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 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
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 – Installation
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.
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.
Intel i7-5960X @ 4.5GHz
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.