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Noctua NH-D15 Review

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Noctua NH-D15 Closer Look:

The Noctua NH-D15 is a dual tower-style heat sink and is structurally similar to the D-14. The NH-D15 comes with two NF-A15 140mm fans. One is installed to the cooler as shipped and one is in a separate box. The cooler measures 165x150x135mm with a single NF-A15 140mm PWM fan attached. Adding a second fan brings the depth to 161mm. The unit weighs 1000g and with the additional fan it comes in at 1320g. The design of the fin array is supposed to accomplish the ultimate goal, which is to provide improved memory compatibility by allowing adequate space for memory modules that use taller heat sinks, and we will see how well this works shortly.

The packing for the D15 is thorough. Noctua has made quite an effort to protect the cooler as evidenced by the final box that contains the cooler and the V-shaped cardboard pushed into the gap between the fan and the towers. It appears that the Noctua packaging can handle any abuse you can throw at it — except maybe being backed over by the delivery truck.

 

 

 

The unit comes with one NF-A15 fan installed and a secondary NF-A15 in a separate box. Noctua's NF-A15 premium quality quiet fan (140mm PWM) complies with Noctua's AAO (Advanced Acoustic Optimisation) standard and features sophisticated aerodynamic design measures such as Flow Acceleration Channels. Measuring 140x150x25mm, the NF-A15 uses the second generation SSO2 full metal bearing, which is machined from solid brass for a longer lifespan and improved fan blade stabilization. The motor magnet is placed closer to the axis of the fan blade shaft; again, for improved stabilization in combination with the new metal shell. The NF-A15 PWM has removable rubber vibration dampers to keep vibrations to a minimum. The back side of the motor contains Noctua's custom designed PWM IC, which incorporates SCD (Smooth Commutation Drive) technology to reduce noise at very low fan speeds, as the NF-A15 fan can run as low as 300 RPM. And as usual, the fan clips are easy to use and firmly secure the fan to the fin stack.

 

Here we have a closer look at the cooler. There are two things I notice right away — one is the two notches at the bottom of each fin stack, and the other is that there is a nice gap behind the fan. On the D14 there is no gap and the fan is rather snug and a bit difficult to remove during the install. The gap on the D15 makes fan removal quick and painless which is welcome during the installation. Also the fins are closed on the sides and this helps to control and guide air flow through the fin stack. The wide spacing of the heat pipes combined with the fact that they all have unobstructed exposure to the airflow allows for maximum heat removal.

 

 

The top view of the tower shows the termination points for the six nickel-plated copper heat pipes. You could almost confuse this cooler for the D14 if it weren't for the gap behind the fan. Noctua's logo and name are embossed on the top of the fins. This adds a nice visual touch, especially if you have a side window on your case.

 

Looking at the nickel-plated copper base, we have six large 6mm diameter heat pipes that twist their way up to the fin stack to transfer their thermal load away from your CPU. Each fin in the stack is soldered to the heat pipes and this ensures a more direct path for the heat to travel from the pipes to the fins.

 

Here we see the approximate 22mm spacing on the heat pipes and the notches for your RAM modules. The notches are a welcome design feature that allows for the potential to remove or install modules without having to remove the cooler.

 

 

As usual with Noctua, the accessories are individually packaged. The SecuFirm2 mounting kit is now segregated into boxes rather than bags. The AMD brackets are each used specifically for AMD solutions and support all the latest sockets. The Intel SecuFirm2 bracket kit includes a robust backplate that is designed specifically for Socket 115X usage, rather than being multi-socket compatible like many others in the lineup. Each of the bracket kits have a specific instruction set that is thorough and easy to follow. The common parts kit includes a screwdriver, low noise adapters, fan mounting hardware for another NF-A15 PWM fan (for a push / pull configuration), and Noctua's own NT-H1 thermal compound. After you remove the hardware boxes, there is a foam separator.

 

 

The NH-D15 installs easily thanks to Noctua's SecuFirm2 mounting system. Most cases today have a chassis with an opening in the motherboard tray behind the socket so you don't have to remove the motherboard for installation. Push the back plate through the four heat sink mounting holes around the socket, place the spacers on the studs, and place the brackets over the studs. Next, thread on the retaining nuts, and then tighten in an alternating sequence until the nuts bottom out on the spacers. Now apply the NT-H1 thermal paste to the top cover of your CPU and use the supplied screwdriver to tighten the NH-D15 onto the mounting brackets. Mount the included NF-A15 fan (or two if you choose) and you are ready to power your system up.

On the backing plate, you see the designation 115X. This means that Intel socket compatibility using the back plate is going to be limited to Intel Socket 115X motherboards. Mounting to an Intel LGA 2011 or AMD socket does not require the use of the back plate and is slightly different in that the installation utilizes parts of the existing socket mounting package. If you are working with sockets that are not supported out-of-the-box, Noctua does provide the NM-I3 SecuFirm kit free of charge to support additional socket compatibility.

 




  1. Noctua NH-D15: Introduction & Closer Look
  2. Noctua NH-D15: Closer Look (Continued)
  3. Noctua NH-D15: Closer Look (Continued)
  4. Noctua NH-D15: Specifications & Features
  5. Noctua NH-D15: Testing Setup & Results
  6. Noctua NH-D15: Conclusion
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