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Noctua NH-D14 CPU Cooler Review

by AkG     |     January 4, 2010

Conclusion


In the past we have been extremely impressed by Noctua products and the NH-D14 is no exception. To be totally honest we went into this review with extremely high expectations of Noctua’s latest and greatest, and these expectations were not only matched but easily exceeded. No matter what the heat load -be it relatively low heat loads or high- this cooler’s performance was simply stunning. We just have to remember that to pull this off, this heatsink’s footprint had to be massive in every way.

While the D14’s single fan results were not stellar, the very fact that they were as good as they were does show how much Noctua got right with the D14 design. In the past, we have looked at a few products which used a dual tower approach and with the exception of the Prolimatech coolers, their single fan prowess left a lot to be desired. Noctua obviously took the time to look at other dual tower designs and find the true crux of their failures: dense fin structures resulting in the need for high static air pressures to cool them off and incorrect heatpipe orientation which reduced efficiency. It seems only Noctua has learned the recipe for success and it does pay off in spades. Even with low speed fans the shear mass of the D14 with its relatively low static pressure requirements yet highly efficient placement of the heat pipes makes for a truly potent combination. This is why the relatively slow P12 and P14 Noctua fans can do such a good job of cooling off even an overclocked i7. Unfortunately, this leads us to our one hope: that Noctua throws caution into the wind and releases some higher-RPM fans which can take full advantage of everything the NH-D14 has to offer.

Unfortunately, the sheer size of the D14 is a double edged sword. On the one hand it provides the thermal mass needed for insane overclocks and can suck up heat quicker than a politician can break his campaign promises. The other side of this coin is the fact that it is not only as heavy as a proverbial log…it’s as big as one too. This surprisingly is not much of a handicap and in all configurations except the triple P14 fan layout; motherboard and RAM incompatibilities are going to be minimal. With that being said we highly doubt anyone other than the extreme air cooling enthusiast is going to bother with adding in a third fan. The D14’s stock numbers are just too damn good to be bothered with the added hassle factor.


Making up for any perceived weakness in the accessory or fan department was the ease of installation. Noctua not only went with their tried and true mounting setup but actually improved upon it. Sure, it is now more capable and can mount on 1156 systems, but this is not what we mean when we say it has been improved. By pre-installing the cooler retention brackets to the base of this unit Noctua has taken their already easy installation and made it even easier. It doesn’t sound like much, but we you combine ease of installation with one of the best mounting setups going, the result is downright awe inspiring.

While any cooler which is as big as this unit is can’t be perfect for every market niche, we think that Noctua has a winner on their hands with the D14 and are on the right track for whatever they have planned in the future. Its combination of low speed prowess (which will make even the most fanatical Silent PC enthusiast smile) and triple fan mounting abilities for some extreme cooling makes this cooler one of the most versatile out there. Needless to say we are proud to present our Damn Good Award to Noctua and their NH-D14 CPU.


Pros:
- GREAT performance results
- Great looks
- Dual fans standard
- Quiet fans
- Three fan mojo capable
- Very adaptable to numerous situations and noise levels
- Triple fan (120mm only) setup should be possible on most motherboards

Cons:
- Price
- Really wish it came with higher speed fans
- Triple P14-FLX is a going to cause mounting issues


 
 
 

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