Noctua NH-U9B SE2 CPU Cooler Review
By Rafael Coelho on July 3, 2012


Introduction

Hardware Secrets Silver Award

Let’s test the NH-U9B SE2 CPU cooler from Noctua. This cooler has a tower heatsink, four U-shaped heatpipes, and two 92 mm fans.

Noctua calls the NH-U9B SE2 a “compact premium cooler.” It is actually smaller than most tower CPU coolers with 120 mm fans, which are typically around 6.3 inches (160 mm) tall. When using 92 mm fans, it is only 4.9 inches (125 mm) tall, fitting some small form factor cases that don’t support bigger coolers.

Figure 1 shows the box of the NH-U9B SE2 that brings the typical colors seen in other Noctua products.

Noctua NH-U9B SE2
click to enlarge
Figure 1: Package

Figure 2 shows the contents of the box: heatsink, fans, a syringe of thermal compound, manuals, power adapters, a Y-harness for connecting both of the fans to a single motherboard fan connector, and installation hardware.

Noctua NH-U9B SE2
click to enlarge
Figure 2: Accessories

Figure 3 displays the heatsink of the NH-U9B SE2.

Noctua NH-U9B SE2
click to enlarge
Figure 3: The NH-U9B SE2

This cooler is discussed in detail in the following pages.

The Noctua NH-U9B SE2

Figure 4 illustrates the front of the heatsink, which carries the high constructive quality we are accustomed to seeing on all Noctua coolers.

Noctua NH-U9B SE2
click to enlarge
Figure 4: Front view

igure 5 reveals the side of the cooler. Part of the fins is bent, making a partially closed surface.

Noctua NH-U9B SE2
click to enlarge
Figure 5: Side view

In Figure 6, you can see the top of the cooler. The fins are almost rectangular, and the tips of the heatpipes are exposed.

Noctua NH-U9B SE2
click to enlarge
Figure 6: Top view

Figure 7 shows how the heatpipes are distributed in the base.

Noctua NH-U9B SE2
click to enlarge
Figure 7: Heatpipes

The Noctua NH-U9B SE2 (Cont’d)

Figure 8 illustrates the base of the cooler. The heatpipes don’t touch the CPU directly; there is a nickel-plated copper plate at the base. The base surface does not have a mirror-like finishing.

Noctua NH-U9B SE2
click to enlarge
Figure 8: Base

Figure 9 reveals the 92 mm fans that come with the NH-U9B SE2. They don’t support PWM speed control.

Noctua NH-U9B SE2
click to enlarge
Figure 9: Fans

Figure 10 shows the NH-U9B SE2 with the fans in place. The cooler comes with silicon strips that absorb the vibration from the fans.

Noctua NH-U9B SE2
click to enlarge
Figure 10: Fans installed

Installation

The installation system is the same as the one that we saw on the NH-U12P SE2, called SecuFirm2. The first step to install the cooler is to attach two clips with spring-loaded screws at the base of the cooler, as seen in Figure 11. In Intel systems, you also must prepare the backplate, shown in Figure 12, inserting the screws in the appropriate holes. On AMD systems, this cooler uses the stock backplate.

Noctua NH-U9B SE2
click to enlarge
Figure 11: Clips

Noctua NH-U9B SE2
click to enlarge
Figure 12: Backplate with screws

The next step is to install four plastic spacers and two metal bars, where the cooler will be attached.

Noctua NH-U9B SE2
click to enlarge
Figure 13: Metal bars

Put the cooler in, attaching the screws to secure it.

Noctua NH-U9B SE2
click to enlarge
Figure 14: Heatsink installed

The last step is to install the fans, as shown in Figure 15.

Noctua NH-U9B SE2
click to enlarge
Figure 15: Installation finished

How We Tested

We tested the cooler with a Core i5-2500K CPU (quad-core, 3.3 GHz), which is a socket LGA1155 processor with a 95 W TDP (Thermal Design Power). In order to get higher thermal dissipation, we overclocked it to 4.0 GHz (100 MHz base clock and x40 multiplier), with 1.3 V core voltage (Vcore). This CPU was able to reach 4.8 GHz with its default core voltage, but at this setting, the processor enters thermal throttling when using mainstream coolers, reducing the clock and thus the thermal dissipation. This could interfere with the temperature readings, so we chose to maintain a moderate overclocking.

We measured noise and temperature with the CPU under full load. In order to get 100% CPU usage in all cores, we ran Prime 95 25.11 with the “In-place Large FFTs” option. (In this version, the software uses all available threads.)

We compared the tested cooler to other coolers we already tested, and to the stock cooler that comes with the Core i5-2500K CPU. Note that the results cannot be compared to measures taken on a different hardware configuration, so we retested some “old” coolers with this new methodology. This means you can find different values in older reviews than the values you will read on the next page. Every cooler was tested with the thermal compound that comes with it.

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 panels of the computer case were closed. The front and rear case fans were spinning at minimum speed in order to simulate the “normal” cooler use on a well-ventilated case. We assume that is the common setup used by a cooling enthusiast or overclocker.

The sound pressure level (SPL) was measured with a digital noise meter, with its sensor placed near the top opening of the case. This measurement is only for comparison purposes, because a precise SPL measurement needs to be made inside an acoustically insulated room with no other noise sources, which is not the case here.

Hardware Configuration

Operating System Configuration

Software Used

Error Margin

We adopted a 2°C error margin, meaning temperature differences below 2°C are considered irrelevant.

Our Tests

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 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, the fan was set at the full speed.

CoolerRoom Temp.NoiseSpeedCore Temp.Temp. Diff.
Cooler Master Hyper TX318 °C50 dBA2850 rpm69 °C51 °C
Corsair A7023 °C51 dBA2000 rpm66 °C43 °C
Corsair H10026 °C62 dBA2000 rpm64 °C38 °C
EVGA Superclock26 °C57 dBA2550 rpm67 °C41 °C
NZXT HAVIK 14020 °C46 dBA 1250 rpm65 °C45 °C
Thermalright True Spirit 12026 °C42 dBA1500 rpm82 °C56 °C
Zalman CNPS12X26 °C43 dBA1200 rpm71 °C45 °C
Zalman CNPS9900 Max20 °C51 dBA1700 rpm62 °C42 °C
Titan Fenrir Siberia Edition22 °C50 dBA2400 rpm65 °C43 °C
SilenX EFZ-120HA518 °C44 dBA1500 rpm70 °C52 °C
Noctua NH-L1220 °C44 dBA1450 rpm70 °C50 °C
Zalman CNPS8900 Extreme21 °C53 dBA2550 rpm71 °C50 °C
Gamer Storm Assassin15 °C48 dBA1450 rpm58 °C43 °C
Deepcool Gammaxx 40015 °C44 dBA1500 rpm60 °C45 °C
Cooler Master TPC 81223 °C51 dBA2350 rpm66 °C43 °C
Deepcool Gammaxx 30018 °C43 dBA1650 rpm74 °C56 °C
Intel stock cooler18 °C41 dBA2000 rpm97 °C79 °C
Xigmatek Praeton19 °C52 dBA2900 rpm83 °C64 °C
Noctua NH-U12P SE218 °C42 dBA1300 rpm69 °C51 °C
Deepcool Frostwin24 °C46 dBA1650 rpm78 °C54 °C
Thermaltake Frio Advanced13 °C56 dBA2000 rpm62 °C49 °C
Xigmatek Dark Knight Night Hawk Edition9 °C48 dBA2100 rpm53 °C44 °C
Thermaltake Frio Extreme21 °C53 dBA1750 rpm59 °C38 °C
Noctua NH-U9B SE212 °C44 dBA1700 rpm64 °C52 °C

In the graph below, you can see how many degrees Celsius hotter the CPU core is than the air outside the case. The lower this difference, the better is the performance of the cooler.

Noctua NH-U9B SE2

In the graph below, you can see how many decibels of noise each cooler makes.

Noctua NH-U9B SE2

Main Specifications

The main specifications for the Noctua NH-U9B SE2 CPU cooler include:

* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.

Conclusions

The Noctua NH-U9B SE2 CPU cooler performed well, especially if you keep in mind that it is a “compact” cooler, being only 4.9 inches (125 mm) tall. It is not aimed at super-hyper gaming computers built inside huge cases, but at computers mounted on small form factor cases where typical tower coolers with 120 mm fans won’t fit.

This cooler is also very quiet, which is very important on this kind of “compact” computer.

For being a compact CPU cooler with good cooling performance, excellent quality of construction, nice look, and low noise, the Noctua NH-U9B SE2 receives the Hardware Secrets Silver Award.

Originally at http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/Noctua-NH-U9B-SE2-CPU-Cooler-Review/1586


© 2004-14, Hardware Secrets, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Total or partial reproduction of the contents of this site, as well as that of the texts available for downloading, be this in the electronic media, in print, or any other form of distribution, is expressly forbidden. Those who do not comply with these copyright laws will be indicted and punished according to the International Copyrights Law.

We do not take responsibility for material damage of any kind caused by the use of information contained in Hardware Secrets.