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

Xigmatek Janus

Initially available to U.S. customers from a single exporter in Singapore, Xigmatek’s Janus now sells for $40. A quick comparison of current Xigmatek products leads us to believe the eventual price will be around $30.

That price range gets buyers a dual-fan sink and two coolers: 120 mm x 15 mm on top and 80 mm x 10 mm on the bottom. Two sets of brackets fit all consumer-oriented Intel and AMD sockets from LGA 775 and Socket AM2 forward. Bolt-through installation supports all of those sockets except LGA 2011, for which Xigmatek includes a special set of standoffs.

The Janus we received was polished only half-way, showing its original machining grooves across most of its surface. These grooves are shallow and should fill nicely with paste to provide a fairly good thermal interface, and are protected from oxidation with nickel plating.

Xigmatek's submission uses a carriage-bolt design variation with threaded standoffs and insulating washers to fit onto the board from above. Most installations require users to reach around the back of the board to secure the cooler with nuts, but LGA 2011 instead requires that you reach between the motherboard and cooler with a supplied wrench.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • CommentariesAnd More
    Good article.
  • laststop311
    I knew the noctua was going to win before I even looked at the results.
  • lowguppy
    It is really nice to see a low profile round up when a year ago it was hard to find low profile coolers at all. I have to ask though, were these tested on an open bench or in an enclosure? I think to really judge them you have to put them in a box. Maybe not that silly ASRock chassis, but something a like a BitFenix.

    Also, every mini-ITX motherboard is a little different. It would take some work, but it would be nice to see coolers cross referenced with different motherboards for compatibility. Just reading reviews it is pretty common to find one or two "Didn't fit my board" comments while other reviewers found the coolers to fit perfectly.
  • Someone Somewhere
    Several others asked us for a few additional millimeters of headroom, though that would have resulted in a viscous cycle

    Do you mean vicious? Because I'm fairly sure the cycle wouldn't be a thick liquid.
  • slomo4sho
    I am surprised that the Cooler Master GeminII didn't make this list.
  • GoliathPtXs
    i feel that only a few of them ( like 3 or 4 ) are really low profile coolers, rest are just normal size, bearing in mind that the big ones are labeled as tower coolers...
  • cheesyboy

    It's good to see consistency ;)
  • AJSB
    Those things are WAY TOO BIG for really compact mITX systems....

    I'm using one from Titan that is really small: 107x70x12.5mm (official dimensions are incorrect) for the skived copper heatsink and can use 60mm or 70mm fans...i'm using a Titan fan that is 70x70x10.

    Really compact....check my build at www overclock net:D

    I i will add soon more pics and you will see something that is really small.
  • Amdlova
    i got here the cp 12 se14 on the lian li v 351 pushed the 3770k 4.6ghz... not bad at all now the noctua is cooling the 3470 no problems.
  • -Fran-
    11933622 said:
    I am surprised that the Cooler Master GeminII didn't make this list.

    I was going to post precisely that.

    I have one for my A8 8350 (100W) and it does a wonderful job inside a TT SD200.

    And this is the CM cooler we're talking about: CM GeminII M4