Intels newest 10th generation range of desktop processors are almost upon us, including the flagship Core i9-10900K – set to take on AMD’s hugely popular Ryzen 9 3900X.
Built on the existing 14nm process, early benchmark tests are showing that the Ryzen 9 3900X and 3950X are outperforming the i9-10900K in synthetic tests, although the 10900K does warrant its place for high-end gaming systems – with the new Intel i9-10900K coming out on top in gaming benchmarks.
It’s important to note that although the 10900K is, looking at early benchmarks, the king CPU for gaming systems, that this processor has been shown to run extremely hot, as well as a far higher power consumption than its AMD rivals – measured at 338W compared to just 263W in the Ryzen 9 3900X.
If you’re going to want to get the most performance out of the i9-10900K, you’re going to need a capable cooler – air or liquid (AIO) – to drive down temperatures.
In this guide, we will focus on the best recommended CPU coolers and cooling setups to drive down the 10900K thermals and maximise the performance of this next generation i9 processor.
Bear in mind, this processor has yet to officially release to the public, so we will be basing cooling recommendations on older 9th generation Intel processors (such as the i9-9900K) using the same socket, since theoretically they should have a relatively similar performance with the i9-10900K.
Now, we will give our recommended air, AIO/liquid, budget and low profile CPU cooler recommendations for i9-10900K builds.
Best Coolers for i9-10900K – My Recommendations
Best Air Cooler for i9-10900K: Noctua NH-D15
The Noctua NH-D15 definitely needs no introduction, being generally regarded as the best air cooler on the market, period. This air cooler has performance comparable to 240mm AIO systems on the market – it’s really that good. And with an updated black colorway, this air cooler will look and perform great in any i9-10900K build. Best in class air cooling, design, noise levels and $90 price tag is why builders keep coming back to the NH-D15.
If you don’t want to build with an AIO system, and your PC case is big enough to fit this cooler in, then the NH-D15 makes the most sensible pairing for your upcoming i9-10900K build.
Best AIO Cooler for 10900K: Arctic Liquid Freezer II 360
Arctic have been turning heads recently with the Liquid Freezer II cooler, and really disrupting the AIO cooler market. The Liquid Freezer 2 is one of the cheapest AIO coolers (when compared to its rivals) and outperforms all of the competition in thermal tests – according to Gamers Nexus. Combining the 360mm variant of the Arctic Liquid Freezer II with the upcoming i9-10900K will be a killer combination for those looking for an enthusiast-grade gaming setup and matching performance.
If your i9-10900K build can fit a 360mm AIO cooler in the case, then we highly recommend going for this AIO cooler for the 10900K – it will be the absolute best AIO cooling setup available in 2020.
Best Low Profile Cooler for i9-10900K SFF Builds
If you can’t fit the likes of an NH-D15 or 360mm AIO setup in your ITX case, then you’re going to need a smaller cooler that doesn’t sacrifice on cooling performance. Some low-profile CPU coolers perform especially well in particular ITX cases, but not always in other ITX cases. If you want a great low profile cooler that generally performs well regardless of what ITX case you put it in, then we recommend opting for the Noctua NH-L12S – which has the best balance of price, thermal performance and noise levels.
As mentioned in our low profile CPU cooler roundup, the NH-L12S is a fantastic cooler for SFF builds, measuring just 70mm in height and produces just 21.4dB at idle – not bad considering its thermal performance. Costing at just under $50, you really won’t be disappointed with this low profile cooler for the i9-10900K – as long as it fits in your ITX case! For example, this cooler is a few millimetres too large for the LOUQE Ghost S1, thus requires bending of the heat fins to make it fit!