When you are building a small form factor computer, the main problem you are likely to run into is what CPU cooler to use. While most coolers are much too large to fit into a mini ITX case, or even most micro ATX cases, there are a few out there that you can rely on.
No matter if you are building a computer to put in your living room, or as a console replacement, finding a good low profile cpu cooler is going to be one of the most important things you will do. Having the ability to keep your CPU cool in such a small and tight case is not easy, but there are options available to you.
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Best Low Profile CPU Cooler Buying Guide
We have put together this list of four of the best on the market at keeping your CPU cool, no matter how tight your case may be. Let’s dive right in and see what makes them better options than the rest.
1. Noctua NH-L9i: Best Low Profile CPU Cooler For Overclocking
- Ultra-compact low-profile cooler with only 37mm total height – ideal for HTPCs, ITX and Small Form Factor builds
- 100% compatibility RAM- and PCIe-compatibility due to 95x95mm footprint, does not overhang the RAM or PCIe slots
- Highly optimised NF-A9x14 slim 92mm fan with PWM support and Low-Noise Adaptor for automatic speed control and ultra-quiet operation
If you are looking for the highest performance air cooling solutions on the market, no other brand can quite compete with Noctua. Their CPU cooling products are made from high quality components, and are often the best in class for cooling performance as well.
It is a premium Noctua fan on top, so you know it will move a lot of air with minimal amount of noise. Under the fan you will find some great looking fins with a couple of heat pipes running through for maximum cooling.
Noctua also includes their NT-H1 thermal compound, which is extremely good at helping the heat transfer from the CPU to the cooler. Most companies use cheaper compounds, so it is nice to see Noctua added in a high quality solution.
There is also another interesting addition with this cooler, a low-noise adapter. This will allow you to cut the top RPM of the fan down from 2500 to 1800RPM, giving your build a much more quiet operation. A nice addition, considering many people put their small form factor PC in their living room.
If you are not a fan of the tan and brown fans Noctua is known for, this is not the cooler for you. If you don’t mind it, it is overall a decent looking cooler. But Noctua has never been known for their fancy designs, only their impeccable performance.
Under that fan you will find the shiny silver fins with an embossed Noctua logo. Nothing groundbreaking, but it looks pretty nice. The cooler measures in at 37mm tall, so it should have no issue fitting in any small form factor case.
- Fantastic performance
- Small size
- Great thermal compound
- Not the nicest looking design
2. Cryorig C7
Cryorig has really been coming on strong with their CPU cooling solutions in recent years. They have a full range of CPU coolers from huge tower coolers all the way down to their C7 line, which is a high performance option for those that prefer small form factor builds.
The Cryorig C7 performs at an exceptionally high level, which you would expect given its more premium price tag. The hope with any small form factor CPU cooler is to beat Intel or AMD’s stock fan performance. The C7 does that, and all in a tiny package.
The four heatpipes that run through the many fins on this cooler help dissipate the heat extremely well, especially given the fan on this is so low profile. While many other coolers have larger fans, Cryorig decided to put a smaller fan (in height) on top of the C7.
You get exactly what you expect here, good cooling and quiet performance. While the fan isn’t quite as good as the Noctua above, it is more than capable of keeping your rig cool as long as you are not planning on overclocking.
The overall look and finish of the Cryorig C7 is fantastic. The white fan and the shiny metal block flow together to make a real eye pleaser. While it doesn’t have any RGB lighting, the overall look does not suffer.
This cooler comes in at 47mm in height, which isn’t quite as small as some, but still low enough to fit in almost every case imaginable. The thermal compound here is pretty generic, so we highly suggest picking up something better to improve your overall temperatures.
- Nice looking design
- Decent cooling performance
- Low profile fan
- Mediocre thermal compound
3. Cooler Master MasterAir G100M RGB
- Heat Column: Custom Cooper Heat Column technology increases the direct contact surface area for exceptional heat transfer and cooling performance; Air flow, 22.63 CFM; Noise level: 30.0 decibels
- Low profile aluminum stack fins designed for excellent heat dissipation
- RGB ring: illuminate your cooler with RGB ring and Fan which are both Certified compatible to motherboard vendors RGB software
Cooler Master is considered by many to have some of the best CPU coolers out there today. You have probably heard of their products, but there is a good chance that you had no idea they produce one of the best mini ITX coolers out there in the MasterAir G100M RGB.
With one very large fan, and a unique cooling design, the Cooler Master MasterAir G100M RGB is one of the best performing coolers on this list. If there is one cooler that it is hard to find a single fault with, it is this one.
As was mentioned before, the goal of small form factor coolers is to equal or outperform the stock coolers that come with your CPU. The Cooler Master MasterAir G100M RGB passes that test with flying colors. You will destroy any stock cooler out there with this beauty.
This cooler is taller and bigger overall than the others on this list, so it is no wonder it performs extremely well. The sheer size and cooling capacity of the large fan give it a leg up in performance over every other cooler here.
This is one of the most unique looking CPU coolers on the market thanks to its bowl shaped construction. The heat fins on this cooler come up and flare out on top, giving it a UFO looking shape. Interesting, and works extremely well.
That fin design isn’t the only unique thing about this design. The whole middle of this cooler is a solid piece of copper, allowing for the heat to rise up and out through the fins. It provides the best cooling experience for a smaller CPU cooler on the market.
This cooler also has some vibrant RGB lighting, allowing you to add some “bling” to your build. The good looks are enhanced by the lighting, making this one beautiful cooler.
- Awesome RGB lighting
- Large, quiet fan
- Great performance
- Could have memory clearance issues
- Quite tall for “low profile”
4. Silverstone NT08-115XP: Best budget Low Profile CPU Cooler
- Supports Intel LGA1150/1151/1155/1156/1200 processors. Air flow - 15.98 CFM. Noise level - 28.98 decibels
- Designed for Mini-STX systems at 33mm tall
- Custom slim 80mm PWM fan for excellent cooling and low noise
Silverstone has been making top-of-the-line computer cases and power supplies for years, and has a reputation of being one of the most reliable tech companies in the world. Their CPU coolers are not as well known, but if you have extremely small build and are looking for a way to cool your CPU, their NT08-115XP is a great option.
When a cooler is this small, you can’t expect the cooling performance to be outstanding. Silverstone has somehow managed to make it comparable to stock coolers, and at only 33mm tall! That is quite an impressive feat.
The tiny 80mm fan is one of the smallest ones on any cooler, so there is only so much cooling power you can expect from it. However, it does an admirable job, and the tiny fin array below the fan keeps pace as well.
All in all, you can’t ask for a much better cooler in this small of a package. Silverstone has to be commended for doing what they can in such a tiny size and footprint. The NT08-115XP is even smaller than the stock Intel cooler, so while it performs comparably, you won’t see any huge gains in switching to the Silverstone option.
The design of this cooler is extremely understated. It has a basic black fan and an Intel-esque cooling fin design underneath. Intel has long been using this style of design, and it has worked well for them, so Silverstone using a cooler in the same design is a good move.
You won’t get any flashy RGB lighting or colors here, just a simple block of aluminum and a small fan. It doesn’t try to be flashy, and that helps save on some cost as well.
- Extremely small design
- Fan is near silent
- Not the best cooling option for temperatures
- Boring design
There you have it! Four fantastic cooling solutions for your small form factor build. We have put together this nice selection of different styles and looks so you can pick the one that best suits your eye and will fit your specific needs.
When it comes to air cooling your build without a lot of room, the choices are limited. However, any cooler from the list above is a great choice, and will make building your computer a breeze.
Are you building a small form factor PC? Do you have another reason for getting one of these coolers? Let us know in the comments below!