Noctua NH-D15 CPU Cooler Review
   
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Noctua NH-D15 CPU Cooler Review

February 28th, 2015 Mike Leave a comment Go to comments

* Yes, we realise that we published our original review of the Noctua NH-D15 in late November last year, but since then we here at pcG have revised our Test Rigs somewhat to include the Z97 chipset and Haswell refresh CPU. So we thought we’d revisit one of our favourite CPU Coolers of 2014 and see what it could do with our new test hardware. 🙂 *

 

This is our first CPU Cooler at pcG from giants of the air cooling industry Noctua. I’m sure they don’t need any introduction, but since 2005 they have slowly grown into the renowned company they are today. No doubt with a little help from a Cooler called the NH-D14. Not only one of the worlds most popular CPU Coolers of all time, but possibly the most recognisable. It really goes to show how good the NH-D14 was (and still is) that Noctua have held it as their flagship CPU Cooler since 2009, so they must have something that little bit special to replace it five years later in 2014 right?

So here we have the Noctua NH-D15 (NH-D15). A CPU Cooler based around the hugely successful NH-D14. So what’s changed? Well it’s even bigger for a start! The old flagship measured in at 160mm(H)x140mm(W)x158mm(D) and weighs in at 1240g Vs 1320g and measurements of 165mm(H)x150mm(W)x161(D) of the new flagship. As a result the new NH-D15 has larger heatpipes, matching NF-A15 PWM 140mm fans with anti-vibration mounts, along with a slight redesign of the dual tower heatsink to ensure compatibility with an even wider range of motherboards and RAM modules (even despite its size!). Two things that Noctua have kept are the user friendly SecuFirm2™ mounting kits and the instantly recognisable beige and brown fan colours.

I guess we should get the show on the road and see what this juggernaut of a Cooler can do!

 

Noctua logo ‘Built on the basis of the legendary NH-D14 and carrying on its quest for ultimate quiet cooling performance, Noctua’s flagship model NH-D15 is an elite-class dual tower cooler for the highest demands. Its expanded heatpipe layout and two premium grade NF-A15 140mm fans with PWM support for automatic speed control allow it to further improve the NH-D14’s award-winning efficiency. Topped off with the trusted, pro-grade SecuFirm2™ multi-socket mounting system, Noctua’s proven NT-H1 thermal compound and full 6 years manufacturer’s warranty, the NH-D15 forms a complete premium quality solution that represents a deluxe choice for overclockers and silent-enthusiasts alike.’

 

Noctua NH-D15 - box front2 Noctua NH-D15 - box back

 

On the front of a very classically styled box, within a brown highlighted area we see a partial image of the NH-D15, the Noctua brand name and logo, model name and the following features:

  • 6 heatpipe dual tower design
  • Widened fin stack and expanded heatpipe layout
  • High RAM compatibility in single fan mode
  • Dual NF-A15 140mm fans
  • PWM support and Low-Noise Adaptor
  • Excellent component cooling
  • SecuFirm2 mounting system
  • Compatibility with past and future sockets
  •  

    Whilst over on the back and following a similar style, we have brief descriptions of all the NH-D15 key features (see Specifications/Features below).

     

    Noctua NH-D15 - box left Noctua NH-D15 - box right3

     

    The left side of the box features a brief on the Noctua NH-D15 and how it is based on the legendary NH-D14 in nine different languages.

    The right shows us the Noctua NH-D15 heatsink and fan specifications.

     

    Noctua NH-D15 - unboxing Noctua NH-D15 - unboxing 2

     

    Opening up the box shows Noctua certainly have an eye for organisation and presentation. Inside we find five further brown boxes (the contents of each is listed below).

     

    Noctua NH-D15 - contents a Noctua NH-D15 - contents2

     

    Box Contents

    • Noctua NH-D15 (1x NF-A15 PWM 140mm fan pre-attached)
    • 1x NF-A15 PWM 140mm
    • SecuFirm2 Mounting System – Intel
    • SecuFirm2 Mounting System – AMD
    • Accessories

    At the time of writing, the Noctua NH-D15 is available from Amazon for £77.48 or OverclockersUK for £77.99 and offers a rather generous 6 year warranty.

     

    Specifications/Features

    courtesy of Noctua

     

     

    Heatsink Specifications

    Socket compatibility Intel LGA2011-0 & LGA2011-3 (Square ILM), LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA1150 & AMD AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, FM1, FM2, FM2+ (backplate required)
    Height (without fan) 160mm
    Width (without fan) 150mm
    Depth (without fan) 135mm
    Height (with fan) 165mm
    Width (with fan) 150mm
    Depth (with fan) 161mm
    Weight (without fan) 1000g
    Weight (with fan) 1320g
    Material Copper (base and heat-pipes), aluminium (cooling fins), soldered joints & nickel plating
    Fan compatibility 140x150x25 (with 120mm mounting holes), 140x140x25 (with 120mm mounting holes), 120x120x25
    Scope of Delivery 2x NF-A15 PWM premium fan
    2x Low-Noise Adaptor (L.N.A.)
    Y-cable
    NT-H1 high-grade thermal compound
    SecuFirm2™ Mounting Kit
    Noctua Metal Case-Badge
    Warranty 6 Years

    Fan Specifications

    Model 2x Noctua NF-A15 PWM
    Bearing SSO2
    Max. Rotational Speed (+/- 10%) 1500 RPM
    Max. Rotational Speed with L.N.A. (+/- 10%) 1200 RPM
    Min. Rotational Speed (PWM, +/-20%) 300 RPM
    Max. Airflow 140,2 m³/h
    Max. Airflow with L.N.A. 115,5 m³/h
    Max. Acoustical Noise 24,6 dB(A)
    Max. Acoustical Noise with L.N.A. 19,2 dB(A)
    Input Power 1,56 W
    Voltage Range 12 V
    MTBF >150.000 h

     

    * Additional details available here

     

    First Impressions

     

    Unboxing the Noctua NH-D15 was possibly the nicest experience with a CPU Cooler I’ve ever had. As all the key components were grouped and boxed individually, I won’t be needing to sort out and separate all the bits I need from the bits I don’t. 🙂

    Taking a closer look at the CPU Cooler shows that it offers an exceptional build quality, it really does seem to be a cut above the rest. Surprisingly despite the NH-D15 weighing a humongous 1320g (with fans) which makes it the heaviest CPU Cooler tested here at pcG, it isn’t actually the biggest we’ve seen. Ok, perhaps that’s not entirely true… The NH-D15 is huge! The Cooler measures up at 165mm(H)x150mm(W)x161mm(D), making it the largest and heaviest CPU Cooler we’ve ever tested!


    Noctua NH-D15 - front2
    Noctua NH-D15 - side

     

    From the front we can clearly see the size of the NH-D15 and at 150mm wide there is a good chance it may not be compatible with every motherboard on the market. Except Noctua have gone to great lengths in designing the CPU Cooler so that it will fit easily in most rigs (compatibility list here). Rather than offering up a huge symmetrical heatsink, Noctua have slightly shifted the dual towers across the CPU cold-plate to try and keep space available for anyone wishing to use their motherboard’s first PCI slot. We can also see all six of the very nicely nickel plated, copper heatpipes.

    Shifting to a side view makes Noctua’s latest cooler look huge. There are three things here that are certainly worthy of note. Looking at the sides of the fin stacks we can see that they are mostly closed to help channel the air through from front to back, this should help create good airflow and help the cooling efficiency. Looking to the lower outside part of either stack shows two recessed areas, these allow for a 64mm height clearance over RAM modules and motherboard heatsinks while only using the central fan. With the front fan (or back) fan installed the height is reduced to 32mm, although if your case allows the additional height you can easily adjust the fan height to sit above pretty much any DIMM. Perhaps one of the biggest features visible from the side for me is also the smallest. Fan clips! While I’ve never made it a secret that I don’t like them (way too fiddly for me and I’m too impatient), Noctua have come up with a solution to my woes. The clips used for the NF-A15 140mm fans are hooked around the fan mounts making them highly unlikely to fall out during installation and they have been designed to be more springy making them a piece of cake to fit to the heatsink. 🙂

     

    Noctua NH-D15 - top Noctua NH-D15 - bottom

     

    Up above the Noctua NH-D15 offers a very industrious design. Both heat-stacks have a simple bare aluminium cap revealing all all six heatpipes, while to help break it up a little we have the Noctua logo and name in the dead centre of either tower.

    Underneath gives us a better view of the staggered heatsink/cold-plate arrangement. It also reveals possibly the largest and most highly polished coldplate I’ve ever seen on an air cooler.

     

    Noctua NH-D15 vs Raijintek Themis - top Noctua NH-D15 vs Raijintek Themis - front Noctua NH-D15 vs Raijintek Themis - side

     

    Here we have some comparisons of the Noctua NH-D15 and our regular test CPU cooler the Raijintek Themis. The NH-D15 as mentioned before, is 160mm(H)x140mm(W)x158mm(D) Vs 158mm(H) x 122mm(W) x 50mm(D) of the Themis. The NH-D15 being a dual tower CPU Cooler, is literally twice the size of our regular test cooler and weighing in at 1000g (without fan) Vs 448g (without fan), it is practically twice the weight.

     

    Noctua NH-D15 - angled fan

     

    Despite its humongous size and very industrial styling, whilst I admit that I’m not a huge fan of the trademark Noctua fan colours, the Noctua NH-D15 really isn’t a bad looking CPU Cooler. Combined with a great unboxing experience, additional low-noise adapter cables, y-splitter cable and a trademark Noctua screwdriver, the NH-D15 offers a very good package.

    Now I think it’s about time we get Noctua’s latest cooler in the Test Rig!

     

    Hardware Installation

     

  • Test Rig Setup (old pcG Test Rig)

  • Case Cooler Master HAF XB Power Supply Corsair Professional Series AX 760i
    Motherboard MSI Z87 G45 GAMING CPU Intel Core i5-4670K
    CPU Cooler Noctua NH-D15 RAM HyperX Savage 2400MHz 8GB Kit
    Graphics Card MSI AMD Radeon R9 290 GAMING 4G SSD HyperX FURY 120GB

     

    Noctua NH-D15 - installed top Noctua NH-D15 - installed side Noctua NH-D15 - installed angled Noctua NH-D15 - installed front

     

    Installing the Noctua NH-D15 and its enormous bulk should have caused me a few problems, but with some very clever design on Noctua’s part, the NH-D15 fitting was a piece of cake.

    The Intel backplate already has the uprights fitted, so it’s a nice and easy task of lining them up with motherboard mounts, slot it through, pop the plastic spacers over the top of the uprights, align the Intel mounting brackets horizontally (curve side out), then screw down the included thumbscrews over the uprights. A very nice and simple mounting assembly which takes minutes to fit.

    The central 140mm fan is then removed from the CPU Cooler, the plastic coldplate protector removed, a small pea sized dollop of thermal paste applied to the centre of the i5-4670K, the heatsink is then lined up to the mounting assembly and using the included screwdriver slowly tightened one side at a time. Then all that’s left to do is re-install the central fan, install the front fan, plug them both into the included y-splitter and that straight into the CPU1 header of the MSI Z87-G45 GAMING motherboard.

    If anything putting it in writing makes it sound more complicated than it actually is. The Noctua NH-D15 is one of the quickest and simplest CPU Coolers I’ve ever installed, made all the more surprising because of its size!

    Lets see what the Noctua NH-D15 has to offer in the was of performance with some benchmarks.

  • Test Rig Setup (new pcG Test Rig)

  • Case Cooler Master HAF XB Power Supply Corsair Professional Series AX 760i
    Motherboard ASRock Fatal1ty Z97X Killer CPU Intel Core i5-4690K
    CPU Cooler Noctua NH-D15 RAM HyperX Savage 2400MHz 8GB Kit
    Graphics Card XFX AMD Radeon R9 290X DD Black Edition SSD HyperX FURY 120GB

     

    Noctua NH-D15 - i5-4690K - installed top Noctua NH-D15 - i5-4690K - installed side Noctua NH-D15 - i5-4690K - installed angled Noctua NH-D15 - i5-4690K - installed front

     

    Testing Methodology/Setup (old pcG Test Rig)

     

    For CPU Cooler testing, we here at pcGameware run Prime95 for a 15 minute period. During this period the temperature is monitored with CoreTemp and the cooling performance recorded (the max recorded is the average for all cores). Between each stress test we allow a 15 minute cool-down to allow for more accurate results. To help with fan speed accuracy we use SpeedFan whilst using MSI Command Center to adjust the fan speed. A close eye is also kept on the ambient temperature, with the maximum being recorded for each run, this allows us to calculate the Delta temperature (Core – Ambient = Delta). Each run was performed with the Intel Core i5-4670K CPU at the following frequencies: 3.4GHz (Stock), 4.0GHz (using MSI OC Genie, shown in the picture below) and 4.5GHz (using Intel XTU(Extreme Tuning Utility), also shown in the pictures below), all results have been recorded with CPU-Z.

    * Please note: To ascertain the maximum and minimum noise levels produced by our CPU test coolers. The dB is recorded with all case fans unplugged to isolate the sound in question.

     

    MSI Command Center

    Intel-XTU

     

    Hardware Performance (old pcG Test Rig)

     

    To make our performance tests easier to follow and to get the most accurate recordings, all of the following tests have been carried out with case fans set at 100% and both Noctua NF-A15 PWM fans also set at 100%.

     

    • Intel Core i5-4670K – 3.4GHz (stock)

     

    Prime95 - 3.4GHz - Thermalright Archon IB-E X2

    Thermalright Archon IB-E X2 – Prime95 – 3.4GHz (fans @ 100%)

    Prime95 - 3.4GHz - Cryorig R1 Ultimate

    Cryorig R1 Ultimate – Prime95 – 3.4GHz (fans @ 100%)

    Prime95 - Noctua NH-D15 @ 3.4GHz

    Noctua NH-D15 – Prime95 – 3.4GHz (fans @ 100%)

    Prime95 - Gelid The Black Edition @ 3.4GHz

    Gelid The Black Edition – Prime95 – 3.4GHz (fans @ 100%)

     

    CPU Cooler Fan Speed Ambient Temperature Max CPU Temperature
    (core average)
    Delta Temperature Noise Level
    Thermalright Archon IB-E X2 100% 25.00 44.75 20.00 35db
    Cryorig R1 Ultimate 100% 25.00 45.00 20.00 38db
    Noctua NH-D15 100% 23.00 44.50 21.50 44db
    Gelid The Black Edition 100% 24.00 46.50 22.50 34db
    Akasa Medusa Venom 100% 24.00 46.50 22.50 40db
    EKWB EK-Kit 240L 100% 23.00 46.00 23.00 52db
    Thermaltake Frio Extreme Silent 14 Dual 100% 26.00 49.00 23.00 33db
    Scythe Tatsumi 100% 24.50 49.75 25.25 32db
    Scythe Mugen Max 100% 18.50 45.75 27.25 36db
    Cooler Master Nepton 280L 100% 20.50 54.75 34.25 67db
    Raijintek Themis 100% 19.00 60.75 41.75 47db

     

    So on goes the pcG Test Rig and both of the Noctua NH-D15 fans set to 100% and my first surprise is the noise. Whilst not too intrusive and certainly not a deal breaker, the NH-D15 produced 44dB in our test rig. If I’m honest I was expecting it to be a fair bit quieter. The performance though is very good at 3.4GHz (stock), keeping the maximum core average at 44.50C (21.50C Delta). Easily offering some of the best performance we’ve seen.

    We best take a look at how it performs with a little OC courtesy of MSI OC Genie!

     

    • Intel Core i5-4670K – 4.0GHz (OC Genie)

     

    Scythe Mugen Max 4 Ghz

    Scythe Mugen Max – Prime95 – 4.0GHz (fans @ 100%)

    Prime95 - 4.0GHz - Thermalright Archon IB-E X2

    Thermalright Archon IB-E X2 – Prime95 – 4.0GHz (fans @ 100%)

    Prime95 - 4.0GHz - Cryorig R1 Ultimate

    Cryorig R1 Ultimate – Prime95 – 4.0GHz (fans @ 100%)

    Prime95 - Noctua NH-D15 @ 4.0GHz

    Noctua NH-D15 – Prime95 – 4.0GHz (fans @ 100%)

     

    CPU Cooler Fan Speed Ambient Temperature Max CPU Temperature
    (core average)
    Delta Temperature Noise Level
    Scythe Mugen Max 100% 18.50 54.75 36.25 36dB
    EKWB EK-Kit L240 100% 23.50 60.00 36.50 52dB
    Thermalright Archon IB-E X2 100% 25.50 63.50 38.00 35dB
    Cryorig R1 Ultimate 100% 25.50 64.50 39.00 38db
    Noctua NH-D15 100% 23.50 63.50 40.00 44dB
    Cooler Master Nepton 280L 100% 18.00 59.00 41.00 67dB
    Gelid The Black Edition 100% 25.00 66.75 41.75 34dB
    Akasa Medusa Venom 100% 24.50 66.25 41.75 40db
    Thermaltake Frio Extreme Silent 14 Dual 100% 25.50 67.75 42.25 33dB
    Raijintek Themis 100% 19.50 68.00 48.50 47dB
    Scythe Tatsumi 100% 24.00 72.75 48.75 32dB

     

    With the MSI OC Genie turned on, the i5-4670K given a small performance boosting overclock of 4.0GHz, Noctua’s behemoth cooler does a great job of keeping the CPU cool. With a maximum average core temperature of 63.50C (40.00C Delta) it is once again near the top of the charts slugging it out with the very best CPU Coolers we’ve tested to date.

    Can it cope with a slightly higher overclock?

     

    • Intel Core i5-4670K – 4.5GHz (manual overclock via Intel XTU)

     

    Prime95 - 4.5GHz - Cryorig R1 Ultimate

    Cryorig R1 Ultimate – Prime95 – 4.5GHz (fans @ 100%)

    Prime95 - Noctua NH-D15 @ 4.5GHz

    Noctua NH-D15 – Prime95 – 4.5GHz (fans @ 100%)

    Prime95 - 4.5GHz - Thermalright Archon IB-E X2

    Thermalright Archon IB-E X2 – Prime95 – 4.5GHz (fans @ 100%)

    Prime95 - 4.5GHz - Akasa Venom Medusa

    Akasa Medusa Venom – Prime95 – 4.5GHz (fans @ 100%)

     

    CPU Cooler Fan Speed Ambient Temperature Max CPU Temperature
    (core average)
    Delta Temperature Noise Level
    Cryorig R1 Ultimate 100% 24.50 65.75 41.25 38dB
    Noctua NH-D15 100% 24.00 66.50 42.50 44dB
    EKWB EK-Kit L240 100% 24.00 66.50 42.50 52dB
    Thermalright Archon IB-E X2 100% 25.00 68.00 43.00 35dB
    Thermaltake Frio Extreme Silent 14 Dual 100% 26.00 72.50 46.50 33dB
    Akasa Medusa Venom 100% 24.00 70.75 46.75 40dB
    Gelid The Black Edition 100% 24.50 72.50 48.00 34dB
    Cooler Master Nepton 280L 100% 18.00 69.25 51.25 67db
    Scythe Tatsumi 100% 24.50 77.25 52.75 32dB
    Raijintek Themis 100% 20.00 75.00 55.00 47dB

     

    As soon as you push the i5-4670K above 4.0GHz it certainly starts to warm up, in fact due to the silicon lottery many of these CPUs sadly won’t get to the giddy heights of 4.5GHz. Of course those that do, give CPU Coolers the opportunity to show what they can really do. The Noctua NH-D15 keeps the CPU in check with a maximum average core temperature of 66.50C (42.50C Delta). Which again shows the NH-D15 can handle and tame a hot CPU with ease.

    Of course if this is still a little toasty for you it’s worth bearing in mind that while Prime95 is an excellent tool for testing the stability of any CPU overclock, it does this by running your CPU at 100% (across all cores), in your average Gaming session you’ll most likely not even use half that!

     

     

    Testing Methodology/Setup (new pcG Test Rig)

     

    Noctua NH-D15 - i5-4690K - thermostat For CPU Cooler testing, we here at pcGameware run Prime95 for a 15 minute period. During this period the temperature is monitored with CoreTemp and the cooling performance recorded (the max recorded is the average for all cores). Between each stress test we allow a 15 minute cool-down to allow for more accurate results. To adjust the fan speed we simply use the UEFI. A close eye is also kept on the ambient temperature, with the maximum being recorded for each run, this allows us to calculate the Delta temperature (Core – Ambient = Delta). Each run was performed with the Intel Core i5-4690K CPU at the following frequencies: 3.5GHz (Stock) and 4.0GHz (using the ASROCK OC Tweaker, shown in the picture below), all results have been recorded with CPU-Z.

    * Please note: To ascertain the maximum and minimum noise levels produced by our CPU test coolers. The dB is recorded at a distance of 1 metre from the cooler, with all case fans unplugged to isolate the sound in question.

     

    BIOS OC Disabled (3.5GHz) BIOS Overclock (4.0GHz)

     

    Processor speed is set using the OC Tweaker tab of the UEFI, “Disabled” for stock speeds (3.5GHz) and “Turbo 4.0GHz” for the minor overclock tests. It should be noted that changing the OC settings resets the Fan Speeds, so these are checked on the next reboot and reset to “Full Speed” (see below).

     

    BIOS Fan Options BIOS Fan Settings BIOS Fan Speeds

     

    All the fans installed in the system are set to 100% speed using the displayed settings, this is simple with the ASROCK UEFI with the option of “Full Speed” being available for all system fans (bar the Power Fan header).

     

    CPU-Z - NH-D15 - i5-4690K 3.5GHz (stock)

    CPU-Z – Noctua NH-D15 – i5 4690K – 3.5GHz (fans @ 100%)

    CPU-Z - NH-D15 - i5-4690K 4.0GHz (oc)

    CPU-Z – Noctua NH-D15 – i5 4690K – 4.0GHz (fans @ 100%)

     

    Hardware Performance (new pcG Test Rig)

     

    As stated above, to make our performance tests easier to follow and to get the most accurate recordings, all of the following tests have been carried out with case fans set at 100% and the Noctua NH-D15 fan also set at 100%.

     

    • Intel Core i5-4690K – 3.5GHz (stock)

     

    Prime95 - NH-D15 - i5-4690K - 3.5GHz (stock)

    Noctua NH-D15 – Prime95 – 3.5GHz (fans @ 100%)

    15 Min-3.5GHz-Mugen Max

    Scythe Mugen Max – Prime95 – 3.5GHz (fans @ 100%)

    3.5Ghz Core Temp - Amb 21.3 deg

    Raijintek Themis Evo- Prime95 – 3.5GHz (fans @ 100%)

    Prime95 - Noctua NH-U9S - 3.5GHz

    Noctua NH-U9S – Prime95 – 3.5GHz (fans @ 100%)

     

    CPU Cooler Fan Speed Ambient Temperature Max CPU Temperature (core average) Delta Temperature Noise Level
    Noctua NH-D15 100% 25.00 44.75 19.75 44dB
    Scythe Mugen Max 100% 22.00 47.00 25.00 36dB
    Raijintek Themis Evo 100% 21.50 47.50 26.00 37dB
    Noctua NH-U9S 100% 24.00 50.00 26.00 38dB
    Raijintek Themis 100% 21.50 50.75 29.25 47dB
    Noctua NH-D9L 100% 25.00 55.75 30.75 33dB
    SilverStone Argon AR06 100% 23.50 79.50 56.00 28dB

    * Thermals Explained

     

    With the Intel Core i5 4690K at its stock speed of 3.5GHz, the Noctua NH-D15 puts in a great performance. With a maximum average core temperature of 44.75C (19.75C Delta) it isn’t only cooler than our regular Raijintek Themis by 6.00C (9.50C Delta), but knocks the Scythe Mugen Max off the top of the charts by 2.25C (5.25C Delta). Although it’s worth bearing in mind that the Noctua NH-D15 is not only significantly bigger than the CPU Coolers previously tested on the revised pcG Test Rig, but also considerably more expensive. Of course you could also argue, that if your buying a CPU Cooler like the NH-D15, the last thing you’ll be doing is running your CPU at stock.

     

    • Intel Core i5-4690K – 4.0GHz (OC Tweaker)

     

    Prime95 - NH-D15 - i5-4690K - 4.0GHz (oc)

    Noctua NH-D15 – Prime95 – 4.0GHz (fans @ 100%)

    15 Min 4GHz - Mugen Max

    Scythe Mugen Max – Prime95 – 4.0GHz (fans @ 100%)

    4Ghz Core Temp - Amb 21.4 deg

    Raijintek Themis Evo- Prime95 – 4.0GHz (fans @ 100%)

    Prime95 - Noctua NH-U9S - 4.0GHz

    Noctua NH-U9S – Prime95 – 4.0GHz (fans @ 100%)

     

    CPU Cooler Fan Speed Ambient Temperature Max CPU Temperature (core average) Delta Temperature Noise Level
    Noctua NH-D15 100% 24.00 52.50 28.50 44dB
    Scythe Mugen Max 100% 22.00 55.75 33.75 36dB
    Raijintek Themis Evo 100% 21.50 58.00 36.50 37dB
    Noctua NH-U9S 100% 23.50 60.25 36.75 38dB
    Raijintek Themis 100% 21.00 59.50 38.50 47dB
    Noctua NH-D9L 100% 24.50 67.00 42.50 33dB
    SilverStone Argon AR06 100% 23.50 92.50 69.00 28dB

    * Thermals Explained

     

    With a relatively minor overclock courtesy of the ASROCK OC Tweaker within the UEFI, the i5-4690K is set to 4.0GHz and not only do we get more CPU power, but more heat because of the increased voltage. Meaning any CPU Cooler will also be pushed that bit harder whilst trying to dissipate that extra heat. Again the Noctua NH-D15 jumps to the head of the charts with a maximum average core temperature of 52.50C (28.50C Delta). This may only be 7.00C cooler than that of the Raijintek Themis, but it is also a whole 10.00C cooler on the Delta! I guess you could say the Noctua NH-D15 is big in build and big in performance. 😉

     

    Acoustics

     

    With both 140mm Noctua NF-A15 PWM fans set at 100%, the NH-D15 is a little big louder than I had expected, producing a maximum of 44dB (the price of thermal performance eh?), but reduce this to the minimum fan settings through the UEFI and they’ll knock out just 28dB.

     

    Final Thoughts

     

    Unboxing the Noctua NH-D15 was an experience in itself. Each item set within the classically styled box was grouped and boxed separately offering a very professional feel to Noctua’s latest cooler unboxing experience.

    The build quality of the Noctua NH-D15 was incredibly high and sturdy enough to prevent damage during multiple installations. The CPU Cooler itself was huge measuring in at 165mm(H)x150mm(W)x161mm(D) while weighing in at a mammoth 1320g; while offering industrious styling using bare aluminium and those familiar beige and brown Noctua fans. Just looking at the NH-D15 gives you the impression that Noctua certainly mean business.

    Installing the Noctua NH-D15 was an incredibly easy task. Even despite its size and weight, Noctua have gone to long lengths to design the CPU Cooler to be compatible with a vast variety of motherboards and memory modules. In addition to that, the well established SecuFirm2 mounting kit and cleverly designed fan clips make the Noctua NH-D15 one of the easiest CPU Coolers I’ve ever installed. It literally takes just a matter of minutes!

    In regards to the area of performance the Noctua NH-D15 certainly didn’t disappoint. With the i5-4670K set at stock (3.4GHz) the Cooler managed to keep a maximum average core temperature at a pretty chilled 44.50C (21.50C Delta), pushing the CPU up a notch to 4.0GHz and the maximum average core temperature jumps up to very respectable 63.50C (40.00C Delta). Of course where it excels is with a heavier overclock. With the i5-4670K pushed to the giddy heights of 4.5GHz things start to get really toasty and many CPU coolers can’t contain the heat. The Noctua NH-D15 can, with a maximum average core temperature of 66.50C (42.50c Delta) which is pretty damn impressive. All of our tests are run with both CPU Cooler fans set at 100%, in doing this the two NF-A15 140mm PWM fans did get a little noisier than I expected and produced 44dB of noise. This is by no means loud (especially when Gaming with a headset), but it is also worth noting that this is purely to help us determine the best performance of the Noctua NH-D15. After running the fans at their lowest setting, the Cooler only produced a paltry 28dB which in my eyes (or ears) is pretty much silent.

    * When installed into the newly revised pcG Test Rig, the Noctua NH-D15 puts in an even better performance! With the Intel Core i5 4690K set at its 3.5GHz stock speed, the NH-D15 tops the cooling charts with a maximum average core temperature of 44.75C (19.75C Delta). Increasing the CPU clock speed within the UEFI using the ASROCK OC Tweaker and setting the CPU to 4.0GHz, both the CPU power and thermals obviously increase. The NH-D15 has no problem with this whatsoever, with a maximum average core temperature of 52.50C (28.50C Delta). Easily making the Noctua NH-D15 the coolest CPU Cooler we’ve tested on the new test rig to date. *

    There’s no doubt about it, the Noctua NH-D15 is one very impressive CPU Cooler which can take pretty much whatever you throw at it. The only thing I can really take away from it is its price. At approximately £80.00 it is one expensive Air Cooler and certainly one that I’d class in the Premium bracket. Yet as we’ve seen in our above tables you don’t need to spend big money for big performance. One thing that certainly sets Noctua apart from the crowd is their incredibly generous 6 year warranties. These don’t just cover the Cooler, but if you switch your CPU over the next few years (like we all do) Noctua will supply you the relevant mounting kit for your NH-D15! How’s that for future proofing and customer service?

     

    Verdict

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    Where possible we always use Amazon’s price for Value…
    Design/Quality pcGameware awards the Noctua NH-D15 CPU Cooler a Silver
    Performance
    Value
    Overall

    Many thanks to Noctua for providing this sample for review

     


    1. rpjkw11
      November 18th, 2014 at 17:44 | #1

      I’m using the NH-D15 to cool my i7 5960X, oc’d to 4.4 @ 1.27v. Installed in a Phanteks Enthoo Primo, temps have not been a problem or a concern. My “old” NH-D14 has been relegated to cooling an i7 4770K, not oc’d at this time.

      Personal experience has proven to me that Noctua and Phanteks (I own a Phanteks TC-14PE in blue) make top quality components and, other than simple curiosity, I’ve found to really good reason to look at other manufacturers.