The insides of a computer are built of several individual components, each with their own specific task. The hard drive stores memory, the ports accept input and output, the screen displays information, and so on. Among them is the processor, the piece of your computer that handles the many millions of calculations per second as it interprets input into commands to be executed and data to be displayed.

Computer processors manage these enormous numbers of operations by way of ever-increasing numbers of microscopic switches known as transistors. These switches moving between on and off create the binary impulses that are the most basic form of computer code, and which the computer eventually interprets into usable commands.

There is an endless race in the world of hardware engineering to create the processor with the most transistors in the smallest package. A processor with more transistors will be able to handle more operations simultaneously, and so be the more powerful processor when compared with other computer chips of a similar size.

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The transistor count of a processor chip refers to how many transistors can be fit on a single chip. In leading-edge processors, this number can easily run into the millions and beyond. Many computer chips will use multi-core processors, which use several identical banks of transistors linked together to double the processing power available on a single chip. The dual-core chip will have two bags of processors, a quad-core.

Comparison Table of the Best CPU Coolers For Intel’s Core i7 9700k Processors

PRODUCTFEATURESLATEST PRICE
1. Noctua NH-U14S Noctua NH-U14S, Premium CPU Cooler with NF-A15 140mm Fan (Brown)
  • 140mm fan
  • Universal mounting system
  • 52mm thick
  • Anti-vibration glue and pads included
Check Price
2. Corsair iCUE H150i RGB Pro XT Corsair iCUE H150i RGB Pro XT, 360mm Radiator, Triple 120mm PWM Fans, Advanced RGB Lighting and Fan Control with Software, Liquid CPU Cooler
  • Triple fan array
  • Liquid coolant pump
  • 120mm fans
  • Fan speed up to 2400 RPM
Check Price
3. be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4 BK022 be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4, BK022, 250W TDP, CPU Cooler
  • 24.3 dB maximum volume
  • Refined copper heat exchangers
  • 120mm fans
  • 250W power supply
Check Price
4. Cooler Master Hyper 212 Silencio FP120 Cooler Master Hyper 212 Black Edition CPU Air Coolor, Silencio FP120 Fan, 4 CDC 2.0 Heatpipes, Anodized Gun-Metal Black, Brushed Nickel Fins for AMD Ryzen/Intel LGA1200/1151
  • 26.0 dB maximum volume
  • Black gunmetal frame
  • Four dedicated heat exchange pipes
  • 120mm fan
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5. Intel E97379-001 Intel E97379-001 Core i3/i5/i7 Socket 1150/1155/1156 4-Pin Connector CPU Cooler With Aluminum Heatsink and 3.5-Inch Fan For Desktop PC Computer
  • 90mm aluminum fan
  • 12v power supply
  • 52mm height from the motherboard
  • A folded aluminum heat sink
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6. ALSEYE Cooler ALSEYE CPU Cooler,120mm CPU Fans with 6 Heatpipes 4 Pin RGB Heatsink Innovative PC Air Cooler Fan Radiator Design for LGA 775 115x 1366 2011 AM2+ AM3+ AM4
  • Dual fan design
  • 220W power supply
  • 120mm fan
  • 35.5 dB running volume
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7. Pccooler GI-D56A Pccooler GI-D56A CPU Cooler Dawn Series | Silent PWM RGB Fan 120mm | E-Sports Plexiglass Top Cover Sync with ARGB Lights | 5 Heat Pipes | TDP160W Super Heat Dissipation for Intel i7/i5/i3, AMD Series
  • Single fan array
  • Metal casing
  • Five heat dispersion pipes
  • Fan speed up to 2000 rpm
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8. MSI Core Frozr L MSI CPU Cooler, Silver/Black (Core Frozr L) (MSI Core Frozr L)
  • Nickel plating and mounting plate
  • 8mm cooling pipes
  • 33.6 dB running volume
  • 120mm fan
Check Price
9. NZXT Kraken M22 RL-KRM22-01-AIO NZXT Kraken M22 120mm - RL-KRM22-01 - AIO RGB CPU Liquid Cooler - CAM-Powered - Infinity Mirror Design - Reinforced Extended Tubing - Aer P120mm PWM Radiator Fan (Included)
  • 38 dB running volume
  • Dual fan design
  • Up to 3000 rpm fan speed
  • Fluid pump speed up to 3000 cycles per minute
Check Price
10. Thermaltake TH120 ARGB CL-W285-PL12SW-A Thermaltake TH120 ARGB Motherboard Sync Edition AMD/Intel LGA1200 Ready All-in-One Liquid Cooling System 120mm High Efficiency Radiator CPU Cooler CL-W285-PL12SW-A
  • 400mm coolant pipes
  • Capable with CPUs from all major manufacturers
  • 3300 rpm pump speed
  • 28.2 dB running volume
Check Price

The electricity flowing through these switches is controlled by a device called the clock, which determines how many times per second a switch can be sent a new operation to run. Because the clock runs in cycles per second, it is measured in the same way as radio waves. For this reason, you will often see clock statistics reported in hertz, the standard unit of cyclical measurements. A higher clock speed means that the transistors can be sent more operations per second, resulting in faster processing and performance from your computer.

Intel’s Core i7 series is widely considered to be among the more advanced processor models currently available. It has an octa-core processing unit and a clock speed of 4.2 gigahertz, putting it well beyond the last generation of processors by the same company and making it a serious contender in its own generation as well.

The 9700k addition of this processor has a transistor count of over three billion, making it faster than its predecessors by several orders of magnitude. Like most materials, transistors will begin to heat up as electric current moves through them; with every transistor able to be turned on and off many hundreds of times a second even under normal load, this processing unit can put out a considerable amount of heat after only moderate use.

If being used for high-performance activities, like detailed gaming or video editing, the user may have a worryingly short time before their processing unit can heat up enough to damage itself by warping the silicone base or even causing some of the transistors to begin to melt under the intense heat and electrical excitement of their conductive elements.

This problem is far from a new one in the computer engineering community. Engineers have understood for some time now that a computer needs a way to discharge this safely or it will damage itself with a buildup of excess waste heat. A large or intense enough build-up causes a meltdown, in which the processor runs so hot that it physically damages the computer around it. Meltdowns are increasingly rare in the modern world but are usually catastrophic to the computer in which they occur.

For this reason, as computers have grown more powerful and capable of handling more operations per second, a parallel market for cooling devices has emerged to protect processors from burning themselves up as they work. Search devices come in many shapes and sizes and use a variety of mediums to extrude waste heat from the processor and create a cooler temperature nearer to the computer chip itself.

The simplest method by which heat is removed from a processor is the heatsink or heat exchanger. This uses many pieces of highly conductive material arranged between the processor and the vents built into a computer’s chassis to conduct the heat away from the processor. The heatsink’s rods are normally built of a highly conductive metal such as copper and packed closely together to maximize the amount of heat that they will absorb and conduct.

A heatsink is an example of a passive cooling device, as there are no moving parts and the cooling operation is accomplished solely by the principles of heat exchange. Other models, though, will try to move a cooling fluid across the computer chip with an active, motorized component.

The most common of these is a fanbase cooling module; by blowing cold air at the computer chip, it forces the heat away from the processor on a constant basis and continually brings cooler air into contact with it to keep the processor at a lower temperature.

For computers intended for extremely high-performance tasks, proof such as gaming, network hosting, or video editing, air cooling may not be enough. Reaching such high temperatures these computers produce impedes the cooler’s ability to effectively cool and absorb heat quickly enough to ensure the computer is optimally performing.

For these machines, a liquid cooling mechanism may be in order, with either water or a chemical coolant circulated through pipes close to the processor by a small pump attached to the computer’s power supply. Heat is absorbed into the walls of the pipes and carried away by the coolant, which is chilled again outside of the computer and circulated back in once it is at a low enough temperature to be effective.

The importance of a cooling array for a high-power processor like the Core i7 9700k can make it hard to choose which model you want to trust to keep your computer safe and operational. We’ve assembled some of the best cooling arrays on the market to help you decide how you want to take care of your computer.

Our Best CPU Cooler for i7 9700k Reviews and Comparisons

1. Noctua NH-U14S

Product Highlights

This brand has become one of the leading names in the field of CPU cooling modules for its long line of exceptional air coolers to fit every processor.

Features

  • 140mm fan
  • Universal mounting system
  • 52mm thick
  • Anti-vibration glue and pads included

What We Like About Noctua NH-U14S

This fan delivers exactly what most people are looking for – a reliable air cooler that will lower temperatures in their PC without charging too much for it.

What We Don’t Like About Noctua NH-U14S

The mounting solutions offered with this program can be confusing, even though the clips are billed as ‘universal’.

PROS

  • Relatively affordable
  • Six-year warranty
  • Trusted manufacture
  • Does not overhang RAM slots
  • Runs quietly

CONS

  • Hard to mount correctly
  • Mounting option are limited in number and fairly weak

2. Corsair iCUE H150i RGB Pro XT

Product Highlights

This is a liquid cooling model that combines stylish LED mood lighting and both air and liquid arrays to keep a CPU frosty.

Features

  • Triple fan array
  • Liquid coolant pump
  • 120mm fans
  • Fan speed up to 2400 RPM

What We Like About Corsair iCUE H150i RGB Pro XT

By combining two different mediums of heat exchange, Corsair has created a truly impressive cooling array that works twice as fast as other models.

What We Don’t Like About Corsair iCUE H150i RGB Pro XT

This cooling setup is larger and more difficult to install than simpler models, especially since it involves putting a liquid coolant pipe near a computer.

PROS

  • Exceptionally effective
  • Low noise mode
  • Stylish LED lighting to go with a modern gaming PC
  • A refined copper heat sink
  • Intuitive control panel on your PC modulates the speed and desired temperature

CONS

  • Larger than other models
  • Some computer chassis will not be compatible with a coolant pipe.

3. be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4 BK022

Product Highlights

This cooling array is dramatically covered in a sleek black finish and focuses on running with minimal excess noise.

Features

  • 24.3 dB maximum volume
  • Refined copper heat exchangers
  • 120mm fans
  • 250W power supply

What We Like About be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4 BK022

Every blade on these fans is specially sculpted to move the maximum amount of air over the CPU with the least amount of noise possible.

What We Don’t Like About be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4 BK022

This model is trickier to install than most others, and harder to correct if you make a mistake.

PROS

  • Nearly silent running
  • Specially sculpted fan blades
  • Highly effective cooling, even for more demanding processors
  • Dual RAM slot cutouts
  • Full mounting kit included

CONS

  • Difficult to properly install
  • Black finish chips or scratches easily

4. Cooler Master Hyper 212 Silencio FP120

Product Highlights

This cooling module adds considerable durability with a solid gunmetal chassis and a damage-resistant black finish.

Features

  • 26.0 dB maximum volume
  • Black gunmetal frame
  • Four dedicated heat exchange pipes
  • 120mm fan

What We Like About Cooler Master Hyper 212 Silencio FP120

This fan comes with a jam protection mechanism that keeps it running smoothly no matter how erratic your demands on the CPU.

What We Don’t Like About Cooler Master Hyper 212 Silencio FP120

Due to a possible oversight in the engineering stage, mounting this fan requires disassembling the entire device and putting it back together around the CPU.

PROS

  • Highly resilient device
  • Mounting kit included
  • Anti-jam protection
  • Metal body disperses heat faster than plastic models
  • Fairly affordable

CONS

  • Unwieldy installation process
  • Heat exchange pipes are awkwardly positioned.

5. Intel E97379-001

Product Highlights

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Features

  • 90mm aluminum fan
  • 12v power supply
  • 52mm height from the motherboard
  • A folded aluminum heat sink

What We Like About Intel E97379-001

Using a minimal four-pin design, this fan can be clipped directly onto any Intel Core processor up to 3.05 GHz

What We Don’t Like About Intel E97379-001

The fans on this cooler are considerably smaller than those on most third-party cooling arrays, making it move less air and cool less effectively.

PROS

  • Trusted manufacturer
  • Immediately compatible with Intel Core processors
  • Compact design
  • Minimal installation needed

CONS

  • Smaller fan diameter and less sculpted blades will move less air
  • Can be overworked easily by overclocking a processor.

6. ALSEYE Cooler

Product Highlights

This model uses an extra pair of dispersion pipes to remove waste heat more quickly and effectively than others.

Features

  • Dual fan design
  • 220W power supply
  • 120mm fan
  • 35.5 dB running volume

What We Like About ALSEYE Cooler

Along with the superior cooling array, this model includes a dazzling LED string in the fans to turn your computer into a private rainbow light show.

What We Don’t Like About ALSEYE Cooler

This model runs nearly 10 decibels louder than others, making it more irritating to work or game with over longer periods.

PROS

  • Flashy LED light wheel
  • Extra heat dispersion pipes
  • Installation accessories included
  • Suitable for Intel and AMD
  • Non-oxidizing and non-corroding plastic casing

CONS

  • Louder than other models
  • Does not cool as effectively as similar models

7. Pccooler GI-D56A

Product Highlights

This model uses a wire clip-on mounting system, making it far easier to mount and remove than models using screws or bolts.

Features

  • Single fan array
  • Metal casing
  • Five heat dispersion pipes
  • Fan speed up to 2000 rpm

What We Like About Pccooler GI-D56A

This fan is built with advanced materials and engineering, making it able to compete with larger models for effectiveness and efficiency.

What We Don’t Like About Pccooler GI-D56A

As a single fan device, this design will not move as much air through your computer as others do, with a commensurate reduction in the cooling effect.

PROS

  • LED light wheel for aesthetic effect
  • Molded fan blades for more effective airflow
  • Rubber fan track reduces vibration and damage
  • Copper bearings wear out more slowly over time
  • Wire clip mountings can be easily placed and removed by hand

CONS

  • Only one fan unit
  • Poorly constructed machine heat dispersion pipes

8. MSI Core Frozr L

Product Highlights

MSI is already well known for manufacturing superb graphics cards; they bring the same quality and expertise to making this product as they do to the rest of their long line of postmarket add-ons.

Features

  • Nickel plating and mounting plate
  • 8mm cooling pipes
  • 33.6 dB running volume
  • 120mm fan

What We Like About MSI Core Frozr L

This fan’s thick aluminum heat exchange fins and nickel plating and dispersion pipes take advantage of the chemical properties of the metal to conduct as much as 200W of heat energy away from the CPU.

What We Don’t Like About MSI Core Frozr L

The thicker components in this module make it both wider and heavier than comparable units, which can squeeze out other components from your expansion slots.

PROS

  • Chemically enhanced heat dispersion
  • Trusted manufacturer
  • Sturdier construction than other models
  • Compatible with both Intel and AMD models out of the box
  • Heatshield reflects heat out of the computer and away from the motherboard

CONS

  • Bulkier than other models
  • Difficult to install

9. NZXT Kraken M22 RL-KRM22-01-AIO

Product Highlights

Using a proprietary desktop or mobile app, you can personalize your ideal blend of air and liquid cooling based on your computer’s performance.

Features

  • 38 dB running volume
  • Dual fan design
  • Up to 3000 rpm fan speed
  • Fluid pump speed up to 3000 cycles per minute

What We Like About NZXT Kraken M22 RL-KRM22-01-AIO

Kraken has long been a trusted manufacturer of gaming accessories and brings the same level of expertise to this cooler to keep your computer frosty as you game.

What We Don’t Like About NZXT Kraken M22 RL-KRM22-01-AIO

Kraken has long been a trusted manufacturer of gaming accessories and brings the same level of expertise to this cooler to keep your computer frosty as you game.

PROS

  • The LED mood lighting strip
  • Large fan blades move more air
  • Fluid coolant pipes are strengthened against leaks
  • Digital control over unit settings
  • Six-year warranty

CONS

  • Harder to install than fan-only models
  • FHigher power draw

10. Thermaltake TH120 ARGB CL-W285-PL12SW-A

Product Highlights

This fluid cooler discharges heat as the coolant leaves the computer, allowing it to run with less coolant and fewer refills.

Features

  • 400mm coolant pipes
  • Capable with CPUs from all major manufacturers
  • 3300 rpm pump speed
  • 28.2 dB running volume

What We Like About Thermaltake TH120 ARGB CL-W285-PL12SW-A

This model works both faster and quieter than other fluid coolant models, making for a more efficient cooling process throughout.

What We Don’t Like About Thermaltake TH120 ARGB CL-W285-PL12SW-A

Manufacturer’s drivers are not always compatible with later operating systems, making it hard to install and run correctly.

PROS

  • Integrated mood lighting
  • Multiple mourning arrays included
  • Minimal coolant loss
  • Braided pipe guards to prevent leakage
  • Faster cooling than similar models

CONS

  • Hard to find and install useable drivers
  • Hose connections are more brittle than other fluid coolers

Final Verdict

Noctua NH-U14S

Any of these coolers would be a good choice for a Core i7 processor, this one takes the top spot thanks to the superb dispersion capabilities granted by its aluminum wire chassis and extra-wide fan.

When it comes down to it, the most imp[ortant part of a CPU cooler is to get rid of the processor’s excess heat, and this one tops the charts for that so well that it has won a number of consumer awards, including the coveted Amazon’s Choice for being the model most preferred by the tech-savvy community.

Another important thing to note about this model is that it is made exceptionally thin and light. While that might not sound important, especially if you are planning to install it into a gaming console or a desktop computer, a thicker model can wind up blocking your computer’s expansion slots and preventing you from fully utilizing your computer.

By keeping this model thin enough not to overshadow any more slots than it is allotted, you can keep your CPU cool and still add features or processing power.

Buyers Guide

Getting a separate cooling module for your computer can be tricky, but just keep in mind a few simple steps and you should be able to make your choice without undue hassle. The first thing you want to do is check what model processor you have. Many cooling modules are made specifically for certain brands or models of computers, so take care that you are only looking at the ones compatible with your existing components.

Second, take a measure of both the computer into which the cooler is to be installed and the cooler itself to make sure that there will be enough physical room for it to fit. Even if it is electronically compatible, it is both ineffective and dangerous to install it without enough room.

A final consideration, of course, is your budget; it is possible to spend nearly any amount of money on computer components if you don’t know what price range you are looking for, so have a firm idea of how much you want to spend on a cooler before setting out to buy one.

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