The Best Low Profile CPU Coolers (2021 Reviews)

If you need a small, cheap, and easy-to-install CPU cooler, a low-profile CPU cooler is a good choice. Here are the best low profile CPU coolers today.

CPU coolers have seen some considerable improvements over the years. This is especially true for AIOs (All-in-one closed water-cooled loops).

Take for example NZXT’s Kraken Z63 which comes with an entire LED screen on the pump which 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.

Related:The Best CPU Coolers (2021 Reviews)

However, the cooling solutions mentioned above and all similar to them usually cost well above $100. Some even up to $200. Also, 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 the exact opposite, and here is a list of some of the best of them.

Arctic is a well-renowned brand in the PC community as they provide awesome CPU cooling solutions and high-quality thermal paste (Arctic MX-5, MX-4, and others) too. Their Arctic Liquid Freezer II is easily considered to be one best AIOs on the market.

But, since we’ll be focusing on low-profile and budget picks this time around, let’s talk about Arctic’s Alpine 12.

The Alpine 12 is only 77 mm tall which means it’ll fit in most ITX cases you throw at it. It’s a low-profile cooler after all. Its power draw is lower than 1W, making it the perfect choice for those that want to slap this cooler on a CPU, close the case and never open it again in the next couple of years.

This low power draw means much lower fan motor temperature which ultimately leads to longevity. That’s proven by Arctic’s 6-year warranty.

Combine all of 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.

Silverstone is another popular brand offering products in a number of categories including computer chassis, power supplies, and of course, coolers and fans.

Let’s have 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 tiny heatsink, it won’t be able to deliver impressive thermal performance. In fact, if it is possible, we would recommend going with a bit bigger cooler. But, if you have an ultra-slim ITX case and cannot fit anything taller than 35mm in it, go for it.

Unfortunately, the NT08-115XP won’t do the job if you have a Ryzen system as it doesn’t have AM4 socket support. But, at least it’ll fit on current and several older Intel generations.

This SilverStone Cooler is also a bit pricier at around $30.

Cryorig C7 is another low-profile that should fit in any ultra slim computer chassis. Taller than the SilverStone alternative with a height of 47 mm, but still quite short considering that 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 the nickel-plated copper heat pipes and base combined with the aluminum fins, the Cryorig C7 can deliver solid thermal performance.

Of course, 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.

Noctua has a huge presence in the PC community as it provides one of the best air coolers on the market for a reasonable price. Of course, we’re talking about Noctua’s NH-D15(S). You might be familiar with their popular brown/beige color combination on their fans.

The Noctua NH-L9i is a low-profile alternative that bears that same brown and beige color combination and it is just as good for its category. In fact, it might the best in its category as suggested by its reviews on Amazon and many of the professional reviews online.

However, with that performance also comes a heftier price tag. Its MSRP is at $50. Right now, it is even sold higher than its MSRP.

Scythe might not be as popular as some of the other brands mentioned in this article, but they do have quite a few solid products such as the 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 if you are not extremely limited by space, getting a bigger heatsink or fan can be quite beneficial.

It is also much wider/longer at 122mm since it uses a 120mm fan size.

What could deter you away from Scythe’s Big Shuriken 3 is the price tag of $50.

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Honorable Mentions

The market is full of low-profile coolers, but we wanted to show you only the best ones.

Still, 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 that have a bit more case space as it is much taller (70 mm) allowing for much better airflow which naturally means better thermals.

You’ll 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’d gladly recommend it for everyone.

However, since this entire cooler is made out of metal (aluminum) including the fan, the type of noise created is of a much higher pitch. So, yes, it is technically quieter than the C7 for example, but the high-pitch noise can be exceptionally annoying.

Which Low-Profile CPU Cooler Should You Get?

We’ve narrowed down the list of low-profile CPU coolers to five. But, which one of these should you get?

For those with an ultra-slim case like 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, they’ll have no trouble fitting.

If you have more room in your case, the Alpine 12 or Big Shuriken 3 can deliver better thermal performance. If you’re looking for something in-between, consider Cryorig’s C7.

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Branko Gapo
Branko Gapo

Keeping up with the incredibly fast evolution of computer technology is almost impossible. That's why Branko will be using his knowledge on this matter to share news and information on all the latest essential technological innovations and advancements related to CPUs.