You want the best low profile CPU cooler in 2020 for your PC, Right?
Of course to keep it cool in your high octane gaming sessions and is not disturbed by the sound.
Top 10 Best Low-Profile CPU Cooler 2020
We all want to get our hands on the latest GPU and the most powerful CPU.
Purchasing parts for your gaming PC setup is a long term investment.
However, an integral component that is very much needed to secure this investment of yours in the best CPU cooler.
I’ve got you covered on that front and thus, have gathered 10 best low profile coolers that you can get your hands on.
Without further delay, let’s get started.
Putting a Noctua cooler at the top should really not come off as a surprise. (They’ve put out incredibly good products over the years and have only improved upon their previous models.)
Noctua NH-L9x65 does just that.
Noctua NH-LX9x65 has a 14mm NF-A9x14 fan inside. With a weight of 413g and a height of 65mm, this cooler can easily be fitted in HTPCs and other smaller form factor builds which cannot support taller coolers.
The base of this cooler has a total of 50 fins, which maximize contact with the surface area and make for more efficient heat dissipation.
The installation process of this CPU cooler is a cinch with the SecuFirm2 mounting kit. (That kit comes with a backplate that caters to different 115X CPU lineup.)
All of this makes for a really easy installation that anyone can do. Once installed, this cooler will sit and fit nicely inside.
Idle temperatures with the NH-L9x65 stay within a 31-35 degree Celsius range, well within an acceptable margin.
The speed of the fans can be reduced from 2500 RPM to 1800 RPM.
Temperatures can go up to more than 90 degrees Celsius if you’re overclocking. But then again, that is not what the NH-L9x65 is made to do. For small form factor builds, the cooling should be more than sufficient.
What did I not like?
For what the NH-L9x65 sets out to do, there isn’t much complaint on that front.
However, an important part of setting up a complete rig is aesthetics as well. Noctua has begun to release black colored coolers but none of that for this one.
It might seem like a minor thing but it can really start to bug you if you have tempered glass casings and the beige and tan color of the NH-L9x65 keep popping out.
The NH-L9x65 CPU cooler by Noctua has been ranked number one on my list for good reason. This cooler delivers on just about everything promised by Noctua.
If you can come to terms with the fact that the rather off coloring scheme might make this cooler unable to blend with the rest of your hardware, you’ll be very pleased with the NH-L9x65.
It is simply the best low profile CPU cooler for Intel and AMD and gives great value for money.
A copper base plate, 6mm heat pipes, and 55 fins at the base, Noctua NH-L9i looks quite familiar to the previously mentioned NH-L9x65.
Like NH-L9x65, the NH-L9i is compatible with LGA115x chipsets.
The mounting brackets for this interface are already installed on the NH-L9i. This too comes with a 14mm NF-A9x14 fan. With the 14mm fan and 23mm heatsink at the bottom, this cooler stands tall at 37mm and weighs in at 420g. For cases that do not have sufficient airflow in them, this cooler is a perfect match.
The NH-L9i does not feature a backplate. Instead, there are 4 screws with nylon washers that lock the cooler in place and keep it from shorting the internal circuit. Due to the small size of the NH-L9i, your PCI-e ports will be kept safe. It does not take up much space and so leaves the PCI-e slots open for you to use. Once screwed in, you’ll notice that the cooler has a little bit of height which allows the cable to come out from underneath and make for easy cable management. There is an additional piece of good news here as well. The NH-L9i comes in a chroma black variant as well.
The cooling performance of the NH-L9i is really something. In standard room temperatures, this cooler will be able to maintain CPU temperatures of 35-38 and 65-70 degrees Celsius for idle and load. Compared to the stock Intel cooler, you get an improvement of about 13-14% which is amazing. The standard performances are pretty good and will save your CPU from throttling.
Alas, the overclocked temperatures for the NH-L9i are not as good. With idle overclocked, you get a temperature of 30 degrees Celsius. However, with overclocked load, the NH-L9i is barely able to keep the temperature of your CPU under 100 degrees Celsius. Your CPU should never be running with temperatures this high. For low wattage TDP processors, overclocking can be achieved albeit at somewhat mild levels.
What did I not like?
With a respectable brand name attached to it, you will be well secured if you decide to invest in this cooler. Offering a 13% improvement in cooling on the stock Intel coolers makes it one of the best low profile CPU coolers for Intel processors. However, the OC performance is still very meager. The NH-L9i’s cooling, although quite exceptional for a cooler less than 50 bucks, is ideal for only low wattage processors.
Noctua NH-L9i is easy and quick to install and gets you right in. Its overclocked performance is not really that special but it is otherwise an excellent choice for low profile coolers in 2020. On top of it all, it is actually not that heavy on the wallet as well.
The Dark Rock Tf looks absolutely stunning. For a low profile CPU cooler, this one rocks a very aesthetic look and I think that that definitely deserves some praise. The Dark Rock Tf features 2 135mm fans which operate at high speeds, yet try and make as little sound as possible. With dimensions of 162.6 x 140 x 130.8 mm and weighing in at 810g, you can fit this cooler in your small form factor boards quite easily. In between the fins are 6 high-performing 6mm heat pipes.
The Dark Rock Tf features a dual-fan design that sandwiches the heatsink in between them. The installation is not as easy as the two Noctua coolers above. Mount the backplate on your socket and apply the thermal paste. Following that, attach the proper mounting brackets and screw them in. Finally, attach the fan on top of the heatsink. The installation process might seem a little tricky to newcomers who are not familiar with this.
The cooling performance of “be quiet’s Dark Rock Tf” is remarkable. In stock and overclocked idle, the Dark Rock Tf was able to maintain a temperature of 25 degrees Celsius. When things are stepped up a notch, this cooler was able to stay at 58 and 70 degrees Celsius for non-OC and OC load respectively. In very strenuous loads, your CPU will rarely ever go at temperatures higher than 80 degrees Celsius. For a low profile cooler, these are some really good numbers.
Be quiet made sure that people knew that these dual 145mm fans were going to be very quiet. Even after you pump up the fans to full speed at 1400 RPM, the noise level does not go higher than 34 dbA.
What did I not like?
The Dark Rock Tf cooler is a fantastic one. Offering great improvements over the stock cooler that you normally get with AMD and Intel CPUs. However, this cooler is by no means cost-friendly. Compared to the previously mentioned coolers, this one will cost you almost double. You really do get what you pay for with the Dark Rock Tf cooler but it will definitely set you back some big bucks.
The Dark Rock Tf is a premium and high-quality low profile cooler. It handles not just stock but overclocked performances really well. But what comes with this cooler is a hefty price tag. From a price-performance standpoint, the Dark Rock Tf puts your money to good use and is definitely a worthy investment. With how well this handles OC load, you can safely say that the Dark Rock Tf is the best low profile CPU cooler for overclocking.
The Cooler Master i71C looks different from the previous three mentioned coolers. Unlike them, this one doesn’t sport a big heatsink sandwiched between dual fans. The design is simple, a metal heatsink with 57 fins and a 120mm fan. You can see through the blades of the fans which helps in the RGB illumination that this cooler has. The heat pipes are exposed with copper and run closely through the fins of the i71C. The copper insert provides great heat dissipation which helps reduce the temperature of your CPU.
This cooler is compatible with LGA115x chipsets. Align the backplate of the Cooler Master i71C with your socket and screw the fan in place. Add some thermal paste and secure the mount bracket. Measuring and weighing at 60mm tall and 385g heavy, this cooler stands a bit tall. Some small factor motherboards might end up having one adjacent RAM slot blocked. It does not completely block the slot but rather slides past it. However, it still leaves just a little bit of space.
The Cooler Master i71C offers significant improvements over the stock cooler that you get. In stock, load temperatures were never above 65 degrees Celsius. In overclocking, the performance did start to dwindle a little bit as the temperature was close to 90 degrees Celsius. Overall, this cooler was able to offer quite a big bump of improvement compared to a stock cooler that you get with an Intel or AMD CPU.
The PWM fans have adjustable speeds, going from 600 to 1800 RPM. On top of that, you should know that the fans remained surprisingly quiet. Noise levels never went above 30 dBA, which is just awesome. Topping all of that with the RGB effects, we can safely say that this is one of the best low profile RGB CPU coolers.
What did I not like?
One thing that really bugged me was that this cooler also, unfortunately, ended up blocking one RAM slot. The closest RAM slot to your LGA115x chipset socket has this cooler just sliding past it, leaving very little room for that slot to be used.
For a cooler that costs about 20 bucks, the Cooler Master i71C offers great bang for the buck performance. You don’t have to invest in a lot of money and you end up getting a keyboard that offers significant thermal improvement compared to your stock cooler. On top of that, you get a cooler that rocks RGB lights which can be synced with various other vendors as well. Don’t expect this one to be able to handle OC load as the temperatures were close to 90- an alarming number.
The Arctic has released a tonne of coolers up till now and they’ve repeatedly done a good job of satisfying the customers. The Arctic Freezer 11 LP is a perfect entry for a low profile cooler. Not only is it perfect for HTPC cases but it gets your cooling up and running in no time. Standing tall at 53mm and weighing about 400g, this is a light cooler. It features a 95mm PWM fan, 2 copper heat pipes going through the heatsink which has 50 fins of its own.
Arctic makes use of push-pin design with the Freezer 11 LP. After placing the Freezer 11 LP over to its position, push the little plastic pins in and it will snap to its place. The push pins are first inserted in the mounting bracket that is provided. The installation is quick and easy, without any hassle. For a cheap cooler, this is perfect because you just get right in the business.
The Arctic Freezer 11 LP managed to achieve stock idle and load temperatures of 30 and 60 degrees Celsius respectively. Whereas in overclocked, the temperatures were 34 and 65 degrees Celsius. It is important to know that this cooler can not handle high TDP wattage processors. The recommended power rating for this cooler is less than 90 Watts. So overclocking or handling load on processors higher than that is not advised.
As for the fan speeds, the PWM fans are able to go from 900 to 2000 RPM. Quite a wide range to be honest. This cooler is quiet as well, with the sound going to a maximum of 32dBA in high load. Typically, your casing also ends up doing a decent job in isolating the sound coming from within. So, that shouldn’t be much of a problem.
What did I not like?
Although Arctic Freezer 11 LP claims to have a wide range of chipset compatibility, it is not compatible with AMD CPUs.
AMD processors have been on the rise now and are more popular than they were before.
Unfortunately, this cooler is made only for Intel chipsets and can not be used for AMD.
Additionally, you ought to know that this cooler is suited for only CPUs less than 90W.
In fact, the closer you get to this threshold, the less performance improvement you get to see.
The Arctic Freezer 11 LP can be bought easily with just about anyone. Those who have mild loads and do not require a very high functioning cooler will find this to be a good choice. It can’t handle high loads very well but it will give you definite improvements over the stock Intel cooler you get. This can prove to be a very valuable low profile RGB CPU cooler.
Cooler Master MasterAir G100M - Low Profile & Good Looking
- This cooler weighs 320g and is 74.5mm in height.
- It comes with a single 90mm fan.
- There is an RGB ring in the centre.
- The RGB lights can be controlled with the wired controller.
- RGB lights are compatible with other vendor’s software.
The Cooler Master MasterAir G100M looks like a flying saucer. Rocking a solid copper base and a large heat pipe which is part of Cooler Master’s heat column technology. In designs such as this, you don’t have a large heat sink. Instead of that, this cooler’s large central heat pipe and copper base which allows for a greater surface area to be in contact with the CPU. The fans are transparent and there is an RGB ring in the center, allowing radiating colors to be emitted. This is a 74.5mm high cooler that weighs 320g and comes with one 90mm fan.
For installation, you’ll need to first install the backplate on your motherboard. Line up the cooler on top of that backplate and screw it in place. In the box provided, there are different mounts for Intel and AMD processors. Make sure you use the correct one. Put the heat pipe in place and screw it in from the 4 corners. The installation process for this is certainly trickier than the previously mentioned coolers.
The cooling performance of the MasterAir G100M is pretty decent really. In both idle and load, you get a temperature drop that is higher than that of a stock cooler. Where an Intel stock cooler will give you a 97 degrees Celsius temperature in stock load, the MasterAir G100M will let you work at just over 75. Quite a big difference. That drastically changes however once you overclock your CPU. In OC mode, your temperatures can go up to 95 degrees Celsius.
The single fan MasterAir G100M is pretty silent. So far in our list, the be quiet’s Dark Rock Tf has been the most silent of them all. However, the MasterAir G100M does not slack behind. Its noise levels do not go higher than 32 dBA even in high load and high RPM.
What did I not like?
First and foremost, the installation is a little too complicated than it needed to be. You have to take care of a lot of things and basically assemble the whole cooler. Newbies who haven’t done this before will particularly find this to be a difficult task. Along with that, it is apparent that this cooler can, in no way, handle high loads and OC modes. The temperatures go as high as 95 degrees Celsius which is a major red flag.
This cooler is of a different type. Cooler Master steps away from the traditional design of coolers and brings the users the MasterAir G100M- a flying saucer looking RGB cooler. It is easy on the wallet and offers tremendous RGB customization. Its vast range of AM4 chipset compatibility makes it one of the best low profile Ryzen coolers.
Another one in this list for the best low profile CPU coolers is Cooler Master GeminII M5. The GeminII M5 has a rather traditional and simplistic design. A large 120mm fan on the top and heatsinks and heat pipes at the bottom. There are 52 fins in the base to allow for greater contact and heat dissipation. The 5 heat pipes are positioned in such a way that the fins are cooling most of them. This cooler weighs 392 grams and is 63mm tall.
For installation, put the appropriate bracket at the base and screw it in carefully and tightly. Align the backplate and the socket on top of each other and then screw them in place. All the tools are provided in the box and you shouldn’t have any trouble. There are different brackets for Intel and AMD processors so choose the one that you require. The installation process isn’t that difficult. Same old screwing things in place and you’re good to go.
The cooling with the GeminII M5 is quite amazing. In stock, idle and load will get your CPU to a 38 and 47 degrees Celsius. These numbers are pretty good and will protect your CPU. When overclocking, the temperatures can go to 40 and 60 degrees Celsius. These are good numbers and you’ll be able to keep your CPU cool for a long period of time even in overclocked mode. The noise levels are pretty much what they all have to offer- 32 dBA. Therefore there’s really not that much to say about that.
What did I not like?
This cooler is somewhat expensive for a low profile and small form factor CPU cooler. So you should take care of that. Along with that, there’s also the matter of the size. While the height is appropriate enough, the dimensions overall are a little too spread out. With that and the 5 heat pipes sticking out, this cooler can end up taking a lot of real estate inside your case. It makes up for it by offering really good cooling but alas, you might just lose a port or two in the process.
For what this cooler is priced, I was really surprised as to how well it was able to cool my CPU. Even in overclocked mode, the temperatures remained within acceptable ranges and it offered a huge improvement over stock coolers. There is a matter of size with this cooler but if you really need overclocking, this is a great choice.
Next up in our list of the best low profile coolers is the Thermaltake Engine 27 1U.
This cooler is a balance between cooling performance, size, and aesthetics. With this cooler, Thermaltake has tried a different approach to cooling and combined air cooling with kinetic cooling.
All of this is a single metallic structure. With a copper base at the bottom, the Engine 27 1U has a circular shape. In the center is a high-speed spinning aluminum structure that cools the CPU.
There are 119 fins in the outer structure. The fans are designed in a way as to generate the maximum amount of airflow and pressure to effectively cool the CPU. It stands tall at just a mere 27mm and weighs 360 grams
In a nutshell, the Thermaltake Engine 27 1U isn’t really a bad cooler. However, it does not really offer that many upgrades from a stock cooler.
The idea behind this, while ingenious, does nothing to really do what a cooler ought to. Even in stock, the temperature for idle and load can go to 32 and 75 degrees Celsius.
There are really high numbers that render this cooler useless for higher wattage processors. The sound level, while not really that high, can go up to 36 dB.
What did I not like?
This cooler is priced rather high for one that does not offer any significant cooling improvements.
The temperatures go abnormally high for even stock load. Don’t even get me started on overclocking. (For such a high priced cooler, it does not compare to its price competitors at all and fails to hold to their standards.)
This cooler is a bit of a weird choice. For starters, there is barely any improvement over the stock cooler of Intel or AMD. (Even if there is, the load handling of Engine 27 is quite poor.)
For a cooler that sports this price tag, the cooling performance is rather disappointing. But if you are not going to handle high loads and don’t have a lot of real estates to spare inside your casing, the Engine 27 1U can work out.
The darkFlash Shadow cooler is certainly one of the better-looking ones on our list. Despite it being down at the 9th spot, the Shadow cooler by darkFlash looks very slick. It comes in an all-black color and has 4 screws in the corner. In the central ring where the fan is, there’s an RGB strip which looks really good once you have things up and running. This cooler stands at 72mm tall while weighing 390g. Whereas, the central fan is a 100mm fan with a speed of 800 top 2500 RPM.
The darkFlash Shadow sure looks very good and has the RGB flair going for the added aesthetic. Unfortunately, that’s really where this cooler shines. The performance is just barely any better than a stock Intel cooler. These do cost a little less and do cool better than your stock cooler. Perhaps for those who aren’t really interested in an over the top cooler and just want something without compromising on looks can put this to good use.
What did I not like?
From how this cooler looks and performs, you can call this as an improved version of an Intel stock cooler. It looks really well but does not do a good job of cooling. It is recommended for only 60W processors. If that wasn’t enough, the Shadow supports only Intel 115X sockets.
Despite not offering a tonne of improvements on the temperature front, this cooler is not that bad of an option. It comes rather cheap and looks really good. For those who do not have very high demands can find this to be a decent choice. You get a cooler that’s better than stock and sports really decent RGB.
With dimensions of 122 x 122 x 69 mm, the Scythe Big Shuriken 3 is a flat looking cooler. There is a single 120mm fan at which is responsible for the cooling. The heatsink at the bottom has three different levels of fins. That has been made so that the Scythe Big Shuriken 3 does not take up a lot of unneeded space. Because of these, you don’t end up losing adjacent ports. For installation, assemble the top bracket and then attach it. Follow that by screwing this cooler in place and you’re all set.
The 120mm fan of the Scythe Big Shuriken 3 is certainly a surprise. In this size, you usually get a 90mm fan. Regardless, it fails to give the cooling performance it should. In stock idle, this cooler cools the CPU down to about 29 degrees Celsius whereas it can get up to about 65 degrees Celsius in load. This changes drastically in overclocked. Temperatures for idle and load in OC go to 35 and 70 degrees Celsius respectively. While testing on a 4.2GHz processor, the CPU just throttled when overclocked.
What did I not like?
For how much this cooler is priced, there are much better options available. In the same price range, you can get a cooler that is able to do a much better job of cooling. For high Watt processors, this cooler straight up throttles them and fails to keep the temperatures in check. It sports a rather high price tag for a low profile CPU cooler but doesn’t give that decent cooling. Along with that, the noise level is a huge downer. When spinning at high RPMs, the fan noise is quite audible and can get really annoying.
The Scythe Big Shuriken 3 has been redesigned with the thought in mind that the fin stack will not interfere and block any ports. That is certainly an advantage. Some people might just fail to find the right cooler that fits inside their case. The Scythe Big Shuriken 3 can come to the rescue then. But do not expect any extraordinarily good cooling performance from this.
Low Profile CPU Coolers
When deciding to buy a CPU cooler for yourself, the first thought that comes to mind is that I should get the one that has the best cooling performance.
While on paper that sounds true and all but, in reality, there are a number of factors that start to come into play.
These factors are further enhanced when choosing a low profile CPU cooler.
Thermal Design Power
Thermal Design Power, or TDP for short, is a degree of measure which shows how much cooling power a CPU cooler has. The TDP rating is directly proportional to how much cooling you need. So a higher Wattage rating will require you to get a cooler with good ratings.
You should look into what kind of CPU you have and what its rating is. Once you know that, you should find a cooler that is a little higher than that. You don’t want to go too high as that would mean money being wasted. But keep a fair margin so nothing goes wrong.
Size of the CPU Cooler
Low profile CPU coolers do not have the same flexibility as the ones that are made for ITX sized cases or boards.
There is not much real estate to work with.
The dimensions of the cooler should give you a good sense of idea as to how big a cooler is.
With that in mind, choose the one that you actually fit in your motherboard without it blocking any adjacent ports.
CPU cooler fan noise is just plain annoying.
There are no two ways about it.
You don’t want your computer to sound like an airplane engine.
While some coolers do manage to keep sound levels to lower decibels, others not so much.
The RPM of the fans is directly correlated to how loud your cooler will get.
Generally, a sound level of less than 30dB is acceptable. Your casing and other environmental noise will do a good job of muffling the sound. Noise level higher than that can feel annoying.
Noctua coolers, while simply fantastic, follow a very off-putting coloring scheme.
In an overall great looking PC with RGB lights illuminating it, and off coloring, the scheme can set a bad taste.
There are some coolers available that offer great temperature drops while not compromising on looks at all.
Check them out from the list above and you won’t be disappointed.
Intel and AMD are the ones who have the two most popular chipsets in the market right now.
While Intel did hold the market for a long time, we’re seeing a rise in the number of AMD processors as well.
However, not all coolers have support for these different types of chipsets.
You should check which chipset you have and whether the cooler you’re looking into supports that or not.
For most folks, the first and foremost factor that must be considered is the price tag.
In the list above, we’ve tried to cover coolers that range in different factors- price being in them.
Normally, as you invest more you start to find good products.
But there are a lot of decent coolers that will do more than a satisfactory job and will not cost you a lot of bucks as well.
Frequently Asked Questions
Putting it simply, yes, the size of the fan matters. 120mm fans tend to be the most popular ones for low profile CPUs.
A larger fan will be able to push out more air compared to a smaller fan with both of them running at the same RPM.
So yes, the size of the fan does affect how efficiently a cooler cools your CPU.
CPU coolers come with 4 pin connectors.
The 4th pin incorporates a PWM pin which is high-efficiency speed control.
It helps in adjusting the speed of the fan and setting ideal RPMs for it. On the other hand, a 3 pin connector is used for the case fans.
3 pin fans do not use PWM to control speeds. Instead, they use variable voltage control and adjust speeds accordingly.
Normally, a thermal paste lasts about 2-3 years.
But that can change according to how hot your CPU can get.
Obviously, if your CPU is running on high temperatures frequently, the paste will dry out quicker.
Good quality thermal pastes last long and also offer a few degrees of temperature drops.
A good CPU cooling fan, at times, is just what you need to get the temperature down to low and acceptable levels.
However, things like space inside of the case, room temperatures and airflow in the casing also play quite a big part in determining how hot your CPU can get.
With all that, you should not only have a good idea as to which are the best low profile CPU cooling fans for overclocking and non-overclocking.
On top of that, the Buyer’s Guide is there to help you decide which things to keep in mind when making your decision.
Which of these did you like the best? Let us know in the comments below about your thoughts on this.
Read more Buying Guides
Affan’s undying love for technology, gaming and a passion for learning about as many things as he can have resulted in him always keeping himself in the loop for whatever is going on in the world.