Noctua NH-D14 flagship dual-fan CPU cooler

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Noctua split the mounting hardware into three different bags with AMD parts in one, Intel in another, and a set with parts common to both platforms. The AMD set requires removal of the standard plastic HS retention bracket that comes prefitted on most AMD boards, and installation of a metal retention bracket to which the NH-D14 bolts. The vast majority of AMD boards come equipped with the motherboard backplate that is required.

The Intel mounting kit is a bit more complex, as it is designed for compatibility with all three current Intel sockets: 775, 1156 and 1366. The difference among these three is just the distance between the mounting holes, which are positioned at the corners of a square.

Intel mounting hardware.

The supplied backplate has three marked positions on each wing, one for each of the Intel socket types. A threaded bolt is fitted to the correct position on each corner. A rubber cushioning/insulating pad is at each order; this pad does double duty as a temporary friction fit holder for the bolts during installation. This is very clever indeed.

Blackplate with bolts held in place by the friction fit of the rubber pads in the corners. The flanges on the underside lock the bolt heads in place.

Backplate in place under board, with bolts protruding through for attachment of top metal brackets.

Twin brackets attached, screwed tight and ready for heatsink.

The center fan is removed to access the two spring-loaded mounting bolts.

The entire installation process is meticulously thought out, and trouble-free. It took perhaps five minutes for us to complete, with no concern at any point about applying too much or not enough pressure on any single point.

An important point here is that the mounting kit supplied with the NH-D14 is not unique to the flagship heatsink; it is part and parcel of all the heatsinks for desktop systems that Noctua offers today. The high quality, security, ease and thorough systems design of Noctua's approach to heatsink mounting comes as close to SPCR's expressed ideal than any other heatsink maker has come before. From our 2010 HS Test Plaform article:

The mounting mechanism is mentioned because it maintains the all-important contact between CPU and heatsink. The amount of pressure brought to bear on the interface also affects cooling. It is also the only real interface between HS and user. We may say we use a HS, but it's not the same way that we use a car, for example. We interact constantly with a car while using it. User interaction with a HS really happens only when the HS is installed or uninstalled. If this design aspect is poor and results in the user having difficulty with installation, or failing to mount the HS correctly, then poor cooling of the CPU can result. Some mounting mechanisms are poor, both difficult to install and lacking in precision or security; others are integrated wonderfully into the heatsink and easy to use. The mounting mechanism is a critical part of the HS design.

With its latest mounting apparatus, Noctua meets or exceeds all of our expectations for enthusiast CPU coolers.

Installation complete, ready for testing.

The wire fan fan clips also deserve a closer look, as they are simple, unusually well-designed and work very well.

Each fan has a pair of hooked clips that attached to little plastic eyelets loosely fitted to the mounting holes in the fan. A little tug and press is all that's need to mount or remove a fan.

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