Larger than life coolers aren't exactly new and I have seen a few cross my desk over the past year. The first few coolers that come to mind are the Cooler Master V10, the Xigmatek Thor's Hammer and even the likes of the Scythe Mugen 2. The major concern with any of these coolers is interior room inside the chassis, as mid towers make installation a real chore for most of these coolers. If room isn't an issue, these coolers all can handle their weight in doing their intended job. Now we have another entrant into this category of coolers.
Noctua, who is already well known for having great performance in their coolers, and at almost silent operation, had recently released a new 140mm fan, the NF-P14. This fan boasts more CFM and lower noise than the already good NF-P12 that Noctua users are accustomed to seeing and using. From previous testing, I can see a bit of room for improvement on CFM, but to do that and actually lessen the noise levels, now this I got to see!
Aside from the noise levels, Noctua "super sized" the cooling capabilities of this version, not unlike the V10 concept, but Noctua saw no need for the third radiator, or a TEC for that matter. The new release utilizes two large fin assemblies and two fans to get the job handled. Knowing what I have seen from Noctua, I am excited to say the least. Today we are looking at the NH-D14 CPU cooler from Noctua. Let's see just how well they improved on an already good lineup of coolers.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
The NH-D14, as I said, well, is rather large. Standing at 160mm tall, it will easily overfill some mid tower chassis'. The other critical measurement is the 158mm depth once both fans are installed. With the size out of the way, there is the weight that may play a factor for some. Naked, the NH-D14 comes in at a hefty 900 grams, and with both fans installed it can be as heavy as 1240 grams. Don't be too worried about the weight, though; I will cover why later. As with all the other Noctua's available, this dual tower cooler uses a milled copper base that is soldered to six heat pipes. These nickel plated, copper heat pipes pull heat from the CPU to one of two sets of fins, both containing forty-two aluminum fins.
Once the fins are warmed, it moves over to the fans duty to make heat go away. To start things off, there is the NH-P12 that can use up to 92.3 m³/h of air flow to get things happening. If my math is right, that is just under 55 CFM and is silent while in operation. Once the air gets through the first set of fins, it is recollected by a NH-P14. This fan is blowing at 110.3 m³/h (almost 65 CFM) at its maximum speed and cooling the second set of fins. Now, the NH-P14 is also shown to be even more silent than what I am already used to, so with dual fan testing I don't expect an increase of noise as I got with the dual fan 120mm coolers I already tested from Noctua.
Going through the typical methods anyone would go through to try and locate the NH-D14, at the current time it is limited to only two retailers on the internet. One of which lists the NH-D14 at $79.99 plus shipping, while a better known site offers the same cooler for $87.95 and also doesn't include shipping. Choosing where you buy is up to you, but with a credit card or Paypal, I would pretty much buy from anywhere, as there are lines of defense if something goes wrong. Just remember, bigger companies usually have a better return policy if something does go wrong. Either route you decide to go, this is a premium asking price, but if you look at other "larger than life" coolers, they all asked this price and more upon release.
As we are used to seeing with Noctua, the NH-D14 keeps the all white package with outlined drawings of the product to adorn the package. There is a cut-away to view what's inside, but Noctua packed mine a little tighter due to the long trip to my house. Just to give perspective, this box is about 10" wide and almost 8" tall.
With the front cut-away blocked, this image is the first I got to see of the NH-D14. Next to the image of the base there are small drawings with dimensions.
The back starts off with a statement from Noctua about this cooler, and is followed by five main features and their descriptions.
This side houses Noctua's statement about the NH-D14 for those who aren't fluent in English.
The top of the packaging is where you will find all the specifications for both the cooler and both of the different fans included inside.
Once I got this massive piece of hardware out of the package, I was in a slight bit of shock at the actual size. Even shipping such a massive cooler, Noctua does a terrific job with the dense foam that surrounds the cooler and the boxing of the hardware on each end. It kept the NH-D14 in great shape over quite a long voyage.
The Noctua NH-D14 CPU Cooler
Once I got it out of the foam and set the boxes aside, this is what I found. One sexy piece of kit in my opinion! I will just let you soak this in and get into detail later.
From the side we can see how well both fans cover the massive sets of fins from top to bottom. The 140mm in the middle actually sits proud of the cooler a bit on all four sides. Both fans are wired separately, but Noctua takes care of you, as I will show in the hardware section.
This angle gives you a better idea of how it all works. A 120mm fan in the front of a "saw-toothed" fin that surrounds one end of the six heat pipes. Then a NH-P14 takes over and sucks in a bit of fresh air from the sides, as well as reusing the 120mm fans flow to cool a second, similar set of fins that house the other end of the heat pipes.
From this side, if connected, you would be getting blasted by air. The rear of the fins is "saw-toothed" just like the other sides, and if you chose to, you could add a third fan here as well.
Noctua proudly stamps their name on these almost 60mm deep fins. There is no doubt of the design of the "saw-tooth" look I was referring to. This design helps agitate the air, while spacing the fan correctly from the fins for superior airflow.
Removing the fans allows me to explain a few other things that really benefit this cooler. The total amount of surface area doesn't hurt it, first off. Beyond that, the centred placement of the heat pipes allows for the main flow of the fan to cool the pipes and the fins very efficiently. Something new to me here is the addition of the Teflon strips pressed into grooves in the fins. These should do a great job of isolating any fan vibrations or chatter.
This is the view you will have during installation. The 140mm fan does need to be removed to allow mounting to any of the approved sockets.
Moving down to the correct level, the mounting plate that is on the cooler stays there. There is nothing to change as far as the mounting on this end. These two screws with spring tension are used with all of the mounting types and configurations.
The top plate on the base is under mounted to give it a clean finished look. Inside those four screws there is the mating surface. As with all Noctua coolers, it uses a milled copper base, this time in nickel plating, just like the heat pipes which this cooler sports six of.
Here is a close look at the new NH-P14. This fan is 1400mm and as I mentioned is rated both higher in CFM than the 120mm, but does it with less noise. An added feature; it's the round cage, this allows Noctua to offer a bigger fan that installs with the usual 120mm fan spacing.
Accessories and Documentation
Opening one of the hardware boxes, I found labelled packages for both the AMD and Intel mounting kits.
The Intel kit comes with one back plate; it is a universal i7, i5, 775 plate, and to the right of it is some high density foam that may or may not be fully used, depending on the installation. The "studs" at the bottom lock into either back plate, then you slide it in from behind the motherboard. Add a black plastic spacer on top, then one side of the top mounting brace, and top it off with the thumb screws provided.
The AMD kit is slightly different. This time there is no back plate, as any AM2 or newer board should already have. Using said back plate without the plastic retainer on top, you would screw these mounts, with the spacers and screws provided, into the appropriate holes so the cooler fits on your socket correctly. This mounting does give you the option to use a normal flow pattern instead of blowing the air at the top of the chassis.
Alongside the packages of mounting goodies, the instruction folder can also be found.
Open it up to reveal either the Intel or AMD instructions. Both sets are written descriptively enough that there is no need for images, but they include really good images anyway.
In the other box I found a bunch more goodies. A syringe of NT-H1, and not a little one either, comes with the NH-D14. Some fan mounting accessories also come with it, but I didn't have any desire in placing wither of these fans somewhere else. There are three fan connections as well; one for low speed, one for high speed, and one adapter to convert your CPU fan header to a two fan configuration. For mounting the NH-D14, Noctua ships a long 90 degree Phillip's screwdriver to ease installation. Once you get it all installed, be proud and don't forget to add the case badge so everyone knows what's inside ;)
Test System & Testing Results
Test System & Test Results
TweakTown uses a different method for testing CPU heatsinks which allows for an even playing field across all product tests. We feel that by using the same ambient temperature and strict lab-like testing procedures we are able to accurately compare one product to another. More information on our testing procedure can be found in the T.E.C.C. article here.
I was really surprised that the Noctua could keep such a low ambient temperature, but I ran the test three times and reapplied TIM every time looking for what I did wrong, but I couldn't find anything odd. As for the load temperatures, all I can say is I have a huge smile on my face still. Within a degree of a three fin setup that uses a TEC, what more could a buyer ask for? That's right, how about no noise?
How's that for little to no noise? At idle there was a bit more noise detected than a single 120mm produced in previous tests. At load, I believe every claim of the NH-P14. With it and the NH-P12 running, I measured no extra noise, so it is either the same or less as far as the sound level testing went.
First off, I'd like to say wow! This cooler isn't just another larger than life cooler, it gets in there and handles its business. I even got to play around with this cooler on my current i5 rig, and I am even more pleased than what the testing in the T.E.C.C. testing shows. I like to push my hardware until it screams for mercy, and up to now I have been somewhat limited by air only cooling. While the V10 did alright, for a TEC powered cooler it really isn't worth a degree for the price they ask for it. The Hammer was ok with dual fans too, but there was a saturation point where I couldn't clock any further. With the NH-D14, I have done some silly things already. The major accomplishment I saw so far was that I was able to load my processor in Prime95 testing at 1.5 volts to the CPU, and to my surprise I never saw RealTemp hit 60 degrees. Now that is efficiency!
As far as I'm concerned, there are only two real issues with the NH-D14, and that is size, which leads to the second issue, RAM heat spreaders. Taller RAM like Dominators, Pi series, and loads of others will not clear under the cooler and 120mm fan. I do, however, run Ripjaws, which have medium height spreaders, and I am able to remove and replace them without uninstalling the cooler or fan. In a smaller chassis installation may be a chore, but in my full tower it was really simple. In fact, I installed it with the motherboard upright in the case. A steady hand and patience got the cooler installed in no time at all.
So what are we left with? A cooler that can keep up with both custom water cooling as well as some "modified" air coolers. The main difference is the price. If you look at it against water cooling, it's a no brainer. And for a degree, I'd rather spend $80 to get this Noctua versus a TEC powered cooler for $125. While availability is a bit low currently, there isn't much leeway on the pricing, but I honestly feel it is worth every penny Noctua asks for the NH-D12.