Choosing the Best Cylinder Heads for Your 6.0 LS Engine

Lillian Nelson

When it comes to maximizing the performance of your 6.0 LS engine, selecting the right cylinder heads is crucial. LS engines have gained immense popularity due to their versatility, reliability, and potential for serious power gains. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore various LS cylinder head options, their characteristics, and how they impact performance. Let's dive into the world of LS cylinder heads!

1. Understanding LS Engines

Before we delve into specific cylinder head choices, let's clarify what LS engines are. The term "LS" doesn't officially stand for anything; it's simply a colloquial name for the Gen III and Gen IV small-block Chevy engines produced from 1996 through 2020. These engines are known for their lightweight aluminum construction, efficient design, and compatibility with various applications.

2. The LS Cylinder Head Landscape

All LS cylinder heads have performance potential, but the key lies in understanding their differences. Here are some popular LS cylinder head options:

a. Stock 317 Cathedral-Port Heads

The 317 heads come stock on 6.0 truck engines (such as the LQ4 or LQ9). While they flow decently in their original form, they can be further improved. Consider milling them and adding CNC porting to enhance airflow. Keep an eye on the valve guides, as they tend to wear out rapidly.

b. LS3 Rectangular-Port Heads

The LS3 heads are a popular upgrade for 6.0 LS engines. These rectangular-port heads feature larger valves and require the 4.0-inch bore of the 6.0 (not suitable for smaller blocks like the 4.8, 5.3, or 5.7). The results after swapping the 317 heads for LS3 heads are impressive, especially in terms of power gains.

c. L92 Heads

The L92 heads are another excellent choice. Originally found on LS3 or newer 6.2 LS engines, they offer square ports and improved airflow. If you're looking for budget-friendly heads with great performance potential, consider the L92s.

d. GM Vortec 706 Heads

For those on a tight budget, the GM Vortec 706 heads are a secret weapon. These heads work well on 4.8-liter, 5.3-liter, and even some 6.0-liter LS builds. They provide a cost-effective solution without compromising performance.

3. Factors to Consider

When selecting LS cylinder heads, focus on more than just flow numbers. Quality air charge and efficient exhaust flow matter. Here's what to keep in mind:

  • Combustion Chamber Size: Different heads have varying combustion chamber sizes, affecting compression ratios and power output.
  • Valve Size: Larger valves allow better airflow, but ensure they match your engine's bore size.
  • Port Shape: Rectangular or cathedral ports impact flow characteristics.
  • Material: Aluminum heads are lighter, while iron heads retain heat better.

4. Modifications and Tuning

Once you've chosen your LS cylinder heads, consider additional modifications:

  • Valve Springs: Upgraded springs handle higher RPMs and aggressive cam profiles.
  • Camshaft: Match the cam to your head flow and intended use.
  • Intake Manifold: Opt for a high-flow manifold to complement the heads.
  • Rocker Arms: Stiffer rockers improve valvetrain stability.

5. Dyno Testing and Real-World Performance

Remember that dyno numbers don't tell the whole story. Real-world performance depends on the entire setup, including tuning, exhaust, and drivetrain components. Consult with experts and consider professional tuning to extract the full potential of your LS engine.

6. Conclusion

In summary, the best heads for your 6.0 LS engine depend on your goals, budget, and intended use. Whether you choose LS3, L92, or Vortec heads, prioritize quality, compatibility, and proper tuning. With the right combination, your LS-powered machine will deliver impressive performance on the street or track.

Remember, the LS legacy continues to evolve, and enthusiasts worldwide continue to push the boundaries of what these engines can achieve. So, go forth, make informed choices, and unleash the power of your 6.0 LS!


  1. A Guide to LS Cylinder Heads – Engine Builder Magazine
  2. Gen IV LS Cylinder Head Shootout! Choose the Best for Power
  3. [What is the best factory heads for a 6.0L?? – Yellow Bullet Forums](

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