Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
With the introduction of the D14 and D15 coolers, and the various clones that made it to the market after Noctua broke the mold, loads of people have been enjoying the maximized performance that a dual-tower cooler brings. There were a couple stumbling points in the journey to dual-tower cooling. The largest concern for users was hanging that much weight off the motherboard, but in more recent introductions of sockets it seems the motherboards are much more capable now than when the D14 first hit the stage. The other issue for a lot of users was memory clearance, which the D15 fixed, and other manufacturers started offering thinner fans on the front to accomplish the same thing.
When it comes to dual-tower coolers, the trend has been to get bigger and bigger, but bigger isn't always better. Employing larger units means eliminating access around the design, and complicating the choice of memory with some designs. What about those with smaller cases, or smaller form factor motherboards, or those who just won't use the capabilities of such a monstrous CPU cooler? Well, it seems that at least one company has taken those considerations and run with them; Noctua's latest air cooler design aims to fix it all.
What we have for you to see today is a dual-tower cooler that will fit nearly any system, except those very compact SFF designs that are either water cooling or a stock-like air cooling only. Essentially, the main idea was to shrink the D14 and D15, but Noctua also wanted to leave full access to the motherboard, the memory, and the first PCI-e slot. This design would also be a viable solution for Mini-ITX users, and not just those with larger systems looking for a compact cooler capable of the day-to-day grind. Of course, we are almost certain that this idea will soon be copied and replicated by all of those who followed Noctua the first time around, but just remember: it is Noctua that is innovating and driving the market with coolers like the NH-D9L dual-tower CPU cooler that we are showing you today.
Noctua begins the NH-D9L specifications chart with the compatibility features of the SecuFirm 2 mounting. Intel options from LGA 115X and up are covered, and as for AMD support, this mounting covers anything following and including AM2. The measurements of the cooler are also provided for us, and we see the D9L stands 110mm tall, 95mm wide, 95mm deep, and keeps the same dimensions with or without the fan in place. The other measurements are correct, but our sample stands 114.3mm tall with the fan in play. We also see that this mini-D14 weighs in at only 531 grams with the included fan.
The cooler design is a dual-tower configuration that uses the same thick aluminum fins we are used to seeing, and they are soldered directly to the heat pipes. Speaking of the heat pipes, there are four of them in this design, and the copper pipes and copper base are both nickel plated after the pipes are soldered into the base. The base has been milled.
You cannot click the TDP link in our image to see what is offered for this cooler, but we did, and found that it has a 95W rating for mainstream LGA115X processors, 140W for LGA2011-0/3, 100W for FM sockets, and 125W for AM sockets. They also show an asterisk for LGA115X and AM sockets that denotes that you should also be able to attain a lower overclock and still handle what they will deliver.
The chart also shows off the 92mm fan that cools the fin stacks, details what comes in the box, and also notes the six-year warranty included with the purchase. The chart then provides further details on the NF-A9PWM fan that comes with the cooler. The fan is rated at 22 dB(A), will spin up to 2000 RPM, and delivers 78.9 cubic meters of airflow. This fan is rated to spin for 150,000 hours with the fan sipping 1.2W of power.
So, while everything appears to be as expected, the NH-D9L still has to pass one more test before we get to actually looking at the cooler, and that test is based on price. The price of the NH-D9L needs to be competitive enough to make someone opt for this design over many others that will fit under the 120mm height umbrella. Considering there are only four or five shops currently stocking this cooler, it may make finding a great deal a bit tougher. However, Amazon is offering this mini dual-tower cooler for $56.90 with free shipping, so you do not have to dig as deep as you may have initially assumed. When it comes to other coolers that can fit where the Noctua NH-D9L does, there aren't many good choices other than stock-like coolers. Unfortunately, most of these competing coolers that do fit and offer good performance will cover most (if not all) of your gear on the motherboard. From what we have seen from the NH-D9L so far, this just isn't the case at all, which makes it a more viable option right out of the gate.
PRICING: You can find the Noctua NH-D9L for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.
United States: The Noctua NH-D9L retails for $59.99 at Amazon.
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We are sorry to see that you haven't been 100% satisfied with the NH-D9L. The performance results look good to us. After all, this is a hot CPU and a small cooler, and it seems to have kept up with larger models pretty well. Of course, it will not rate too well when measured on a price/performance scale. It goes without saying that you will get more performance for your money if you go with a 120mm model, but this is not what we're aiming for with this model. The point is to deliver the best possible performance at a given form factor for people who can not fit bigger coolers and who are ready to spend a bit more to get a premium quality solution. Think of the quality concious buyer who has a D15 in his main rig and now wants to build an ITX based HTPC. We apologize for the missing spacer. Things like that are very rare to occur, but can happen with one out of a thousand coolers or so. We always do our best to get the custumers the required parts as soon as possible in such cases. As for the fan touching the fins, this depends on where you mount it. We have extra anti-vibration pads on the low end of the fins and if you move the fan all the way down, the upper anti-vibration pads will touch the fins. As for total height, the review units we've sent out stem from the last pre-production run and there was indeed an error which led to the 2mm excess. Production units now come at 110mm height as advertised. Note that even 112mm will fit most 3U cases though. As for the fan, if you move it all the way down after tightening the screws, it should not be higher than the tips of the heatpipes! As for vibrations in general, we haven't had any complaints about vibrations with the NF-A9 fans at all so far and the feedback of testers and customers alike was very positive. As with the spacers, we can never completely outrule the possibility that there's a defective fan out of a thousand or that it got damaged in shipping, but so far both reviewers and customers have been very satisfied with this model. The same goes for the towers being bent: We go out of our way to protect the coolers as good as possible but with the way parcels are handled, it can occur that a unit arrives bent. Generally, the D9L package works well though, we haven't had any other complaints regarding bent coolers either from reviewers or customers.