To keep your PC operating in top condition is more about clearing up space or searching for memory-hogging programs. The processor typically overheats and is somewhat tricky, especially in small builds. However, owning the best low profile CPU cooler in your system will never leave your system boiling.
Remember, a confined case needs to enhance airflow and stock coolers that come with most CPUs. Though they are hardly bearable even in standard-sized cases. Also, they offer lower efficiency and tend to be extremely loud. That’s where the best low profile CPU cooler comes in. Let’s bring you the very best low profile CPU coolers of 2020.
- Best Low Profile CPU Coolers Comparison Chart
- Best Low Profile CPU Cooler
- How To Choose The Best Low Profile CPU Cooler?
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Final Words: Best Low Profile CPU Cooler
Best Low Profile CPU Coolers Comparison Chart
Heat Sink Material
Beginner To Pro
Ultra-Compact Low-Profile Cooler
Cooler Master GeminII M4
4 Direct Contact Heat Pipes / Aluminum Fins
Beginner To Pro
Four Heatpipe Air Cooler
ARCTIC Alpine 11 GT
Intermediate To Pro
Excellent Cooling Performance
Beginner To Pro
25% Better Performance Than Stock Heatsinks
Cooler Master MasterAir G100M
Aluminum Stack Fins
Beginner To Pro
RGB Ring & Heat Column
Best Low Profile CPU Cooler
1- Noctua NH-L9i (Best Choice)
- Socket compatibility: Intel LGA 1150, 1151, 1155, 1156 AMD: AM4*
- Dimensions: 95x95x37mm
- Weight: 420g
- RPM: 600-2500 RPM
- Noise Generation: 14.8-23.6 dBA
- Heatsink material: Aluminum, copper
- Functions very silently
- Equipped with 600 – 2,500 RPM
- Lightweight and compact
- Not good enough for overclocking
- Slightly high price tag
Noctua is undoubtedly leading the market when it comes to high-end PC cooling tech, and therefore you may not be surprised to found it on our list. The Noctua NH-L9i is a low-profile cooler that fits diverse builds and works optimally if you want a powerful solution.
The Noctua NH-L9i is an air-based cooler designed to work with small systems where space is confined. It’s just 37mm high with the fan connected and weighs 420 grams. It won’t consume a lot of space in your case and subsequently makes one of the most silent models around if you are using low-noise adaptor, which can significantly drop things down to 14.8 dBA.
Besides, the CPU fan is equipped with the SecuFirm2 mounting kit and comes with the NT-H1 thermal compound. The unit is compatible with multiple Intel sockets. The 6-year warranty is another bonus. Noctua NH-L9i has got you covered!
- Our Verdict:
As mentioned above, the cooler’s best selling point is its low noise generation. This is something quite identical with Noctua fans. Speaking of performance, it is on fair terms with the somewhat cheaper C7, but it is considerably quieter.
If you get easily distracted by noisy fans, you must consider Noctua NH-L9i as the few more bucks are worth it. One thing to remember is that fans are required to work when coupled with the compact heatsink, and this is true when we put it in the confined mini ITX case.
If you are tight on budget, you should consider the fact that Noctua NH-L9i doesn’t support the AM4 socket without a detached mounting kit. Cryorig gives their mounting tackles for free, but with Noctua, you need to pay a few more dollars.
2- Cooler Master GeminII M4 (Best Budget)
- Fan Speed: 500-1600 RPM (PWM) ± 10%
- Fan Airflow: 17.4 – 58.4 CFM ± 10%
- Fan Air Pressure: 0.18 – 1.76 mmH2O ± 10%
- Fan Noise Level: 8 – 30 dBA
- Fan Life Expectancy: 40,000 Hours
- Bearing Type: Long Life Sleeve Bearing
- Power Connector: 4-Pin (PWM)
- Dimensions (L X W X H): 137 x 122 x 59mm / 5.4 x 4.8 x 2.3 inch
- Direct contact heat pipes
- Compact design
- Operates quietly
- Slightly expensive for budget-conscious users
- Not one for the overclockers
The Cooler Master GeminII M4 comes with the direct contact technique of switching heat away from the CPU. As a substitute to the heat pipes passing through the contact base, in this process, they are compacted and become a fundamental part of the bottom of the contact plate.
That way, it directly touches the heat shield on the topmost of the CPU. To get to its incredibly low height profile i.e., 59mm tall, the cooler uses four regular 6mm U-shaped heat pipes that allow a more compact design. The newly-designed XtraFlow 120mm fan sits on the top of the cooler and is only 15mm thick.
The Cooler Master GeminII M4 is designed to be easily used in heavy overclocking circumstances. It doesn’t encounter any issues and keep the CPU cool even under the heaviest load.
- Our Verdict:
Cooler Master GeminII M4 is one of the best low profile coolers designed for a system with restricted space such as a small desktop, HTPC, and mini-ITX. Equipped with unique heat pipe layout and four direct contact heat pipes, not only it is compact but offers exceptional cooling performance.
3- ARCTIC Alpine 11 GT (Best Pick)
- Socket compatibility: Intel LGA 1151, 1150, 1155, 1156, 775
- Dimensions: 89x89x75mm
- Weight: 291g
- RPM: 500-2000
- Noise generation: 22.5-24.5 dBA
- Heatsink material: Aluminum
- Gives better performance than most stock coolers
- Operates silently
- Very affordable
- Not a major upgrade if you have a working stock cooler
- Not compatible with AMD
The Arctic Alpine 11 GT is our popular top pick! It got the spot on our list for many good reasons. With multi-socket compatibility, it comes as a user-friendly unit. The extremely low noise generation is what makes it very popular.
Not only it is very reasonably priced, but it takes a step ahead from most stock coolers. If you are looking forward to an all-in-one cooler that operates quieter and offers satisfactory performance while costing very little, the Arctic Alpine 11 GT undeniably makes the right choice.
- Our Verdict:
The Arctic Alpine 11 GT is a little upgrade when compared with Intel stock cooler, particularly in terms of performance. The denser heatsink helps considerably with heat dissipation, though the biggest benefit of this cooler over other stock ones is that it is significantly quieter.
Other than this, the only shortcoming is that the cooler is not compatible with the recent AM4 socket. It is more likely to be a NO for Ryzen users.
4- Cryorig C7-47mm (Best Performance)
- Socket compatibility: Intel LGA 1150, 1151, 1155, 1156
- AMD: FM1, FM2, FM2+, AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, AM4*
- Dimensions: 97x97x47mm
- Weight: 357g
- RPM: 600-2500
- Noise Generation: 30 dBA
- Heatsink Material: Aluminum, copper
- Just 47mm height
- Compatible with AMD and Intel sockets
- Follow a no interference design
- 100 TDP
- Very low noise generation
- Good performance
- Installation is a little complicated
Are you looking for a low profile cooler that’s compact and obeys the zero interference rule? Cryorig has the perfect solution for your build, and here we have Cryorig C7-47mm. The cooler is built in a way to steer clear of PCI-E and RAM while at the same time keep your Intel processor or AMD cool.
Cryorig C7 is one of the shortest coolers we have seen so far with a height of 47mm from top to bottom. At 97mm x 97mm, it won’t take a lot of space. Also, the mounting kit is good enough though you need to flip the motherboard over for the backplate, which is relatively easier.
Further, the 57 fin heatsink is nickel plated with a copper bottom and four finest quality pipes, whereas the PWM fan comes with high speeds between 600 – 2,500 RPM. This is another CPU cooler that stands to its claim. It is capable of handling an extensive range of boards with a TDP of about 100w.
If you have an Intel system, you will be happy to go with many compatibility options. Also, it makes a great choice for AMD users. Lastly, the Cryorig C7 comes with a 3-years warranty and offers good value for the money.
- Our Verdict:
Undoubtedly, Cryorig C7 offers good value for money. It is notch above a stock cooler in both performance and noise generation. However, it still needs to struggle for being the quietest low profile CPU cooler that runs at top speed.
One drawback of the cooler is that it is not compatible with the AM4 socket and therefore requires a separate upgraded kit for it. This is pretty common for coolers that were launched before the release of the Ryzen CPUs. Other than this, the C7 performs exceptionally.
Its performance can be easily matched with more expensive coolers. Indeed, it’s the best value cooler if you are looking forward to a solid upgrade that won’t bring down the temperature. Finally, it significantly reduces the noise levels when your system is under heavy load.
5- Cooler Master MasterAir (Best Premium)
- Compatible Sockets:
- Intel: LGA 2066, 201-3, 2011, 1151, 1150, 1155, 1156, 1366, 775 / AMD: AM4, AM3, AM3+, AM2, AM2+, FM2, FM2+, FM1
- Max Noise: 30 dBA
- Height: 74.5mm
- TDP: 130W
- Equipped with wired RGB regulator
- Cooper heat column
- 130w TDP
- Reasonably priced
- Could be large for some builds
Fan-based CPU coolers are not very feisty, particularly when compared to GPU coolers and liquid systems. The MasterAir G100M is an exception and a colorful choice, especially if you searching for something with some more flair.
If you have one of the best CPUs for gaming, you might want a fan to keep it cool. The model works up to its claim with the RGB LED system and has multiple patterns, such as Mirage and Stars. The company follows a top-down approach for cooling with a 92mm PWM fan operating at speeds between 600-2400 RPM.
This decibel level is specified at 30 dBA at maximum speed. You will not need an RGB board as this unit comes with a handy remote. You may want to take the term low-profile not very seriously with this one as the model is 75mm high, which almost doubles the size of other similar options.
That being said, it’s an excellent choice and certainly more compatible than other low profile CPU coolers on the market. Lastly, the cooler comes with a 2-year warranty.
- Our Verdict:
The Cooler Master MasterAir G100M’s is uniquely designed that funnels the air from the fan descending onto the bigger copper cooling column right in the center of the heatsink. This offers the cooler great aesthetics, especially with the built-in RGB lights that give off the radiant glow through the fan.
The cooler is short enough to make it a great ITX CPU cooler. Though remember the design of this cooler can restrict some RAM from fitting into certain motherboards. Considering the fact that cooler gets somewhat broader towards the center, it may encroach on some taller RAM units.
This is more applicable when the motherboard has the RAM slots particularly close to the CPU socket. This CPU cooler offers a strong performance for its size with 130W of cooling while operating at 30dBA. Up to the mark performance!
How To Choose The Best Low Profile CPU Cooler?
A low profile CPU cooler might look simple to you. Though remember, there are multiple things to consider before making a choice. If you have not done proper research and selection, it may affect your PC, and you might not be able to operate it efficiently.
When speaking of the fitting, we don’t mean the low profile cooler should physically fit your PC. Though it’s essential! One problematic part is whether it will perfectly fit the CPU socket of your motherboard. As the space around the CPU socket is confined, you need to consider the size.
Keep in mind that size matters. Any sort of physical interference in your PC box is not wanted at all and a way to several other problems. As the cooler is low profile, it still doesn’t mean its compact enough to fit almost anywhere. You need to consider the dimensions.
One important feature of this cooler is its efficiency. They operate quite silently. You may want to use the space as much as possible – bigger is better.
2- 3 Pin Or 4 Pin Connectors
Four pin connectors must be your goal and definitely for good reasons. Well, the adjustability it offers is way beyond the three-pin connector. You can also modify the speed and volume of the fan using four-pin connectors. You can do it either through the motherboards or some software.
When we talk about three pin connectors, you won’t be able to make those adjustments. Make sure to double-check whether your motherboard can support four-pin connectors.
If yes, you can’t go wrong with it. You can even run three-pin connectors. Though if the motherboard has three-pin headers, you cannot run four-pin connectors.
You might be thinking who would care about the cooler aesthetics? No one will notice it since it will be incorporated inside your PC. Those who care about it, there are diverse shapes and designs you might be interested in instead of simply some classic blades running in circles.
Another important consideration is the noise of your cooler. All low profile coolers on the list above operate quietly and even the loudest one can only reach 30 decibels. This noise level is very much similar as you are sitting in a library. Technically speaking, a noisy fan doesn’t hurt you, it only disturbs you.
However, if you wear headphones while using your system, you are unlikely to notice or get disturbed by the noise. One of the most frequent uses for small form factor builds is in entertaining hubs where even very silent fans can eventually affect your experience.
If you are searching for the quietest low profile coolers, you may want to consider Noctua. In this buyer’s guide, we have reviewed Noctua NH-L9i which produces less than 24 decibels of noise. In most cases, it is just inaudible. You may also consider other options and check out their noise generation capacity.
Obviously, you don’t want to make your system sound like its launching to the Moon. Isn’t it? Remember the small coolers are more likely to be the loudest ones. There are two things that you must consider. Firstly, the manufacturer mentions the noise ratings and the second is users’ reviews. Once you consider both of these aspects, you will be able to make an informed decision.
5- Thermal Design Power
To simplify it, TDP is the representation of power. It is referred to as the maximum power a unit can generate while operating real applications. If you have a PC that run’s a little hot, you should primarily consider high TDP coolers to keep everything cool. For instance, the average is around 100W TDP.
Everything more than this will do the job correctly done. Thermal design power or TDP measures the cooling power a given CPU cooler offers. Typically, it is calculated in watts of energy. This is the approximate amount of heat that the cooler can dissipate, which means high numbers equate to enhanced cooling.
When considering TDP, you need to keep in mind that things change because of other factors. If your system doesn’t come with adequate airflow and case fans, then your cooler is more likely to operate less effectively.
Due to this, when selecting a low profile CPU cooler, you will want to consider your CPU’s TDP and then get a fan that can manage a little more. More specifically, Intel has been renowned for giving all their CPUs from a generation the same TDP as a spec.
In reality, people can see that it’s not always the case. For this purpose, you should go through the official website as a reference if you are uncertain about the CPU’s TDP. Also, you can always check your CPU manual.
You will frequently find the highest TDP coolers on the list, which offers quite impressive cooling power. These coolers can easily handle any CPU and even overclocking.
6- CPU Cooler Style
Different from the world of GPU coolers, you will typically find two styles of CPU cooler, including air-based systems and liquid CPU coolers. Both get the job correctly done, though the liquid option is a more popular choice when it comes to choosing the finest low profile CPU cooler for overclocking.
An effective air cooler works up to the mark and comes relatively cheaper. Air cooler primarily depends on the fan and heatsink. The heatsink is generally built from thermos-conductive materials such as aluminum or a mix of aluminum and copper.
It draws heat away from the CPU while the fan keeps on spinning to keep cool air running through the heatsink and avoid it from overheating. Liquid cooling is relatively more complicated since it involves multiple parts, including the pump, hoses, radiator, and fan.
Similar to air cooling, liquid cooling follows a similar approach. It uses liquid as a substitute for air. Liquid coolant or water is propelled through the hoses, which secure the component that requires cooling, which is referred to as CPU in this case.
Simply circulating it is not sufficient, and therefore liquid requires its specific heatsink. This is more precisely the role of the radiator in a liquid cooling system. To prevent overheating, there is a fan that keeps the air cool.
7- Compatibility And Size
No matter if you want to have an RGB CPU cooler or something very simple, compatibility is one of the most important aspects to consider. Carefully go through the specifications readily available. If you are busy, still don’t forget to check out the TDP rating along with the overall dimensions of the cooler.
With low profile coolers, height is an obvious consideration. Though it has nothing to do with compatibility, you need to consider the decibel level. Some fans are significantly silent than others.
Naturally, you will want to look at the size of the low profile cooler. The most crucial measurement is to check the height of the cooler as this is typically where most CPU coolers interfere with the case.
By looking at the case’s manual, you will see how much clearance your case offers for the cooler, which is mostly in millimeters. Also, it’s vital to ensure the size of the cooler doesn’t interfere with the RAM. If your memory units are next to the CPU, then a cooler that is broader at the top will work nicely.
8- Warranty & Price
When it comes to buying PC components, warranty is an essential yet often overlooked area. This differs from a few years to close to a decade. Though price frequently dictates the warranty duration.
Finally, it’s about your hard-earned cash! While speaking of coolers, we are more specifically talking about your PC’s insurance.
A good CPU cooler is practically insurance for a user as they receive optimal performance throughout the upcoming 7-8 years. Investing some more bucks is a smart approach, especially if you have bought a CPU for $500 or even more.
Frequently Asked Questions
1- What is a low profile CPU cooler?
Low-profile coolers are not designed to offer high-end thermals. If you are looking forward to building a mini-ITX gaming PC or any other small form factor system, a low profile option might be the only choice you should consider.
2- What is the best low profile CPU cooler?
Noctua NH-L9i is one of the best low profile CPU coolers. It’s a compact cooler with incredibly silent functioning. Further, it is equipped with low profile heatsink with heat pipes and copper base, giving a slim profile. A great option with all-inclusive features you must be looking forward to.
3- Which low profile cooler is right for you?
An appropriate low profile cooler is the one that operates effectively and withstands heavy load. It should be capable enough to perform optimally without producing a lot of noise that is more likely to cause a disturbance. Considering the above guide, you may want to opt for Noctua and Cryorig low profile CPU coolers.
Final Words: Best Low Profile CPU Cooler
By the end of this guide, our most preferred best low profile CPU cooler would be Cryorig C7. If you are looking forward to a nicely-performing cooler, you should probably consider it. On the other hand, if you are unable to tolerate even very little noise, you may want to opt for Noctua NH-L9i.
If you have read this, you have made yourself familiar with the topmost low profile CPU coolers currently available on the market, along with important considerations to make the right choice.
We hope you are now one step closer to choosing the right low profile CPU cooler that perfectly fits both your requirements and budget.