If you’re in the market for a low-profile CPU cooler to fit in your small form factor PC, you know that you are looking for four main factors in terms of specifications, and these are the size of the cooler, its cooling performance, the noise output, and, of course, the price. If you have a gaming setup, you might also want some extra visual appeal, like the ever-so-popular RGB light displays. Either way, this article has you covered. Here, we will list the best low-profile CPU cooling fans to fit in your SFF build in 2020.
Best Low Profile CPU Coolers – Our Recommendations
Best Budget Low Profile CPU Cooler (<$15)
The Arctic Alpine 12 is the best budget, low profile air cooler if you just want something that will get the job done; that is if you aren’t looking for overclocking with high-end CPUs. With its 4 locking push-pins and pre-applied MX-2 thermal paste, it’s incredibly easy to install; and with its unique bearing technology, it advertises noise levels of only 22.5 – 24.5 dB at max RPM. Its best selling point, however, is the price. For under $12 this fan is a great value buy for mid-end SFF PC builds.
Best RGB Low Profile CPU Cooler for Gaming
This is probably the coolest looking low-profile RGB fan you can find, so if you’re willing to sacrifice some function for style, this is the right fan for you. Luckily enough, with airflow of 22.63 CFM, four direct-contact aluminum heat pipes, and it’s custom ‘Heat Column’ which increases the direct contact surface area, you won’t have to sacrifice too much in terms of performance. The fan can get a bit loud though, at about a 30dB advertised noise level it may be too noisy for some. All-in-all, for a 74.5mm tall, 92mm, $40 fan, the Cooler Master G100M is a beautiful, solid option to cool your SFF PC.
Best Overall (Performance & Silent) Low Profile CPU Cooler
To be fair, this isn’t just the most silent option, this is the best stand-alone performance option as well. In its low-profile mode the Noctua NH-L12S measures only 70mm in height, and features a Low-Noise Adaptor that has automatic speed controls for the fan. Its 21.4dB of noise output also makes it the quietest low-profile CPU fan in the market. But it doesn’t end there, this fan also includes Noctua’s NT-H1 thermal compound, and its cooling performance is incredible. In measured benchmarks with its 1750 RPM fan speed, it outperforms almost every stand-alone low-profile CPU fan out there. You can currently find the Noctua NH-L12S for $73, including an incredible 6-year warranty.
Best Airflow Low Profile CPU Cooler Setup
Probably the coolest (no pun intended) feature of the Scythe Big Shuriken 3 is that it allows for you to remove its 15mm-thick equipped fan for a regular 25mm thick 120mm fan, thus allowing you to raise the cooling performance for higher-end CPUs and overclocking. This will raise its height from 69mm to 79mm, but if it can fit in your case this is the most efficient cooling option you can find. And what better 25mm thick fan to attach to the Scythe Big Shuriken 3, than the Noctua NF-A12x25 – one of the best 120mm case fans money can buy.
The fact that you can combine the Shuriken 3’s copper base 5 heat-pipe design, its HPMS III spring mounting system, and intelligently cut-design when prevents any physical interference, together with Noctua’s ultra-tight 0.5mm tip clearance, metal-reinforced motor hub, and anti-vibration mounts, make this a match made in heaven. Of course, a pricy match, as all-together this would cost you around $87, but for the cooling performance it provides, it is definitely worth it.