Reliable and efficient cooling solutions for portable electronic devices are now at the forefront of research due to consumer demand for manufacturers to downscale existing technologies. To achieve this, the power consumed has to be dissipated over smaller areas resulting in elevated heat fluxes. With regard to cooling such devices, the most popular choice is to integrate a fan driven heat sink, which for portable electronic devices must have a low profile. This paper presents an experimental investigation into such low profile cooling solutions, which incorporate one of the smallest commercially available fans in series with two different heat sink designs. The first of these is the conventionally used finned heat sink design, which was specifically optimized and custom manufactured in the current study to complement the driving fan. While the second design proposed is a novel “finless” type heat sink suitable for use in low profile applications. Together the driving fan and heat sinks combined were constrained to have a total footprint area of and a profile height of only 5 mm, making them ideal for use in portable electronics. The objective was to evaluate the performance of the proposed finless heat sink design against a conventional finned heat sink, and this was achieved by means of thermal resistance and overall heat transfer coefficient measurements. It was found that the proposed finless design proved to be the superior cooling solution when operating at low fan speeds, while at the maximum fan speed tested of 8000 rpm both provided similar performance. Particle image velocimetry measurements were used to detail the flow structures within each heat sink and highlighted methods, which could further optimize their performance. Also, these measurements along with corresponding global volume flow rate measurements were used to elucidate the enhanced heat transfer characteristics observed for the finless design. Overall, it is shown that the proposed finless type heat sink can provide superior performance compared with conventional finned designs when used in low profile applications. In addition a number of secondary benefits associated with such a design are highlighted including lower cost, lower mass, lower acoustics, and reduced fouling issues.