When it comes to CPU coolers, Noctua is synonymous with epic quality products. This new CPU cooler in our testing hands, is no exception. This is the NH-D9L, a very compact and low profile cooler with only 110 mm in height and a tiny 95 by 95 mm footprint but which also promises superb cooling performance via the included 92 mm fan and with the option to add 1 more.
Basically this is the next tier up in cooling punch from the L9i (reviewed here) when you need some OC headroom as well. We shall see, in this review, how much exactly.
First about Noctua :
Established in 2005, Noctua took international silent enthusiasts’ hearts by storm and quickly developed into one of the most acclaimed suppliers of premium quality quiet cooling products. Today, Noctua is present in more than 30 countries across the globe and working with several hundred sales partners. Chosen by noise-conscious PC users, system integrators and industry clients alike, Noctua has become synonymous with impeccable quality, excellent customer service and class-leading quiet cooling performance.
Designed in Austria, Noctua’s premium cooling components are internationally renowned for their superb quietness, exceptional performance and thoroughgoing quality. Having received more than 6000 awards and recommendations from leading hardware websites and magazines, Noctua’s fans and heatsinks are serving hundreds of thousands of satisfied customers around the globe.
Pricing and availability
*At the time of the review:
£ 42.99 – via Amazon.co.uk
Noctua NH-D9L Processor Cooler – computer cooling components (Processor, Cooler, Socket AM2, Socket AM2+, Socket AM3, Socket AM3+, Socket FM1, Socket FM2, Socket H (LGA 115x), Metallic, Aluminium, Copper, 92 x 92 x 25 mm)
$ 59.99 – via Amazon.com
Presentation and specification
*Courtesy of their website:
The NH-D9L is a premium grade dual tower CPU cooler that has been designed to provide excellent quiet cooling performance at a height of only 110mm. Its comparably low profile (15mm lower than classic 9cm tower coolers such as the NH-U9S) doesn’t only guarantee full 3U compliance but also makes the NH-D9L ideal for compact HTPC and Small Form Factor cases that have airflow paths parallel to the mainboard.
Thanks to its 95x95mm footprint, the NH-D9L clears the RAM and PCIe slots on all Intel based and most AMD based ITX mainboards.
The included NF-A9 premium fan supports automatic speed control via PWM for outstanding quietness of operation and a second, optional NF-A9 fan can be added for further improved performance in dual fan mode.
Topped off with the trusted, pro-grade SecuFirm2™ multi-socket mounting system, Noctua’s proven NT-H1 thermal compound and full 6 years manufacturer’s warranty, the NH-D9L forms a highly compact premium package for space-restricted applications.
Low-profile tower design for better airflow efficiency
While most low-profile coolers blow air towards the motherboard, the NH-D9L is a tower style cooler that bows parallel to the mainboard, which allows for superior airflow efficiency in cases with front intake and rear exhaust fans that create an airflow path parallel to the mainboard.
Whereas classic 9cm coolers with up to 125mm height fit 4U rack mount cases, the NH-D9L’s reduced height of 110mm allows it to also fit 3U chassis. This makes it ideal for noise-sensitive 3U applications in fields such as audio or video processing.
100% RAM compatibility
With its 95x95mm footprint, the NH-D9L does not overhang the RAM slots on current Intel and most AMD mainboards. This gives the user full access to the memory modules and guarantees 100% compatibility with tall heatspreaders or optional memory fans.*
100% compatibility with PCIe cards on mini-ITX
Many Intel LGA115x based mini-ITX mainboards have the PCIe slot sitting right next to the 95x95mm socket zone. While larger coolers that exceed this zone are likely to block the PCIe slot, the 95x95xmm sized NH-D9L provides full compatibility with PCIe cards, be it on ATX, microATX or ITX.
NF-A9 premium fan
The highly optimised features Noctua’s proprietary AAO frame as well as sophisticated aerodynamic design measures such as Flow Acceleration Channels, which allows it to further improve the renowned efficiency of Noctua’s previous 92mm models and contributes to the NH-D9L’ superior cooling performance.
PWM support and Low-Noise Adaptor
The NF-A9 92mm fan supplied with the NH-D9L supports PWM for convenient automatic speed control through the mainboard. In addition, the maximum fan speed can be reduced from 2000 to 1550rpm using the supplied Low-Noise Adaptor for even quieter operation.
Dual fan ready
The NH-D9L includes an extra set of fan mounting clips for users who want to achieve even better cooling performance by adding a second, optional NF-A9 to the front fin stack. Using the y-cable supplied with the NF-A9 PWM retail fan, both fans can be connected to one CPU fan header.**
SecuFirm2™ mounting system
Noctua’s SecuFirm2™ mounting systems have become synonymous with quality, safety and ease of use. Supporting Intel LGA115x (LGA1150, LGA1151, LGA1155, LGA1156), LGA2011 (LGA2011-0 & LGA2011-3), LGA2066 and AMD (AM2+, AM3, AM3+, FM1, FM2, FM2+), the SecuFirm2™ mounting included with the NH-D9L 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-D9L 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.
6-year manufacturer’s warranty
Noctua products are renowned for their impeccable quality and outstanding longevity. Like all Noctua fans, the supplied NF-A9 features an MTTF rating of more than 150.000 hours and the entire NH-D9L package comes with a full 6-year manufacturer’s warranty.
As accustomed by Noctua, all the above means that you will get a top tier quality product and a very fine focus on details as I will soon show you.
What more to say, top notch warranty, 6 years for both the heatsink and the fan, high bundle of accessories and full compatibility with virtually almost all INTEL and AMD sockets including the soon to be released LGA2066.
With the numbers out of the way, let’s open this petite thing.
Packaging and Visual Examination
I wasn’t expecting a box this big considering the heatsink’s small footprint, but as you will soon see, Noctua wanted to make sure that they offered maximum protection for their products. The box art follows the same pattern regarding the color pallet – a mix of white background whith the trademarked brown /dark red color.
The main side mentions the cooler’s type, a quick list of highlights with the emphasis on full compatibility regarding the motherboard type and size.
On the back we have a quick presentation of the NH-D9L in 8 languages.
Then some specs regarding the heatsink, fan and even the featured bundle.
Inside, we are greeted by the accessory box with most of the parts visually depicted on the top.
Let’s finally see them:
I will mention a lot over the course of this review, the attention to details that Noctua has implemented so well. I mean look at this. They wanted to be sure that brackets are safe given the fact that they have protruding studs and bolts.
And here is everything laid out.
Let’s zoom in for another excellent detail. They printed 3 different instruction manuals, one for every socket class – big (LG20xx) and small (15xx) from INTEL and AMD.
Let’s get back to the complete picture:
You will get:
1x Low-Noise Adaptor (L.N.A.) that will drop the rpm to 1550 from 2000
1x Long Philips head tool wrench
1x NT-H1 high-grade thermal compound
1x SecuFirm2™ Mounting back bracket for all 3 types of sockets
4x Black spacers (INTEL)
4x White spacers (AMD)
4x Double threaded studs
2x INTEL curved brackets
2x AMD curved brackets
4x AMD long bolts
2x Fan-clips for second NF-A9
1x Noctua Metal Case-Badge
3x Installation manuals
2x Adhesive pads for the second fan if desired
That’s a lot of marbles in this box !
Moving forward to the main attraction which is the NH-D9L CPU cooler. It comes again, highly protected.
The first layer consists of these two top and bottom parts.
The core is revealed which holds the actual cooler.
Peal this and taa-daa .. we finally reach the heatsink.
Ha, we are not done yet, Noctua placed another layer of cardboard between the heatskink and the A9 fan. Talk about over-protection ! We love it !
The NH-D9L measures 110 mm in height including the fan thus it will make this an axcellent choice for small form factor builds. Here it is compared to an (Haswell) Intel stock cooler and a 0.5L energy drink can – my trustworthy perspective instrument of size.
A second fan can be attached, but at the cost of increasing the NH-D9L’s length to 122mm.
Ok. This thing emanated quality all around. The built construction and sturdiness is almost legendary. What you see here weighs 531 gram with the fan.
We have 4x 6mm thick copper heatpipes which are soldered to two separate stacks of nickel plated aluminum fins and a copper heatspreader for low thermal joint resistance and long term stability. Then all the fins are soldered individually to the heatpipes which you don’t see in most CPU coolers, not the mention small ones like this.
The nickel plated aluminum fins measure 0.4m thick and are spaced 1.75mm apart. Heatpipes are spaced roughly 18mm of center.
Another detail that will speed up and simplify the installation process is that it has the securing brackets already on the heatsink.
This is from a better angle without the fan.
The contact area is 38 by 40mm thus it is on the big side and it needs to be, remember this thing is compatible with LGA20xx sockets as well. The base plate it is made from nickel-plated copper and polished to a mirror surface with a slightly concave in the axis parallel to the heatpipes, very slightly convex in the opposite direction.
And now for the included NF-A9 PWM fan.
This is a 92x92x25 mm fan, with Noctua’s high tier SSO2 bearings, which can go up to 2000 rpm (or 1550 if using the include low noise adapter) and produces an airflow up to 78,9 m³/h. This little puppy is rated at over 150.000 hours of MTTF.
It is fully sleeved, has removable antivabration corner pads and it is rated to a maximum acoustical of noise 22,8 dB(A).
Now we have met everybody and let’s take it to the next chapter.
Now for the installation procedure.
Noctua’s coolers are easy to install. No exception here. Because, and sorry to keep repeating myself but here is another great example when regarding the attention to detail – the bolts are already clamped in the back plate !
Plus the washers are also pre-installed.
So take the back plate and install it from the back of your motherboard. Make sure to align the cut outs to the corresponding bolts from the CPU socket bracket.
All the testing hardware is described in the following section – this is a LGA 1150 socket hence the next step is to slide the black plastic spacers.
Then add the two securing bars.
Also make sure in which orientation you want the heatsink to face.
Bolt down the bars via the 4x thumbscrews.
The included wrench is very handy. But not only for this.
Don’t forget about the thermal paste, again, a full tube is included and then position the NH-D9L and start to bolt it down.
You will need to remove the fan because as you can see the clips will interfere with the securing bolts.
And that’s it. Reattach the fan and plug it into the 4 pin PWM plug on the motherboard.
As you can see there are no clearance issues what so ever !
That wraps it up fro the installation process.
We will employ an open bench setup. The CPU will be tested in 2 main scenarios: at a fixed settingbecause the 4790k with an Asus ROG boards the voltage fluctuate really badly and in some cases you may have temperature results worse than a fixed OC value; so to eliminate this possibility we put the CPU at 4.0 Ghz at 1.005v – the lowest voltage that our motherboard accepts. Then we overclocked it at 4.5 Ghz with 1.225v. For both scenarios we used the Intel Burn Test tes at High stress settings, as the main torture test, for 10 minutes.
Room temperature set at ~ 20°C.
For the noise we used our Pyle PSPL01 placed 30 cm away from the setup.
Thermal paste used was the one that came with the Noctua NH-D9L.
We will compare the results to the Cryorig C7 (reviewed here) and the NH-L9i (review here). We will throw an INTEL stock cooler as well since the 4970k was among the last generation of K series CPUs to come with it.
The fans will be set on the auto % rpm curve and only for the noise test we will ramp them up to 100 %.
Any results over 90° C in any condition are considered a fail.
– CPU: Intel i7 4790k – 4.0 Ghz at 1.005v then OC’d at 4.5 Ghz @ 1.225v
– Motherboard: ASUS ROG MAXIMUS HERO VI Z87 w/ the latest BIOS update: 1603
– SSD: Apacer M.2 Z280 240 GB MLC PCIe NVMe w/ a PCI-E 4x adapter
– RAM: 16 GB (4x 4GB) DDR3 G.Skill Trident X 2400 Mhz
– Video card: EVGA GTX 650
– PSU: Corsair TX750W V2
– Windows 10 Pro x64 Build 1607
– NVIDIA GeForce WHQL 380.05
– Core Temp v1.7 R6 - To see the temperatures in real time
– CPU-Z v1.71 - To verify the CPU’s statistics
– Intel Burn Test v2.54 - Main torture and stability test
– MSI Afterburner v4.11 - To record the FPS and load/temperatures
– Valley Benchmark v1.0 - A popular testing suite
And for the games we did a 20 min run for each one and used games that are also CPU bound.
Resolution set at FHD / 1920 x 1080 with everything set to maximum quality settings and no V-sync.
– Witcher 3 v1.21
– Rise Of The Tomb Raider (DX12)
First up a torture test via the Intel Burn Test suite.
Now a 3D mixed testing suite where we will again measure the temperatures for a more real life simulation.
And for the highly anticipated noise test where all Noctua’s (should) shine.
In the synthetic torture test from Intel Burn test, the Noctua NH-D9L even with only one fan configuration it managed to supersede the Cryorig C7, by a few degrees but the main win is with the noise output favoring the A9. The Noctua 92 mm is better overall.
Regarding games, the NH-D9L lost a few point here to the C7 because of Cryorig’s more aggressive fan curve but again at the expense of higher noise.
And finally for the noise tests where as you can see both Noctua’s win. They are that good when it comes to noise output. No need to test them with the ULNA adapter hence even in stock they won.
Like the statement in the beginning in the review, Noctua are now synonyms with epic quality products and superb all around performance on all fronts. The NH-D9L does it all: great cooling and noise performance give it’s tiny size, epic included bundle of accessories, versatile, has zero clearance issues (when used with one fan), even has support for the big sockets monster CPUs and it is kinda’ unique since it is U3 compatible as well. I don’t even think it has a rival out there that can match all of these traits a this price level. Thus the NH-D9L is one of the most complete and the best small form factor coolers that we have ever tested.
+ Exceptional attention to details
+ Superb built quality and finish
+ Excellent cooling capability
+ Quiet operation
+ 6 years warranty
+ Zero clearance problems (with only one fan)
+ Easy installation experience
+ Maximum product protection
+ Included the option to add another fan
– In a 2 fan configuration you may need to sacrifice 2 ram slots
– The fan’s color scheme not to everybody’s liking
Glob3trotters “Epic SFF CPU Cooler” Award – 5 out 5