Noctua NH-U9B Special Edition SE 2 Review

ccokeman - 2009-09-16 18:53:05 in CPU Cooling
Category: CPU Cooling
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: December 17, 2009
Price: $54.99


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.

Closer Look:

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!


Closer Look:

For all intents and purposes the NH-U9B Special Edition looks like its larger brother, the NH-U12P SE 1366. Just the 'mini-me' version that stands only 125mm tall! All short jokes aside, the same build quality is evident. The heatsink is made of several materials including a copper base plate and heat pipes connected to an aluminum fin array to get rid of the heat. This whole assembly is nickel plated for a uniform high class look. At 460 grams it still carries a bit of weight to it but is not heavy enough to make the weight a concern. This heatsink is built to use either one or two 92mm fans in a push/pull configuration for the most airflow and performance possible. The top of the NH-U9B has the Noctua logo embossed in it so there is no doubt what brand heatsink you are using. By looking down on the heatsink there are a series of ridges in the face of each side that add additional surface area to help the cooling capabilities. The base of the NH-U9B appears smooth, but contains some fine machining marks that I have seen on all of the Noctua heatsinks I have tested. It does not seem to impact cooling performance though. You have to mount the attachment brackets for the SecuFirm2 mounting kit so that you can attach the NH-U9B to the motherboard. The four screws to do this are included and take all of a minute to install.









This is the 'Special Edition' model of the NH-U9B and included are two of Noctua's NF-B9 Fans. These fans are 92mm x 92mm x 25mm in size and use several proprietary features - 'Vortex Control Notches' and beveled fan blades. The Vortex Control Notches work by breaking up the air vortices behind the fan blade into smaller vortices to reduce the noise signature and increase static pressure. The beveled edges help in this respect as well. The SSO (Self Stabilizing Oil Pressure) bearings also help reduce the noise signature by stabilizing the blades. These fans push roughly 38CFM at the unaltered 1600 RPM with a noise penalty of 17.6 dB(A). By using the L.N.A. and U.L.N.A. you can reduce the noise and airflow enough to make any zero noise enthusiast proud reaching 7.9 dB(A) at 1000 RPM. Quality just exudes from these fans, right on down to the sleeving on the wiring. The material is more of a rubbery material that, so far, has lasted through many installations with the NH-U12P.



Compared to the NH-U12P, TRUE and NH-D14, the NH-U9B looks like the "mini-me" version. While it is smaller in stature, it still packs a punch in the cooling department with all the attributes of the larger heatsinks that open up opportunities for use in smaller chassis and even HTPC's with its lower noise signature. By installing the NF-B9 fans onto it, you get a more imposing look. The fans will be mounted in a push/pull configuration for my testing.




I'm looking for big things from this 92mm based heatsink and am curious as to how well it will compare to the larger heatsinks.


Socket compatibility
Intel LGA1366, LGA1156, LGA775 & AMD AM2, AM2+, AM3 (backplate required)
Height (without fan)
125 mm
Width (without fan)
95 mm
Depth (without fan)
71 mm
Height (with fan)
125 mm
Width (with fan)
95 mm                 
Depth (with fan)
95/120* mm
Weight (without fan)
460 g
Weight (with fan)
550/640* g
Copper (base and heat-pipes), aluminium (cooling fins), soldered joints & nickel plating
Fan compatibility
2x 92x92x25mm
Scope of Delivery
2x NF-B9 premium fan
2x Ultra-Low-Noise Adaptor (U.L.N.A.)
2x Low-Noise Adaptor (L.N.A.)
Y-Split Cable
NT-H1 high-grade thermal compound
SecuFirm2™ Mounting Kits
6 Years


Fan specifications
Noctua NF-B9
Rotational Speed (+/- 10%)
1600 RPM
Rotational Speed with L.N.A. (+/- 10%)
1300 RPM
Rotational Speed with U.L.N.A. (+/- 10%)
1000 RPM
64,3 m³/h
Airflow with L.N.A.
52,6 m³/h
Airflow with U.L.N.A.
41,1 m³/h
Acoustical Noise
17.6 db(A)
Acoustical Noise with L.N.A.
13.1 db(A)
Acoustical Noise with U.L.N.A.
7.9 db(A)
Input Power
Voltage Range
> 150.000 h






Allinformation courtesy of Noctua@


To put the latest performance heatsink from Noctua, the NH-U9B Special Edition SE2, to the test, I will be making a comparison of the temperatures at idle and under load. Both will be made while the CPU is at the stock voltages and clock speeds, as well as when the CPU is overclocked and 'over-volted' to show what kind of cooling performance that the this monster of a heatsink has to offer when compared to other socket 1366 compatible high performance heatsinks. These heatsinks will be tested head-to-head as they are delivered from the manufacturer. I could throw in a bunch of testing variables, but it is not what the products are capable of as delivered. To test the idle temperatures, I will allow the computer to stay idle for 30 minutes and take the idle temperature at this point. For the load testing I will use Prime95 version 25.9 and choose the blend testing and allow the processor and memory controller to heat up to the maximum temperatures. The time frame is a four hour run, to allow the temperature to peak usually in the 14K test. I will use Real temp 3.0 to take the high and low temperatures and average the temperatures generated over the four cores as my reported temperature.

Testing Setup:


Comparison Heat sinks:







While shorter in stature and overall bulk, the NH-U9B Special Edition delivers decent results. At stock speeds it allows the processor to run a full 10 degrees Celsius warmer than the NH-D14 that in and of itself is an accomplishment considering it ran within 5 degrees Celsius of the TRUE and NH-U12P. When tested on the overclocked settings, the lack of additional fin capacity allows the gap to rise to 8 and 9 degrees warmer than the 120mm based heatsinks. It still puts in an admirable performance with no noise.


Much like its larger brethren, the NH-U9B Special Edition is a high quality heatsink with a ton of technology behind it. From the SSO bearings and Vortex Control Notches on the fans, to the build quality and darn-near universal SecuFirm2 mounting mechanism, to the NH-T1 thermal paste - it is all designed for a purpose. That purpose is to deliver excellent cooling capabilities, while keeping noise to a minimum. This goal, Noctua has been successful in achieving. I was impressed by its ability to hang as close to heatsinks that honestly are the cream of the crop. 'Close', being a relative term. Much like the larger Noctua heatsinks, you enjoy the use of the SecuFirm2 mounting assembly to give you multi socket capability to prevent you from having to spend additional money on a new heatsink when you upgrade your components. Installation is a snap, with the positive stop components that let you know when you have gone far enough and have reached the proper tension so you get the right amount of contact pressure on the CPU to get optimal cooling. The bundle is just as large as the one included with its larger brothers. This bundle comes with everything you need, right on down to the tool and NH-T1 thermal paste to install the NH-U9B Special Edition. This heatsink as delivered, is dead silent. If that's not silent enough, then you can install the Low Noise and Ultra Low Noise Adapters onto the NF-B9 fans to further drop the fan speed and noise. Priced at 55 bucks, this heatsink is not the most inexpensive, but quality components do come with a premium. As a heatsink that uses 92mm fans, it delivers performance that exceeds that of some of the other heatsinks I have used in the past and compares well with some of the cooling behemoths on the market.