Eight Low-Profile CPU Coolers For Your Compact PC, Reviewed

Results: Cooling And Fan Speed

Unable to fit into our ASRock M8 project but still barely qualifying as low-profile, Noctua’s NH-L12 leads the cooling charts. Remember that these tests are based on a low CPU core voltage to compensate for reduced cooler capacity.

SilverStone’s NT06-Pro takes second place in the cooling chart, though it wouldn’t have room for air circulation in the M8 chassis. Thermalright’s 2.8”-tall AXP-200R is the best performer to fit that specific enclosure, followed closely by Scythe’s lower-cost Big Shuriken 2 Rev. B.

Adding the included resistor wires to the NH-L12 lowers fan speed significantly, but with only a minor increase in temperature. Higher overclocks might have changed this scenario, but we’re trying to use settings that all of these coolers can support.

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  • LePhuronn
    Zalman CNPS2X conspicuous by its absence - 28mm tall cooler that claims to be able to shift 120W?
  • Sayken
  • tiu_sergiu
    There must be 2 winners
    Nocturna NH-L12 is best quality (Don't forgot about 6 ears of warranty)
    and Zalman CNPS8900 Quiet Smart Buy
  • Haravikk
    I'm a bit surprised by the Noctua offering, as they do have a much smaller only (37mm tall) but then I expect they wanted to use as much space as possible to ensure a good score.

    Also the NH-L12 I believe is compatible with Noctua's NF-A15 which is a 150mm PWM fan with 120mm mounting holes. In my perfect small form factor case I'd swap one of those as the top fan and just use a 150mm side vent as the only exhaust for the case, with other vents as intakes over the major components, or maybe leave off the top fan in favour of fitting an 200mm fan if space allows. That being for a high performance small case anyway, anything more modest I'd probably just go for the 37mm option.

    Another favourite option is Prolimatech's Samuel 17 cool (45mm) plus one of their 140mm x 15mm Ultra Sleek Vortex fans for a total height of ~60mm, which still tops out under 2.5"