Noctua NH-D14 flagship dual-fan CPU cooler

Cooling
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TESTING

We begin with some basic physical measurements.

Noctua NH-D14: SPCR Measurements
Weight 940g (heatsink alone)
1080g (w/ 14cm fan)
1100g (w/ 12cm fan)
1240g (w/ both fans)
Fin thickness ~0.43 mm
Fin spacing ~2.33 mm
Vertical Clearance (northbridge) ~53 mm (measured from the PCB to the bottom fin)
Overhang
(on power supply side of typical case)
negative 11 mm (as mounted with fans blowing toward the motherboard I/O or back panel of case); the fins stayed within the boundary of the motherboard by 11mm.

A comparison of fin thickness and spacing among various tower heatsinks is interesting. The NH-D14's fins fall in the middle, neither tight nor loose.

Comparison: Approximate Fin Thickness & Spacing
Heatsink
Fin Thickness
Fin Spacing
Scythe Ninja 2
0.39 mm
3.68 mm
Thermalright HR-01 Plus
0.45 mm
3.15 mm
Noctua NH-U12P
0.44 mm
2.63 mm
Noctua NH-C12P
0.47 mm
2.54 mm
Thermolab Baram
0.44 mm
2.52 mm
Noctua NH-D14
0.43 mm
2.33 mm
Prolimatech Megahalems
0.50 mm
2.00 mm
Xigmatek HDT-S1283
0.33 mm
1.96 mm
Scythe Kabuto & Zipang 2
0.34 mm
1.94 mm
Scythe Mugen-2
0.31 mm
1.89 mm
ZEROtherm Nirvana
0.43 mm
1.82 mm
Zerotherm Zen
0.37 mm
1.80 mm
Zalman CNPS10X Extreme
0.42 mm
1.50 mm
Thermalright Ultra-120
0.45 mm
1.42 mm

Testing was done on our new i7-1366 heatsink testing platform. A summary of the test system and procedure follows.

Key Components in Heatsink Test Platform:

  • Intel Core i7-965 Extreme Nehalem core, LGA1366, 3.2GHz, 45nm, 130W TDP.
  • Asus P6T SE ATX motherboard. A LGA1366 X58 chipset board with short solid-state capacitors around the CPU socket, low profile northbridge and VRM heatsinks, and mounting holes for both LGA1366 and LGA775 coolers.
  • Asus EAH3450 Silent graphics card.
  • Intel X25-M 80GB 2.5" solid-state drive. Chosen for silence.
  • 2GB QiMonda DDR3 memory. 2 x 1GB DDR3-1066.
  • Seasonic X-650 SS-650KM 650W ATX power supply. This PSU is semit-passively cooled. At the power levels of our test platform, its fan does not spin.
  • Arctic Silver Lumière: Special fast-curing thermal interface material, designed specifically for test labs.
  • Nexus 120 fan (part of our standard testing methodology; used when possible with heatsinks that fit 120x25mm fans)

The system is silent under the test conditions, except for the CPU cooling fan(s). The CPU/system is run in two modes:

  • Default - using all the stock settings in the BIOS. The AC power drawn by the system is 165~175W, depending on how well the CPU is cooled. When the CPU runs hotter, so does the Voltage Regulator Module on the motherboard which powers the CPU, and it becomes less efficient, causing higher system power consumption.
  • Overclocked - to 3.6 GHz, 1.4V Vcore. This is to simulate typical/extreme overclocking by an enthusiast/gamer. The increased core voltage is is source of most of the increased power draw. The AC power of the system measures 215~245W, depending on how how the CPU/VRM is allowed to run.

There is no way for us to accurately determine the power drawn by the CPU. It is extremely difficult to isolate the CPU's power because the i7-1366 draws power from both the AUX12V socket as well as the +5V and +3.3V lines on the mainboard. We can only guesstimate it to be at least 110W in default mode, and perhaps ~160W at our overclocked setting.

Normally, our reference fan is used whenever possible, the measured details of which are shown below.

Reference Nexus 120mm fan
Anechoic chamber measurements
Voltage
SPL@1m
Speed
12V
16 dBA
1100 RPM
9V
13 dBA
890 RPM
7V
12 dBA
720 RPM
5V
11 dBA
530 RPM

Measurement and Analysis Tools

  • Extech 380803 AC power analyzer / data logger for measuring AC system power.
  • Custom-built, four-channel variable DC power supply, used to regulate the fan speed during the test.
  • PC-based spectrum analyzer: SpectraPlus with ACO Pacific mic and M-Audio digital audio interfaces.
  • Anechoic chamber with ambient level of 11 dBA or lower
  • Various other tools for testing fans, as documented in our standard fan testing methodology.
  • SpeedFan, used to monitor the on-chip thermal sensors. The sensors are not calibrated, so results are not universally applicable. The hottest core reading is used.
  • Prime95, used to stress the CPU heavily, generating more heat than most real applications. 8 instances are used to ensure that all 4 cores (with Hyper-threading) are stressed.
  • CPU-Z, used to monitor the CPU speed to determine when overheating occurs; throttling has been observed to occur at between 95~100°C.
  • Thermometers to measure the air temperature around the test platform and near the intake of the heatsink fan.

Noise measurements are made with the fans powered from the lab's variable DC power supply while the rest of the system was off to ensure that system noise did not skew the measurements.

Load testing was accomplished using Prime95 to stress the processor, and the graph function in SpeedFan was used to ensure that the load temperature is stable for at least ten minutes. The stock fans were tested at various voltages to represent a good cross-section of airflow and noise performance.

The ambient conditions during testing were 10~11 dBA and 20~21°C.



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