A Low Profile CPU Cooler is thoughtfully designed to provide the ultimate cooling performance packaged into the smallest unit possible while remaining whisper-quiet and maintaining optimal power efficiency. How does it manage to accomplish so much in such a visibly deceiving form factor? Let’s dive deeper into the details.
Low Profile coolers incorporate tiny heatsinks paired with comparatively smaller fans (running at generally higher speeds). In addition, a radiator will be horizontally sandwiched on top of or below the CPU cooler instead of the standard vertical mounting found on conventional CPU coolers. This helps maintain the miniature unit size while minimizing impedance between the CPU cooler and neighboring PC components such as the RAM modules, M.2 SSD slot, or gigantic GPUs, providing unmatched clearance.
Take a look at our selections for the Best Low Profile CPU Coolers:
Last update on 2023-06-09
These small coolers also prove themselves to be the most efficient CPU coolers in terms of power consumption and noise production. Since these coolers can only handle CPUs with a specific TDP (often underwhelming), they tend to sip power in unnoticeable amounts while maintaining a virtually inaudible sound profile thanks to the radiator dampening any noise produced by the vibratory motion of the fan.
Best Low Profile CPU Coolers
Following are our picks:
- be quiet! Shadow Rock LP
- Noctua NH-L9a-AM5 chromax.black
- Noctua NH-L9a-AM4
- Noctua NH-L9i Chromax.Black
- Enermax Aquafusion 120
be quiet! Shadow Rock LP
Best Overall Low Profile CPU Cooler
Specifications: Type: Single fan Low Profile Air Cooler | Fan: Pure Wings 2 120mm PWM fan | Fan Speed: 1500RPM | TDP: 130W | RGB: No | Dimensions: 134.11 x 121.92 x 75.44 mm | Socket Support: AMD: AM4, Intel Compatibility: 1700 / 1200 / 2066 / 1150 / 1151 / 1155 / 2011(-3) Square ILM
- Efficient cooling performance
- Easy installation
- High Socket compatibility
- No RGB
- Restricted airflow
- RAM compatibility
be quiet! is a German company whose products are known for their low noise level, exceptional performance, and sleek design. Shadow Rock LP is be quiet!’s new addition to low-profile CPU coolers designed for compact PC builds, having a wide range of socket compatibility for both Intel and AMD.
Regarding the design, Shadow Rock LP features a low-profile design that measures only 75.4mm in height. It features a black anodized aluminum top cover and nickel-plated copper heat pipes that provide both durability and efficient heat transfer. Additionally, the cooler is designed with a wave-contoured cooling fin structure that helps to increase airflow and reduce noise levels, while the included Pure Wings 2 fan further improves the cooling performance.
It also features 4x 6mm heat pipes that transfer heat from the copper base plate to aluminum fins; the heat pipes are arranged in a U-shaped and make direct contact with the CPU for efficient heat transfer. However, the design does not feature any sort of RGB lighting.
As discussed earlier, Shadow Rock LP has a 120mm Pure Wings 2 PWM fan with a unique airflow-optimized fan blade design. The fan blades are specially shaped and spaced to create a smooth and efficient airflow path, which helps to minimize turbulence and noise while maximizing cooling performance; the fan operates at a speed of 1500 RPM and has a noise level of only 25.5 dbA and is designed to deliver an airflow of upto 51.4 CFM. However, the slim design may limit compatibility with cases with restricted airflow, which could impact the cooler’s performance.
Furthermore, the cooler has an included mounting kit and instructions, making the installation easy; it may limit compatibility with RAM modules with tall heatsinks, restricting RAM options for some builds.
Moreover, this cooler provides efficient cooling performance even under heavy loads and is designed to handle CPUs with TDP up to 130W, which makes it suitable for a wide range of systems.
When paired with AMD Ryzen 5 5600X for thermal testing, Shadow Rock LP enabled the CPU to deliver a frequency of 4.7GHz while maintaining a temperature up to a maximum of 75°C when subjected to heavy workloads.
What we liked:
There are several things to like about be quiet! Shadow Rock LP like its quiet operation, efficient cooling performance, and easy installation process.
What we disliked:
While Shadow Rock LP is a great choice for many PC builds, there are a few things to consider that may be seen as disadvantages, such as its low RAM compatibility, airflow restrictions, and absence of RGB.
What sets be quiet! Shadow Rock LP from its competitors?
Shadow Rock LP is compatible with most Intel and AMD sockets, and its advanced cooling features, such as the Pure Wings 2 fan and wave-contoured fin structure, set it apart from other coolers.
In summary, the Shadow Rock LP air cooler is an excellent low-profile cooler with efficient cooling performance and low noise levels; its advanced cooling features make it the best cooler on the market, while its low profile and ease of installation make it a great option for compact PC builds. All these sparkling features make it the Best Overall Low Profile CPU Cooler on our list.
Noctua NH-L9a-AM5 chromax.black
Best AM5 Low Profile CPU Cooler
Specifications: Type: Single-fan Low Profile Air Cooler | Fan: NF-A9x14 PWM fan | Fan Speed: 600-2500RPM | TDP: 100W | RGB: No | Dimensions: 114 x 92 x 37mm | Socket Support: AMD AM5
- Low Noise
- Aesthetic Black design
- Provides adequate clearance for RAM and PCIe
- 6-years warranty
- No RGB
Noctua is a well-known PC peripherals manufacturer famous for its exceptionally performing CPU Coolers. One of the latest additions to their arsenal of products is the NH-L9a-AM5 chromax.black, the black version of Noctua’s low-profile NH-L9a-AM5.
Talking about the design first, the NH-L9a-AM5 has a 37mm low profile because of its slim 23mm heatsink and NF-A9x14 fan, which is only 14mm thick; its low profile makes it an ideal choice for relatively smaller cases. Moreover, the heatsink, fan, and other parts are all black colored, making it an aesthetically appealing air cooler. It does not include RGB, which might be an issue for some, but still, the all-black design makes it quite an elegantly designed air cooler.
Additionally, installation of NH-L9a-AM5 is quite easy, and its low profile provides 100% clearance for both the RAM and PCIe slots; Noctua has designed it to keep out of socket zones, thus providing sufficient space for tall memory modules and PCIe cards.
In order to achieve adequate performance, many low-profile coolers employ larger fans or heatsinks, but because they protrude over the socket zone, they make it challenging or impossible to access near-socket connections on compact motherboards. However, the NH-L9a-AM5 offers simple access to all connections and components.
Furthermore, NH-L9a-AM5 comes with a single NF-A9x14 fan, which has a rotational speed of 600-2500 RPM with a maximum airflow of up to 57.5m³/h and extremely low noise levels of up to 23.6 dbA. Moreover, the fan includes a low noise adaptor which reduces the speed of the cooler from 2500 to 1800RM, making it almost silent when used with CPUs that produce less heat.
In addition, NH-L9a-AM5 provides an optional fan duct kit that enables the cooler to pull in outside air through the perforated panel, which, depending upon the configuration, can improve CPU temperatures by up to 5°C or more.
NH-L9a-AM5 has a maximum thermal design rating of 100W, which is good for air coolers. In terms of voltage consumption, this cooler is very efficient and has a maximum power consumption of 1.2W; additionally, the fan uses a DC motor that requires 12V to operate at a maximum speed.
In thermal testing, the NH-L9A-AM5 was tested on AMD Ryzen 7700X, which has a base clock of 4.5GHz and a boost clock of 5.4GHz. At first, the cooler lets the CPU maintain a frequency of 4.69GHz, which may fall below the base clock under longer durations. However, on using PBO (Precision Boost Overdrive), which allows the processor to run beyond the defined voltage values and boost at higher voltage values longer, with a temperature limit of 85°C, it was seen that the cooler was able to maintain a frequency of 5.01GHz under multi-core loads and on single-core loads cooler enabled the CPU to provide a continuous 5.40GHz boost clock.
Noctua also offers a 6-year manufacturer warranty for NH-L9a-AM5 along with the high performance, which makes this cooler highly reliable and user-favorite in the market.
What We Liked
Many features are worth mentioning about the NH-L9a-AM5 chromax.black, including its extremely low noise output, compatibility with RAM and PCIe, and all-black stealth look.
What We Disliked
Although NH-L95-AM5 chromax.black is a high-performing CPU Cooler, users who prefer RGB lighting may consider its absence as a drawback of this cooler.
What sets Noctua NH-L9a-AM5 chromax.black apart from its competitors?
Noctua NH-L9a-AM5 comes with a 6-year manufacturer warranty, and its high build quality and compact size are a few of the salient features that make it stand out from its competition.
With its low-profile design, excellent thermal performance, and quiet operation, Noctua NH-L9A-AM5 represents a compelling Best AM5 Low Profile CPU Cooler option for anyone looking to build a small system without sacrificing the high performance.
Best AM4 Low Profile CPU Cooler
Specifications: Type: Single fan Low Profile Air Cooler | Fan: NF-A9x14 PWM fan | Fan Speed: 600-2500RPM | TDP: 95W | RGB: No | Dimensions: 114x92x37mm | Socket Support: AMD AM4
- Compact design
- Quiet Operation
- Excellent build quality
- Wide socket compatibility
- No RGB
- Relatively Expensive
Noctua is widely known for its high-quality air coolers, which is why NH-L9a-AM4 is another product from the company getting featured in the reviews; it is a single-fan air cooler specifically designed for use with the AMD AM4 socket.
One of the most notable features of this cooler is its compact, low-profile design; at only 37mm tall, it is an excellent choice for small form factor builds where space is at a premium. Additionally, the cooler uses high-quality materials, including a copper base, heat pipes, and aluminum fins, which provide efficient heat dissipation; the aluminum fins have a small form factor that allows for better airflow, while the copper heat pipes transfer the heat from CPU to the fins. On top of that, the fan is mounted on Noctua’s SecuFirm2 mounting system, which ensures easy installation and a secure fit. However, it does not feature RGB lighting, which may be a problem for some.
NH-L9a-AM4 has a 92mm fan designed to be powerful and quiet; the fan uses Noctua’s proprietary SSO2 bearing, providing excellent reliability and longevity. Moreover, the fan also has PWM support, which allows it to adjust its speed automatically based on the temperature of the CPU, to provide the ideal balance between performance and noise level. Furthermore, the fan speed ranges from 600-2500 RPM, with a maximum airflow rating of 33.86 CFM and low noise levels of up to 23.6 dbA.
The cooler supports single and dual fan configurations, giving the user flexibility to choose the setup that best suits their need; however, it only comes with a single fan. Unfortunately, it might be expensive compared to other coolers in the market, but all the features it comes with, justify the price tag.
During thermal testing, we paired NH-L9a-AM4 with AMD Ryzen 1700, which was set to run at 3000MHz at 1.00V at first, and it was observed that the temperature was in the 50°C range during the stress testing. However, the Ryzen 1700 was set to run at 3700MHz on all 8 cores at 1.2V afterward; our testing rig’s motherboard was not helpful in properly overclocking the chip; the temperature of 51.4°C was noted on 3700MHz.
Considering a 700MHz rise in frequency, the cooler maintained the temperature very well, giving only a bump of 1.4°C. However, NH-L9a-AM4 works best with processors having a maximum TDP of 95W, as instructed clearly by Noctua, as it might be unable to hold up with greater power draw.
During thermal testing, NH-L9a-AM4 was paired with AMD Ryzen 5 3600 CPU; it maintained temperatures below 80°C even during extended periods of use. It enabled the CPU to boost to its maximum clock speed of 4.2GHz even under load, indicating that the cooler is doing an excellent job.
What We Liked
There are several things to be liked about the Noctua NH-L9a-AM4, like its quiet operation and exceptional build quality, making it a powerful yet efficient CPU cooler.
What We Disliked
While NH-L9a-AM4 is generally a highly regarded CPU cooler, there are a few things that some users may dislike, like the absence of RGB lighting. Additionally, it is relatively expensive, which may deter some users on a tight budget.
What sets Noctua NH-L9a-AM4 apart from its competitors?
Noctua NH-L9a-AM4 is undoubtedly the Best AM4 Low Profile CPU Cooler on the market. Its compatibility with various AMD processors, including the Ryzen, A-Series, and Athlon series, sets it apart.
Overall, NH-L9a-AM4 is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a low-profile air cooler for their AMD AM4-based system, and all the features that it comes with make it an outstanding value for the price.
Noctua NH-L9i Chromax.Black
Best Low Profile CPU Cooler For Intel
Specifications: Type: Single-fan Low Profile Air Cooler | Fan: 1x NF-A9x14 HS-PWM Chromax.Black | Fan Speed: 600-2500 RPM | TDP: 95W | RGB: No | Dimensions: 95 x 95 x 37mm | Socket Support: Intel LGA 1200, 1156, 1155, 1151, 1150 & AMD AM4 (with NM-AM4-L9aL9i)
- Best-in-class performance
- Sleek all-black aesthetic
- Superb build quality
- Virtually inaudible with Low Noise Adaptor
- Unmatched RAM & PCI-e slot clearance
- Slightly limited compatibility out of the box, especially for AMD users
- Little to no overclocking headspace
Noctua needs no introduction in the realm of the PC gaming industry. Known for blessing humanity with some of the Best Low Profile CPU Coolers and conventional air coolers to date, any offering from Noctua automatically earns the approval of renowned journalists worldwide, including our dedicated team’s appreciation here at Tech4Gamers.
Still discontent with the laurels it has to its name, Noctua is once again attempting to dominate the Best Low Profile CPU Cooler niche with the Noctua NH-L9i Chromax.Black. If you haven’t put two and two together already, we want to pour our heart out regarding the positive and negative (if any) aspects of the NH-L9i Chromax.Black. Without any further ado, let’s inspect Noctua’s latest revolution for the Low Profile CPU Cooler.
Starting with thermal dissipation, Noctua has gone ahead with a slim 23mm heatsink, comprising of a pair of U-shaped copper heatpipes possessing an outer diameter of 6mm. These heatpipes make direct contact with the baseplate of the NH-L9i Chromax.Black. Speaking of the baseplate, we’re pleased to inform you that it’s made out of nickel-plated copper for enhanced heat transfer. This baseplate has a radial finish which is smooth enough for an almost mirror-like reflection.
Noctua has also symmetrically tapered off the endpoints of the heatpipes via machine-trimming to round off their Low Profile CPU Cooler with a smooth, elegant look. However, we do want to point out that these endpoints do protrude from the entire unit, slightly detracting from the overall presentation.
Moving onwards, the heatsink also houses 55 black-coated aluminium fins, which have all been densely stacked to create a high FPI (Fins Per Inch) count. These aluminium fins measure 18mm in height and 95mm in width. In conventional air coolers, these fins are press-fitted to the heatpipes. Unfortunately, due to the different thermal expansion coefficients of copper and aluminium, this fitting can loosen over years of air cooling, negatively impacting performance. Noctua, however, has implemented its 17 years of expertise and directly soldered the fins to the heatpipes for perfect contact, ensuring that thermal dissipation won’t be affected, even after several years of usage.
Adding on, Noctua has incorporated their renowned NF-A9x14 HS-PWM Chromax.Black fan in the NH-L9i. Simply said, words can’t do this fan justice. It’s a 92mm PWM-enabled fan, which means it uses a 4-pin connector and can be automatically regulated by your motherboard. The fan has a speed range varying between 600-2500 RPM, producing a maximum airflow of 33.9 CFM and 23.6 dB(A) of noise at 2500 RPM.
Still not happy with such a near-silent sound profile? No worries, Noctua’s got you covered with their Low Noise Adaptor (LNA), which reduces the maximum speed of the fan to 1800 RPM, cutting airflow down to 24 CFM but slashing the noise level by 38% to produce a mere 14.8 dB(A) at top speed. The LNA comes bundled in the packaging, saving you need from buying it separately.
The NF-A9x14 HS-PWM Chromax.Black uses Noctua’s acclaimed SSO2 (Self-Stabilizing Oil-Pressure) bearing system, which has proven itself repeatedly. Improvising upon an already industry-leading bearing, the SSO2 achieves higher precision and increases longevity compared to conventional ball, sleeve, or hydrodynamic bearings. Thanks to the additional magnet that supports the self-stabilization of the rotor axis, Noctua is able to confidently claim an outstanding fan MTTF of more than 150,000 hours which is simply insane!
Still not braking, the NF-A9x14 HS-PWM utilizes Noctua’s flow acceleration channels which speed up the airflow at the outer blade region, thereby reducing the wastage of airflow, leading to enhanced efficiency and a lower sound profile. This prized fan also sports Noctua’s AAO (Advanced Acoustic Optimization) frames which feature integrated Chromax.Black anti-vibration pads, as well as Noctua’s proprietary Stepped Inlet Design and Inner Surface Microstructures, all of which combine to f produce advanced cooling performance and higher efficiency while maintaining an inaudible sound level.
The NF-A9x14 also uses a modular cabling system, coming with a pre-fitted fully sleeved black NA-EC1 cable out of the box, measuring 30cm in length. If you want to mix and match your gaming PC’s colourful aesthetic, Noctua will be more than happy to separately sell you a variety of white, red, blue, green, and yellow 30cm NA-EC1 cables on top of the corresponding NA-YC1 y-cables, which enable you to run two 4-pin PWM fans on a single fan header, letting your motherboard control the speed of both fans simultaneously.
As far as the dimensions are concerned, the Noctua NH-L9i Chromax.Black measures 95 x 95 x 37mm (LxWxH) with the fan (24mm height without the fan). Resultantly, the NH-L9i Chromax.Black boasts full compatibility with even the tallest RAM modules featuring tall heatsinks as well as GPUs occupying the nearby PCIe x16 slot.
Noctua ships the NH-L9i Chromax.Black with a tube of their reputed NT-H1 pro-grade thermal grease, the first choice of gaming enthusiasts and overclockers worldwide, offering minimal thermal resistance for superior thermal dissipation.
Moreover, we’re pleased to report that installing the NH-L9i Chromax.Black is a piece of cake, thanks to Noctua’s custom-designed SecuFirm 2 mounting system, which features a backplate-less installation procedure. Although the NH-L9i Chromax.Black is tailored to precisely fit Intel LGA 1200 & 115X motherboards; you may request Noctua for the NM-AM4-L9aL9i mounting kit, which they’ll supply you free of cost. That being said, we do feel that the NH-L9i exhibits limited compatibility out of the box. Of course, the SecuFirm 2 mounting system, just like all the other components of the NH-L9i Chromax.Black including, but not limited to, the fan, anti-vibration pads, heatsink, aluminium fins are all coated with Noctua’s custom black paint, except for the nickel-plated copper baseplate.
Noctua rates the NH-L9i at a maximum TDP of 95W, although it does recommend not using such a high-wattage processor and refraining from overclocking as well, due to the Low Profile nature of this CPU cooler. Noctua stamps its fantastic 6-year warranty on the back of the NH-L9i (metaphorically speaking), which, when combined with the mind-blowing 150,000+ hour MTTF, puts our mind at ease regarding the durability and longevity aspect of the NH-L9i Chromax.Black.
Last but not least, for trivial purposes, we want you to know that Noctua has included a metallic case badge in the packaging for you to proudly emboss on the front or sides of your gaming PC, but this badge is surprisingly devoid of the Chromax.Black coating.
What We Like:
In all honesty, it’s hard not to sound biased about the Noctua NH-L9i Chromax.Black. That’s because Noctua has won us over with their stealthy black aesthetic combined with premium and rugged built quality.
What We Disliked:
The Noctua NH-L9i Chromax.Black did fail to sustain temperatures once the specified CPU was overclocked past 5.0 GHz, leading to a forceful shutdown which isn’t a surprise since even conventional air coolers and liquid AIOs struggle with that kind of load. You may read our full detailed Review of Noctua NH-l9i chromax.black for more of our thoughts.
What sets the Noctua NH-L9i Chromax.Black apart from its competitors?
The Noctua NH-L9i Chromax.Black rises above the bar with its monochromatic dark look, combining whisper-quiet operation with a revolutionary mounting system backed up by a soothing 150,000 hour MTTF and an extensive 6-year warranty.
There’s a lot to love about the NH-L9i Chromax.Black. Exhibiting unparalleled performance while maintaining an inaudible signature sound profile combined with an exotic all-black aesthetic, right down to the screws holding the heatsink and fan together, the Noctua NH-L9i Chromax.Black is one complete package for all your needs, tailored to deliver jaw-dropping performance in a small form factor PC, proving itself as the Best Mini-ITX Cooler. We have also done an unboxing and video review of the Noctua NH-L9i, be sure to check that out.
Enermax Aquafusion 120
Best Low Profile AIO Cooler
Specifications: Type: Single-fan 120mm AIO | Fan: 1x 120mm Enermax SquA RGB | Fan Speed: 500-2000 RPM | Tube Length: 400mm | TDP: 300W | RGB: Yes | Dimensions: 154 x 120 x 27mm | Socket Support: Intel LGA 1200, 1366, 1156, 1155, 1151, 1150, 2011, 2011-3, 2066 & AMD AM4, AM3+, AM3, AM2+, FM2+, FM2, FM1
- Unique white RGB design with support for all major RGB software
- Dual-chamber Water Block construction
- Extremely high airflow thanks to fan with Vortex frame design
- Decent performance for its size
- Low noise profile
- Enhanced durability and longevity
- Excellent compatibility with all recent CPUs
- Long 400mm sleeved tubing for easier installation in large cases
- Low Profile footprint for Mini-ITX and similarly sized small form factor PCs
- Slightly expensive
- Complicated installation
- 3D Layer Design with Aurabelt may not appeal to everyone
Enermax has been throwing out PC peripherals, including PSUs, casings, and coolers (AIOs specifically), amongst various PC components. The Taiwanese-based company is renowned for creating some of the best PSUs and AIOs to date, and Enermax has done it again with the Aquafusion 120 AIO. Let’s find out why it’s the Best Low Profile AIO CPU Cooler.
Enermax is using an aluminum radiator that utilizes meticulously designed channels put together with thin aluminum fins resulting in a higher heat exchange capacity. The radiator is paired with a cold plate built from copper where the Enermax Aquafusion 120 uses a ceramic pump bearing for enhanced heat dissipation whilst reducing noise levels and increasing longevity as Enermax rates the pump’s MTTF (Mean-time-to-failure) at a decent 50,000 hours, which should comfortably net you 6-9 years of functionality, if not more, without any serious issues. The pump’s maximum voltage and current uptake are rated at 12V and 0.7A, respectively, making for an efficient operation.
Regarding the waterblock, Enermax has implemented a proprietary dual-chamber design which is also patented by Enermax. It combines a CCI (Central Coolant Inlet) structure with an SCT (Shunt-Channel Technology) on the cold plate, both of which ultimately allow the Aquafusion 120mm AIO to inject coolant at the hottest areas of the CPU to minimize the impact of heat surges. The specialized design also helps shorten the coolant flow path, resulting in increased heat dissipation, up to 30% higher.
Much to the satisfaction of our RGB palate, the improvised waterblock is complete with a 3D Layer Design utilizing Enermax’s ‘Aurabelt,’ which can display a unique rainbow effect alongside the usual suite of 16.8 million colors. When paired with the exclusive white design, the Enermax Aquafusion 120 stands out from the variety of Low Profile AIO units currently available in the market.
Complementing the sophisticated design is Enermax’s extensive support for all major RGB software ecosystems (via 3-pin RGB), including ASUS Aura Sync, Razer Chroma RGB, Gigabyte RGB Fusion 2.0, ASRock Polychrome Sync, MSI Mystic Light Sync and Enermax’s proprietary addressable RGB software as well. Don’t have an aRGB header on your motherboard? Nothing to fret over, Enermax has you covered with their own RGB control box, which allows users to choose between 10 preset lighting effects, brightness, and speed.
Enermax has incorporated one of its 120mm SquA RGB fans which feature a square-shaped addressable RGB appearance coupled with a reinforced vortex frame design. Thanks to the vortex frame design, the Enermax Aquafusion 120’s fan can generate concentrated airflow up to a maximum of 79.8 CFM, which is unparalleled for an AIO of such a small size. The enlarged blade surface contributes to the high airflow (which is 40% higher on average than traditional round-shaped fans).
As outlined in the previous portion, the fan is RGB-capable, of course, and PWM, meaning your motherboard can automatically control the fan speed between a range of 500-2000 RPM depending upon your use-case scenario. Under full load, temperatures may cross the 80C threshold, but this is to be expected since the 120mm size is the Aquafusion 120’s limiting factor in terms of performance. Nevertheless, the Aquafusion 120 performs handsomely for a cooler of its category, allowing slight overclocking clearance while maintaining a maximum sound profile of 32.6 dBA as far as the SquA fan is concerned. To our delight, Enermax rates the fan MTTF at more than 100,000 hours which is terrific news for users concerned about longevity.
Delving into further detail, we’re happy to report you won’t run into any problems should you choose to install the Enermax Aquafusion 120 in medium to tower-sized PCs, even though it was built while keeping small form factor (SFF) PCs in mind. That’s because Enermax has graciously provided 400mm worth of premium thick-sleeved tubing connecting the radiator to the waterblock. Enermax also includes Dow Corning TC-5121C thermal paste in the packaging, which admittedly won’t break records anytime soon.
Making up for the few minor quirks it presents, the Enermax Aquafusion 120 is compatible with just about all the recent CPUs from the likes of Intel and AMD released in the past several years. Moving onwards to the installation procedure, Enermax has made it slightly cumbersome, thanks to the abnormally thick tubing. You may need to strategically position on either side of the glossy acrylic waterblock depending upon the respective clearance your motherboard offers in both those areas. Finally, Enermax backs up the Aquafusion 120 with a 5-year warranty, giving potential buyers peace of mind regarding durability.
What We Like
From one-of-a-kind white design to great performance, there is so much to love about the Enermax Aquafusion 120mm is that we can’t point out one thing.
What We Disliked
We feel Enermax could’ve slimmed down the tubing a notch since it would contribute to a more user-intuitive installation experience. Adding on, the Enermax SquA RGB fan design and the Aurabelt with its 3D layer design may not appeal to everyone aesthetically speaking since, for better or for worse, the Aquafusion 120mm AIO sits in its own class in terms of looks.
What sets the Enermax Aquafusion 120 apart from its competitors?
Apart from its performance, what sets the Enermax Aquafusion 120 apart from its competitors is its white-themed aesthetic which is capable of being lit up with customized RGB effects.
Hoping you don’t find the installation process exhausting and the general design of the AIO itself somewhat quirky, you’ll be good to go with the Aquafusion 120. Offering what may be subjectively classified as the most graceful White 120mm AIO, revamped with improved cooling performance, playful RGB capabilities and extensive compatibility, not to mention the main strength of this AIO i.e. the ideal Low Profile construction, we hope you’re thinking along the same lines as us. All in all, we formally bestow the Enermax Aquafusion 120 with the Best Low Profile AIO Cooler award.
Cooler Master MasterAir G200P
Best Low Profile RGB CPU Cooler
Specifications: Type: Single-fan Low Profile Air Cooler | Fan: 1x Cooler Master 92mm PWM | Fan Speed: 800-2600 RPM | TDP: 95W | RGB: Yes | Dimensions: 95 x 92 x 39.4mm | Socket Support: Intel LGA 1200, 1156, 1155, 1151, 1150, 2011, 2011(-3), 2066 & AMD AM4, AM3+, AM3, AM2+, AM2, FM2+, FM2, FM1
- Snazzy RGB
- Dedicated RGB controller included
- Fantastic universal compatibility
- Ultra-low profile with excellent clearance for any RAM modules
- Detrimental performance
- Unaesthetic cable management
- Slightly complicated installation procedure
- Only 2-year warranty
The name of Cooler Master is synonymous with high-end PC components such as exotic PC casings, PSUs, and of course, cooling solutions. Based out of Taiwan, Cooler Master has been coming up with some of the best conventional air coolers and liquid AIOs (All-in-One). However, this time, Cooler Master went all in, attempting to claim the award for the Best Low Profile CPU Cooler with their Cooler Master MasterAir G200P, a hyper-compact CPU cooler designed to output the best RGB lighting you’ve seen in a cooler of such small size. Evidently, Cooler Master could’ve gone with a name that doesn’t stress our tongues out. Nonetheless, let’s spill the beans to discuss whether the MasterAir G200P lives up to its name or not.
To begin with, Cooler Master is using a specialized ‘C’ or U-shaped dual-heatpipe design (depending upon the angle you view it from) for the MasterAir G200P. These heatpipes are made out of copper, and Cooler Master has graciously terminated the endpoints contributing to a cleanly machined appearance. The elegant heatpipes are paired with a black plastic backplate. Sandwiched between are a total of 55 fins measuring 88mm and 19mm in terms of width and height, respectively.
Moving on, Cooler Master implemented a proprietary 92mm 4-pin PWM fan with a low profile height of 15.4mm, which can mosey down to 800 RPM but speed up to 2600 RPM when the going gets hot. Subsequently, the MasterAir G200P produces a maximum of 35.5 CFM of airflow, which is somewhat disappointing but expected for such a Low Profile CPU Cooler. It’s essential to note that while Cooler Master boasts a sound profile varying between 6-28 dB(A), the MasterAir G200P’s fan tends to become annoyingly loud near max speeds since the cooler struggles to reduce temperatures in an efficient and effective manner.
Cooler Master has optimized the MasterAir G200P to run the 92mm fan at a maximal static pressure of 2.4 mm H2O with the fan said to sip 1.44W of power at a rated current of 0.12A, even when under full load. Unfortunately, Cooler Master rates this fan’s MTTF (Mean Time To Failure) at a comparatively lower 40,000 hours, whereas competitors claim MTTFs ranging anywhere between 50,000 to an astounding 100,000 hours!
Let’s venture into the main stronghold of the MasterAir G200P. Cooler Master has incorporated 9 white fan blades within the 92mm PWM fan, all of which have diffusers underneath because the Cooler Master MasterAir G200P can showcase the most beautiful RGB amongst any of our chosen Low Profile RGB CPU Coolers. The diffusers make sure that the RGB doesn’t tail off towards the endings of the fan blades.
Furthermore, a 4-pin 12V RGB connection needs to be established should you want to take advantage of the MasterAir G200P’s RGB capabilities. However, this 4-pin LED cable won’t be compatible with 3-pin 5V A-RGB headers on your motherboard, which slightly irritates us because the 3-pin 5V connection is the most popular one favoured by both consumers and manufacturers alike. That being said, Cooler Master does soften the blow by including a proprietary wired RGB controller in the box that allows you to control the brightness of the fan’s RGB and the ability to switch between numerous colours and various preset modes by way of three physical buttons.
It needs to be said that the Cooler Master MasterAir G200P leaves a lot of room for improvement in terms of cable management. Cables have been spread out all over the place, specifically in the fan assembly, much thanks to the addition of the LED cables. It feels as if cable management was an afterthought for the MasterAir G200P, and it shows Cooler Master’s lack of attention to detail.
Nonetheless, you’ll be happy to hear that the Cooler Master MasterAir G200P is compatible with RGB software from all major motherboard manufacturers, including ASUS AuraSync, ASRock Polychrome Sync, Gigabyte RGB Fusion 2.0, and MSI Mystic Light Sync.
With respect to the installation procedure, it is slightly complicated since the MasterAir G200P doesn’t have any hand-accessible screws, which is why there isn’t any use for the milling that’s been carried out amid the low profile cooler.
The build quality could also be improvised since the MasterAir G200P has an aluminium matte finish which has a certain degree of flex to it. However, the cooler does become more rigid when installed.
Redesigning the nuts would’ve paved the way for a more effortless installation experience. Even so, the MasterAir G200P has a slightly offset mounting position, so the interfering wires beneath don’t pose much of an issue.
Moreover, the Cooler Master MasterAir G200P sports unrivalled compatibility, offering socket support for just about all the recent CPU releases from Intel and AMD in the past several years, as stated in the enlisted specifications. However, we did notice that LGA 1700 compatibility for the newest Alder Lake CPUs from Intel isn’t mentioned, so you would be better off contacting Cooler Master beforehand to see if they’ll provide you with a mounting kit. On that note, feel free to check out the Best LGA 1700 Coolers!
It’s pertinent to mention that Cooler Master has included a tube of Cooler MasterPro thermal compound, which you’ll need to apply on the copper plate before mounting the MasterAir G200P. Lastly, Cooler Master stands by the cooler with a 2-year warranty, which, safe to say, is very disappointing considering rivals are offering comprehensive 4-6 year warranties. Consequently, this move from Cooler Master does raise doubts in our minds regarding the longevity and durability of the MasterAir G200P, which remains to be seen.
What We Like
The Cooler Master MasterAir G200P dazzles us with its RGB setup, with Cooler Master providing a wired RGB controller in the box and offering support for all RGB software designed by the major motherboard manufacturers in the industry.
Additionally, the MasterAir G200P sports universal compatibility with almost all CPUs released by Intel and AMD in the past few years, including mounting kits and separate brackets for all supported processors in the packaging.
Even though this article is focused on showing you our selection of the Best Low Profile CPU Coolers specially designed for a Mini-ITX gaming PC, the ultra-compact design of the Cooler Master MasterAir G200P can’t go unhighlighted. Bearing a profile only 39.4mm tall, it’s one of the thinnest Low Profile coolers on the market and ensures a snug fit in small PCs with ample clearance for surrounding components.
What We Dislike
Firstly, the MasterAir G200P is punching way above its weight class in terms of pricing, offering perhaps one of the worst price-to-performance ratios we’ve ever seen. Speaking of performance, the MasterAir G200P severely disappoints us, with benchmarks and real-world testing showing basic stock CPU coolers from Intel at about one-fifth of the price, surpassing the Cooler Master MasterAir G200P in terms of cooling performance.
Progressing further into one of the MasterAir G200P’s quirks, it seems as if CoolerMaster forgot about the cable management system entirely until the very end, making for an unpleasant viewing experience. Coupled with the somewhat complicated installation, the MasterAir G200P slightly frustrates us.
Bundled with just a 2-year warranty, Cooler Master disappoints us again, especially if you remember that the MasterAir G200P’s 92mm fan is rated at a lower MTTF of 40,000 hours. Combined with the ‘meh’ warranty period, this does raise suspicions regarding the cooler in terms of longevity and durability, meaning users that are looking to future-proof their gaming PCs might want to search for an alternative.
What sets the Cooler Master MasterAir G200P apart from its competitors?
Cooler Master has left us agape with their starry RGB setup on the MasterAir G200P. Having kindly included a proprietary RGB controller in the packaging for users who don’t have the corresponding header on their motherboards, Cooler Master impresses us with its thoughtfulness as well as the hyper-compact profile suitable for SFF gaming PCs, proving itself a worthy contender for the Best Mini-ITX Low Profile Cooler.
Bluntly speaking, the Cooler Master MasterAir G200P has one flaw too many for us to brush them under the carpet. Performing worse than the competition while commanding an unreasonable price point bundled with a comparatively weaker warranty, the MasterAir G200P is a tough bargain for sure.
However, once you look past the MasterAir G200P’s shortcomings, and let the RGB fireworks envelop you, a department where Cooler Master has proven itself successful, the Low Profile CPU Cooler does leave some food for thought, depending upon whether you prioritize your visual aesthetic or pure performance.
The MasterAir G200P is certainly unbalanced since it leans heavily into the tricks it has up its sleeves for RGB, seemingly disregarding cooling performance. You’d really want to up the ante on your PC’s aesthetics should you decide to go with this cooler from the reputed Taiwanese manufacturer, assuming you’ll manage to swallow the price tag.
We want to finish by saying Cooler Master isn’t a new entrant to the CPU cooling industry, so it definitely knows what it’s doing. While Cooler Master offers a higher TDP rating of 95W, we recommend not using such a high-wattage CPU with the MasterAir G200P. That being said, the Cooler Master MasterAir G200P achieved what it set out to do, claiming the award for being the Best Low Profile RGB CPU Cooler in 2023.
Benefits of Low Profile CPU Cooler
Low Profile CPU Coolers are best suited to miniature gaming systems, the majority of which sport a Mini-ITX form factor or similarly designed chassis with airflow that is usually restricted at best.
Thanks to their tiny heatsinks and concise sizing, all of the Best Low Profile CPU Coolers leave plenty of space for the remaining PC components such as the RAM modules, M.2 SSDs, and of course, your precious GPU.
Smaller fans are notoriously reputed for being louder since they have to spin at comparatively higher RPMs to maintain optimal airflow. However, Low Profile coolers obliterate this myth since they’re famously silent and give even some of the best conventional air coolers from Noctua and BeQuiet! a run for their money. If you haven’t put two and two together already, this is thanks to the horizontal positioning of the radiator on top of or below the fan. Thus, the radiator serves a dual purpose by acting as a sound dampener as well.
It’s essential to note these smaller fans might still be audible when being run at top speed, which you’ll get used to since even moderately heavy usage scenarios will get the fans ramped. Sound profiles will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.
Drawbacks of Low Profile CPU Cooler
Sadly speaking, even the Best Low Profile CPU Coolers will generally struggle to give you some overclocking headroom, if any, at all. These CPU coolers already work hard enough as it is to keep high temperatures at bay under typical workloads, let alone gaming or overclocking usage scenarios. This is because manufacturers are forced to compromise on the cooler’s heatsink and radiator in order to package the unit into one nifty size, which ultimately results in comparatively sacrificed airflow and reduced performance.
As with all other Mini-ITX compatible components, the Low Profile CPU Coolers won’t come cheap, generally speaking. High-performance Low Profile Coolers from industry-leading manufacturers such as Noctua lead the way in terms of pricing. You’d be able to snag a moderately strong to high-end conventional air cooler for the same price with a far better price-to-performance ratio, but then you’d be dealing with a larger overall profile as well.
There’s nothing new about the fact that the smaller fans employed in Low Profile coolers are constantly run at comparatively higher speeds. That’s why you might be looking at a potentially earlier fan failure than other conventional air coolers on the market since the smaller fans are subject to more stress. This does raise durability and longevity concerns, but as you’ll see further in this article, we’ll be explaining and detailing the methods in which manufacturers back up their offerings for the Low Profile CPU Coolers, including, but not limited to warranties and after-sales services.
Who Should Get These
Gamers seeking a competent cooling solution to fit inside a Mini-ITX chassis should definitely consider purchasing a Low Profile CPU Cooler. These cheap CPU coolers are usually the easiest to install, thanks to their highly insignificant size. This makes it a no-brainer choice for anyone having potential problems with RAM clearance or perhaps installing an M.2 SSD due to interference from the CPU Cooler’s heatsink. You won’t run into any issues should you wish to install even the most monstrous triple fan GPUs from the likes of Nvidia and AMD. Low Profile coolers also aid air circulation in gaming systems with restricted airflow.
Bear in mind, gamers looking to eke out every last percent of performance out of their CPUs and collectively entire gaming PC via overclocking would fare better with a conventional CPU cooler, or perhaps a 240mm or larger AIO (All-in-One) cooling solution if you can manage to snag one. Those coolers tend to feature comparatively massive heatsinks, coupled with larger radiators and fans amongst other vital components for optimal airflow and enhanced heat dissipation to give you slight-to-extreme overclocking headspace.
On the contrary, gamers prioritizing to make use of the smallest spaces available or for building a Home-Theatre PC on the off-chance would be satisfied with a Low Profile CPU Cooler since these coolers focus on maximizing space savings through minimizing unit sizing, slimming down on the radiator, fan, and heatsinks to achieve such a tiny form factor.
How We Tested
All of the chosen Low Profile CPU Coolers undergo comprehensive research here at Tech4Gamers, after which we take into account our proficient analytics, combined with in-house reviewing and testing (if possible). We also compare real-world performance benchmarks under idle, typical, and heavy/gaming/overclocking workloads. Not to forget, we cross-match noise levels to present a completely objective perspective of each Low Profile cooler in every aspect.
How We Picked
Selecting the Best Low Profile CPU Cooler isn’t a job well-suited for the faint-hearted since you’ll need to consider several factors. Nevertheless, you’re the one who has to make the decision ultimately. For your convenience, we’ve mentioned and explained a couple of crucial points to brood over while attempting to complete your quest for handpicking the Low Profile CPU cooler in accordance with your unique workflows.
Every Low Profile cooler will introduce itself at a unique price point, determined by its relative cooling performance, build quality, general design, and aesthetics (including RGB capabilities, if any), not to forget manufacturer support and bundled accessories, which varies amongst even the Best Low Profile CPU coolers. Therefore, it’s essential to keep a specific budget in mind, so you’ll know whether it’s feasible for you to splurge on some of the fancier Low Profile coolers around or compromise on perhaps RGB lighting, for example, going ahead with a functionality-oriented high-performance cooler instead.
An essential aspect of a Low Profile cooler would be the relative performance it offers. The fan’s specs, including the max RPMs alongside the amount of airflow it produces, are of utmost importance, not to mention the size of the heatsink and the FPI (Fins Per Inch) count (the higher, the better).
For a Low Profile AIO (All-in-One) CPU Cooling solution, you should keep the pump speed in mind as well. Generally speaking, the higher the pump speed, the cooler your CPU will run. Some of the Best AIOs will even offer dedicated VRM fans for keeping the VRMs (Voltage Regulator Module) on your motherboards cool, which helps within heavy usage/overclocking scenarios.
Even the Best Low Profile CPU Coolers will differentiate from each other in terms of operational efficiency. That’s why it’s crucial to choose a CPU Cooler with the capacity (and some extra clearance) to capably cool down your entire PC alongside the CPU without needing to induce thermal throttling to maintain satisfactory temperatures.
For example, if you happen to be running an AMD Ryzen 9 5950X, the TDP (Thermal Design Process) for that processor is rated at 105W, so you should be searching for a cooler rated at 110-130W+ so as to give you slight overclocking clearance as well, should the day ever come for that.
Smaller fans have a tendency to be noisier, so it’s for the best if you choose a Low Profile cooler with a larger fan since it’ll be able to spin at lower speeds but produce the same amount of airflow, albeit with far less noise.
Aesthetics and Build Quality
Manufacturers tend to distinguish their respective offerings for the Low Profile CPU Coolers by offering their unique take on the cooler’s aesthetics and build quality. Some brands might opt for more premium construction and dazzling RGB capabilities, leading to a higher price tag. In contrast, others may favour a slightly unexotic or more practical approach, sacrificing their design flair for perhaps improvised cooling performance and, with luck, a lower cost price.
It’s no surprise that even some of the Low Profile CPU Coolers will not be compatible with your particular CPU since every cooler has a differing mounting procedure and installation process. Manufacturers may launch two variants of the same cooler, one for Intel and the other for the AMD guys and gals. That’s why it’s essential to cross-match your desired Low Profile cooler’s support for the processor you’re planning to pair it with. As you must’ve already noticed, for your convenience, we’ve already highlighted all the CPU sockets that are supported by each of the Low Profile CPU Coolers.
(Sidenote: If you’re showing off the all-new Intel Alder Lake CPUs, you may reach out to the coolers’ manufacturers to see if they’ll provide you with an upgrade kit for the LGA 1700 socket, should you wish to utilize any of the Low Profile CPU Coolers listed above, and of course, assuming the manufacturer hasn’t already included the kit in the packaging.
That being said, have a look at our recognized list of the Best LGA 1700 CPU Coolers as well!)
We make it a habit of closely scrutinizing each of the Low Profile CPU Coolers listed in terms of after-sales customer service care provided by each manufacturer, keeping in mind past experiences and track records while also inspecting the MTTF of individual components such as the fan, pump (if any), and the entire unit itself. Of course, we don’t let warranty periods slide by, actively encouraging manufacturers to stand by their products for an extended period of time, often up to 6-years.
Why You Should Trust Our Judgement
With over twelve years of experience in the tech and gaming industry, our dedicated team has been refined consistently to produce a potent group of knowledgeable individuals who are known to relay the most accurate information to our valued consumers, thanks to the extensive research and reviewing we conduct before we publish every piece of journalism.
In addition to this, we have been explicitly featured on a majority of the top-notch gaming and tech brands, such as Gigabyte, MSI, Asus, DeepCool, just to name a few, as reliable and trusted sources for Hardware and Technology.
Subsequently, we instill confidence in our esteemed consumers, who may rely on us to give them the best advice for building, customizing, and modifying their personal gaming computers.
Frequently Asked Questions
Low Profile CPU Coolers will generally outperform Stock CPU Coolers from Intel and AMD. That’s because the aftermarket low profile coolers are specially designed to deliver cutting-edge performance using the smallest spaces available, making use of advanced radiators with a high FPI count, high-speed fans, premium copper heat pipes, to name a few components, which keep high temperatures at bay much better comparatively speaking.
You should only splurge on one of the Best Low Profile CPU Coolers if you’re fully geared towards building a Mini-ITX gaming system. These CPU coolers tend to sacrifice with much thinner and less-dense heatsinks in order to be packaged into a tiny unit. This is why conventional CPU coolers would usually outperform some Low Profile CPU coolers in any given situation.
Generally speaking, it’s not recommended to overclock your expensive CPU using Low Profile CPU Coolers. That’s because these low-profile coolers are designed for tiny gaming PCs which have restricted airflow with the primary aim to keep the CPU temperatures down. You’d fare much better with a conventional air cooler from reputed industry-leading manufacturers such as Noctua or BeQuiet, for example, should you want to push your CPU to its limits via overclocking since these traditional coolers have much larger heatsinks and denser radiators for enhanced thermal dissipation. These factors combine to provide you with comparatively improved overclocking clearance.
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