We continue to test Noctua’s range of CPU coolers and today we have the NH-D9L, a U3 compatible D-type dual tower cooler. We revisit this tiny, yet power cooler since it still viable today because of its small footprint and as you will see, it offers an incredible cooling headroom.
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.
Prices and Availability
It retails for $55 which you might say is a bit steep but the NH-D9L is one of the very few dual tower 92 mm CPU coolers out there. The closest competitor is from BeQuiet! with the Pure Rock Slim but as you can see it’s only a single tower design.
*31.07.2020 – Check out the video review as well!*
Presentation and Specifications
* Courtesy of their website.
Its main focus is overall compatibility and zero interference even in small form factor build and all of this again in a dual tower design.
It achieves this by being just 110 mm tall and 95 mm in depth and width with the pre-attached premium 92 mm A9 fan. Also you can attached a second fan since it comes with the extra wire clips.
The NH-D9L comes in its easily recognisable Noctua branding style as seen by the box art design and the combination of colours. Thus on the front we have all of the product’s main highlights and a sticker that states that the cooler is also fully complaint to the U3 standard.
This side covers in more details all of the main features and even what the U3 standard means (that it is lower that 125 mm in height)
Here we have a wall of text that covers in a multilingual format the main purpose of the D9L which is maximum compatibility in small enclosures.
All of the compatible sockets, accessories, heatsink and fan specs are covered on this side.
Noctua has mastered the art of product presentation and the safety of the CPU coolers in transport. The accessory box is the first thing we see and it offers us a visual representation of all of the main elements from the accessory list.
As for the complete list of parts inside the accessory box, we have:
1x NF-A9 PWM premium fan (pre-installed)
1x Low-Noise Adaptor (L.N.A.)
1x NT-H1 high-grade thermal compound
1x SecuFirm2™ Mounting Kit (Intel & AMD)
1x Noctua Metal Case-Badge
1x Custom long Philips screwdriver
2x Fan-clips for second NF-A9
2x Adhesive pads for the second fan
3x Booklets which cover all of the installation instructions
The NH-D9L is safely secured inside this modular carton cube.
After that kinder egg unwrapping experience, here it the D9L – a D-type dual tower CPU cooler.
We count 35 aluminium fins per tower all hold into place via 4 copper nickle plated heatpipes. The base is the same as the pipes regarding the material and treatment which bring the overall cooler weight to 428g without the fan.
The contact base plate has an almost mirror finish (if you zoom in you can still see the grooves from the milling process) while being slightly convex.
One of the heatisnk towers has these rubber pads for noise dampening on the lower side and you also have two extra more in the accessory box for the other tower if you want to attach a second fan.
The A9 PWM 92 mm fan is sandwiched between the two towers and there is even extra room left which helps to build some air pressure for the fan.
The included NF-A9 PWM fan has 7 blades and it’s rated up to 2000 RPM, while producing up to 78,9 m³/h of airflow and staying under 22,8 dB(A).
Of course it runs on the SSO2 (The self-stabilising oil-pressure bearing system) that combines the proven concept of oil-based hydrodynamic bearings with an additional magnet that supports the self-stabilisation of the rotor axis. Due to the axis being stabilised by the magnetic field, Noctua’s SSO Bearing achieves higher precision and better longevity than conventional ball, sleeve or hydrodynamic bearings.
Now here is a size comparison between the 158 mm tall Noctua U12S (120 mm single tower) and the 37 mm tall L9i (ultra low profile 92 mm). We can see how compact the D9L really is !
Today we are giving the D9L an interesting challenge and a great opportunity to test out Noctua’s legacy socket adaptor the NM-I3.
This one offers you support for the Intel LGA 775, 1156 and the 1366 sockets. The cool thing about the NM-I3 is that you can use it with mostly all of their CPU coolers.
First step is to attach the main securing bolts to the backplate while making sure you select the correct socket mounting holes.
Here we have the LGA 1366 which are the top ones.
Then the black spacers go in.
Next we install the main top brackets making sure we have the correct orientation.
Bolt everything down via these thumbscrews.
Apply the thermal paste.
Then attach the heatsink and secure it into place.
Last step is to attach the fan and plug the 4 pin PWM into the CPU header from the motherboard.
Now let’s check for any clearance and/or fitment issues. The X58 platform uses a triple channel memory configuration and we specifically installed these extra G.Skill Trident X modules that have a tall heatspreader. As you can see the D9L delivers as promised – zero interference all around.
Of course, if you plan to install a second fan, than you need standard height ram kits.
- This time we decided to bring back the X58 platform for an interesting test. This is possible thanks to Noctua’s legacy socket adaptor the NM-I3. The CPU of choice will be the Intel XEON X5660 – a 2.8 GHz 6 core 12 threads 95W CPU which we will also overclock to 3.9 GHz for 1.258v (21 Multiplier x 187 BLK)
- As the main torture test, we will employ the AIDA64 which will run for 2 minutes with the “Stress CPU, FPU & cache” settings all active
- Room temperature was recorded at ~ 20°C
- For the noise testing, we used our Pyle PSPL01 placed 30 cm away from the setup – all other fans will will be off or set at minimum RPM
- Thermal paste used – Noctua NH-H1
- We will compare the results to other CPU air coolers close to its price/performance bracket
- All CPU fans will be left on the ‘standard’ auto % rpm curve to simulate real life usage patterns and no case fan is present
- Any results over 90° C in any condition are considered a fail
Competition CPU Coolers:
– CPU: Intel XEON X5660 – 2.80 GHz / 3.20 GHz Turbo – 6c/12t – 95W TDP / OC’d to 3.938 GHz @ 1.258v (21 multi x 187 BLK)
– Motherboard: EVGA X58 SLI3 LGA1366 ATX
– RAM: 20 GB (5x 4GB) DDR3 G.Skill Trident X + HyperX @ 1500 MHz CL11
– Boot SSD: Samsung 860 QVO 1TB SATA 2.5″ QLC
– PSU: Seasonic S12II 620W ATX
– Case: Sahara P35 Tempered Glass Mid Tower PC Gaming Case
– GPU: EVGA GTX 970 FTW+ ACX 2.0
– Case fans 140 mm: Noiseblocker eLoop X-Series ARGB Black PWM – B14X-P 1500 RPM
– Case fans 120 mm: Noiseblocker eLoop X-Series ARGB Black PWM – B12X-P-BL 2000 RPM
– OS: Windows 10 Pro x64 Version 1909
– CPU-Z v1.91 – To verify the CPU’s and RAM’s statistics
– Aida64 Extreme v6.20 – Memory analysis and Benchmark suite
– Cinebench R15 – Popular CPU benchmark
– Cinebnech R20 – The new revised version optimised for the newer multi-core CPUs
– 3D/Game(s) – Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 is set at FHD, with everything at High quality settings
– NVIDIA Drivers – 451.77
Testing, Results and Analysis
Let’s start in order of CPU load difficulty. First up is the Cinebench R15 test. On the left we have the CPU in stock form while on the right we have it overclocked. We get very interesting results. The D9L almost matches the Dark Rock Slim which is a 120 mm single tower cooler.
The Cinebench R20 is a more modern up to date multi core benchmark suite. So naturally we will see a bigger load and thus a larger temperature figure than the R15. Here the hierarchy is preserved as well.
In AIDA64 we isolated the stress test just for the CPU therefore we should get the highest stress scenario for the CPU. Mind you the R20 proves to be almost as demanding as the stress test so the numbers are very close.
Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 can take advantage of multi core/threaded CPUs and we noticed that even in an overclocked setting the overall usage stays under 60% and the Noctua NH-D9L manages to keep the temperatures in check.
Now let’s inspect the noise levels. We get a pleasant surprise here since the D9L is almost as quiet as the 120 mm coolers.
The Noctua NH-D9L is without a doubt a great compact cooler, and you can consider it as a tiny variant of the D15 since it is in a dual tower configuration. This been said, it is the only one in its class because of its dual tower heatsink design which gives it excellent cooling capability and versatility since you can attach a second 92 mm fan. The D9L is perfect for small form factor builds (hence the U3 compliance) and being a Noctua product you get what you pay for, amazing build quality and the low noise output. On a more subjective side, this thing is so cool because it’s so tiny and so polished that you can even use it as a trinket to be displayed.
+ Excellent cooling performance and low noise output
+ Epic build quality
+ Ability to attach a second fan
+ Compact and zero interference (U3 compatible)
+ 6 years warranty
– To attach the second fan you require normal height RAM kits