In 2023, the Intel i9-9900K may not be the newest CPU on the market, but it is still considered one of the best gaming CPUs available. With eight cores and sixteen threads, this processor can reach a clock speed of 5GHz with ease, making it a top choice for gamers who demand high-performance from their rigs. However, to achieve the maximum potential of the 9900K, a powerful cooling system is essential. While a liquid AIO cooling system is often favored for overclocking, high-end air coolers such as the NH-D15, Dark Rock Pro 4, and Deep Cool Assassin II can keep an overclocked 9900K cool without any thermal issues. In this article, we’ll be listing the best CPU coolers for the 9900K, including the best overall coolers, models that offer the most value for your money, and a few RGB options. But before we dive into our list, we recommend checking out our guides for the best motherboards and graphics cards for the 9900K. Additionally, if you’re interested in optimizing your fan noise output, be sure to read our guide on the best fan control software. Now, let’s take a look at the best air coolers for the i9-9900K.
We’ve selected six excellent air coolers for the 9900K, all of which are capable of reaching the coveted 5GHz mark. Not only are air coolers generally more affordable than AIO coolers, but some models can also provide comparable performance. We’ve included the best overall air cooler, the best silent cooler, the best RGB cooler, and a few additional choices. However, for the best performance, we highly recommend either the Noctua NH-D15 or the Assassin III from Deep Cool.
The Noctua NH-D15 is widely regarded as the best air cooler on the market, providing exceptional cooling performance that rivals some AIO liquid coolers while emitting less noise. It is a bulky and heavy cooler, which is necessary for effective cooling, but this also means that the installation process may be challenging, especially if you have tall RAM sticks. Nevertheless, the NH-D15 is a solid choice for both stock and overclocked 9900K, and it is more affordable than most 280mm or 360mm AIO coolers. Additionally, if you prefer a cooler with a more modern look, the cromax. Black version of this cooler is a sleek alternative to the original silver and brown design.
DeepCool Assassin III
For those looking for a top-performing air cooler for the i9-9900K, the DeepCool Assassin III is a close second to the popular NH-D15. With comparable thermal performance, the Assassin III does have slightly higher noise levels, but it offers a similar level of performance to a 280mm AIO cooling system while being more cost-effective. Keep in mind, however, that this cooler is large and heavy, which can make installation a challenge for beginners.
Scythe Fuma 2
For those on a budget, the Scythe Fuma 2 is a top-performing and affordable option that can hold its own against pricier air coolers like the NH-D15 and Assassin III. While it has a lower TDP rating, the Fuma 2 offers virtually the same level of performance as its more expensive counterparts. Like the other air coolers on our list, the Fuma 2 is also large and can be tricky to install.
If you’re looking for an air cooler that offers both performance and aesthetics, the Zalman CNPS20X is an excellent choice. While it may not offer the same level of performance as the NH-D15 or the Assassin III, it’s still a solid performer that can handle overclocking the i9-9900K. Its standout feature, however, is the stunning RGB effects that make it our pick for the best RGB air cooler for this CPU. Keep in mind that like the other air coolers on our list, the CNPS20X is also large and can present installation and clearance challenges.
Also read: What Does a Processor Do for Gaming? A Comprehensive Guide
Dark Rock Pro 4
In the search for the best cooling solutions for the i9-9900K, air coolers and AIO coolers are the most popular options. In terms of air coolers, the be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4 is a top choice for those who prioritize silence while also requiring excellent cooling performance. Although it is not as cool as the NH-D15 and the Assassin III, it operates at a very quiet level, even at its highest RPM, surpassing other air and AIO liquid coolers. The all-black design of the Dark Rock Pro 4 is sleek, but the installation process can be quite complicated.
Scythe Big Shuriken 3
For those using a Mini-ITX case, the Scythe Big Shuriken 3 is an ideal air cooler. It provides the best cooling performance for SFF air coolers while maintaining solid noise levels. However, it is not designed for overclocked processors and is only effective when the i9-9900K is running at stock clocks. Adequate airflow in the case is essential for optimal performance, and there are a few compact cases on our best Mini-ITX cases list that provide great airflow.
Arctic Liquid Freezer II
When it comes to AIO coolers, the Arctic Liquid Freezer II is the best overall cooler for the i9-9900K. Its cooling performance is excellent, making it a great value for its affordable price. If you want a no-frills AIO cooler that offers outstanding performance, the Arctic Liquid Freezer II is the one to get.
EK Water Blocks EK-AIO 360 D-RGB
For those who desire an RGB AIO cooler, the EK Water Blocks EK-AIO 360 D-RGB is the top pick. It provides exceptional performance and impressive RGB effects, featuring three RGB fans and a CPU cover with numerous RGB LEDs.
Corsair H150i PRO RGB
If you prefer a silent AIO cooler, the Corsair H150i PRO RGB is an excellent choice. Although it is not the best in terms of cooling performance and is more expensive, its low noise levels and RGB effects make it a great option for users who prioritize silence and have the budget to afford it. Replacing the pre-installed fans can complete the RGB AIO setup, making it virtually inaudible.
Also read: Best Water Coolers for Ryzen 7 3700X in 2023: Our Expert Recommendations for 2023
Frequently Asked Questions:
Is it necessary to cool the i9 9900K processor?
To prevent the processor from overheating, it is essential to use a thermal solution or fan, which must be purchased separately. For the Intel® Core™ i9-9900K Processor, you can use the Intel® Thermal Solution BXTS15A or any other equivalent option.
Does the Core i9 9900K require water cooling?
Intel recommends using a 240mm AIO cooler or better (or air equivalent) for the Core i9-9900K. Although most enthusiasts tend to use high-end air or liquid cooling systems, we will also be testing basic air coolers to determine the effect of different cooling levels.
Does the i9 9900K run hot?
The i9-9900K may run hot during synthetic tests, especially if you use CPU-intensive applications like Prime95 that employ AVX instructions. If you use a standard tower air cooler, the temperature could reach the high 90s Celsius.
What is the maximum RAM capacity of the i9-9900K?
According to the Intel i9-9900K specs, the processor can support up to 64 GB of memory. It also supports DDR4 2666 MHz, has no ECC memory, and follows the Dual Channel architecture with a maximum memory bandwidth of 41 GB/s.