Noctua NH-D14 CPU Cooler Review
By Rafael Otto Coelho on August 9, 2010
We tested the Noctua NH-D14, a huge CPU cooler with two tower heatsinks, six U-shaped heatpipes, and two fans, one 120 mm and one 140 mm. Let's see if this monster really cools a CPU.
The NH-D14 box is also huge, and made of cardboard, as you can see in Figure 1.
In Figure 2, you can see the accessories that come with the cooler: manuals, installation hardware, a case badge, and a tube of thermal compound.
In Figure 3, you see the cooler itself.
In the next pages, you will see this cooler in detail.
In Figure 4, we have a front view of the cooler, where we can see the 120 mm fan and the six heatpipes.
In Figure 5, you can see how big this cooler is. Each tower has its own fan.
In Figure 6, you can see the back of the cooler. Note that the heatpipes are equally distributed inside the heatsink.
In Figure 7, you have a top view of the cooler. The fins have "teeth" in order to increase the turbulence and give better contact between the airflow and the dissipating surface.
In Figure 8, you can see the base of the cooler, in nickel-plated copper. Note it has no mirror-like finishing. You can also see the heatpipes and the NT-H1 thermal compound tube.
In Figure 9, you see the heatsink without the fans. Actually, you need to remove at least the middle fan, in order to attach the cooler in place. Note the silicon spacers that absorb the vibration of the fans.
In Figure 10, you can check the fans. They have teeth on the edges of the blades, that help to reduce the noise level. The wire clips make the removal and installation of the fans easy. The fans have three-pin connectors (i.e., with no PWM speed control).
The cooler comes with a Y extension, which allows you to connect both the fans to one motherboard (or fan controller) output. There are also two adapters that reduce the fan speed, if you prefer less noise. They can be seen in Figure 11 along with four rubber holders that can be used if you prefer to install one of the fans as a case fan.
The installation of the cooler is not simple. First, you need to prepare and install a backplate on the solder side of the motherboard.
After that, you will screw two clips on the component side of the motherboard.
Then you put the cooler over the CPU and screw it to the clips. As we mentioned before, you must remove the center fan in order to do that.
Then you can reinstall the fan(s). In Figure 15, note that the right hand fan extends over the memory modules, which can be a problem if your memories have tall heatsinks.
We tested the cooler with a Core i7-860 CPU (quad-core, 2.8 GHz), which is a socket LGA1156 processor with a 95 W TDP (Thermal Design Power). In order to get higher thermal dissipation, we overclocked it to 3.3 GHz (150 MHz base clock and 22x multiplier), keeping the standard core voltage (Vcore), which was the maximum stable overclock we could make with the stock cooler. Keep in mind that we could have raised the CPU clock more, but to include the stock cooler in our comparison, we needed to use this moderate overclock.
We measured noise and temperature with the CPU idle and under full load. In order to get 100% CPU usage in all threads, we ran Prime 95 25.11 (in this version, the software uses all available threads) with the "In-place Large FFTs" option.
We compared the tested cooler to the Intel stock cooler with a copper base (included with the CPU), as well as with other coolers. Note that in the past, we tested coolers with a socket LGA775 CPU, and we retested some "old" coolers with this new methodology. This means you can find different values in older reviews than the ones you will read in the next page.
Room temperature measurements were taken with a digital thermometer. The core temperature was read with the SpeedFan program (available from the CPU thermal sensors), using an arithmetic average of the core temperature readings. During the tests, the left panel of the case was open.
Operating System Configuration
We adopted a 2 oC error margin, meaning temperature differences below 2 oC are considered irrelevant.
The table below presents the results of our measurements. We repeated the same test on all coolers listed below. Each measurement was taken with the CPU at idle and at full load. In the models with a fan supporting PWM, the motherboard controlled the fan speed according to core load and temperature. On coolers with an integrated fan controller, we set the fan at the minumum speed on the idle test and at full speed on the full load test.
Processor at Full Load
|Cooler||Room Temp.||Noise||Speed||Core Temp.||Noise||Speed||Core Temp.|
|Intel stock (socket LGA1156)||14 °C||44 dBA||1700 rpm||46 °C||54 dBA||2500 rpm||90 °C|
|Cooler Master Hyper TX3 G1||14 °C||47 dBA||2050 rpm||33 °C||56 dBA||2900 rpm||62 °C|
|Zalman CNPS10X Extreme||14 °C||45 dBA||1400 rpm||27 °C||53 dBA||1950 rpm||51 °C|
|Thermaltake Silent 1156||14 °C||44 dBA||1200 rpm||38 °C||49 dBA||1750 rpm||69 °C|
|Noctua NH-D14||14 °C||49 dBA||1250 rpm||27 °C||49 dBA||1250 rpm||53 °C|
In the graph below, you can see how many degrees Celsius hotter the CPU core is than the air outside the case, on full load. The lower this difference, the better is the performance of the cooler.
The main characteristics of the Noctua NH-D14 are:
* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.
The Noctua NH-D14 CPU cooler is a monster, being one of the biggest coolers we tested so far. Because of this, we expected excellent performance.
It is not particularly beautiful. All its appeal lies in the fact it is big, and in the enthusiast world, big coolers are nice coolers. It is also quite expensive.
The performance level is very good, but not outstanding. The point here is that it kept our CPU very cool with a low noise level. The included fans are optimised for silence, not for high performance. This means that it can probably achieve higher cooling performance if you change one or both the fans for higher rpm ones.
In short, if you are looking for a big cooler which can deliver high cooling performance while maintaining an acceptable noise level, the Noctua NH-D14 is the cooler you are looking for.