Noctua NH-D14 CPU "Monster" Cooler Review

Cooling/CPU Cooling by jmke @ 2011-04-19

Today we test the most high-end heatsink from Noctua. It comes with two fans pre-equipped and will fill up all but the largest eATX cases. Dubbed the NH-D14 this beast comes with a 120mm AND 140mm fan which are spec'ed for low noise operation. Can it handle the heat of an overclocked Core i7? Time to find out.

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Test Setup and Results

To give an idea of how the tested heatsinks perform a variety of heat outputs we performed our tests with the CPU overclocked (and overvolted) at 3 settings. The test setup consisted of the following gear:

- Intel Core i7 920
- MSI X58 Motherboard
- Geforce 7900 GT with Zalman VF900 @ 5v
- 3x1 Gb DDR3 RAM
- Laptop 5400rpm HDD
- Coolermaster HAF922 (Default fan config, 200mm Front and Top, 120mm in the back, all at 12v)

Windows XP was installed and LinX 0.6.4 used for creating 100% CPU load. When comparing different software tools, we measured the total system draw at the wall socket, with the Core i7 920 at stock speeds:

- Prime95 (8 thread): 155W
- K7Burn (8 instances): 167W
- LinX: 200W !

Than we overclocked/overvolted the CPU to 3.4 and 3.7Ghz, to create these three profiles:

1) 2.67ghz - 133Mhz - default vcore - 200W
2) 3.41Ghz - 170Mhz - +0.05v vcore - 250W
3) 3.71Ghz - 185Mhz -
+0.2v vcore - 362W

The last is brutal and only the high end CPU coolers can survive this test, hitting 100°C CPU temp caused the thermal throttling to kick in and so if you see a heatsink with CPU temp results of 100°C = FAILURE.

The ambient room temperature was 22°C during testing. Noise readings of the CPU coolers and fans was done outside the system, with the dBA meter placed diagonally at approximately 20cm. Ambient noise recorded was 32dBA.


Intel's stock cooler you receive with Intel Core i7 920 CPU.


We test each heatsink with its default fan, and if we can fit a reference fan we will use the following depending on the fan size:

- Vantec Tornado 92mm (4800rpm)
- Titan 120mm (2900rpm)
- Delta 120mm (3200rpm)
- GlobalWin NCB (1300rpm)

Performance Results



We start of with the Core i7 at stock speed, first interesting result to note is that the NH-D14 without any fans offers equal thermal performance as the stock Intel cooler, without adding any noise to your system, a worthy result. Next we see that the default duo of 120+140mm fan is quite good at cooling the CPU at an acceptable noise level; you can undervolt without worry of the CPU overheating if you want to make the cooler less noisy. When swapping the stock fans with the single GlobalWin fan performance is not stellar, same goes for the results with the 2900rpm Titan fan and the ridiculously loud Delta screamer, the D14 trails the single tower cooler here.




After turning up the heat we don't see much movement in the overall ranking, the stock NH-D14 fans still offer a very good performance/noise balance, but beat by the Megahalems/NCB combo. With the high speed fans (Titan & Delta combo) the performance is only 2°C better compared to the stock, not really ideal when you look at the noise level.




This is the torture test, only the best heatsinks out there can survive this heatload without reaching the 100°C mark.The Noctua NH-D14 passes this test with easy, granted that you stick with their winning 120&140mm fan combo. Going with a single 120mm fan the NH-D14 is bested by the Megahalems.

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