Best Low Profile CPU Cooler In 2020: For Small Mini-Itx PC Builds

When considering the discipline of electronic manufacturing, one must deliberate over the pivotal necessity of such a device, that being the cooling system. This, perhaps, gives rise to many questions, the most significant being the reason why an external system must be preferred over the internally-built mechanism.

This brings us to partake in the legendary debate between aftermarket coolers and stock CPU coolers. Here, it must be understood that while an aftermarket cooler is customizable with regards to your hardware requirements, its need solely depends upon the stock coolers adaptability and performance.

Hardware manufacturers today have been consistently supplying the PC market with a multiplicity of functionalities to establish an effective CPU cooling system. Bringing forth exhaustive and diverse ranges in terms of price, mechanisms, and components, “why” becomes one of “what. Following is a list of best low-profile CPU coolers today to persuasively assist you in making the ideal choice for your hardware requirements.

1. Noctua NH-L9

Premium build quality

  • Well-built and easy to install
  • Highly compatible with HTPC builds
  • Fully automatic speed control
  • Not widely compatible (especially with wide-end CPUs)
  • Overpowering temperatures and voltages may taint production quality

Product Dimensions: 3.74 x 1.46 x 3.74 inches | Item weight: 12.2 ounces | Socket compatibility: LGA1150, LGA1155, LGA1156 | Voltage range: 12V

Last Update on 2022-11-08 using Amazon Product Advertising API

Emerging into the computer hardware manufacturing business in 2005, Noctua has established a distinctly reputable primacy as a quality supplier of computer fans and CPU coolers within a decade and a half. Noctua-manufactured products have successfully ventured into the enthusiast-favorite classification, thus testifying the company’s unprecedented hardware engineering legacy.

Noctua’s chain of NH-L9 CPU coolers has been bisected into two designs; the NH-L9i being attributable to Intel and the NH-L9a in association with AMD. The consistent progression of mechanics comes off as a serious impediment for establishing an all-inclusive mounting mechanism, thus causing a need for such variants. The merchandise under question, however, is NH-L9i. This Intel-supported CPU cooler is particularly compatible with LGA115x based HTPCs with a maximum 65W Thermal Design Power.

The nickel-plated commodity, accompanied by its fan, stands at an extremely low-profile of 37mm with a smooth sand grit polishing. The cooler’s basic structure, being predominantly black, be it the fundamental hardware construction to the anti-vibration pads, provides for premium build quality. The 95x95mm footprint, precisely constructed for smaller motherboards, reduces cluster around the CPU socket ensuring effective compatibility.

Aluminum, being a highly conductive alloy, has been used to ideally structure the cooling fins benefiting the coolers with a balanced system of heat transfer. The NF-A9x14 PWM fan accompanies the anatomy. Such a pulse-width-modulated mechanism efficiently regulates the voltage signal, allowing NF-A9 to access fully automatic speed control.

Moreover, with the inclusion of a low noise adapter, the cooler makes the operation of a subdued and authentic set-up with your CPU. However, the users may find difficulty with the system’s approach towards overclocking; therefore, it is advised to maintain operational stability as advised by the manufacturer.

Noctua has always considered its customer value under a considerable account, therefore ensuring a long six-year warranty overall its patented products. Such heartening of buyer requirements testifies to its faithful undertaking.

2. Noctua NH-L12S

Minimal Sound

  • Four heat pipes for even heat transfer
  • An additional low-noise adapter may amplify the maximum fan speed
  • Compatible with an extensive number of sockets
  • It cannot achieve overwhelming temperatures efficiently
  • Difficult to mount the fan

Product Dimensions: 5.04 x 5.75 x 2.76 inches | Item weight: 1.15 pounds | Socket compatibility: Intel 1200, 1150, 1151, 1155, 1156, 1366, 2011, 2011-V3, 2066 - AMD AM2, AM2 +, AM3, AM3 +, AM4, FM1, FM2, FM2 + | Voltage range: 12V

Last Update on 2022-11-08 using Amazon Product Advertising API

As a matter of course, one must not move forward without having sung praises for, at the minimum, two of Noctua’s prodigious pieces, hand-picked from their extensive range of quality manufacturing. Based on the selfsame underlying composition as NH-L12, we present to you NH-L12S, a powerful successor to the company’s unprecedented legacy of computer hardware manufacturing.

Transitioning from Noctua’s award-winning NH-L12, NH-L12S redefines present-day artifices due to integrating its low profile characteristics with premium compatibility and proficiency. However, the fundamental structure, as opposed to the latest design, pivots around a similar ideology of reducing noise creation in a cooler system while also efficiently protecting the mechanics against unwanted heat.

The variations incorporated within the system constitute a labyrinthine nature. First, the incorporation of the NF-A12x15 PWM fan works as an unsung hero establishing supreme control over the automated synchronization of the system’s overall rotational speed with a flow rate of 94.2 m³ / h. By virtue of its compact 70mm build, the cooler comes disciplined for low-profile installations into small enclosures and HTPC domains. The assembly’s central potential howbeit is fueled from Noctua’s tried and trusted hallmark, SecuFirm2 Multisockel mounting system.

Precisely, the cooler’s compatibility with an extensive range of socket kinds and configurations by either of the manufacturers, be it Intel or AMD, is attributable to this particular mechanism. Two sprung screws accompanying the mounting system tend to the need of enlarging the directivity of connection between the CPU and the heatsink.

Due to the CPU fan header to be positioned underneath the cooler, we found it practically difficult to mount the fan. We would appreciate it if Noctua addresses this concern in their later models.

Regarding manufacturing cooling hardware for computers, Noctua has crafted a name synonymous with performance-oriented craftsmanship. The NH-L12S, in particular, homogenizes all rightful enthusiast aspirations into a singular piece of compact manufacturing.

3. Cooler Master MasterAir G100M


  • Affordable for most mid-range systems
  • The wire controller enables easy switching between colors and modes
  • Vapor chamber cooling technology
  • A Molex connector is required for the controller's powering
  • Complicated installation procedure

Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 5.7 x 2.9 inches | Item weight: 0.8 pounds | Socket compatibility: Intel® LGA 2066 / 2011-v3 / 2011 / 1151 / 1150 / 1155 / 1156 / 1366 / 775 AMD® AM4 / AM3+ / AM3 / AM2+ / AM2 / FM2+ / FM2 / FM1 | Voltage range: 12V

Last Update on 2022-11-08 using Amazon Product Advertising API

As William Shakespeare so accurately said and I quote; “Though she is little, she is fierce!” While our next product in question is certainly not a Hermia, but its compact yet tiny exterior, when combined with a savagely operational interior, ideally puts forth a ferocious display of performance.

Plastered with CoolMaster’s trademark vibrant purple, the MasterAir G100M is a 74.5mm low profile CPU cooler equipped with a central heat pipe. It has been designed to function with CoolMaster’s customary vapor-chamber cooling technology, thereby enabling exceptional heat transfer. Within the column, the copper powder and working fluid react on account of a liquid-vapor phase reaction to ensure the precise directivity of energy throughout the system ranging from CPU cooling fins to base.

Considering customer convenience, the G100M comes supplied with RGB LED lighting and an additional wired controller allowing for functioning without a need for software syncing. The high-end 92mm PWM fan with a top-down airflow provides extraordinary thermal results by covering a wide expanse of the area under its influence. As opposed to the traditional heat pipe mechanism, G100M features a copper column, seven times the height of a basic heat pipe.

The automatic cooling of the fan further amplifies the directionality of heat transfer offered by the column. Moreover, the PWM fan also stabilizes the temperature of all surrounding components featured on the motherboard. We found it difficult to connect the G100M with several motherboards due to its low-profile characteristic. Otherwise, the performance of the product was definitely up to the mark.

Supplying extra-ordinary aesthetics in combination with exceptional system operations, the MasterAir G100M can potentially take over the manufacturing market with its RGB compatibility, silent functioning, and compact build.

4. ARCTIC Alpine 11 GT Rev 2.

Low power consumption

  • Considerably quieter than most available CPU coolers
  • Low power consumption
  • Not compatible with any AMD socket
  • Comparatively slower cooling
  • Cannot handle much load

Product Dimensions: 3.5 x 3 x 3.5 inches | Item weight: 0.6 pounds | Socket compatibility: Intel: LGA 1151, 1150, 1155, 1156, 775 | Voltage range: 12V

Last Update on 2022-11-08 using Amazon Product Advertising API

Buyers wandering searching for a suitable course of action that combines efficiency and compatibility into one assembly need not look further. The pocket-friendly and top-rate ARCTIC Alpine 11 GT is the ideal associate for your computer hardware needs. Quiet, effective, and cost-efficient, presenting the best of CPU coolers to you.

The ARCTIC Alpine 11 GT Rev 2. is a worthwhile advancement over most Intel stock coolers. Unlike the customary 0.8 Sone noise production in energy-efficient cooler systems, the professionally built 80 mm fan in the Alpine 11 GT Rev 2. generates only a 0.3 Sone noise level, thereby embellishing its performance with high precision. The automated speed regulation of both the fans regarding the GPU (Graphic Processing Unit) temperature pays an ode to its high-end PWM build that minimizes noise generation to the greatest extent achievable.

The fans operate within a 500 – 2000 RPM silencing any external disruptive noise. A 70W TDP at the extreme is manageable for the system. The unification of a low noise impeller with a patented fan holder further substantiates the reputable cooling system. For enhanced stability and longevity following the installation process, the mounting system has been repurposed through push pins.

A preinstalled thermal compound is located atop the heatsink. This compound makes certain the provision of optimum output nature. We found the push pin mounting system to be the showstopper of the entire assembly as they are compact and much less susceptible to breakage and jamming.

Exceptionally well-manufactured and fully equipped with the best of present-day mechanisms, ARCTIC has supplied us with a premium quality workhorse in the form of Alpine 11 GT Rev 2.

5. Thermaltake Engine 27

Metallic body

  • Beautiful all-metallic compact structure
  • Extremely small footprint offering ease during installation
  • Not pocket-friendly at all
  • Does not support AMD configurations
  • Does not handle higher loads

Product Dimensions: 3.6 x 1 x 3.6 inches | Item weight: 0.8 pounds | Socket compatibility: Intel LGA-1150/1151/1155/1156 | Voltage range: 12V

Last Update on 2022-11-08 using Amazon Product Advertising API

The present-day consumer market provides innumerable solutions against unwarranted PC heat that can eventually damage the components. Be it the customary air cooling technique or one of the contemporary hybrid or liquid procedures; manufacturers are flooding the marketplace with one after another creation. However, cooling systems to pivot around Kinetic Cooling is one distinguishable concept yet to gather much representation. The merchandise under question, therefore, is a solitary embodiment of the ideology mentioned above.

As befits a one of a kind system, the Thermaltake Engine 27 has been specially constructed in a metallic formation with a highly low 60 mm profile.  A single look at the product cannot help but applaud the manufacturers for bringing forth such a distinctive yet powerful design, specifically its fierce forty blade fan construction. The fundamental idea was to produce a gigantic amount of air regardless of its directivity and angle.

Most importantly, the metallic blade rotation aiding the resultant centrifugal force for eventual cooling diminishes disruptive sound, thereby ensuring fresh air to reach the heatsink. Furthermore, the base plate area depends upon the heatsink to directly establish a connection with the heat source, thus providing a sufficient air gap between the base and the heatsink.

We were met with slight disappointment upon the cooler’s management with regards to handling higher loads. However, if your needs concern a mid-range setup, this might just be the thing for you.

The Engine 27 certainly steals the show with seamlessly harmonizing aesthetics and construction despite the massive price range it associates with. To put it concisely, this particular piece by Thermaltake is a small, silent, and satisfying performer as opposed to any other in its respective domain.

Dean Westley

A prolific techie as well as gamer, Dean Westley has been into the tech and gaming world for quite long. He has extensive experience in both fields, gaming and hardware components that leads him to create creative content, and comes up with engaging narratives which are entertaining and informative as well.

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