Noctua NH-D14 CPU Cooler Review – Still One of the Best CPU Coolers
Today, we are going to look at an old CPU air cooler. But this “old” CPU cooler is one of the best CPU coolers out there, and is being used by many PC enthusiasts and gamers alike. Before I review its successor (which was released a few months ago), let’s review and revisit the Noctua NH-D14 CPU Cooler first. The Noctua NH-D14 is a dual tower heat sink type with one 120mm fan and one 140mm fan. Like I said, it’s one of the most popular CPU coolers, and could rival some of the AIO closed loop water cooling solution that is currently available in the market. Find out if this almost 5 year old CPU cooler can still keep up with the competition. Please continue reading my Noctua NH-D14 review below.
Noctua NH-D14 Features
The Noctua NH-D14 features a total of six heatpipes that is connected to two massive dual heatsinks (radiator), and is cooled by a NF-P14 and NF-P12 dual fan configuration. A single tower heatsink is enough for cooling a CPU running on moderate to full load or slightly overclocked. But the NH-D14 is a high performance CPU cooler that is designed to handle CPU overclocking at higher voltages.
The NF-P12 and NF-P14 fans mounted on the NH-D14’s heatsink features Vortex-Control notches, SCD technology and SSO-Bearings. These are high performance fans but at the same time offer a certain degree of silence compared to the competition.
The Noctua NH-D14 features an asymmetrical design making it compatible with most motherboard setups. However, a DDR memory with tall heathink might get in the way of the NF-P12 fan and/or with the heatsink itself. It features Noctua’s very own SecuFirm2 multi-socket mounting system, making it compatible with most of the Intel and AMD sockets out there. However, by default, the NH-D14 doesn’t come with a mounting kit for LGA 2011. You will have to get one from Noctua, or better yet get the Noctua NH-D14 SE2011 model which is specifically made for socket LGA 2011.
Check out the rest of its details from the specifications table below and let’s take a closer look at the NH-D14 itself.
Noctua NH-D14 Specifications
|Socket compatibility||Intel LGA1366, LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA1150, LGA775, LGA2011 on request, Asus X-socket & AMD AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, FM1, FM2, FM2+ (backplate required)|
|Height (without fan)||160 mm|
|Width (without fan)||140 mm|
|Depth (without fan)||130 mm|
|Height (with fan)||160 mm|
|Width (with fan)||140 mm|
|Depth (with fan)||158 mm|
|Weight (without fan)||900 g|
|Weight (with fan)||1070/1240* g|
|Material||Copper (base and heat-pipes), aluminium (cooling fins), soldered joints & nickel plating|
|Fan compatibility||140x150x25 (with 120mm mounting holes), 140x140x25 (with 120mm mounting holes), 120x120x25|
|Scope of Delivery||1x NF-P14 premium fan
1x NF-P12 premium fan
2x Ultra-Low-Noise Adaptor (U.L.N.A.)
4x Vibration-Compensators (for using NF-P12 as case fan)
4x Fan screws (for using NF-P12 as case fan)
NT-H1 high-grade thermal compound
SecuFirm2™ Mounting Kits
Noctua Metal Case-Badge
|Model||Noctua NF-P14 & Noctua NF-P12|
|Rotational Speed (+/- 10%)||1200 / 1300 RPM|
|Rotational Speed with U.L.N.A. (+/- 10%)||900 / 900 RPM|
|Airflow||110,3 / 92,3 m³/h|
|Airflow with U.L.N.A.||83,7 / 63,4 m³/h|
|Acoustical Noise||19,6 / 19,8 dB(A)|
|Acoustical Noise with U.L.N.A.||13,2 / 12,6 dB(A)|
|Input Power||1,2 / 1,08 W|
|Voltage Range||12 V|
|MTBF||> 150.000 h|
A Closer Look at NH-D14
The Noctua NH-D14 comes in a nice and simple, but properly labeled white box. You can see the model name at the top corner highlighted in blue, opposite to Noctua’s logo. You can see some of the cooler’s features, as well as its dimensions on these two sides.
On the other side of its box, the six highlighted features of the Noctua- NH-D14 can be seen. And on the other side is its specifications’ table conservatively positioned on one side of the area.
Since this is a premium CPU cooler, and as expected from the company, the Noctua NH-D14 comes with all the accessories that you need to mount it on an AMD or Intel based motherboard. You also get well-illustrated installation manuals, fan extension and splitter, a Noctua NT-H1 thermal compound, a Noctua Badge, and they even give you a screw driver in case you don’t have one at home.
The CPU cooler itself is actually protected by another box inside the big white box. The NF-P12 and NF-P14 fans are installed by default. Watch out for the fins on the rear side, those are somewhat sharp and pointed.
As you can see from the photos, the Noctua NH-D14 is truly a work of art and engineering. The craftsmanship is simply superb and outstanding.
Here are photos from top view and a good shot from its base. Just look at those sexy heatpipes. Another thing that I like about this cooler is its mounting system. It’s very easy to use and you only need to screw two screws (non-removable) located at both sides of the base. Below are photos of the NH-D14 without the fans, just the two tower heatsinks only.
Above is the Noctua NF-P12 120mm fan. The NF-P12 features a pressure-optimized nine-blade design and provides superior pressure and airflow performance. It also features Vortex-Control notches, smooth commutation drive and self-stabilizing oil-pressure bearing.
Meanwhile the NF-P14 is a 140mm fan with a 120mm fan mounting. It also features nine blades with staggered Vortex-control notches. Both the impeller hub and the bearing shell of the NF-P14 are metal reinforced. And just like the NF-P12, it also has Smooth Commutation Drive 2 and SSO-Bearing.
As you can see, the fan mounting clips are already attached to the fans and there are no spare from the accessories. Thanks to the “bended” mounting clips, these fans can be easily removed or installed. There are no anti-vibration pads on the fan itself, since the vibration pads are already attached to the heatsinks.
Installing The Noctua NH-D14
The Noctua NH-D14 is compatible with most (if not all) of the motherboard layouts out there. At first I thought it wouldn’t fit on an Asus Maximus VI Impact. But it did, the only problem was you need to use a memory with a low profile heatsink (otherwise remove the heatsink like what I did).
When installing the NH-D14 you simply need to put the parts together. The instructions on how to install the mounting is very well explained in the included manual.
After you have installed the backplate and mounting bracket, you only need to screw the heatsink itself and that’s it.
Both DDR slots of the Maximus VI Impact are directly under the front heatsink. I decided to remove the heatsink of the RAMs for the purpose of this review.
The NH-D14 is so big that it’s almost the size of a mini-ITX motherboard. The only part left uncovered is the PCI-E x16 slot for the graphics card.
In testing the Noctua NH-D14, I used the Asus Maximus VI Impact (as you can see from above), that is powered by an untamed Intel Core i7-4770K. As you know, the Haswell series runs hot due to the poor Thermal Interface Material (TIM) used by Intel on Haswell. This is also the same problem with Ivy Bridge processors, but the Haswell runs hotter.
I’m sure you already know by now that Intel released the Haswell Refresh processors featuring a new packing and better TIM (aside from the performance increase), and the Core i7-4790K Devil’s Canyon which is the successor of the Core i7-4770K. Unfortunately I don’t have a Devil’s Canyon on my lab right now, but I expect to get better results compared with the i7- 4770K processor. Below are the rest of the specifications of the test unit.
Operating System: Windows 8.1 Pro 64bit
Motherboard: Asus Maximus VI Impact
Processor: Intel Core i7-4770K @ 3.9GHz – 4.2GHz
CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-D14 CPU
Memory: Kingston HyperX Beast DDR3-2400 16GB
Graphics card: None
Hard Drive: ADATA XPG SX900 256GB for the OS and WD RE 4TB for game files
Power Supply: Corsair HX650 80 Plus Gold
Case: Fractal Design Node 804
Also in testing the Noctua NH-D14, I wired its two fans to the Node 804’s fan controller. It has three speed settings – Low, Medium and High. For this test I will only be collecting data for low and high speeds.
Below are the temperatures I got while testing the NH-D14 in two different fan speeds. Please take note that the room temperature is around 18° to 20° Degree Celsius.
I don’t judge a CPU cooler’s performance on how well does it perform when the CPU is in idle, medium load or running at full load at stock speeds. I based a high end CPU cooler’s performance while the CPU is overclocked or is injected with higher voltages. In those conditions you will see the real noticeable difference between one cooler from another.
In idle (800MHz) to Turbo Speed (3.9GHz), the Noctua NH-D14 performed well. Temperatures are very acceptable even when the fans are set to low speed. Meanwhile, at overclocked settings, the heat starts to really kick in. At 4.2GHz with 1.28v the CPU’s temperature went up to 66° decree Celsius with a high fan speed. If you are using a stock Intel CPU cooler, the CPU would have gotten very hot, probably more than 100° degrees Celsius already, resulting in a failed overclocking. Honestly, don’t overclock your CPU if you have an Intel stock cooler.
Pushing the clock speed higher at 4.6GHz with 1.31v, the NH-D14 can still handle the heat that the CPU is emitting. I got around 78 ° degrees Celsius with a low fan speed setting. But if you are planning to break some world record overclocking benchmarks, the NH-D14 is not built for that. You’re better off with high end custom water cooling system or a liquid nitrogen cooling.
Now in terms of noise, I’m not really surprised that the fans are very silent. I’m familiar with Noctua’s fans and as expected they are very silent. At low fan speed, you can barely hear the fans running, much more if you close the side panel of your CPU. At high fan speed, the NF-P12 and NF-P14 still runs very silent. I don’t have an accurate sound meter, but based on a Decibel Comparison Chart, I say the fans are just around 30dB.
If you really want a silent operation, like 0dB operation, you can remove both fans of the NH-D14. I tried it, but DO NOT overclock your CPU and don’t go beyond stock speeds. 3.9GHz (Turbo) is pretty much the limit, specially if you are using a hot CPU like the i7-4770K.
Price and Availability
The Noctua NH-D14 is widely available and has been in the market for many years now. Obviously, its retail price already went down. Currently you can get an NH-D14 for only $74.99 here. It comes with a 6-year warranty from Noctua. This product has been rated a perfect 5 out of 5 stars from customers who bought this CPU cooler. On the other hand, its successor, the NH-D15 is currently priced at around $99.99 USD.
Noctua NH-D14 Conclusion: Review
At the end of the day, I’m still impressed with the performance of the NH-D14. It’s really a big CPU cooler and will probably cover almost half of your motherboard. It’s not only a beast in terms of size but it’s also a beast in terms of performance.
In terms of the design and built quality, the Noctua NH-D14 is built with superb craftsmanship and engineering. It looks and feels premium and you can tell that Noctua has been paying attention with its details. I couldn’t find a defect or fault at the product. The heatpipes are well soldered with the aluminum fins, and the logos embossed on the fins are well printed as well. The same description goes with the NF-P12 and NF-P14 fans.
However, the color of the NF-P12 and the NF-P14 might not be as appealing to the many. Usually people would prefer black, white, red, but probably not brown and beige. Well, if the color doesn’t bother you, then you won’t be having a problem with that.
If you have read my Corsair H105 review, you can see that their performance is somewhat similar. I’m pretty sure that the H105 will have slightly higher (if not better) results if I have tested them at the same time or same conditions. But not all people are perfectly comfortable using a closed loop AIO CPU water cooler, probably in fear of leakage or pump suddenly failing. It’s true that they are not as bulky-looking as the NH-D14, but the NH-D14 will probably last longer than any of those AIO closed loop cooler. Not to mention, it comes with a longer 6 years warranty and a much lower cost.
But there are things that you need to consider if you want to go with the NH-D14. First is that you will have to use DDR memory with low profile heatsinks, and you should check if your current casing has the enough clearance to accommodate its huge heatsink.
I’ve read reviews on newer high performance CPU coolers out there. And honestly, I haven’t seen a CPU air cooler that has bested the NH-D14 with a significant difference in temperature. If you don’t mind the size of its heatsink and the cooler of its fans, the NH-D14 is definitely a cooler you should consider, despite being an old product. The Noctua NH-D14 is still top of its class in terms of built quality, performance, price and noise output. This product deserves The PC Enthusiast’s Highly Recommended award.