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New 92mm-fan Tower Coolers from Noctua

Noctua 92mm Fan Towers: D9L & U9S
Product
NH-D9L & NH-U9S

Tower CPU Coolers
Manufacturer
Noctua
Street Price
US$90

A new heatsink from Noctua is always worth more than a cursory glance, as this
Austrian brand has become one of the most consistent producers of high performance
CPU coolers in the past decade. The latest is a trio of tower models featuring
a new 92mm fan, models obviously meant to replace the previous NH-U9B SE2: NH-U9S,
NH-D9L and NH-D9DX i4 3U.

The U9S features a single fin-stack while the D9L and D9DX feature double fin-stacks.
The double fin-stack models are actually identical except for their mounting
hardware: The D9L is meant to mount on standard Intel and AMD motherboards while
the NH-D9DX i4 3U targets Intel Xeon LGA2011 based workstations and servers.
These are the first new coolers from Noctua since the flagship
dual 15cm fan NH-D15
was launched in spring 2014.

A scan through SPCR's CPU heatsink review database shows that while we've reviewed
a fair number of 92mm and 80mm fan tower heatsinks (mostly years ago before
the 120mm fan rose to prominence), the earlier NH-U9B is not among them, a curious
omission considering our long relationship with Noctua. The new coolers are
welcome additions, given the increasing popularity of smaller mini-ITX and micro-ATX
systems for gaming platforms. An initial impression is that they have dimensions
not dissimilar to the long discontinued Scythe Ninja Mini, a most useful high
performance small tower cooler in its day. Perhaps the new Noctuas can reprise
the Ninja Mini's role.

Noctua NH-U9S & D9L Specifications

(from the Noctua web site
)
 
NH-U9S
NH-D9L


Socket compatibility
Intel LGA2011-0, LGA2011-3, LGA1156, LGA1155,
LGA1150 & AMD AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, FM1, FM2, FM2+
Dimensions

(h x w x d)
125 x 95 x 68.5 mm
110x 95 x 95 mm
Weight w/o fan)
524g
428
Weight w/ fan
618g
531
Material Copper (base and heat-pipes), aluminum (cooling
fins), soldered joints & nickel plating
Fan 92x25mm; second 92mm fan optional
Scope of Delivery NF-A9 PWM premium fan

Low-Noise Adaptor (L.N.A.)

NT-H1 thermal compound

SecuFirm2™ Mounting Kit

Installation kit for second fan
Warranty 6 Years
NF-A9 PWM FAN Specifications
Model 2x Noctua NF-A15 PWM
Bearing SSO2
Max. Speed (+/- 10%) 2000 RPM;

1550 RPM
Max. Airflow 78.9 m³/h;

62.6 m³/h with L.N.A.
Max. Noise 22.8 dB(A)

16.3 dB(A) with L.N.A.
Input Power 1.2 W
MTBF > 150,000 hrs



The box and contents. Only the D9L box is shown; the U9S box and contents
are nearly identical.

The well-established Noctua system of orderly packaging and useful accessories
continues with these new 92mm fan coolers. The heatsink with mounted fan is
in one inner box, and a second box contains the hardware in Intel & AMD
bags, with a common set of extras. Included are an L-shaped screwdriver, a second
set of fan clips, and a low noise fan adapter. Support for a huge variety of
CPU sockets is standard, though not the old LGA775 or LGA1366. Users on these
outdated platforms are not left entirely in the cold as they are eligible for
a complimentary set of Noctua's older NM-I3 mounting kit.

PHYSICAL DETAILS

The overall size of the new heatsinks is similar, but there are
some difference in their potential cooling power judging by the total cooling
surface area and the number of heatpipes. At 125mm, the height of the U9S is
15mm greater than the D9L. This difference makes for more fins in the former.

The size of each fin on the two stacks of the D9L is approximately
9.5 x 3 cm, and there are 70 fins. The total area, counting both sides of each
fin, is ~4,000 square cm. The U9S has 41 fins measuring about 6.5 x 9 cm for
a total surface area of ~4,800 square cm, 20% more than the D9L. The U9S has
5 heatpipes which line up in two rows parallel to airflow. The D9L's 4 heatpipes
line up parallel to the fan, and perpendicular to airflow. These difference
seem significant enough to expect the performance will not be the same.



The U9S has a single stack of 41 fins, with 5 U-shaped 6mm thick heatpipes
running through them for a total of 10 heatpipe paths. The pipes run in
two rows parallel to the airflow.



The D9L has two stacks of 35 fins each with 4 U-shaped 6mm thick heatpipes
running through them (and the base) for 8 heatpipe paths. The pipes are
arranged in rows perpendicular to airflow. Note how the 92mm fan protrudes
above and below the fin stacks. The fan stick up less when the spring-loaded
bolts are screwed down in use.



The height difference is 15mm.



The base of both coolers are nicely polished, smooth and flat (as far
as we could tell). Note the five heatpipes running through the base of
the D9L. The mounting bolts are asymmetrical relative to the base (one
arm is shorter than the other) and run perpendicular to the fan.



Like other Noctua dual fin-stack heatsinks, both current and retired,
the mounting bolts run parallel to the fan, and they are symmetrical.
Four heatpipes here.


One consequence of the asymmetrical mounting arms of the U9S is a differently
curved pair of mounting bars. The IMB3 puts the two threaded posts for
the U9S spring loaded bolts a bit closer together. IMB2 bars are used
in many other Noctua coolers.

INSTALLATION

The most critical aspect of installation is that the heatsink
be securely mounted, as good contact between the cooler's base and the CPU heatspreader
provides more efficient heat conduction. Ideally it should also be a simple
procedure with the user having to handle as few pieces of hardware as possible.
Noctua's system is renowned for hitting all these marks.



The Intel backplate with fixed bolts for LGA115x motherboards only. LGA2011
is also supported but doesn't require a backplate.



Simple to assemble and incredibly effective, the installation scheme is one of the best in the business. The backplate bolts go through the motherboard mounting holes from the back side, plastic spacers are slipped over them to get them to the proper height, and the mounting clips are attached with thumb-nuts. The spring-loaded bolts on the heatsink itself complete assembly.



The U9S just fits within the space allotted for a CPU cooler on our LGA1155
test motherboard. Note orientation of the IMB3 bars.



The D9L fits in the same space as the U9S. Note the IMB2 bars are oriented
perpendicular to IMB3 bars for the U9S.



TIM imprint of U9S after testing was complete shows very good contact
across the center where it counts. There may have been a touch too much
TIM.



TIM imprint of D9S is better, with a bigger contact area. Our sample's
base may have a profile that fits better against the heatspreader of our
CPU as some variation in base flatness is just unavoidable. There is unlikely
to be any difference in contact pressure as they use the same spring loaded
bolts.

TESTING

Before thermal testing, we took some basic physical measurements.

Approximate Physical Measurements
NH-U9S NH-D9L
Weight
520 g + 100 g fan 440 g +100 g fan
Height 125 mm 110 mm
Fin count 41 35 x 2
Fin thickness
0.4 mm 0.4 mm
Fin spacing
1.8 mm 1.7 mm
Vertical Clearance*
40 mm 43 mm
* measured from motherboard PCB to bottom
fin of heatsink


Small Heatsink Comparison:

Average Fin Thickness & Spacing
Heatsink
Fin Thickness
Fin Spacing
Scythe Big Shuriken 2 Rev.B
0.29 mm
1.13 mm
Noctua NH-L9i
0.44 mm
1.16 mm
Scythe Big Shuriken
0.33 mm
1.19 mm
Reeven Vanxie
0.28 mm
1.39 mm
Reeven Arcziel
0.28 mm
1.41 mm
Cooler Master GeminII M4
0.29 mm
1.46 mm
Noctua NH-L12
0.49 mm
1.51 mm
Scythe Kozuti
0.12 mm
1.69 mm
Noctua NH-D9L
0.40 mm
1.70 mm
Noctua NH-U12S
0.45 mm
1.72 mm
Scythe Samurai ZZ
0.33 mm
1.74 mm
Thermalright TRUE Spirit 120M
0.43 mm
1.78 mm
Noctua NH-U9S
0.40 mm
1.80 mm
Prolimatech Panther
0.53 mm
1.80 mm
SilverStone Argon AR02
0.30 mm
1.85 mm
Phanteks PH-TC90LS
0.47 mm
1.90 mm

Testing on smaller heatsinks like these is done on our LGA1155
heatsink testing platform
. A summary of the test system and procedure
follows.

Key Components in LGA1155 Heatsink Test Platform:

  • Intel Core i5-2400 Sandy Bridge core, LGA1155, 3.1 GHz, 45nm, 95W
    TDP, overclocked/volted to 3.6 GHz and 1.300V.
  • Intel
    DP67BG
    ATX motherboard. P67 chipset.
  • Asus
    EAH3450 Silent
    graphics card.
  • Kingston SSDNow V 30GB 2.5" solid-state drive.
  • OCZ Platinum Extreme Low Voltage DDR3 memory. 2 x 2 GB, DDR3-1333
    in dual channel.
  • Seasonic X-400 SS-400FL 400W ATX power supply. Passively cooled
  • Noctua NT-H1 thermal compound

The system is silent under the test conditions, except for the CPU cooling
fan(s).

When appropraite, our reference fan(s) is used in place of the stock fans.

Reference Nexus 92 mm fan

Anechoic chamber measurements
Voltage
RPM
12V
17 dBA
1470
9V
14 dBA
1280
7V
12 dBA
1010

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
    .
  • AIDA64 system monitoring utility.
  • 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 any real application.
    All cores and threads are used to ensure full stress.
  • CPU-Z,
    used to monitor the CPU speed to determine when overheating occurs.
  • 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 is off to ensure that system noise
do 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 temperature recorded is the highest single core
reading. 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 21~23°C.

STOCK FAN MEASUREMENTS

Specifications: Noctua NF-A9 PWM Fan
Manufacturer Noctua Power Rating 1.2 W
Model Number NF-A9 PWM Airflow Rating 78.9 m³/h;

62.6 m³/h with L.N.A.
Bearing Type SSO2 Speed Rating 2000 RPM

1550 RPM with L.N.A
Frame Size 92 x 92 x 25 mm Noise Rating 22.8 dB(A)

16.3 dB(A) with L.N.A.
Hub Size 34 mm Header Type 4-pin PWM
Blade Diameter 85 mm Starting Voltage 4.2~4.4 V
Cable Length 20 cm Weight 100 g
Corner Type Open Retail Availability Yes

Additional notes:

The same NF-A9 PWM fan is used in both of these new heatsinks: A 7-blade 92mm
fan with 4 struts, good geometry for low tonality and rubber vibration-damping
corner covers. The low noise adapter (L.N.A) brings the fan speed down to about
1550 RPM, but if you plan on using PWM motherboard headers, the LNA can be better
utilized elsewhere in your system. The Noctua NF-A9 PWM fan is available as
a retail fan, packaged with a rich set of accessories: 30cm extension cable,
4-pin Y cable (for use with another fan on the same header), LNA, 4x fan screws
and 4x anti-vibration plug mounts.



Noctua NF-A9 PWM retail fan package.






The stock fan's range according to Fan Xpert2: PWM control on the top
top, DC control on the bottom.

According to ASUS Fan Xpert2, the stock fan can effectively operate at less
than 200 RPM under PWM control. Fan Xpert2 states that the startup threshold
for voltage control is >800 RPM and we confirmed manually that our samples
could reliably start with 4.2~4.4V at ~800 RPM. Since these are PWM fans meant
to be connected to the CPU fan header on the motherboard, they were checked
for speed/noise only on PWM control. All motherboards have PWM control on the
CPU fan header these days. The % value and RPM shown in the table below were
the same whether controlled via the ASUS FanXpert 2 or SpeedFan. There's little
point going below about 800 RPM; the fan is so quiet at this point that it's
almost inaudible even in our anechoic chamber.

Stock Fan Measurements
PWM %
RPM
off cooler
on cooler
2 fans on cooler
100
2000
29.0
30.0
32.7
72
1500
21.2
21.5
24.5
60
1280
18.2
17.3
20.0
50
1080
15.0
14.0
16.2
40
870
12.0
12.2
13.5
35
780
11.7
11.8
12.7
Measuring mic positioned 1m at diagonal angle from
the center of the heatsink.

Ambient noise level: 10~11 dBA.

Measuring 29 [email protected] off the heatsink(s) in our custom frame, the stock fan
is fairly loud at their top speed of ~2,000 RPM. The smaller diameter blades,
compared to 120mm and larger fans, sound higher pitched, but it's a fairly smooth
sounding fan. The low noise adapter reduces speed to ~1,550 RPM, which makes
the fan fairly quiet at 21~22 [email protected] It needs to get under ~1350 RPM to fall
below 20 dBA. By about 1100 RPM, it is close to the ambient noise level of a
very quiet room. Anything below 1000 RPM makes it near silent.

Mounted on either cooler, the fan makes more noise due to the turbulence effects
of the heatsink fins being so close. When two fans are used, the +3 dB rule
of a second identical noise source holds only in the upper half of the measured
points. As SPL gets closer to the ambient noise floor of the chamber (10~11
dBA), the measured difference gets smaller. This is a measurement error; below
about 15 dBA, our readings become higher than they should be. For example, if
our chamber had a noise floor of 0 dBA, the single fan would probably measure
lower than 11.8 dBA and we'd see closer to a 3 dBA difference between one fan
and two fans. In terms of perceived noise, the difference between two fans and
one on the heatsink is hard to tell at speeds below 1,000 RPM. One has to get
quite close to the cooler to differentiate. Undoubtedly, our subjective perception
is influenced by the ambient noise floor, not just our measurement gear.





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.

HEATSINK COMPARISONS

The new Noctua 92mm fan tower coolers fall in the middle of our smaller heatsink
performance table. Note that other coolers ranked higher are substantially bigger,
with larger fans. With two fans, they rise a couple steps. Note that it is quite
difficult to rank the heatsinks perfectly, as relative performance varies as
fan speed (noise) is moved up and down.

°C rise Comparison (CPU Temperature)
20
19
18
17
16
15
14
13
12
Noctua NH-L12

(120 & 92 mm fans)
33
-
-
34
-
35
-
36
Thermalright TRUE Spirit 120M
-
32
-
-
-
34
36
38
Noctua NH-U12S
-
33
-
34
-
-
35
38
Noctua NH-L12

(120 mm fan)
-
-
37
-
-
38
-
39
42
Noctua NH-D9L 2 fans
33
-
-
-
34
-
39
41
-
Noctua NH-U9S 2 fans
34
-
-
-
35
-
38
41
-
Prolimatech Panther
-
-
-
-
-
35
-
42
-
SilverStone Argon AR02
-
-
-
-
38
-
-
-
43
Noctua NH-U9S
-
-
-
36
-
-
40
45
46
Noctua NH-D9L
-
-
-
37
-
-
41
46
49
Scythe Big Shuriken 2 Rev.B
-
39
-
-
-
43
-
48
Reeven Arcziel
-
-
-
-
42
-
-
47
-
SilverStone Argon AR02 (ref. 92 mm fan)
36
-
-
42
-
-
-
49
Scythe Samurai ZZ
-
-
45
-
-
46
-
52
Noctua NH-L12

(92 mm fan)
42
-
44
-
47
-
51
57
Scythe Big Shuriken
43
-
-
-
-
46
-
61
Cooler Master GeminII M4
-
-
-
53
56
-
64
Noctua NH-L9i
-
-
56
-
-
61
-
-
-
Scythe Kozuti
-
-
57
-
-
62
-
65
Phanteks PH-TC90LS
-
-
67
-
-
-
69
-
-
Reeven Vanxie
-
66
-
-
-
-
77
-
F

The new Noctua 92mm fan tower coolers fare similarly in VRM cooling.

°C rise Comparison (VRM Temperature)
20
19
18
17
16
15
14
13
12
Noctua NH-L12

(120 & 92 mm fans)
17
-
-
19
-
21
-
23
Thermalright TRUE Spirit 120M
-
21
-
-
-
24
26
27
Prolimatech Panther
-
-
-
-
-
24
-
30
-
Noctua NH-L12

(120 mm fan)
-
-
24
-
-
26
-
27
32
Noctua NH-D9L 2 fans
25
-
-
-
25
-
27
31
-
Noctua NH-U9S 2 fans
26
-
-
-
26
-
29
33
-
Noctua NH-U12S
-
29
-
30
-
-
31
33
Noctua NH-D9L/U9S
-
-
-
30
-
-
33
37
39
Noctua NH-U12S

(ref. 120 mm fan)
-
-
-
32
-
-
34
-
34
SilverStone Argon AR02
-
-
-
-
33
-
-
-
35
Scythe Big Shuriken 2 Rev.B
-
29
-
-
-
34
-
39
Noctua NH-L12

(92 mm fan)
28
-
31
-
33
-
38
43
SilverStone Argon AR02 (ref. 92 mm fan)
29
-
-
37
-
-
-
40
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
-
-
-
Phanteks PH-TC90LS
-
-
46
-
-
-
48
-
-
Reeven Vanxie
-
45
-
-
-
-
56
-
F



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.

The 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 7 second segments of room ambient noise, then the
fan at various levels in 10 second segments. 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

The Noctua NH-U9S and NH-D9L are welcome additions to the Noctua line of high
quality CPU coolers. They expand cooling options for Silent PC enthusiasts seeking
smaller quiet systems. Both of these coolers are very close to the size of the
long discontinued Scythe Ninja
Mini
, a unique short tower heatsink in its day. The 110mm and 125mm height
clearance and small footprint of these coolers allows them to be used in much
smaller cases than tower coolers normally allow. They fare well in comparison
to both tower and top-down 120mm fan heatsinks, though they can't challenge
the best tested on our LGA1155 platform. The improved performance with an additional
fan in push-pull mode at very low noise levels makes these coolers even more
versatile.

The big plus for the PC builder is that they're almost as low profile as the
bigger top-down fan heatsinks, but have the advantage of blowing the heat out
towards a nearby back or top panel vent. The efficient evacuation of heat from
the case is a key element in quiet PC cooling. We've already used the NH-D9L
successfully in such a role in two recent small Gaming Build Guides — Quiet
Mini-ITX Gaming Build Guide #2: NCASE M1 Edition
and Journey
to a Silent MicroATX Gamer
. In both of these builds the only other cooler
we know of that might have fulfilled the same role is the NH-U9S.

The traditional Noctua strengths of excellent secure mounting, ease of installation
and thoughtful accessories combine with the absence of any real competition
from other brands to make them compelling. The only other similarly small tower
cooler in recent memory is the Silverstone
Argon AR02
, and though it's in the same ball park for noise and performance,
its 134mm height makes it a bit too tall for places where the 110mm D9L would
easily fit. The 120mm fan top-down Noctua
NH-L12
is a viable option if there's enough room around the CPU and room
above for the airflow to the fan. The Scythe
Big Shuriken 2
might also work, again assuming the fins don't bump
against anything around the CPU. Both the Sycthe and the NH-L12 bring more dimensional
issues that don't apply to the U9S and D9L.

The Noctua NH-U9S has a suggested retail price of $59.90, and the NH-D9L lists
for $56.95. An extra A9 PWM fan carries of suggested price of $20.90, so a dual-fan
setup with either of these coolers gets right up there among the premium big
heatsinks. Still, if small and quiet is beautiful to you, these new 92mm fan
tower coolers from Noctua are tough to beat.

Our thanks to Noctua
for the NH-U9S, NH-D9L and NF-A9 PWM samples.



Noctua NH-U9S and NH-D9L receive the SPCR Editor's Choice award.

* * *

SPCR Articles of Related Interest:

SilverStone Argon AR02
CPU Cooler


Scythe
Kotetsu CPU Cooler: A Compact King

be
quiet! Shadow Rock Slim CPU Cooler


Noctua NH-U12S Slim Tower Heatsink

Noctua NH-L12 Low Profile Cooler


Scythe Ninja Mini
Scythe Big Shuriken
2

* * *

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