Best CPU coolers for i9–9900K (Air and AIO) in 2023
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The Intel i9-9900K isn’t the latest and greatest CPU from Intel. However, this CPU is still the 2019 flagship model and thus still one of the best gaming CPUs on the market. This eight-core and the sixteen-thread processor can breach the 5GHz limit with relative ease, thus gaining noticeable leaps in performance at the expense of thermals. In other words, when it comes to the cooling setup, in order to push the 9900K to its max, you need to equip it with a potent cooling system.
You don’t have to use a liquid AIO cooling system for overclocking. A high-end air cooler can chill an overclocked 9900K without thermal issues. You can reach 5GHz without issues with a large chunk of air-cooled metal such as the NH-D15, Dark Rock Pro 4, Deep Cool Assassin II, or some other juggernaut. Anyway, today we’re listing the best CPU coolers for the 9900K. You’ll see the best coolers overall, models that offer the most for the money, a couple of RGB picks, and more.
Today, we have six excellent air coolers for the 9900K. Most of them are capable of reaching the magic 5GHz mark. They are cheaper than AIO coolers, and some of them can match AIO solutions, like the legendary Noctua NH-D15.
Aside from the best air cooler on the planet, we’ve also included the best silent cooler, the best RGB cooler, and a couple of additional choices. Just remember that they are all great but for the absolute best performance, either get the NH-D15 or the Assassin III from Deep Cool.
1. Noctua NH-D15: Best overall air cooler for i9-9900K
Well, this isn’t much of a surprise. The truth is, if you want the best possible performance out of an air cooler, just get the Noctua NH-D15. No matter the CPU, this cooler rocks. It’s very large and weighs a lot, but that cooling performance demands a thick and bulky heatsink coupled with wide heat pipes and potent fans.
The result is the best air-cooling performance on the market. In fact, the NH-D15 can match AIO liquid coolers in performance while humming at lower noise than any AIO cooler. Overall, this is a great choice both for stock and OCed 9900K. The downside is that the installation can be a pain, especially if you’re rocking tall RAM sticks.
On the other hand, this cooler is cheaper than any 280mm or 360mm AIO cooler while providing comparable performance. If you want the best air cooler for your 9900K, the NH-D15 is a clear choice. If you don’t like the silver and brown original design (we can’t blame you), check out the cromax.Black version of this cooler.
2. DeepCool Assassin III: Second best air cooler for 9900K
If you don’t want to get the NH-D15 or simply can’t find it, the Assassin III from DeepCool is a worthy alternative. This is the second-best air cooler for the 9900K when it comes to thermal performance. Assassin III’s performance is very close to the NH-D15, while its noise levels are a bit higher than of the Noctua’s cooler.
Overall, this is another excellent air cooler, but, you’ve guessed it, it’s huge and weighs a ton. So yes, if you’re a newbie to the world of PC building, you’ll have to put some effort into installing this huge chunk of metal. But it’s definitely worth it. This is another air cooler with performance comparable to a 280mm AIO cooling system while being cheaper.
3. Scythe Fuma 2: Best value air cooler for i9-9900K
The Scythe Fuma 2 is a superb air cooler, capable of holding its ground against the best air coolers on the market. But this cooler has an advantage in being much cheaper than both the NH-D15 and the Assassin III. Overall, this is the best value cooler for the 9900K and one of the highest value CPU coolers on the market overall.
While selling for less, the Fuma 2 offers virtually the same performance as its pricier cousins. So yes, you can use this cooler for running the 9900K at stock or overclocked at 5GHz, and it should work fine. Just remember that this cooler has a lower TDP rating than our first two picks.
Also, remember that this is another huge chunk of metal that can be a pain to install. But the low price and stellar performance for that price are worthy of a wholehearted recommendation.
4. Zalman CNPS20X: Best RGB air cooler for i9-9900K
If you want both performance and looks in an air cooler, look no further than the Zalman CNPS20X. This is another heavy hitter and our pick for the best RGB air cooler for the Core i9-9900K. If you like this cooler and want more RGB stuff, we have lists of the best RGB case fans and the best RGB cases you should definitely read.
When it comes to performance, the CNPS20X is behind the NH-D15 and the Assassin III. It’s also more than a bit louder. But the overall performance is pretty good, and you can use this cooler for OCing the 9900K. On top of that, you get an excellent design with RGB effects that you won’t find on any other heavy-hitting air cooler.
Again, this is another huge air cooler, so installation and clearance issues might be a problem. But if you want the best air-cooling performance combined with excellent RGB effects, the CNPS20X is the way to go.
5. be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4: Best silent air cooler for i9-9900K
The Dark Rock Pro 4 from be quiet! is the best choice for those who want absolute silence combined with excellent cooling performance. This is the best silent CPU cooler you can get for the 9900K.
Now, this cooler is below the NH-D15 and the Assassin III when it comes to the cooling performance, but it’s very quiet. In fact, even at the highest RPM, the Dark Rock Pro 4 will stay behind virtually every other cooler out there, be it an air or AIO liquid cooler. All that while coming very close to the NH-D15 levels of performance, which is impressive.
On top of that, the Dark Rock Pro 4 looks amazing. All black design with slick-looking fans hits the bullseye. The only major downside is the installation process, which is way more complex than it should’ve been.
6. Scythe Big Shuriken 3: Best SFF air cooler for i9-9900K
Users who want to cool their 9900K that’s resting inside a Mini-ITX case should get the Scythe Big Shuriken 3. When it comes to SFF air coolers, this is the one to beat. It has the best cooling performance while at the same time providing more than solid noise levels.
Just remember that this is an SFF cooler, not meant to be used with overclocked processors. The performance is great, but only when running the 9900K at stock clocks. Again, overclock the CPU at your own risk.
Also, your case should have adequate levels of airflow for this cooler to be able to keep the 9900K at bay. Our best Mini-ITX cases list includes a couple of compact cases with great airflow.
Best AIO coolers for i9-9900K
The AIO cooler market is thriving right now. You have a number of excellent choices out there, but we’ve picked the best four. That’s enough because, in most cases, you have an alternative to the primary pick.
Also, we’ve only included 280mm and 360mm AIO coolers since they provide the best cooling performance. And we reckon most of you plan on overclocking their 9900K. Today, we have the best overall cooler, the best RGB cooler, as well as two picks for the best bang for the buck and the best silent AIO cooler for the 9900K. Enjoy.
7. Arctic Liquid Freezer II: Best overall AIO cooler for i9-9900K
Okay, so the Arctic Liquid Freezer II is a superb AIO cooler. This is hands down the best AIO cooler on the market. We could’ve picked it as the best overall and the best bang for the buck cooler for the 9900K, and we wouldn’t be wrong. While this cooler comes at an affordable price (for an AIO cooler this large), its cooling performance is through the roof.
In fact, when it comes to the overall performance, this cooler is trumped only by our RGB choice, which you can find down below. If you want a no-frills AIO cooler that doesn’t include flashy RGB effects or slick design but that offers excellent performance, this is the one to get.
8. EK Water Blocks EK-AIO 360 D-RGB: Best RGB AIO cooler for i9-9900K
EK WaterBlocks is a company specialized in creating enthusiast-grade water cooling equipment. If you want to build a custom loop water cooling system, EKWB is one of the best choices. The company recently entered the AIO market with a 360mm AIO cooler, and it rocks.
Its performance is the best in class. This cooler is one of the best 360mm choices out there at the moment. And on top of it all, it also offers excellent RGB effects. You have three RGB fans combined with the CPU cover that also hosts a plethora of RGB LEDs. Combined, they offer pretty good RGB effects that look really nice.
9. Corsair H150i PRO RGB: Best silent AIO cooler for i9-9900K
Okay, as we already mentioned in our list of best coolers for the 10900K, this AIO cooling system is far from being the best when it comes to cooling performance. It’s also quite expensive for what it offers.
But the noise levels of this cooler are excellent. If you want complete silence and are fine with your 9900K working at bit higher temps compared to using other 360mm coolers from this list, this is an excellent choice.
The Corsair H150i PRO RGB provides low noise, and it comes with a nice set of RGB effects found on the CPU lid. Replace the preinstalled fans, and you’ve got a complete RGB AIO setup that’s also virtually inaudible.
Not great when it comes to bang for the buck or overall cooling performance, but an excellent choice for users who have the cash and can’t stand the noise.