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

Cooling Value

[Note: This article was originally published on our US website and so this page and relevant graphics are based on US pricing.]

Intel’s stock cooler is bundled with retail processors, so we naturally can't use its price as a baseline. We instead used the average of all coolers, and find that the SilenX EFZ-100HA2 wins the cooling-to-price comparison. On the other hand, the cheap cooler runs too hot to satisfy any of our needs.

Zalman’s CNPS8900 looks like a great value in a cooler that meets most of our thermal requirements, and its value rating is closely followed by the slightly-warmer Gamer Storm Gabriel and Xigmatek Janus coolers.

Zalman’s CNPS8900 Quiet also has the low fan speed to make it a great overall performer, in the balance of cooling, noise, and price.

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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"