Noctua NH-D15 Review

Noctua NH-D15 Review

When your cooler just cant be too big, you look to Noctua. Our article today is a Noctua NH-D15 Review.

Noctua NH-D15 Review – Packaging and Bundle

noctua-nh-d15-review-boxnoctua-nh-d15-review-pack

noctua-nh-d15-review-bundlenoctua-nh-d15-review-fan

Noctua package the NH-D15 in a large box which focuses more on the features of the product, rather than showing us an image of the cooler. Inside we find the cooler incredibly well protected in its own cardboard box, then surrounded by foam as well as the main retail box. All of the bundled items including a second fan have their own sub box and speaking of the fans, they are 14cm models with a part number of NF-A15. The fans have rubber bumpers to reduce vibration and also feature SS02 bearings. Looking at the specifications we have a RPM 1500(max) with 140.2m3/h airflow, 24.6dBA and a MTBF of 150,000h. Each fan connects to our motherboard by a 4pin PWM plug and to offer complete flexibility Noctua bundle low noise adapters which reduce the RPM to 1200 and dBA to 19.2. Also bundled are kits for all recent AMD/Intel sockets (Noctua SecuFirm2), a screwdriver, case badge, thermal paste and product documentation. For those who are interested, here is a short un-boxing of the cooler by Dave Chaos.

Noctua NH-D15 review – The Cooler

noctua-nh-d15-review-heatsink noctua-nh-d15-review-heatsink2

As you may have been able to tell from the video and images above, this is a fairly large cooler. It measures 165x150x161mm when fully configured and weighs 1320g. There are two blocks of aluminium fins used here and through them pass six copper heatpipes. Those, like the CPU plate, are nickel plated and each joint is soldered.

noctua-nh-d15-review-block

Noctua NH-D15 Review – Installation

noctua-nh-d15-review-install1 noctua-nh-d15-review-install2

Installation of the cooler is very simple. On AMD systems and Intel 115x we use the bundled backplate and pass screws through the pre-drilled motherboard holes. On socket 2011, including 2011-3 X99 boards, we insert four screws into the stock Intel mounts. From there the install is the same on all platforms. Add our brakets (just four more screws) and then after removing the fan from the heatsink and applying the thermal paste to the CPU we screw the cooler in place. Re-attach the fan, add the second if needed and then plug them into our motherboard and we are done.

Noctua NH-D15 review – Performance and Conclusion

Note: The above installation images were taken on an MSI X99 motherboard, testing was performed on the Gigabyte X99 Gaming 5 using an i7-5960X CPU.

noctua-nh-d15-review-installed

Starting with the build quality of the Noctua NH-D15 we have a product which looks and feels very well made. Every component is manufactured to a high standard and the finish applied, exceptional. We note that it feels incredibly sturdy in hand and even down to little touches such as anti-vibration mounts Noctua seem to have every angle covered. Design wise, as always with Noctua the finish on the cooler, mixed with the colour scheme on the fan looks great also. This is only enhanced by the massive size. Speaking of that size, yes the cooler is huge but the fin arrangement is as compatible with memory modules as we could hope. There are of course some great lower profile DDR4 modules around (as there are DDR3) so building a system with high spec memory shouldn’t be an issue. Just choose wisely.

In terms of performance the NH-D15 circulates a large amount of air in our system, assisting with overall temperatures but looking at the CPU specifically it is no surprise that the cooler performs well. With a stock CPU it outperforms smaller alternatives (so basically all other coolers!) and when we move to an overclocked speed the strength of the cooler shows through, exceeding entry level liquid cooling while maintaining decent noise levels. Those who want low noise operation can of course stick to one or two fans with the Low Noise Adapters that Noctua bundle.

Stock i7-5960X:
 noctua-nh-d15-review-temps1 

Intel i7-5960X @ 4.5GHz
 noctua-nh-d15-review-temps2 

In terms of value, certainly the Nocuta NH-D15 is at the higher end of the market price wise but that is to be expected given the large amount of metal used here, along with the various bundled items which include two quality fans. Noctua do add some value with a long 6-year warranty which essentially means the cooler is guaranteed for the life of most builds, maybe even through two.

Summary: Excellent thermal performance, decent noise levels and great looks. The Noctua NH-D15 wins our performance award.

Performance Award

 

5 Comments

  1. Chris 25 days ago
    Reply

    Thanks for the review.

    2 quick questions:
    1. When mounted in the north-south position, is the first PCI-E slot usable? Can you put a GPU in the first PCI-E slot?

    2. It says that “Intel i7-5960X @ 5.0GHz” – is this a typo or is this accurate? That is a huge overclock if it is accurate. I’m curious because typical overclocks are in the ~4.5 GHz range at 1.3V Core. What were you using as a load test?

    Otherwise, it’s a great cooler. It’s only rival right now is the Cyrorig R1 Ultimate.

    • Stuart_Davidson 24 days ago
      Reply

      Hi, re q1, that would be very much dependant on the board used. Some have a first PCIe slot much closer to the CPU than others… and some have a 1x slot first. Re Q2, it was a typo from some text used on an article with another CPU, good spot. Thx. (it was 4.5ghz)

      • Chris 24 days ago
        Reply

        Hey Stuart, I was referring to the MSI X99 board above. Can you use the D15 and put a GPU in the first slot?

        The issue is with X99 boards, usually the 1st and the 5th slot are the ones for the GPUs ideally. Looks like it’d be a tight fit, if usable at all.

  2. Richard 22 days ago
    Reply

    I just installed a Noctua NH-D15 on my 5960X. I’ve attempted overclocking, but I can’t seem to get the same temperatures you did. What I’ve done is activate XMP on my memory sticks, therefore giving me a 125MHz BCLK, and then I’ve increased the multiplier to 33 for a 4.125GHz clock speed. I’ve also set my Vcore to offset +.155V, and I get around a 1.095V vcore in CPU-Z. I’ve then run Prime95, but I hit around 85C on the smallFFT tests. When I try to increase the multiplier and voltage to 34 (4.25GHz) and around 1.15V, I quickly go above 90C, and that’s when I stop the Prime95 test. What is your testing methodology to load the CPU in this review?

    • Stuart_Davidson 22 days ago
      Reply

      HI, we use Prime 95 too. There could be a bunch of reasons why the temps are not the same, for example your motherboard could be over volting past what you have set (check with a multimeter if you can, rather than the bios/software). Or it could be you have just been unlucky with how well your CPU runs OC and a few reasons in between… for example room temperature. It could even be a combination of all those and more. Really though if you are getting 90c in Prime95 then the chances are under normal situations you wont see the same temps and everything will run absolutely fine.

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