Installation and Finished Product
For our testing, we dropped the LGA115X backplate in through the holes, making sure to align the holes with the socket screws. I know we did not show it, but the underside of this plate is insulated, so it will not cause a short.
After flipping over the motherboard, we dropped the standoffs over the studs, installed the top brackets, and secured it all in place with the thumbscrews. At this point, the SecuFirm 2 hardware should be rock solid on its own.
You will need to remove the fan to install the cooler, but once it is out of the way, simply apply some paste, and with the provided screwdriver, alternate turns back and forth until you run out of threads. This will securely mount the cooler as intended.
With such a small design, the NH-D9L peeking out from behind the memory only makes it look smaller. Of course, this was intended, and it is why they say the cooler is 3U capable. It is also why there are some limits to the TDP depending on the way each processor delivers heat.
As shipped, the D9L leaves plenty of room for the memory to be changed; the memory can also be seen if you have fancy LEDs. You can add another fan here, but this image shows what we meant about possible issues with the memory if you do opt to place a fan in this location.
After stepping back a bit, we see that the cooler even fits inside of the restrictive Thermal Armor that ASUS uses. In our situation, adding a fan to the back would likely be the best solution for long-term use, but for smaller form factor boards, you may not have that option.
As always, we like to show the cooler in ATX form. We already saw that the NH-D9L cleared the memory, but here we can see full access to the motherboard screws, and total clearance of the PCI-e slot, which is a must for Mini-ITX users.
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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.