Noctua NH-D14 High Performance CPU Cooler Review

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Noctua is clearly not aiming to be another run-of-the-mill cooler manufacturer, they are looking to become the name stapled to high performance cooling.  The NH-D14 cooler is their flagship CPU cooling product, and you don't doubt it for a second.  Daunting size, two of the best fans on the market, an entire tube of high performance thermal paste, and an aggressive appearance leave no doubt in your mind that the NH-D14 comes to play, and play hard.

 

 

 

Introduction

Combining a massive six heatpipe dual radiator design with an exquisite NF-P14/NF-P12 dual fan configuration, the NH-D14 is built for ultimate quiet cooling performance. Topped off with a tube of Noctua’s award-winning NT-H1 thermal compound as well as the new SecuFirm2™ multi-socket mounting system, the NH-D14 is an elite choice for the highest demands in premium quality quiet cooling.

Features

NH-D14 6 heatpipe dual radiator design
Providing more surface area, better heat-distribution and superior airflow efficiency than conventional tower style heatsinks, the NH-D14’s six heatpipe dual radiator design was developed to provide ultimate quiet cooling performance in dual fan mode.

NH-D14 Dual NF-P14/NF-P12 fan setup
The NH-D14 sports a premium quality dual fan setup consisting of Noctua’s award-winning NF-P12 (120mm) and NF-P14 (140mm) fans, both of which feature Vortex-Control Notches, SCD technology and SSO-Bearings in order to achieve a perfect balance of performance and quietness.

NH-D14 Asymmetrical design for high compatibility
An asymmetrical design that gives more clearance towards the RAM slots ensures good compatibility despite of the cooler’s size. The NF-P12 fan can be moved upwards or left off in order to further improve compatibility.

NH-D14 Excellent component cooling
Hanging out at the bottom of the fin-stacks, the NF-P14 fan doesn’t only contribute to the NH-D14’s superb CPU cooling capabilities but also provides massive airflow over surrounding motherboard components and heatsinks, thus ensuring excellent component cooling performance.

SecuFirm SecuFirm2™ multi-socket mounting system
Noctua’s enthusiast grade SecuFirm2™ multi-socket mounting provides broad socket compatibility (LGA1366, LGA1156, LGA775, AM2, AM2+ and AM3) and meets the highest demands in safety, contact pressure and ease-of-use.

NT-H1 NT-H1 thermal compound
Noctua's much-acclaimed NT-H1 is a well proven pro-grade TIM solution that provides minimum thermal resistance, excellent ease-of-use and outstanding reliability.

 

Specifications

Socket compatibility Intel LGA1366, LGA1156, LGA775 & AMD AM2, AM2+, AM3 (backplate required)
Height (without fan) 160 mm
Width (without fan) 140 mm
Depth (without fan) 130 mm
Height (with fan) 160 mm
Width (with fan) 140 mm
Depth (with fan) 158 mm
Weight (without fan) 900 g
Weight (with fan) 1070/1240* g
Material Copper (base and heat-pipes), aluminium (cooling fins), soldered joints & nickel plating
Fan compatibility 140x140x25 & 120x120x25mm
Scope of Delivery
  • 1x NF-P14 premium fan
  • 1x NF-P12 premium fan
  • 2x Ultra-Low-Noise Adaptor (U.L.N.A.)
  • Y-Split Cable
  • 4x Vibration-Compensators (for using NF-P12 as case fan)
  • 4x Fan screws (for using NF-P12 as case fan)
  • NT-H1 high-grade thermal compound
  • SecuFirm2™ Mounting Kits
  • Noctua Metal Case-Badge
  • Warranty 6 Years


    Fan specifications
    Model Noctua NF-P14 & Noctua NF-P12
    Bearing SSO-Bearing
    Rotational Speed (+/- 10%) 1200 / 1300 RPM
    Rotational Speed with U.L.N.A. (+/- 10%) 900 / 900 RPM
    Airflow 110,3 / 92,3 m³/h
    Airflow with U.L.N.A. 83,7 / 63,4 m³/h
    Acoustical Noise 19,6 / 19,8 dB(A)
    Acoustical Noise with U.L.N.A. 13,2 / 12,6 dB(A)
    Input Power 1,2 / 1,08 W
    Voltage Range 12 V
    MTBF > 150.000 h

     


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    The Noctua NH-D14 arrives in a very attractive box which highlights the features and specifications of the beastly cooler, and the CAD drawings throughout are very attractive.

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    I don't normally go into packaging in much detail, but this case warrants an exception.  The outer box supports tow robust "spacers"  which hold yet another sturdy box very snugly.  They aren't about to allow your top-of-the-line cooler get damaged in transit, which is a rather common occurrence with the fragile fins of many coolers.  It would take a high amount of negligence, and a large amount of weight to damage this thing before it's out of its packaging.

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    My first full look at this behemoth made me double take.  I knew it would be big, I knew the two high-end fans, the NF-P14 and NF-P12 would make this thing wide and intimidating, but it really is another thing to handle it in person.  The fins are very sturdy, the appearance is modern, the Noctua logo is stamped beautifully on the top fins, the serpent-like dance of the six heatpipes is staggering... it's really an engineering masterpiece.

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    Here are the contents of the NH-D14's box, neatly bagged parts for AMD and Intel mounting, a special screwdriver, and a small "folder" containing two different installation instructions for either AMD or Intel sockets, and, of course, the NH-D14 itself with the P12 and P14 fans already mounted.

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    Side profile picture shows the towers and the push-pull from the fans, as well as the incredibly easy mounting system for the fans, as they just slide in, and clip into place anywhere on the fins on the tower.  The fins on the NH-D14 are far more robust than other coolers I've handled, and they don't appear prone to bending whatsoever!

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    The jagged design on the ends of the towers is really appealing, and it has an engineering function as well, as it keeps air from stagnating just outside of the fan, and allows higher static pressure in between the fins, improving airflow.

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    Noctua's logo is elegantly emboxxed on the tops of the towers, which have neat, silver-capped heatpipes erupting from the top fin.

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    The enormous array of 6 heatpipes is quite impressive as they burst out of the base through the vertical heatsink towers.  The base is also very very smooth, and ensures very flush contact with the CPU.  You may also see that the fan extends a bit below the towers, this passes air directly over the heatpipes, efficiently wicking away much of the heat from the pipes near the heat source.

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    Here is the NH-D14 next to a 20oz. Gatorade bottle, as a size reference, to give you a better idea of just how large it is!

     


    Installation

    I'll be honest, the idea of installing this beast had me a bit nervous, worried it would be tricky, would have problems fitting, etc.  Well, installation of the NH-D14 is as much a breeze as it could be.

    I opened the little "folder" which has separate installation packets for AMD or Intel installation (kudos on presentation!), and followed the very clear instructions, and I had it mounted in under ten minutes!  Rock solid stable, and nothing tricky about it, and it fit perfectly in my Antec 900!

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    It fits neatly in my mid tower Antec 900, and lines up awesomely with the rear fan and top fan, so in addition to the push-pull of the Noctua fans, you have another pull right out the back, and pulling air vertically through the heatsink out the top as well!  Case geometry compliments the NH-D14 awesomely!  It straddles the RAM modules easily and without event as well!

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    Looks intimidatingly awesome with the whole setup running!

     

    Testing

    Idle Testing

    For idle testing, we booted up the system, allowed the CPU to stabilized at below 2% usage, and then tested for 10 minutes, and we used RealTemp to record the CPU temperatures.

    Scythe Katana 3                                                                           Noctua NH-D14

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    Load Testing

    For our load tests, we used Prime95 to stress the CPU to 100%, and let it run that way for one hour, and then use RealTemp to record the temperatures

    Scythe Katana 3                                                                           Noctua NH-D14

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    Overclock Testing

    Idle

    Using the same methods as before for idle, except with a 25% Overclock, (3.3GHz, up from 2.66GHz stock)

    Scythe Katana 3                                                                           Noctua NH-D14

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    Load

    Using the same methods for stock load testing with the same 25% Overclock

    Scythe Katana 3                                                                           Noctua NH-D14

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    *NOTE-

    The load readings on Realtemp did not read properly after the overclock, but other tools were used to verify that the CPU was 100 percent loaded.

    Results

    As you can clearly see from the results of the load tests, the NH-D14 becomes increasingly efficient as greater loads are applied.  In comparison to the Katana 3 cooler, you can begin to see the dominance of this high-end cooler in overclocking conditions.  The Katana did better under idle conditions, and matched the NH-D14 in stock load conditions.  However, as the Katana 3 experienced 8-9°C increases after the overclock, the NH-D14 achieved an incredibly small 1-2°C increase!

    The incredible efficiency of the NH-D14 with high heat loads is the reason that it has set so many air cooling overclocking records.  The six heatpipes, dual towers, push-pull fans, and overall size of the heatsink enable it to achieve incredible thermal performance.  We were having trouble with the BIOS resetting on us when we tried to push the OC, but given the minimal gain in temperatures from a 25% OC, 4GHz rock stable seems like the furthest thing from impossible on this thing.

    Final Thoughts

    Like we said earlier, Noctua is looking to become the staple as the best of the best in air cooling, and, as of now, they've got the crown.  Numerous air cooling records have been set on the NH-D14, and it's by far the best cooler I've yet to use.  This performance does have a price though, as it is currently priced at around $100 with shipping included.  However, packaged with two ~$25 dollar fans, a ~$15 tube of high performance NT-H1 thermal paste, and great product presentation really put the word "value" next to a 100 dollar cooler.

    The primary concern for this cooler, after you've decided you need top-end performance and are willing to pay the price, is that it will fit in your case, and that it won't contact the RAM modules.  If you are using RAM with a large heatspreader or heatsink, you may need to make some careful measurements.  This cooler was designed to be as universal as possible, and clearing the RAM modules shouldn't be an issue.  It fit very well in my relatively small mid-tower Antec 900, so most cases should be in the green as far as it fitting.

    Really, this is about as good as it gets for air cooling, and if you are looking for the best, look no further.  On top of the impressive performance, the premium P12 and P14 fans are whisper quiet, the two fans quieter than many other singe-fan coolers we have yet tested.

    Pros:

    • Top of the line performance
    • Two premium fans included
    • High performance NT-H1 Thermal paste included
    • Easy mounting and clear instructions
    • Very quiet

    Cons:

    • Pricey (Good value to spite the price tag)
    • Heavy

     

    Noctua has developed a product they can be truly proud of, which is the best of the best for "standard" air cooling.  With that said, it goes without saying that we gladly present Noctua and its NH-D14 the Tech Kings Crown for a recommended product!

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