A standard cooler is supplied with nearly all retail boxed CPUs, which guarantees adequate cooling performance under normal operating conditions. Enthusiasts however are rarely satisfied with the performance of stock CPU coolers, seeking either better overall performance or lower noise levels. This is especially true for those who are planning to overclock their systems, as the supplied coolers usually don't have the extra performance required for handling overdriven processors.

However, the selection of a CPU cooler is a complicated matter. It depends on the available space, the user’s needs and wants, as well as on the available budget. For example, some users might require high performance but low profile coolers due to limited space, while others may have spacious cases and high enough budgets to afford a huge dual-tower cooler.

In today's review we will be having a look at some of the most popular single tower 140 mm CPU coolers currently available. Considering that height usually is the primary concern with CPU coolers, single tower 140 mm coolers virtually have the same space requirements as the dual tower 140 mm coolers do. Their distinct advantages however are much lower weight and significantly more competitive pricing. This makes them ideal for users that do have the available space, but do not require the performance of a dual-tower behemoth or move their system often, in which case the cooler’s weight becomes a major safety concern.

Thermalright True 140 Direct, Phanteks PH-TC14S, Be Quiet! Shadow Rock Slim, & Noctua NH-U14S

The four coolers that we are taking a look at in this roundup review are the: Noctua NH-U14S, Phanteks PH-TC14S, Thermalright True Spirit 140 Direct, and the Be Quiet! Shadow Rock Slim. All four of these coolers have similar space requirements and pricing, but they are certainly not created equal. We will have a closer look at their individual strengths and weaknesses in the following pages of this review.

140mm Tower CPU Coolers
Product Fan(s) Fan Speed (RPM) Height (mm/in) Current Retail Pricing
Noctua NH-U14S 1 × 140 mm 1500 RPM 165 mm / 6.5” $65
Phanteks PH-TC14S 1 × 140 mm 1300 RPM 160 mm / 6.3” $50
ThermalRight True Spirit 140 Direct 1 × 140 mm 1600 RPM 161 mm / 6.34” $47
Be Quiet! Shadow Rock Slim 1 × 140 mm 1400 RPM 161 mm / 6.34” $50
Noctua NH-U14S
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  • Yuriman - Wednesday, May 24, 2017 - link

    Nice review! Please do more of these.

    One thing I'd like to see is to have the coolers' thermal resistance normalized for noise. I understand that's not an easy task, but it would be nice to see how much each can dissipate at a given noise level (the only two metrics most people really care about), rather than having both noise and resistance being variables.
  • Paapaa125 - Wednesday, May 24, 2017 - link

    I agree, that would be the best data. If not feasible, I'd like to see the thermal characteristics of each cooler using the same fan at the same speed (tested at many levels).
  • Lolimaster - Thursday, May 25, 2017 - link

    Ryzen 7 1700 + Hyper 212X <45°C at load @900rpm, can't even hear the thing.
  • fanofanand - Thursday, May 25, 2017 - link

    There are way more variables loli, what kind of case do you have? Any added insulation? What's the average sound level in your room? Do you have a high powered GPU that drowns out the CPU cooler? Do you have loud case fans? Do you have a loud PSU? I'm sure you have a very nice system so having a normalized test would clear up the questions for everyone rather than anecdotal "I can't hear it" statements. Not trying to attack what you are saying but I 3rd the idea that normalized testing for performance at a specific sound level would be great. Even then, different sounds can be more grating than others depending on the pitch. This is probably the hardest area of computing to test, is sound.
  • Lolimaster - Saturday, May 27, 2017 - link

    Cheapo case, only fans are the cpu, psu (a seasonic) and a RX560 a low rpm + undervolt.

    The only thing I actually hear are my 3 HDD's, if I boot without those is basically the expected electric hum.

    My place is quite silent.
  • Gigaplex - Monday, May 29, 2017 - link

    If you can't hear the Hyper 212X @900rpm you may need to get your ears checked.
  • JocPro - Monday, May 29, 2017 - link

    Same here, R7 1700 + Thermaltake NiC L32 (It's a Slim 140mm tower - why wasn't in the review?) 500 RPM idle, ~600 RPM load... I can't hear it, even trying. The case has 4 CM Silencio PWM @ 900 RPM, and only the air pushed is audible.
  • jospoortvliet - Friday, May 26, 2017 - link

    I would prefer to see coolers sped up to the point they produce a fixed amount of noise (say 38db or so) and then compare how much they cool. A much better way to compare them.
  • Robotire - Wednesday, May 24, 2017 - link

    Interesting topic but I have a hard time getting useful information out of this article. I would have prefered to see noise levels and efficiency at idle and at full CPU load instead of these artificial 7V and 12V levels. Also there is no easy to read conclusion to help people in a hurry choose the best cooler for their need, and I have no idea what the thermal resistance values mean.
  • mgilbert - Wednesday, May 24, 2017 - link

    When it comes to air coolers, there's Noctua, then there is everyone else. They are superior in virtually every respect, especially quality and support.

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