Best CPU Cooler for i9 9900k

The i9 9900k from Intel is a powerhouse of a CPU and still holds its own against the newer 10th generation Ice Lake processors. With 8 cores and 16 threads clocked at 3.6GHz base and 5.0GHZ Turbo, this CPU can handle almost all activities easily.

Basically what that means is this CPU has 8 individual cores that it can allocate separate tasks to and this requires power. The TDP of the i9 9900k is 95W stock which means it runs hot.

To counteract this Intel implements a base and boost clock system where depending on the temperature of all 8 cores the CPU can make a choice as to whether it stays at lower TDP 3.6GHz or boosts up to its turbo speed of 5.0GHz. So if you aren’t cooling your unit correctly then you’re essentially giving up free processing power. This is all without taking overclocking into consideration.

If you choose to forgo the implemented limits of your processor and increase its maximum power draw and voltage you can increase the base clock of each one of your cores, essentially bypassing the boost clock if you wanted to. Along with an increased power draw, you will notice a massive leap in idle and load temperatures so you really need to account for that in your choice of cooler.

Overclocking does in some cases void the manufacturer’s warranty so proceed with caution, it does also make your system more unstable so watch a few tutorials before deciding to jump into your motherboard’s bios and enabling your overclocked profile at 5.8GHz across all cores because that’s how you bin a CPU.

The stock cooler that used to come with the higher end Intel CPUs is no longer included because it basically wasn’t doing its job properly. So it’s completely up to you to get your own cooler despite the fact that you’ve just shelled out over 400 bucks for the CPU.

This isn’t necessarily a negative thing though, as we stated the previously included stock cooler ensured that you would never be able to experience the boost clock of your CPU as they would thermal throttle under light loads. So with the power of choice now in your hands, you get to decide how to cool this beast of a CPU.

There are 3 options you have when looking at CPU coolers but we’re going to remove one of those options immediately. The 3 cooling options you have are air cooling, AiO water cooling, and custom water cooling loops/rigs (we are aware of a 4th option that involves electronically removing heat but that is nowhere near commercially viable so we omit that one).

The cooling option we're going to be omitting is the custom loops option, the main reason for this is despite its dominance in the performance category the entry price and widely varied available parts down to the joints of the piping make this inaccessible to the masses and should really only be used by the most extreme PC enthusiasts out there.

From our research and testing, the viability of AiO water cooling is actually decreasing. As the technology in air coolers increases, AiO systems are being left behind. From the numbers we’ve seen, our top pick actually outperforms the most mainstream 360mm AiO CPU cooler by a factor of about 10% when it comes to the temperatures.

The benefits of having an AiO water cooling system for your CPU are all outweighed by the performance of newer air coolers and with price tags starting at around $100 we’ll be leaving them out of our list. We’ve also included a buyer’s guide at the bottom of this article so you’ve got all the information and confidence you need to cool your CPU.

In a Rush?

Are you in a hurry to get that new song rendered or are you waiting to jump into Cyberpunk 2077 and you just don’t have the cooling sorted out for your i9 9900k yet?

Not to worry we’ve got our top pick for you right here and just a few reasons why it’s our favorite.

Noctua NH-D15

The NH-D15 from Noctua is one of the best cooling options currently available on the market. For this price, you simply cannot achieve better temperatures. Here’s a few reasons why we love it:

  • Unrivaled cooling performance.
  • It has a Dual fin tower design.
  • 6 direct contact heat pipes per stack.
  • Includes 2 market leading NF-A15 140mm fans.
  • Compatible with most cases and most CPUs.


Noctua NH-D15, Premium CPU Cooler with 2X NF-A15 PWM 140mm Fans (Brown)

The Noctua NH-D15 is an award winning air cooler brought to you by Noctua. A company with nothing but performance in mind Noctua has knocked this one out of the ballpark.

The NH-D15 performed extremely well in tests with an overclocked i9 9900k reaching maximum temperatures of 78 °C under heavy load and a maximum decibel level of 39 Db. This performance is mostly unheard of in air coolers, especially with overclocked CPUs. 

Noctua has achieved this level of performance with a few different design features it has optimized to perfection over the years. The NH-D15 itself is an updated version of Noctua’s massively awarded cooler the NH-D14 which was praised for its performance in cooling and audio levels.

Both used a double fin stack tower design that immediately doubled the surface area available for heat dissipation. The density of the fins is also something Noctua prides itself on, they claim to have found the perfect fin separation distance which is what helps to increase the total airflow over them and the heat pipes.

The fans powering this titan of a cooler are also worthy of credit. The amount of airflow Noctua has achieved with its fan blades is unrivaled.

The 140mm NF-A15 fans Noctua includes with this cooler are a pair of PWM fans that are able to be completely controlled by the motherboard as it deems fit (speeding them up when things get a bit too toasty).

These fans achieve such high levels of airflow with a markedly low RPM, Noctua also includes a low-noise adapter that limits the RPM of the fans. 

The fans are mounted with the SecFirm2 mounting system which is one of the easiest mounting systems on air coolers, simply pull the pins past the fans and release them, and they are fitted.

The NH-D15 also comes with Noctua’s NT-H1 thermal-compound included which again is market leading in its heat transfer capabilities. The mounting included in the box is fit for either AMD or Intel and mounting it onto the 1151 socket of the i9 9900k couldn’t be easier.

The Noctua mounting brackets are extremely secure and will stay locked to your motherboard for as long as they are screwed in. 

The clearance of the cooler may come into question but at only 165mm tall the cooler will fit into most cases. The issues for clearance are more prevalent in the NH-D15’s compatibility with RAM.

As long as you are using standard height (up 32mm) RAM you will be able to mount this cooler without any alteration. 

If however, you are using aftermarket RAM DIMMs that are taller than 32mm you will need to raise the front fan by a small amount. This shouldn’t affect the performance of the cooler and with 64mm of clearance before the fins begin you’ll be left plenty of space for your Dominator X Platinum memory.

If you’re looking to cool down your CPU to arctic levels then this is the best option for you and will not sound like a jet engine about to take off.

If however you won’t be overclocking your CPU and don’t need that level of performance then one of the other coolers on our list may be your best fit but this cooler can still run at low speeds to give great performance which is why it’s out top pick.

Noctua also offers a 6 year warranty on all of their components meaning you can rest assured that you’ve made the right choice.


  • Market leading performance in both heat transfer and audio levels.
  • The included 140mm NF-A15 fans are some of Noctua’s best performing fans and can even run with the low-noise adapter without giving up too much performance.
  • With the NT-H1 thermal compound included you won’t need to purchase anything with this cooler.
  • Noctua includes mounting systems for most CPU sockets so its compatibility makes it ideal for the i9 9900k.
  • The 6 year manufacturer’s warranty gives you confidence in the cooler.


  • Clearance with aftermarket RAM.  


be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4, BK022, 250W TDP, CPU Cooler

The Dark Rock Pro 4 is a great entry to this list and is our only entry from be quiet!. They have designed a cooler that is on par (in terms of performance) with the NH-D15 and comes in at around the same cost.

be quiet have equipped this cooler with their inaudible virtually Silent Wings PWM fans that can spin at low RPMs whilst still maintaining high air pressure. They do this with the funnel shaped fan exterior that discourages air ‘leakage’ and increasing the efficiency of the fans hugely.

Oddly, the fans that come included are not matching fans. The central fan is a 140mm and the exterior is a 120mm, be quiet! states that this setup works for optimal thermal displacement.

They also state that you are able to add a further 120mm to the exhaust side of the cooler (with enough clearance) for even better cooling performance. 

The Dark Rock Pro 4 is one of the best looking units on our list with a solid black design and a shroud that covers the top part of the fin stacks. The mounting system and heat pipes are all coated in a black finish. If the vanity of your system matters to you then this is the cooler you want. 

The uneven fans also increase the RAM clearance for better all-round compatibility. The only area this cooler lacks is in its mounting. The Dark Rock Pro 4 is drastically more difficult to mount than our top pick from Noctua, this is the main reason it is number 2 on our list.

cooler performs amazingly and offers options for customizability but the mounting and maintenance is just a little too difficult. This is still an amazing cooler and really looks the part.


  • The 2 Silent Wings PWM fans run almost silently without compromising heat displacement.
  • With 7 heatpipes in each fin stack, this cooler is prepared for high heat.
  • An all black design including the shroud and mounting system make this unit look really good.
  • The uneven fans increase throughput and make the whole device more compatible. 
  • Has options to add more fans for the heavily overclocked i9 9900k’s.


  • The mounting system is not the easiest to use and can make it difficult for novice pc builders to mount correctly.


Noctua NH-U12S chromax.Black, 120mm Single-Tower CPU Cooler (Black)

Our second entry from Noctua the NH-U12S utilizes a lot of the same great Noctua features without being too big and bulky. The NH-U12S is a great option for you if you have a smaller PC case or have really fancy RAM DIMMs.

This cooler has the same fin stack design as the NH-D15 except it only has 1 tower. It also only comes with a single NF-F12 120mm fan included.

You would think this halves the performance of the NH-U12S but it absolutely does not, in fact this cooler almost keeps up with its bulkier older brother throughout our testing.

The NH-U12S really acts as a testament to Noctua’s amazing design and technology that have been built into all of their units. It’s only as you push the clock speed of the i9 9900k closer towards that 5.0GHz base clock that this cooler starts to separate from the NH-D15.

The size of the NH-U12S makes it ideal for smaller PCs especially if you’re using a Micro-ATX motherboard then you won’t have to worry about RAM overhang and case compatibility.

At 158mm tall you would even be able to fit it into a compact case. Noctua supplies all of the mounting brackets and NT-H1 thermal paste with this one so you won’t have to worry about purchasing an aftermarket kit to mount it. 

This cooler also comes with Noctua’s 6 year manufacturer’s warranty so you can feel safe in your purchase and also in the quality of the product. For a stock i9 9900k, this cooler would be more than adequate, and it reduces your cost compared to the last 2 coolers by about 25%.    


  • Noctua’s award winning design makes this compact unit extremely powerful.
  • A single 120mm NF-F12 fan means this will run even quieter than the previous 2 coolers.
  • The compact design makes it perfect for all cases and motherboards.
  • The Included Noctua mounting kit is easy to use.
  • This comes in all black or chrome and brown to suit your build. 


  • Not as good as the NH-D15 with an overclocked i9 9900k.


Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo CPU Cooler, 4 CDC Heatpipes, 120mm PWM Fan, Aluminum Fins for AMD Ryzen/Intel LG1151

The Hyper 212 Evo is a solid entrant to this list and performs exceptionally well despite its reduced size and also price. Cooler Master released this model almost a decade ago and they haven’t changed a single aspect of it since release.

This is because the design just works, Cooler Master; as their name suggests have mastered CPU cooling on a budget. This cooler won’t keep up with the Noctuas in terms of overall cooling performance but at under half the price of the NH-U12S it doesn’t need to. 

You would even be able to get a minor overclock out of your i9 9900k with this cooler as it deals with temperatures very well for its size. The major trade off here is the audio level, at full tilt the supplied 120mm fan can hit the dB levels in the 40s.

With only 4 heat pipes it definitely needs the extra air pressure to keep your CPU cool. But it definitely does keep it cool, The Hyper 212 Evo uses a direct contact heatpipe design that removes any aluminum or die covering that would usually act as a heat spreader for the heat pipes.

This direct contact increases the efficiency of the unit and increases its heat displacement. This feature does however also limit the amount of heat pipes the die can hold so the fans need to run at a higher RPM to make up for this.  

This CPU cooler is actually the very same cooler I used in my first solo build about 7 years ago so we can definitely vouch for its efficacy.

If you’re looking to keep costs down and just need a reliable method of cooling your i9 9900k then the Hyper 212 Evo is where you should look, you may not be able to overclock your i9 but with usage rating of 40,000 hours this will last as long as your whole pc.


  • Half the price of the Noctua units.
  • The direct contact heat pipes increase the heat displacement.
  • The high RPM fan can keep your CPU cool without too many heat pipes.
  • It only pulls 2.64 Watts from the mains so you don’t need a beefy power supply to run it.
  • Cooler Master includes mounting brackets and thermal paste to make this an easy fit.


  • At full speed (2000+ RPM) the fan can be heard, this won’t happen during standard usage.


DEEPCOOL Assassin III Air CPU Cooler, 7 Heatpipes, Dual 140mm Fans, 54mm RAM Clearance, 280W TDP, New Sinter Heatpipe Technology, 5-Year Warranty

The Assassin III from DEEPCOOL has the highest thermal displacement performance of all our entrants but it does come at a bit of a cost.

The Assassin II is a beast when it comes to cooling with a 280W TDP and comes in at the same cost as the Noctua and be quiet! entrants on our list.

In terms of overall cooling performance the NH-D15 and Dark Rock Pro 4 both had a lower idle temperature and load temperature but there wasn’t a huge difference.

The main reason this cooler is at the bottom of our list is because of its compatibility with cases and RAM, it performs extremely well and much better than most coolers on the market but you also need to plan your build around it.

At 185mm tall this behemoth will not fit in most smaller cases or mid towers with slimmer faces. You also only get a maximum of 54mm of clearance for your RAM so choose wisely.

However with dual 140mm fans that have a max RPM of 1400 you won’t hear sound levels above 34 dB and it will keep your i9 9900k cool. The design also includes 7 heat pipes meaning you need less air pressure to pass over less pipes.

With its signature ‘airflow focusing’ spoiler and nickel finish the Assassin III definitely looks the part. For roughly the same cost it really is down to how much of an overclock you’re looking for and whether it has the right look for your build. 


  • The dual 140mm low RPM fans keep high air pressure through the fins without a high audio level.
  • The 280W TDP means you can pump a lot of heat through it before it would start to struggle.
  • The 7 heat pipes increase the efficiency of the cooler.
  • The black plastic and nickel coated copper make the Assassin III aesthetically pleasing.


  • The large size makes it less compatible with RAM and cases.

Best CPU Cooler for i9 9900k Buying Guide

If you’re looking for a cooler for your i9 9900k you need to ask yourself a couple of questions. Are you going to be overclocking your unlocked CPU? And will I be performing CPU intensive tasks like video encoding or 3D rendering or even 4k video playback? Once you have an answer to both these questions you can make the right decision on which cooler to choose.

If you’re going to be overclocking your CPU then you need a high TDP cooler like the Assassin III or the NH-D15 but if you’re going to be keeping your CPU at stock speeds (let’s be honest the i9 9900k is fast enough for most things) then you would do fine with a single fan low RPM cooler like the Hyper 212 EVO or the NH-U12S.

The same applies for CPU intensive programs if you’re going to be doing mostly databasing or low resolution video streaming (FHD or QHD) then you would be completely fine with a cheaper cooler like the Cooler Master entrant. If however you’re going to be editing 4k raw video files or live streaming in 1440p then you will need a beefier cooler like the Noctua or be quiet! entrants.

The things you’ll be looking for are TDP (Thermal Design Power), Fan size and speed, audio level and the number of heat pipes. With most of these the higher the better, unless we’re looking at the audio level than the lower the decibels the better. The last thing you want is your gaming buddies asking if you live near an airport.