New 92mm-fan Tower Coolers from Noctua

Cooling
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TEST RESULTS

Both NH-U9S and NH-D9L provide very good cooling for their size on our LGA1155 test system. The 31°C rise at full speed for the U9S is certainly very good performance, and the D9L is just 2°C behind. Cooling performance remains good as the fan is slowed; the 9°C increase for a SPL drop of 16 [email protected] (from 30 dBA to 14 dBA) is a very modest price. The cooling power at that fan speed is still good enough for any stock LGA11xx CPU to be well cooled at nominal room/in-case temperatures.

As expected, the U9S had a small but distinct edge over the dual fin-stack D9L. The advantage isn't entirely linear with fan speed, ranging 1~3°C. Our test system has at least a degree of error range, so all we'd really say is that the U9S seems to have a slight edge; the difference is likely to be too small to be significant for most users.

CPU Cooling: New Noctua 92mm fan Coolers
PWM %
RPM
Thermal Rise
U9S
D9L
100
2000
30.0
31°C
33°C
72
1500
21.5
34°C
35°C
60
1280
17.3
36°C
37°C
50
1080
14.0
40°C
41°C
40
870
12.2
45°C
46°C
35
780
11.8
46°C
49°C
Measuring mic positioned 1m at diagonal angle from the center of the heatsink.
Ambient noise level: 10~11 dBA.

As both coolers came equipped with extra clips for a second fan, we could hardly help trying dual-fan operation with the extra NF-A9 PWM fans Noctua also supplied. With the U9S, there's little question of how this is achieved: Mount the second fan blowing in the same direction on the other side of the fin stack.


U9S with second fan. Note use of Y-adapter, supplied with the retail package of the NF-A9 PWM fan.

There are more mounting options with the two fin stacks of the D9L In general, we find cooling is slightly better when a fan exhausts into the fin stack, so this was the way it was first mounted, both fans blowing towards what would be the back panel of the case (if our board is installed in a case). However as the photo below shows, the RAM prevented the second fan from seating properly against the fin-stack, and performance was only marginally improved over the single fan.


First 2-fan setup with D9L, fans blowing through the fin stacks towards the back. The RAM prevented the second fan from being seating correctly against the fin stack.

So the fans were reoriented. The fin stack closer to the I/O panel was sandwiched by the fans, which then pulled (rather than pushed) the air through the fins.


Final 2-fan setup with D9L.

With two fans, cooling performance improved a few degrees for both coolers, but the dual-stack D9L benefitted more and caught up with the larger U9S, even besting it by a degree at some points. (Was the slightly better contact of the D9L with our test CPU imprint a factor in these results? This is impossible to say with any degree of certainty.) Noise was up by about 2~3 dBA at the higher speed test points; the overall character of the noise was a touch more tonal but once it got below ~1100 RPM, it was too quiet for the slight increase in tonality to be a factor. At low speeds, the difference between two fans and one became minuscule. I had the impression that the U9S somehow sounded better, but the difference was too subtle to confirm. Certainly without extended A/B switching and comparisons, you'd be hard-pressed to hear any difference between the two coolers (with one or two fans).

CPU Cooling: New Noctua 92mm fan Coolers with 2 Fans
PWM %
RPM
Thermal Rise
U9S
D9L
100
2000
32.7
28°C
28°C
72
1500
24.5
31°C
30°C
60
1280
20.0
34°C
33°C
50
1080
16.2
35°C
34°C
40
870
13.5
39°C
38°C
35
780
12.7
41°C
41°C
Measuring mic positioned 1m at diagonal angle from the center of the heatsink.
Ambient noise level: 10~11 dBA.

OTHER TEMPERATURES

Data was gathered for the motherboard sensor temperatures of the PCH, VRM and RAM throughout the testing. This is difficult to display as there are so many data points for two heatsinks, with one and two fans. There's also some question of just how relevant this data is, as the placement of these components varies somewhat among motherboards, with some positions benefitting more from peripheral CPU heatsink airflow.

In general, with one fan, the two heatsinks provided identical cooling for PCH, VRM and RAM. With two fans, temperatures improved with both coolers, but the D9L provided some 2~3°C lower temperatures across all the data points. The only explanation that comes to mind is that because its two narrow fin stacks don't go as low as the single wider fin stack of the U9S, there is less impedance for airflow near the surface of the motherboard. The increased pressure of two fans blowing in unison reveals this difference.

Cooling: Noctua U9S/D9L Coolers
RPM
°C Rise over ambient
PCH
VRM
RAM
2000
30.0
28
27
21
1500
21.5
30
27
21
1280
17.3
30
30
22
1080
14.0
30
33
22
870
12.2
31
37
23
780
11.8
32
39
27
The two heatsinks with single fan provided virtually identical cooling of these components.

Cooling: Noctua U9S/D9L Coolers w/ 2 fans
Thermal Rise in °C
PCH
VRM
RAM
U9S
D9L
U9S
D9L
U9S
D9L
32.7
26
23
21
18
20
15
24.5
27
23
23
22
20
18
20.0
30
23
26
25
21
21
16.2
30
23
26
25
22
23
13.5
30
26
29
27
24
25
12.7
32
29
33
31
26
26
The two heatsinks with single fan provided virtually identical cooling of these components.


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