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.
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 Low Profile CPU Coolers 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 Of Low Profile CPU Coolers
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.
Price Of Low Profile CPU Coolers
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.
1. SCYTHE BIG SHURIKEN 3 (SCBSK-3000)
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.
2. NOCTUA NH-L9X65 Low Profile CPU Coolers
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 that has automatic speed control and the aforementioned ultra-quiet operation.
It’s quite easy to install it and includes a 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.
3. ARCTIC ACALP00027A
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.
4. NOCTUA NH-L12S Low Profile CPU Coolers
If you are looking for an ideal cooler for HTPC and ITX systems, you might be looking at one. It doesn’t only have a low-noise adaptor for extremely quiet operation, but also it offers automatic speed control.
It has a well-known NT-H1 thermal compound which will improve the overall performance a lot. Being quite easy to install, you won’t waste much time as it offers a multi-socket mounting system for both Intel and AMD.
What speaks much about its quality are 6 long years of warranty. You can choose between low-profile mode and high-clearance mode. It features flow acceleration channels and 120 mm fan. If we take into account the previous with a 92mm fan, this is quite an improvement.
5. SHADOW ROCK LP BK002
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.
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 a step closer to picking the right low profile CPU cooler that will fit both your and your CPU’s needs.