Noctua NC-U6 Chipset Cooler

ccokeman - 2007-04-23 20:15:56 in Cooling
Category: Cooling
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: April 26, 2007
Noctua
Noctua
Price: $31 USD

Introduction:

Can you hear it? Silence, that's one of the calling cards for the Noctua NC-U6 chipset cooler we will be looking at today. This chipset cooler features heatpipe cooling, 29 aluminum fins, soldered connections and you guessed it, no fans. With today's hot-running chipsets, the stock cooling is marginal at best. For those who want to reach for and achieve the highest possible clock speeds, replacing the chipset cooling with something better is not optional - it is mandatory. Can a passive chipset cooler fit the bill for your performance needs? Let's find out.

Noctua is an Austrian company born out of the cooperation of 3 different groups, each with their own strengths. Rascom Computerdistribution Ges.m.b.H. has its strength in the distribution side. Kolink International Corporation has its strength in the state of the art manufacturing facilities. Last but not least, the Austrian Institute for Heat-Transmission and Fan Technology, that takes care of the research and development. These three components give the company the ability to meet the demand for high performance and well engineered cooling solutions.

Closer Look:

The NC-U6 is packed in a standard retail blister pack enclosure. Simple yet effective. The reverse side of the product card lists the features and specifications for the NC-U6 in six languages.


Items packed with the NC-U6 include, mounting brackets for both clip-on and push-pin style retention methods, detailed instructions, a generic thermal paste, a foam spacer and a bracket retention screw, to secure the mounting bracket on to the heatsink.


Now that we have seen what is included with the cooler, we can get into more detail on the cooler itself.

Closer Look:

At a little over three inches tall, this cooler should capture any airflow through the case, to help it cool your chipset. A fan can be made to work with the NC-U6, but a retention mechanism is not supplied. The hole through the center of the fins is to allow for the tightening of the mounting bracket, to secure the heatsink and prevent movement.
 


 



The NC-U6 comes with a protective covering that is easy to see and remove - just in case you have one of those moments! The finish on the business side of the cooler was a little bit rough for a high end product. The marks left by the machining process are clearly visible. I was disappointed in the fact that I could feel the ridges with a fingernail. Hopefully this will not impact performance.

Installation:

Installation of the cooler was a very straight-forward experience. The first order of business, is to remove the old chipset heatsink. After removing the heatsink, you will need to remove all of the old thermal grease or thermal pad from the chipset. When you are done, you should have a clean chipset ready to have a new cooler installed. After clean-up, I put a thin layer of thermal grease (Arctic silver Ceramique in this instance), onto the chipset only. I then installed the foam spacer on the heatsink, to prevent damaging any of the small capacitors on the chipset.


 



The motherboard I am using in this review, uses the clip-on style bracket to mount the heatsink. To install the heatsink, the mounting bracket is attached loosely to the heatsink and then the heatsink is installed into position. Make sure there is clearance for the mounting position you will use, press down on one side of the clip at a time and insert under the motherboard hooks. Clearance issues with a large heatsink should not pose any problems based on my testing rig. Tighten the mounting screw holding the mount to the cooler and you are ready to see what kind of  temperature decrease we can achieve.


Specifications:

Model
NC-U6
Type
2 Heatpipe Chipset cooler
Dimensions
85 mm x 70.0 mm x 33.0 mm
Materials
Copper/Aluminum
Weight
130 grams
Mounting Type
Push Pin or Hook Mounting
Warranty
6 Years

Features:

Testing:

To test this heatsink, I have chosen to use the NC-U6 on what is arguably one of if not the hottest chipset in today's crop of performance motherboards - the RD600 on the ICFX3200T2R/g. I will be comparing idle and load temperatures against both the stock passive cooling solution and the Swiftech MCX-159cu, to see how well the NC-U6 performs. The test procedure will consist of 30 minutes of no activity and then 1 hour of load testing using the console version of the Folding at Home SMP client, to produce a 100 percent load. The thermal grease used for each test will be Arctic Silver Ceramique, with the exception being the stock heatsink. Many will concede the fact that temperature monitoring programs are inaccurate. While that may be true, the results I will use are pulled from the Smart Guardian monitoring program, that DFI included with the motherboard driver and application CD. This way, the results are comparable across all 3 heatsinks. The room temperature that the test computer resides in, stayed in the 74 to 77 degree Fahrenheit range throughout the testing time-line.

Testing Setup:

Now let's see if the NC-U6 can perform as well as, or better than the competition. Results will be displayed in degrees Celcius.

Lower is Better

Lower is Better


It looks like the NC-U6 took on one of the best chipset heatsinks on the market and beat it soundly.

Conclusion:

To say that I am impressed, is an understatement. This passively cooled chipset cooler easily outperformed what is one of the best chipset coolers on the market. With a chipset temperature reduction of 23 degrees Celcius over the stock cooler, I would have to say that this chipset cooler should definitely be on your short-list when it comes time to replace your stock cooling solution.

The items I had concerns about were the machined contact surface being a bit rough and the lack of a fan mounting assembly. Both of these concerns ended up meaning very little, considering the performance of this cooler. Both items can be addressed by the end-user for even better performance.  Noctua has put together a well thought out and engineered product, that even the most demanding PC enthusiast can use.


Pro's:

Cons: