Noctua NH-D14 Reviewccokeman - December 10, 2009
Category: CPU Cooling
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One improvement most of us make to the system we have or a new system that is being built is the cooling system for the processor. Whether it is to just drop the operating temperatures to a level much lower than the OEM solution is capable of on your stock clocked processor or so you can try to reach some righteous clock speeds to improve performance, keeping the CPU cool is the ultimate goal. There have been many designs over the years, some successful and some, well, not so successful. The current crop of successful coolers are all tower-style heatsinks that use heatpipes connected to the contact plate and run through a large fin array to maximize the amount of surface area available. Bigger fin arrays and more and larger heatpipes seem to be the current trend. Noctua has one of the top performers in its NH-U12P SE 1366 that compares favorably with one of the other "King of the Hill" contenders, the Thermalright TRUE. Noctua is not only known for its cooling performance, but for the fact that its solutions offer performance without the noise penalty commonly associated with high end air cooling, thanks in part to the Vortex Notches used on its fans to smooth out the airflow, help build static pressure, and reduce the acoustics.
The Noctua NH-D14 makes use of the tower design, but instead of a single tower, it has two large fin arrays interconnected with a total of six heatpipes to increase the cooling performance. That's one additional fin array and two more heatpipes than the NH-U12P is equipped with. Instead of two fans of the same dimension, you get a single 120mm NF-P12 and single 140mm NF-P14 FLX used in a push/pull configuration. If the results delivered by the NH-U12P are any indication, this cooler should eclipse the performance of Noctua's previous top-of-the-line cooling solution.
I received the NH-D14 with packaging that was not the final revision, so I have chosen not to show that as a representation of the final product. Suffice it to say that the cooler was packed in a foam enclosure that was more than adequate for the task. The first impression of the NH-D14 is that this thing is huge! It measures 160mm tall (just over 6.25 inches) and 140mm wide (just over 5.5 inches), and with the fan on the front, you get just over 6 inches in depth. That's a lot of real estate to cover on a motherboard. The NH-D14 is shipped pre-assembled with the fans and mounting brackets for the SecuFirm2 mounting kit installed. The fan used to push air into the heatsink is the NF-P12, with the NF-P14 used in the middle to force air through the second tower. Notice that the 140mm fan blows air under the fin arrays to offer additional cooling to the motherboard components.
The base of the NH-D14 is smooth and contains some fine machining marks â€“ something visible in the right light, but nothing that would impact cooling performance. There are a total of six heatpipes that run from one fin array through the contact pad and out to the second fin array. This arrangement should offer exceptional load capacity, allowing you to push the limits of your hardware.
This heatsink is just as imposing when you remove the fans. The two towers are just massive, each one almost as large as the fin array on the TRUE. The front of each tower has a total of four vibration dampers to keep the fans from vibrating against the fins of the tower. These are much thicker than those used on the NF-P12 and look like they will be more effective, long term. The heatpipe termination looks much better than some heatsinks I have seen. The top view shows the toothed surface of the fin array. This gives a substantial boost to available surface area to improve cooling. Six large heatpipes carry the thermal load from the contact surface in the fins to be dispersed. The mounting brackets to attach the NH-D14 to the SecuFirm 2 mounting assembly are pre-installed, so you have one less thing to install, which of course lessens the install time.
Some say that size matters when it comes to performance. To give you an idea how large the NH-D14 is, I've compared it to the TRUE and Noctua NF-P12. No matter which way you look at it this thing, it is absolutely massive! Left to right, you have the Noctua NF-P12, the NH-D14 and the TRUE!
Impressive? Yes! But that's not all that comes as part of the package!