Looking for the Best CPU Coolers For I7 12700K?
Intel’s 12th Gen Alder Lake lineup is great for gaming, but you’ll need to find the best CPU coolers for i7 12700K if you want access to high-end gaming. The 12700K is an excellent performer thanks to its 5GHz boost clock and 12 physical cores. In real-world tests, the 12700K actually comes close to the 12900K. You’ll benefit from the latter if you need access to more cores for production workloads.
Of course, in order to unlock the full potential of Alder Lake, you’ll need a decent Z690 motherboard. Our guide on the best motherboards for Core i9 12900K will help you out in that regard.
Another improvement from the Alder Lake platform is the introduction of performance and efficiency cores. This is all thanks to the new architectures, and these P-cores/E-cores work quite well.
When you’re PC idle or not under significant load, the processor will switch to the E-Cores. The P-Cores will take the reigns for more intensive workloads, as they are able to get higher frequencies with more cache.
All of that sounds great, even if we simplified it a bit for you. However, DDR5 memory and this architecture are relatively new, so it does come with their drawbacks. Cooling is definitely one of those.
If you’re going to stick with the 12700K for a while, investing in a decent CPU cooler is a good idea for the long run. Some of the higher-end Intel processors have always been more difficult to cool, and this 12700K falls along those lines.
As such, here are our picks for the best CPU Coolers for i7 12700K, so you can achieve maximum performance.
Best CPU Coolers For i7 12700K – Our Picks
There are dozens of potentially excellent options out there to pick from for the best CPU coolers for i7 12700K. However, when it comes down to actually choosing between them, that requires a lot of research, analysis, and testing. The 12700K is not shy of showing off its performance, but that can come at the cost of thermal efficiency most of the time.
Proper cooling is the only way you’ll be able to handle the 12700K properly. If you’re interested in even more performance, memory overclocking will help you out a lot to get the most out of that shiny new DDR5 RAM kit.
There’s also a lot of debate between custom loops and AIOs. While the former is a more niche/hobbyist approach, it does pay off in a lot of ways.
After going through a lot of the top-tier coolers on the market today, we decided to primarily focus on performance. However, there is a lot of room to consider aesthetics, value, and also fit and finish here. Keep in mind though, performance should be your number 1 priority when worrying about the best CPU coolers for i7 12700K.
A plus side of going with some of these coolers is that they look good on top of that performance. So, those of you that care about aesthetics should not be disappointed here. We have tried to keep this list as diverse as possible, focusing on different styles of cooling, form factors, and price.
Let’s take a look at what we got.
1. Noctua NH-D15 chromax.Black
Best Overall CPU Cooler For i7 12700K
- Best-in-class performance
- Understated and sleek design
- Wide compatibility across Intel and AMD
- Mounting system is quite intuitive
- Comes with a tonne of accessories
- Lacks TR4 support
- Size may cause RAM clearance issues
Type: Dual-tower air cooler | Dimensions: 161 x 150 x 165mm | Socket Support: Intel LGA 1700, 1200, 115X, 1366, 2011, 2011-3, 2066, AMD FM1, FM2/+, AM2/+, AM3/+, AM4 | Fans: 2x140mm NF-A15 | Lighting: None
To start things off, we have the holy grail when it comes to air coolers. To be fair, it should not be a see the NH-D15 on this list, as it’s an iconic cooler. This CPU cooler originally came out in 2014, but the chromax.Black version is relatively recent. The fact that it uses mostly the same cooling approach is a testament to the fact that Noctua has got it figured out perfectly.
A lot of people tend to swear by Noctua’s products, especially hardware enthusiasts. Noctua products can be held to a higher standard than others, but that just goes to show how good the brand is when it comes to cooling.
Noctua has been making CPU coolers, case fans, thermal paste, and various other cooling accessories for a long time now. The company also became popular for its beige and brown color scheme. Unfortunately, that does not work too well in modern times, that’s why the chromax.Black is so interesting.
As the naming for this product implies, the NH-D15 is the cooler we all know and love, now with a fresh coat of paint. The matte-black appearance is enough of a reason to recommend this legendary cooler again in modern times.
In terms of the design, this CPU cooler is monstrous. This air cooler features six copper heat pipes and wide aluminum fin stacks with a dual tower design. In terms of the visual appearance, this cooler looks quite appealing. The fans, heat pipes, fin arrays, and even the anti-vibration pads are painted with that matte black coating.
This version of the NH-D15 comes with two black NF-A15 PWM fans. Out of the box, one of these fans is installed in the middle of the dual-tower fin arrays. These fans use SSO2 bearings which are lubricated and feature magnetic stabilizers.
The fans can spin at speeds of up to 1500RPM, however, they don’t get too noisy. This is great for acoustics. The base of the cooler is made out of copper, and the retention mechanism uses steel for durability. It features nickel plating on the heat pipes, but that plating is hidden by the black paint over it.
Unfortunately, Noctua did overlook one thing with this design. On the fans, the part numbers are visible on the top. This is a minor annoyance, but one that may annoy some people quite a bit.
Fortunately, installation is quite easy, even for first-time builders. This is thanks to the innovative SecuFirm 2 mounting system from Noctua. Usually, this is not the case with dual-tower air coolers, so it’s great to see that here.
Last but not least, let’s talk about performance. Simply put, this thing is still quite impressive, even if this style of an air cooler is growing old in the world of flashy RGB. It can match many 240/280mm AIOs out there, and even beat some of them, depending on the model.
This goes to show that Noctua is doing something right with its design. A lot of the credit for this performance goes to the fans and the overall high-quality machining on the NH-D15.
To wrap it up, this cooler is reliable, looks great, and outperforms many of its competitors. Hands down, this is the best CPU cooler for i7 12700K.
2. NZXT Kraken X63 RGB
Best Liquid CPU Cooler For i7 12700K
- Includes RGB fans in the box
- Innovative infinity mirror display
- Great cooling performance
- High-end looks
- CAM Software could be better
Type: 240mm AIO | Dimensions (Radiator): 143 x 315 x 30mm | Socket Support: Intel LGA 1700, 1200, 115X, 1366, 2011, 2011-3, 2066, AMD AM4, sTRX4, TR4 | Fans: 2x 140mm AER RGB 2 | Lighting: RGB
The NH-D15 might take the cake when it comes to the best CPU cooler for i7 12700K, but the Kraken X63 is a close runner-up. We also looked at the Kraken Z73 RGB (360mm) previously in our guide for the best CPU coolers for i9 12900K. Think of the X63 as a close relative of that cooler.
We knew there had to be an NZXT cooler on this list. The company has incredible designs, and their coolers usually feature excellent performance. The question then came down to which one would be the best CPU cooler for the i7 12700K.
Ultimately, we ended up with the X63 RGB for a multitude of reasons. The Z-series is impressive with its LCD display, but it is quite a bit overpriced. The 12700K is a bit more practical than the 12900K, so the X63 feels like the right choice.
Of course, if you want to splurge and feel like that LCD display is worth it, by all means, go with any of the great coolers from the Z-series lineup.
Enough about the product line, let’s talk about the cooler itself. Like all of the other coolers in the current lineup, this one also features the Asetek Gen 7 pump and radiator design. Now, NZXT has surely turned up the gear up a notch with their own spin on this design.
The X63 RGB features an infinity mirror display, with an NZXT logo in the middle of the pump. This gives it a sort of mysterious aura and one that fits into modern builds perfectly. Of course, you also get excellent AER RGB 2 fans, which further add to the overall sophisticated appearance here.
Let’s circle back to the pump and radiator design. The Kraken X63 RGB uses an aluminum radiator along with rubber tubing that is reinforced by a braided material on the exterior. You can see an NZXT logo visible on the top and bottom of the radiator, near the fan mounting brackets.
Another interesting thing about the design is the fittings. These are adjustable and can rotate 90-degrees, making installation a breeze. The CPU block features a 14-pin connector for the fan splitter, RGB channel, and SATA power.
All of NZXT’s current coolers come with a pre-installed mounting bracket for Intel processors. For 12th gen processors, you’ll need to contact NZXT in order to get that free bracket. Newer models of this same cooler will come with this bracket in the box.
This is a 280mm cooler, meaning it comes with two 140mm fans. It uses AER RGB 2 fans, which provide a soft glow to your case. These fans push out a lot of air, and they use fluid dynamic bearings making them quite reliable.
As for the performance, this thing is the perfect fit for the i7 12700K. It can keep the processor cool even under full load. Thermal throttling is not an issue and your gaming sessions will not be interrupted by the CPU temperature spiking all of a sudden.
The Kraken X63 RGB is still notably more expensive than some of its competitors. However, fans of the design will be more than willing to overlook that. Some might even go for the Z-series for that fantastic LCD display.
3. Lian Li Galahad 240 AIO
Best 240mm CPU Cooler For i7 12700K
- Innovative pump design
- White braided sleeving
- Incredible price-to-performance
- Premium fit and finish
- Can get a bit noisy
- No Software management
Type: 240mm AIO | Dimensions (Radiator): 277 x 123 x 27.2mm | Socket Support: Intel LGA 1700, 1200, 115X, 1366, 2011, 2011-3, 2066, AMD AM4 | Fans: 2x 120mm Uni Fans | Lighting: RGB
The NZXT Kraken X63 is incredible, but what if you would rather prefer to have a 240mm CPU cooler. Well, while the Galahad 240 costs less than the price of the cooler above, there are some things that it does differently, and some of those might make it a better choice.
The Galahad is definitely not your average AIO. This thing is a bit of a personal favorite over here, as we’re finally starting to see AIOs differentiate themselves in order to stand out. Well, Lian Li has certainly taken that approach to the next level with the Galahad.
This CPU cooler has a few different versions. It comes in either a 240mm or 360mm radiator configuration, and you have either the black or white version to choose from for both of these coolers.
Now, let’s talk about this interesting design. First off the CPU block on this cooler is immediately impressive. It features a triple chamber design and this includes the pump chamber, connecting chamber, and the CPU cold plate chamber.
The pump on this CPU block features aluminum housing which looks especially good in the white version of this cooler. The middle of the pump shows off the Lian Li logo surrounded by customizable RGB LEDs. You get a magnetic cover in the box if you want to hide the logo, which is clever thinking from the company.
This 240mm version of the cooler has 35 LEDs, while the 360mm has 47 LEDs. An interesting fact is that this works well with a lot of motherboard lighting control software out there so compatibility should not be an issue. It even comes with a remote to control the lighting, if your board lacks an addressable RGB header.
Another thing that separates the Galahad from the rest of the CPU coolers out there is the rotating design on the CPU block. The CPU block can rotate 360-degrees, allowing you to position the logo regardless of how you install the cooler. Truly an impressive design choice.
Before you install, keep in mind that this cooler does not have thermal paste preinstalled. It does come with thermal paste in the box, so you’ll have to apply that manually.
The white version already comes with braided sleeving over the rubber tubes. The tubes themselves are 400mm long, so you have a good bit of room to work with. Apart from that, this cooler includes two UNI Fan SL120mm fans.
These are high static pressure fans, and they push a lot of air. We’ve recently seen this a lot, especially with builds that use the Lian Li O11 dynamic case. They have that symmetrical rectangular look, and the RGB on them is the cherry on them. Of course, they are white to match the color of the cooler.
Performance-wise, this thing holds up quite well. The closest competitors are the Fractal Design Celsius+ S28, Deepcool Castle 240X, and even the Arctic Liquid Freezer II 240. Needless to say, this thing holds its own when it comes to performance. It’s a great fit for the i7 12700K.
So, if you are fond of the innovative CPU block design here, and are looking for excellent value, the Galahad is easy to recommend.
4. Arctic Liquid Freezer II 420 RGB
Best Enthusiast CPU Cooler For i7 12700K
- Incredible price-performance ratio
- Innovative pump design
- Affordable price
- Tends to get noisy
- Pump design is unattractive
Type: 420mm AIO | Dimensions (Radiator): 150 x 398 x 38mm | Socket Support: Intel LGA 1700, 1200, 115X, 1366, 2011, 2011-3, 2066, AMD AM4 | Fans: 3x 140mm P-Fans | Lighting: RGB (fans)
We know what some of our readers are probably thinking at this point. All of these coolers look great so far, but what if you want the best performance possible out of a CPU Cooler. Well, if that’s the case, then Arctic Liquid Freezer II 420 might be the best CPU cooler for i7 12700K, even if it’s a bit overkill.
It’s interesting how diverse AIOs have gotten in the past few years. Most AIOs had the same pump and radiator design, and the only thing differentiating them was their performance, price, or even RGB. The Arctic Liquid Freezer II 420 is proof that AIOs have come a long way.
Let’s get this out of the way, for many people, the Arctic Liquid Freezer II 420 is possibly not all that practical. However, the price here is what makes this thing so interesting. It’s a cooler that uses a 420mm cooler, but costs less than or about the same as most 280mm coolers on the market.
This one is for the enthusiasts, and that much is evident with the design. There’s not a lot going on here, as there’s a severe lack of RGB on the CPU block. The fans do feature RGB, and that might be enough for some people.
This cooler does come with a version without the RGB fans if you are really trying to go for that muted stealthy look with your build. The design is not for everyone, but that’s completely subjective.
Instead of the standard Asetek pump/radiator design, Arctic is using a custom design. This in-house pump has been refined and improved over and over again, and their efforts paid off in gold here.
To start with, this cooler is completely silent. That’s true for both the fans and the pump. This is the case even when the 12700K is under full load. The radiator is 38mm thick and can house three 140mm fans.
Speaking of which, this cooler features three Arctic P14 PWM A-RGB fans. These 140mm fans are high static pressure, and they are great for the size of this radiator. This is what helps out a lot when it comes to performance.
Now, performance-wise, this thing is excellent. It’s at the top of the food chain when it comes to liquid coolers, and that’s quite impressive considering the price. It is defeated by the NZXT Kraken Z73 in some tests and the Alphacool Aisabear 360 also comes close.
However, the differences in the temperature are minimal. Once you factor in the price, that’s where things get interesting. No one is offering this level of performance at this price (unless Noctua decides to make an AIO).
So, while this cooler does have its downsides, if it’s performance that you are looking out for at a decent price, then this might be the best CPU cooler for i7 12700K in terms of price to performance.
5. Scythe Mugen 5 Black Edition
Best Budget CPU Cooler For i7 12700K
- Extremely affordable
- Slick and minimal design
- High-quality fans
- Performance could be slightly better
- Can get noisy
Type: Air Cooler | Dimensions (Radiator): 136 x 154.5 x 110mm | Socket Support: Intel LGA 1700, 1200, 115X, 1366, 2011, 2011-3, 2066, AMD AM4 AM3(+) / AM2(+) / FM2(+) / FMI | Fans: 1x Kaze Flack 120 Black Fan | Lighting: None
If there’s anything we have to learn from the Noctua NH-D15, Cryorig R1 Ultimate, and the Dark Rock Pro 4 it’s that air coolers are still great options for high-performance CPUs. Such is the case with the phenomenal Scythe Mugen 5 Black Edition. There’s a lot of debate on how to pronounce that name properly, but there’s no debate on whether this is a great cooler or not.
An important thing when it comes to many Scythe coolers is the price. Scythe’s greatest accomplishment is the Fuma 2, a cooler that has earned legendary status among reviewers and hardware enthusiasts alike. Mostly because of the incredible performance, acoustics, and of course, overall value. Even the installation is perfect on that thing.
The Mugen 5 serves as sort of a follow-up to the success of the Fuma 2. There’s a regular version of the Mugen 5 as well, and that one has more of a silver color scheme going on for it. The Black edition costs extra, but the killer looks make it well worth the price.
Speaking of price, this thing is cheaper than both Noctua’s NH-U12S and NH-D15. Still, what are you getting with the Scythe Mugen 5?
First off, you get that incredibly appealing blackout design, similar to what Noctua did with the recent revamp of their coolers. A noticeable update in the design from the Fuma 2 is the fan. It’s still the Kaze Flack 120 fans, but this time it can run at 1500RPM.
Apart from that, visually, this cooler looks quite impressive. We think it looks better than Noctua’s recent designs, but that’s completely subjective. The uniform black design along with the hidden fin arrays make this thing look incredible. It’s stealthy and truly has that minimal appearance that goes wonderfully well with the matte black design.
Circling back to the fans, the Kaze Flack 120 Black pushes out a lot of air, and it’s a noticeable improvement from the regular Mugen 5. The black edition is a bit louder, but it also performs better. So, you kind of have to pick what you care about there.
Speaking of which, the heatsink here is quite thick as it features that uniform design we talked about earlier. That is why air movement is quite crucial in the long run. This is why we think the Black Edition is the better pick, and also why we are recommending it.
Another big highlight here is the fin design. They are quite thick, and some of the thickest on any air cooler out there. Scythe has paid a lot of attention to detail here with the design, as the heat pipes that protrude from the top have metallic caps over them, giving it an aggressive look from the bird’s eye view.
Mounting is quite easy, even with the included fan. Performance is great, especially for the price. This thing competes with some of the top air coolers out there. It is beaten by a few of them, so even better performance could have made this a no-brainer. It’s just that for $20-$30 more you could potentially get even better performance.
Still, that does not take anything away from the incredible value of the Scythe Mugen 5 Black Edition. It looks great, performs admirably, and punches well above its price. You can see why it’s one of the best CPU coolers for i7 12700K.
How To Choose The Best CPU Cooler For i7 12700K
So, something to learn from recent Intel flagships is that the CPU cooler is just as important as the CPU itself. These high-end processors tend to get quite hot when under full load, even if you’re just gaming. If your average day includes production workloads a lot, this is even more of a problem.
If you’re not cooling your processor properly, you might run into thermal throttling issues. As such, it is important that your motherboard, processor, and CPU cooler all work perfectly together. A high-end processor such as the Core i7 12700K is just as good as the other components that you end up pairing it with.
Speaking of which, you’ll need a good Z690 motherboard for an unlocked processor like the Core i7 12700K. If you’re not overclocking, then you’re better off buying the non-K version. Going with DDR5 RAM is also a good idea to get the most performance out of the processor.
Of course, all of that will also affect the choice of your CPU cooler. There are several other things you need to consider, so let’s take a look at them briefly.
The first thing that you want to figure out is compatibility. We already talked about why this is especially important with a processor like the Core i7 12700K. However, this is hard to nail given the current situation of pricing when it comes to PC parts.
You’ll need great performance when it comes to cooling something like the 12700K. However, things such as case compatibility and RAM clearance can prove to be a bit of an issue. For example, many ITX or mid-tower cases will not be able to fit a 360mm cooler. On the other hand, even some full-size cases might have issues with large radiators, especially with something like a 420mm rad.
With ITX or Mid-tower cases, you are better off going with a 240mm or 280mm AIO. This will make sure there is enough room for your components to breathe.
The story is mostly the same when it comes to air coolers, but the situation is different. This time, you might run into issues with RAM clearance. A lot of dual-tower coolers are quite big and hard to fit onto a motherboard in a way that they don’t interrupt taller memory modules.
Some manufacturers get around this with adjustable fan mounts and innovative designs. Still, be sure to check compatibility between your case, motherboard, RAM, and cooler beforehand. PCPartPicker is a perfect site to check this.
This is a very underrated part of many of the best CPU coolers for i7 12700K. A good fan configuration can largely change the cooling situation inside of your build. A lot of air coolers come with one or two fans in the box, depending on the design.
If you’ve already bought a cooler and are not happy with the performance, buying better fans might help out. For example, the NF-A15 fans are quite good at this. However, most of the time just changing the fans on an air cooler will not largely impact the performance.
This situation is quite different when it comes to AIOs. This time, it’s not about the fans themselves, but how they are configured. Some people like to put the fans in front of the radiator, others will put them in the back. There’s no right way about it, it depends on whether you’re trying to do exhaust or intake.
There’s also something called a push-pull configuration. This means you put fans behind the radiator as well as in the front. Some people say it improves performance, but your mileage may vary. It largely depends on case size, internal temperatures, and other factors that depend on your build.
Aesthetics and RGB
If you’re looking for the best CPU coolers for i7 12700K, then it is likely you will care about aesthetics at least in the slightest. You may be the type of person that wants to put together a high-performance gaming rig, but why spend all that cash and not get something that is good-looking?
Well, aesthetics are completely subjective. It can really come down to the nitty-gritty. For example, some might prefer the look of a sleek air cooler, while others might like the functionality and design of a certain AIO.
Of course, we can’t forget RGB. A lot of AIOs these days include RGB on the pump/CPU block, as well as the fans. This does add to the cost, so expect to pay more here. Some might not have RGB at all if that’s your preference.
Keep in mind that you’ll also need to figure out how you are going to control the RGB. You might need an RGB controller or at least an addressable RGB header on your motherboard to take full advantage of this.
Best CPU Coolers For i7 12700K - FAQs
Most unlocked Intel processors such as the i5 12600K, i7 12700K, and i9 12900k do not come with a cooler. Intel assumes most people will buy aftermarket coolers for the maximum performance anyway, so including a stock cooler makes no sense.
The 12700K is an excellent processor for both gaming and production workloads. The high boost clocks and 12 cores should be able to handle anything most consumers would throw at it.
Most CPU coolers that had support for recent Intel processors will work perfectly fine with Alder Lake. You might need to obtain a separate LGA1700 bracket, but most will come with it in the box.
The 12700K is an incredible processor, especially since it matches most of the gaming performance of the 12900K. It even beats out most of the Ryzen options, making it a great high-end CPU.
Just like the i9 12900K, the i7 12700K can tend to get quite hot when under full load. As such a good CPU cooler is mandatory to get the most performance possible.