Are you looking for the best low profile CPU cooler but not sure what specs and features it should have?
Luckily, you are in the right place. We will give you a short guide on how to choose the best low profile CPU cooler, and afterward point out some of the coolers we found to be quite useful and of great performance.
Let’s get straight to the point!
How to Choose the Best Low Profile CPU Cooler
It might sound simple, but actually, there are several things you should know and consider before buying a CPU cooler. If not done properly, it might damage your PC, or you won’t even be able to run it.
Can it fit?
When talking about fitting, we don’t necessarily mean that it should physically fit your PC, even though it’s, of course, highly important!
But the most problematic part is whether it will fit the CPU socket of your motherboard or not. Since the space around the CPU socket is limited, you need to think of size. In this case, size matters!
Should we point out what problems the improper size of the cooler might cause? Any kind of physical interference inside your PC box is highly unwanted and a shortcut to numerous problems.
Just because the cooler is low profile, doesn’t mean it’s compact and that can fit anywhere. You need to check the dimensions.
A nice thing to know is that the bigger coolers are much more efficient. They are much quieter as well. You’d like to use that free space as much as possible – the bigger the better.
3 Pin or 4 Pin connectors
4 pin connectors is your goal. Why is that? Well, mostly because their adjustability is far beyond the one that 3 pin connectors offer.
Namely, you can change the speed and volume of the fan with 4 pin connectors. Either you’ll be able to do it through the motherboards, or via some software.
When it comes to 3 pin connectors, you won’t be able to make those changes. The important thing is to pre-check whether your motherboard can support 4 pin connectors (and if there are 4 pin headers).
If yes, you are good to go, and you would be able to run even 3 pin connectors, but if your motherboard has 3 pin headers, you won’t be able to run 4 pin connectors, normally. To understand the importance of this, be sure to check the explained difference between 3 and 4 pin connectors!
Noise and aesthetics
Now, who would care about the cooler aesthetics? It will be buried deep inside your PC and no one will ever notice it.
However, for those that actually care about it, there are various shapes and interesting designs, rather than just 5-6 classic blades running in circles.
But, the more important thing is the noise. You don’t want something that will make your machine sound like it’s launching to the Moon.
Keep in mind that the smaller coolers will most likely be the loudest ones. There are two things you should consider: sometimes, a manufacturer includes the noise ratings, and when that isn’t the case, be sure to check consumer reviews.
Obviously, one of the most important things is the price. Now, when talking about the coolers, we are basically talking about your PC’s insurance.
Because a good CPU cooler is practically insurance for a user that he will get an optimum performance throughout the next 7-8 years. So, yes, investing a bit more should be a smart thing to do, especially if you got a CPU for $500 or more.
Thermal design power
It’s called this way, but to simplify it, TDP represents the power. It’s the max power a device can dissipate when running real applications. So, if you have a PC that’s running a little hot, you might consider higher W TDP coolers to keep things cool. Let’s say that the average is around 100W TDP. Everything above will do the job just fine.
7 Best Low Profile CPU Coolers
SCYTHE Big Shuriken 3 (SCBSK-3000)
The Best Simple and Classic Cooler
If you are looking for a thing that perfectly suits small itx builds, then you are looking at your top choice. Therefore, it’s a great solution for small form factor systems. And with its height of only approximately 7cm, it will fit almost anywhere.
It has a smart cut-design, which ensures that the cooler won’t interfere physically into adjacent components on your motherboard. Now, what you can expect is nothing but a great airflow, and even ventilation – everything your PC needs.
H.P.M.S III system is there for you – it will ease the whole installation procedure enormously, by offering a perfect contact pressure on all platforms and sockets.
- Even airflow
- H.P.M.S III system for easier installation
- Smart cut-design prevents physical interference
- Perfect for small form factor systems
- None so far
Ultra Quiet Option
Even though quietness is quite important, that’s not the only thing that beautifies this low profile CPU cooler. With the height of only 7.5 cm, this one is perfect for small form factor builds, HTPCs, and ITX.
Although it looks a bit bulky, fear not – it won’t overhang any adjacent slot, be it RAM or PCIe. What this one offers is a high-quality fan which has automatic speed control and the aforementioned ultra-quiet operation.
It’s quite easy to install it and includes multi-socket mounting system for both Intel and AMD. What’s more important, it has NT- H1 thermal compound and a warranty for quality that lasts for 6 years. Even though it offers outstanding performance in its class, it’s not suitable for overclocking and you should use it with care on PCs above 84W TDP.
- Perfect for HTPCs, ITX, and small form factor builds
- It won’t overhand any adjacent slot
- Amazing performance and even distribution of airflow
- 6 years warranty
- Not suitable for overclocking
The Best Low-profile CPU Cooler Under $15
It’s not just about the looks, but we must commend what Arctic did with this model. It looks modern and like it can cool 5 PCs at the time.
Now, what this one offers for its price is quite amazing. It offers improved cooling performance and an extended life span thanks to its top-notch bearing. It offers low power consumption and surely minimized vibration.
You won’t need any tools to install this little thingy. There is a push pin that will help you go through the whole process within minutes. There is a pre-applied thermal paste, which will affect performance and ensure longevity.
If you just need a cheap solution, and a cooler that will do the job without any sacrifices of the performance, search no more.
- Affordable price point category
- Pre-applied thermal paste
- Great quality bearing
- Low power consumption
- Quiet operation, no vibrations
- The locking pins might be a bit problematic
Noctua NH-L12 Ghost S1 Edition
A CPU Cooler that Will Never Disappoint You
If you prefer more compact-sized computer configurations, such as ITX ones that save space, but deliver top-class performance at the same time, Noctua NH-L12 Ghost S1 Edition low-profile CPU cooler is the thing for you.
Simply, this device delivers everything a high-end configuration might need. It is quiet, it offers great cooling performance, and it provides excellent compatibility that allows for its use with almost any modern Intel or AMD CPU.
Noctua NH-L12 Ghost S1 Edition is fitted with a single, high-quality NF-B9 92mm fan that can be controlled through PWM connectors and can achieve speeds between 300 and 1600 RPM, as well a low-noise NA-RC7 adapter that is the key reason for this coolers super-quiet operations (along with the rubber strips on the bottom of the heatsink). Moreover, this CPU cooler comes with SecuFirm2 multi-socket mounting feature, improved NT-H2 thermal paste, and altogether brings sheer quality to the customer.
Therefore, if you are after an excellent low-profile cooling solution for your CPU, Noctua NH-L12 Ghost S1 Edition is a great choice.
- Excellent compatibility
- Quiet performance
- Six-year warranty
- Not the perfect option for overclocked CPUs
be quiet! Shadow Rock LP BK002
Highest TDP Cooling Performance
If your machine overheats a bit, you might consider a cooler with higher cooling performance. With this 130W TDP beast, be sure that all your needs will be fulfilled.
It has pure wings 120 PWM fan, which ensures great cooling performance and even distribution of the air. Fan blades are optimized and from riffle-bearing, you can expect nothing less but great longevity.
With quite an easy and user-friendly mounting process, you will be able to install it in just a few minutes. What improves the performance, even more, are 6mm heat pipes with aluminum caps.
Now, be quiet! surely delivers what’s expected from it – silence! To give you an insight, it produces around 25.5Db noise at 100% rpm, which is quite impressive.
But more importantly, it’s compatible with both Intel and AMD CPUs. From AM 2, 3, and 4 to FM1 and 2, to Intel 775/115x/1366/LGA2011 square ILM.
On top of it, you’ll get 3 years warranty, which is quite a good deal, even though there are manufacturers offering 6 years.
- Extremely silent, at 25.5Db noise at 100% rpm
- Even distribution of air
- 130W TDP, which can cool down even beast CPUs
- Great compatibility, both AMD and Intel
- The warranty could’ve been better
Cooler Master MAM-G1CN-924PC-R1 MasterAir G100M RGB
The Best Among Them All
Ladies and gentlemen, you are looking at our absolute favorite when it comes to low profile CPU coolers. It’s so powerful that we can even proclaim it as a cooler perfect for CPU for gaming.
We know it’s not about the looks, but this one is quite something. As said, appearance it’s not what puts it on top of our list, but its performance and amazing features. What makes the difference between this one and the other low profile coolers is a custom copper heat technology.
The direct contact enables the exceptional transfer of heat, and unseen cooling performance. Aluminum components are in charge of heat dissipation. Needless to say, as you can see, it has a RGB ring, which illuminates beautifully.
It offers dual fan (120 mm) design for improved performance and 4 direct contact heatpipes. Unlike generic metal bases, these heatpipes will ensure great thermal dissipation.
Moreover, with the help of a controller, you will be able to switch the colors and modes within the touch of a button.
Shortly, this one offers everything you’ll need, whether you are a gamer or just a person with 10000 tasks handling at once.
- Dual fan design, 120 mm for improved performance
- Aluminum heatpipes ensure thermal dissipation
- RGB ring for improved appearance
- Affordable price point category
- Controller included
- The instructions might be a bit confusing
Thermaltake Engine 27 1U (CL-P032-CA06SL-A)
Cooler With the Most Blades
The more blades, the better. Well, this one has to offer an army of 40 blades. Such design improves airflow and takes it to another level.
Now, you probably expect that since it has a lot of blades, it should naturally produce more sound. On the contrary, its noise level is quite admiring and doesn’t take away from the performance at all.
It offers great PWM control for silent operation.
Only 27 mm of height and compatibility with even 1U server explains a lot. Needless to say, this compact cooler can fit HTPC, AIO/PIO, POS terminal and even Mini PC.
It can support up to 70W Intel CPUs and provides universal socket compatibility, so you’ll be able to install it on both Intel and AMD CPUs.
- A great amount of blades
- Improved airflow
- Great PWM control
- Extremely silent
- Amazing compatibility with both AMD and Intel CPUs
- Universal socket compatibility
- It might be a bit difficult to install it, but not if you are a pro!
In the light of everything we mentioned above, these are some of the very best samples of low profile CPU coolers. It might sound like an easy job, but there are a lot of things you need to check on your list before rushing into decisions.
Hopefully, you are now step closer to picking the right low profile CPU cooler that will fit both your and your CPU’s needs.