Noctua NH-D14 CPU Cooler Review

Written by Harry Butler

January 5, 2010 | 10:29

Tags: #cooler #nh-d14 #noctua-nh-d14 #performance

Companies: #noctua

Noctua NH-D14

Manufacturer: Noctua
UK Price (as reviewed): £71.51 (inc. VAT)
US Price (as reviewed): $84.99 (inc. VAT)

Weight: 1,070g (1,240g with fans)
Size (with fan): 160mm (l) x 172mm (d) x 140mm (w)
Fan Speed: 1,200 to 900rpm + 1300 -900 rpm
Noise Level: 19.8 – 12.6 dBA
Warranty: 6 Years
Supported Sockets: Intel LGA775, Intel LGA1156, Intel LGA1366, AMD Socket AM2, AM2+, AM3

Size is a contentious issue when it comes to CPU coolers, with past supersize candidates utterly failing to make their huge mass of copper and aluminium match up to competing coolers. This hasn’t deterred low-noise Austrian heatsink specialist Noctua though, as the NH-D14 is not only one of the largest coolers to ever cross our desks, but is also potentially one of the most innovative too.

The key to the NH-D14’s design is to have not one, but two stacks of aluminium cooling fins rising from the cooler’s base. Each stack is independently cooled by its own cooling fan, thus maximising both effective airflow over the cooling fins and available surface area. Each stack is made up of 42 separate aluminium cooling fins, and while not as tightly packed together as the fins of some coolers, we’re sure the much larger overall surface area should more than compensate.

Noctua NH-D14 CPU Cooler Review Noctua NH-D14 CPU Cooler Review
Click to enlarge

This is a similar idea to Noctua’s previous coolers, such as the excellent NH-U12P 1366SE which had two fans in a push-pull configuration. With the NH-D14, the second fan not only pulls air off the first stack of heatsink fins, but it blows it over its own too. Noctua has chosen to use two different sizes of fan for the NH-D14, with a 120mm NF-12 as the primary fan and a 140mm NF-P14 FLX sandwiched between the two stacks.

As with all of Noctua’s fans these both use high-quality SSO bearings, and are designed with low noise in mind. The NH-D14 should be as quiet as it is huge. To aid the cooler in this task, Noctua has included a pair of its ULNA (Ultra Low Noise Adaptor) cables, allowing you to drop the fan speed from 1,200rpm and 1,300rpm on the 140mm and 120mm fans respectively down to a quieter 900rpm.

Noctua NH-D14 CPU Cooler Review Noctua NH-D14 CPU Cooler Review
Click to enlarge - Noctua has chosen to use two different sized fans

The fans are useless unless the cooler can effectively direct heat away from the CPU and into the cooling fins though, and so Noctua has used six nickel-plated copper heatpipes running through the moulded copper base. Pleasingly, the base has been machined to a very flat and even finish, although this design is typically less effective than direct contact heatpipes as used by the Titan Fenrir and Akasa Nero.

Much of the performance of coolers with solid bases, such as this one, is down to the build quality of the base, and how snugly the heatpipes are bonded to it. Large gaps mean wasted heatpipe surface area, and reduced effectiveness. However, we're happy to report that while the NH-D14 has some small gaps where the heatpipes enter the base, the overall fit is very tight.
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