Noctua NH-L9i Low Profile CPU Cooler

Cooling
Viewing page 5 of 5 pages. Previous 1 2 3 4 5

Heatsink Comparison Table

°C rise Comparison (CPU Temperature)
SPL (dBA@1m)
20
19
18
17
16
15
14
13
12
Noctua NH-L12
(both fans)
33
-
-
34
-
35
-
36
Noctua NH-L12
(120mm fan)
-
-
37
-
-
38
-
39
42
Prolimatech Panther
-
-
-
-
-
35
-
42
-
Scythe Big Shuriken 2 Rev.B
-
39
-
-
-
43
-
48
Reeven Arcziel
-
-
-
-
42
-
-
47
-
Scythe Samurai ZZ
-
-
45
-
-
46
-
52
Noctua NH-L12
(92mm fan)
42
-
44
-
47
-
51
57
Scythe Big Shuriken
43
-
-
-
-
46
-
61
Cooler Master GeminII M4
-
-
-
53
56
-
64
Noctua NH-L9i
-
-
56
-
-
61
-
-
-
Noctua NH-L9i
(ref. 92 mm fan)
55
-
-
-
-
63
-
-
Scythe Kozuti
-
-
57
-
-
62
-
65
Reeven Vanxie
-
66
-
-
-
-
77
-
F

Given its size, the NH-L9i was easily dominated by most of the heatsinks we've tested in the past. But compared to coolers with similar size profiles, the NH-L9i came out on top, albeit just barely — the Scythe Kozuti came within one degree. The Kozuti is slightly taller at 40 mm but it weighs about 40% less and it's paired with a smaller fan as well.

°C rise Comparison (VRM Temperature)
SPL (dBA@1m)
20
19
18
17
16
15
14
13
12
Noctua NH-L12
(both fans)
17
-
-
19
-
21
-
23
Prolimatech Panther
-
-
-
-
-
24
-
30
-
Noctua NH-L12
(120mm fan)
-
-
24
-
-
26
-
27
32
Scythe Big Shuriken 2 Rev.B
-
29
-
-
-
34
-
39
Noctua NH-L12
(92mm fan)
28
-
31
-
33
-
38
43
Reeven Arcziel
-
-
-
-
38
-
-
41
-
Scythe Big Shuriken
28
-
-
-
-
30
-
47
Cooler Master GeminII M4
-
-
-
34
38
-
49
Scythe Kozuti
-
-
36
-
-
40
-
45
Scythe Samurai ZZ
-
-
38
-
-
39
-
47
Noctua NH-L9i
-
-
40
-
-
46
-
-
-
Noctua NH-L9i
(ref. 92 mm fan)
38
-
-
-
-
48
-
-
Reeven Vanxie
-
45
-
-
-
-
56
-
F

For VRM cooling, the Kozuti was actually superior, probably because its fan is closer to the board components while the NH-L9i's fan has to blow through a dense pack of fins.

MP3 SOUND RECORDINGS

These recordings were made with a high resolution, lab quality, digital recording system inside SPCR's own 11 dBA ambient anechoic chamber, then converted to LAME 128kbps encoded MP3s. We've listened long and hard to ensure there is no audible degradation from the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent a quick snapshot of what we heard during the review.

These recordings are intended to give you an idea of how the product sounds in actual use — one meter is a reasonable typical distance between a computer or computer component and your ear. The recording contains stretches of ambient noise that you can use to judge the relative loudness of the subject. Be aware that very quiet subjects may not be audible — if we couldn't hear it from one meter, chances are we couldn't record it either!

The recording starts with 5~10 second segments of room ambiance, then the fan at various levels. For the most realistic results, set the volume so that the starting ambient level is just barely audible, then don't change the volume setting again.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Naturally, the Noctua NH-L9i can't compare to some of the larger CPU coolers on the market. Against the Noctua NH-L12, arguably the premiere small heatsink, you can expect a hit of 15~20°C and that's with the NH-L12 in its shorter 66 mm tall, single 120 mm fan configuration. When you take into account that the NH-L9i is a mere 37 mm tall, its performance seems rather impressive. Additionally, unlike the NH-L12 and Scythe Big Shuriken 2, it doesn't interfere with the PCI-E 16x slot on most Intel LGA1155 mini-ITX motherboards.

In a vacuum, the NH-L9i would be the choice for an ultra-slim mini-ITX build, but sadly for Noctua and lucky for us, it has a very strong competitor in the Scythe Kozuti. The Kozuti trailed the NH-L9i by a negligible amount on our test platform despite having a smaller fan and a much lighter build. Scythe designed their low profile cooler with a fan right over the base where it makes the most difference and maximizing the heat dissipation area by using very thin fins. Noctua on the other hand, used a larger fan blowing down on densely packed and very thick nickel-plated fins (which undoubtedly impedes airflow). Its cooling potential was also limited by the NH-L9i's mounting system which also isn't up to Noctua's usual standards, creating less than ideal contact with the CPU heatspreader.

The NH-L9i primary advantage lies in its acoustics — its fan sounds incredibly smooth compared to the more buzzy Scythe model — and its virtually guaranteed fit on any LGA1155 board, including mini-ITX, without interfering with any components or addons. The NH-L9i is 3 mm shorter, and it does not extend out beyond the "no fly zone" area dedicated for the heatsink. In contrast, the top portion of the Kozuti fin bank extends out farther, and on some mini-ITX boards, it can interfere with tall RAM heatspreaders and the card in the PCIe slot. The Kozuti is just big enough that it will not work on some Zotac mini-ITX boards with big VRM heatsinks, for example, and the spacing between the edge of the finstack and the video card is always very small, tight enough that you'd be wise to insert a thin insulator of some kind in case of accidental contact.

You can also swap the NH-L9i's fan with a thicker model, though doing with our reference fan didn't result in any improvement in our tests. It's up to you whether the superior acoustics and assured pysical compatibility justifies the NH-L9i's US$10 ~$15 price premium over the Kozuti. Like most small heatsinks though, both are rather expensive for the amount of materials involved — that's just the price you have to pay for niche products.

Our thanks to Noctua for the NH-L9i CPU cooler sample.

* * *


Noctua NH-L9i is Recommended by SPCR

SPCR Articles of Related Interest:

Zalman CNPS9900DF Dual Fan Flower Heatsink
Prolimatech MK-26 Multi-VGA Cooler
SilverStone Heligon HE02: Monster Fanless CPU Cooler
Prolimatech Panther CPU Cooler
Phanteks PH-TC14PE Dual Fan CPU Heatsink
GELID GX-7 & Tranquillo Rev.2 CPU Coolers

* * *

Discuss this article in the SPCR forums.



Previous 1 2 3 4 5

Cooling - Article Index
Help support this site, buy from one of our affiliate retailers!
Search: