While we are not going to beat Noctua up too badly for the things we found that just aren't up to our expectations of a Noctua cooler, there are some things we need to address. Fortunately, we were sent another cooler like this one at the same time we received the NH-D9L; the other cooler gave us access to another standoff to replace the one that was missing from the kit. While this is not a deal killer for us, as a customer, the last thing you want after waiting for a cooler to arrive is to find it cannot be installed, and you have to wait even longer for those replacement bits to arrive. We also noticed that the towers were awkwardly angled out of the box.
While bending the towers back into a square is easy to do, it restricts the opening to the point that the fan will not slide through properly. The last issue is more of a technical issue. While I have little experience in 3U chassis design, looking on the internet tells me 110mm is the maximum CPU cooler height for that form factor. The issue there is the fact that our cooler is 112mm to the pipe tips, and 114mm to the top of the fan. Speaking of the fans, the vibration we experienced was pretty disappointing; sorry Noctua, but we just expected better.
On the flip side, we still get a cooler with thick fins soldered directly to the heat pipes, four heat pipes to transfer the heat, and a copper base milled more finely than previous Noctua submissions. With the plating on the base, it is almost completely smooth this time. The fans are easy to clip into place once the fan is into the body of the cooler, and getting the cooler securely mounted to the motherboard really does not get much easier than this. We adore the fact that it offers absolutely no conflicts with any of the motherboard components, memory, or screws; and it stays well short of conflicting with expansion cards. There is also that special something that makes you say "awww, isn't this cute," as this mini dual-tower cooler is exposed from the packaging that makes you feel like you have a real monster under the hood.
Considering this cooler is very near to $60 in cost, we will be honest: we expected a little better than what we found in the single-fan testing. Adding the second fan took us to where we imagined this cooler should perform for the money, but then the price goes up, and we all know Noctua fans are not very budget friendly.
Even if we feel the price is a touch high for most with the performance we received, there is no doubt that this tiny solution that fits where others cannot is more than capable of keeping your processor (a heavily overclocked one in our instance) within reasonable levels. While this cooler may not be everyone's cup of tea, even if they never had plans to use it, we could see people buying this cooler strictly as a novelty to have on the desk. For those serious about cooling in the smallest space possible, this is a solid, dependable option that is fully capable of taming the heat and leaving full access to everything around it.
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.
|Quality including Design and Build||98%|
|Bundle and Packaging||87%|
|Value for Money||89%|
|Overall TweakTown Rating||90%|
The Bottom Line: Noctua has delivered a tiny dual-tower cooler that tamed our beast, but what will sell the NH-D9L are things like its feature set, solid design, capabilities, and the fact that is its small enough to be 3U compliant.
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.