It’s no secret that, when pushed, a CPU can generate considerable amounts of heat, and it’s of prime importance to pair it with a cooler capable of keeping those temperatures in check. If you’ve just picked up an i7 8700k or plan to soon, and are eager to tap into the power of the i7 8700k with a CPU cooler fit for purpose, then look no further.
Although the i7 8700k may no longer feature atop Intel’s hierarchy of HEDT chips, it still has its place in gaming setups, especially among price-conscious builders who want performance without flirting with the exorbitant prices of more recently launched products. And, with such performance comes the heat dissipation needs to match, hence the importance of settling on the right cooler. Failing to do so doesn’t bear thinking about, but we quickly venture into unwanted throttling territory, distracting noise levels from whirling fans, and hampered performance.
As with most PC components, the sheer breadth of the choices on offer verges on the dizzying, and making a final decision is often a stressful experience, with fears of making the wrong choice sadly often part of the process. As always, we aim to simplify the process by leveraging our expertise on the matter and shining a spotlight on the very best CPU coolers for Intel’s i7 8700k. Let’s dive in.
So how did we go about picking the best coolers?
To settle on our selection of the best coolers around, we scoured the market, assessing each option for its viability when paired with the i7 8700k. Our hunt was guided by a focus on critical features, notably performance, noise levels, build quality, and the all-important question of price. We did factor in secondary considerations such as ease of installation and desirable but non-essential features such RGB lighting, but these played second fiddle to those just above.
Our research ultimately led us to five CPU coolers fit for the i7 8700k, which we consider the best for your money and recommend their suitability for those seeking specific features such as low noise, value, and overclocking potential, among others.
Best CPU Cooler For i7 8700k
Unmatched build quality
Trawling through all the coolers on the market, we found ourselves always reverting to the Noctua NH-D15, and it takes our top pick for the best CPU cooler for the i7 8700k. Developed by the folks over at Noctua, a company that’s cemented a reputation over the past decade as the best cooler manufacturer, this air cooler not only packs a punch when it comes to performance but keeps things quiet in the process.
Under the hood, it features a duo of 1NF-A15 140mm fans with aluminum fins alongside a chunky 150 mm fin stack and decent clearance for memory heat spreaders thanks to a single fan mode. The cooler’s performance nears that of much pricier All-in-One CPU liquid coolers, even when overlocked, and fares incredibly well whatever the load. Noise levels never pass 25 dB even when you throw everything at the i7 8700k, thanks to low-noise adapters and Noctua’s excellent NT-H1 thermal paste, which conveniently comes alongside the NH-D15.
It’s hard not to heap praise on the construction quality, although the beige and brown color scheme is undoubtedly an acquired taste, and installation can be a little fiddly. The price is entirely reasonable for everything the Noctua NH-D15 has to offer. The cooler is even future proof to a certain extent thanks to Noctua’s promise to issue updated mounting kits for any sockets that emerge in the years ahead.
Looking at the negatives, the Noctua NH-D15 is big at 165 mm, making it a no-go for builds with limited space, but if you are still on the hunt for a case, we recommend opting for something bigger to accommodate this excellent cooler.
All-in-One liquid cooling solution
Great cooling performance
Long gone are the days when liquid coolers were limited to complex open-loop liquid setups. With the eye-catching design, effortless installation, reasonable prices, and next to no upkeep of All-in-One solutions, liquid coolers have never been this viable. If you’re set on leaping into liquid cooling, our top pick is either the EVGA CLC 240 or slightly larger 280. The numbering refers to different radiator sizes.
Both models feature a set of two 120/140 mm fans FX12 120mm PWM fans with Teflon nano bearings capable of speeds ranging from 500 to 2400 rpm, an aluminum radiator (240 mm and 280 mm), sleeved tubing, and an i7 8700k-ready copper water block with customizable RGB LED. The cooler also arrives packaged with EVGA Flow Control software, offering control of lighting as well as fan and pump speeds and curves.
The EVGA CLC 240/280 produces excellent cooling across the board, though it truly comes into its element when the chip is running on full load. There is a handoff for the cooler’s excellent heat dissipation: the fans do produce quite the din when running at max speed, capping out at around 40 dB, which is markedly more than many competitor models.
The size of the EVGA CLC 240/280 is also worth a mention, as it tallies up to a smaller footprint than the bigger 360 mm AIO options on the market, which makes it worth a look for those that want a liquid solution but have less in-chassis space to spare. As with most AIO, installation is a breeze.
Easy to install
Low noise levels
If you’ve got some cash to spare and want an alternative to the EVGA CLC 240/280, then the Corsair Hydro Series H115i PRO is another excellent cooler pairing for the i7 8700k.
The Corsair Hydro Series H115i PRO is an AIO liquid cooler equipped with two ML Series 140mm PWM fans alongside a 280 mm radiator and RGB led pump. Cooling performance is more than respectable and comfortably handles any temperatures the i7 8700k can throw its way, even overclocked, but lags behind some of the other picks here.
However, acoustics is where the Corsair Hydro Series H115i PRO truly shines. The fans themselves produce a maximum of 20 dB when running at full speed. Add to that a nifty Zero RPM mode, which, as the name suggests, switches off the fans when the CPU falls below a software-assigned temperature of your choosing.
Compared to the EVGA option, the Corsair Hydro Series H115i PRO does require a bit more of an investment, although it retains the same ease of installation and Corsair’s signature showy looks.
If you want to save some cash by opting for an air cooler but want low operational noise levels, then look no further than the be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4.
The be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4 is built like a tank and runs a duo of Silent Wings PWM fans (120 mm and 135 mm) attached to a chunky heatsink housing airflow-optimized cooling fins with a handy cutout that leaves some space for larger memory modules and 6 mm copper heat pipes. This cooler’s size and weight do mean that it may not be suited to those who transport their PCs from place to place regularly, something that heightens the potential for it to detach and wreak havoc on other components.
Push the fans to their maximum, and you’re looking at under 25 dB acoustic output. While the noise levels are impressive, the thermal performance is nothing to scoff at either, with support for chips up to 250W TDP. Installation coughs up a few pesky maneuvers, but nothing a bit of determination can’t overcome.
A little noisy
Last but not least, we have the Cryorig R1 Ultimate, snapping up the crown for the best value CPU cooler for Intel’s i7 8700k.
Regarding price-to-performance ratio, it’s hard to go wrong with the Cryorig R1 Ultimate, which stands as a worthy alternative to the Dark Rock Pro 4, but with a lower price tag. Powering this is a pair of XF140 140mm fans, a beefy 168.3 mm copper nickel-plated heatsink, and Cryorig’s Multiseg Quick-Mount system, which greatly simplifies installation.
We can’t stress the thermal efficiency offered by the Cryorig R1 Ultimate, which, much like the Noctua option, approaches that of AIO liquid coolers. It does surge above the other CPU coolers in our list when it comes to noise levels. The official blurb points to a max output of 23 dB, but in reality, the Cryorig R1 Ultimate’s fans quickly push 30 dB when under load. In the grand scheme of things, it’s still a relatively quiet cooler with thermal performance that easily outweighs this minor inconvenience.
Things To Consider
While this point may seem obvious to many, the countless horror stories out there suggest it’s well worth repeating. Nothing takes the wind out of an anticipated PC build than finding out that a new component doesn’t fit or obstructs another. Fortunately, in the case of a CPU cooler, issues are easily avoided with a little foresight and planning. Doing so will ward off any nasty surprises.
In particular, we recommend looking up manufacturer dimensions – easily found on their respective web sites – then comparing these with your case details, especially for AIO solutions with sizable radiators. Similarly, ensure your cooler of choice allows for enough clearance for your RAM, notably modules with big heat spreaders. Another point to consider is suitability for small form factor builds. Trust us when we say that squeezing a Noctua NH-D15 into a small case verges on the impossible unless you plan to run the PC without a panel.
AIO vs. Air Cooler
Choosing between air coolers and an AIO cooling solution is well worth considering. The draw of liquid’s well-documented cooling properties and the allure of RGB light shows is undeniable, but sometimes it can be too much.
If you’re planning for a moderate build that you won’t push to its limits, then there’s no sense wasting budget on an AIO liquid cooling option when an air cooler offers more than enough to keep the i7 8700k in check. When running the chip at stock speeds, the temperature gains offered by liquid options aren’t worth worrying about and only really come to the fore when overclocking.
This is particularly the case for excellent models such as the Noctua NH-D15, which approaches the cooling performance of liquid cooling alternatives. The money saved can be invested in a better GPU or more RAM, which will have more impact on the build’s overall quality.
Ease of Installation
For many, little hiccups during installation are part and parcel of piecing together a new build, but that isn’t always the case. For some, opting for a hassle-free installation may trump other considerations such as price, especially for novice builders eager to get things up and running.
The installation process varies significantly from model to model. Still, the consensus is that AIO solutions offer an easier run than their air-cooled brothers, bar finding a home for a bulky radiator within a chassis.
As we’ve mentioned before, research is the best course of action, and we’ve tried to note our take on the installation process of the CPU coolers in this article.
The Noctua NH-D15 is our clear winner when choosing the best CPU cooler for an i7 8700k. While the others certainly have their merits, it’s hard not to repeatedly revisit Noctua’s stellar air cooler as the option of choice.
If you have your eye on a liquid cooler, we highly recommend EVGA CLC 240/280, and, although slightly more demanding on the wallet, the Corsair Hydro Series H115i PRO. For those aiming for a whisper-quiet setup, the be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4 comes out on top, with a very attractive price tag to match. As for value, the versatile Cryorig R1 Ultimate is an excellent choice that will pair beautifully with an i7 8700k without eating into your budget.
With that, the time has come to wrap up our guide on the best cooler for Intel’s i7 8700k CPU. Hopefully, we’ve eased the process for you and set you on the path to making that all-important decision.
Feel free to drop a comment below if you have any questions. We’re here to help and happy to provide further guidance if required.