The Ultra-Low Profile CPU Cooler Shootout

By Ari Altman | Published September 15, 2020 | Updated September 15, 2020


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 60 under our belt. That means we have a very good sense of what the best models are, and what makes for a great cooler. While it’s true that coolers can live much longer lives than most PC components, the technology does in fact improve over time. New coolers are coming out all the time, and some of these may just beat the “best” cooler from 2010, 2015, or last year! 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.

So it’s with great pleasure that we share our Best Ultra-Low-Profile CPU Cooler Shootout for 2020. This review features six of the best, most innovative coolers for use in ultra-compact systems, including models from Alpenföhn, ID-Cooling, Noctua, Scythe, and Thermalright. We’d like to thank Alpenföhn, ID-Cooling, Noctua, and Scythe for providing review samples, and to one of our very kind viewers for loaning us his Thermalright cooler for this shootout.

The Test

Here’s the full lineup of competitors, with prices noted:

Our test bench consisted of the following components:

As with all of our reviews at this point and going forward, this review appears exclusively on YouTube, which you can see below. Not only do we show you what comes in the box and share some impressive benchmarks, but we give you a good look at each cooler as well!

Don’t forget to like the video and subscribe to our YouTube channel to get in on all our content as soon as it goes live!

Final Thoughts

Here’s the full list of winners:

  1. Best Cooler Under 60mm: ID-Cooling IS-60 ($43) – this cooler was the quietest, tied for the best temperatures, and was among the cheapest. What’s not to like? It barely fit over our ultra-low profile Vengeance LPX RAM. That’s about it!
  2. Best “Universal Fit” Cooler Under 60mm: Scythe Shuriken 2 ($43) – Thanks to its 58mm height, this little cooler packs a punch, without coming close to causing clearance issues with any component in your system!
  3. Best 47mm Cooler: Alpenföhn Black Ridge ($60) – While hard to find in the US, expensive in Europe, and requiring the use of ultra-low profile RAM, the Black Ridge appears to maximize the cooling potential of a cooler fitting within the Intel-standard height limit of 47mm.
  4. Best Cooler Under 47mm: Noctua NH-L9a-AM4 ($40) – you get typical Noctua quality, low noise, and good performance in an ultra-slim package, and you can increase performance and lower noise further with the Noctua NF-A9 Fan, bringing total height to 49mm.

As always, check out our CPU Cooler Buyer’s Guide, updated quarterly, for all our latest recommendations.

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