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Noctua NH-D15 Review - Testing and Results

Testing and Results

We place our test rigs under load using the Small FFTs stress test in the free application Prime95, as this test is designed to place maximum load on the CPU and minimum load on the system's memory. We use the freeware application Core Temp to measure the temperature of our CPUs, as it reads data from the DTS (digital thermal sensor) embedded inside each core of Intel's modern processors and thus provides as accurate a reading as possible. We always take the temperature of the hottest core for consistency, and do so after 15 minutes of the Prime95 test, which is enough time for temperatures to plateau.

The results provided are the delta T results; the difference between the recorded CPU temperature and ambient temperature at the time of testing. Our labs are not temperature controlled, so this provides the most accurate method of comparison for coolers tested on different days.

Noctua NH-D15 Review Noctua NH-D15 Review - Testing and Results
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Any cooler that causes one of our CPUs to hit its Tj Max, the maximum temperature at which the CPU will operate before downclocking itself, is considered a fail. If a cooler has multiple available fan speeds, we retest at appropriate speeds to highlight the differences. Unless otherwise stated, closed loop liquid coolers are installed with their fans as exhausts. Finally, any cooler that is PWM (pulse width modulation) capable is tested both at full speed and using the standard PWM setting on our motherboards.

Intel LGA1155 Test System
  • Intel Core i7-2600K overclocked to 4.4GHz (44 x 100MHz) using a vcore of 1.275V
  • Asus Maximus V Formula
  • 2 x 2GB Crucial Ballistix 1,600MHz low-profile RAM
  • PNY Performance 60GB SSD
  • Corsair HX750W PSU
Intel LGA2011 Test System
  • Intel Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition overclocked to 4.2GHz (37 x 113.5MHz) using a vcore of 1.275V
  • Asus P9X79 Pro
  • 4 x 4GB G.Skill Ripjaw 1,6000MHz RAM
  • Samsung SSD 830 128GB
  • Enermax Revolution 87+ 750W PSU
Both systems run Windows 7 64-bit, are built inside a Corsair Carbide 500R and use an AMD ATI Radeon HD 5770 1GB. Coolers are tested with both of the case's side panels fully attached and with its two 120mm front intake fans and rear 120mm exhaust fan operating at consistent speeds, providing interior airflow that is more realistic than a benchtable or our previous set-up. The cases have been cable tidied and had their front drive cages removed to optimise airflow.

Intel LGA1155 CPU delta T

Arranged by 100 per cent CPU load delta T value

  • NZXT Kraken X60 (Maximum profile)
  • Corsair Hydro H110
  • Corsair Hydro H100i (Maximum profile)
  • Thermalright SilverArrow SB-E Extreme
  • Noctua NH-D15 (dual fan)
  • Corsair Hydro H105
  • Antec Kühler H2O 920 (Extreme profile)
  • NZXT Kraken X60 (Silent profile)
  • Phanteks PH-TC14PE
  • SilverStone Tundra TD02
  • NZXT Kraken X40 (Maximum profile)
  • Noctua NH-D15 (one fan)
  • Corsair Hydro H80i (Maximum profile)
  • Corsair Hydro H100i (Balanced profile)
  • Corsair Hydro H105 (PWM)
  • Noctua NH-D14
  • SilverStone Tundra TD02 (PWM)
  • Thermalright Archon SB-E X2
  • Corsair Hydro H75
  • Alpenföhn K2 Mount Doom
  • Noctua NH-D15 (dual fan LNA)
  • Zalman Reserator 3 Max
  • Antec Kühler H20 950 (Extreme profile)
  • Thermalright SilverArrow SB-E Extreme (PWM)
  • Noctua NH-D14 (low noise adaptor)
  • Phanteks PH-TC14PE (PWM)
  • Raijintek Ereboss
  • SilverStone Argon AR01
  • SilverStone Tundra TD03
  • Corsair Hydro H80i (Balanced profile)
  • Antec Kühler H20 650
  • Noctua NH-D15 (one fan LNA)
  • Corsair Hydro H75 (PWM)
  • Corsair Hydro H90
  • Noctua NH-D14 (PWM)
  • SilverStone Tundra TD03 (PWM)
  • Cooler Master Seidon 120M
  • Alpenföhn K2 Mount Doom (PWM)
  • Thermalright Archon SB-E X2 (PWM)
  • Gelid GX-7 Rev. 2
  • Raijintek Ereboss (PWM)
  • Thermalright True Spirit 120M
  • Corsair Hydro H80i (Quiet profile)
  • Antec Kühler H2O 920 (Silent profile)
  • Alpenföhn K2 Mount Doom (7V adaptor)
  • Corsair Hydro H100i (Quiet profile)
  • SilverStone Argon AR01 (PWM)
  • Zalman Reserator 3 Max (PWM)
  • NZXT Kraken X40 (Silent profile)
  • Noctua NH-D14 (PWM; low noise adaptor)
  • Deepcool GAMMAXX S40
  • Phanteks PH-TC12DX
  • Antec Kühler H20 950 (Silent profile)
  • Gelid The Black Edition
  • Thermalright True Spirit 120M (PWM)
  • Noctua NH-U12S
  • Raijintek Pallas
  • Gelid GX-7 Rev. 2 (PWM)
  • Raijintek Pallas (PWM)
  • Gelid The Black Edition (PWM)
  • Arctic Cooling Freezer i30
  • Noctua NH-U12S (low noise adaptor)
  • Gelid Tranquillo Rev. 2
  • Deepcool Gamer Storm Gabriel
  • Deepcool Gamer Storm Gabriel (PWM)
  • Thermalright AXP-100
  • Thermalright AXP-100 (PWM)
  • Zalman FX100 Cube
  • Intel Stock Cooler
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Delta T (°C) (lower is better)

Intel LGA2011 CPU delta T

Arranged by 100 per cent CPU load delta T value

  • Corsair Hydro H105
  • Noctua NH-D15 (dual fan)
  • SilverStone Tundra TD02
  • Noctua NH-D15 (single fan)
  • NZXT Kraken X60 (Maximum profile)
  • Corsair Hydro H100i (Maximum profile)
  • Phanteks PH-TC14PE
  • Corsair Hydro H80i (Maximum profile)
  • Corsair Hydro H110
  • Thermalright SilverArrow SB-E Extreme
  • Noctua NH-D15 (dual fan LNA)
  • Antec Kühler H2O 920 (Extreme profile)
  • Thermalright Archon SB-E X2
  • Antec Kühler H20 950 (Extreme profile)
  • Corsair Hydro H75
  • Corsair Hydro H100i (Balanced profile)
  • Noctua NH-D14
  • SilverStone Tundra TD03
  • Noctua NH-D15 (single fan LNA)
  • Alpenföhn K2 Mount Doom
  • Corsair Hydro H80i (Balanced profile)
  • NZXT Kraken X60 (Silent profile)
  • SilverStone Argon AR01
  • Antec Kühler H2O 920 (Silent profile)
  • Noctua NH-D14 (low noise adaptor)
  • Corsair Hydro H100i (Quiet profile)
  • Zalman Reserator 3 Max
  • Antec Kühler H20 650
  • Antec Kühler H20 950 (Silent profile)
  • Corsair Hydro H75 (PWM)
  • Cooler Master Seidon 120M
  • NZXT Kraken X40 (Maximum profile)
  • Corsair Hydro H90
  • Phanteks PH-TC12DX
  • Arctic Cooling Freezer i30
  • Corsair Hydro H80i (Quiet Profile)
  • Gelid The Black Edition
  • Noctua NH-U12S
  • Raijintek Ereboss
  • Deepcool GAMMAXX S40
  • Noctua NH-U12S (low noise adaptor)
  • NZXT Kraken X40 (Silent profile)
  • Alpenföhn K2 Mount Doom (7V adaptor)
  • Raijintek Pallas
  • Thermalright True Spirit 120M
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Delta T (°C) (lower is better)

Read our performance analysis on the next page.