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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  • Lolimaster - Thursday, May 25, 2017 - link

    The efficieny and temps of Ryzen are so nice that you don't need AIO or big tower coolers, most of the time the stock cooler is more than enough, and it's silent :D

    I think the best cooler for Ryzen is the Coolermaster Hyper 212X, everything else is basically overkill.
    Reply
  • Lolimaster - Thursday, May 25, 2017 - link

    This will probably be nice for Ryzen 9 monsters. Reply
  • CheapSushi - Thursday, May 25, 2017 - link

    I wish there was also a passive test. So we can actually see how that heatsinks on their own performance to gauge the efficiency and quality of the designs themselves. The fans add another variable. Maybe even have a case fan for some airflow. I'd like to see how the heatsink itself does because there can be situations where maybe there is a superior heatsink design here but the company has a poor fan compared to another competitor. The competitors fan could just be superior, thus brute forcing the better temps. How would you really tell? There's no passive test. Reply
  • bug77 - Thursday, May 25, 2017 - link

    Hm, why doesn't the article list the weight of these coolers? When they're so large they tend to add quite some torque to the motherboard, so weight should be an important criterion when choosing between these. Reply
  • doyll - Thursday, May 25, 2017 - link

    Great testing! TRUE Spirit 140 Direct did exceptionally well for an economy cooler. Would be interesting to see how the TRUE Spirit 140 Power, Archon IB-E X2 and some of the other Thermalright coolers. The PH-TC14S definitely is not a great cooler. Reply
  • fanofanand - Thursday, May 25, 2017 - link

    The fact you threw in the Wraith cooler makes me sooooo happy! I was hemming and hawing between 1600 and 1600x with the free cooler thrown in being a nice boost for the 1600. Seeing that the better coolers show a pronounced improvement in most cases tells me that free cooler shouldn't be the decider. Reply
  • Peichen - Thursday, May 25, 2017 - link

    Thermalright is like Cooler Master, simple design that reduce cost but performs well. People that have been OCing for the last 20 years know Thermalright's design is usually test proven Reply
  • Leyawiin - Thursday, May 25, 2017 - link

    I own two of the original (smooth surface) Thermalright True Spirit 140. Its a very good cooler in many respects save for the fan mounting system. They have the most weak, fiddly wire fan mounts I've ever seen. Plus the rubber anti-vibration pads they were using back then simply won't stay on. I decided with later builds to use Noctua in subsequent builds and even though they're about a quarter to a third more expensive its worth it just for their great mounting system. Plus they regularly send me emails to remind me that all my coolers from them are eligible for free mounting hardware for new sockets. No other company that I know of does that. Reply
  • azrael- - Monday, May 29, 2017 - link

    I think that one important aspect of any cooler review should be the *weight* of the cooler.

    Considering that in most system configurations the motherboard is mounted vertically and coolers are hanging off the motherboard, you really don't want them to be too heavy. Even though the cooler may be securely attached to the motherboard the heavier it is the more stress it exerts on the motherboard. Preferably, I don't want mine to weigh much in excess of 500g.
    Reply
  • azrael- - Monday, May 29, 2017 - link

    I think that one important aspect of any cooler review should be the *weight* of the cooler.

    Considering that in most system configurations the motherboard is mounted vertically and coolers are hanging off the motherboard, you really don't want them to be too heavy. Even though the cooler may be securely attached to the motherboard the heavier it is the more stress it exerts on the motherboard. Preferably, I don't want mine to weigh much in excess of 500g.
    Reply

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