’ve come to the right place. First of all, our list of the best RGB case fans includes RGB case fans in all popular sizes. Next, we also have a guide for the best RGB cases for making the light show even brighter.
Picking the right CPU cooler
Running the 10900K with a high-end air cooler is possible. If you’re using your machine only for gaming, the CPU load won’t go into the extreme territory as it does during torture tests in reviews. This means you should be okay with running the 10900K with an air cooler and with MCE turned on. If you plan on using the CPU mostly for work, with it working under heavy loads for extended periods, it’s better to get an AIO cooler.
For serious overclocking, we recommend AIO coolers. You could achieve light to medium OC with a quality air cooler such as the Noctua NH-D15 or Deep Cool Assassin III, but you won’t be able to reach frequencies as high as when using an AIO cooler. Nevertheless, reaching 5.0GHz is doable. Working temps will be fine, as long as you’re not using any torture tests that last for an hour.
And also, remember that with an air cooler and MCE on, the CPU should pull less power than when using an AIO cooler. With MCE on, boost frequencies are limited by working temps. The more power, the better performance, and the higher working temps.
Since air coolers have lower TDP ratings than AIO coolers, expect the CPU to spend less power and to have marginally lower performance. But only in extreme loads, such as during torture tests. Regular use should see no performance difference between an air-cooled and AIO-cooled CPU.
Watch out for the MCE setting on Z490 boards
MCE (Multi-Core Enhancement) is a feature available on Z490 motherboards and newer. It removes TDP limits on CPUs, allowing them to hit higher boost clocks and reach better performance. But it also makes CPUs such as the 10900K extremely power-hungry and very hot.
Now, most board manufacturers have MCE turned on by default, with the only ASUS turning it off by default. They do that because it increases the performance of every CPU used with those boards. Further, better out-of-the-box performance means a higher place on review charts.
But leaving MCE enabled by default can lead to a suite of issues. System instability is the most common issue. You might get BSOD while loading Windows, you might experience all kinds of crashes, etc.
Further, with MCE being on by default, your CPU cooler might be too weak to keep the CPU under check during prolonged heavy loads. This is especially true for air coolers, which have max TDP ratings of about 200-250W. The 10900K reaches almost 250W during torture tests, which is the limit of air coolers. This can lead to extremely high working temperatures.
If your system can handle it, leaving MCE on by default will increase performance by a slight margin. Just remember that MCE will decrease the lifespan of your motherboard since it makes capacitors run hotter. Turning it on by default also means noticeably higher working temps, especially when overclocked.