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Noctua NH-D15 Review

Noctua NH-D15 Review

Manufacturer: Noctua
UK price (as reviewed):
£77.99 (inc VAT)
US price (as reviewed): $99.99 (ex TAX)

If you prefer air cooling over the hassles of water-cooling, or you're just not keen on all-in-one liquid coolers, then you do have a few choices. In fact, plenty of you have said that, given the option, you'd rather own a large air cooler and with behemoths such as the Phanteks PH-TC14PE and Alpenföhn K2 Mount Doom, manufacturers are clearly not that worried about all-in-one liquid coolers either.

Noctua NH-D15 Review Noctua NH-D15 Review
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Noctua's effort in this department wasn't totally convincing when we last looked at the NH-D14, but that was over four years ago - there are now new CPUs to contend with so it's only fair that we wipe the slate clean and check out its successor with an open mind. Firstly, you didn't mis-read the prices we inserted above - the new NH-D15 really does cost nearly £80, making it one of, if not the most expensive fan-assisted coolers we've reviewed.

Noctua NH-D15 Review Noctua NH-D15 Review
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So, what do you get for your money? Well, on size alone, the NH-D15 is certainly mighty but at 165mm high, it should still fit in the vast majority of cases. There are six heatpipes packed into two large heatsinks, passing through a contact plate at the bottom. It's a similar design to many other large air coolers, including the NH-D14. Compared to the latter, the fin stack and heatpipe placement has been expanded, with the former moving from 140mm to 150mm to allow, so Noctua claims, for more uniform heat distribution.

Noctua NH-D15 Review Noctua NH-D15 Review
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In the box are actually two NF-A15 140mm fans, which sit at the outer edge and in the middle of the heatsinks. As we saw in our recent review of the NH-U12S, Noctua doesn't include any old tat when it comes to fans, and the NF-A15 is even more expensive at nearly £20 a pop to buy separately. The fan clips are, yet again, fantastic and so simple to fit compared to the usual spindly wires that often ping off, never to be found again. As with the NH-U12S, you'll need to remove at least the centre fan in order to mount the cooler so easy-to-use fan clips are a must.

Noctua NH-D15 Review Noctua NH-D15 Review
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Installation is fairly painless and as per usual, Noctua's attention to detail with its packaging gives you a warm fuzzy feeling inside and makes that price tag a little easier to swallow. Everything is meticulously separated so it's a minimum of fuss to find the right bits for your socket and to get going. There's even a screwdriver included so you can reach the sprung screws that secure the cooler to the mounting mechanism. The latter consists of spacers plus two metal plates that straddle the CPU socket, with pre-mounted screws on the cooler securing to each of these.

Noctua NH-D15 Review Noctua NH-D15 Review
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One issue that plagues many coolers, not just large models like this one, is RAM compatibility. There's the option to ditch the front fan to provide 64mm of clearance under the heatsinks. You can see how much of an impact this makes on cooling over the page, but while the front fan reduces this to 32mm and lkimits you to standard height modules, it's not that tricky to raise the fan up the cooler using the fan brackets to clear the memory. You're obviously increasing the height of the cooler doing this but at least the option is there.

Noctua NH-D15 Review Noctua NH-D15 Review
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As usual with Noctua, there's an emphasis on low noise, and there's a pair of low noise adaptors included in the box to tune down the maximum speed of each fan. These are 4-pin cables, so they'll reduce the fan speed regardless of whether you're using a 4-pin PWM header or a simple 12V 3-pin one.

Specifications

  • Compatibility Intel: LGA115x, LGA2011; AMD: AM3(+), AM2(+), FM2(+), FM1
  • Size (with fans)(mm) 150 x 161 x 165
  • Fan size (mm) 120 x 120 x 25 (W x D x H)
  • Fan(s) 2 x 140mm (included), 300 -1,500RPM
  • Stated Noise19-25dBA
  • Extras 2 x Low Noise Adaptor resistor cables, 1 x 2-way fan splitter, thermal paste, screw driver