Take, for example, NZXT’s Kraken Z63, which comes with an entire LED screen on the pump that can be used to display temperature, fan speed, power usage, and more. Arctic took it to another level by adding a fan to the pump itself to cool VRMs.
However, the cooling solutions mentioned above and similar products usually cost well over $100. Some even cost $200. In addition, not every case is built for a 280mm radiator.
In other words, something cheaper, smaller, and easier to install is needed. Fortunately, low-profile CPU coolers are exactly that, and here is our list of some of the best.
Arctic Alpine 12
Specifications:rn• Socket compatibility: Intel (LGA1156, 1555, 1151, 1150, 1200), AMD (none)rn• Thermal paste: Yes/Pre-applied: Yesrn• Fan Size: 92 mmrn• Fan Speed 150 – 2000 RPMrn• Dimensions: L: 95 mm, W: 95 mm, H: 77mm
Arctic is a highly-regarded brand in the PC community as they provide excellent CPU cooling solutions and high-quality thermal paste (Arctic MX-5, MX-4, and others). Their Arctic Liquid Freezer II is widely considered to be one best AIOs on the market.
However, as we are focusing on low-profile and budget picks this time around, let’s talk about Arctic’s Alpine 12.
With a height of just 77mm, the Alpine 12 can fit into almost any ITX case. This cooler is of the low-profile variety and draws less than 1 watt of power, making it perfect for those who want to attach it to their CPU and forget about it for a few years.
This small power usage indicates significantly cooler fan motor temperature, ultimately resulting in enhanced long lifespan. This is backed by Arctic’s 6-year guarantee.
Combine that with a price tag of just $15 for the Alpine 12 and the pre-applied MX-2 thermal paste. It is a no-brainer.
Specifications:rn• Socket compatibility: Intel (LGA1156, 1555, 1151, 1150, 1200), AMD (none)rn• Thermal paste: Yes/Pre-applied: Norn• Fan Size: 80 mmrn• Fan Speed 1200 – 3400 RPMrn• Dimensions: L: 101 mm, W: 101 mm, H: 34 mm
SilverStone is another popular brand offering products in several categories, including computer chassis, power supplies, and, of course, coolers and fans.
Let’s take a look at SilverStone’s NT08-115XP. This low-profile cooler is just 34 mm tall, making it one of the thinnest air coolers available.
Naturally, with such a small heatsink, it will not be capable of providing remarkable heat control. Actually, if feasible, we suggest choosing a slightly larger cooler. If you have a very slim ITX case and are unable to accommodate anything higher than 35mm, go ahead.
Unfortunately, the NT08-115XP won’t do the job if you have a Ryzen system, as it doesn’t have AM4 socket support. Thankfully, it will fit on current and some older Intel generations.
This SilverStone cooler is also a bit pricier at around $30.
Specifications:rn• Socket compatibility: Intel (LGA1156, 1555, 1151, 1150, 1200), AMD (FM1, FM2, AM2/+, AM3/+, AM4)rn• Thermal paste: Yes/Pre-applied: Norn• Fan Size: 92 mmrn• Fan Speed 600– 2500 RPMrn• Dimensions: L: 97 mm, W: 97 mm, H: 47 mm
Cryorig C7 is another low-profile cooler that should fit in any ultra-slim computer chassis. It is taller than the SilverStone alternative at the height of 47 mm, but still relatively short, considering Intel’s stock cooler is around 60 mm.
With a price tag of $30 and a six-year warranty, the Cryorig C7 is another great value low-profile cooler.
With its nickel-plated copper heat pipes and base combined with aluminum fins, the Cryorig C7 can deliver solid thermal performance.
You won’t be able to start overclocking with this cooler as it will thermal throttle, but it can maintain your temperature during medium loads.
Specifications:rn• Socket compatibility: Intel (LGA1156, 1555, 1151, 1150, 1200), AMD (AM4 with NM-AM4-L9aL9i)rn• Thermal paste: Yes/Pre-applied: Yesrn• Fan Size: 92 mmrn• Fan Speed 600– 2500 RPMrn• Dimensions: L: 95 mm, W: 95 mm, H: 37 mm
Noctua has a huge presence in the PC community as it offers one of the best air coolers on the market at a reasonable price. You might be familiar with their signature brown/beige color combination on their fans. Of course, we’re talking about Noctua’s NH-D15(S).
The Noctua NH-L9i is a low-profile alternative that bears that same brown and beige color combination, and it is just as good in its category. In fact, it might be the best in its category, judging by its reviews on Amazon and many professional reviews online.
However, that performance comes with a heftier price tag. Its MSRP is $50. Right now, it is sold even higher than its MSRP.
Scythe Big Shuriken 3
Specifications:rn• Socket compatibility: Intel (LGA1156, 1555, 1151, 1150, 1200, 1366, 2011), AMD (AM2, AM2+, AM3/+, AM4, FM1, FM2, FM2+)rn• Thermal paste: Yes/Pre-applied: Norn• Fan Size: 120 mmrn• Fan Speed 300– 1800 RPMrn• Dimensions: L: 122 mm, W: 122 mm, H: 69 mm
The brand Scythe might not be as well-known, but they have good products like Mugen 5 and FUMA 2.
Their low-profile product is also pretty good at just 69 mm in height. That makes it the second tallest cooler listed, but getting a bigger heatsink or fan can be quite beneficial if you are not very limited by space.
It is also wider/longer at 122mm because it uses a 120mm fan size.
One possible negative of Scythe’s Big Shuriken 3 is the price tag of $50.
Table of ContentsShow
The market is full of low-profile coolers, but we only wanted to show you the best ones.
There are some coolers that didn’t make the list but are still pretty good.
The Noctua NH-L12S is a great alternative to the NH-L9i for those with a bit more case space as it is much taller (70 mm). This allows for much better airflow, which naturally means better thermals.
You will also get that same 6-year warranty and NT-H1 thermal compound.
Thermaltake’s Engine 27 is a great pick in terms of thermal performance and noise, and we gladly recommend it to everyone.
However, as this entire cooler is made of metal (aluminum), including the fan, the noise created is at a much higher pitch. So yes, it is technically quieter than the C7, for example, but the high-pitched noise can be more annoying.
Which Low-Profile CPU Cooler Should You Get?
We have narrowed down our list of low-profile CPU coolers to five. You might still be wondering which of these coolers you should choose.
For those with an ultra-slim case such as the Skyreach 4 Mini or Louqe Ghost S1, we recommend SilverStone’s NT08-115XP or Noctua NH-L9i. Both of these are below 40 mm in height, so they will have no trouble fitting.
If you have more room in your bag, the Alpine 12 or Big Shuriken 3 may offer better heat performance. If you like something in between, consider Cryorig’s C7.