With the rise of small form factor cases and PC builds, low profile CPU coolers are entering the limelight.
But getting the best low profile cooler is an important part of making a great small form factor PC.
I put together this Guide to help you choose the top low profile CPU coolers for your needs. I’ve compiled a list of the best of them below for your quick reference. If you’d like to read a little more just check their reviews below.
Overall List: Best 10 Low Profile CPU Coolers of 2020
|Noctua NH L12S||120 mm||70 mm|
|Cooler Master GeminII M4||120 mm||59 mm|
|Cyrorig C7||92 mm||47 mm|
|Noctua NH L9i||92 mm||37 mm|
|Be Quiet Shadow Rock LP||120 mm||75 mm|
|Arctic Freezer 11 LP||92 mm||59 mm|
|Rosewill 80mm Sleeve||80 mm||45 mm|
|Scythe Big Shuriken 2 Rev. B||120 mm||59 mm|
|SilverStone Tek NT06-Pro||120 mm||82 mm|
|DeepCool Gabriel||120 mm||60 mm|
Best Low Profile CPU Coolers – 10 Products Reviewed & Rated!
- Noctua NH L12S – Tall Heatsink & Quiet Operation
- Cooler Master GeminII M4 – Superb OC Cooling
- Cyrorig C7 – HTPC CPU cooler
- Noctua NH L9i – Quick & Easy Installation
- Be Quiet Shadow Rock LP – Silent & Efficient
- Arctic Freezer 11 LP – Perfect for Confined Spaces
- Rosewill 80mm Sleeve – Low Profile & Good Looking
- Scythe Big Shuriken 2 Rev. B – Improved Heatsink Design
- SilverStone Tek NT06-Pro – Overclocking supported
- DeepCool Gabriel – Ultra Silent Operation
1. Noctua NH L12S
- 70mm height
- 120mm Fan
- Compatible with Intel / AMD
- SecuFirm2 Mounting System
- Quiet Operation
- Priced comparatively Higher
Noctua NH L12S is just 70 mm in height, you can fit this in most of the small-sized cases and expect very efficient cooling.
If you are into building gaming rigs, you must already know about Noctua and the amazing products they make for PC. And, Noctua NH L12S stands right on it! Actually, this one is a further improved version of the award-winning NH-L12.
Ideal for mITX and HTPC systems, it has a highly optimized NF-A12x15 120mm fan that supports phase width modulation so it can adjust speed according to the temperature inside the case. But, if overclocking is on your mind, this one may not be enough.
And you won’t have to worry about the noise as well, thanks to the Low-noise Adaptor that allows ultra-quiet operation.
In the package, you will get NT-H1 thermal paste along with Noctua’s SecuFirm2 multi-socket mounting system that makes it compatible with most of the popular processors including Intel LGA115x, LGA2011, LGA2066 & AMD.
Installation is pretty easy (I did it in under 10 minutes :P). Priced at just under $50, Noctua gives a 6-year warranty on this compact CPU cooler, so, you cannot ask for more!
2. Cooler Master GeminII M4
- 59mm Height
- 4 Direct Contact Heat Pipes
- 120mm Fan
- Unique Heat Pipe Layout
- Clip-on Installation
- Not suitable for Slim HTPCs
Cooler Master GeminII M4 is one of the lowest possible height of 59mm (2.3 inches approx) and can fit even the slimmest pc build.
It has four direct contact heat pipes made of copper that minimize the CPU gap and efficiently draw heat from the processor and dissipate it to the heat sink. Right above the heatsink, a super slim 120 mm sleeve-bearing fan is installed using an easy clip-on mechanism.
With a top-down cooling setup, Cooler Master GeminII M4 delivers the maximum airflow of 58.4 CFM at a maximum speed of 1600 RPM. And, it is pretty much efficient to keep a small pc case cool enough for gaming.
One thing that took my attention in this low profile CPU cooler is its unique heat pipe layout. In most CPU coolers, you must have noticed that the heat pipes enter the heatsink on one side and end on the other side. But, Cooler Master tweaked it a bit to have one pair of heat pipe ending on one side and other pair ending on another side. This improves the thermal heat distribution for prominent cooling.
Talking about the mounting system, Cooler Master GeminII M4 supports Intel sockets LGA 2011/1366/1155/1156/775 and AMD sockets FM1/FM2/AM3+.
Overall, Cooler Master GeminII M4 with all the features and cost below $40, it is safe to say that it’s a great value for money slim cpu cooler.
3. Cyrorig C7
- 47mm Compact Design
- 4 Slanted Heat pipe
- 92mm PWM Fan
- Compatible with Intel Sockets
- Doubtful with AMD Compatibility
Next up on our list of best low profile CPU coolers is the Cyrorig C7. In case the previous one is still larger for you, Cyrorig C7 can be a good option with just 47 mm height.
To keep the height extremely low, Cyrorig has actually tweaked the heat pipe design a bit. Instead of having the heat pipes connecting the base plate and heat sink vertically, all three are accumulated together with heat sink almost directly touching the base plate and four slanted heat pipes running through both sides.
Such a unique setup has allowed Cyrorig to actually cut down almost 30 mm from the height of normal low profile CPU cooler and still manage to provide good cooling performance.
The base is widened and made from true copper to improve thermal conductivity. Just above the heat sink, sits a high-speed 92 mm fan with 11 blades that can operate at max 2500 RPM. The speed of the fan is controlled automatically, thanks to the PWM support.
The package comes with a tube of thermal paste, a mounting bracket with nuts and mini screwdriver. All of that at an inexpensive price of below $30.
Installing Cyrorig C7 is pretty easy, in fact, the manual claims it can be installed in as less as 4 minutes. It is compatible with all Intel LG115X sockets but I have doubts about AMD compatibility.
My verdict about the Cyrorig C7 is that this is a great choice as a best HTPC CPU cooler and slim gaming pc builds at a budget-friendly price.
4. Noctua NH L9i – Best Low Profile CPU Cooler
- Ultra small 37mm Size
- Superb Sound Quality
- Can use High profile RAM / PCIe Cards
- Low Noise Adaptor
- SecuFirm Mounting Bracket
- Affordable Price
Another masterpiece from Noctua that I have used personally while making my own mini-ITX build is Noctua NH L9i. It has a height of just 37 mm which less than 1.5 inches. No matter how compact is your build, Noctua NH L9i is going to fit easily.
For cooling, Noctua NH L9i uses a premium 92 mm fan that uses sophisticated aerodynamic blades to ensure maximum airflow. The fan supports PWM and automatic speed control that makes NH L9i a remarkably quiet low profile cooler.
The slim 23 mm thick heat sink and base plate are fused together and two heat pipes run through the fins that dissipate heat.
While installing, I found out that Noctua NH L9i is interestingly designed keeping in mind the clearances available in different motherboards especially those with Intel LGA115X processor. The 95mmx95mm design fits perfectly with Intel LGA115X allowing be use high profile RAMs as well as PCIe cards without any hassle.
The Low Noise Adaptor and SecuFirm mounting system make the installation process a child’s play.
Talking about performance, this super-compact CPU cooler does its work pretty much fine maintaining temperatures around 55-60 degrees while gaming (PUBG etc.) and below 40 degrees in regular usage.
So, it’s a yes for my side. Noctua NH L9i is definitely the best low profile CPU cooler available in the market in 2019 at an affordable price.
5. Be Quiet Shadow Rock LP
- 75mm high
- 130W TDP
- 120mm Fan
- 4 Copper Heat Pipe
- Great Cooling for Overclocking
- Wide compatibility
- Bit expensive
In case you want a low profile cooler for overclocking in a compact package, BeQuiet Shadow Rock LP will fulfill all your needs without a doubt. Though it is a bit higher than others on this list, standing at just below 3 inches, it can still fit into mini ITX PC cases.
BeQuiet Shadow Rock LP offers a generous 130W TDP cooling capacity which is practically enough for a small form factor build even in overclocked conditions.
It uses a 120 mm silence-optimized fan that offers a perfect balance in cooling and silent operation. The fan blades are optimized to generate maximum airflow and minimum turbulence. While testing, I discovered it makes just above 25dB of noise while running at the maximum speed. So you can imagine yourself how cool and silent it is going to be.
To carry heat more efficiently, Be quiet Shadow Rock LP uses four copper heat pipes (6 mm) that optimally distribute heat across the heat sink.
All of these features allow BeQuiet Shadow Rock LP to provide premium cooling performance in the limited space and barely audible noise.
BeQuiet Shadow Rock LP also comes with a mounting system that makes it compatible with the widest range of mobos and processors including Intel LGA 775/1150/1155/1156/1366/LGA2011 Square ILM & AMD Socket AM2(+)/AM3(+)/AM4/FM1/FM2(+).
In my opinion, with great cooling capacity and diverse compatibility Be Quiet Shadow Rock LP is the best low profile cooler for overclocking.
6. Arctic Freezer 11 LP
- 59mm Compact design
- 92mm Low Noise Fan
- Intel Socket Compatible
- Push Pin Installation
- Not meant for Overclocking
Next up on our list of best low profile coolers is the Arctic Freezer 11 LP. Just 59 mm high and 100W TDP cooling capacity, this slim CPU cooler is efficient and compact at the same time.
Arctic Freezer 11 uses a special trapezium shaped heat sink which 50 fins to maximize surface area for heat dissipation. But, it has only two heat pipes made of copper which I believe could have been four to ensure better thermal transfer.
A highly efficient 92 mm fans fit right above the heat sink. It supports phase width modulation allowing automatic speed control.
The Low noise impeller and the patented fan holder ensure fairly low noise signature. At 2000 RPM speed, the noise levels remain less than 34 dB which is kinda audible but still bearable.
Arctic Freezer 11 low profile CPU cooler comes with MX-4 thermal compound pre-applied to save your time and reduce the risk of spilling and burning your motherboard.
The cooling performance is surprising as I saw a decrease of almost 15 degrees while using with my i5-661 build. So, you can definitely rely on it.
One thing that I loved about this low profile CPU cooler is the push pin installation mechanism. There are no screws in place that make the installation very easy. Also, it is compatible with most of the Intel sockets including Intel 1150, 1151, 1155, 1156, 775.
The best part about Arctic Freezer 11 LP is the price. You can get it well under 20 bucks that’s almost half the cost of other low profile coolers on this list.
Overall, I would say that Arctic Freezer 11 LP is the most affordable low profile cooler that still can offer good cooling performance and compact size.
7. Rosewill 80mm Sleeve
- 45mm High
- Unique Radial Heat Sink
- 35 CFM Air Flow
- 80mm Fan
- Very Cheap
- Not for Overclocking
If you want to try something unique, you can try Rosewill 80mm sleeve that uses a special radial heatsink and stands at 2.5 inches high which is approximately 45mm.
As you can already see in the image above, the construction of this low profile CPU cooler is way different than other ones on this list. Rosewill has used the radial heatsink which is directly connected to the array of fins completely eliminating the need for heat pipes.
Inside this radial heat sink, they have fitted a highly optimized 80 mm fan that directs air towards the fins and cools them down. This unique setup allowed Rosewill to minimize the height yet making it efficient enough for smaller PCs.
The 80 mm fan supports PWM so the speed can be adjusted automatically in sync with the temperature inside the case.
Talking about the cooling capacity, it offers 6.3 – 33.5 CFM air flow which is okay to maintain temperatures somewhere in the range of 65-75 degrees while playing games.
So, I will not recommend this for an overclocked system but seeing at the price which is just above $10, it is one of the cheapest low-profile CPU cooler you can find in the market.
8. Scythe Big Shuriken 2 Rev. B
- 59mm Height
- 120mm Slim Fan
- Six Copper Heat Pipes
- 45 CFM Air flow
- FMSB Mounting System
- Priced High
Overclockers, here is another option for you – Scythe Big Shuriken 2 Rev. B. This is one hell of the beast for cooling your small form factor gaming rigs.
With new Slip Stream 120mm slim fan and 6 copper heat pipes, I am sure cooling won’t be your complain while using Scythe Big Shuriken low profile CPU cooler.
Something that is noticeable in the fan design is the smaller motor hub that makes more space for larger blades and consequently more air flow. The speed range of Scythe Big Shuriken 2 Rev. B is 500-2000 RPM which can be controlled with PWM.
Scythe Big Shuriken 2 offers airflow between 12.13 – 45.47 CFM that is enough even for overclocked gaming rigs. The base plate is made of copper and plated with Nickel to improve thermal conductance.
The Flip Mount Super Back-Plate mounting system ensures wide compatibility and easy installation. But you need to be careful because snap-in parts can bend or even break if they are forced to fit.
Overall, Scythe Big Shuriken 2 is a highly efficient premium low profile cooler for overclocked and compact gaming builds.
9. SilverStone Tek NT06-Pro
- 82mm Height
- Six Copper Heat Pipes
- Bottom Up Air Flow
- 120mm PWM Fan
- Compatible with Intel/AMD
- Overclocking supported
- Needs Separate Bracket for AM4
This list cannot be complete without mentioning SilverStone. I am talking about Silverstone Tek NT06-Pro which 82 mm in height. But don’t get disappointed with the height because this has much more for you.
The biggest highlight of this low profile CPU cooler is the six heat pipes soldered with a copper base plate. Yeah, SIX! There’s no other option on this list with six heat pipes. Why is it good? Well, the more heat pipes are there, more efficient will be the thermal transfer to the heat sink.
And the heat sink is made of aluminum with the heat pipes placed through it at equal distance ensuring well-spread heat dissipation.
Unlike the common configuration of fan-over-heatsink, Silverstone Tek NT06 Pro features a 120 mm PWM fan below the heatsink that creates bottom-up air flow. This also compliments cooling other components around the CPU area.
The CPU TDP can range from 95 – 130W depending on the fan you are using. With PWM support, the fan speed can vary between 1000-2200 RPM. Silverstone Tek NT06-Pro is compatible with all popular Intel sockets and AMD sockets except the AM4 / TR4 for which a separate bracket is required.
With a maximum cooling capacity of 74CFM, Silverstone Tek NT06 Pro is the most powerful low profile cooler which is ideal for overclocking but not suitable for very compact builds.
10. DeepCool Gabriel Low Profile Cooler
- 60mm High
- Nickel Plated Heat Sink & Pipes
- 120mm PWM Fan
- Ultra Silent Operation
- Compatible with mainstream Sockets
- Not Compatible with AM4
- Cannot fit Ultra Slim PC cases
DeepCool Gabriel is 60 mm high compact CPU cooler comes with nickel-plated base and heat sink to ensure maximum cooling and lifespan.
Deepcool Gabriel features a 120 mm fan is PWM enabled that controls the speed between 900 – 1800 RPM. It delivers almost 62CFM air flow which is quite enough to cool down your gaming rig.
You must have read above about the nickel plated base plate but Deepcool Gabriel takes things to the next level with the entire heat sink is nickel-plated. It ensures better heat dissipation all across the fins. The base plate is soldered with four heat pipes made of copper; all plated with nickel.
Apart from the better thermal transfer, nickel also prevents oxidation from ensuring a longer lifespan of the heat sink. I personally like the ultra-silent operation with minimum noise level being around 18 dB which is virtually zero noise.
Deepcool Gabriel comes with multiple clips and is capable of supporting mainstream Mini ITX processors, including Intel LGA115X and AMD FM2/FM1/AM3+/AM3/AM2+/AM2.
The only negative about this low profile CPU cooler is that is NOT compatible with AM4 socket. I hope they add AM4 support in upcoming versions.
All in all, Deepcool Gabriel is a good option as an efficient low-profile CPU cooler for building a small gaming PC but not recommended for ultra slim builds.
Also Check out: Best CPU Coolers 2020
How to Choose Low Profile CPU Cooler?
I have a few things to tell you. Before buying any of these low profile coolers, just check out the following aspects according to your PC build.
Firstly, the most important factor is cooling efficiency. After all, you are buying a low profile cooler, so it should do its job; Right? Even being a low profile cooler, it should be able to sufficiently handle the heat generated inside your system.
The heat pipe design, number and its material play a major role here. A good low profile cooler should have at least 4 heat pipes; the more the better. It should be made of copper for better heat conductivity.
Also, bigger the fan size better will be heat dissipation. Most compact CPU coolers are equipped with an 80 mm or 120 mm fan and I personally recommend a 120 mm one. Secondly, the RPM which is actually the speed of the fan and efficient value for RPM can be between 1000-1600 RPM; anything above that will be a bit noisy.
Also Check out: Best Thermal Pastes 2020
Height / Clearance
As we are talking low profile, there is generally very less margin of error here. So, always make sure you measure the cooler clearance that your PC build has and buy that one whose height is lesser than the clearance available in your build. Otherwise, it won’t fit at all. The lowest possible clearance is around 40 mm.
As per my experience with mini ITX PCs (I build one last month only), a low profile CPU cooler has to be less than 4 inches (~ 100 mm) in height in order to fit; but having height between 2 – 3 inches is best. With anything above 4 inches, you are going to face difficulties while installing as well as operation won’t be as quiet and efficient.
Another thing that matters while buying a low profile CPU cooler is the TDP Rating. It defines the thermal design power that the particular CPU cooler can handle. We all know that some CPUs tend to get hotter comparatively.
Though, its completely normal; like the i7 8700k is known for its heating. That’s why it is important that the TDP rating of your low profile cooler must match the maximum heat output from your CPU.
Well, this takes us to the end of this roundup. I have tried my best to include options for all type of users including regular gamers as well as those who love overclocking. I hope you must have found the best choice as per your requirements and budget.
But I have a couple of my favorite recommendations to tell you.