The Noctua NH-D15

Noctua is one of the world's most renowned cooler manufacturers. The company is especially well known for their high end and specialty products, aimed to those seeking extreme performance and or very low noise solutions. The cooler that the company provided us for this review is no other than the NH-D15, a behemoth based on the highly popular NH-D14.

The NH-D15 is supplied in a large cardboard box with a minimalistic, elegant design. Highlighting the main features of the cooler is the primary focus of the entire artwork. Inside the main box, we found the bundle packed into separate cardboard boxes and the cooler protected within a polyethylene foam construct. The bundle consists of the hardware necessary for the mounting of the cooler, an L type Philips PH2 screwdriver, a fan power cable splitter, two fan speed reducers, a tube of NT-H1 thermal grease, a metallic case badge, four rubber fan mounts and four wire clips for the two cooling fans.

  

Many people erroneously think that the NH-D15 is just a little larger version of the very popular NH-D14. The NH-D15 is a reverse-symmetric dual tower design based on the NH-D14, but there are numerous improvements. Noctua technically merged the core design of the NH-D14 with the fin design of the NH-U14S, which has the first seven fins of each tower shortened. This way, the NH-D15 can offer much wider compatibility with RAM modules if only the center fan is installed.

The rest of the fins are symmetric, meaning that both their sides are identical, which is mostly straight with a single small triangular notch at the center and a few more similar notches near the sides. In order to install/remove the NH-D15, the center fan needs to be removed. Another interesting point is that the fans can be moved upwards, several centimeters if needed be. Moving the front fan upward can allow the installation of tall RAM modules for a small impact on performance but it also requires a very wide case to do so.

Noctua provides two of their own NF-A15 140 mm fans alongside the NH-D15. Their brown/beige color is Noctua's trademark and unique to Noctua's products (or copies of them). These are very high quality fans, with SSO2 bearings (advanced liquid lubricated metallic bearings with magnetic stabilizers), rubber anti-vibration pads and ridged blades for airflow manipulation. For those that do not want to install the second fan on the cooler, because either they need to retain compatibility with certain RAM modules or they are simply satisfied with the performance of a single fan, Noctua provides rubber mounts for the installation of one NF-A15 as a case fan.

The base of the NH-D15 is relatively small in comparison to that of other coolers, yet obviously large enough to cover the entire surface of current CPUs. Most of the base is made out of copper, with steel parts used for retention, all nickel plated, along with the copper heatpipes as well. There are "only" six 6 mm heatpipes, the same number and size as with the older NH-D14, as Noctua clearly does not believe that enlarging the base and adding more heatpipes would make a notable performance difference. The contact surface is smooth and fairly well polished but not machined down to a perfect mirror finish.

The Logisys (DeepCool) Gamer Storm Assassin The Phanteks PH-TC14PE
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  • mr_tawan - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    Used to have 212+ once. Later I swapped out for a cheap closed-loop. Though the CPU temp is a few C lower, the closed-loop was much louder than the 212+ (due the the 'pump whine').

    Years later I upgrade the rig to a Core i5, which is not really that hot, and I'm not interested in overclocking anymore (being more mature I guess).

    I find the 212 is pretty good for its price. It's a great entry-level cooler for those who want to upgrade. I also think that it could serve well as a baseline for the comparision.
    Reply
  • zodiacfml - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    I didn't know that overclocking enthusiast would prefer a lower performing heatsink instead of the best available. The reason is simple; CPUs consume less power throughout the years even with continuous but non synthetic workloads including gaming.

    Many years ago, I was a fan of watercooling then big-air heatsinks then not anymore. It is just not logical anymore as they are more expensive, larger, and cumbersome.
    Reply
  • kmmatney - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    To me, the whole point of overclocking is to get a better cpu than what you paid for. So overpaying for a heat sink doesn't make sense - the whole point is to get the best possible performance, while spending the least amount of money. At least that is what overclocking means to me, and I'm sure a lot of other people as well. Reply
  • Ian Cutress - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    That's usually how most people start with overclocking. For others, it's getting the best performance regardless. That's why people still that the i7-K and push it, rather than a Pentium-K and tweak it. Reply
  • kmmatney - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    I bought my Hyper 212 for $19.99 - a much bigger savings than $10. It does the job, and in the end my overclock was not limited by temperature, but by the CPU itself. A more expensive heatsink wouldn't gain me anything. Reply
  • aj654987 - Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - link

    What are you even talking about. The 212 is $35 and half the cost of many of these heatsinks. Its been the gold standard for years, if you only get another 1 C out of a HSF that cost double then its not worth it. Reply
  • CummingsSM - Thursday, July 9, 2015 - link

    Yep. You save $9.99 and then this happens: https://i.imgur.com/COC5qW9.jpg

    (In case someone is wondering: No, I didn't over-torque it, the bolt got caught in the back-plate and sheared under the power of a screwdriver lightly applied; And yes, that bolt is hollow; And yes, that is the mounting hardware from a CM 212 EVO; And yes, I'm done buying CM products.)
    Reply
  • LittleLeo - Thursday, July 9, 2015 - link

    Or a Beer and a bag of chips Reply
  • tabascosauz - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    Are you kidding me? Intel's CPUs might be efficient compared to AMD's, but there is hardly a valid reason to dismiss the dual-tower crowd. Intel's CPUs are hotter than they have been in years, thermal performance having declined steadily since Sandy Bridge due to sh*ttier and sh*ttier TIM and other reasons. Reply
  • rickon66 - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    Regarding the CM 212+/EVO -They did not want to show a $25 cooler that beat the expensive guys. Reply

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