Noctua NH-L9i Reviewccokeman - January 23, 2013
Category: CPU Cooling
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Noctua NH-L9i Introduction:
Many of us are running our systems out of spec, with advanced high end cooling solutions(Air or Liquid) to keep the thermals generated by our processors in check. The stock solution might be fine at stock speeds, but just doesn't hack it when upping the clock speed. Fine being the operative word here. But, what if you are just looking for better than OE cooling or want to place your processor in a mini ITX board and enclosure? You need a cooling solution that not only fits like the OE solution, but offers improved thermal margins when slapped into that small build. After having looked at another small form factor solution that offered much better thermal performance than the OE cooling, it was time to see if the folks at Noctua had a viable solution to the problem of how to manage the thermal load, for the user looking to build a small form factor system. For that purpose Noctua has the NH-L9i, a low profile 37mm tall high performance cooling solution, built for use in situations where cooler clearance is tight. With this model, there are no clearance issues for DRAM or PCIe cards, it uses Noctua's patented SecuFirm 2 mounting system, is built for a 65w TDP load, and comes with a 14mm thick highly optimized PWM fan. Priced at a less than modest $47.99, the Noctua NH-L9i offers up a quiet package that should cool well based on specifications alone. Lets dig into it and see what Noctua has put together.
NH-L9i Closer Look:
The packaging is pure Nocuta. If you don't know what that means, you get the clean brown, blue, and white coloring with a wealth of information covering just about every panel. When you purchase at a brick and mortar location, this enables the consumer to make an informed buying decision based on the information presented. The sides display the features and technical specifications, while the back gives a short synopsis of the coolers uses and features.
Internally, Noctua carefully packs up the components so they are held in place and easy to identify. A foam block holds the NH-L9i in position, also holding a metal case badge, the Low Noise fan adapter, NT-H1 thermal compound, and the socket 115X specific components of the SecuFirm2 mounting solution. A detailed set of installation instructions are neatly tucked into the bottom of the lid, so it is front and center when you pop open the package. When you look at the accessory bundle, all of these things are present with the addition of a longer set of screws to mount one of Noctua's 92x25mm thick fans for higher airflow. A nice addition if you have more than 40mm of room above the socket to improve cooling capacity.
In the past, I have looked at a broad cross section of Noctua product stacks and been impressed by what they have to offer. If this low profile solution is not up to the task, I would be shocked. Lets see what the NH-L9i has to offer for the user looking for the upper tier low profile cooling solution.