Whenever you build a small form factor or mini-ITX gaming PC, you will definitely need a low profile CPU cooler to take care of the heat. And if you have planned to get more out of your gaming processor, then you have to look for the best low profile CPU coolers for overclocking.
Now, there are a lot of good quality CPU coolers for mini-gaming PCs, but not every one of them is meant for overclocking. So we are going to discuss the low profile air coolers that can keep your CPU cooler on higher clock speeds.
Keep in mind that we are not talking about completely overclocking your CPU. So you cannot expect an air cooler for Mini-ITX PC to perform like a high-end CPU cooler. With small CPU air coolers, you can overclock your processor up to 10% or less.
Top 5 Best Low Profile CPU Coolers for Overclocking
Let’s review some of the top-performing CPU coolers with decent performance when it comes to achieving higher clock speed.
1. Noctua NH-L9i | Best Overall Low Profile CPU Cooler for Mild Overclocking
Socket Support: Intel LGA 115X / NM-AM4 Height: 39mm Fan: 92 mm PWM TDP: 95W
No doubt, whenever it comes to the best low budget CPU coolers, Noctua always tops the list. Noctua NH-L9i is one of the most trusted CPU coolers for mini-ITX cases. It stands at a height of 39mm and has a 92mm fan to cool down your processor.
A CPU cooler with this much smaller footprint can be a great option for gamers who are low on budget. NH-L9i CPU cooler is perfect for lower TDP processors that come with overclocking capability. This small CPU cooler can easily pair with Intel chips, but for AMD you have to look out for other versions of it.
Other than its color scheme which makes it look quite weird inside your gaming rig, it is the most economical CPU cooler that you can get in the market. As far as you don’t have ”K” Series Intel processors. this low profile heatsink can be good enough for you.
We recommend you to go with ”S” or ”T” Series processors if you are buying this CPU cooler for overclocking. For the K-Series processor, you may encounter warmer temperatures even without overclocking. With a Core-i5 4690K overclocked @ 4.0GHz, you can expect the temperature around 35-45 degrees.
In general, with Noctua NH-L9i do not overclock your CPU over 4.0 GHz if you want stable performance. Although Noctua L9i is a quiet low profile CPU cooler, with overclocking it becomes a bit noisy. However, the noise it makes at peak loads is not annoying as compared to the stock coolers.
We highly recommend this air cooler for someone who has less space for an aftermarket CPU fan. It’s excellent for someone who needs a quiet PC with lower temperatures. Noctua L9i has a premium build quality despite being a low profile air cooler. With 6 years of warranty, it’s a quite profitable investment.
2. Cryorig C7 | Best Value Low Profile Air Cooler for Mini-ITX
Socket Support: Intel/AMD Height: 47mm Fan: 92 mm PWM TDP: 95W
Cryorig C7 is one of the best air CPU coolers for SFF and mini-ITX cases. It’s a bit more expensive than the Noctua L9i, but it delivers excellent performance with high-end CPUs. It has a robust build and comes with a decent color scheme that suits your gaming rig.
Cryorig C7 is compatible with both the Intel and AMD sockets. Although it has 47mm height, it sits well in nearly all types of SFF or mini-ITX cases. It comes with 4 heat pipes and copper base to take care of the heat on higher clock speeds.
This CPU cooler is quite easy to mount on your rig. You do not need any special guidance to do that. The 92mm fan that comes with Cyrorig C7 stays quiet under peak loads. The fan has four inlets at the edges to throw in cooler air. However, the temperatures may rise up to 70 degrees when you push your processor to higher speeds.
We tested out this CPU cooler with i5-4690 and couldn’t overclock it more than 5%. But again, lower TDP processors can give you more room for overclocking, but not more than 10%. Despite having a cooler look and design, it does not perform better than the Noctua L9i in terms of overclocking.
Cyrorig C7 CPU cooler is made for compact spaces where there is no room due to bulky ram sticks and PSUs. It has a sturdy design and heatsink to handle the heat at higher clock speeds. C7 is not a great but good low profile CPU cooler with dust protectors to last for years.
If you are not into high-end gaming where higher clock speeds over 4.2 GHz matter, then Cryorig C7 CPU cooler might be a good option for you. Many users have tested this air cooler with 6th generation processors from Intel, especially the Intel Core i7-6700K.
3. Cooler Master MasterAir G100M | Best Overall LP CPU Cooler to Overclock Intel & AMD Processors
Socket Support: Intel/AMD Height: 74mm Fan: 92 mm RGB TDP: 100W
Cooler Master has always been our favorite when it comes to cool down your CPU. Cooler Master MasterAir G100M is one of the highly reviewed low profile CPU heatsinks on internet forums like toms hardware. G100M comes with a decent design and custom copper heat technology.
Top of all, it comes with direct contact heat pipes for excellent heat transfer. The RGB light ring with the fan on top makes it quite appealing when you mount it on a mini-ITX gaming motherboard. The 92mm fan on the top of this low profile air cooler delivers excellent performance with gaming processors.
Aluminum fins and direct contact heat pipes work perfectly in thermal dissipation on higher clock speeds. However, its 74mm height might be a barrier for some Ultra SFF PC builds. Apart from that, it sits easily in most mini-ITX and SFF cases in the market.
Now let’s talk about overclocking on this LP CPU cooler. We tested it out on a Core i7-7700 with a little overclocking up to 3.8 GHz. By doing so, the temperature rose up to 62-degrees under 40% load which is quietly acceptable depending upon the surrounding hot environment in Italy.
Its low-profile design makes it perfect for SFF or mini-ITX assemblies that have less space for extra peripherals. The only downside to this CPU cooler is a low quality LED lights. But for a price under $50, you cannot expect everything to be perfect.
Also, some people have a complaint about installing this CPU on SFF assemblies. You might need to take off your motherboard to install this air cooler.
4. Thermaltake Engine 27 | Ideal CPU Heatsink with PWM Control
Socket Support: LGA 1150/51 Height: 27mm Fan: 92 mm PWM TDP: 70W
Thermaltake Engine 27 is one most versatile low profile CPU coolers with excellent PWM controls. With 27mm height, it is one of the shortest CPU coolers on our list. Moreover, it can easily handle the heat of Intel CPUs with TDP of 70W. With a quiet fan and 40 blades, this ideal CPU cooler is an excellent fit for mini-ITX cases.
Engine 27 comes with metallic structure and copper base for excellent heat dissipation. The perfectly engineered base sucks the heat from the base up to the powerful metallic fan. The metallic radial fins allow heat to transfer more efficiently and easily.
One of the most rich feature of the Thermaltake Engine 27 is the PWM fan. The PWM technology adjusts the speed of the fan with the speed of your processor. For overclocking, this low profile CPU cooler can be a game-changer. However, there are still limits up to which you can enjoy the higher clock speeds.
We really loved the quality of this LP CPU cooler. With metallic structure and low height, it stays super quiet even under heavy load. We tested this out Intel 9400F processor clocked at 3.9 GHz, and the temperatures peaked around 60 to 65 Degrees. Even at this point, there was no fan noise at all.
However, if you give it a bit more throttle to your CPU, then temps may hover around 75 degrees. At this point, the fan might be audible to you as it pushes more heat up in the air.
5. ARCTIC Alpine 12 LP | Best Budget CPU Cooler for SFF
Socket Support: LGA 1150/51 Height: 42.2mm Fan: 92 mm PWM TDP: 55W
Although the ARCTIC Alpine 12 looks like your old stock cooler, it packs more power under its traditional looks. Its radial design and heatsink makes it quite easy to fit in small PC cases. Standing at a height of 42mm, it is a space saver for mini-gaming PCs.
It is one of the cheapest CPU coolers that you can get under $15 in the market. However, it’s low profile design and simple architecture is good enough to handle the heat of mid-range gaming processors. Moreover, it is quite easy to install as it comes with a push-pin system that most Intel stock coolers come with.
To make things easier, it comes with pre-applied thermal paste to mount it right out of the box. This CPU cooler will work perfectly with processors having four cores if you want stable performance. More cores means more heat, so we do not recommend it for processors with more than 4 cores.
Although, you can overclock your processor with ARCTIC ALPINE 12, but you cannot expect it over 3%. And for this, you will need more cooling fans attached to your PC, which is not possible in terms of SFF cases. Moreover, you have to choose a processor with less than 55W power if you are into overclocking.
It’s kind of a low profile aftermarket cooler that can replace your stock cooler. But you cannot expect it to handle the heat of high-end gaming processors that need more cooling to function properly. It is one of the best mini-ITX CPU coolers that you can get for a low price.
How to Select the Best Low Profile CPU Coolers for Overclocking
So you need to know about some important factors before you get your hands on your favorite CPU cooler for mini-ITX case.
Some CPU coolers are compatible with Intel or AMD sockets. Although most of them are compatible with both the Intel and AMD, you still need to check the socket compatibility to fit your CPU cooler. When buying the low profile CPU cooler for AMD motherboards, always let your seller know about it before you buy.
Before you buy a good quality LP CPU cooler, make sure you have enough space in your PC case to fit it properly. Some mini-ITX or SFF motherboards have bulky peripherals like ram and PSU to block other components that come in their way. So it is wise to know the dimensions of your aftermarket cooler before buying it.
PIN connectors for CPU coolers can be 3-pin or 4-pin. We highly recommend 4-pin coolers as they are easy to adjust to different types of motherboards. It is easier to change the speed of the fan with the help of a motherboard or software. In 3-pin CPU coolers, it is quite hard to customize the volume or speed of fan.
TDP or Thermal Design Power
It is good to know about the TDP rating of your processor before you buy a mini-ITX CPU cooler. Some processors dissipate more power than the others, in this case, you will need a CPU coolers with more TDP rating. Look for low profile CPU coolers that are affordable and have a TDP rating over 65W.