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Air CPU Coolers come in different shapes and sizes. Some of them are bulkier while some are compact and slimmer in design compared to others. The choice of CPU Cooler plays an important in building a new PC or if you are upgrading your cooler to a better one, especially from a stock CPU cooler. If you are building a PC with smaller motherboard or case, but using a RAM that has taller heatsink or heat spreader then you have to make a careful selection for the CPU Cooler, because if you choose a cooler with relatively larger dimensions with a bulkier design, then it might block your RAM slot (especially the first one), and your first PCIe x16 slot too, which is mainly for the graphics card.
Most of the modern-day CPU coolers do provide sufficient clearance for low profile RAM, but if the RAM has taller heatspreader / heatsink then you must get a Slim CPU Cooler that provides good clearance for your RAM and PCIe slot. This is very important for users building a PC with Micro-ATX and Mini-ITX motherboards because they have limited space, and most of them have RAM slots closer to the CPU Socket. Also, because of limited DIMM slots on these small form factor motherboards, you cannot afford to sacrifice your DIMM slot and the PCIe slot to the CPU Cooler. Well, the good news is that you don’t have worry about this issue anymore, because there are some very good CPU coolers available in the market having slim or offset heatsink design that offers very good amount of RAM clearance (even for the tall RAM), and that too without compromising on cooling performance. So, here I am going to list down the best CPU Coolers for both Intel and AMD Sockets that offers full RAM clearance & compatibility, and does not block your PCIe x16 slot too.
Best Slim CPU Coolers with High RAM Clearance
Here are the best slim CPU coolers that offers great clearance for your RAM and first PCIe x16 slot. Almost, all of them are 120mm CPU Coolers because 140mm CPU Coolers are relatively bigger and they do not offer much clearance for RAM with taller heatsinks / heat spreaders.
[Quiet, Great Performance, Dual Fan Ready]
A quiet and slim CPU cooler from Noctua that is compatible with all the popular Intel and AMD sockets, including the AM4. Due to its slim design and 45mm fin depth, it offers 100% compatibility with tall RAM modules, and it does not obstruct the first PCIe x16 slot too. Also, the heatsink and the fan does not overhang on the RAM, and you can easily install and remove the RAM without any interference. The heatsink of this cooler comes with five copper heatpipes that helps in faster heat dissipation. A 120mm NF-F12 PWM premium fan helps in cooling down the heatsink. The fan comes with Noctua’s proprietary SSO2 bearing and spins at speed of 300 – 1500 RPM. This fan is very quiet in operation with maximum noise rating of 22.4 dBA, and you can make it even quieter (@18.6 dBA) using the Low Noise Adapter (L.N.A.) that comes along with the CPU Cooler. Also, the anti-vibrations pads on the four corners helps to eliminate vibrational noise too. As this is a dual fan ready CPU Cooler, you can add one extra fan too in push/pull setup if you want more cooling performance, given that you have clearance for it.
The installation of this cooler is pretty easy, which is done through Noctua’s SecuFirm2 multi-socket mounting system. The CPU stands at 158mm tall, which is decent height and it can fit in most of tower cases pretty comfortably. The performance of this CPU Cooler is far better than the stock CPU cooler, and it can easily run your Core i7 and Ryzen 7 processors at full load or gaming without having to worry about overheating. You may perform slight a bit of overclocking on this CPU cooler, but nothing major. So, if you are looking for a high-quality slim CPU Cooler that is quiet in operation, and does not compromise on performance then just go for it. Highly Recommended by me.
Note: A dedicated AM4 Socket variant of this CPU Cooler is also available as Noctua NH-U12S SE-AM4. Also, some AMD mainboards violate the 96x114mm keep-out zone specified by AMD, so NH-U12S and Noctua NH-U12S SE-AM4 can only be used with RAM modules of up to 40mm height on these boards.
|Noctua NH-U12S CPU Cooler Specifications|
|CPU Socket Support||Intel LGA2066, LGA2011-0 & LGA2011-3 (Square ILM), LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA1151, LGA1150 and AMD AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, FM1, FM2, FM2+ (backplate required), AM4 (included since 2019)|
|Fan Speed||300 – 1500 RPM|
|Heat Pipes||5 Copper Heatpipes|
|RAM Clearance||100% RAM Compatibility|
[RGB, Cheaper, Silent Operation, Great Looks]
Scythe Kotetsu Mark II TUF Gaming Alliance is a budget, but strongly built CPU cooler from Scythe. This is the TUF Gaming Alliance version of the Scythe Kotetsu Mark II CPU Cooler. It is developed in collaboration with Asus and bears the TUF name to it, which depicts its high reliability and tough components. The CPU Cooler comes with an asymmetric and offset design heatsink for maximum clearance for RAM and its compatibility. Also, it does not interfere with the first PCIe slot either. The heatsink comes with four copper heatpipes and a Kaze Flex 120 RGB PWM fan with Sealed Precision FDB bearing. The fan is relatively quiet and spins at speed of 300 – 120 RPM. The maximum noise level for fan is 24.9 dBA and the rubber paddings on the four corners eliminates the noise due to vibrations. The RGB lighting on this CPU Cooler makes it look great with other RGB components that include RGB RAM and RGB Case Fans.
The CPU Cooler is compatible with all the major Intel and AMD Sockets that also include AM4 socket. H.P.M.S. III (Hyper Precision Mounting System III) makes the installation very easy and is pretty solid too. It is 154mm in height and has no trouble in fitting in almost all the mid-tower and mini-tower computer cases. The CPU Cooler works quiet but its performance is on the mediocre side, and it is best suited for mid-range and budget CPUs like Core i5, Core i3, Ryzen 3, Ryzen 5, and should be avoided with top of the line CPUs. So, if you are in search for a budget CPU Cooler that comes with RGB lighting, looks great and offers decent performance then it is worth checking out.
Check out: Best RGB CPU Coolers for Fancy Gaming PC
|Scythe Kotetsu Mark II TUF Gaming Alliance Specifications|
|CPU Socket Support||Intel Socket LGA775, LGA1150, LGA1151, LGA1155, LGA1156, LGA1366, LGA2011 / 2011-v3 (Square ILM), LGA2066 and AMD Socket AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, AM4, FM1, FM2, FM2+|
|Fan Speed||300 – 1200 RPM|
|Heat Pipes||4 Copper Heatpipes|
|RAM Clearance||Maximum Clearance|
[Compact Size, Great Stock Performance, Hyper 212 Evo Killer]
CRYORIG H7 is relatively compact CPU Cooler but is high on performance. It is known as Hyper 212 Evo Killer, which is a very popular budget CPU Cooler from Cooler Master. The heatsink of this CPU Cooler comes with three copper heatpipes, and has Hive Fin design structure that allows for a combination of Jet Fin Acceleration and Turbulence Reduction. The Jet Fin Acceleration system carries out hot air faster because of the larger intakes and narrower exhaust present in the fin design. Also, because of the bee hive shaped structure at the front air intake of the heatsink, air turbulence gets reduced, and straightens out the airflow. It assists airflow to move directly through the full length of the heatsink and carrying out hot air. The CPU Cooler comes with 120mm PWM fan that spins at 300 – 1600 RPM, and is pretty quiet in operation (25dBA max).
Because of its asymmetric heatpipe layout, the heatsink is at an offset position relatively to the baseplate, which allows for its Zero RAM interference design and is compatible with RAM with tall heat spreaders too. Also, it does not obstruct the PCIe slot on the motherboard. The installation of this CPU cooler is not that hard and it supports popular Intel and AMD sockets that also include AM4. It is only 145mm in height and can fit in most of the mini-tower and mid-tower cases easily. The performance of this CPU Cooler is far better than the Stock CPU Cooler, and it can be used with high-end processors too, but without any overclocking as it is not made for it. The CPU Cooler is solidly built and it is very much affordable.
|CRYORIG H7 CPU Cooler Specifications|
|CPU Socket Support||Intel LGA 1150, 1151, 1155, 1156 and AMD FM1, FM2/+, AM2/+, AM3/+, AM4|
|Fan Speed||300 – 1600 RPM|
|Heat Pipes||3 Copper Heatpipes|
|RAM Clearance||Maximum Clearance|
[Silent, Better than Hyper 212 Evo]
be quiet! is a very respectable brand that is known for silent and high-quality computer cases, case fans and CPU Air coolers. Here from be quiet!, we have Shadow Rock Slim CPU Cooler which is solidly built a 160W TDP CPU Cooler. The slim heatsink of this CPU Cooler comes with four copper heatpipes and a 135mm PWM fan to cool it. The fan comes with Rifle bearing with maximum speed of 1400 RPM, and is pretty quiet in operation, having maximum noise level rating of 23.7 dBA only. You can also install an additional 120mm if you want to increase its cooling performance further.
The CPU Cooler offers good RAM clearance and does not interfere with the nearby PCIe slot. However, it is a bit taller at 161mm, which can be an area of concern for some users with smaller computer cases. It is compatible with most of the Intel and AMD CPU Sockets including the AM4 Socket from AMD. The performance of this CPU Cooler is good for processors at stock speeds, but overclocking is not a forte of this CPU cooler. However, you can run your Core i7 processor on it at full load during gaming or working with heavy CPU intensive programs. This CPU cooler is better than the Hyper 212 Evo, both in terms of cooling performance and noise levels. The installation is not that easy and falls in the mediocre range. Overall, a very good slim CPU Cooler that is quiet, offers good cooling performance and is not that expensive either.
|be quiet! Shadow Rock Slim CPU Cooler Specifications|
|CPU Socket Support||Intel LGA 775 / 115x / 1366 / 2011(-3) Square ILM / 2066 and AMD 754 / 939 / 940 / AM2(+) / AM3(+) / AM4 / FM1 / FM2(+)|
|Fan Speed||1400 RPM (Max.)|
|Heat Pipes||4 Copper Heatpipes|
|RAM Clearance||Very Good|
[Great Performance for the Price]
A budget CPU Cooler from Arctic that can support CPUs up to 150W TDP. It comes with a relatively slim heatsink with four copper heatpipes that makes direct contact with the CPU for better heat transfer and dissipation. A 120mm PWM fan with fluid dynamic bearing cools down the heatsink, and spins at 200 – 1800 RPM. The fan is not on the noisier side and has noise level rating of 22.5 dBA only. The CPU Cooler offers great RAM compatibility and does not interfere with the nearby PCIe x16 slot too. On most of the motherboards, you will have no trouble in fitting RAM with tall heatspreaders because of its unlimited clearance.
The CPU Cooler beats Hyper 212 Evo and offers great price to performance ratio. It can be used with mid to high end processor, but overclocking should be avoided with it. The installation is on the easier side, but it does not support wide range of sockets. However, it is compatible with AM4 socket, which is a good thing. The height of the CPU cooler is 157mm, which is not that of an issue for most of the tower cases, especially the mid-tower ones. Overall, a very good budget CPU Cooler that is on the cheaper side and performs good.
|Arctic Freezer 34 CPU Cooler Specifications|
|CPU Socket Support||Intel LGA 1151, 1150, 1155, 1156, 2066, 2011-3 and AMD AM4|
|Fan Speed||200 – 1800 RPM|
|Heat Pipes||4 Copper Heatpipes|
|RAM Clearance||Very Good|
Tip for better RAM Clearance & Compatibility
If you are facing RAM compatibility or RAM clearance issues for your existing CPU Cooler, then you can install a Slim 120mm fan to it. replacing the stock fan that came with it. These slim fans are only 15mm thick (compared to standard 25mm fan thickness) and allows additional clearance for your RAM, especially for the first DIMM slot. Below, you can check out the best slim 120mm and 140mm fans that you can use with CPU heatsinks and radiators.
- Best Slim 120mm Fans for CPU Heatsinks & Radiators
- Best Slim 140mm Fans for CPU Heatsinks & Radiators
- Best Quiet CPU Coolers for Silent PC Build
- Best Budget CPU Coolers under 50 Dollars
- Best Low Profile CPU Coolers for Mini-ITX & SFF Cases
- Best Dual Tower CPU Coolers for Gaming & Overclocking
So, if you are worried about the CPU Cooler compatibility with your RAM and PCIe slots, because of smaller motherboard then you choose from any of the above mentioned offset heatsink design or slim CPU coolers that ensures almost 100% RAM compatibility. These CPU coolers offer good performance and are far better than the stock CPU coolers. However, overclocking is very limited on these and should with used with stock speeds only for best cooling performance with quieter operation. If have any doubts or queries regarding them, then ask me in the comment section below