Slim tower CPU coolers make room for both a big fan and memory clearence, but are they powerful enough for an overclocked 6-core Haswell-E CPU?
They might not be light, but they certainly are slim. I'm not talking about professional athletes but single tower CPU coolers. While dual-tower coolers might be the rage for the ragged edge of air-cooled overclocking and can even benefit users who want to cool a hot processor quietly (at reduced fan speeds), installation issues include strict limits on DRAM height and the lack of access to cable connectors. I was even forced to choose alternative memory for my boss's new build because of this. And though big single-towers might not be light, they're certainly lighter than those tubby dual-towers.
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Noctua's NH-U14S is the only single-tower cooler on the list to break past two-pounds, and it's not even the most comparable to the Shadow Rock Slim targeted in today's review. A near match to the NH-U12S, the Shadow Rock Slim gets the "wider" measurement because its fan clips stick out. Even its 135mm fan uses the same 120mm hole spacing, and the second set of clips can hold a second fan with 120mm hole spacing on the back for push-pull airflow upgrades.
Other than the manufacturer, big differences between the Shadow Rock Slim and NH-U12S include the former's highly-polished base, support for ancient LGA 775 processors, aluminum caps on the top of heat pipes, and a completely different mounting method.
Except for LGA 2011x installations, the four screws and clip-on spacers in the top row (in the above photo) hold the cooler's support plate loosely on the motherboard. The middle row of hollow bolts slip through holes in the chrome CPU brackets and are secured with nuts. Builders must then hold the assembled cooler over the CPU, reach behind the motherboard with a screwdriver, and turn those screws into the hollow nuts.
LGA 2011x users get special standoffs to secure the cooler to the motherboard's integrated support mechanism. The cooler's chrome brackets then slip over the standoffs to be secured with nuts. An included wrench assists in tightening the cooler.
The Shadow Rock Slim is narrow enough to fit even between the inner DIMMs of our test motherboard, and leaves enough space on the back to install that second fan without negating that observation.
Let's see how it performs!