If your PC doesn’t overheat then congratulations you have managed to pass the rookie level. Cooling is one of the most important things when it comes to gaming. One of the reasons why Alienware laptops are so expensive is their ability to stay cool.
You must already know now that building and optimizing a gaming PC or a high-performance rig comes with many supporting techs but the most vital requirement is the cooling.
Cooling offers two main functions in your CPU, the primary is to help reach the stock/customized components reach their maximum efficiency and secondly to keep them from overheating.
Besides helping you get an efficient system for overclocking, a reliable CPU cooler safeguards your investment in the long term.
Stock coolers struggle already with spacious chassis for your CPU and become a real pain when you put them in a mini ITX or a low profile build.
The obnoxious heating coupled with a vacuum cleaner like noise runs a risk of overheating the components as well as divert attention every few minutes if not seconds.
The main reason for this is because of the decreased space to draw air from, most stock coolers will be running at max RPM almost all the time in the attempts to provide sufficient cooling.
So you have a low profile setup but are looking to upgrade a few components to overclock it a wee bit?
That is where the aftermarket coolers come in.
There are a plethora of aftermarket coolers that function on-air, kinetic, and thermal sources to cool down your system.
So let’s get on straight into our list of the most favorite low profile coolers that we have reviewed, which offers high performance and low noise within the budget.
SCYTHE BIG SHURIKEN 3
SCYTHE BIG SHURIKEN 3 is a top of the class release by SCYTHE featuring five heat pipes and a 120mm Kaze Flexx Fan to match the cooling efficiency of much larger tower coolers. It is surely your go-to option if you are looking for performance on a budget.
The compact design of the air cooler keeps the danger of interference with DIMMS (Dual-In-Line-Memory-Module) away and offers an amazing room for a 120mm fan when most competitors with compact designs offer 92mm.
The cooler comes with a stock fan of 15mm thickness that features the laxity of swapping it with a standard 25mm if you are going to be overclocking.
1800 RPM is the maxing out safe limit for the fan with an idling speed of 300-400 RPM, making nearly inaudible at lesser stress. With a base coat of nickel and overall polished design, it feels nothing short of a premium option! Height of 69mm ensures its fitting in nearly all mini-ITX systems without a problem.
The design makes the installation of the CPU cooler as easy that it can get with a metal plate to support the back of the motherboard that is attached with rubber tabs. The screws are easy to secure as it can be done without the removal of the fan and only the rotation of the fan blades is required.
The SCYTHE BIG SHURIKEN 3 can keep the temperature around 18° C and emitting a sound equal to 21 dBA. The numbers prove it to be a high-performance CPU cooler in compact designs, elegant style, and a very affordable rate. All the important checks and extreme ease of installation make it to top our list today.
NOCTUA drops yet another classic by releasing a low-profile air cooler for your CPU that has its inspirations from the earlier NH-L9i. Though the base model of NH-L9i was more of a portrayal of how compact an air-cooler can be and still support a load, this is more of a specialized design that can bear the general overclocking of your CPU as well.
Almost doubling the height of the cooler from the previous 35mm to now 65mm but still keeping it compact enough to fit most of your mini-ITX systems. The things that remain unchanged about the newer release are the width and depth of the cooler, which is 95mm as standard.
It has a copper base that gets coated with nickel along with the 4 heat pipes it houses and features the installation of 50 fins on top of that. The NOCTUA NH-L9x65 will fit in every AMD design and can be fitted into most compact setups because of its ingenious designs and measurements.
Most of the problems associated with 120mm coolers are found to be absent with this device but it does feature a backplate against the motherboard to support its weight of nearly 1Lb.
The thermal design power for the NOCTUA NH-L9x65 is recorded at 84W, which is good enough for most compact setups and a lot better than most stock coolers. The fan measures at 92mm with thickness 14mm making the compact size of the overall unit.
The speed of the fan maxes out at around 2600RPM with an idle speed of 600RPM making it almost inaudible at 24dBA at room conditions. Offering you the amazing benefit of being able to fit almost anywhere where a stock cooler is fitted.
ARCTIC ALPINE 12
ARCTIC is a company that was the first to introduce low noise and silent cooling to desktop CPU back in 2001. They have surely come a long way since their commencement but one thing remains consistent, their absolute innovative designs of air coolers. The ARCTIC ALPINE 12 is a low profile cooler that steps up the level of CPU coolers with the smallest footprint.
The heat sink of the unit is produced with a new process that molds the entire structure out a single block of aluminum, the fins of the heat sink are made in the shape of Y to increase the surface area and in turn, provide impressive cooling for the compact size.
On top of the fins is housed a 92mm fan, which is quite the standard, the white fan helps dissipate the cool air to the surroundings cooling down other components nearby as well.
The addition of a suspension in the design allows it to reach amazing results when it comes to silence of operation by cutting down the vibrations. The only vibrations that can be prominently felt are the ones from the DC motor itself.
The ingenious molding concept allows for the overall weight to lock at 270g, which doesn’t require the additional support of backplates to the motherboard. The most attractive part about the installation of ARCTIC ALPINE 12 comes with the 6-year warranty the company offers upon purchase.
It fits all of the Intel builds and several others because of the incredibly low installation height of 42mm requirement, and provide TDP of around 95 watts.
The low purchase price, ease of installation, minimum room requirements, and the ability to reach 0dBA noise due to the complete stopping of the fan are the reasons why the ARCTIC ALPINE 12 has been able to compete against much stronger alternatives.
NOCTUA makes its entry twice on the list by releasing an updated version for the previous award-winning NH-12, the NOCTUA NH-12S. The NH-12S features a more compact design than the original tower air-cooler, however, with the same TDP. Whenever there has been a need for sleek designed, high-performance, low-noise, and reliable air-coolers, NOCTUA always has something good to offer.
The NH-12S cuts down most of the size from the previous model by featuring a single fan operation instead of the original dual. The 120mm fan with a width of 15mm pushes 94 cubic meters of air per hour when running, and that too without sounding like a rocket launching for the moon.
Yet another trademark design is the aluminum fins are left free of modification and customization to their original color, but that’s how you tell it’s a NOCTUA.
Copper is used in making the supporting base along with the heat pipes soldered through the fins, and all in all, get a nickel coating for long life.
The NOCTUA NH-12S comes with a guarantee of 150,000 hours of rigorous use with the fan peaking at an RPM of 1850 and an idle speed of 450 RPM. It weighs 512g which is entirely supported by the advanced installing mechanism that comes with the product, also the tools to have it in place to make the installation even easier.
The NOCTUA NH-12S comes with a stock height of 70mm that can fit into the chassis above any processor that falls under the TDP chart found on the website. But if you have more room available, placing the fan on top of the fins will take an additional 15mm of height and increase the cooling potential as well.
The overall classic design with impressive results, low noise rating of 24 dBA, it is a real gem of an option for those of you looking for a compact yet high-performance cooler.
Be Quite! SHADOW ROCK LP
Be Quite! Releases its yet another line of impressive coolers, the “Shadow Rock”. The brand-name and the slogan for the coolers line “Compact Cooling. Significant Quite” aims to give the competitive premium coolers a run for their money when it comes down to numbers and figures.
The weight of the cooler is kept surprisingly low at 290 grams for the rather large structure that it is. With an overall height of 75.4mm, the length stretches out to 134mm and the width to 122mm. the larger build for the CPU cooler is going to be a hard fix into mini ITX setups as it leaves little room for the RAM underneath it, it may be required to change your RAM to the compact size as well before mounting it up on your low profile system, but is going to be a perfect fit for most CPUs.
The thermal dissipation power of 130watts indicates a strong engineering and firm cooling, which makes it the go-to choice if overclocking is on the regularities of your schedule.
It comes with a guarantee of 80,000 hours of use but it is the noise coupled with performance when the ball falls into the court to be quite!
The maximum rotational speed for the SHADOW ROCK LP locks at 1520 RPM, keeping it at a maximum noise of 25 dBA, which is slightly better than almost all of its competitors.
COOLER MASTER, MASTER AIR G100M
Taking its inspiration from the classic “Flying Saucer”, Cooler Master presents a liquid All-In-One cooler to complement their line of CPU coolers for compacts setups. Fitting in a variety of ITX cases, the G100m marks its distinction by featuring a stock function of customized RGB color spectrum on the cooler that doesn’t need software to switch between the colors.
Cooler Master is offering high performance, compact unit, RGB customized color spectrum, and an advanced cooling mechanism all under one roof, so let’s find out about the peculiarities of the design.
With a total height of 74.5mm, the width and depth of the cooler run the same at 145mm, making it an ideal size for most chassis to fit in without any trouble. The installation of the CPU cooler is relatively simple and easier than most other options.
Though it is best and easiest to install if you have the motherboard out of the chassis, but you can do it without putting much effort while it is still in place. It features two cables to be connected to the slots, one for the cooler fan and the other for RGB lights.
Instead of having the traditional four heat pipes running through the fins and the base for cooling, it offers a single heat pipe that is seven times the size for advances liquid cooling mechanism.
The downward flow of air that is spread even wider by the large surface area of the fins works really well in cooling the surrounding parts of the motherboard along with the intended processor.
It reaches a top RPM of 2400, producing a max noise of 30dBA, and an idle speed of 600 RPM. With a much efficient cooling to support a TDP of 130watts it offers an attractive design that speaks for itself.
THERMALTAKE ENGINE 27 1U
Thermaltake revives the original Sandia design for kinetic coolers to give one of the best performing CPU coolers to us today. Before we get into the specifics of the design and output of the cooler, it is best to understand the working of a kinetic cooler, so let’s get on with it!
Unlike the traditional coolers that use a separate fan/blower to drive the air onto the heat sink and the base to dissipate the caught heat from the processor, the kinetic mechanized air coolers work removing the component of a separate blower.
A base layer and the heat sink is combined with a hovering aluminum top that acts as a blower and a heat sink both. The idea behind this is to latch on to as much of the cooling that is absorbed by the separate blowing component and make its direct contact with the heat sink.
There groves in the base that allows for the cooler air to leave and the air gap between the hovering central piece and the base provides for a natural process of active thermal conduction to take place.
Although we haven’t seen many of these designs prosper since 2014, Thermaltake has taken the ball out of the park with its recent OEM introduction. The removal of an additional component allows it to keep its height at an unbelievably low of 21mm, the length, and width both of 60mm.
These low dimensions make them an ideal pick for any mini or low-profile build and cut away all the hassle of RAM problems associated with most other coolers on the market.
It comes with a guarantee of 50,000 hours to dissipate heat to a maximum of 70watts and produce 30dBA noise at a peak of 2500 RPM. You have this incredibly advanced and over-engineered cooler to support your high-performance needs for low profile builds.
CRYORIG is a comparatively new manufacturer that has been on the market since only 2013, but they seem to be running along the tracks of the competitors just fine. Set up by overclocking and high-performance enthusiasts, the manufacturer mainly looks into the extraction of high power through the advanced cooling.
Coming with a history of successes through their H series coolers, the latest design to offer from the company is the CRYORIG C7.
The CRYORIG C7 is a traditional air cooler that offers an ideal replacement for a stock cooler in low profile setups. Its more than ideal measurements of the height being no more than 43 mm makes it a perfect fit for any mini ITX setup without obstructing the RAM that has been a recurring issue with almost any aftermarket cooler.
The socket list can be found on the website to check the compatibility, if your system is mentioned then you shouldn’t have a problem with fitting it onto your motherboard. The installation process is a rather simple one as well and comes with a definite packing for the support. It weighs a total of 357 grams, which makes it an even less of a burden on your rig altogether.
The design of the rig is not much different from a traditional air cooler as it has four heat pipes and a base manufactured from copper and coated with nickel to prevent corrosion. The heat sink is made up of 57 aluminum fins that are kept precisely 1.2mm apart from one another to increase the surface area as much as it can.
The most attractive feature of the CRYORIG C7 is the potential to support TDP as high as 100w and that too at a noise level of 30dBA, which is not much at all. The RPM range for the rig lies between 600 and 2500.
COOLER MASTER GEMINI II M4
COOLER MASTER has succeeded in finding a second slot on our list alongside NOCTUA because of the variety of lines they have for air coolers. The definition for compact and low profile coolers has substantially changed over the past couple of years as anything over the height of 70mm is obstructing some components or the other.
The GEMINI II M4 offers a perfect replacement for stock coolers and while it makes no claims to be the one for handling heavy loads and the choice for overclocking, it shows impressive results in regulating the core temperature from handling hefty loads.
The difference of the manufacturing is shown in the direct contact method being included in the design instead of the air gap, the heat pipes of GEMINI II M4 are flattened out at the end to make direct contact to the contact plate and thus being connected to the heat shield of the core.
It comes with a very low height of 59mm that allows it to fit into the smallest of mini-ITX builds and provide efficient cooling by featuring a 120mm fan. The design and modeling are commonly believed to be a direct influence from the SCYTHE BIG SHURIKEN II but it does have its basic differences.
Reaching its peak rotational power at 2600 RPM and making a noise of 30dBA makes it stand decent amongst the nearly silent CPU coolers. Offering a warranty of 40,000 hours on standard and 80,000 hours upon registrations.
So, which is the best low profile CPU cooler?
Our first choice is definitely SCYTHE BIG SHURIKEN 3.
NOCTUA NH-L9X65 is 2nd on our list and we also liked it.
All the rest of these low profile CPU coolers are “cool” too. So you can check out all of them. They all do a great job when it comes to cooling.
Buy the one that suits your budget.