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The Noctua NH-D14 is a grand statement by a company that specializes only in
high quality CPU coolers and matching fans. The flagship model impresses in
- High quality manufacturing, including soldering of fins to heatpipes.
- Superbly design mounting hardware for consistent, tight, repeatable installation
in every instance, on both AMD and Intel desktop motherboards. It seems perfectly
safe to mount on any board, despite its high mass. The other HS with comparable
mounting hardware is the Prolimatech Megahalems, but it is only compatible
with Intel socket boards.
- Design should fit most systems without issues, despite large size.
- High quality accessories such as ULNA.
- Great attention to details.
- Top cooling results.
The Noctua NH-D14 in its stock form nudges past the Prolimatech Megahelams
for best cooling of a hot, overclocked i7 processor at sub-20 [email protected] noise level.
The concept of dual-fans on a heatsink in push-pull mode has been explored before
by other manufacturers, but the implementation by Noctua is better than all
the rest thus far. (Thermalright IFX-14 is the only obviously worthy competitor
we haven't reviewed; a sample has been requested.) The greatest benefit comes
at lower fan speeds, where the usual drop in pressure with a single fan is avoided,
thus maintaining very good cooling at very low noise levels.
Our experiments with the two stock fans suggests that the 14cm fan is doing
most of the cooling work, although the 12cm fan is very helpful at lower speed
with a red-hot CPU. Depite all the features to reduce noise and improve airflow,
the Noctua fans are not exceptionally quiet. Their tonal aspects are sometimes
intrusive, and their ultimate noise-to-airflow ratio is not remarkable.
Far better in this regard are the Nexus 120 fans that were swapped in place
of the stock fans. With the i7 CPU overclocked and overvolted, the two Nexus
fans on the NH-D14 matched the best cooling performance of the stock fans while
making less noise. What makes this result all the more compelling is that the
Nexus 120 is really just a slower version of the Yate Loon sleeve bearing 120mm
fan that's sold in the US and Canada for $5~7.
Our findings on the combined noise of two Nexus 120 fans will likely spark
another massive discussion in our forums about multiple fans for CPU heatsinks.
It's highly likely that with a reasonably quiet, smooth fan, the slight increase
in noise of two of them at a low speed (say under 700 RPM) over one is probably
completely inaudible in most PCs for most users. Yet, at low speeds, the cooling
performance will definitely be boosted assuming your heatsink isn't already
at the limits of its intrinsic thermal transfer capability (read: not too small).
The question of 2-fan performance on other heatsinks we've rated highly with
one fan will have to be addressed, hopefully in the near future, and perhaps
in every new review of heatsinks that accommodate two fans. The cost in additional
time and effort and in review complexity will have to be weighed. In the meanwhile,
users of other highly rated heatsinks such as the Megahalems, the various Thermalrights,
Scythes, Xigmateks, etc. may want to try the simple experiment of adding a second
Getting back to the NH-D14, Noctua's flagship model sets the highest standards,
and it is a welcome addition to the range of CPU heatsinks for performance enthusiasts,
especially those who want to experience their power computing silently.
Many of its features really deserve to be applauded; it's only the relatively
ordinary performance of its fans and the high sticker price which stops it from
getting an Editor's Choice award.
* Top-notch performance
* Great manufacturing quality and attention to details
* Secure, consistent, easy to use mounting system
* Fans fairly quiet when undervolted
* Good mechanical design should fit in any high performance case.
* Fans still not quite quiet enough for real silencers
Our thanks to Noctua
for the NH-D14 sample.
The Noctua NH-D14 is Recommended by SPCR
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Articles of Related Interest
SPCR's 2010 CPU Heatsink
Thermalright HR-01 Plus
Cooler Master Hyper Z600
Intel's HSF for Core 2 Extreme
Thermalright Ultra-120 extreme
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Discuss this article in the SPCR forums.
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