Even with the TDP limitations of the NH-L9i, I am really pleased with the results it delivered. Comparing it head to head against the Phanteks, while it may have been cheaper, it doesn't test as well, doesn't have the ability to take on other fans, and frankly, doesn't look as good. There is a more solid feel, and as I like to describe it, a more professional grade feel to the Noctua solution. The thickness of the aluminum used in the fins is always thicker than most others, and almost nobody solders on heat pipes these days. Noctua seems to bend all the average manufacturers rules as they offer products that take the competition head on and seem to almost always prevail. With the NH-L9i things haven't changed, this is a really impressive solution.
What impresses me even more is the shear amount of air flow and static pressure Noctua was able to pull out of this 14mm thick 92mm fan. I know most of you looked at that fan and thought that it really can't do much, it's just too tiny - well, Noctua definitely went to work with this new addition to their fan lineup. There really isn't a surface that is left untouched. The leading edge of the frame is made to allow a smoother inlet of air to the blades, and the insides of the frame have divots like a golf ball to disturb the air and keep it from staling near the frame. The shape of the blades is one thing, but there are grooves cut into each of them, and even the textured finish to the individual blades has its benefits. If you aren't really strapped down for room above this cooler, you always have the option to add a 25mm thick fan with the supplied hardware, and grab back a few more degrees as well.
Noctua may not have made a cooler that everyone is going to rush out and have to buy one to put in their PCs as soon as possible, but that really wasn't the idea in the first place. Taking the idea of bringing what I already love about Noctua, the silence, better quality, and being simple to use and install, and shrinking all of that love into this tiny little package, it's just amazing to me. Noctua didn't see any reason to lower their standards just because things need to be small and low-profile to fit in the SSF chassis side of PC builds; those customers deserve the best just the same as the people who can use a D-14.
With the small price of $46.99 to have to spend to acquire the NH-L9i, for those with compact space requirements, there are none better.
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