Noctua NH-D14 Reviewccokeman - December 10, 2009
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I went into the testing knowing that the performance of the NH-D14 was going to be good. I just did not realize how good. When I ran it through the testing, it was far and above superior to the comparison heatsinks. Of course, there is no reason for it not to be, simply based on the size and construction of the NH-D14. The surface area available to remove the heat is huge. It easily looks like the dual-fin arrays each encompass as much or more surface area than the previous top dog in Noctua's arsenal, the NH-U12P SE 1366. Add in an additional two heatpipes and you have a winning recipe. With load temperatures in the high 40's Celsius (49°C to be exact) when overclocked to 3.3GHz, I figured I would take a shot at some big numbers with an overclock up to 4.2GHz. My DO stepping 920 is not a bad clocker and could previously do 4.2GHz on air, but the temperatures would keep the processor just stable enough to only run this speed for short benchmark runs and did not offer any kind of stability. Something I needy when running a distributed computing project. Enter the Noctua NH-D14. I cranked up the bclock to 210 with a 20 multiplier for an even 4.2GHz, adjusted the vcore to 1.375v in the BIOS and crossed my fingers. Of course, hyperthreading is on. Temperatures at 4.2GHz with any of the other heatsinks in my possession would start pushing 80°C+ at this speed. Not so with the NH-D14. The highest temperature I saw was 71°C on two of the four cores, with the heatsink for the most part keeping the temperatures in the 65°C to 68°C range. Pretty spectacular results from this heatsink. It delivered results that averaged four degrees Celsius better under load both at stock and overclocked speeds. Four degrees Celsius does not seem like a big drop in temperatures, but it is when you are comparing top of the line heatsinks.
The SecuFirm 2 mounting package is simple to install and does not leave any doubt about how tight you need to tighten the mounting nuts. The spacers and studs with positive stops allow anyone to install it without fear of getting it hooked up incorrectly. The Intel bracket assembly comes with an insulated backplate that is drilled for multi-socket compatibility. 775,1156 and 1366 sockets are covered, so you do not have to worry about your next upgrade if you are on a socket 775 setup. The bundle that Noctua sends is mighty generous. You get all the bracketry that you could need for most popular sockets, a fan power splitter so you only have to use one header or 3-pin connector to power both fans, and low noise and ulta low noise adapters to bring the fan speeds down to a lower level to cut down on the noise. Regardless, I could not hear the fans, so this should help in low noise environments, if needed. Each of the two towers have vibration dampers applied and are large enough that there is none of the annoying noise from a fan rattling against the fin array. You get a tube of Noctua's NH-T1 premiere thermal compound, and case screws or vibration compensators to mount the fans to a case, if you choose not to use them on the NH-D14. You even get a screwdriver to put it all together, so no tools are needed on your part. The NH-D14's best attribute is also its biggest detriment. It is huge, no ifs, ands or buts about it. It takes up a lot of real estate in the chassis and will interfere with memory modules that use large heatspreaders for cooling. However, standard-height modules will fit under the fan. On one hand, the size is what allows the incredible performance, but it may not fit in every chassis. In my Thermaltake Armour+, the NH-D14 was right up against the the support rail for the power supply. Not touching, but within a sixteenth of an inch from it. When it comes to pricing, you have to expect that this level of performance and quality will come with a price. Just shy of $90 is steep, but with this kit you really get what you pay for. Steep, but worth it. All things considered, this is the best heatsink I have ever tested. You get a massive dual-tower, six-heatpipe design that incorporates both a 120mm and 140mm fan to deliver outstanding results that show larger gains as the thermal load increases. All that without the noise associated with high end air cooling. Hey, size really does matter, and yes, you can pay for performance!
- Excellent Cooling
- No Noise
- SecuFirm 2 mounting
- Massive size
- Might not fit smaller cases
- Will interfere with high profile memory heatsinks