So, you’re building your own PC. You’ve already picked out your processor; you’re going for the Intel i7-8700k (great choice by the way). Now, you just need to pick out a good CPU cooler that’ll allow you to squeeze as much juice out of it as possible.
You're in the right place because, in this post, we’re going to be reviewing what we think are the very best CPU cooler for the i7-8700k. We’ve made sure to include some low-profile, AIO, and air coolers in this list so that there’s something to fit every kind of rig.
We'll also be sharing some top tips to help you find the best CPU cooler for your needs and answer all your other cooler questions.
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Why Intel Core i7 8700k Requires a Quality Cooler?
Processors have become more and more powerful in recent years - and that’s a great thing. However, the upshot of that is that modern processors tend to output a lot of heat, especially under heavy loads, and the i7 8700k is no exception.
Intel’s i7-8700k CPU boasts 6 cores, 12 threads, and a 3.7GHz base clock speed that turbo boosts up to 4.7GHz. It’s one of the best processors on the market, but even at stock clocks, it runs very hot. If you want to keep it cool and avoid throttling, you need a cooler to handle the large thermal output. This is especially important if you plan on overclocking.
The i7-8700k operates with a TDP (thermal design power) of 95W, which means you'll need a cooler with a TDP rating of at least the same to achieve your system’s full potential.
Some Intel CPUs come with their own stock cooler right in the box, but the 8700k isn’t one of them. And even if it did, Intel stock coolers don’t tend to be very good - and this is a CPU that needs outstanding cooling. A decent-quality aftermarket cooler is essential.
For the best coolers for Intel i7 9700, check out this article.
Choosing the Best CPU Cooler for i7-8700k
The best CPU cooler for the i7-8700k will vary from person to person. It depends on things like your existing rig, budget, installation preferences, and various other factors.
Here are some of the most important technical considerations you’ll need to choose the best cooler for your needs.
The heat output your processor produces will depend on the kind of computing tasks you’re doing. CPU-intensive tasks create more heat output and thus require more cooling power and a better CPU cooler than low key CPU usage.
For the Intel Core i7 8700k, you should be able to get by with a fairly modest cooler while you’re idling, staying in the stock clock range, or even operating under pretty heavy loads.
However, if you plan on doing some heavy overclocking (i.e., manually overriding the maximum clock speeds intended by your CPU manufacturer), you’ll probably want to spend more to make sure you have a high-quality cooler.
The TDP rating is probably the most important spec to look at when you’re buying a CPU cooler - you should be able to find it in the manufacturer’s product specifications. It’s a figure measured in watts that tells you how much heat the cooler can dissipate.
The higher the TDP rating, the more efficient the cooling system. As a general rule, you’ll want to make sure that the TDP rating of your cooler is higher than your processor, which in the case of the i7 8700k is 95W.
If the cooler’s TDP rating exceeds that of your processor, both the temperature and noise should be lower. However, if the TDP of your CPU is higher than your cooler, you'll likely suffer from throttling, and the fans will probably run very loudly.
CPU coolers can be broadly subcategorized into two types: air-cooling systems and liquid-cooling systems. I won’t bore you with exactly how these differ here, but if you’re curious, I’ve explained the differences in more detail towards the bottom of this guide.
For now, all you need to know is that water-based coolers tend to be more effective but also more expensive.
If keeping temperatures and noise as low as possible is your number one priority, and the cost isn’t a concern, a water-cooler is probably your best option. If value-for-money and ease of installation are more important, an air cooler may be the way to go.
Material Build Quality
The design, build quality, and materials used in CPU coolers have a significant impact on their thermal conductivity, heat dissipation, and noise output.
Copper is the gold standard when it comes to materials - it has around twice the thermal conductivity compared to aluminum and is, therefore, objectively the best material for heatsinks.
However, many coolers use aluminum instead as it’s a more cost-friendly option and still has decent cooling capacity. The surface area is important, too; the larger the heatsink, the better the heat dissipation.
The size and number of heatpipes and fans in the cooler also affect the cooling performance. More heatpipes typically means more cooling power.
Choosing a cooler with more fans will also mean better cooling, but the tradeoff is that it’ll also create more noise and take up more space. You’ll need to find the right balance between performance, noise, and size that makes sense for your rig.
Temperature Regulation & Airflow
One question that comes up a lot is, 'do I need a 3-pin fan or a 4-pin (PWM) fan? What’s the difference between 3 pin and 4 pin connectors?’.
Most people will use 4-pin for CPU coolers as they do a better job of reducing and increasing fan speed.
This is because 3-pin fans use DC voltage to increase and decrease fan speeds, which can sometimes lead to overcompensated changes in speed. 4-pin PWM fans don't suffer from this problem as the fourth pin receives pulses, which help regulate DC voltage and allow the fan to speed up/slow down more easily.
You’ll need to make sure the cooler you choose is compatible with your socket types and the layout of your motherboard.
The most popular coolers typically support a wide range of socket types, including Intel 2011-v3, 115x, and 2066 sockets, but some coolers will only support one socket type.
If you have a motherboard that’s relatively un-cluttered near the CPU, you should be able to fit most compatible CPU coolers on there easily. On the other hand, if you have a motherboard with a lot of heatpipes around the CPU area, you’ll have to be more careful.
If in doubt, check the manufacturer’s website. Many CPU cooler manufacturers will have a list of compatible motherboards with each of their products. For example, bequiet! has an online motherboard compatibility checker here.
Dimensions & Clearances
Think carefully about the dimensions of the CPU cooler before you buy it and make sure it’ll fit in your chassis. If it’s too big, you’ll run into big problems later.
To find out what size CPU cooler you need, look at your chassis specifications. Case manufacturers usually list the maximum cooler dimensions, which you can cross-reference with the dimensions listed on the cooler.
You’ll also want to factor in the amount of clearance you’ll need underneath the cooler for the RAM slots and other vital components. You don’t want to choose a cooler fan that’s large enough to obstruct these components.
Ease of Installation
Another consideration is how much time and energy you’re willing to spend on the installation. Some coolers are much easier to set up than others.
AIO (All in One) coolers tend to be very easy to install as all the important parts (like the water block, radiator, fans, tubes, etc.) are already combined into a neat, pre-packaged solution that you can just bolt-on. They also tend to be less prone to leaks.
Custom loop setups are the most complex option - you’ll need to cut and fit custom tubes yourself - but can offer unparalleled performance and remove more heat from your system.
Price & Warranty
And of course, price matters too. You’re aiming for the best possible value-for-money, so start by setting a budget and compare your options in that price range. The cheapest air coolers start at around $25 and go up to around $100 or more at the higher end.
AIO coolers are a little pricier and range from around $60-$150+ depending on the quality and brand. Expect to pay more for larger radiators and more LED fans and lights.
The most expensive option is to build a custom liquid loop cooler. It’ll set you back a lot more than a closed-loop kit, but it might be worth it for the added cooling performance.
Also, don’t forget to check the warranty and read the small print before you make a purchase.
6 Best CPU Coolers For i7-8700k Reviewed
1. bequiet! Dark Rock 4, BK021
- Virtually inaudible Silent Wings 135mm PWM...
- Achieves only 21.4dB(A) at maximum fan speed
- Six high-performance copper heat pipes
- Airflow-optimized, wave-contoured cooling...
Our top pick!
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Intel: 1200 / 1150 / 1151 / 1155 / 1156 / 1366 / 2011(-3) Square ILM / 2066
Our top pick for the overall best CPU cooler for Intel Core i7 8700k is the be quiet! Dark Rock 4, BK021.
It has a 200W TDP rating - more than double that of the i7-8700 - which ensures temperatures stay low and that it runs super quietly. The Silent Wings 135mm PWM fan is virtually inaudible even when your CPU is under heavy loads.
It should be able to handle gaming, video editing, and other semi-demanding CPU tasks while keeping the temperature under 50 degrees at most, and it seems to idle at around 30. Even when you’re performing heavy CPU tasks like 4K rendering, temperatures are unlikely to exceed 60 degrees if you’re using this cooler.
It’s more than sufficient for stock clocks and should easily be able to handle some light overclocking. Because it’s so powerful, you’ll probably even be able to upgrade to a more powerful CPU at a later date, like a 14-core i9 Series processor, without having to upgrade your cooler.
It’s huge, well-designed, and the build quality is excellent. Bequiet! hasn’t cut costs by using aluminum pipes; the six high-performance heat pipes are made of copper, which has the best possible thermal conductivity.
I also found it fairly easy to install - it should be doable in around 10 minutes with a little planning. It comes with just about enough thermal paste for 1 application, so make sure you use it all. Because it’s an air cooler, you don’t have to worry about running into any leaks later on.
Overall, Dark Rock 4 is an awesome cooler. It might not have all the fancy RGB lighting and other bells and whistles that some coolers come with, but if cooling performance and quiet operation are your main priorities, there’s no better option at this price range.
2. Noctua NH-U14S
- Award-winning, slim 140mm single-tower design...
- Does not overhang the RAM slots on LGA2066...
- Highly optimised NF-A15 140mm fan with PWM...
- Includes high-end NT-H1 thermal paste and...
best Noctua CPU cooler for i7 8700k
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Intel: LGA1150, LGA1151, LGA1155, LGA1156, LGA2011, LGA2066
Next up, we have the Noctua NH-U14S, probably the best Noctua CPU cooler for i7-8700k processors.
It’s pretty comparable to the Dark Rock 4 in terms of heat dissipation and overall cooling performance - both are considered to be the best air CPU coolers on the market.
The Dark Rock 4 probably has slightly better cooling performance, but the NH-U14S is easier to install and completely clears the RAM slots thanks to its 52mm slim design. The extra clearance space means you get full access to the RAM without having to mess around with the fan and ensures compatibility with taller memory modules.
Here’s what one Redditor had to say about their experience using this CPU cooler.
“All core 4.7 GHz was a breeze on my 8700k even with the bad TIM. Given the soldered heat spreader, I tend to think that even with 8 cores it'll be fine for moderate overclocking. If you were planning on going for 8 cores at > 5GHz and high voltage, you might want to look at something a little higher end.” - Reddit user
While slightly louder than the Dark Rock 4, it’s still whisper-quiet. The build quality is premium, and it comes backed with a 6-year warranty. It’s also dual-fan ready, so if you want to eke out a few more degrees, you can always add a second fan to create a push/pull setup.
I personally like the design with the brown color scheme, but I recognize that it isn’t to everyone’s taste. Then again, if you use a closed case, the design doesn’t matter anyway.
3. Cooler Master MasterAir MA410M
- Hexagon hologram aluminum fin– specialized...
- Thermal detection sensor cpu temperature...
- Air guide armor the specially designed Armor...
- 28 addressable RGB led fully addressable RGB...
best budget CPU cooler for i7 8700k
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Intel: LGA2066, LGA2011 v3, LGA2011, LGA1151, LGA1150, LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA1366
If you’re looking for something a little more affordable, look no further than the Cooler Master MasterAir MA410M. It might not be quite as popular as the Dark Rock 4 or Noctua NH-U14S, but it’s still one of the best budget CPU coolers for i7 8700k.
It offers reasonable cooling performance for an air cooler. The specially-designed ‘Air-Guide Armor’ guides the airflow neatly out of your system and reduces dead spots, while the compressed heat pipe design ensures 45% more surface area contact.
Probably the best thing about this cooler, though, is its design. It offers a unique, cool, gamer-esque design with pretty LEDs and Addressable-RGB lighting effects. The ‘Halo Hologram Aluminum Fin’ uses reflected light to create an ‘infinity’ mirror effect.
The thermal detection sensor on the cooler will monitor your CPU temperature and display it via awesome-looking color lighting effects. You can adjust the temperature values to your preference using the provided controller.
The main downside to this cooler is the noise level. It’s not the quietest CPU cooler around, and after the fan gets to around 70% speed or more, some users report that the motor starts to get pretty noisy and the cooling fins start to rattle.
4. NZXT Kraken M22
- Advanced Lighting Modes: With an infinity...
- Engineered For Performance: Engineered to...
- Master Your Control: Using CAM, manage the...
- All-New Radiator Fans: The Aer P radiator...
best AIO CPU cooler for i7 8700k
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Intel: Socket 1151, 1150, 1155, 1156, 2011, 2011-3, 2066 Core i5 / Core i3 / Pentium / Celeron
Moving on to what we think is the best AIO CPU cooler for the i7 8700k - the NZXT Kraken M22.
So far, we’ve only looked at air CPU coolers. The NZXT Kraken is the first product on this list to feature liquid cooling technology, which means they use water to transfer heat away from your CPU, rather than air.
As water transfers heat much more efficiently than air, liquid coolers like the NZXT Kraken M22 can bring CPU temperatures down much more quickly and with less noise output. It also means the NZXT Kraken M22 is more compact than some of the other coolers we’ve looked at so far as fans tend to take up much more space than liquid cooling kits.
It’s great value for money compared to other high-end liquid coolers with similar performance, offers superior cooling with minimal noise, is easy to install and use even for rookies, and looks awesome.
The infinity mirror design is very cool. You have individual RGB control over every LED so you can customize the color and lighting for a totally dynamic lighting experience.
It comes with a 6-year warranty. Overall, it’s an excellent AIO CPU cooler, especially for the price.
5. Corsair Hydro Series H100i PRO
- Dynamic Multicolor RGB Lighting: Vibrant RGB...
- Powered by Magnetic Levitation: Two low noise...
- Powerful Software: CORSAIR iCue software...
- Zero RPM Mode: Zero RPM cooling profiles...
Best CPU liquid cooler for i7 8700k
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Intel: LGA 1150, 1151, 1155, 1156, 1366, 2011, 2011 3, 2066
The Corsair Hydro Series is our favorite AIO dual CPU cooler for the i7 8700l. Like the above, it’s an AIO liquid CPU cooler. The difference is that this one has two 120mm PWM fans instead of one. The fans are powered by magnetic levitation and deliver excellent airflow.
The advantages of having a second fan are that it can lower temperatures by a few more degrees (2-3°) compared to a single-fan setup. This can be helpful if you’re overclocking and trying to squeeze out every ounce of clock speed. However, the downside is that it usually also increases noise.
That being said, the usually increased noise that comes with dual fan setups is mitigated here by the 'Zero RPM Mode' feature, which allows fans to stop entirely when your CPU is at low temperatures, thus eliminating fan noise entirely. And even when the fans are at max, it still seems pretty quiet compared.
Another thing we like H100i PRO is the dynamic multicolor RGB lighting effects. You can adjust the RGB lighting through the powerful CORSAIR iCue software. You can also use the software to change individual fan speeds and pump speeds, as well as monitor your CPU temperatures.
6. CORSAIR Hydro Series H60
- New, improved SP120L fan offers lower noise...
- Improved micro-fin copper cold plate for...
- Low evaporation, large diameter tubing offers...
- Intel LGA 1150, 1155, 1156, 1366, and 2011....
Best low profile CPU cooler for i7 8700k
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Intel: LGA 1150, 1155, 1156, 1366, and 2011
Last but not least, we have the CORSAIR Hydro Series H60. If you have limited space to work with and you’re looking for the best low-profile CPU cooler for i7 8700k, this is it.
It’s a liquid cooler that boasts excellent cooling performance, quiet operation, and easy installation. The max noise level is substantially lower than many of the other liquid coolers we’ve looked at so far, and the modular design and tool-free magnetic mounting bracket kit make installation a breeze.
“Easy to fit, quiet in operation, and keeps the CPU (Intel i7 8700) below 60 degrees C even with all 6 cores working at 100%. Have a second H60 running in a system with an Intel i7 960 and even that runs in the low 60's rather than the 70-80 it's used to." - review on Ebuyer
The main advantage of this cooler, though, is the size. It’s a low-profile cooler, which means it’s extra compact and suitable for systems where space is limited, such as mini-ITX builds.
It’s reasonably easy to install and comes totally sealed, so there's no need to worry about leaks and cleaning the internals. One reviewer reported that it seems to collect dust, but that’s nothing a can of compressed air can’t solve.
Also Recommended: Best Low Profile CPU Coolers
Air Coolers vs. Liquid Coolers for i7 8700k: Which Is Best?
As I mentioned earlier, there are broadly two types of CPU coolers to choose from: air coolers and liquid coolers - but which is best for the i7 8700k? There’s no definitive answer to that question, but I'd argue that an air cooler is the best choice.
Why? Because they’re easier to set up, offer better performance-per-dollar, and are safer as they can’t leak and ruin your system. Plus, they’re the only real choice if you plan on moving your rig a lot.
The main downside is that in terms of pure performance, they’re less effective than water coolers, but unless you plan on some really, really heavy overclocking, a good air cooler should be more than sufficient for the i7 8700k.
They also tend to be bulkier than water CPU coolers, making it tough to fit into certain cases. They’re also more prone to creeping over the RAM slots, causing problems later.
The advantage of liquid CPU coolers is that they cool in less time than air, create less noise, are more compact, and generally outperform air coolers when it comes to reducing temperatures.
On the other hand, they’re more expensive than air coolers and usually cost at least $50-$100 more for just a few degrees difference. Another big disadvantage is that if they break, it can cause leaking and wreck your system.
I’d only recommend opting for a liquid CPU cooler if an air cooler won’t fit into your rig or if you’re super concerned about getting the maximum temperature performance.
Tips for Installing i7 8700k CPU Cooler
Your i7 8700k CPU cooler should come with instructions on installing it, which you should always refer to, but here are the basic steps to point you in the right direction.
- 1Use thermal paste
It’s essential to apply a thin layer of thermal paste between the base of your cooler and the lid of your CPU to eliminate any gaps between them. Many coolers will come with the paste already applied or included in the kit. To apply it yourself, put a pea-sized drop in the center of the CPU lid and then use a flat piece of cardboard to spread it thinly over the surface.
- 2Install brackets / set up standoffs
Depending on your cooler, you may or may not need to purchase some extra installation hardware. If you have standoffs or a bracket behind your motherboard, it’s time to attach them. If you’re trying to install a water cooler, you’ll want to connect the radiator to your case now.
- 3Line up the cooler
Next, grab your cooler and hold it over your CPU so that the screws line up with the holes in your motherboard/standoffs. Once it’s all lined up, lower it on slowly. It might be necessary to remove the fans first.
- 4Attach the connectors
Once it’s in the right position, you can attach the CPU cooler by either pushing in or screwing in the connectors in an ‘X’ pattern. Don’t go overboard with tightening it up just yet; you'll want to make sure everything is lined up evenly first.
- 5Re-attach the fans (if required)
If you had to remove the fans in step 3, you can re-attach them now. If you’re using a water cooler, you can also connect the pump, radiator, and coolant reservoirs now.
- 6Fire it up
That’s pretty much all there is to do it. Double-check that everything is properly secured, power it up, and you’re all done! Enjoy!
People Also Ask (FAQs)
Do I actually need a CPU cooler for i7 8700k processing?
Yes, you need an aftermarket CPU cooler for the i7-8700k. A good air cooler should be sufficient.
Does the i7-8700k processor come with a stock cooler?
No, it doesn’t. You need to buy an aftermarket cooler separately.
How long should I expect an air cooler for i7-8700k to last?
The cooler itself has a huge, almost limitless lifespan - it’s the fans that are the problem. A good fan should last at least 5-6 years without failing. When they fail, you can usually replace them fairly easily.
What is the best CPU cooler for overclocking an i7-8700k processor?
We think the Noctua NH-U14S is the best CPU cooler for overclocking your i7-8700k.
How much should I spend on a CPU cooler that synergizes well with an i7-8700k?
We’d recommend spending at least $60 on your i7-8700k CPU cooler, and up to $150+ if possible.
Where is the best place to buy these CPU coolers for i7 8700k?
We recommend buying your CPU coolers from Amazon. You can click the product links in our review section to go directly to the Amazon product page.
That concludes this guide to the best CPU cooler for i7-8700k. Overall, we think the be quiet! Dark Rock 4, BK021 is the overall best CPU cooler for i7 8700k, but if it doesn’t make sense for your rig, any of the other coolers we talked about above will do a great job too.
Holly Curell is a US-based freelance writer & editor extraordinaire. With over a decade of writing technical manuals, blog articles, & even company communications, Holly has a passion for providing value to readers on everything she knows about tech-related topics. When she’s not writing, Holly enjoys reading, hiking, wine, & wandering the aisles of Trader Joe’s. Holly is currently based out of North Carolina, where she lives with her husband Ken & their three children.