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. For help in choosing an AIO cooler, check out the following guides:
Table of Contents
1. Quick-Look: Top Low-Profile Coolers
5. Budget Pick: SilverStone NT08-115XP
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 high-end 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.
1. Noctua NH-L9i
The best low profile cooler
- Total Height: 37mm
- Single 92mm Fan
- 59 NSPR
- Intel & AMD Compatible
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 $45 for the brown and tan version and right at $55 for the chromax.Black version. It also measures in at 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.
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.
2. Noctua NH-L12S
The best high-end LP CPU cooler
- Total Height: 70mm
- Single 120mm Fan
- 88 NSPR
- Intel & AMD Compatible
If you’re willing to spend a little bit more and you have more room in your case, the Noctua NH-L12S is one of the best-performing low profile CPU coolers on the market. The Noctua NH-L12S comes in at just under $60, making it the most expensive cooler on this list. It comes with a 88 maximum NSPR rating (Noctua’s own power rating) and a 120mm fan.
There are some downsides to the NH-L12S, though. For starters, unlike the NH-L9i, the L12S is only available in Noctua’s traditional brown and tan color scheme. (Although, for the NH-L12S, that might not be as big of a deal as the heatsink sits on top of the fan, so the Noctua color scheme won’t be as visible.)
The other downside is that that NH-L12S is quite a bit taller than the L9i (70mm vs 37mm.)
So, if you can’t handle the Noctua color scheme, or you’re building with limited space, the NH-L12S might not be for you.
On the other hand, though, if you have a little bit more room in your system and you don’t mind the brown and tan design, and what you’re really looking for is above-average cooling from a low profile cooler, then the Noctua NH-L12S is probably the option for you.
3. Cooler Master MasterAir G100M
The best RGB LP cooler
- Total Height: 47mm
- 92mm Fan
- 130W TDP
- Intel & AMD Compatible
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 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 an 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.
4. SilverStone NT08-115XP
An ultra-cheap low profile cooler
- Total Height: 33mm
- 80mm Fan
- 65W TDP
- Intel Only
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.
5. be quiet! BK002 Shadow Rock
Honorable Mention #1
- Total Height: 75mm
- 120mm Fan
- 130W TDP
- Intel & AMD
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, NH-L12S, 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, like the NH-L12S, it also means that the entire cooler is a bit bulkier. 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 cases 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.
6. Cryorig C1
Honorable mention #2
- Total Height: 74mm
- 140mm Fan
- 140W TDP
- Intel & AM4 (w/kit)
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.
7. Thermaltake Engine 17
Honorable mention #3
- Total Height: 27mm
- 60mm Fan
- 70W TDP
- Intel Only
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 the most compact cooler on this list, its 70W TDP rating doesn’t make it a great option for mid-range or high-end CPUs.
Perhaps the only use case for the Engine 27 is for lower-end/extremely compact mini-ITX systems. It is a good enough cooler to handle newer locked Intel processors (i3-10100f, i5-12400F, 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 (moderate) or Noctua NH-L12S (superior) 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.
3 thoughts on “7 Best Low-Profile CPU Coolers for Mini-ITX Builds (Intel & AMD)”
Do any of these allow you to use your own fan so you can match them with case fans?
Is there an updated 2020 list and would these coolers work in a Lian Li pcq30x?
The total height of Cooler Master MasterAir G100M is 74.5mm.