Best CPU Coolers for Velka 3 and its Alternatives

Published Categorized as CPU Cooler
AXP-90 versus Wraith Stealth

The Velka 3 is the smallest PC one could possibly build that is gaming capable. It can accommodate at least an RTX 2070 and any mainstream CPUs, granted, you are willing to undervolt and not expect the highest processing performance. Unfortunately, physics is a real thing, and the Velka 3 is physically constraint in allowing high performant heat sink and fan solution.

The truth is, this guide is mostly for those who have the K39, the Chinese version of the same case. Velkase was plagued with scalpers after the second revision of the Velka line went live. Although it was rectified soon after, it is still very difficult to order one without waiting for several months whether you pre-order or not. Waiting for it to be for sale without pre-ordering is a different matter. Hence, most people are just going the route in ordering the K39 off Taobao. The K39 is inferior to Velka 3 in all aspects except price and heat sink compatibility, and obviously, the availability.

Aside from the K39, there are other clone cases that employ the same design language however, they are either bigger in dimensions without even allowing significantly bigger GPUs or are more expensive because they look better and are built better. We shall include the ZS-A4M and the unfortunately named Formula Case Loli1 in breaking down the available CPU coolers so that you will have a clear view of how they perform whatever case you might choose in this teeny-weeny subsection of small form factor computing.

Velka 3 versus K39 versus Loli1 versus ZS-A4M Dimensions and Compatibility Table

Table comparing dimensions of the Velka 3, K39, Loli1, and the ZS-A4M.
Prices indicated here are not accurate anymore.

Best Performing CPU Coolers for Velka 3

Budget ≥37mm Cooler: ID-Cooling IS-30

The Velka 3 is only compatible with ≥ 37mm CPU coolers. There are only a few decent low profile heat sinks that are available for purchase. Whether you are using Intel or AMD, the Noctua NH-L9i and the NH-L9a-AM4 respectively seem like your better option. Since this is the widely available product, and Noctua does have a reputation that precedes them, the NH-L9i and the NH-L9a-AM4 becomes severely overrated. Both are not the best performing low profile CPU cooler, but, they seem to be the only viable for Velka 3. ID-Cooling has several low profile CPU coolers that actually perform the same but is way cheaper than the Noctua products like the IS-30 and IS-25i, although the latter is for Intel only.

CPU COOLER / CPU / Clock SpeedIDLE Temp. (Max)GAMING Temp. (Max)CINEBENCH R20 Temp. (Max)
NH-L9a-AM4, 3600 @ Stock48°C70°C80°C
IS-30, 3600 @ Stock49°C72°C84°C
Ambient is 32°C

As you can see in our testing, the Noctua is not that better than ID-Cooling’s solution. The IS-30 is indeed noisier in stock fan curve configuration but it is not that louder than the NH-L9a-AM4. There are some suggestions like changing the IS-30’s stock fan with a Noctua, which is incredibly, excusez-moi, idiotic. A Noctua NF-A9x14 slim 92mm fan costs more than the IS-30. Undervolting and/or changing the fan settings in the BIOS will make the IS-30 sound like the NH-L9a-AM4 for a price of a couple of degrees in temperatures.

WARNING: There have been reports of motherboards flexing in AMD systems because the IS-30 requires users to remove the backplate. Since the heatsink floats barely touching the motherboard, the grip from the screws pushes the motherboard inward resulting in a flex. There are backplates for sale to correct this design flaw. Same applies to the Thermalright AXP-90.

Luxury ≥37mm Cooler: NH-L9a-AM4 chromax.black (AMD), NH-L9i chromax.black (Intel)

The IS-30 is THIS slim.

There is no “value” heat sink fan solution for the Velka 3. The extra dollars you might have saved for choosing the IS-30 might have gone to the super rare 2070 ITX SKUs, or since you apparently money is not an issue, the Chromax version of the Noctua low profile cooler. It does look good paired with the Velka 3.

Best Performing CPU Coolers for Velka 3 Alternatives (K39, Loli1, and ZS-A4M)

Budget ≥48mm Cooler: ID-Cooling IS-30

The IS-30 is still the budget king for these systems. It is uglier than the rest of the recommended coolers, and the worst-performing one,. For the budget segment, it is still way better than the dismantled Wraith Stealth both in performance and aesthetics. Be wary of the flexing though, as reported by the community.

Value ≥48mm Cooler: Thermalright AXP-90 (Cooper)

Thermalright AXP-90 is the most underrated CPU cooler. The Cryorig C7[mfn] including the Copper version[/mfn] and the Noctua NH-L9a / NH-L9i takes most of the media mileage probably because of aggressive marketing campaigns of these companies. Thermalright, although it has been long in the PC arena their products seem not to hit the mainstream that it deserves.

CPU COOLER / CPU / Clock SpeedIDLE Temp. (Max)GAMING Temp. (Max)Cinebench R20 Temperature (Max)
NH-L9a-AM4, 3600 @ Stock48°C70°C80°C
C7 Cu, 3600 @ Stock47°C72°C82°C
AXP-90 Copper, 3600 @ Stock48°C66°C72°C
Tested with K39 with an ambient of 32°C

The AXP-90 just destroys both the Noctua and Cryorig offerings in our tests. It is also worth noting that the Cryorig C7 is obnoxiously loud even with tuning the fan curve. Putting the fan profile to silent makes it hotter by 5 degrees. Yikes. There is a cheaper aluminum version of the AXP-90 that should provide similar cooling numbers without the noise of the Cryorig C7 and the asking price of the Noctua NHL-9a. The Intel and AMD versions of the AXP-90 are different SKUs, though. This is the only thing that is bothering. ID-Cooling with its budget pricing provides both brackets of different CPU platforms and these pricier products do not?

Luxury ≥48mm Cooler: Alpenfohn Black Ridge

The Alpenfohn Black Ridge is luxurious even its packaging.

The Alpenfohn Black Ridge is the most expensive of the slim pickings. The construction of the cooler is exquisite, from the accessories to heat sink unit with materials that are aluminum and nickel-plated copper. Cooling performance of the Alpenfohn Black Ridge is similar to the rest while being more silent. The only con in this beautiful cooler is that it might have compatibility issues with high heatsink RAM modules.

By Kiki Bagana

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