Introduction, Specifications and Pricing
Another cooler comes from Noctua, but this time around, rather than a tower or C-style design, we are dealing with a much more compact layout in their latest cooler. This is sort of a remake, but nowhere near along the lines of the NH-C14 and NH-C14S, but this design is said to get its inspiration from the super low-profile NH-L9i we reviewed some time ago. This cooler was all about showing off just how low-profile is feasible and still be able to handle an average processors thermal needs day to day, but there were limits to it, and while the mounting was easy enough, it lacked that solid SecuFirm2 hardware that we see on almost every other Noctua cooler.
Rather than to stick to the 35mm height of the NH-L9i, this time around they gave themselves 65mm of height to play with to try and best the original design, yet still keeping it short enough to fit in the most space cramped situations of SFF chassis design and even HTPC usage. Along with a slightly taller design and an 84W TDP this time around, one thing that stays the same as the original cooler is the 95mm of width and depth to be certain to leave absolutely no issues with the memory or the video card. This becomes very important when basing a system off a Mini-ITX motherboard, as space is already at a premium.
Those of you that have already built, are currently planning to build, or have even watched another build in some of these SFF cases know the struggles of making sure you have the right sized everything when it comes to fitting everything inside. That being said, most of the media centers, smaller HTPC cases, as well as quite a few SFF designs will allow for 65mm of CPU cooler, and this is where Noctua employs their latest design, the NH-L9x65 cooler. This is almost direct competition for something like the Steropes we will review soon, and while comparisons of performance will be interesting, quite a few of the issues associated with a 120mm fan based low-profile CPU cooler just are not found when looking at Noctua's version of what a good low-profile CPU air cooler should look like, specifically when it comes to low-profile with zero clearance issues associated with it.
Noctua provides an extensive list of specifications on the NH-L9x65 as we can see, and as usual, it begins with the compatibility of this cooler. We find that it will fit LGA115x and even has hardware for LGA2011 in either version. It is also completely ready for use with anything AMD offers since and including AM2 sockets, but you do need the stock backplate as well. The height of this design is only 51mm tall without the fan, but once clipped on, it takes the height to the 65mm mark we discussed earlier. The width and depth are both the same at 95mm, and fan included, the whole thing only weighs 413 grams. This cooler moved away from the plate of the NH-L9i, and instead uses a normal base with mounting hardware. This copper base, and four heat pipes, once assembled are plated in nickel. Once that is completed, the arrangement of 50 thicker fins are arranged and soldered into their final locations.
The TDP for this cooler is set to 84 Watts, which isn't much, but it will do in most instances. What keeps that TPD is the fan that comes with the cooler since it is doing the heat removal. They ship the NF-A9x14 PWM fan with it, which is a 92mm fan that is 14mm in thickness. This fan spins on an SSO2 bearing at speeds of 2550 RPM, with 600 RPM as its base speed. Looking at the airflow, we see that there is a 57.5 cubic meter per hour listed, which is less than 30 CFM. We do, however, like the 23.6dB(A) sound rating listed, and the fact that the entire cooler is warranted for six years from the date of purchase.
Where the NH-C14S was near impossible to find, the NH-L9x65 is more readily available at this point in time. To get the best deal, you have to look to Amazon. The MRSP had been set for this cooler at $49.99, which isn't bad for a Noctua cooler, but as we looked currently, with Noctua listed as the seller, you can obtain this cooler right now at $59.99 with free shipping. At this price point, we feel that it fills a void where many cooler makers will not venture into, or have had limited success with it. Noctua is standing tall to offer something that fits anywhere a stock cooler will, offer you the same amount of love around it for other components, and with what we put this cooler through already, it more than stands up to the provided specifications, but can even take more punishment than intended and still come out looking really well in the end, and for anyone looking for a cooler like this, we feel it is well worth your time to find out just what the NH-L9x65 is capable of.
There is no mistaking this is a Noctua cooler with the layout found on the box. With the name at the left in a large font it is hard to miss, but it is repeated on the right. The larger section at the right is used to cover the height, compatibility, the NF-A9x14 PWM fan, and that is sports SecuFirm2 mounting hardware.
Moving around to the right, we next see this panel. The left side is taken up by a very thorough specifications chart to read in the store. On the right are some UPC codes, but there are also a couple of dimensional renderings at the bottom.
On the back of the box, they explain to us how the NH-L9x65 came about, and all the things we already covered that it will offers its owners. This is then repeated seven other times in languages fitting where they ship most of their coolers.
If you were in the store and did not just read everything we told you, this panel listing all of the features will come in really handy. It shows everything you need to know from fit to mounting gear, down to that they include TIM in the box.
Inside of the packaging, we find two separate boxes. The thinner box on top is for the hardware, but the lower thicker box is doubled, and keeps the cooler from being damaged. The box looked fine, and upon closer inspection, we find the Nh-L9x65 made it all the way here without a blemish on it.
Noctua NH-L9x65 CPU Cooler
We will call this the front of the NH-L9x65 since it is the only side to sport the Noctua logo. We see the 14mm thick fan above the taller fins, which has two pipes going into it at this end, while another pair terminate on the other side.
The sides offer three notches along the sides of the fins, but it is the middle one that is most important to users, as this is the one that the wire fan clips will latch into to keep the fan on the cooler.
At the back of the cooler, we see much the same as the front offered us. This time, we have two of the heat pipes going from the base and through the fins at the left.
With none of the sides closed off, if you orient the cooler properly on the motherboard, it will offer extra cooling to the VRMs or to the side of the memory. Also looking near the bottom, we can see the top bits of the SecuFirm2 mounting system.
Removing the fan from the cooler, we see that the fin spacing is kept with the folded sections along the top and bottom of the fins. We also see that there are two large chunks missing from the sides, and that is done to help with mounting.
This is because at the bottom of both areas with shortened fins, we have the screw with the spring on it to mount to the usual bits of hardware we are used to with Noctua coolers.
As we look under the cooler, some of the magic is revealed in how the fins are put on. It appears that each set of two pipes passes through only half the fin array. We also see that the milled base has been protected with a plastic cap.
Removing that cap, we can see that the base is not reflective. This is due to milling marks from how they machined the surface still being left. The nickel does fill in a bit of the valleys, but this slightly convex base is definitely not polished.
Accessories and Documentation
What comes in the hardware box is a bit much to take on in one images, so for now let's stick to the Intel gear. We find the LGA115X back plate in the middle with spacers and thumbscrews at each corner. To either side are the top brackets that sit on top of the spacers, and along the bottom are the four LGA2011 socket screws.
For AMD users, leave the stock back plate on the motherboard, and stack the white spacers under the top brackets, and then send a screw through each hole into the backplate to secure this bit to the motherboard.
As for the more universal gear that is shipped with the NH-L9x65, we get ourselves a 90 degree screwdriver to assist in mounting the cooler. We also are given a tube of NT-H1, a Low Noise Adapter, and a shiny metal case badge.
We are also given the trio of manuals for the various types of installation that the SecuFirm2 gear is capable of. Not only do you get a parts list to be sure you are good to go, but with clear instructions and rendering to help guide you along, installation is a breeze.
Installation and Finished Product
Making sure to orient the plates three drilled holes with the socket screws on the motherboard, we slid the studs through the holes and allowed the white o-rings to bottom out on the studs, isolating the motherboard.
With the studs poking through now, you slide on the black spacers, add in the top brackets according to the way you want the cooler oriented, and lock it all into place with the nuts on top of the brackets.
Since the fan is so small and more delicate than a larger one would be, we made sure not to try poking through the fan with the screwdriver. With no fan in play, it is very easy to get the driver into the heads of the screws, and in an alternating pattern, screw them in till they stop.
Looking over the memory, we can just see the fan on the NH-L9x65, but that is the point of this cooler, to fit with very little room overhead, and to offer no issues around it while doing so.
Looking down the RAM slots, we can see that if we did use four sticks in this system, we would have no issues with then going in and out, nor would there be a limit to the height of the heat spreaders, other than what the chassis itself might limit you to.
With such a compact foot print on the motherboard, not only can we get to all of the motherboard screws, but everything from fan connections to wide open access around the socket is exactly what the NH-L9x65 cooler offers.
When we said full access, we meant full access. With the cooler hanging in the chassis, it put things into perspective. No matter what size the motherboard is, this cooler will steer clear of memory, VRMs, video cards, fan headers, screws... everything is still right there out in the open.
Test System Setup, Thermal Tests and Noise Results
Test System Setup
To see our testing methodology and to find out what goes into making our charts, please refer to our CPU Cooler Testing and Methodology article for that information.
60.25 degrees does not seem all that great, but remember back to that 84W TDP. Considering this is the stock run of the 4770K and it is 84W, we feel they played it safe with that TDP. This is considerably better than what the stock cooler offered, and is using essentially the same space. We feel this result is actually pretty good for this design.
There is no way of putting lipstick on this pig, the 86 degree result here is pretty poor for what we see others do in this chart. The thing is though, this is like one of maybe three coolers of this size we have ever tested. Considering most others including the NH-L9i would not cope with what the NH-L9x65 is capable of, that in itself says a lot; since we were pumping near 100W to it at this time.
Noise Level Results
For our stock run in the testing, we gave the fans 7.5V as we always do, and at this time we found the fan to be spinning at 1800 RPM for the duration of that test. A foot away from the cooler, the meter showed us just 26dB at this time.
The fan does spool up to 2550 RPM delivering a more audible 36dB of noise. Of course, this is not with the PWM controlling it, and you always have the option to use the Low Noise Adapter as well.
The NH-L9x65 surprised us a fair bit. Looking at the cooler fresh out of the box, looking over the specifications, let's just say our expectations were not that high. First, we see a 92mm fan that is only 14mm thick, delivering around 30CFM of airflow to the cooler. Then, we see that the cooler itself is very compact and takes up just a bit more room than the stock solution, but only because it is square rather than round. With four heat pipes, the odds looked better, but they are short, and only run through half of the cooler essentially. It was almost as if everywhere you looked it seemed as if cooler was not really a good solution, but when put to the test, it came out smelling like roses.
While our overclocked testing does take this cooler past its "safe zone", we are very pleased to see it was able to tame near 100W of power and still leave us free of throttling the CPU. In the stock testing, which is where this cooler is in its sweet spot, the results were much better than what the stock cooler would afford, and again, in roughly the same footprint.
We really like the move to SecuFirm2 mounting hardware. We also like that everything on the motherboard is fully accessible, and when it comes to cases with tight confines designed into them, a cooler like this will keep you from having to gut the entire rig to remove a stick of RAM or get to a SATA connector. Everything Noctua boasted about with this cooler is true, and while we feel they underestimated the power that the NH-L9x65 can actually handle in the right conditions, the 84W TDP rating is fair and safe in near all conditions.
We took a pause to try and find something wrong with this design, and to be completely honest, we are at a loss here. You do have to see this cooler for what it is, and not compare it to a triple radiator based AIO. Look at it as a stock cooler replacement that will definitely drop temperatures, not blast your ears with sound, leave you full access to everything, and won't break your wallet trying to pay for it either. Considering that what they accomplished was done with very little room, and we can have this cooler today for the reasonable price of $60, we feel that Noctua may have made a cooler for a niche category of users, but the design, while small, is more capable of tending to business than what Noctua gave it credit for.
|Quality including Design and Build||97%|
|Bundle and Packaging||99%|
|Value for Money||90%|
The Bottom Line: Noctua revives what a compact cooler can be! The NH-L9x65 can tame our beast, comes with rock solid mounting hardware, and comes in at a fairly good price.
PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.
United States: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com
United Kingdom: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.co.uk
Australia: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com.au
Canada: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.ca
Deutschland: Finde andere Technik- und Computerprodukte wie dieses auf Amazon.de