In today’s guide, we’re taking a look at seven of the best low-profile CPU coolers currently available. So, if you’re building a small form-factor computer and you need a small cooler, these options will work for you.
While low-profile coolers aren’t typically designed to provide high-end thermals, if you are looking to build a mini-ITX gaming PC (or any other kind of small form-factor system), due to clearance issues, a low-profile cooler might be your only option.
Fortunately, there are plenty of solid low-profile options out there for keeping your CPU cool. In this guide, we’re going to list seven of the best low-profile CPU coolers currently available. So, if you are building a small PC (whether for gaming or other purposes) and you need a decent CPU cooler that will fit inside of your system, one of the options below should work for you.
*NOTE: Technically, most AIO cooler blocks are low-profile. However, as radiator compatibility will vary from case-to-case, we decided to stick to low-profile air coolers in this guide.
A Quick Look at the Best Low-Profile CPU Coolers
If you just want to jump right in and see some of the top low-profile coolers in a variety of categories, the table below will give you a quick look at our picks for the best low-profile coolers. We’ve made our selections for the best overall low-profile cooler, the best value option, the best RGB low-profile cooler, and the best budget pick.
*To read more about each of the coolers listed above, click on the “Read Review »” link and you will jump to that specific cooler’s overview. You can also scroll further down this page to see our honorable mention picks.
Best Low-Profile Cooler:
Noctua has built quite the reputation when it comes to cooling hardware for computers. Their air coolers and PC fans are consistently ranked among the best in the market. And, their Noctua NH-L9i is no different.
The NH-L9i comes in at just under $40 and measures 37mm tall, making it one of the shortest CPU coolers on this list. The NH-L9i comes with a 92mm fan that was designed to provide optimal cooling for lower TDP processors, as well as to operate at as low of sound levels as possible.
The NH-L9i is compatible with both Intel and AMD processors as well, but if you want to use it with an AM4 motherboard and processor, you’ll need to use this version of the cooler.
The only real downside of the NH-L9i is its color scheme. With a light tan casing and a reddish-brown fan, there is no denying the staple Noctua design. However, Noctua has recently released all-black versions of their popular fans. So, if you want the superior cooling that Noctua brings to the table, but you don’t like the brown and tan color scheme, you can now get an all-black version of the NH-L9i.
If aesthetics aren’t an important consideration for you and/or you’re building inside of a mini-ITX case that doesn’t have a window on it, then the original NH-L9i’s unique color scheme shouldn’t be an issue for you.
Overall, if you’re looking for a fairly affordable low-profile CPU cooler that can deliver solid cooling performance on CPUs that have TDPs of lower than 95 and operate at very quiet noise levels, then the NH-L9i is worth considering.
Best Value Option:
If you have a larger budget, the Cryorig C7 is worth checking out. The C7 comes in at just under $90, making it the most expensive cooler on this list. It comes with a 100W maximum TDP rating and a 92mm fan, which is right in line with Noctua’s NH-L9i.
And, unlike Noctua’s NH-L9i, the Cryorig C7 has a fairly neutral black and white color scheme and, in our opinion, is a much nicer-looking cooler (although, with the new all-black Noctua fans, that isn’t as big of a dea now). The C7 is a bit taller than the NH-L9i, but at 47mm it is still one of the shortest CPU coolers on the market—and it is low-profile enough to be able to fit in the vast majority of small form factor builds.
The C7 is compatible with both Intel and AMD motherboards, but not all of the C7’s ship with a bracket that will work for AM4 motherboards. However, if you do want to use the C7 with an AM4-based build, you can fill out a form on Cryorig.com and they will send you the AM4 upgrade kit free of charge.
Ultimately, though, at nearly $100, the Cryorig C7 won’t provide a big enough performance boost over an option like the NH-L9i to justify choosing it.
RGB Low-Profile Cooler:
Cooler Master MasterAir G100M
If you need a low-profile cooler, but you’re not in love with the common design that most compact coolers come with, then you might want to check out Cooler Master’s MasterAir G100M RGB low-profile CPU cooler. With a unique design that looks more like a UFO than a traditional CPU cooler, the MasterAir G100M will likely win over a lot of users based on its aesthetics alone.
And, part of its aesthetics that will have some gamers chomping at the bits to put it in their systems is the RGB fan that it comes with. In terms of performance, though, the MasterAir G100M is no slouch. Like the Cryorig C7 and the NH-L9i, the MasterAir G100M has a 92mm fan. However, it is rated to work with processors that have a TDP of up to 130W.
So, according to Cooler Master, the G100M can be even be used on more power-hungry CPUs and/or for mild overclocking. The MasterAir G100M is moderately priced as well, coming in at just under $40. So, while it won’t work for and extreme budget gaming PC, it might be worth considering for a mid-range build.
The MasterAir G100M comes compatible with both Intel and AMD systems right out of the box.
The bottom line is that the Cooler Master MasterAir G100M will provide above-average cooling, has a unique design that will likely win some gamers over, and comes with RGB lights. If the G100M’s aesthetics strike your fancy and you don’t mind paying a little extra to get them, then this cooler would be a great option for you.
Ultra-Cheap LP Cooler:
While the SilverStone NT08-115XP isn’t the greatest option overall and, in reality, there might not be a lot of use-cases for it, its all-black design and extremely affordable price tag might make it worth considering for budget gamers who have an Intel CPU and who don’t like the ugly stock CPU cooler it comes with. Its incredibly small size will also make it a nice budget-friendly option for ultra slim PC builds.
At 33mm in height, the SilverStone NT08-115XP is the 2nd shortest cooler on this list. It comes with an 80mm fan and will only work with processors that have a max TDP of 65W. So, essentially, this is about as basic of a cooler as you can get.
And, it should be noted that the NT08-115XP is not compatible with any AMD processors. Although, for newer AMD Ryzen CPUs, the stock coolers that they come with will offer similar (or better) performance than the NT08-115XP anyway.
So, while it isn’t an ideal option, if you’re looking to replace the unattractive stock cooler that your locked Intel processor came with, or if you need a cheap replacement option for an older Intel stock cooler, or if you’re looking to build an ultra-slim PC, the NT08-115XP might be worth considering—especially since it is so affordable.
Honorable Mention #1:
be quiet! BK002 Shadow Rock
If you don’t mind paying a few more bucks and you have some more room to spare, the be quiet! BK002 Shadow Rock cooler might be an even better option for you than any of the first three options listed in this guide.
The BK002 does come in quite a bit taller (75mm) than the NH-L9i, C7, and G100M, but it can accommodate processors with TDPs as high as 130W and it has a 120mm fan on it, which means it will work well for mild overclocking.
However, as the 120mm fan will provide more cooling potential, it also means that the entire cooler is a bit bulkier than the top three options on this list. And, if you’re building a small form-factor system, you may not have the extra room to spare. Still, though, in the grand scheme of things, the BK002 is small enough to fit inside the majority of mini-ITX builds without causing any clearance issues. Though, if you are going to choose the BK002, just note that you’ll want to choose low-profile memory and avoid choosing memory that has taller heat spreaders as the BK002 isn’t compatible with taller memory kits.
The BK002 also comes with compatibility out-of-the-box for both Intel and AMD systems.
Overall, the be quiet! BK002 Shadow Rock cooler is a great option for anyone who has a little bit more room to spare inside of their system.
Honorable Mention #2:
If you are looking for higher-end cooling performance and you don’t want to use an AIO cooler, you could opt for the Cryorig C1. The Cryorig C1 is a bigger version of the C7. It comes with a large (at least for low-profile coolers) 140mm fan and it can accommodate CPUs with TDPs up to 140W.
That means, for anyone that is looking for a low-profile air cooler that will work for mild (or greater) overclocking, the Cryorig C1 is a worthy option. However, it does come in at a premium. The Cryorig C1 costs just under $80, which is similar to what most 120mm or 140mm AIO coolers cost—but, for whatever reason, it’s actually cheaper than the C7.
Also, with the 140mm fan, the Cryorig C1 is the bulkiest low-profile cooler on this list. So, if you don’t have a lot of room to spare in your build the C1 might not work for you. And, if you do choose the C1, just note that you’ll also want to choose low-profile memory as well, as memory kits with taller heat spreaders won’t fit underneath the C1.
While the Cryorig C1 will work with both Intel and AMD-based systems, like the Cryorig C7, not all C1’s come with support for AM4-based systems out of the box. But, again, you can just go to Cryorig’s website and request a free AM4 upgrade kit.
Ultimately, the Cryorig C1’s higher price and bulkier footprint make it a less attractive option than some of the other coolers on this list, but if you don’t mind paying the premium to get it, the C1 will offer you excellent performance.
Honorable Mention #3:
Thermaltake Engine 27
Finally, we have Thermaltake’s Engine 27. The Engine 27 easily has one of the more interesting designs among all of the low-profile coolers out there. And, it’s also one of the smaller CPU coolers as well, making it a worthy option for ultra slim PC builds.
The Engine 27 doesn’t come without its flaws, though. While the Engine 27 is similar to the SilverStone NT08-115XP in that both’s smaller size makes them compatible with ultra slim cases, the Engine 27 comes in at over twice the cost of the NT08-115XP. Furthermore, the Engine 27 doesn’t offer a significant difference (if any at all) in cooling over the NT08-115XP as well.
Perhaps the only use case for the Engine 27 is for aesthetic purposes. It is a good enough cooler to handle newer locked Intel processors (i3-9100f, i5-9400, etc.). And, since it does have such a unique design, there may be some custom PC builders out there that will choose it purely based on that—which, of course, is completely fine.
However, you shouldn’t expect the world out of the Engine 27 and you will have to pay a premium to get it. If performance is more of a concern, the Noctua NH-L9i would be the better option (if you have the room for them).
Which Low-Profile Cooler is Right for You?
If you’re building a small form-factor PC you won’t have quite as many CPU cooler options as those who opt for larger form-factor cases. However, there are plenty of good options out there that you can use in your mini PC. The seven CPU coolers listed above are our top picks for the best low-profile CPU coolers currently on the market. So, if you do need a low-profile cooler, one of the options listed above should work for you.