Best Low Profile Cooler

Best Low-Profile Cooler: Top CPU Coolers for Gaming PCs

Keep your PC cool without taking up space with one of our top low-profile coolers!

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Investing in the best low-profile cooler for your CPU is a sterling choice: allowing you all the benefits of a top CPU cooler without interfering with other PC parts! Despite being smaller than average, these coolers are able to provide great heat dissipation and cooling that rivals their larger counterparts. But what does the best low-profile CPU cooler look like – and why would you bother with the larger ones if these are just as efficient?

We’ll answer all that and more in our buyer’s guide, breaking down an array of CPU coolers and assessing them based on a number of key factors. Considering a range of budgets and other important elements, read on to see our picks for the best low-profile CPU coolers on the market in 2024!

Best Low-Profile Cooler: Noctua NH-L9i

Noctua NH-L9i Premium Low Profile CPU Cooler

Power Connector Type

4-Pin

Noise Level

23.6 dB

Maximum Rotational Speed

500 RPM

Material

Copper (base and heat-pipes), aluminium (cooling fins), soldered joints & nickel plating

Voltage

12 Volts

Wattage

2.52 watts

Pros
  • High-end performance
  • Tiny build
Cons
  • Expensive

The Noctua NH-L9i tops our rankings of the best low-profile CPU coolers, thanks to its tiny footprint and efficient cooling performance. This tiny Noctua CPU cooler is ideal for SFX PCs, or fully-fledged builds, providing great cooling performance with few drawbacks!

When installed, it’s easy to forget about the NH-L9i: it runs near-silently, and at only 95mm x 95mm x 37mm it blends easily with other PC parts. Temperatures will remain in the low double-digits, with the cooler fans barely needing to lift a finger – or rotor – thanks to an intelligent design.

However, this great low-profile cooler comes at a high price: compared to other low-profile models, it may be worth saving up for a better AIO cooler for even better performance. That depends on your use case, and we still recommend the NH-L9i as a high-end, low-profile CPU cooler solution!

Best RGB Low-Profile Cooler: ID-COOLING IS-55

ID-COOLING IS-55

ID-COOLING IS-55

Max RPM

2500 RPM

Max Noise

42 dB

Dimensions

15mm (L) x 120mm (W) x 120mm (H)

Pros
  • RGB lighting
  • Easy to install
Cons
  • Noisy above 1000 RPM

The ID-Cooling IS-55 is a stellar choice for the style-over-substance crowd, who still don’t want to sacrifice too much in the way of substance. This low-profile CPU utilizes a great heatsink and tremendous performance, massively reducing the throttling on your PC no matter the size.

Installation of the IS-55 is quick and easy, and the manufacturer provides an abundance of thermal paste to help things run smoothly. And smoothly they run: high-performance games don’t strain your CPU, and temperatures rarely exceed nominal levels.

That said, one thing that does increase beyond our comfort levels is the noise. Above 1000 RPM, the fan is notably noisier than average at 42 dB, which can mean the most computationally demanding processes suffer. However, we still recommend the IS-55 as a top RGB cooler with a tiny form factor!

Best AM5 Low-Profile CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-L9x65

Noctua NH-L9x65

Air or Hydro?

Air

Max RPM

2500 RPM

Max Noise

23.6 dB

Dimensions

(H)65 x (W)95 x (D)95 mm

Pros
  • Low noise
  • Great design
  • RAM and PCIe clearance
Cons
  • Expensive

Boasting an efficient design in a slim 37mm profile, the Noctua NH-L9x65 is a stellar low-profile cooler for AM5 CPUs. Allowing you plenty of room for additional parts in even the smallest form-factor PC build, this cooler literally does a lot with a little.

Installing the NH-L9x65 is a breeze, and its thoughtful design keeps it clear of socket zones, allowing ample room for taller memory modules and PCIe cards. Many low-profile coolers sacrifice performance by using larger fans or heatsinks that protrude over the socket zone, making it challenging to access nearby connections on compact motherboards. However, this cooler breaks that trend, offering easy access to all connections and components.

Like other Noctua products, however, this CPU cooler is notably expensive, making it less suitable for all AM5 CPUs. For compact coolness, the L9x65 is still hard to beat!

Best AM4 Low-Profile Cooler: be quiet! Shadow Rock LP

Be Quiet! Shadow Rock CPU Cooler

Power Connector

4-pin

Wattage

1.1 watts

Noise Level

25.5 dB

Cooling capacity

130W TDP

Air Flow

48.96 CFM

Pros
  • Highly compatible
  • Easy to install
Cons
  • Limited airflow

The Shadow Rock LP from be quiet! is a highly functional low-profile CPU cooler, compatible with AM4 and Intel sockets – but we highly recommend it for the former. The Shadow Rock LP has a low-profile build, measuring just 75.4mm tall, making it ideal for supplementing small PC builds with.

The Shadow Rock LP comes with an anodized aluminum top cover and nickel-plated piping, ensuring both durability and effective heat transfer. The Pure Wings fan included is smooth and noise is minimal. Additionally, the heat pipes directly touch the CPU itself for the best possible heat sink, ideal for keeping low temperatures in important clutches.

If we had to pick a flaw in the Shadow Rock LP, it would be that whilst the heat transfer is stellar, the overall airflow is less impressive, due to the fan design dragging in some air from above. It’s a nitpick, however, and doesn’t prevent this low-profile CPU cooler from making our list!

Best Budget Intel Low-Profile Cooler: Akasa LGA1700

Akasa LGA1700

Akasa LGA1700

Max RPM

3000 RPM

Max Noise

30.4 dB

Dimensions

3.43″L x 3.35″W x 1.06″H

Pros
  • Great build quality
  • High performance
Cons
  • Higher temperatures on average

For an inexpensive low-profile cooler for your Intel CPU, the Akasa LGA1700 is your best bet. Combining function and form in an elegant solution, this budget cooler suits nearly all budget use cases.

Made from high-quality aluminum with a PWM fan, this CPU cooler has sterling build quality given the price. Airflow is smooth and quiet in idle states, meaning your high-performance ITX PC won’t disturb you during gaming, video editing or any other computationally demanding task.

However, there’s always a price you pay with a budget cooler, and in the case of the LGA1700, it’s the overall temperature threshold. It runs hotter than others on our list, into the higher double-digits, under pressure – which does sour the overall value of the cooler.

Best Budget AM5 Low-Profile Cooler: Thermalright AXP120-X67

Thermalright AXP120-X67

Thermalright AXP120-X67

Max RPM

1800 RPM

Max Noise

26.1 dB

Dimensions

4.86″L x 4.72″W x 2.64″H

Pros
  • Easy installation
  • Optional RGB
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Audible fan noise

Our final pick in today’s ranking is the Thermalright AXP120-X67, a budget AM5 cooler ideal for a barebones PC build. Ideal for AM5 CPUs like the Ryzen 9 7900, this CPU cooler is low-price, low-footprint – but high-value.

The Thermalright mounting system makes for easy installation, along with a generous supply of thermal paste. With optional RGB lighting, there’s plenty of scope for customization and configuration to your heart’s content! If you’d rather your low-profile cooler stay low-profile, you can opt for the non-RGB version for a discreet but effective cooling solution.

However, even on low settings, the fan noise from the AXP120-X67 is audible, which proves frustrating. If you can block out the noise, then this is still the best budget AM5 CPU cooler for low-profile builds!

Low-Profile Coolers vs All-in-One Coolers: Which is Better?

If small coolers like the ones on today’s ranking are so effective, then why do buyers bother with larger scale options? As with many facets of technology, the differences can be meaningless or meaningful, depending on the use case.

Larger AIO coolers are naturally able to keep your PC cooler, given their multiple fan units and water-cooling technology. For intensive PC builds designed for high-end gaming or content creation, a large CPU cooler may not be just preferential, but essential. However, you’ll need to accommodate them in a larger PC case – and with so many other top components being so cumbersome, you may struggle to fit them all in.

Low-profile coolers allow you to reduce the overall temperature of your PC without impacting the component footprint too heavily. They often still boast high-end fans and heat tubes to make the most of your investment – however, it doesn’t take a professional PC builder to know that one fan will be less powerful than three.

Overall, if your PC runs too hot but you don’t need an intensive cooling solution, consider a low-profile cooler as a stop-gap. If your PC is moments from catching fire from throttling, invest in an AIO cooler.

FAQs

What does low-profile mean for a CPU cooler?

A “low-profile” CPU cooler simply means that the cooler is small and discreet. When larger all-in-one (AIO) units are so bulky, sometimes a better investment is a more compact cooling solution. The best low-profile coolers provide great airflow and heatsinks without taking up the entirety of your PC case.

Are Noctua fans worth it?

Though the price is steeper than many other manufacturers, Noctua fans are made from great-quality components and provide highly efficient cooling for a variety of different PC needs.

In Summary

That concludes our ranking of the best low-profile coolers for a range of CPUs. No matter your budget or components, we hope you found the right CPU cooler to match your PC build, without taking up too much space!

Looking to reinvent your PC on a budget? Check out our guide of the best CPUs under $200!

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