Here at TBG, we have a thing for coolers. In fact, at this point, we've tested more coolers than any other PC component, with nearly 40 under our belt. That means we have a very good sense of what the best models are, and what makes for a great cooler. And while it's true that coolers can live much longer lives than most PC components, the technology does in fact improve over time, which means the cooler that someone named "best ever" in 2010 or 2013 almost certainly isn't worth buying today. And that's why we keep at it, testing cooler after cooler in order to make sure we can always give you, or readers, the best advice.
In fact, this isn't even our first low-profile cooler shootout. That would be our 2016 roundup. But much has changed in the intervening three years, with numerous new models being introduced, as well as a whole new line of CPUs to cool, namely AMD's Ryzen AM4 platform, which is what we've adopted for all our cooler shootouts. This time around we've got a total of seven coolers and eight different test configurations. These include two reference coolers from AMD (the Wraith Stealth and Wraith Spire), as well as two coolers from Noctua (the NH-L9x65 and the NH-L12S), a new cooler from Scythe (the Big Shuriken 3, which we're testing with both the thin stock and an optional thick fan), plus the be quiet! Shadow Rock LP and the SilverStone NT06-Pro. Special thanks to each of these companies for providing us with test samples for this review!
Below you can see all the coolers we'll be testing this time around, along with their heights and current selling prices:
- Noctua NH-L9x65 (65mm) - $50
- Noctua NH-L12S (70mm) - $50
- be quiet! Shadow Rock LP (75mm) - $48
- Scythe Big Shuriken 3 (69mm) - $47
- SilverStone NT06-Pro (83mm) - $60
And here are the specs of the mini-ITX system that we used for all testing:
- AMD Ryzen 5 3600 CPU
- Gigabyte B450I Aorus WiFi Motherboard
- Corsair 2x8GB Vengeance LPX DDR4-3200
- SilverStone SG13 Case
- SilverStone SX700-LPT Power Supply
- SilverStone PP08 SFX Adapter
- Noctua NF-A12x25 PWM Case Fan
Yes, indeed, we actually took the time to swap in and out each of the eight cooler configurations to complete the benchmarks for this test, which wasn't easy given that this ITX system had no motherboard backplate cutout!
As with all of our reviews at this point and going forward, this review is in the form of a YouTube video, which you can see below:
If you'd like to just focus on the benchmarks, you can flip to the next page, where we also provide our conclusions.