|Noctua NH-D14 CPU Cooler|
|Written by Vikram Chand|
Monday, 08 March 2010
|Rated 5 out of 5 Stars|
Best just got better and quieter!
Heat is any CPU's worst enemy and to fight off heat you need the best CPU cooler that money can buy. Without any kind of cooling, you would fry the CPU and/or motherboard to a crisp. The Noctua NH-D14 CPU cooler is one that is compatible with most CPU socket types (AMD and Intel) available today. It can use up to two cooling fans for extreme cooling but can also be used without any fans at all.
The NH-D14 looks larger than any CPU cooler I have seen but that does not matter because it fits fine in any mid or full tower PC cases. Also the most important thing to look for in a CPU cooler is how well of a job it does in keeping the central processing unit (CPU) cool not how much space it takes (well maybe a little). Let's now see how well it performs. We will compare it with the Spire TherMax II CPU cooler and the AMD stock cooler to see the difference.
(click image to enlarge)
LOOK AND FEEL
At first glance, this cooler looks huge and bulky, but once installed you will quickly overlook the size and only notice the performance. The NH-D14 is made of both copper and aluminum but has nickel plating. The heat pipes and base are pure copper. The six heat pipes run through the aluminum fins that end up cooling the CPU. Noctua includes two ultra quiet premium fans, the NF-P14 (140mm) and NF-P12 (120mm). They are pre-installed and ready to go, but you can still use different fans or no fans at all, if you so wished.
Both fans have the standard 3 pin motherboard power connector. And you also have the Y split cable to power both fans using the single CPU fan power connection on the motherboard. But you can use other fan power connections as well if you want. My Asus M2N-E motherboard has a built-in cool and quiet feature that adjusts the CPU fan speed automatically depending on the CPU temperature. This will keep the noise level at a minimum. But Noctua also includes Ultra-Low-Noise adapters (U.L.N.A) to run each fan at a lower speed and reducing the noise even more (you don't really need it because the fans are ultra quiet already).
The six heat pipes run throughout the heatsink from the base twice in a U form/shape (so it covers both sides). The NT-H1 thermal compound is included in a tube but is not pre-applied on the heatsink. There are spring loaded screws pre-built on the base that will be used to secure the heatsink to the motherboard.
(click image to enlarge)
The installation was not as easy as I expected because it requires you to remove any existing heatsink retention module (not a big deal though). I installed this on my Asus M2N-E motherboard which has an AMD Athlon X2 64 6000+ processor installed on it. First, you need to remove the retention module by unscrewing it from the top but making sure that you don't lose the back-plate. Then you will need to attach the curved mounting bars (with the plastic spacers) supplied by Noctua for AMD boards. Just make sure that the curved sides of the mounting bars are pointing inwards (towards the CPU).
Now, just apply the NT-H1 or any other thermal compound of your choice on the CPU and place the cooler on it with the center fan removed (oh, make sure the plastic cover is removed from the base of the heatsink). Also, make sure that the air will flow towards the back of your case and eventually escape outside (the airflow direction arrows are on the bottom of the fans). Now, comes the tricky part of screwing the heatsink to the mounting bars. You have to secure the two screws to the screw threads of the mounting bars (tightly, but not too tight). Once the heatsink is secure, you can attach the center fan back on (just clip it back on exactly as you removed it). Connect the power connectors to the fan power connectors on your motherboard or you can use the Y split cable to connect both fans to one CPU fan power connector on your motherboard. That's all, you are done.
(click image to enlarge)
Motherboard : Asus M2N-E
CPU : AMD Athlon X2 64 6000+
Memory : 4 x 1GB Kingston
Graphic Card : PNY Verto GeForce 7600 GS PCIe
Hard Drive : Western Digital 320GB SATA
Power Supply : Dynex 400-watt
Thermal Compound : Noctua NT-H1
Case : Thermaltake Element S
OS : Microsoft Windows 7 Enterprise
First, I will test the system at idle by leaving it sitting for 30 minutes. Then I will perform a load test using CPU Burn-in v1.01 for 30 minutes also. I will use SpeedFan v4.40 to measure the temperatures. Then I will install the Spire TherMax II CPU cooler on this same setup and test record the temperatures for the same durations. I will then compare the two results to see which performs the best. If time permits, I will also test the AMD stock fan and compare all three results.
Well, we can clearly see that the NH-D14 improved the core temperature by about 4% or 1oC at idle compared to the Spire TherMax II (not much but still worth pointing out). At load however, we saw an improvement of 2oC or about 6% (a little better). If we also look at the AMD stock heatsink then the NH-D14 improved by about 50% at idle and load. So as you can see, we have better performance and reduced noise even with two fans running at full speed with the Noctua NH-D14 CPU cooler.
The Noctua NH-D14 CPU cooler is an excellent choice for any computer setup. Performance is excellent and the two fans are ultra quiet. The overall installation was fairly easy but not as easy as I would have expected (not tool-free installation). The two fans provide awesome cooling even if you overclock your CPU (which I did). The cooler performed very well in all our tests and it beat the AMD stock and Spire TherMax II coolers. Overall, the Noctua NH-D14 is a fairly large heatsink which is also ultra quiet and provides extremely cooling. I would highly recommend this CPU cooler for anyone looking to replace their stock heatsink with something that can handle a lot more. This cooler can also beat some of its competition out of the water. The lowest price I found online for this was around $85 USD which might be a little bit too high for the everyday user, but would be an excellent choice for gamers and enthusiasts. I am giving this CPU cooler 5 out of 5 because of the performance and no noise and I would also like to present it with our Highly Recommended award.
DETAILS AND SPECIFICATIONS :
|Last Updated on Monday, 08 March 2010|