Noctua NH-D14 CPU heatsink review
Do you like a really big CPU heatsink? We have just the thing
The Noctua NH-D14 is an Austrian designed CPU heatsink with nickel plated aluminium fins, nickel plated copper heatpipes, a copper/aluminium base and two fans (12cm and 14cm). The heastink is compatible with AMD 754/939/940/AM2/AM2+/AM3 sockets and Intel LGA775/1156/1366 sockets.
The first thing you’ll notice about the NH-D14 is that it’s a large bit of equipment and as such, the first caveat about buying this beast is to make sure you have a sufficiently large and modern computer case. Below is a picture with a 6 inch tall (15.2cm) Diablo figurine for comparison.
The dimensions including the two fans are 161x140x156mm. The most important measurement is 161mm – the height of the NH-D14. Of course the cooler mounts on top of the CPU and is thus raised slightly. I would suggest that you need about 19cm of space as measured from the motherboard mounting plate to the side panel, or about 16.5cm as measured from the top of the CPU, in order to fit everything comfortably.
Edit: Another important point raised by our readers is that should you have tall RAM heatsinks fitted, it could prove troublesome to install this CPU cooler. Something to bear in mind.
Contained in the NH-D14 package is everything you will need to get it installed: kits for the various AMD or Intel sockets; thermal paste; fan socket adaptors; spare fan mounting clips; a screwdriver; and a well presented set of instructions that read as if they were written by someone whose first language is English. All in all, a well presented and well packaged product.
Fitting the cooler inside my Cosmos 1000 was quite easy considering the amount of space afforded by that case. Having experienced the mounting technique, I would say that should your case depth be sufficient, fitting the NH-D14 into a more cramped PC case wouldn’t be a problem.
Those who enjoy tinkering under the hood of their PC will find pleasure in the NH-D14. One will have to begin by removing their motherboard and installing the rear mounting plate. Noctua has taken into consideration that some motherboards come equipped with backing plates and supposedly their backing mount can be installed over these (my motherboard has no backing plates so I was unable to test this). This was one of the simplest mounting plates I’ve worked with and the whole process was over within minutes.
Having re-mounted the motherboard, it’s a simple matter of installing the mounting brackets on the front of the board, dabbing on some thermal paste, and then securing the NH-D14. To access the mounting screws one has to remove the centre 14cm fan but thanks to the well designed fan mounting clips, this is a no-brainer.
The two mounting screws tighten easily and use springs to ensure things remain firmly in place. Having replaced the fan and with everything in place, the customary jiggle test confirmed that the NH-D14 was firmly in place. The entire operation took about 40 minutes and I was going at a slow pace to ensure no damaging mistakes were made concerning my PC equipment.
I personally like that the NH-D14 doesn’t sacrifice function for the sake of form. It’s built to cool CPUs – looks are secondary. Having said that, it does have its own aesthetic charm and one can’t help but appreciate the engineering that went into its design. The cooler dominates the motherboard and likely lends some of its cooling capabilities to the northbridge and other heatsinks that typically surround the CPU area.
Below are some pictures comparing the size of my old Thermalright Ultra 120 Extreme cooler to the Noctua NH-D14.
Thermalright Ultra 120 Extreme installed
Noctua NH-D14 installed
Time for some temperature readings. My Intel Core 2 Duo E7400 was clocked at a standard speed of 2.8Ghz but I like to overclock (hence the need for a large CPU cooler) and I run it at 3.67Ghz. With the Thermalright installed and my case side panel on, under load I would typically experience temperatures between 67-68 °C. With the NH-D14 installed and the side panel on, these temperatures plummeted to 47-48 °C.
A similar story for running the PC with the case panel off – with the Thermalright under load I would experience temperatures of 54-55 °C and with the NH-D14 the temperatures dropped to 42-43 °C. Clearly the Noctua NH-D14 made a significant difference, and it should considering that it’s twice the size with twice the number of fans over the Thermalright.
In terms of noise, the NH-D14 made no discernable difference to my previous setup. There are enough fans in my case to power a small hovercraft so my opinions here may be a little skewed but are likely representative of a standard PC gamer’s environment.
The gaming noise of explosions and gunfire will typically drown out the sound of the fans speeding up as the CPU comes under load. When idling and not doing anything too intensive, the fans slow down and emit little noise, aided by my motherboard which can regulate fans speeds (as can most modern motherboards).
If you are the kind of PC enthusiast that likes pushing the CPU and thus requires a large air cooled heatsink such as the Noctua NH-D14 then you will probably have long ago become accustomed to the sound of many fans. For more in-depth temperature and noise readings one should visit the Frosty-Tech website where the fine folks enjoy testing things to the Nth degree.
The Noctua NH-D14 is most definitely an enthusiast cooler, but its installation design is straightforward enough that those unaccustomed to mounting large after-market coolers would probably find little struggle. The cooler caters to most of the modern CPU sockets – both Intel and AMD – so depending on your current setup, it could carry over for a number of upgrades. Standard clocked CPUs would benefit and overclocked CPUs will most definitely benefit from its great cooling capabilities.
Evetech supplied our review Noctua NH-D14 and it costs R838.95 over on their website.
- Straight forward installation.
- Excellent cooling performance.
- Reasonably priced for high-end after-market cooler.
- Noisier than stock cooler; mostly of value to overclockers.
- Requires a spacious PC case.
Discuss the Noctua NH-D14 on the MyGaming forum.