Noctua NH-U9B Special Edition SE 2 Reviewccokeman -
Category: CPU Cooling
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Cooling the CPU is one of the things you need to do to keep that little bit of silicon alive and kicking. For most of the known world, the stock cooling solution that is delivered with the processor is enough to meet their needs, though there are plenty of them toiling away in cases with restrictive airflow and temperatures that really would make most enthusiasts cringe. That section is far removed from the enthusiast segment of the market though. You have several levels in the enthusiast sector. You have the (guy or gal) who really just wants a good cool running system all the way up to the person who cares only about temperatures at all costs. The largest cost is usually the noise generated from the high CPM fans that scream just as loud as your wife, girlfriend or sister's latest hairdryer. In this regard especially, Noctua has you covered.
The Noctua NH-U9B Special Edition SE2 is an updated to this award winning model. The updates are much the same as on the NH-U12P SE 1366 with the inclusion of a second NF-B9 fan and the inclusion of the SecuFirm2 multi socket mounting system. This system gives compatibility over a wide range of sockets that include AM2, AM2+, AM3, Intel Socket 775,1156 and 1366. As a smaller heatsink the NH-U9B uses 92mm fans and can be used in areas where a larger heatsink cannot be used, such as in HTPC and smaller cases. Let's see how well it performs in a larger case and what kind of performance it can deliver. If it's anything like its larger cousins, it should do well.
The packaging for the Noctua NH-U9B SE2 comes emblazoned with a wealth of information. Every side is covered save the bottom, so every which way you turn the box, you will learn a little more about the product. The front panel has a window to give you a glimpse of the NH-U9B through one of the two NF-B9 fans included as part of the SE2 package. The right side has a few technical drawings of the NH-U9B as well as diagrams illustrating the installation on both AMD and Intel platforms. The back panel talks about the individual components of the kit including the SecuFirm2 mounting hardware and illustrating how the 'Vortex Notches' on the fan blades work to smooth the airflow and reduce noise. The rear panel contains this information in six more languages plus a listing of the awards the NH-U9B has received. The top panel contains the specifications for the heatsink and fans. Plenty of information is available so you can make an informed decision.
When you pop open the package you see that there are two separate boxes internally. One contains the NH-U9B and one of the NF-B9 fans while the other contains all of the accessories that make this the Special Edition SE2 kit. This bundle contains everything you will need to install the NH-U9B SE2 onto the motherboard and processor of your choice.
The bundle of accessories that Noctua includes is second to none. Each manufacturer has its own kit with the parts segregated into its own package and labeled accordingly, while there is also a kit labeled 'common parts', that work with both processor types. Instead of a single manual that is vague and does not really address the intricacies of installing the NH-U9B onto the motherboard and CPU, Noctua has provided a very detailed multi-color manual for each processor type, so you can get each step correct.
The Intel kit consists of the SecuFirm2 assembly that includes a back-plate that can be used with socket 775, 1156, and 1366 components. The back-plate is fully insulated so that there is no worry of shorting out any motherboard components, although it is always a good idea to make sure none of the component tails will be long enough to penetrate the rubber insulation. The studs slide into one of three holes on the back-plate that mirror the top brackets. This assembly has a positive stop system that means you can not get it installed incorrectly and have the correct tension on the brackets and the CPU contact patch. The AMD brackets are not as detailed to install, but mount into the existing back-plate.
In the 'common parts' kit, you have quite a few items from the fan mounting clips, anti vibration pads, 3-pin Y adapter, the mounting brackets for the NH-U9B, a tube of Noctua's excellent thermal interface material, two each of the L.N.A (low noise adapter) and U.L.N.A. (Ultra low noise adapter), mounting screws for the brackets and a metal case badge to show your support. If all of that is not enough, Noctua includes a screwdriver to install the brackets and SecuFirm2 mounting assembly. Looks like you get everything and the kitchen sink!
Let's move on to the heatsink and fans!