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Noctua is an Austrian cooling vendor and we have been reviewing their CPU coolers and cooling fans. Noctua is still not that popular in Asia Pacific but in fact their products have gained very well reputation worldwide and we have been very satisfied with their products too. Today you will be amazed by their latest CPU cooler; NH-D14, a tower CPU cooler that can accommodate up to three 120 or 140mm cooling fans if you wish. Sound interesting? Let's move on.
Noctua arises from a cooperation between the Austrian Rascom Computerdistribution Ges.m.b.H and the Taiwanese Kolink International Corporation and entertains a development partnership with the Austrian Institute of Heat Transmission and Fan Technology (Österreichisches Institut für Wärmeübertragung und Ventilatorentechnik, ÖIWV). These connections form the key to the achievement of our goal: The partnership with the ÖIWV permits the application of scientific measurement instrumentation, methods of calculation and simulation technology in the R&D process.
Rascom's long, customer-oriented experience in developing and distributing sound-optimised high-end products ensures a clear focus on the users' needs. The use of Kolink's advanced manufacturing technology and ultra-modern production plants allows us to efficiently implement our technical edge and provide solutions of the highest standard in quality and performance.
Package & Contents
It is surprising to see such huge package box for Noctua NH-D14 and our newly purchased iPhonen4 looks pretty tiny when it sits behind this monster. The total gross weight of Noctua NH-D14 is at least around 1.4KG as the cooler itself already weights more than 1.2KG. Noctua uses a pretty green method to pack the NH-D14 as there is not even a single foam to protect this monster but everything is packed securely.
Basically there are total three boxes inside the Noctua NH-D14's outer box; one is for the cooler + fans, one is for the accessories while the last one is the dummy box to give additional room for any external force like dropping, stacking, vibration and etc. A small booklet is provided where it contains two smaller user's manuals for Intel & AMD platforms.
The user's manual is a well organized manual where diagrams and simple sentences are used for easier understanding. Noctua NH-D14 is a huge size but it does not come plenty of mounting accessories like other cooler does.Thank to Noctua SecuFirm2 for all these which simplify and standard the installation method. The bundled installation parts are back plate x 1, mounting bars x 2, plastic spacer x 4, thumb screw x 4 and bolt x 4.
Besides these must-have accessories, other valuable parts are bundled too such as Noctua thermal paste (NT-H1), additional 4 pieces of vibration-reduction fan mounts for third fan, ultra-low-noise adapters (U.L.N.A), and a Noctua metal case-badge. Noctua NT-H1 is an excellent thermal paste so having it on NH-D14 will definitely bring the cooling performance to the climax.
A Closer Look On Noctua NH-D14
Noctua NH-D14 was officially announced a year ago; November 2009, however it is still one of the top leading premium CPU coolers in the market and it is still hard for us to look for such insane CPU cooler with such great design and architecture. Basically Noctua NH-D14 is an advanced version of NH-U12P where another set of radiator is duplicated and the center 140mm fan is being sandwiched by both of these radiators or you can call it as cooling block.
Same with most of the modern CPU coolers, Noctua NH-D14 is a universal CPU cooler where it supports both of the AMD and Intel sockets (Intel LGA1366, LGA1156, LGA775 & AMD AM2, AM2+, AM3). The main concern before going for Noctua NH-D14 will be the weight as it will be extremely dangerous to mount such heavyweight CPU cooler on a motherboard. The net weight of a naked Noctua NH-D14 will be 900 gram and 1.24KG if both of the bundled fans are mounted on it.
Dimension will be the next compatible issue for Noctua NH-D14 hence it is advisable to use it on tower or full tower chassis. The exact dimension of Noctua NH-D14 with the bundled cooling fans will be 160 x 140 x 158 mm (H x W x D). The front 120mm fan acts as an intake cooling fan while the sandwiched center 140mm fan acts as a middle man to enhance the cooling efficiency. If you would like to go another level further for Noctua NH-D14; insane stage, then additional 120mm cooling fan can be added at the rear radiator to act an exhaust fan.
Noctua NH-D14 might look like a complicated CPU cooler but in fact we found that it was a nicely designed where it comes with simplified cooler mounting (SecuFirm2) and cooling fan mounting methods. Four vibration compensators are provided for each of these cooling fans (the clear long rubber bar on the second picture) which are used to reduce the mechanical noise when the fan is mounted on the aluminum fins.
Here are the naked views of Noctua NH-D14 after both of the cooling fans are removed. Basically the Noctua NH-D14 is having two radiators which consists of massive aluminum fins and both of these radiators are joint together with six U-shaped heatpipes. All these Noctua NH-D14's aluminum fins are pretty strong and each of these fins are having uneven surface for maximizing the heat dissipation.
As we mentioned above, Noctua NH-D14 comes with six 6mm copper U-shaped heatpipes; better architecture than C-shaped heatpipe since U-shaped heatpipe allows bidirectional flowing. The Noctua NH-D14's base is also made by copper but both of the base and heatpipes are nickel plated to mitigate the corrosion issue. The surface of the Noctua NH-D14's base is not as flat as mirror which is the latest way to reduce the manufacturing cost since its impact is not significant.
Unlike previous Noctua's CPU coolers, Noctua NH-D14 is pre-mounted with the C-shaped mounting bars on the cooler's base so that it can shorten the installation process since both of the Intel and AMD sockets are having the similar installation method. On top of these C-shaped mounting bars, there is a spring screw for securing the Noctua NH-D14 on the motherboard without excessive force which could damage the processor, motherboard or the components nearby.
Both of the 140 and 120mm cooling fans can be un-mounted from Noctua NH-D14 easily by releasing its clips. These fan clips are same for other Noctua's CPU coolers but instead of having these clip loosely for the previous CPU coolers, Noctua has pre-installed these clips on the Noctua NH-D14's fans. This is an excellent product respin as it simplifies the whole fan mounting method and it will be a nightmare if user has to mount the fan on the Noctua NH-D14 with those loose fan clips especially in such space constraint environment.
Noctua is not only famous with their CPU cooler but also their cooling fans like NF-P12; a powerful yet quiet fan. The intake fan; NF-P12 comes with 1300RPM fan speed, 92.3 airflow and 19.8dBA noise while the center fan; NF-P14 comes with 1200RPM fan speed, 110.3 airflow and 19.6dBA noise. Both of these cooling fans are having similar specifications and performance. Noise @ 19dBA is not the quietest fan that we have tested but it is still an outstanding fan with its massive airflow.
Installation, Testing & Performance
Back plate is a must item for such high performance tower CPU cooler and the back plate comes with three mounting screw holes for different sockets. The back plate has to be mounted on the back of the motherboard with four bolts and plastic spacer for the other side. After that secure the back plate together with mounting bars plus thumb screws. The curved side of the mounting bar has be to pointing outwards but it can be installed in either direction; east-west or north-south.
Then it is time to secure the Noctua NH-D14 on the motherboard and use the provided or any long screw driver to fasten the Noctua NH-D14 on the mounting bars. Besides that please ensure to apply some of the Noctua NT-H1 thermal paste to maximize the heat conduction between both of the surfaces (processor and cooler's base) and remove out the center fan to ease the installation. By the way please also ensure the intake fan is facing the right direction; same side with the chassis's front panel.
The final step will be slot in back the center fan or together with the intake fan if it is removed too. This can be done easily if the slotting method is correct as the direction must be correct else the fan will be blocked by the rubber vibration compensators. As you can see, Noctua NH-D14 is as wide as the micro ATX motherboard that we have used for the assembly purpose.
Basically Noctua NH-D14 might create plenty of compatibility issues with most of the desktop systems especially for those entry to midrange systems. However we are still comfortable with it since we are using it together with our tower Maelstorm chassis and we highly recommend those PC enthusiasts to try this cooler out if only they are having full tower chassis or a naked PC where no chassis is being used.
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E8300 @ 2.83GHz
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-EP45-DS3 (Gigabyte G31M-ES2L)
Heatsink: Noctua NH-D14
Memory: Kingston HyperX 4GB DDR2 8500
Hard Drive: 250GB 7200RPM 8MB Seagate
Graphic Card: Galaxy GeForce GTX260+
Casing: In Win Maelstorm
PSU: Aerocool V12XT-800
Router: TRENDnet TEW-639GR
Optical Drive: HLDS DVD RW +/-
Monitor: Dell 22" Wide Screen LCD
Speaker: Edifier R501
Mouse: SteelSeries Ikari Laser
Mouse Pad: SteelSeries QcK+
HeadSet: SteelSeries 3H
Operating System: Window XP Pro SP2/Vista Home Premium
Ambient Temperature: 27 Degree Celsius
Without further delay, let us show you the Noctua NH-D14's cooling performance that we have obtained. We have setup Noctua NH-D14 with the original dual-fan setup plus maximum speeds (no point to have the U.L.N adapter since Noctua NH-D14 is quiet enough). Based on the results, Noctua NH-D14 is the best air CPU cooler that we have tested so far; not sure whether it is still the best air CPU cooler in the market since we don't have chance to test them all. However we strongly believe Noctua NH-D14 will be ranked within the top 5 position and competing against those famous CPU coolers like Thermax Eclipse II, Tower 120 Extreme, FRIO and etc.
Noctua NH-D14's performance can be further enhanced with stronger airflow fans or triple-fan setup but the compatibility issue and difficulty level of installation will be much higher compare with the original setup; if it is worth to do so then just go ahead. In term of noise, Noctua NH-D14 is not the quietest CPU cooler that we have tested but its noise level is still much acceptable compare with those CPU coolers where their performance are highly dependent on the cooling fans hence noise is not avoidable at that time.
Noctua NH-D14 is definitely one of the highest performance air CPU coolers in the market at least for next couple of years. If you are an insane/enthusiast user and like to challenge then you should really try out Noctua NH-D14; a nicely designed and well-built CPU cooler. With the dual radiators and triple-fan-setup capabilities, Noctua NH-D14 stands out from the rests and it is not easy to design such high performance CPU cooler and taking into consideration of ease-of-installation, universal compatibility as well as cost control. The initial launch price of Noctua NH-D14 is around 89USD but now you can get it at 80USD or probably less than that. Again please ensure your system is fully compatible with Noctua NH-D14 before getting this monster or else you are just making trouble for yourself.
+ Decent cooling performance
+ Quality & well-built
+ Dual radiators
+ 6 heat-pipes
+ Universal cooler
+ Simplified installation method
+ Single/dual/triple-fan setup
+ High performance fans; NF-P12, NF-P14
+ NT-H1 thermal paste
+ Ultra-low-noise adapters
- Too heavy and bulky
Thanks to Noctua for providing this sample for us to review.
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