How To Find An Affordable and Reliable Air Cooler for i7 7700k?

Runner-Up
Noctua NH-D15 Air Cooler
Editor's Choice
Cryorig H7 Air Cooler
Best on the Market
Cooler Master RR-212L-16PR-R1

Electronics, just like mechanics, require optimum conditions to perform well and to maintain a constant flow of energy. Electronics is about moving electrons through solid-state materials, and this generates a lot of heat.

Unlike mechanical components that require lubrication to perform well, electronic components require cool conditions to assure no overheating, since excessive overheating can lead to melting downs and even fires.

Therefore, all CPU’s (central processing units) require some form of focused cooling, either air or liquid cooled. These coolers do not just keep the conditions cool in heated environments; they focus cool air on heated components that without cooling will overheat and malfunction.

One way to help the dispersal of heat within a coolant system is the use of thermal transfer through aluminum blocks (heat sinks) designed and machined to withdraw heat by conduction. As such, the most basic cooling systems start with fans, the next level are fans with heat sinks, and the liquid cooling systems, and of course heat sinks.
The i7-7700K, launched in 2017, was then Intel’s fastest ever consumer grade processor. This processor was part of the 7th generation, hence the i7 (Intel 7th Gen.) and uses Intel’s third set of processors at 14nm, with a 14+ variant, these create a better frequency / voltage curve, and that converts into better performance and improved efficiency. The i7-7700K is also known as the ‘Kaby Lake’ which is its internal code name.

The i7-7700K features four cores with hyperthreading, a 4.2 GHz base frequency, and a 4.5 GHz turbo frequency.

As you can see, this is one impressive CPU and requires a lot of care. One of the best ways to maximize performance is to invest in an appropriate air cooler for your CPU, and in this list and review, I provide the information to select the best option for the best CPU air cooler for i7 7700k chips.

A final word on the processor, the k means the processor has an unlocked multiplier. This means you can overclock the CPU in the bios by increasing the CPU multiplier.

The only way to assure a list of the best is to compare KPI’s (key performance features) versus price. In air coolers, KPI’s include sound levels, energy consumption, heat dispersion, and dimensions. A word on LED, I am biased against LED for two reasons, I don’t need the extra attraction of light, and this also affects overall heat and draws insects. On the other side of things, LED does offer a nice effect, sometimes ambient, or electrifying. If you are into light shows, then pick a LED model, but don’t pick LED over performance. In other words, not all that glitters is gold.

Product ImageProduct NameFan SizeMax. SoundMore Information
1. Noctua NH-D151. Noctua NH-D15140mm dual19.2 dBMore Information
2. Cryorig H72. Cryorig H7120mm25.0 dBMore Information
3. Cooler Master RR-212L-16PR-R13. Cooler Master RR-212L-16PR-R1120mm31.0 dBMore Information
4. Noctua NH-D14 *4. Noctua NH-D14 *140mm/120mm19.8 dBMore Information
5. Zalman CNPS12X5. Zalman CNPS12X120mm24.0 dBMore Information

The Best Air Coolers for i7 7700k Reviews

* The Noctua NH-D14 is discontinued, replaced by the NH-D15.

My Take: The NH-D15 is an upgraded NH-D14 that comes with an expanded heat pipe layout and two premium-grade NF-A15 140mm fans. The fans come with PWM support giving automatic speed control that further improves the design over the NH-D14 performance. This model comes in the pro-grade SecuFirm2™ multi-socket mounting system and uses their NT-H1 thermal compound for optimized heat dispersal. This model is designed for overclockers and users that want a quiet performance.

Features

  • Socket compatibility Intel LGA2066, LGA2011-0 & LGA2011-3 (Square ILM), LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA1151, LGA1150 & AMD AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, FM1, FM2, FM2+ (backplate required), AM4 with NM-AM4
  • Base and heat pipes are made from copper
  • Cooling fins (heat sink) are made from aluminum
  • All joints are soldered and nickel plated
  • Material Copper (base and heat-pipes), aluminum (cooling fins), soldered joints & nickel plating
  • Fan compatibility 140x150x25 (with 120mm mounting holes), 140x140x25 (with 120mm mounting holes), 120x120x25

What I like Most

I am a noise freak, which means I don’t like noise, especially from my computers. I like silent running, stealth and cooperation from my components. So I only invest in the best, as such, this is the best silent CPU cooler out of the list, and is one of my preferred air coolers.

My Take: The Cryorig H7 comes with a Highly Efficient Hive Fin™ design for thermal transfer and is extremely compatible with many CPU designs. This is a single tower designed unit with unique molds. The Hive Fin™ structure delivers optimal performance through Jet Fin Acceleration™ reducing Turbulence and all work harmoniously to reduce heat from overclocking.

Features

This model comes with Air Exhaust Acceleration through a designed heat sink fan Jet Fin Acceleration System™, where the air is compressed to flow through the aluminum fins at a higher rate. The beehive design reduces turbulence and helps the air flow faster.

The Heatpipe Positioning is also optimized to remove hot hair and reduce overall CPU coverage. The H7’s Heatpipe Convex-Align™ System gives the fan more heat pipes in the copper base and is aligned perfectly to cover the entire CPU surface.

You also get extra air performance with their Quad Air Inlet™ system that has four air inlets providing cooler airflow for the fans to blow over the CPU and through the heat sinks.

This model comes with a Patent Pending X-Bar™ that makes mounting synch and will mount on both Intel™ and AMD platforms. The X-Bar™ system’s backplate is fiberglass augmented PBT; this gives you a stronger tensile strength as well as heat resistant properties. The backplate also acts as a protectant from heatsink stress.

What I like Most

This is a classic air cooler with a reasonable price that delivers a quiet performance with exceptional quality in a compact cage.

My Take: The Cooler Master Hyper 212 LED is a low budget fan that comes with red LEDs for open case design. This model comes with their XtraFlo 120mm PWM Fan attached to their Quick-snap Fan Bracket. It uses funnel-shaped aluminum fins with four direct contact heat pipes.

Features

CoolerMaster is a budget-friendly air fan for standard CPU usage. This model delivers great performance with a bit of glitz in the red LED’s. So if you are looking for style over performance due to a limited budget, then this is the fan to buy.

This model is compatible with CPU Sockets for Intel® LGA 2066 / 2011-3 / 2011 / 1366 / 1156 / 1155 / 1151 / 1150 / 775 socket AMD® AM4* / AM3+ / AM3 / AM2+ / FM2+ / FM2 / FM1 socket. It comes with copper heatpipes linked to an aluminum heat sink and has a relatively low noise level range starting at 9 dB and going up to 31 dB.

What I like Most

This is a classic low budget fan, compatible for most standard users. This means you don’t overclock your CPU with intense gaming. If you do have an intention to use this fan on a gaming board, reconsider, it is a powerful unit, but not enough for serious gaming. To be honest, this is a very good model and well worth the investment for most applications. You don’t need to go overkill with a big fan model in most cases, so just think in terms of scale and decide.

My Take:

Product discontinued. Successor model: NH-D15

This is the predecessor to the NH-D15 and is still around for users that seek a gaming fan with exceptional features. The NH-D14 comes with all of Noctua’s performance components. Let’s take a closer look at the internals that makes this a great fan to consider.

Features

The NH-D14 combines six heat pipes with a dual radiator and dual fan configuration. The silence factor is incredible, with only a maximum sound level of 19.8 dba. As such, this model outperforms all others for sound, at a price, with only the NH-D15 providing an upgraded improvement over performance.

The NH-D14 uses Noctua’s NT-H1 thermal compound in combination with their SecuFirm2™ multi-socket mounting system. The six heat pipe dual radiator design is engineered for silence as well as for thermal transfer, and the fans are NF-P12 (120mm) and NF-P14 (140mm). Both these fans come with Vortex-Control Notches, integrated with SCD technology and SSO-Bearings that deliver unbeatable silence.

Due to the asymmetrical design, you get improved clearance towards the RAM slots, and there is a lot of versatility in structural use, it’s modular so you can move the NF-P12 fan upwards or even remove it for improved compatibility.

Noctua’s SecuFirm2™ multi-socket mounting delivers broad socket compatibility Intel LGA1366, LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA1151, LGA1150, LGA775, LGA2011, Asus X-socket™ & AMD AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, FM1, FM2, FM2+

The base is copper with an aluminum heat sink and nickel plated soldered joints.

What I like Most

This is a Noctua fan, which means you are paying for quality, performance, and silence. While it has been replaced by the upgraded NH-D15, this NH-D14 model is still a leader compared to other fans, and that is why it remains in the top five list.

My Take: The Zalman is the Rolls Royce of fans, this is the gold standard, and its price reflects the phenomenal performance levels reached with an air cooler. Ultimately, the only thing that can beat this fan is a liquid cooling unit, other than that; this is the best air cooler for i7 7700k CPU’s and for some, the price is too steep.

Features

The Zalman is a work of art and beauty as well as performance. This model combines state of the art air flow optimization performance with unique architectural features that all work cohesively to provide ultimate air flow control for the hardest overclocked CPUs in the gaming world.

The model comes with 6 heat pipes using IHD tech., triple 120mm fans, and uniquely designed heatsinks. The combination of these features delivers a maximum 22 dB performance level, which is absolutely stunning when compared to all other models, except the Noctua. However, those 2.9 dB’s difference doesn’t make a real impression when considering the overall application performance. In fact, this fan has eliminated the switching noise from voltage regulation issues.

You get a Variable Fin Profile (VFP) heatsink that uses a dual air-intake structure to increase Air Flow. This comes with their Whole-Direct Touch Heatpipes W-DTH Base that covers the CPU in contact directly, activating direct contact conduction of thermal transfer, further enhancing the reduction of operating temperatures even before the fan turns on. Once the fans commence, the cooling properties of this unit are unbeatable.

The heat pipes are made using composite materials that are 50% better than any standard sintered heat pipe. This model uses a wick type ’Sintered Metal’ giving you exceptional capillary pumping performance, combined with their high thermal conductivity design of ’Axial Grooves.’ Not only do you get solid to solid conductivity, but you also get an additional High Performance Super Thermal Grease ZM-STG2 that enhances the conductivity and seals out any possible “air pockets” that could be counterproductive to the air cooling process.

The nickel coatings are also finished in a black pearl color for design purposes.

This fan is highly versatile and is compatible with a broad range of sockets including Intel’s LGA2011 as well as AMD’s sockets including LGA1150/2011/1366/1156/1155/775, and FM2/FM1/AM3+/AM3/AM2+/AM2

This component is also compatible with mid-tower cases since the height of this model is only 145mm.

What I like Most

Apart from the price I like everything, this is a beast of a fan and well worth the investment if you are performing some heavy processing and crunching. In other words, whether you are a serious gamer or a bitcoin miner, this fan will support all your over excessive CPU usage with ease.

FAQ

Does the i7 7700k come with a cooler?

All i7 7700k models come with a cooler as part of the kit. This is the standard Intel cooler unit and is usually a “k” model. As such, it’s perfect for everyday use in an office that doesn’t use more than MS Office. If, however, you intend to use the CPU for gaming, or hashing, or any other overclocking usage which ultimately overheats your CPU very fast, you need to replace that original fan with an aftermarket fan, and this is where the top five list of fans comes into place.

Low profile cooler for i7 7700k

When it comes to low profile fans for the i7 7700k, you need to consider application purposes as well. After all, you can get very slim fans, but they will not deliver the power you need for overclocking performance.

One of the best Air cooler fans on the market is the Noctua NH-C14S this fan is 115mm tall, and you will mount this unit under the heat sink to provide better cool air performance while drawing hot air away. Now, if you clock your i7-700k at 4.6 to 4.7GHz, you will start to reach thermal limits, and this means you need to maintain voltage and retain the heat within a range of 65o C to 75oC, which the Noctua will deliver. However, if you want even better performance, you might consider a 240mm AIO that reduces the temps by a further 10 to 15 degrees.

If you want to put out some serious cash, you might consider a hybrid air and water cooler such as the Thermaltake Core V1/V21, or perhaps the Fractal Design 304/804, these are both air and water coolers and provide excellent cooling capabilities beyond standard air coolers.

Now for the crunch, you can run an i7-7700k with a passive cooler such as the Cooler Master RR-212L-16PR-R1 or the 212 EVO RR-212E-20PK-R2, and another variant with a smaller profile is the RR-VTPS-28PK-R1. All three of these Cooler Master variants provide excellent cooling properties for standard use.

Mini cooler for i7 7700k

If you want a mini cooler that is both cheap and quiet, you should consider the budget-friendly Reeven RC-1001b Brontes. This model comes with some exceptionally compact dimensions; these are 59 x 105 x 114mm with a Base Height of only 17.78mm. This is by far the best small mini cooler for i7-7700k applications.

Another option to look at is the Thermalright AXP-200 Muscle which comes with a 73 mm height with a fan. This extra-lean fan unit is a revised version of the HTPC cooler AXP-200. This model comes with a universal mounting kit that supports all Intel and AMD sockets and uses a temperature-regulated, 140 mm fan model TY 14013BW.

Recommended CPU cooler for i7 7700k

The list I provided above gives you the best and most recommended CPU coolers for the i7-7700k models. However, if you want categories specific, such as the best big air cooler, or smallest, or AMD thread rippers you would want the following:

Best forBig FanMid FanSmall FanAMD thread Ripper
Namebe quiet! Dark Rock 4Cooler Master MasterAir MA410MReeven RC-1001b BrontesNoctua NH-U14S
Dimensions (mm)158.8 x 136.9 x 75.4158.8 x 132.4 x 58.259 x 105 x 114171.45 x 151.4 x 52.3
Base Height (mm)41.3mm37.8mm17.78mm25.1mm
Weight1471g43.87 oz. Materials12oz36.5oz / 1035g
Fans1 x 135 x 22mm2 x 120 x 25mm RGB1 x 100 x 12mm1 x 140 x 25mm

Air cooler vs. water cooler i7 7700k

When it comes to cooling, there is a ratio required that involves cost effectivity. Cost effectivity is how cool will the cooler maintain the core and at what cost. Now, there are other factors involved such as dimensions, where water coolers are much larger than air coolers since they require a larger body to hold the water securely and with no possibility of leakage to maintain a liquid thermal transfer through flexible hosing. Consider that the best models are hybrids that combine the best of both worlds.

Taking a closer look at the cooling process, you have to consider that a top mounted model is best for air coolers that require a “radiator” with heat sinks and blowers to actively blow cool air onto the surface. Over time, air generally heats up around the CPU, and you end up with air coolers blowing constantly heated air, which eventually loses its effectivity when CPU’s are pushed to their limits, and also consider the other environmental conditions of the room the CPU is located within.

When considering the modes of operation, you also have to factor in other components surrounding the CPU, such as graphics cards that come with air coolers and heat sinks. These too contribute to the dispersion of hot air in the box, and as such, and air cooler is only going to be effective if it can blow cold air over a hot surface.

There are exceptions to the rules, and before I go into water coolers, I will present the case of large air coolers that provide cooling properties to CPU’s and GPU’s at the same time. These big air coolers come with an impressive array of heat pipes and in some instances will work better than standard water coolers. Also, you need to consider that air coolers are much quieter than water coolers since water coolers use a pump and that churns out noise much higher than a standard fan.

Other issues are size, where big air coolers match water coolers and trade blows in sound and size. In fact, when you take the Kraken X61 liquid cooler and compare it to the Noctua NH-D15, you find that they are similar in size, with the Noctua being significantly quieter and with less expense. The main difference is that liquid coolers are focused and reduce heat locally, which is impressive when compared to how air coolers work.

The difference in price is mainly due to the fact that air coolers don’t have pumps, and pumps are expensive little items to add. Also, the design features of an air cooler do not require a sealed system, since they only pump air. A water cooler has to have a sealed system. Otherwise the water will leak out and short the CPU. Other factors in favor of air coolers are the very same reason around sealed systems. Most systems come with micropores, and water eventually evaporates and dries up. Also, noise, as mentioned above, fans have lower noise than pumps.

In favor of water, coolers are size when compared to the big air cooler units. The big air cooler units might work better than most water coolers and are cheaper and quieter, but they are big. So when you have a size issue, you cannot argue with the outcome.

Now we come down to the crunch, is your system stationary or mobile? If you move around a lot and take your system with you, you definitely don’t want an air-mounted unit. These are notorious for breaking off their mounts during transport. When this happens, you end up destroying the system due to metal to metal contact. As such, water coolers, being direct contact and secured to the CPU are a more versatile option for traveling units.

 Air CoolerBig Air CoolerWater Cooler
PriceCheapestMiddle to ExpensiveExpensive
SizeSmallMedium to LargeLarge
Effectivity – SoundNoisySilentNoisy
Effectivity – CoolingWorstBestBest
MobilityNoneNoneMobile

Conclusions

To be honest, a hybrid air water cooler is the best solution for high-temperature applications. If you are just using the system at home or work for basic MS office type work, you don’t need more than an air cooler. If you are going to do some serious number crunching at home or the office, then a big air cooler is what you need. If you are a traveling with your system, only use a water cooler.

In terms of price, not all expensive fans are better than cheaper ones, it’s about the brand, and in this instance, and nothing beats a good brand model. So, when you go shopping, make sure you only buy a brand make such as the ones listed above, or with water coolers, check out the best on the market research lists online.

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