Noctua is one of the most respected manufacturers of high-end cooling products in the market. Their most remarkable air cooler is no other than the NH-D14 which was introduced in 2009 and won hundreds of international awards from various review websites and publications, making it one of the most successful premium heatsinks ever built.
This year, after four years of development, Noctua has finally decided to release their latest flagship air cooler, namely the NH-D15 which is meant to succeed the NH-D14. Apart from expanding the heatsink from 140mm to 150mm and broadening the distance between the heatpipes, Noctua also offer dual AF-A15 fans measuring 140x150mm which feature wider frame than conventional 140mm fan.
Today we reviewing the Noctua NH-D15 and investigate on the performance of this mighty cooler on LGA2011-v3 (Haswell-E) and LGA1150 (Devil’s Canyon) platforms. Before we begin, let us take this chance to thank Noctua for providing us with the NH-D15 CPU Cooler to review. Let us begin with the specifications of the cooler.
Suggested Retail Price: RM 379
Based on the award-winning NH-D14
Noctua’s NH-D14 has received more than 350 awards and recommendations from leading international hardware websites and magazines, making it one of the most successful premium heatsinks ever built. With its expanded layout and dual NF-A15 fans, the NH-D15 further improves the D14’s much acclaimed quiet cooling performance.
6 heatpipe dual tower design
As compared to conventional single tower heatinks, the NH-D15’s fine-tuned six heatpipe dual tower design provides more surface area, better heat-distribution and superior airflow efficiency in dual fan mode.
Widened fin stack and expanded heatpipe layout
Compared to the NH-D14, the NH-D15’s fin-stack has been widened from 140 to 150mm and its heatpipes are now spaced further apart, which allows for a more uniform heat distribution over a larger surface area and thus contributes to the NH-D15’s superior efficiency.
High RAM compatibility in single fan mode
Thanks to its recessed lower fins, the NH-D15 provides 64mm clearance for tall memory heatsinks in single fan mode, making it compatible with most high end RAM modules on the market. In dual fan mode, the NH-D15 should be used with standard height RAM (up to 32mm).*
Dual NF-A15 140mm fans
The NH-D15 features two of Noctua’s premium class NF-A15 140mm fans. Complying with Noctua’s AAO standard and featuring sophisticated aerodynamic design measures such as Flow Acceleration Channels, the NF-A15 has quickly built up a reputation as one of the best 140mm fans on the market. button
PWM support and Low-Noise Adaptor
The NF-A15 premium fans supplied with the NH-D15 support PWM for convenient automatic speed control through the mainboard. In addition, the maximum fan speed can be reduced from 1500 to 1200rpm using the supplied Low-Noise Adaptor for even quieter operation.
Excellent component cooling
Extending below the fin-stacks, the large NF-A15 fans not only contribute to the NH-D15’s superb CPU cooling capabilities but also provide massive airflow over surrounding motherboard components and heatsinks, thus ensuring excellent component cooling performance.
SecuFirm2™ mounting system
Noctua’s SecuFirm2™ mounting systems have become synonymous with quality, safety and ease of use. Supporting Intel LGA115x (LGA1150, LGA1155, LGA1156), LGA2011 and AMD (AM3(+), AM2(+), FM1, FM2(+)), the SecuFirm2™ mounting included with the NH-D15 guarantees perfect contact pressure and maximum convenience on all current sockets.
Compatibility with past and future sockets
Complying with the open SecuFirm™ standard, the NH-D15 can be made compatible with the older LGA1366 and LGA775 sockets using the optional NM-I3 mounting kit, which is provided by Noctua free of charge. If technically possible, Noctua will also provide upgrade kits for future sockets.
NT-H1 thermal compound
Having received more than 100 awards and recommendations from hardware journalists around the world, Noctua’s NT-H1 is a proven professional grade TIM solution that provides minimum thermal resistance, excellent ease of use and outstanding reliability. button
6 years warranty
Noctua products are renowned for their impeccable quality and outstanding longevity. Like all Noctua fans, the supplied NF-A15’s feature an MTBF rating of more than 150.000 hours and the entire NH-D15 package comes with a full 6 years manufacturer’s warranty.
The Noctua NH-D15 ships in a brown/white retail packaging with the front showing a beautiful picture the heatsink fins in the background. You will also be welcomed by information about the key features of the cooler. There’s also a golden coloured badge emphasizes that the cooler is based on the award-winning NH-D14. The other side of the box depicts some descriptions of the cooler in various languages.
The other angle of the box is still dominated by brown/white colour. Here, Noctua explains further about the main features of the NH-D15 which include its design based on the award-winning NH-D14, six heatpipe dual tower design, widened fin stack and expanded heatpipe layout, high RAM compatibility in single fan mode, dual NF-A15 140mm fans, SecuFirm2 mounting system, and PWM support and Low-Noise Adaptor. The other side of the box we have the specifications of the heatsink and NF-A15 fan, as well as the scope of delivery.
Noctua’s effort on making their NH-D15 cooler look premium can be seen in the packaging aspect. Unboxing the retail packaging you will get several individual small boxes separating the accessories, NF-A15 fan, mounting kits, and the heatsink itself. Noctua provide the NH-D15 with both Intel and AMD mounting kits to support various modern sockets including Intel’s LGA1150, LGA1155, LGA1156, LGA2011, LGA2011-v3 and AMD’s AM3+, AM2+, FM1 FM2 and FM2+. Detailed user’s guide manuals are also included in the boxes.
SecuFirm2 mounting kit for Intel sockets.
SecuFirm2 mounting kit for AMD sockets.
Inside the accessories box, Noctua give users a pair of Low-Noise Adaptor (L.N.A.), a four-pin PWM Y-cable, the NT-H1 high-grade thermal compound, the Noctua metal case badge, a pair of wire mounts for the second fan, a set of rubber case fan mounts, a set of fan screws, and L-shaped screw driver.
Now let’s take a look at the heatsink itself. The heatsink features two towers made of 90 aluminum fins (45 per tower) which are held together by six 6mm copper heatpipes in U-shape. Out of the box the NH-D15 comes pre-installed with a Noctua PWM NF-A15 fan that are mounted on the middle of the two towers. The dimensions of the NH-D15 without the fan is 160 x 150 x 135 mm (HxWxD) while with the fan is 165 x 150 x 161 mm.
The NH-D15 heatsink alone without the fans weighs exactly 1000 grams. With the fans mounted, the total weight of the NH-D15 becomes 1320 grams.
Noctua provides an opening on the heatsink for better memory compatibility. This clearance allows for installation of memory modules up to a height of 65 mm.
On the top of the two towers you can see the embossed Noctua logo alongside part of the six heatpipes protruded above the top surface of each of the towers.
The heatsink’s base is made out of nickle-plated copper, which is interconnected to the heatsink’s fin by the six copper heatpipes. Out of the box the base is protected by a transparent protection cover to avoid damage during transportation.
To allow for a push-pull setup for better cooling performance, Noctua provide a second PWM NF-A15 fan in the package. Measuring 150mm in width and 140mm in height, these fans feature beige frames and dark brown blades. The specifications of the fans can be found on the label of the fans. The fans are specified to run up to 1500 RPM controllable via PWM function and require a four-pin fan header to draw power. Noctua claims that the fans have an airflow up to 140.4 m3/h and noise level up to 24.6 dBA at maximum fan speed.
The installation is pretty straight forward thanks to the included installation manuals that are easy to understand and read. Assembly on LGA2011-v3 platform doesn’t require any backplate to work. We started assembling the Noctua NH-D15 by installing the Noctua SecuFirm2 mounting kit which is consisted of four bolts, a pair of mounting bars and four thumb screws.
Next we applied a small drop of thermal paste on top of the CPU as per recommended in the Noctua’s installation manual. We then unmounts the pre-installed fan as well as the protection cover at the bottom side of the heatsink.
Next we positioned the heatsink over the CPU and gently lowered it, twisted it backward and forward to spread the thermal paste evenly. Thanks to the included L-shaped Philips screw driver, the heatsink was secured onto the mounting bars with the available screws located on the heatsink. It is advisable to tighten the screws with an even pressure from each side to another to get an optimum heat dissipation between the heatsink and the processor. Thanks to the 65mm clearance, our G.Skill Ripjaws4 DDR4 2666MHz C15 16GB RAM has a module height of 40mm which fit nicely under the heatsink.
We then remounted both fans onto the heatsink with the included mounting wires and plugged the fan connectors onto the fan headers of the motherboard.
After putting everything into the place we then assembled the motherboard on our Dimastech EasyDual V2.5 bench table and ready for benching.
Installation on LGA1150 (Devil’s Canyon)
As for LGA1150 setup, the Noctua NH-D15 was assembled by installing the backplate onto the bottom side of the motherboard and secure it with Noctua SecuFirm2 mounting kit which is consisted of four spacers, a pair of mounting bars and four thumb screws.
The next steps of assembly was exactly similar to that of the LGA2011-v3 platform that we’ve just discussed above.
Test Setup & Methodology
We performed testing on two different test systems which are based around the LGA2011-v3 X99 (Haswell-E) and the LGA1150 Z97 (Devil’s Canyon), respectively.
For the LGA2011-v3 platform, we used 8-core Intel Core i7-5960X “Haswell-E” processor which comes with a base clock of 3.0GHz and 3.5GHz Turbo speed. It was then overclocked to 4.4GHz with a supplied voltage of 1.35v. We used the ASUS Rampage V Extreme motherboard for this setup.
The other test system was powered by Intel Core i7-4790K “Devil’s Canyon” clocked at 4.0GHz and with a 4.4GHz Turbo peak. We also overclocked the CPU to 4.6GHz with 1.25v. For this test system, we will be using the ASRock Z97 Extreme4 motherboard.
We used Core Temp v1.0 RC6 to monitor the CPU core temperatures. We run the stressful Prime95 v27.9 in-place Large FFTs for maximum heat output. Prime95 will stress all cores and threads to 100% usage, which will help us to understand how hot this processor can get with each cooler in worst case scenarios. It should be noted that the ambient temperature during the testing was 30°C, in a non-air conditioned room.
For the sake of comparison, we decided to use the XSPC RASA 750 RS240 entry-level watercooling kit and Intel stock cooler (for LGA1150 system only) for testing on the same test bench. The fans, excluding the XSPC fans, were controlled by PWM function and the pump were set to run at full speed to give the maximum cooling performance. We also tested the Noctua NH-D15 with Scythe GrandFlex 2400 rom fans. Let’s proceed to the performance numbers.
The graph above showed that on LGA2011-v3 (Haswell-E) platform, while the Core i7-5960X processor was on stock clock the Noctua NH-D15 mounted with two NF-A15 fans registered a core temperature of 58°C, which is 3°C higher than the XSPC RASA 750 RS240 watercooling kit. When the NH-D15 was mounted with a pair of Scythe GrandFlex fans in push-pull configurations, the load temperature matched the watercooling kit which is 55°C. But take note that since the Scythe fans are specified to run at 2400rpm at full speed, so the noise level became seriously annoying when the system is under load.
When the Core i7-5960X processor was overclocked to 4.4GHz, the Noctua NH-D15 did a well when it was able to keep the core temperature at 88°C, which is still within the specifications of Intel (105°C maximum).
Let’s see how the Noctua NH-D15 performs on our LGA1150 (Devil’s Canyon) test system. While the Core i7-4790K was running at stock clock , the Noctua NH-D15 performed similarly to the XSPC RASA 750 RS240 kit and beat the Intel stock cooler by a huge margin of 29°C.
When the Core i7-4790K was overclocked to 4.6GHz, the Noctua NH-D15 managed to keep the temperature at 78°C, which is 3°C higher than the XSPC RASA 750 RS240 kit. Intel’s stock cooler is simply no match and couldn’t handle the heat properly when it easily got hot and hit the CPU’s Tjmax of 100°C, resulting in thermal throttling and causing an unstable overclock.
Thoughts & Verdicts
There’s no doubting that the Noctua NH-D15 is a very decent air cooler. Noctua improved the shortcomings of the old flagship cooler NH-D14 by expanding the dual tower design and offer a much better memory compatibility, which allows for more memory kits with high-profile heatspreader to sit under the heatsink. The build quality is excellent with the heatsink’s aluminium fins soldered nicely onto the heatpipes. The SecuFirm2 mounting kit makes cooler installation easier and more secured.
The improved NF-A15 fans add another strong point to the Noctua NH-D15. The fans are controllable by the PWM functionality for convenient automatic speed control through the mainboard. Furthermore, the maximum fan speed can be tuned down from 1500 to 1200rpm using the included Low-Noise Adapter (L.N.A.) for even quieter operation. The only negative comment about this fan is no other than its colour scheme, which comes in beige and brown colours. We would like to see a different colour scheme used in Noctua’s new flagship cooler in the future.
When it comes to cooling performance, the Noctua NH-D15 did not disappoint is when it was able to keep the temperature under control even when the CPU was overclocked. We managed to overclock our 8-core Core i7-5960X processor to a core frequency of 4.4GHz. The load temperature obtained was 88°C which still leave a headroom to overclock further. We were also able to push our quad-core Core i7-4790K CPU to an impressive clock of 4.6GHz and the load temperature was 78°C which is quite impressive for an air cooler.
The downsides of the Noctua NH-D15 are probably its massive size and weight. Measuring at 160 x 150 x 135 mm without the fans mounted, the heatsink might contact with certain graphics card installed on the top PCIe slot of some motherboards. For example in our case, the alummium fins of the heatsink will touch our ASUS Matrix R9-290X Platinum graphics card which come with a backplate when installed on our ASUS Rampage V Extreme motherboard. In terms of weight, the heatsink alone comes with a total weight of 1000g, which will certainly put a strain on the motherboard.
The Noctua NH-D15 is available on the local market for RM 379. Considering the solid build quality of this air cooler, its quiet operation and decent cooling performance, we believe that this price tag is warranted. Best of all, it is backed by Noctua’s 6-year warranty
Performance/Price Value: 5/5
- Excellent cooling performance
- Solid build quality
- Straight forward installation
- Excellent fans with quiet operation
- Fans come with PWM functionality
- Included Low-Noise Adapter (L.N.A.)
- Included both Intel and AMD mountings
- Easy-to-understand installation manuals
- Good price
- Bulky and heavy heatsink
- Fan’s beige and brown colour scheme might not be so attractive to some of us
Noctua NH-D15 received Gold Award from OCDrift.com
Disclaimer: OCDrift.com gives out our own award based on the Hardware Performance, OverClocking Ability, Innovation, and Value as determined by the reviewer
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